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surrection to eternal life, through thy merciful promises by Christ our Lord. Now unto Thee, O Father, &c.

May the God of all grace, who bath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus our Lord, make us perfect, strengthen, settle us! To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever!

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SERMON XIV.

JOHN vii. 17.

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the

doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

It is a just remark, that our holy religion has received great advantages, by the opposition that has been made to it at all times, since its first propagation, and the books that have been written against it. For these have called oui its friends, to examine it more carefully, and to distinguish true Christianity from the spurious additions which weak injudicious men had mixed with it, and to separate the chaff from the wheat.

And it is no small benefit, that we at this day, as well as those who have

gone
before

us, receive, by means of the Jews, the first

opposers of the Gospel; who set themselves against our Saviour, and refused to believe in him.

s 2

Some, Some, indeed, have drawn this into an objection to the Gospel itself; by alleging, that if its evidence had been so obvious and powerful as is asserted, such great multitudes, who are said to have beheld the miracles themselves, would not have rejected it.

And there might be some force in this, if the Gospel had been so universally rejected at first as this objection supposes ; or if there had been any grounds to maintain, that it was then disbelieved for want of sufficient evi. dence.

But when we know, that it was believed by many at that first period, in contradiction to strong prejudices, and against their worldly interests; for it was by Jewish Christians in general, as well as the apostles in particular, that it was first professed: and moreover, that those who then refused to embrace it, acknowledged universally the reality of Christ's miraculous works, but rejected him and his doctrine on such frivolous pretences as these : viz. that he was not a man of deep human learning; that his miracles were wrought, not by the power of God, but by a communication with evil demons; and that he could not be of God, because he wrought them on the Sab

bath-day,

bath-day, and the like : an opposition on such trifling grounds, becomes only a fuller confirmation of the trush it would overthrow.

But there was this peculiar benefit derived from the opposition made to Christ : that it called forth our great Master himself, to prove by various arguments, and to expatiate upon the excellency of his doctrine, and the truth of his mission from God. All which we read with great satisfaction and improvement; but which, most probably, he would not have

produced of his own accord; as, to have attempted any thing of the kind, might have created a suspicion, that his doctrine wanted some such embellishments to set it off; or that the proofs of his Messiah character were deficient and it might also have had the air and appearance of vanity, and seeming to extol himself, from which he was infinitely removed. And therefore, unless when thus challenged, and constrained in his own defence to expatiate and enlarge upon his mission from God, and the truths he delivered, we find him modestly contented with plainly delivering his heavenly doctrine, accompanied with the works of a divine power, by which it was confirmed; and

leaving

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