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This will be contemplated forever, and will be a source of growing entertainment, and part of the happiness which is included in the Christian's hope. The work of redemption by Christ is so grand, wonderful and complicated, the effect of infinite power, wisdom and goodness, exercised in the most astonishing condescention, grace and mercy, truth and faithfulness, to infinitely guilty, loft and miserable finners, in a way honour. able to a holy, righteous God, his law and government, and suited to humble and fave sinfuł rebels, and raise them to the highest honour and happiness; and is at. tended with such infinitely great, important, glorious, eternal consequences; that the redeemed must enjoy un. peakably great and increasing happiness in searching into the wonders of this work, and loving, praising and adoring God and the Redeemer forever.

Every true Christian hopes to enjoy all this, and more, which no tongue can utter, or heart conceive; and he shall actually possess it forever. He will stand at the right hand of Christ at the day of judgment; and enter with all the redeemed into eternal life and happiness, and enjoy the company and friendship of a most lovely and happy fociety, all sweetly united in love to Christ and to each other, under the best advantages to enjoy God, in the assurance of his favour and love, and to be happy in friendship with each other, and make rapid advances in knowledge, holiness and happiness forever.-But the theme is endless, and it is time to stop.-This is the hope of a Christian !

II. The reason which Christians have to give for this hope which is in them, or entertained by them, is to be considered.

This involves two particulars, which are in themselves really distinct, though implied in each other; and there. fore it is proper to consider them separately. They are these: The reason they have to believe and be sure that the Christian scriptures, the foundation of all their hopes, are a revelation from God, containing infallible truth, without any error, in matters of faith and practice, and therefore to be relied upon with the greatest confidence and safety; and the reason of their hope that they are real Christians, and interested in all the blessings promised in the gospel to true believers in Christ.

First. The Christian, in giving the reason of his hope, must tell what evidence he has that Christianity is a divine institution, and that the scripturts which contain a revelation of it were written by the inspiration of God.

Here Christians are introduced to speak for themselves, and give the reason of placing their hope in Christ and the gospel. They have the following answer to give to those who ask them.

1. We feel the want of a hope of some good and happiness which cannot be obtained and enjoyed in this life, and in this world. We find ourselves poffessed of those mental capacities and desires which cannot be fil. led and satisfied with the enjoyment of any or all the things of this world, the objects of time and sense. We know we have a capacity of enjoying a higher and better good than this world affords, and a good which is unfading, and will last to be enjoyed without any end; and we feel strong desires, which we cannot suppress, of existing forever, in the enjoyment of objects which will render us completely happy. This has excited us diligently to search and inquire whether and where any ground and good reason can be found for a hope of en. joying the good and happiness which is answerable to our capacity and defires.

2. If the Bible be excluded, upon the most diligent and extensive search we have been able to make, no fufficient reason has been found, or can be given, for a hope of a good adequate to the capacity and desires of man. The heathen who have not enjoyed the Bible, even the wisest among them, have not discovered any certainty of a future state. And all their conjectures about it, and ideas of happiness to be enjoyed after death if there be a future ftate, are fo vague, uncertain and absurd, that they can give no satisfaction to a rational mind, but tend to the contrary. They have obtained

no

no true notions of the character of the true God; so far from it, that they represent their gods in a ridiculous and fhameful light, and as practising horrible vices. None of them, even their greatest philosophers, have been able to find out what true happiness is. They are indeed, and always have been, without the true God, and with. out a reasonable hope in the world.

