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renders this account of the work and ministry of the apostleship: 'Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did, by him, in the midst of youHim, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowlege of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain :' ver. 22. 23. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses :' ver. 32. To the same purpose again, in the third chapter, ‘Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto yoù ; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead: whereof we are witnesses :' ver. 14. 15. In the fourth chapter an account is given of the courage and boldness of the Apostles in preaching Christ to the rulers, and of the success of their ministry among the people : the sum of it we have in these words : · With great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was on them all:'ver. 33. In the fifth chapter the Apostles are called again before the council : the high priest charges them with disobeying the injunctions given them not to preach in Christ's name: St. Peter and the rest answer him and the council, by opening to them the commission and authority by which they acted, and the doctrine which they taught : We ought,' say they, “to obey God rather than man. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree : him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him : ver.

29. 30. 31. 32. From these passages of Scripture, taken together, it plainly appears how much the Christian religion, considered as a distinct system from natural religion, depends on the belief of the resurrection of Christ. The Apostles were ordained to be witnesses of this article : this article is the foundation on which they build all the hopes and expectations peculiar to Christians : if they preach repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins, it is in his name, whom God raised from the dead : if they turn to the Gentiles with offers of peace and reconciliation, it is still in his name, whom God raised from the dead, and ordained to be the Judge of quick and dead.

When St. Paul preached at Athens, they thought him an introducer of some new deities, he talked so much of Jesus and the resurrection :' Acts xvii. 18. Which doctrine of a resurrection he afterwards fully expounded to them, together with the consequents belonging to it: 'Now,' says the Apostle, • God commandeth all men every where to repent, because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead :' v. 30. 31. This

passage

of St. Paul gives a very plain account of the concern to propagate and establish the article of Christ's resurrection. The resurrection of Christ was designed to be an evidence and assurance to the world of God's intention to judge the world in righteousness. This new article was introduced to be a new evidence of a future state of rewards and punishments, and to support the sinner's hopes of pardon and reconciliation through the promises of Christ, whom God had appointed to be his Judge.

You see then the use of this great article of Christian faith, Let us consider now whether we are beholden to the gospel, and how much, for this new evidence of a life to come; and what there is in this article, and the doctrines grounded on it, that any sober Deist, or professor of natural religion, can justly blame.

Natural religion pretends to support itself on the expectation of future rewards and punishments: it considers God as Governor and Judge of the world. Christian religion stands on the same foundation, and admits for genuine all these hopes and fears of nature. Thus far there is no difference. The question is, which brings the best proof, and most fitted to persuade the world of this great truth? Natural religion appeals to conscience, and that sense which all men have of their being accountable for their actions. The Christian religion embraces all this evidence, and whatever else can be suggested by reason to render the hopes of futurity probable or certain : to these evidences it adds the express testimony and assurance of

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God given to mankind in the resurrection of his beloved Son Jesus Christ.

But what need, you will say, of this new evidence ? Were not the arguments which natural religion affords, sufficient to support the belief and expectation of a future judgment ? If so, to what purpose is it to call men from a dependence on their reason, to rely on the evidence of men for the truth of a fact so uncommon, and in the nature of it so surprising, as not easily to gain admittance to our belief? a fact, which had we seen ourselves, we might perhaps have suspected the report of our own senses, and cannot therefore easily refer ourselves to the senses of others, in a matter of so great moment and consequence ?

Whoever, in answer to this difficulty, endeavors to weaken and enervate the natural arguments for a future state, is, I think, very ill employed : to me they appear so convincing, that I cannot, so amiable, that I would not lessen your opinion of them: but then it is certain that they require more thought and speculation to place them before the mind in their true and strongest light, than the generality of men are capable of exercising. And whether this be so or no, is a matter fitter to be determined by the evidence of history, than by reasoning on the case.

