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You see, I have addressed you with an unreferved freedom and familiarity. I have overlooked the distance of your character ; and treated you as if we were in the same state of equality now, as we shall quickly find ourselves before the tribunal of our glorious Judge.--The cause requires this at my hands; and I should have been unfaithful, I had almost said unmerciful to you, if I had not failed of the decorum, which would have been my duty to have observed in any other case. I shall therefore depend upon your candid interpretation of this unpolished address; and your kind acceptance of the faithful designs and desires of,
Your most obedient
LETTER II. Wherein a brief and
general View is given of the Evidences
of the Christian Religion. SIR, FOU tell me, “my letter had almost thrown
you into a fit of the Spleen.” But I can't but hope, from your “ awful concern, left you
meet with the confusion I have therein descri. “ bed," that it will have a better effect. I acknow. ledge, that “ a pathetic declamation cannot be received for argument.” And that,"
And that, “ your faith “ must be built upon evidences, that will reach the " understanding, as well as the softer passions of 66 the soul." But what evidence do
you desire or want of the truth of Christianity ? Consider, Sir. Confule your books and your friends. Make your demands as large as you or they can contrive ; and
whatever whatever rational evidence you are pleased to ask for, shall be at your service.--I have myself, with particular application been considering, what reasonable evidence can possibly be consulted or desired, which the glorious God has not already given us, in confirmation of the Christian institution; and I find nothing wanting, which we are capable of receiving.-And I cannot but presume, that if you likewise would impartially and in earnest put yourself upon the fame inquiry, you must meet with a full and complete satisfaction.
You will certainly acknowledge, that the great Creator is capable some way or other to communicate his will to intelligent beings, with sufficient evidence that the Revelation is from him.-Now what I desire of you is to sit down, and consult upon fome such means of doing this, as would strike your mind with the strongest conviction, obviate all your doubts; and give you the fullest confirmation of the divine original of such a Revelation. When you are come to a point, consider the credentials of Christianity; and fee whether you can find what you yourself would demand, and what you suppose most likely to give you fatis. faction.
Would you expect from such a Revelation, a reasonable account of our first original ?-Look into the Mosaic history of the Creation; and there you will find, how the world, and how yourself, originally sprang from the divine fiat ; and in what manner we are the offspring of God.
Would you expect a narrative of such circumstances of God's dispensations towards us from the beginning, as would be correspondent with our constant experience and observation ?-The fame history will inform you of those irregular affections, and vitiated appetites and passions, which every
man finds in himself; and which have brought such destruction and misery upon the world, in all its fucceffive periods, fince Adam's fall.
Would you expect, that there fhould be early intimations of the method of our recovery from the state of sin and guilt, which we had brought ourselves into by our apoftasy?-You will there also find the gracious promise, that the seed of the woman mall bruise the serpent's head ; and deliver us from the deadly effects of his malicious temptation.
Would you desire to find a particular prediction of the promised Saviour, by whom we are to obtain a redemption ; his lineage and descent, the time, place and manner of his birth, the circumstances of his life, death and resurrection, a particular defcription of the nature, the subjects, and the continual progress of his kingdom!--Read the Prophecies of the Old Testament; and read the history in the New; and you will find such a correspondence and agreement, as will afford you matter of fullest satisfaction, that they are both from God.
Would you expect, that there should be some means to keep the promised Saviour in the conti. nued view of God's people, before his actual and perfonal manifestation ; and to keep alive, their faith and hope in him?-What were all their facrifices, their legal purifications, their prieithood, and all their long train of rites and ceremonies ; but institutions purposely adapted to that end?
Would you expect repeated and renewed tefti. monies from Heaven, to the professing people of God, that their religion was from him ; and that their faith and hope, excited by these typical insti. tutions, were built upon a fure foundation. Such were the miracles frequently wrought among them, the manifestation of the divine presence in the Shechinah, their Urim and Thummim, their frequent
Oracles, their fucceffion of Prophets, whose predictions respecting the Jews themselves, and the nations round about them, were continually fulfilled and fulfilling before their eyes; and the accomplish. ment of many of them are apparently open and visible to us also.
Would you suppose, that near the predicted time of the Saviour's appearance, not only the Jewish nation, but all others that were acquainted with their sacred books, would live in raised ex. pectations of this great and wonderful event! You will find in the Gospels, in Jofephus *, Tacitust, and Suetonius I, that this was the case in fact,
Would you expect, that when the Saviour did appear, he would by the holiness and beneficence of his life, and by numerous, open, and uncontested miracles, give such attestation to his divine mission, as would be fufficient evidence, that he was indeed the Meffiah so frequently predicted, and so earnestly expected ?-Do not the sacred historians answer your highest expectations in this respect !--In them you find, that the dead were raised, the sick healed, the maimed restored to the use of their limbs, the light of the blind recovered, the deaf brought to their hearing, the lepers cleansed, the demons ejected ; and, in a word, that the whole time of his ministry was a continued succession of the most beneficent and astonishing miracles ; miracles as surprising in their nature as their number, such as vastly exceed. ed the power of all created beings; and were therefore the strongest testimony from Heaven, that this Saviour most certainly was what he professed himself to be.
Would you expect, that this Saviour fhould ve. rify his divine mission to future times, by prophe. cies of succeeding events ?-Do not the Evangelists afford you many instances of such predictions, which have been clearly and fully accomplished ?-In these historians you will find, how he foretold the trea. fon of Judas, the shameful fall of Peter, with the flight of all his disciples, in that gloomy, dreadfulnight, when the Shepherd was smitten, and the sheep scattered. In these you will find, how he foretold the time and manner of his own death, the term of his continuance in the grave, with his glorious refurrection and ascension. You will there also find him foretelling the mission, divine inspiration, mira. culous powers, and glorious success of his apostles, and their fellow-labourers in the gospel ministry.-These historians do likewise set before you, his particular prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the abolition of the Temple, with the prodigies which preceded, the tribulation which accompanied, and the dispersion of the Jewish nation, which followed that amazing desolation.--And does not it sur. prise you to find from Josephus, that the twentyfourth chapter of Matthew, and the twenty-first chapter of Luke, are more like a history than a prophecy of that dreadful event?-- If you should yet further expect some predictions from him, that ex. tend to the present times, and are now visibly accomplished before your eyes; has he not foretold, and do you not find it true, That Jerufalem Mall continue to be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled?
afford • De Bell. Jud. Lib. vii. Cap. 31. † Hift. Cap. 13.
In Vefpaf. Cap. 4.
Would you expect, that when this Meffiah, according to the prophecies concerning him, was cut off, he should declare himself the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead-And has it not appeared true, that no precaution by sealing his tomb, and setting a guard over it, could prevent his triumph over the grave, and his appearing to great numbers of his disciples, and frequently