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heirs with Chrift, fons of fo rich a father, and heirs through grace, to fo glorious an inheritance; and yet fo little regard those ineftimable bleffings, that they feldom, if ever, take them into their ferious confideration, and set fo low a price on their birth-right, that they are ready, at all times, to fell it for a mefs of pottage? Any prefent gratification whatsoever.

Now, or never, therefore, it must be seasonable, to recal those who are thus walking in the broad way that leads to destruction, to strengthen the feeble knees, and kindle in the breafts of those who are neither cold nor hot, a flaming zeal for their most holy religion:- - And the only way to make this attempt fuccessful, is, to paint in its true, that is, in the moft lively and striking colours, our imaginations can fuggeft, the rational beauties of Christianity'; that fo the voluptuous may be induced to search for true delights, the covetous for riches, and the ambitious for honours at thofe never failing fprings, which can fully gratify their unbounded appetites, and render them completely happy.

It has, indeed, often been obferved that the practical Atheist, the Deift, and Infidel, with their feveral fubdivifions and denominations, are fo unreasonably prejudiced against every thing that bears the face of religion, so bigotted to their own opinions, and doating on their fancied liberty; that though the strongest and most convincing arguments have been brought against them; arguments which the wifeft of them have not been able to gainfay: they have, after all been found incurably deaf to conviction, and blind to demonstration. For which reafon many good men have discontinued these kind of exercises, as an undertaking fruitless and impoffible; and have even recommended to their brethren the like forbearance; left they fhould do the enemies work for them; by raifing doubts in the minds of others, who, perhaps, might never have had any but by hearing the infidel errors repeated.


This, we must confefs, would be a very, fubftantial objection, were it literally true; but even then, we would offer this in anfwer ;-profeffed irreligion, or fomething like it, now stalks abroad with most gigantic ftrides: infomuch that there is no confiderable place throughout the kingdom, but has more or less profeffed contemners of revelation :-If fo, what advantages may they not make; nay, what advantages have they not made, among the weak and illiterate ?-From our filence on fundamental principles, may they not infinuate, that we dare not attack them?-May they not impute our filence to the weakness of our cause?-We are fenfible how well adapted to the wickedness of the times are their doctrines, that men, who give the rein to pleasure and debauchery are willing to catch at the leaft gleam of a hope that they fhall not be called to judgment. To reflect on a future state when they can expect nothing but torment from it, must be a very uncomfortable employment:-No wonder then that the weakest arguments are ftrong enough to persuade fuch perfons to lift under the banner of infidelity. Moreover, how can we expect to turn the finner from his evil way, if we do not first of all demonstrate to him the danger of his fins, and at the same time lay before him the joyful doctrine of forgiveness?

The subjects, therefore, which we propofe to enter upon are well worth our utmost pains to set in the clearest light, and yours to hear with the most serious attention. To furnish the weak with convincing arguments for putting to filence the ignorance of foolish men, is furely no trivial undertaking.-This is what we hope to accomplish; and that you may have an idea of the probability of our fuccefs in this attempt, we shall lay down in a few words the method we intend to purfue.

In the first place, then, we shall endeavour to avoid every thing, which instead of improving, may confound the ideas of our hearers: we shall study to be plain and easy, rather than learned or abstruse: VOL. III.



and if we can prove, even to a demonftration, which, by the blef fing of God, we truft we can; that there is a great first cause, who created all things; that he is perfectly wife, and juft, and good ;if we can prove, that he certainly will, and neceffarily muft, either reward us hereafter for our virtues, or punish us for our vices; if we can prove the divine, that is, the infallible authority of the facred scriptures :—after such a foundation is laid, every doctrine we can deduce from thofe facred writings and principles, will command your affent and obedience: fince you must then be fenfible, that no less than your everlasting happiness or mifery is at stake.

In our discourse with thofe, who have finned themselves into Atheism, we trust fo to produce the world; the feveral parts of the creation; nay, their very felves, as living witnesses against them that we may safely appeal even to their own poor remains. of understanding, whether fuch things must not be the work of some Being superior to man, of an all-powerful God, whom though, we cannot fee with our outward eyes; yet by the light of reafon, we can plainly discern his fovereignty over the whole creation; we fhall prove, that the invisible things of God,, from the creation of the world, are clearly feen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead; fo that they are without excufe: we intend to be fo copious on this subject, as that none but those who are wilfully blind, shall doubt of fo glaring a truth: and till all men fhall evidence their knowledge and conviction of this first principle of every religion, by their lives and conversation,. we muft regard apologies for infisting on fuch plain and common topics, not only as fuperfluous, but ridiculous.

In our proof of a future state, that those who would willingly believe there is no fuch thing, may not have the poor pretence of faying it is to be discovered by no way, but from the fcriptures, the authority whereof they call in question; we shall first lay afide revelation, and prove from reason, that as the Being of a God, which we hope to have then put beyond the reach of contradiction,


is certain; fo is his divine juftice. We fhall prove, therefore, from the nature of the foul, the almoft univerfal confent of mankind, the unequal diftribution of the good things of this life, and from other fubftantial, and we hope convincing arguments that there must be a life after this, where the just and upright man, will meet with a full compensation for all his troubles and misfortunes; and he that is habitually wicked will be configned over to fuch inexpreffible torments, as his wilful oppofition 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 facred fcriptures, we shall take notice of their infinite univerfal importance, as well as the ftyle and manner in which they are delivered; then shew that the books of Mofes 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 wifest 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 poffibly have forfeen or foretold fuch contingencies; and the conclufion will be very natural; namely, that the facred fcriptures must be written by divine infpiration.

From thence we shall proceed to the proof of the Chriftian Religion from its completion of the antient prophecies; from its ftu pendous miracles; from the rapid progress it made in so short a time, and its uninterrupted continuance ever fince; from the indifputable teftimony of men, who abandoned every thing, life itself, in defence of a doctrine, of the truth whereof they had every poffible

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evidence. And we have a good hope, when these things are duly weighed, you will be convinced of the abfolute neceffity there is for every one of us to follow the precepts of our most holy religion; to serve God with all our fouls, and with all our strength; to be constant in the due discharge of our public as well as private duties; to be honest and juft in all our dealings; to love our neighbours as ourselves; to do to all men, as we would they fhould do unto us -In a word, to work out our falvation with fear and trembling.

In the profecution of these few promifed difcourfes, 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 inconteftible; and adapting them, as much as poffible, 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 wifeft of men and above all, we must beg you to confider, that fome doctrines concerning the most high God, and the manner of his relation to us,-the mysteries of religion, must necessarily be above the capacities and comprehenfions of the most learned and fagacious. And therefore if we should not be able to explain, or give perfect fatisfaction in fome particulars, we hope you will distinguish between want of ability in us, and want of evidence in the things themselves. It is fufficient if we prove them to be certainly and infallibly true, though incapable of explaining how they are fo: fo that our ignorance and imperfect performance can be no ways prejudicial to the Christian caufe, 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 been already urged in defence of so just and good a caufe; but we must acknowledge, that


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