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The several accounts they give of the people, and affairs of the time in which, according to their own relation, the things they report, happened, entirely agree with other writers of undoubted authority, which is a very strong presumption of their being authentick and agreeable to truth.

That these writings are still the fame, without any material alterations, is evident from the great value and credit they have been always in amongst Christians, who ever esteemed them as the rule of their faith and life, and the ground of their comfort and hope ; from their being publickly read in the christian churches, as a part of their folemn worship; their being early translated from authentick copies, which long continued in the Christian Church, into most of the known languages of the world, and the harmony and agreement of such translations; from the quotations made from them, Itill remaining in antient writers ; from the constant appeals made to them by the various sects, that appeared amongst christians, in all matters controverted by them; for which reason they could not be corrupted in any material points, either by common consent, or by any particular para ties amongst themselves. So that they have no marks of fraud and imposture upon them, but are attended with every character of their being genuine and pure; and have been handed down in the main without any adulteration or mixture, thro' many successions of ages, notwithstanding the violence of persecution, the strict search and eaquiry into them, the errors and corruptions that have been introduced into the church, the interest of crafty, superstitious, and designing men to add or to take from them, and the endeavours of tyrants utterly to destroy them, by their own intrinsick excellency and evidence, and the special protection and care of providence.

Upon these considerations, I am abundantly convinced, that the books of the New Testament have all the evidence which any ancient writings have or can have, of their being authentick and genuine; and that therefore 'tis unreasonable to call this matter into question, when so many other writings are univerfally owned upon much less evidence ; no man of common sense pretending to doubt of the genuineness and truth of them. And therefore, whatsoever account there writings give of the nature of the Christian Religion, I am bound to receive as the true account, and to examine its authority by those facts, which they relate as the proper evidence and proof of it. Now as I Mould naturally expect to find in a revelation that is really from God, suitable and worthy accounts of his perfections and attributes ; fo

V. I farther find to my great fatisfaction, that the things spoken of God in the christian revelation, are suitable to those notions of him, which I can prove the truth of by the reason of my own mind, and which have been entertained by the wiselt and best of men in all

ages and nations of the world. The light of nature can firmly demonstrate, and the most thoughtful and learned heathens have agreed in, the neceflity of God's existence, the absolute perfection of his nature, his immensity and absolute unchangeableness ; his comprehensive knowledge, his infinite wisdom, and his almighty power; the reciitude of his Rature, his boundless and extenfive goodness, and his impartial equity

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and justice ; his being the creator of the world; his being the supreme Lord and governor of universal nature, and the father and friend of mankind; his being a lover of virtue, and determiced finally to accept and reward it.

Now the records of the christian revelation are so far from contains ing any thing contrary to those apprehensions, that they confirm, enlarge and enforce them. They speak of his necessary existence in a non ble and comprehen live way. They describe him as filling all things, and as without the least variableness or shadow of turning. As the King immartal, invisible, and eternal. As having life in himself. As the fearcher of the heart, and knowing all things. As God only, i. e. fupremely, infinitely wise. As irresistible in power. As absolutely holy. As rich in goodness. As just in his procedure. As the creator of the worlds visible and invisible. As upholding all things by the word

As the observer of men's actions, a lover of their vira tue, and ready to aslist them in it and reward it. It gives the noblest representations of his claims of worship and obedience from all bis reasonable creatures, of his peculiar love to mankind, and his especial favour to all the virtuous and good. It describes him to our minds as feated on his throne of grace, as sending a person of the highest chafacter, to lead men by his example and instructions to knowledge and piety, to peace of conscience and eternal happiness. As dispensing by bim pardon to the penitent, comfort to the afflicted, hope to the miserable, and life to finners under the condemnation of sin and death. As having appointed a day for univerfal judgment, as judging all in righteousness according to their deeds, and the advantages they en oy, as the final punisher of the impenitently wicked, and as the everlasting portion and reward of all, who by a patient continuance in well doing, leek after glory, bonsur and immortality. These representations of God my mind and reason highly approve of, and when I read them in the christian records, they awaken my admiration, fill my soul with the warmest love, and excite within me a becoming reverence and godly fear.

VI. As the Christian Religion gives the noblest representations of the attributes of God, I farther find that it requires the most rational and excellent worship of him, the worshippers whom the Father declares he now seeks, being such only as worship him in Spirit and truth. The rule of the gospel extends only to decency and order, but contains no directions about external pomp and pageantry. The method of wor• Mhip it prescribes is not so much by politive rites and ceremonies, that have no intrinsick worth and excellency in them; as by a steady belief and worthy apprehensions of his perfections and providence, by fervent love, by reverence and godiy fear, by hope ia bis mercy, by submision to his will, by the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart, by grati tyde, adoration, and praise, and by fervent humble fupplication and prayer. In a word, by the exercise of all boly dispo Gtions, by purity of soul, and a constant careful imitation of God in all the virtues of an holy life.

I find all the writings of the New Testament abound with precept of this kind; and as to such positive institutions as are enjoined by il, they are but few, and these not burthenfome in their obfervance. not pompous and costly, not tending to and encouraging of superffition ; bus plain and fignificant, designed either to represent the peculiar purity of the christian profesion, when men take it on them, or as memorials to perpetuate the remembrance of those important facts, upon the certainty and knowledge of which the authority and efficacy of Christianity doth entirely depend : and at the same time fuited in every part of them to promote the purposes of piety, and universal fervent charity ; appointed as obligations upon men to be more careful and exemplary in their behaviour, and to abound in all the virtues of a good life; and to assure them on the part of God, that if they ack agreeable to their obligations and profeslions as christians, they shalí be made partakers of the molt valuable and durable blessings in his everlaste ing kingdom and glory.

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And the these institutions are supported by the authority of an express command, yet in order to prevent all possible abuse of them, the Christian Religion farther expressly declares, that whatever claims mea may hereafter make to the rewards of a better worid, from their having worn the name of Chrift, or enjoy'd the external privileges of his religion, they shall not be accepted upon this foundation, but that they themselves shall be rejected, if they are found workers of iniquity; and that none but such as fear God and work righteousness, Thall reccive the recompence of righteousness and glory.

And therefore I am pleased farther to observe, that as the Christian Religion places the worihip of God in the exercise of suitable affections, and in the regular piety and virtue of a good life, it farther lays dowo and inculcates such rules and precepts of substantial holiness, as are reasonable in themselves, perfect in their kind, and well approved of by my judgment and conscience. Such which I find are in their nature conducive to promote the health, the honour, the reputation, the usefulness, the worldly prosperity, the peace and satisfaction of every individual person living and dying; such which are suited to the particular stations, charucters, and circumstances of men in life ; and which are therefore calculated to promote the ends of civil government, and the peace and welfare of civil society; enjoining all to cultivate and maintain the most fervent charity and love, to be merciful in disposition and practice, to follow the things that make for peace, not to receive men to doubtful disputations, not to censure or judge one another upon account of differences in opinions, but that such as are Hiong should bear with the weak, and all endeavour to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace ; doing good for evil, loving and praying for our enemies, and chearfully forgiving offences and in juries againlt us. So that however Christianity may have been abused by fome, to support a secular interest, I am abundantly convinced 'tis not from any tendency of its precepts to disturb the order of civil go. vernment, or alter the constitution and form of it amongst any nations of the world; the great view of ic being to engage men to govern their paffions, to be of the most just, generous and friendly dispositions to others, to discharge the duties of their respective llations, cither employing themselves in honest labours, or publick services ; magistrates

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ruling diligently as ministers of God for good, and subjects living quict lives in all godliness and honesty.

VII. As the worship which the Christian Religion enjoins is thus worthy of God, and all its precepts for the conduct of life thus rational and perfect; fo I farther find the motives it proposes are weighty and fufficient, if duly confidered and attended to, to determine men in the choice of that course which it recommends, all of them worthy the perfections of the blessed God, and suited to the circumstances of his degenerate, offending and guilty creatures.

The assurance of pardon thro' the Blood of Christ, and of the alfistance of his good spirit under all the difficulties of our present duty, are exceedingly favourable, and carry in them the noblest encouragement to obnoxious and disabled sinners, when they entertain the thoughts of returning to God their sovereign and happiness; and indeed abfolutely necessary to reconcile them to, and render them successful in fuch an attempt. For what heart can any one have to begin the difficult work of breaking off his fins, and to enter upon a life of holiness; or what prospect of success, but under the comfortable assurance that his past offences shall be forgiven, and that he shall receive all necessary affiftances from God for the future, in struggling with the difficulties that attend the practice of virtue ?

