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the abstraction of enthusiasts; nothing of that con tempt of order and propriety which such men ever display : all their actions were consistent with reason and directed by utility-intrepid and persevering, but cool and steady, in preaching the gospel, they guarded their safety and reputation, as far as was consistent with their sacred work; if they despised the favour of man, it was only when they could not obtain it without violating their duty to God ; if they chearfully encountered shame, and suffering, and death, it was to fecure themselves, and lead mankind to obtain the rewards of an eternal life.
And as in their private conduct and views they were rational and sober, in the government of the church they were prudent and cautious, mild and decorous, zealous without violence, and steady without obstinacy; they were ever careful to avoid every occasion of offence, and prompt to conciliate and concede, as far as concession was justifiable, making due allowance for every prejudice, and guarding against every cause of diffenfion; they provided wisely and effectually for the edification and harmony, the rapid spread and the permanent security of the church of Christ.
Nor do their WRITINGS breath the spirit of fobriety less evidently than their lives. The stile of fanatics is ever obscure, arrogant and violent; the stile of the New Testament is the very reverse of this the histo
rical writings plain and calm, and unexaggerated, detailing the facts which establish the unparalleled perfection of their divine Lord with the particularity and consistency of truth, and the most signal coolness and impartiality; while their epistles are in the highest degree natural, rational and affectionate, suited to the occasions which produced them, and the relation which the writers bore to the different persons whom they addressed-instructing their ignorance and encouraging their virtues-rebuking their offences without bitterness--vindicating their own characters from calumny, without betraying any excessive resentment -and maintaining their own authority, as religious instructors and guides, without any trace of spiritual pride, any arrogant claims to full perfection of virtue.
Next to the stile and subject matter of their writings, we have examined the nature of the several moral precepts they deliver, and this has appeared most strongly contrasted with the errors of fanaticism. Men infected with this, ever neglect or corrupt morality ; their devotion is gloomy and extravagant their principles of social conduct unnatural and erroneous—their ideas of personal merit and self-regulation wild, harsh and impracticable: the morality of the gospel is utterly free from all these defects, and eminently distinguished by the opposite excellencies; teaching heart-felt piety to God, without any affecta: T
tion of rapturous extacy or extravagant fervor-a piety chastened and controuled by discretion and humility. We perceive that its just pre-eminence is allowed to internal sincerity, while to outward rites and observances their due importance is preserved; every virtue has its just order and value in the Chriftian scheme-every focial duty is taught in the clearest manner, and enforced by the strongest motives~ towards our neighbour strict equity and active benevolence is inculcated; while the mind is trained to rational and habitual self-government, founded on piety, promotive of internal purity, and leading by constant vigilance to final perfection.
Such is the fystem of Christian morality. Surely such a system as this, not only could not have been the offspring of wild, senseless fanaticism, but so far transcended all preceding efforts of human reason, as well as all natural powers ånd attainments of its authors, that it can scarcely be ascribed to any fource but the dictates of divine wisdom providing for human happiness.
To this system of morality the gospel adds a scheme of speculative doctrines, in which every certain truth of natural religion is maintained in the strongest manner, is confirmed by new proofs, and placed in the clearest light; and in which all doubts as to our present relation to God, and our future expectations,
are decided exactly in that way which coincides with the opinions of the most enlightened reason, and best promotes the interests of virtue aud religion, and this undebased by any mixture of those fictions and extravagancies which fanaticism would almost inevita ably have dictated; and even the most abstruse and mysterious doctrines of the Christian scheme do not appear to have been such as were likely to originate in any delusions of imagination, but rather such as were directly connected with, and evidently grounded on the plain facts of the gospel history, and thence clearly supported by a divine authority.
It should not be forgotten, that in the course of this enquiry many facts and circumstances have forced on our obfervance the fincerity and integrity of our Lord and his apostles, their compleat freedom from all mercenary and ambitious, all narrow and interested views, so that it seems to be established beyond controversy, that they were neither deceivers, nor deceived ; and if this is admitted, the facts they attest are certainly true, and as certainly Christianity is of divine original.
It deserves also to be noticed, that
noticed, that many circumstances have accidentally occurred in the course of this enquiry confirming, in the strongest manner, the genuineness and authenticity of the New Testament, the particularity and consistency of the gospels, the references in the epistles to private, and local, and domestic particulars, their containing answers to questions and letters coming from the perfons to whom they are addressed: these and a variety of other particulars, render it almost wholly incredible that these epistles should not have been the writings of the apostles whose names they bear; and if so, the whole series of facts on which Christianity rests, is established beyond the possibility of doubt.
Indeed the supposition that the New Testament was not genuine and authentic, carries with it inextricable difficulties : whoever were its authors, their fyftem of morality proves they were in the highest de. gree pious, honest and rational, anxious for the improvement of mankind in purity and virtue, justice and benevolence; and how is it possible to reconcile with this the idea of their being guilty of the groffest forgery, and imposing upon the world the most atrocious and impious falsehoods as to the divine conduct and divine dispensations ; leading men to adore a crucified deceiver as the Son of God and Judge of the world?
The true reason why men are not sufficiently impressed with the view of the direct evidence of the gospel is, that they do not sufficiently reflect on the extreme absurdities and contradictions they must fall into if they deny the force of that evidence; they