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which these men were preachers : for, had they been fanatics or impostors, it requires the most uncommon share of credulity to think that, at such a distance of time, the doctrine they preached could possibly have been so triumphant; or themselves so much venerated, as advocates for its truth and sufferers in its cause. The fact therefore, when properly examined, so far from detracting from the merits, adds weight to the proofs for the Truth of Christianity, and makes the sceptical Historian himself a witness in support of that cause, which he labours so diligently to undermine.

We may further remark, that the first preachers of the Gospel were not only destitute of such expedients and attainments, as were necessary, humanly speaking, to gain proselytes, but the main subject of their preaching was such, as to offend the most natural and the most powerful prejudices of mankind. So far were they from handling a theme that coincided with the preconceived opinions or flattered the wishes of their hearers, that they discoursed upon a topic, the most humiliating to the pride of those whom they laboured to convert." The Jews required a sign. The Jews, not being satisfied with those demonstrations of Divine power, which the blessed Jesus and His apostles had exhibited, desired that some more extraordinary evidence of their Divine commission; some splendid and ostentatious display of the authority of the Messiah ; should be made, not when it suited the designs of Almighty Wisdom, but when it accorded with their caprice to demand it. The Greeks sought after wisdom.They expect

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ed some new species of philosophy, clothed in more elegant language, and recommended by more powerful arguments, than any which they had yet received from the Lycæum or the Academy, from the Porch of Zeno or the Gardens of Epicurus. They wished for the

appearance of some enlightened Philosopher or ingenious Sophist, to satisfy the ardent curiosity peculiar to themselves, with new topics of information and research. They were eager to hear him exercise their understandings with the subtleties of metaphysics, flatter their vanity with the recital of the exploits of their ancestors, delight their imaginations with the flowers of rhetoric, and satisfy their taste with the elegance and purity of Attic diction.

But instead of the description of a triumphant Messiah, which the Jews desired to hear; instead of delighting the Greeks with their favourite subjects of declamation and discussion; the plain and simple facts, which the Apostles were enjoined to announce, were the sufferings and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They required the Jews 'to subdue their national prejudices, abate their lofty expectations of a temporal and a conquering Prince, and acknowledge as their Messiah the lowly Jesus of Nazareth ;—of whom they were told, without disguise or palliation, that he was condemned with injustice and executed with barbarity. Instead of amusing the Greeks with the pleasing fictions of mythology, or instructing them in abstruse speculations of science, they called upon them to abandon that belief and that worship, which were consecrated by the veneration of their forefathers, and endeared to themselves by many a tie of familiar

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practice and favourite association. In the place of the heroes whom they adored and the philosophers whom they revered, they were solicited to accept as a teacher and to worship as a Deity, one who was püt'to death as a malefactor. The Apostles of Jesus, instead of exhibiting their credentials with form and ceremony, appeared in the garb of plain and unassuming missionaries; and set forth, in a foreign idiom, the marvellous account of our Saviour's death and resurrection, an account which to the Jews could not but prove " a stumbling block,” and to the Greeks appeared as “foolishness.” Yet, in direct opposition to this state of the world; this general aversion of mankind, arising from such various causes ; this hostility to their inclinations, prejudices, and passions; the Gospel prevailed with a stronger influence upon the minds of the first. Converts, and with a more wide diffusion over the countries where it was preached, than the most ingenious devices of human wisdom could possibly have produced. To what cause can we rationally attribute such success, operating under such peculiar circumstances, but to the force of Divine Truth, and the immediate direction and aid of the Most High?

Again;--we are led by the words of the Apostle to consider" that the world by wisdom knew not God." And we may confidently have recourse to the test of history and experience, in corroboration of the Apostle's assertion, that the unassisted wisdom of man could not attain unto the truths taught by the Gospel. This experiment had indeed been fairly made ; since, for some centuries previous to the coming of our Saviour, the most acute men had employed their time and thoughts, in endeavouring to discover those truths, upon which the happiness of man so much depends, such as the being and at: tributes of God, the nature of man's relation to Him, the extent of his duties here, and his final destiny hereafter. The antient Philosophers, we know, were involved in the greatest doubt upon these momentous topics, although they advanced many ingenious con. jectures, promulgated many profound maxims, and employed much abstruse reasoning upon these subjects. With respect to the important doctrine of a future state, many thought it highly probable; but it may be doubted whether any one of the philosophers had such a full and clear conviction of its truth, as to be entirely satisfactory even to his own mind. Certain it is, that none of them proved this or any other weighty point, connected with the moral im provement or future happiness of man so clearly, as to have any weight with the generality of the world. Nay, we have the attestation of Cicero to these remarkable facts; that the philosophy of Epicurus, who was the founder of the most licentious and irreligious of all the sects, had by far the greatest number of votaries; and, in proportion as the mind of any man was enlarged by an acquaintance with learning and philosophy, in that proportion he disavowed or disregarded the notion of a future state. But the great defects of worldly wisdom in this most important point, as well as others, cannot be stated in a clearer manner, or expressed in more forcible language, than have been employed by the able Apologist for the

Bible”. “ The Christian," observes Bishop Watson, “has no doubt concerning a future state ; every deist, from Plato to the author of the Age of Reason, is on this subject overwhelmed with doubts insuperable by the human understanding. The Christian has no misgiving as to the pardon of penitent sinners, through the intercession of a mediator; the deist is harassed with apprehension, lest the moral justice of God should demand with inexorable rigour punishment for transgression. The Christian has no doubt concerning the lawfulness and the efficacy of prayer; the deist is disturbed on this point by abstract considerations, concerning the goodness of God, which wants not to be intreated; concerning the foresight, which has no need of our information; concerning His immutability, which cannot be changed through our supplication. The Christian admits the providence of God, and the liberty of human actions; the deist is involved in great difficulties, when he undertakes the proof of either. The Christian has assurance that the Spirit of God will help his infirmities: thé deist does not deny the possibility that God may have access to the human mind; but he has no grounds to believe the fact of His either enlightening the understanding, influencing the will, or purifying the heart."

From the view we have thus far taken of the subject it appears, that the dispensation of the Gospel was intended, not only to direct and improve the wisdom of man, but to abate his presumption. Nor

· Dr. Watson’s “ Apology for the Bible,” p. 298.


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