We are very ill judges, under the light we now enjoy, how far the generality of men could go by the mere strength of reason, without the assistances we have. A right notion of God is the foundation of all true religion; and who is there that thinks himself obliged to any thing but his own reason for this notion ? and yet, if this be the case, the world is mightily improved in reason these last ages : for we certainly know many ages past, when the true notion of God was hardly to be found in any nation, commonly to be found in none. Since the publication of the gospel the darkness has been dispelled, and reason sees and approves the truths which were before in great measure hid from her eyes. The case is the same with respect to the natural arguments for a future state : the arguments duly proposed and considered are of great weight: but yet it is evident they had little weight in the world for many ages together. The natural notion was so buried under superstitious fables and absurd representations, that it yielded no comfort or satisfaction ; was so liable to be exposed and ridiculed for the extravagant representations which attended it, that it afforded no certainty, or even probability, to support the hopes of virtue: the vulgar had no ability to reason much on the case; and the learned, who did, were full of doubts and uncertainties, and found no sure ground to stand on. To remedy this evil, God has proposed a new evidence to the world : he called his Son from the grave, and showed him before chosen witnesses for many days : who were sent into the world to publish his resurrection, as an evidence of a future general resurrection of all men, and to seal the truth of their doctrine with their own blood.

Now, as to this evidence, it is in the nature of it the pro. perest for the generality of men; it requires no abstracted reasoning, no refinements, to show the force of it: nay, were the wisest man to choose an evidence for himself of the cer. tainty of a resurrection, I know not what he could desire more than to see one rise from the dead.

As to those who pretend to be real and true Deists, I cannot see what there is in this evidence to offend them : the main thing we prove by it they acknowlege to be true, that God will judge the world. Since then the Christian religion has no private design to serve by this evidence, but produces it in confirmation of the general sense of nature which all true religion does admit, why should it be suspected of deceit?

Besides, the belief of a future state, supported by the evidence of the resurrection of Christ, is applied to no other purposes in the Christian religion, than every wise and good man would desire it should be applied to, were it a matter to be submitted to his choice. Let us see : the gospel labors to assure us of the certainty of our resurrection to eternal life ; and not content with the common evidence of reason for a future state, has given us a new proof from the very hand and immediate

power of God: there is such a concern showed in the gospel for fixing and establishing this proof, that we may be sure this proof was provided for the sake of carrying on the great end and design of the gospel, whatever it is : so that if there is any thing amiss, any delusion or deceit in the gospel, we may certainly find it leaning on this article of the resur

But now,

rection for its support.

what does the gospel require of us, in virtue of our belief of this article? Why, nothing but what reason and natural religion require of us : to live soberly and righteously, in obedience to God, and in love with our brethren. Where is there any ground now for suspicion in the case? Men do not use to play tricks, or endeavor to impose on the world for nothing. Show us then any one use made of this article in the gospel, but what all sober-minded men will allow to be a just and proper use, and we will part with our evidence: but if no such thing can be showed, never suspect any guile or deceit in the evidence calculated to serve and promote such noble and worthy purposes.

One thing there is in the Scripture account of a future state that is new, the designation of the man Christ Jesus for Judge of the quick and the dead : but this is such a new thing as is liable to no objections on the part of natural religion ; for it is no part of natural religion to maintain that God must do every thing immediately by himself, and in his own person, without using the agency or ministry of other beings. This designation of Christ to be Judge of the world is no impeachment of the authority of God: the Son acts by the Father's commission, who hath given all judgment to him : it makes no change in the nature of the judgment : we shall answer for nothing to Christ, but what our reason tells us we are accountable for, So that take in all the circumstances belonging to this article of Christian faith, and yet there is nothing for you to do, nothing for you to expect, but what you are already persuaded you ought to do and expect, if you are in truth so honest and sincere a professor of natural religion as to believe in God, and that he will judge the world in truth and justice. This difference there is between you and a Christian believer : you have such hopes of futurity as reason and reflexion can furnish out: the Christian has the same hopes, and in the same degree; but has moreover the express promise and testimony of God, confirmed by the resurrection of his only Son, to strengthen his expectations of immortality. Suppose the Christian mistaken, even then he stands on the same ground that you do ; suppose his faith to be well established, he stands on much better, and

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