« PreviousContinue »
is certain; to is his divine justice. We shall prove, therefore, from the nature of the soul, the almost universal consent of mankind, the unequal distribution of the good things of this life, and from other substantial, and we hope convincing arguments that there must be a life after this, where the just and upright inan, will meet with a full compensation for all his troubles and misfortunes; and he that is habitually wicked will be consigned over to such inexpressible torments, as his wilful opposition to an offended Creator must evidently deserve; so that a man shall say; verily, there is a reward for the righteous ; doubtless, there is a God, that judgeth the earth.
In our proof of the authority of the sacred scriptures, we shall take notice of their infinite universal importance, as well as the style and manner in which they are delivered ; then shew that the books of Moses were the fource from whence all nations drew what little notions they had of God, the creation of the world, and other remarkable events; that the wisest and best men in all ages of the world, who had the opportunity of reading, have not only admired, but admitted them to be infallibly true. We shall fhew you that feal of God affixed to them, the prediction of future events :- that the Prophet Isaiah in particular foretold, not only the birth of a great king many years before it happened; but even his actions; the destruction of that great and proud city of Babylon, and the very name of the destroyer :--we shall demonstrate, that no Being but an omniscient God could possibly have forseen or foretold such contingencies; and the conclusion will be very natural; namely, that the sacred scriptures must be written by divine inspiration.
From thence we shall proceed to the proof of the Christian Religion from its completion of the antient prophecies ; from its stupendous miracles ; from the rapid progress it made in fo short a time, and its uninterrupted continuance ever since; from the indirputable testimony of men, who abandoned every thing, life itself, in defence of a doctrine, of the truth whereof they had every possible
evidence. And we have a good hope, when these things are duly weighed, you will be convinced of the absolute necessity there is for every one of us to follow the precepts of our most holy religion; to serve God with all our souls, and with all our strength; to be constant in the due discharge of our public as well as private duties ; to be honest and just in all our dealings; to love our neighbours as ourselves ; to do to all men, as we would they Tould do unto us :- In a word, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling
In the prosecution of these few promised discourses, we are determined to spare no pains to be well informed ourselves; nor do we intend to offer any arguments which are not folid and fubftantial, or which at least shall not appear fo to us; always making choice of such as are most obvious and incontestible; and adapting them, as much as possible, to the capacity of every hearer.
To conclude, we must beg your patience and attention ; entreat you for once at least, to lay aside all prejudice and prepoffeffion, and to judge fairly and impartially ; for prejudice is too apt to blind and captivate the judgment of the wisest of men : and above all, we must beg you to consider, that some doctrines concerning the most high God, and the manner of his relation to us, the mysteries of religion, must necesarily be above the capacities and comprehensions of the most learned and sagacious. And therefore if we should not be able to explain, or give perfect fatisfaction in some particulars, we hope you will distinguilh between want of ability in us, and want of evidence in the things themselves. It is sufficient if we prove them to be certainly and infallibly true, though incapable of explaining how they are so: so that our ignorance and imperfect performance can be no ways prejudicial to the Christian cause, which we have not undertaken to defend out of any vain conceit; nor do we flatter ourselyes, that we shall be able to bring stronger arguments than have beon already urged in defence of so just and good a cause ; but we must acknowledge, that
your duty and
we indulge a hope of setting these truths in so clear a light, as may be of service to that part of our auditors at least, who have little time for reading, and very few other opportunities of being instructed in the doctrines of their most holy religion, than such as are afforded them by a regular attendance on public worship. It is, therefore, a duty highly incumbent on us to sow such seed, as we shall judge most conducive to forward the work of salvation ; and it is both
your interest to attend constantly and diligently to these things, upon which your future welfare so very much depends.-Surely no one, who firmly believes that he shall live either in the most exalted pleasures, or in the most exquisite torments forever and ever, -will stand in need of being entreated to lend the closest attention.
Now may it please the divine Majesty to give a blessing to these our labours, that they my
those in their most holy faith, who already believe ; confirm and establish those who are wavering, and confute those, who obstinately oppose his facred doctrine ! This is the satisfaction we propofe ; this the end of our ambition : and to confess freely, I feel myself animated by the glorious prospect before me. For “ they that be wife shall shine as the “ brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righte“ousness, as the stars for ever and ever.”
Let us join then in prayer together ; and say with our holy Church, “ Blessed Lord! who has caused all holy scriptures to be “written for our learning; grant that we may in such wise hear
them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by pa“ tience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace, and ever “ hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast
given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen."