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nesses produced for this matter of fact, were eye-witnesser of it, and were capable of giving their testimony in a mat. ter where nothing but common sense and understanding were required. The action, and all the circumstances of it, are related with the greatest plainness imaginable; they all concur in their testimony, and the greatest sufferings never prevailed upon them to deny or conceal it. And it is not to be imagined, that so many among the first converts to Christianity, who were famous for their learning, and judgment, and inquisitive temper, and who were brought up in the prejudices of a false religion, should have declared themselves worshippers of a crucified Saviour under all worldly disadvantages, if the evidence of our Saviour's resurrection, upon the strictest examination, had not appeared in the clearest light, so that there could no doubt remain concerning the truth of it.*
Q. How was the resurrection of our Saviour an evidence of his divine mission ?
A. It fulfilled the prophecy concerning the Messiah, that he should not see corruption, and it confirmed the truth of what our Saviour had asserted in relation to his being the true Messiah, and the Son of God, agreeably to those ex pectations which the Jews had concerning the Messiah. God, by raising him from the dead, did plainly demonstrate to the world, that our Saviour was no impostor, and that he did not vainly arrogate to himself those titles of King of İsrael, and Son of God, for which he was crucified and put to death : for if such evidence as this could be given to a deceiver, we should be at a loss ever to distinguish a true prophet.
Q. What evidence had our Saviour besides miracles of his being a person sent from God?
A. Christ had the utmost testiinony of divine authority by the spirit of prophecy, which resided in him, and which was made manifest by the accomplishments of his own predictions; and whenever the predictions have been plain and clear, and the event answerable, it hath always been counted a sure proof of a divine mission ; upon which account the angel tells St. John, that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Thus our Saviour foretold his own death, with the manner of it, and the circumstances of o Romans x. 9.
p Rev. xix. 10. * The evidence of the resurrection of Christ is more fully exhibited in the chapter on Easter Sunday.
his sufferings; the treachery of Judas, the cowardice of his disciples, and St. Peter's denying him; his own resurrection, and the descent of the Holy Ghost.: He prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem, which came to pass in forty years after his own death, within the
compass of that
generation, as he had foretold :' the very foundations of the temple and city were destroyed, and the ground ploughed up, so that there was not left one stone upon another that was not thrown down, according to our Saviour's prediction. And, indeed, the signs that he foretold should precede the destruction of that city, with the concomitant and subsequent circumstances, exactly agree with that particular and credible history of the fact related by Josephus, a Jew. Christ assured his disciples that his gospel should be published in all nations, and that his religion should prevail against all the opposition of worldly power and malice, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it.' The fulfilling of these predictions prove a prophetic spirit in our Saviour, and, consequently, his divine authority.
Q. What evidence did the apostles give of their divine mission?
A. As witnesses, they justified the credibility of their testimony, in testifying only of such things as they themselves had seen and heard, and in hazarding their lives for this testimony, and sealing it with their blood. And God was pleased to confirm this testimony, by endowing them with the power of working miracles, whereby they spake all languages, healed diseases, cast out devils, foretold things to come, raised the dead. These sensible demonstrations of a divine power gave credit to their testimony among those to whom they were otherwise unknown, and enabled them to establish throughout the earth the pure and self-denying religon of their Master, though it was opposed by the pride, the prejudices, and the power of the world.
Q Since the proof of the Christian religion to us, in the present age, depends on our being satisfied of the truth of the matters of fact recorded in the gospel, what method will you take to prove this point ?
A. There are four rules that make it impossible for matters of fact to be false, where they all concur. First, That the matter of fact be such as that men's outward senses, their eyes and ears, may be judges of it. Secondly, That it be done publicly in the face of the world. Thirdly, That not only public monuments be kept in memory of it, but that some outward action commemorating it should ever afterwards be performed. Fourthly, That such monuments and such actions or observances be instituted and do commence from the time when the matter of fact was done.
Matt. xx. 19. Mark x. 33, 34. Matt. xvi. 21. xxvi. 21, &c. Luke xxiv. Mark xvi. 17, 18. i Leslie's Short and Easy Method with the Deists.
r Matt. xxiv.
& Matt. xxiv. 14. XX. 8. xvi. 18. 49.
