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SERM.of mind, which Christianity produceth in III. him, a strong presumption in favour of the
a uthor of it is unavoidably suggested; and hard it will be for him to perswade himself, that the person, to whom he oweth this discipline, was an impostor.. :
Let it be farther observed, with what an honest negligence, a person, in this state of mind, must bear objections raised against Christianity, taken only from little circumstances ; or things not material to the great design of it, of which men given to difputation may seem to make a great deal. The sense of what it hath produced, and the presumption in its favour arising from that, will not be overcome by such objections. Truth, indeed, by a candid mind will always be embraced, and no valuable interest will ever suffer by it. So that if the evidences of the truth and divine authority of the Christian religion could be clearly overthrown, an honest and fair mind must then give it up : but when there is such strong proof, that Christ was sent of God ; objections raised, at such a distance of time from the great facts, or taken, perhaps, from some things not at all essential to the religion of Christ, which
are hard to be understood, however by men Serm. of subtile minds plausibly urged, will very III. little avail. And he, who, being a sincere believer, hath, as the Apostle John speak- ' eth, the witness in himself, will not find reason to be greatly moved by them.
Nothing can be more natural, than for a believer to reason after this manner, with, a person, who would persuade him to renounce Christianity—What is it you would have me to do? Would you have me to cease to love my Maker, to adore and worship, to serve and obey, and in all things to submit myself to him? Or would you have me to cease to love my neighbour, to be benevolent, generous, and liberal, tender-hearted, just, and faithful ? Would you have me to give up purity, charity, temperance, moderation, and all the discipline of the mind, which I see is necessary to make me what I ought to be? Would you have me not to pursue, what I clearly perceive to be the very end of my being ? and to desert a state the most ho. nourable, worthy, and happy, which human nature can be in? Surely, this cannot be your meaning. Now, if I am to be a worthy, an honest and a good man, I
Serm. must still conduct life as I have hitherto
faith, profess what I will. What is it then
as our Saviour hath declared, such an ab- SERM. stractedness from the world, and indepen- III. dance on all things temporal, as he hath bored Thewed, and which he taught all his difciples, ---thefe furely have nothing in them, which favoureth of imposture. If we shall suppose the most friendly and upright mind to have really descended from heaven, to be the teacher of mankind, he must on the whole have taught as our San viour did. And why should I not receive his testimony, the receiving of which can, in no respect, obstruct, but greatly aideth me in my progress towards that perfection, which is my highest aim in life? If all this should be looked upon as no more than presumption, yet it will be acknowledged to be a strong presumption ; and in which the mind may rest perfectly secure against fuffering by it in any respect.
I shall conclude this discourse with one very natural inference from what hath been faid, and which may be very properly addressed to believers ; namely, that one way to become established in the Christian faith is to be diligent in the practice of Christianity ; to give the greatest pains in fubduing all irregular affe&tions, and in
Serm.cultivating those, which are good and wor
III. thy ; in doing good, and bringing forth un the fruits of righteousness. The purer the
heart and the life are, the more discerning the moral eye will be. And as corrupt afa fections bribe and biass the understanding, and pervert the judgment ; so purity and goodness of heart prepare the mind for acting its part with impartiality, and for judging aright. But what is principally to my purpose is, that men, who conform their tempers and actions to the precepts of Christianity, and attain to the holy and divine life, must have, in themselves, a witness to the happy tendencies, blessed effects, and to the importance of that religion ; a witness, which other, men have not. They must be sensible, that they are in a right state, and enjoy human nature and human life in the best manner. And furely, nothing will more contribute to establish the mind in believing, than this. The direct evidences of the truth and divine authority of the, religion of Jesus, from prophesies and miracles, are strong and convincing to the judgment : but it is the experimental sense of what that reli