And this is true of the Mahometans. They profess indeed to believe in one God, which Mahomet taught them with a number of other things, who learned them from the Bible, with which he was in some measure ac, quainted; but they have no correct, consistent notions of the divine character, especially of his moral character. They do not know of any reasonable way for finners to obtain pardon of their fins, and the favour of God; and consequently cannot have any reasonable hope of this. The most ignorant and vicious men among them have a promise of their prophet that they shall go directly to heaven, if they die fighting for his cause and their religion, or if they perform certain prescribed actions and ceremonies. And the heaven they hope for they think consists, not in holiness and in the enjoyment of the true God, and the mental happiness implied in this, but in those sensual delights and gratifications, more suited for beasts than men; which are the objects of aversion and abhorrence; and not of hope, to a good and pure

mind. The Infidels, Deists and Atheists who live in that part of the world called Christian are really without hope. The latter are professedly fo: they have no belief of a future state, and have no hope of any good which they cannot enjoy in this life, which to every difcerning mind is nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit. These choose to view and place themselves in such a low ftate of existence that they have no pre-eminence above the beasts, except that they are capable of suffering more pain and misery than the brute creation.

As to the Deifts, they profess to believe there is a God; bụt do not appear to worship him, or derive any enjoyment from their belief. Many of them, with

Atheists,

Atheists, do not believe there is any future state ; but say they expect to die as the beasts, and have no further existence. Others of them consider it as a matter of uncertainty whether they shall exist in a future state or not; and they who profess to believe they shall exist after death, can give no satisfactory account of the happiness they shall enjoy, nor any reason of their hope of happiness in the forgiveness of their fins and the favour of God, whom they have offended. For reason, on which they depend, affords no evidence that God will forgive them; but rather that they must fall under his displeasure, and be miserable forever. They can have no hope from the god they profess to believe exists. Having renounced the God revealed in the Bible, they are wholly at a lofs about the character of their god. Some of them ascribe no moral character to him; and they who do, cannot agree in what it is; and none of them can tell whether, or how far, men have any concern in it, so as to have any influence on their conduct or happiness. So that they are all without any reasonable hope, having renounced the true God..

Therefore, if the Christian hope be not founded upon reason and truth, but must be given up as fabulous and mere delusion, we are left without hope, and we must fink into the most gloomy darkness and despair. But,

3. We find in the Bible an exhibition of that good which is suited to make us completely and forever happy, containing all that we can desire or hope for. It reveals a most agreeable and wise way for the pardon of finners, and their reconciliation with God, and to enjoy his favour as much, and to an higher degree, and be much more happy, than if they had never finned. It contains repeated and abundant promises of deliverance from all evil, and the everlasting enjoyment of the best and highest good of which we are or ever shall be capable. All this is offered and bestowed as a free gift on every one who is willing to receive it, and asketh for it. We will not enter into more particulars here in description of this hope. They have been represented in the с

former

former part of this discourse, and will of course come into view under the next head. We will only observe here, that the insinite good comprehended in the redemption of finners, which is the subject of the revelation in the Bible, is the only proper and complete object of hope that can be conceived of or imagined by a reafonable and good mind, if it be true, and there is evidence that it is indeed a revelation which is given to men from God. Which leads us to say,

4. There is clear, most satisfactory and abundant evidence, fully answerable to the nature and importance of the subject, that the Bible is true, and contains a revelation from God.

But before we enter upon the short and summary detail of this evidence which we propose to give, the following things will be mentioned.

Though the evidence of the truth of divine revelation is sufficient to convince the understanding and judgment of those who will seriously attend to the subject, though they have bad hearts, and do not really love the truths it contains; yet they cannot have that satisfactory afsurance that it is from God, and indeed a divine revelation, which those of upright and good hearts have, though their understandings and mental powers be not so bright and strong as those of others whose hearts are not good.

It may also be observed, that truths and objects of a :moral and spiritual nature may be the objects of as great certainty, yea greater, than those objects and things whose existence is known only by our bodily senses; so that a man of an honest and good heart, and right taste and discerning, would doubt of the truth of the latter, rather than of the former, if one must be doubted of and given up as not true.

We would further observe here, that if it were poflible that the Christian hope is 'a mere delusion, which we know is not true, and is impoffible ; yet we should lose nothing by entertaining it. We fhail in the issue be as *vell off as those who have no hope. if we should ceaft

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