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The Author's Review and Conclufion.
ACTS VII. I.
ARE THESE THINGS. SO?
AVING in the foregoing difcourfes advanced a variety of arguments to demonftrate THE TRUTH AND SAFETY OF
THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, I fhall beg leave to take a fhort review of what has been fo laid before you, that I may with the greater propriety put the question home to your hearts and confciences, namely, ARE THESE THINGS SO?
You may remember then, that in my first difcourfe, I proved the existence of a God from the various and inimitable works of the creation; from thence I proceeded to demonstrate a future ftate from the nature of the foul; from the miferies of this life, the unequal distribution of the good things thereof; and from the concurrent confent of mankind. As these truths may be clearly proved from the voice of nature and reafon, without the affistance of revelation, I flatter myself, I brought fuch arguments to fupport the doctrine propofed, as cannot fairly be confuted.-The next step I deemed neceffary to take was, to demonftrate the divine authority of the facred fcriptures, which I hope I have done, to the conviction of thofe of my hearers, who might poffibly be wavering in their opinion before. That we might not perplex or
burthen your memories with too great a number of arguments we rested the matter here;-that the ftyle and manner in which those writings of the infpired penmen are delivered, are every way fuperior to any human compofitions; and as an undeniable proof of their validity, I collected a small number of prophecies, small in comparison of what might be produced, which I proved to be fulfilled in a wonderful manner and as these were principally extracted from the Old Teftament,-in my last discourse, I selected. fuch paffages from the writings of the Evangelifts and Apostles, recorded in the New, as were moft liable to exception, and proved that even pagan writers confirmed the truth of the evangelical histories. When I had fatisfied you concerning the authenticity of our BIBLE, I imagined that nothing more was neceflary in order to convince you of the truth of the chriftian religion, but to lay before you the miraculous manner in which the gofpel was promulged and propagated; namely, by the means only of a few fishermen and labourers, who from being weak, timid and illiterate, grew on a fudden, not only learned and eloquent, but bold and intrepid ; who preached up Christ crucified to the conviction. of thoufands; and at laft fealed the truth by encountering various deaths in far diftant parts,, and almost all over the face of the whole habitable earth. And, in order that no kind of evidence might be wanting, I laid before you a fhort hiftory of St. Paul, who from a Jew became a chriftian, from a perfecutor a martyr; who relinquished at once all the honours and pleafures of this world for the humble doctrines of the crofs; and who gloried in nothing so much, as that God had vouchfafed to call him to the knowledge of his fon Jefus Chrift; that he had separated him from the rest of his nation to preach the gofpel, to fuffer all manner of worldly shame and forrow, and to lay down his life as a confirmation of the truth of thofe things which he fo openly de'red to the whole world. This is the plan I have purfued, and
no effential article, I hope, has been left unfettled; and therefore I think, I may now with boldness put the question in our text, "ARE THESE THINGS SO?" And I queftion not, but that all of you will, with one confent, join with me, and ingenuously acknowledge THAT THEY ARE SO.
In the prosecution of thefe difcourfes, you may have obferved, that in order to avoid ambiguity, we have faid little or nothing concerning the mysteries of the christian religion; and our reason for fo doing was this, that when we had led you, step by step, to a confeffion of a few general truths, fuch as the being of a God, the certainty of a future ftate, and the truth of the historical parts of the facred scriptures; when we had demonftrated to you, that the writings contained in the Old and New Testament were dictated by the aid and affiftance of the Spirit of God, and that neither the one nor the other could be mere human compofitions, we might then draw this natural and undeniable conclufion, that every doctrine, and every mystery that can be clearly proved from those facred' writings, muft command our affent, though confeffedly beyond the reach of our weak comprehenfion. For it is fufficient for us, that we find them recorded as articles of our faith, in those facred books; and what other and stronger arguments can we defire for the confirmation of their truth? As it is an impracticable, fo it is a dangerous attempt to aim at rendering divine myfteries easy and intelligible to any human comprehenfion,-and to say, that we will believe nothing but what we can clearly conceive, is equally abfurd and childish; for how many things are moft incontestably true, that we cannot poffibly account for ? All we know is, that they are. That there is a God ;—that all nature dies, and revives again in due feafon ;-that we have rational and immortal: fouls. These are as great mysteries of Almighty nower as the doc trine of the ever-bleffed Trinity itfelf. That fuch things are, we are well affured, but how they came to be fo, is a secret refolv