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The oppofition to the gofpel at this time, appears in a different form from that in the early days of chriftianity. Then the followers of Chrift, were accused before magistrates, or infulted by mobs, or anathematized by fynagogues and councils; now, our perfons are fafe, and our religious worship is undifturbed; but we hear our mafter defamed, and the writers of his life abused. The extraordinary facts which they have recorded, are either reprefented as incredible; or made, the fubject of profane wit. A fpecies of vulgar infidelity, founded partly in pedantry, partly in debauchery and partly in ill manners, is infinuating itfelf into the minds of the thoughtless, and the moft facred truths are rejected and ridiculed, with, out an examination of their evidence, or a confideration of their importance.
Among other ebullitions of this fpecies of infidelity lately prefented to the "Citizens of America" by a popular writer, I find the following.*
* Age of reafon, p. 14. American Edition,
THOMAS did not believe the refurrection; and would not believe, without having ocular and manual demonftration himfelf. So neither will 1 I; and the reafon is equally as good for me, and for every other perfon, as for Thomas."
It is true that Thomas did not believe the report of the refurrection from his brethren; but it is equally true that when he had fatisfactory evidence of its truth he did believe it. At the fame time that Jefus condefcended to give him all the ocular and manual demonstration,” which it was necessary for him as an apostle to have, he accompanied *the condefcenfion with this memorable declaration. Thomas, because thou haft feen me thou haft believed, bleffed are they who have not feen and yet have believed.”* • Plainly giving him to understand that the actual fight which he demanded, and with which he was indulged, is not equally neceffary for all,
* John xx. 29.
as for him; but that there may be a true faith without it; that perfons who have not enjoyed it, and who cannot enjoy it, may have fuch evidence offered to them as will be a fufficient ground of faith, and give them a title to true bleffedness. What this evidence is, may be learned from the remark of the evangelical historian immediately following. "Many other figns truly did Jefus in the presence of his difciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written, that ve might believe, that Jefus is the Chrift, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life, through his name, ad colle
Whilft the apoftles lived, their tefti mony delivered in their public or private difcourfes amounted to credible evidence of this great event; but as they knew themselves to be mortal, they were directed by the fame influence which conducted them through all their evangelical labours to commit to writing
P. 30, 31.
fuch things as were neceffary to be a proper foundation for faith. Though they did not record every discourse, or every fign, or action of their master, yea though they might omit fome circumstances of those things which they have recorded; yet there is enough written to convince every ferious and - candid inquirer, that Jefus was the 3 Chrift, the Son of God and therefore that there is a fure foundation for the hope of falvation by him.
The gofpel, and particularly that capital part of it, the refurrection of Jefus, is propofed to us, not barely as an object of faith; but as containing the hope of eternal life. It is set before us, not merely to be believed as a matter of fact; but to be trusted in as a matter of importance to us; as that on which our everlafting intereft depends. This is a juft view of the gofpel, and we cannot rightly eftimate its value, without taking both thefe ideas into the account. For if the gofpel, or the re
furrection of Jefus, were propofed merely as an object of belief, without any confideration of our intereft in it, fome perfon might fay, "What is this to me? It may be true, or it may not be true. I have no leifure for inquiries, but into thofe things with which I have fome concern. I must attend to my business, and leave fubjects of fpeculative inquiry to men who have time and genius to purfue them." Or, on the other hand, if it were propofed to us, as a ground of expectation,, without any, rational evidence of its truth, fome might fay, "How can I entertain hope, without fome evidence which fatisfies my mind ? I cannot place my expectation, where I can see no reason for confidence. My eternal interest is an object too precious to be committed, to any perfon as a fayiour, but, to one, concerning whofe character and qualifications I can be fatisfi ed on reasonable evidence."
To prevent objections of either kind the gofpel of Jefus Chrift, and particu