The interceffion of so compassionate and powerful a friend with God, as Jesus Christ is represented to be, is a very firm ground of support, and inspires considerate minds with a chearful hope of having their persons and services accepted, and of receiving all the necessary fupports and blessings of life, whatever opposition they may meet with from the enemies of true religion, and even tho they should be exposed to the severest persecutions upon account of their adherence to it. · The prospect and full assurance of his coming to raise the dead, and judge the world, and give eternal life, to reward his faithful followers with everlasting happiness, and to punish the wicked with an everlasting destruction, is an argument abundantly fufficient to persuade men immediately to enter upon the ways of holiness and virtue, and to engage thein to persevere in them with chearfulness to the last. Especially considering, that good men are assured that all the inconveniences of life thall be made tolerable and useful to them, and death, the dread of nature, shall be their introduction into rest, and the commencement of their felicity. In a word, the Gospel fets before men every consideration to encourage virtue, and deter from vice, and gives them particularly such assurances of retributions in the other world, as that no stronger motives whatsoever can be desired or needed to make them wife, and good, and happy, if they will but suffer them to have their propur and natural influence upon their minds.

VIII. As the Gospel precepts of religion and virtue, and the motives fet before men to engage them to the love and practice of it, are worthy of God, and suitable to their circumstances and desires, so the peculiar doctrincs of Christianity relating to Jesus Christ, the great author and dispenser of it, are such as demand the highest regard; such as do founder of any other religion could ever pretend to, and yet such as are

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entirely confiftent with the principles of natural religion, and all the certain discoveries of reason; such as are sublime and grand in them. selves, uniform and consistent with each other, plain and intelligible in the main and essential points; and such as add great strength and force to natural religion, as they have an entire and absolute tendency to promote godlinefs and virtue.

Thus 'tis declared of him, that he was before the formation of the world, the word that was with God, and God, the brightness of his father's glory, and the exprefs' image of his person, that the father by him created all things, that by him all things consist; that he came down from a state of heavenly glory to be made Aesh, and dwell amongst us; that he came from the very bosom of his father, and had that perfect and compleat knowledge of his father's will, that no other messenger from him ever had or could have ; that to enable him the better to reveal it to mankind, he had a body miraculously prepared for him, which was conceived, 'and born without fin, but in all linless infirmities like unto his brethren, in the present suffering, afflicted state of the human nature ; that in this body he chose“ iuch a condition of life, as gave him an opportunity of conversing most familiarly with all forts of persons, became an example of the mose perfect purity and goodness, by his own lowliness and meekness disgracing the pride and pafsions of the world, and teaching men to place all real excellency and greatness, in honouring the great God and father of all, and doing good to their fellow-creatures, even to the worst and meanest of mart kind.

.: That fo much greatness should condescend to put on such a veil

, and so glorious a being give such amazing proofs of goodness, is beyond all parallel. It is indeed peculiar to the character of Jesus Christ, to be pofsefs'd of the glories of deity, and yet to stoop to the lowest state of human nature ; to be lord of lords, and yet the meekeft, humbleft man, that ever dwelt on earth; to appear amongst men under the form of a servant, and to be made of no reputation, and yet at the same time to be honoured by a voice from heaven, declaring this is my bia loved son, in whom I am well pleafed.

However, notwithstanding this amazing condescension, great humility, and meanness of outward form, he is represented as assuming an authority worthy the son of God; an authority and right to fetele che terms of men's acceptance with God, according as he had received power from his father ; an authority to forgive fins on earth, so as that they should be forgiven in heaven, and fo to retain sins, as that they fhould remain unpardonable in a future ftate ; and authority and power to send the spirit of his father, and constitute him the prime minister of his kingdom amongst men; that by his extraordinary and miraculous gifts he might confirm the gospel,' and make it successful upon its first publication; and afterwards, in every age, continually accompany it with such impreffions on the hearts of men, as, in the efficacy and design of them, should correspond to those more extraordinary gifts, which were poured out on Christians in common, at their first embracing the gospel : And finally, an authority to raise the dead, and judge them when reftored to life ;. to fend all the workers of iniquity VOL. III.

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