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from Heaven. In that sacred character it has been regarded and acknowledged by the wisest, the greatest, and the best of mankind; and after a full investigation of the evidences on which it rests, they have added their testimony to its truth and divine authority. It is our duty, however, not to take a matter of such great importance upon trust, but to weigh and examine for ourselves. All that I request is, that we pursue this inquiry with the candour and even solemnity of mind which are due to its infinite importance. Its infinite importance appears,

1. From the nature of the question on which we are to decide. The message professes to be from God, and to relate to my well-being through eternity. If, indeed, it be from my Sovereign Ruler and Judge, it concerns me deeply not to reject it, not to treat it with indifference, but to give it the reception to which it is entitled. It offers evidences of its heavenly origin, external and internal, varied and numerous ; and it requires me to examine these under the feeling of responsibility to God, before deciding on its claims. It were easy to form a judgment if there were in the message any thing palpably false or immoral, or if the credentials of the messenger were deficient and inadequate ; but the contrary is the case, so much so, that they are the most appropriate which a messenger from Heaven could produce. He, therefore, who, in these circumstances, decides against the divine authority of the Bible, decides—if that book be indeed from the Supreme Governor and Judge of the universe against argument, and duty, and God, and takes upon himself a tremendous responsibility.

2. The importance of the inquiry in which we are engaged further appears, from the nature and contents of that communication which professes to come from God. These, it is true, may produce a strong bias in its favour; but they may, and I fear in some unhappy instances do, give rise to a bias of an opposite description. Is the love of the truth the only affection that influences the human mind in relation to this subject ? Are there not some persons who love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil ? Is the man who yields to passion and appetite, who lives for time, not for eternity; for earth, not for heaven ; in the mere pursuit and enjoyment of animal gratification, and not as an intelligent and immortal being, likely to have his partialities secured in favour of a book which declares that the God with whom he has to do is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity,--that the Saviour whom it proclaims requires his followers to renounce the practice of sin and ungodliness, and to follow him in the exercise of virtue and self-denial, and that the day of final retribution, which it reveals, will decide the everlasting destiny of the righteous and the wicked ? Still, the discoveries of the Bible are in their nature fitted to affect the heart, and to secure a judgment favourable to the divine authority of the book which contains them. They are so, not only because they relate to themes of unequalled grandeur and sublimity, but because they give that knowledge which is most needed by mankind—the knowledge of the only true God, and of Jesus Christ whom he has sentthe knowledge of the way in which man may obtain favour and acceptance with his Maker—and of the life and immortality beyond

the grave.

3. This inquiry demands that it should be prosecuted with a spirit corresponding to its nature and importance. It is almost superfluous to say, that a question, on the right decision of which interests of incalculable moment depend, should be studied in the spirit of humility and seriousness. The communication, be it always remembered, professes to come from God; and it therefore may contain matter offensive to our pride, to our earthlymindedness, to our love of self-indulgence. But this circumstance, as it does not in the least weaken its claims to our reverential regard, so neither should it hinder us from cherishing that lowly and candid temper of mind, which

is the most favourable to the discovery and the reception of truth. It was the remark of a great man, that “the mystery of an incarnate and crucified Saviour must necessarily confound the reason, and shock the prejudices, of a mind which will admit nothing that it cannot perfectly reduce to the principles of philosophy. The whole tenor of the life of Christ, the objects he pursued, and the profound humiliation he exhibited, must convict of madness and folly the favourite pursuits of mankind. The virtues usually practised in society, and the models of excellence most admired there, are so remote from that holiness which is enjoined in the New Testament, that it is impossible for a taste which is formed on the one to perceive the charms of the other. The happiness which it proposes, in a union with God, and a participation in the image of Christ, is so far from being congenial to the inclinations of worldly men, that it can scarcely be mentioned without exciting their ridicule and scorn. 'General speculations on the Deity have much to amuse the mind, and to gratify that appetite for the wonderful, which thoughtful and speculative men are delighted to indulge. Religion, viewed in this light, appears more in the form of an exercise to the understanding, than a law to the heart. Here the soul expatiates at large, without feeling itself controlled or alarmed. But when evangelical truths are presented, they bring God so near, if we may be allowed the expression, and speak with so commanding a voice to the conscience, that they leave no alternative but that of submissive acquiescence or proud revolt.”*

Hence the peculiar difficulties which are to be encountered in examining the claims of Christianity; difficulties which are to be overcome only by cherishing an humble and teachable, and may I not add, prayerful frame of mind? A question in physical science may be investigated as an intellectual exercise, without any disturbing

# Robert Hall.

force to unfit the mind for its deliberations; but it is far otherwise in regard to the question of the divine origin of the religion of the Bible. Here the feelings are engaged as well as the intellect, the heart as well as the understanding; and if, in the course of the investigation, the dispositions which are natural to man are allowed to have the ascendency, and to overpower the judgment, then the result will be a partial verdict ; given, not according to evidence, but to inclination. In order to escape that unhappy result, it is necessary to subdue the dispositions which lead to it. Unless this is done with honesty of purpose and determination to know the truth, we may have eyes, but see not. What avails it that the claims of the Scriptures are sustained by a mass of evidence that they are supported by history-confirmed by prophecy-strongly enforced and recommended by their own divine purity—strengthened and rendered irresistibly powerful by an harmonious combination of proofs, various and affecting,-if we are incapable of perceiving, through the influence of prejudice, passion, and the inveterate love of sin ? While the disposition continues opposed to the reception of divine truth, is not the individual who cherishes it interested in resisting the evidence which proves that truth to be divine ?

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” This honest disposition of mind is indispensable to the successful prosecution of this inquiry, in consequence,

4. Of the obligations which the admission of the truth of Christianity involves. On the supposition that the sufficiency of the evidences of the divine origin of the Scriptures is acknowledged, there remains no alternative, even for the man of science and accomplishment, but to sit at the feet of Jesus, in the attitude of a lowly disciple, to receive truth on the testimony of God in that revelation of his will which is accessible to the peasant as to the philosopher. According to the inductive philosophy, such a person would feel himself bound to receive those truths which

have been ascertained by observation and experiment, without regard to mere conjectural hypothesis. But if we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, and is in every way more entitled to our unlimited confidence. We violate the rule of sound philosophy, if, in place of humbly receiving all the truth which the divine testimony sets forth, we speculate and dogmatize on its nature, receive it partially, and resist the spirit and design of the whole. If, by our examination of the evidences of the truth of the Bible, we are led to a firm belief in its divine authority, let us abide by the result of our inquiry, just as we should feel bound to abide by the results to which the principles of philosophical investigation might lead us; and as, in the one case, we should receive facts, and the truths resulting from them, on the testimony of competent observers; so, in the other, let us receive, on the testimony of God, all the doctrines which he has been pleased graciously to reveal ; and which, be cause they are fitted, as they are intended, to make man wise unto salvation, are worthy of all acceptation. Honesty of intention, and docility of disposition, are as necessary at the termination of an examination of the evidences of Christianity, as at its commencement, and during its progress. Having arrived at a conviction of the divine origin of the Scriptures, we are laid under the most sacred obligation to receive them as the only rule of faith, the supreme standard of duty, and the only source of future hope. The man who, from pride of understanding, or depravity of heart, trifles with or rejects the evidence of divine revelation, is, on the supposition of its being truly divine, guilty of “ making God a liar;" but he who believes in the conclusiveness of this evidence, and yet disputes the doctrines or injunctions which this evidence proves to be from God, is chargeable with far greater inconsistency, and obnoxious to severer condemnation.

5. I shall now make a few observations on the ad. vantages arising from an intimate acquaintance with the

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