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he reject my proposition, if it have an equal degree of probability with another proposition, which he receives as evident, and demonstrative? But when the principles of an adversary are well grounded; and when we are able to prove that his principles produce our conclusions, our reasoning becomes demonstrative to a rational opponent, and he cannot deny it.

Christianity, it is remarkable, is defensible both ways. The first may be successfully employed against Pagans; the second more successfully against the Jews. It is easy to convince a heathen, that he can have no right to exclaim against the mysteries of the gospel ; because if we have any reason to exclaim against the mysteries of christianity, he hath infinitely more to exclaim against those of paganism. Doth it become you, said Justin Martyr to the heathens in his second apology for christianity, “Doth it become you to disallow our

mysteries ; that the word was the only begotten “ Son of God, that he was crucified, that he rose “ from the dead, that he ascended to heaven? We « affirm nothing but what hath been taught and “ believed by you. For the authors, ye know, “ whom ye admire, say that Jupiter had many « children ; that mercury is the word, the interpre“ ter, the teacher of all; that Esculapius, after he “ had been stricken with thunder, ascended to hea

ven, and so on.

The second way was employed more successfully by the apostles against the Jews. They demonstrated, that all the reasons, which obliged them to be Jews, ought to have induced them to become christians; that every argument, which obliged

; them to acknowledge the divine legation of Moses ought to have engaged them to believe in Jesus Christ. St. Peter made use of this method. .

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All the apostles used it. Put together all those valuable fragments of their sermons, which the holy Spirit hath preserved, and you will easily see, that these holy men took the Jews on their own principles, and endeavored to convince them, as we just now said, that whatever engaged them to adhere to Judaism, ought to have engaged them to embrace christianity, that what induced them to be Jews ought to have induced them to become christians.

What argument can you allege for your religion, said they to the Jews, which doth not establish that which we preach? Do you allege the privileges of your legislator? Your argument is demonstrative: Moses had access to God on the holy moun tain ; he did converse with him as a man speaketh to his friend. But this argument concludes for us. The christian legislator had more glorious privi. leges still. God raised him up, having loosed the pains of death, Acts ii. 24, &c. he suffered not his holy one to see corruption, he hath caused him to sit on his throne, he hath made him both Lord and Christ.

Do you allege the purity of the morality of your religion? Your argument is demonstrative. The manifest design of your religion is to reclaim men to God, to prevent idolatry, and to inspire them with piety, benevolence and zeal. But this argument concludes for us.

What do we preach to you but these very articles? To what would we engage you, except to repent of your sins, to receive the promise which was made unto you, and to your children, and to save yourselves from this untoward generation verse 39. Do we require any thing of you beside that spirit of benevolence, which unites the hearts of mankind, and which makes us have all things common, sell our posses

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VOL. II.

sions, part them to all men, as every man haik need, and continue daily in the temple with one accord, ver. 44, &c.

Do you allege the miracles, that were wrought to prove the truth of your religion? Your argument is demonstrative. But this argument estab

. lisheth the truth of our religion. Behold the miraculous gifts, which have been already communicated to those, who have believed ; and which are ready to be communicated to those, who shall yet believe. Behold each of us working miracles, which have never been wrought by any, except by a few of the divine men, who are so justly venerable in your esteem. See, the holy Ghost is poured out upon all flesh ; our sons, and our daughters prophesy, our young men see visions, and our old men dream dreams, our servants and our handmaids are honored with miraculous gifts, verse 17.

What then, are the prejudices that still engage you to continue in the profession of Judaism Are they derived from the prophecies? Your principles are demonstrative : but, in the person of our Jesus, we shew you to-day all the grand characters, which, your own prophets said, would be found in the Messiah. In the person of our Jesus is accomplished that famous prophecy in the sixteenth Psalm, which some of you apply to David, and to support a misrepresentation, propagate a ridiculous tradition that he never died, although his tomb is among you: Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption, ver. 10. In the person of our Jesus is accomplished the celebrated prediction of the psalmist, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool, Psal. cx. 1. Such were the arguments of St. Peter.

Close reasoning ought to be the soul of all disneeurses. I compare it in regard to eloquence with benevolence in regard to religion. Without benevolence we may maintain a shew of religion : but we cannot possess the substance of it. Speak with the tongues of ängels, have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, have all faith, so that ye could remove mountains, bestow all your goods to feed the poor, and give your bodies to be burned, if you have not benevolence, you are nothing, I Cor. xii. I, &c. If you be destitute of benevolence, all your virtue is nothing but a noise, it is only as sounding brass, or as a tinkling cymbal. In like manner in regard to eloquence; speak with authority, display treasures of erudition, let the liveliest and most sublime imagination wing it away, turn all your periods till they make music in the most delicate ear, what will all your discourses be, if void of argumentation ? a noise, sounding brass, a tinkling cymbal. You may surprize; but you cannot convince: you may dazzle; but you cannot instruct: you may, indeed, please; but you cannot either change, sanctify, nor transform.

IV. There are, in the sermon of St. Peter, stinging reproofs ; and, in the souls of the hearers, a pungent remorse. The apostle reproveth the Jews in these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs, him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and fore-knowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain, ver. 22. This single reproof excited the most shocking ideas, that can alarm the mind. And who can express the agitations, which were produced in the souls of the audience? What pencil can describe the state of their consciences ? They bad committed this crime through ignorance, Acts iii, 17.

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They had congratulated one another on having destroyed the chief enemy of their religion, and on having freed the church from a monster, who had risen up to devour it. They had lifted up their bloody hands toward heaven, and, to the rewarder of virtue, had prayed for a recompence for parricide. They had insolently displayed the spoils of Jesus, as trophies after a victory are displayed. The same principle, which excited them to commit the crime, prevented their discovery of its enormity, after they had committed it. The same vails, which they had thrown over the glorious virtue of Jesus Christ, during his humiliation, they still continued to throw over it, in his exaltation. St. Peter tore these fatal vails asunder. He shewed these mad. men their own conduct in its true point of light; and discovered their parricide in all its horror: Ye have taken, aud crucified Jesus, who was approved of God. Methinks, I see the history, or shall I say the fable? of a Theban king acting over again. Educated far from the place of his nativity he knew not his parents. His magnanimity seemed to indicate, if not the grandeur of his birth, at least the lustre of his future life. The quelling of the most outrageous disturbers of society, and the destroying of monsters, were his favorite employments. Nothing seemed impossible to his courage. In one of his expeditions, without knowing him, he killed his father. Some time after, he encountered a monster, that terrified the whole kingdom, and for his reward obtained his own mother in marriage. At length he found out the fatal mystery of his origin, and the tragical murder of his own father. Shocked at his wretchedness; it is not right, exclaimed he, that the perpetrator of such crimes should enjoy his sight; and he tore out his own eyes.

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