Q. Wherein appear the advantages of these rules for the proof of matters of fact?
A. The two first rules make it impossible for any such matter of fact to be imposed upon men at the time it was said to be done ; because every man's eyes and senses would contradict it. And the two last rules make it impossible that
any such matter of fact should be invented some time after, and imposed upon the credulity of after ages; because, whenever such matter of fact came to be invented, if not only monuments were said to remain of it, but likewise public actions and observances were said to be constantly used ever since the matter of fact was said to be done, the deceit must be detected by no such monuments appearing, and by the experience of all persons, who must know that no such actions or observances were used by them.
Q. Show how these four rules meet in the matters of fact recorded in the gospel of our blessed Saviour.
A. According to the two first rules, the matters of fact of the gospel were such of which men's outward senses, their eyes and ears, could judge, and were done publicly in the face of the world; and thus our Saviour argues with his accusers," I spake openly to the world, and in secret have 1 said nothing: And it is related in the Acts," that three thousand at one time, and five thousand at another, were converted
upon the conviction of what they had seen, what had been done publicly before their eyes, wherein it was impossible to have imposed upon them. According to the two last rules, we find Baptism and the Lord's Supper were instituted as perpetual memorials of these things, and this at the very time when these things were said to be done ; and have been observed, without interruption, in all ages, through the whole Christian world, from that time to the present : And Christ himself did ordain apostles and other ministers of his gospel to preach and administer these sacraments, and to govern his Church, and that always unto the end of the world; and they
w Jobp xviii. 20.
• Acts ii. 41.
w Acte iv. 4.
have accordingly continued to this day. So that if the gospel were a fiction, and invented, as it must be, in some ages after Christ, then at that time, when it was first invented, there could be no such saeraments, nor order of clergy, as derived themselves from the institution of Christ; which must give the lie to the gospel, and demonstrate the whole to be false : and, therefore, by the last two rules, it was as impossible to have imposed upon mankind in this matter, by inventing the gospel in after ages, as at the time when these things were said to be done.
Q. How does the intrinsic evidence of the Christian revelation confirm the external evidence that was given to it?
A. The Christian religion excels all other institutions of religion that ever appeared in the world. It is every way worthy of God, and agreeable to reason. The great fears and doubts of mankind, concerning the way of appeasing the offended justice of God, are removed and satisfied; and the wisdom of God hath so disposed the method of our salvation, that by the sacrifice of the cross, both the dishonour that was done to his justice and holiness is satisfied, and the guilty fears of men relieved. The reward the Christian religion proposes is excellent in itself, lasting in its duration, and plainly revealed. The precepts laid down for the direction of our lives comprehend all virtues, that relate either to God, our neighbour, or ourselves. These should have cleared what was doubtful, by the light of nature, and have made the improvements of it necessary parts of our duty. It supplies us with powerful aid for the performance of our duty ; light for our dark m is, strength for our weak resolutions, and courage for all our difficulties : and, above all, it sets before us an exact and perfect pattern for our instruction and encouragement. So that the Christian revelation itself, as well as the external evidence, proves its divine original.
Q. Wherein appears the great guilt of those that reject the Christian revelation ?
A. They who reject the Christian revelation resist the utmost evidence that any religion is capable of receiving, both from its intrinsic value, and from that external attestation that God has been pleased to give it by miracles and prophecies; and, consequently, by this act, they condemn themselves, because they reject the only means of their salvation.
Note. For the prayer see the end of the volume.
Its nature as a Society, the Form of its Ministry, the Extent
of its Powers, and the Limits of our Obedience
Q. DOES it not appear from scripture that the Church is a well-formed regular society ?
A. It appears from scripture that the Christian Church is not a confused multitude of men, independent one on another, but a well-formed and regular society. It is called a family, whereof Christ is the master, of whom the whole family is named. It is said to be the city of the living God, whence Christian people are fellow-citizens with the saints,And it is often mentioned as a kingdom, of which Christ is the king : Thus, in our Lord's words, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven;" where the Church and the Kingdom of Heaven mean the same thing. As a family, a city, and a kingdom, are societies, and the Christian Church is represented
by them, that must likewise be a society.
Q. Is not the Christian Church a society founded by God, and are not all men obliged to become members of it?
A. The Christian Church is not a mere voluntary society; but one whereof men are obliged to be members, as they value their everlasting happiness : for it is a society appointed by God, with enforcements of rewards and punishments. That it is of God's appointment is certain ; for it is the Church of the living God." That it is enforced with rewards and punis.32 Eph. ill. 14, 15.
2 Eph. ii. 19.
a Matt. xvi. 18, 19
y Heb. xii. 22.
31 Tim. iii. 15.