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cure. But enough mischief remains, to call on the minister of religion to erect the standard of the Cross amidst the ruins, and display aloft the flaming torch of revelation before the astounded and bewildered world.
5. It is partly a result of this spurious philosophy, and partly the effect of other causes, that the Christian religion has been too frequently passed by and slighted in our literature, in our projects of education, in our schemes of benevolence, in our plans for diffusing useful knowledge, even where it is far from being expressly disavowed. It has come to be a received maxim with many, that the peculiarities of the Christian faith, its vital truths, its elevating hopes, its mysterious benefits are, as if by common consent, to be kept out of sight. Our piety rises no higher than natural religion. All beyond is bigotry and superstition. A temporizing policy like this blights with a deadly indifference all the bloom of Christianity, robs it of its peculiar glory, and reduces it to the cold detail of external morals. The channels of public information are poisoned. A pernicious neutrality pre vai . Education is divorced from religion. Knowledge is accounted sufficient to restrain the passions and purify the heart. The hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus, the fall of man, the redemption of the cross, the grace of the Holy Spirit, are forgotten, evaded, opposed, maligned. Unless therefore heavenly wisdom utter her voice loudly in the streets, and plant the standard of Christianity, as the centre of holiness and truth, in the openings of the gates, and amidst the crowds of our youthful population, we must expect the more daring invasions of human pride, and the weakening, in the next age, of the venerable and sacred bulwarks of our common faith.
6. As the unavoidable effect of all this, the minds of Christians generally, are in more danger than usual from the assault of sceptical doubts. The very excitement of the present day, on subjects connected with religion, which has kept pace with the assaults of infidelity, leaves the uninformed believer more exposed to the revulsion which a state of decayed sensibility brings on. When men of warm religious affections are thrown upon their principles, if those principles are unsupported by solid grounds of reason, and some acquaintance with the evidences of Christianity, they are apt to give way for a time, and leave the mind open to the temptations of the spiritual adversary. The rock, indeed, of the Christian faith remains firm and immoveable, and the sincere believer, though washed off for a moment by the swelling surge, will regain his footing; yet
it is important to prepare him for the storm, and assist him in making fast his position, and teach him how to resist and baffle the waves. He must be duly instructed in the foundation of his faith, and have his mind thoroughly imbued with the collective force of the Christian evidences, in order to be prepared for temptation, and guarded against the danger of apostacy from the faith.
The thoughtful Christian, however, need not fear the result of the present agitation of the public mind and the activity and effrontery of unbelievers. Their numbers are few, their learning and talents not formidable, their spirit and morals indications of a bad cause. The cross of Christ has stood unmoved for eighteen centuries, and has lost none of its outward evidences, or internal grace and efficacy. We need only a holy boldness to avow the hope that is in us, and give a reason of it with discretion and meekness, in order to see greater victories achieved than we have ever yet done. The arm of the Lord is not shortened. Let our coldness and timidity and worldly-mindedness be renounced, and let vital Christianity be diffused, and the Christian evidences will assume their native dignity and force.
Various facilities and advantages for a defence of our faith, are afforded by the circumstances of the times.
The diffusion of education prepares for us a better informed class of hearers, gives us minds more accustomed to reflection, and capable of entering upon the consideration of a great question. .
The progress also made generally in the study of the law of evidence, of the nature and bearing of testimony, of the importance of weighing numerous coincident circumstances, and observing how far they converge to a single conclusion, the habit of comparing a series of independent witnesses, and the general acknowledgement of the force of historical testimony, are all in favour of the Christian argument.
Again, the avowed necessity of following, and not prescribing to, nature; of proceeding in every investigation by slow and cautious and adequate experiments, and not by hypothesis and conjecture; of confessing and acting upon man's ignorance, except as clear phenomena lead him on-the whole system, in short, of Lord Bacon's Inductive Philosophyprepares the mind for a similar suspension of judgment, and a similar subjection to fact and experience, on the question of Christianity.
The revival of primitive piety and zeal which
has been so widely diffused in our own country, and in different parts of Christendom, is a yet more prominent vantage-ground on which we may plant our spiritual artillery against sin and unbelief. The spirit of enquiry as to real religion, the multiplied translations of the scriptures in every tongue, the propagation and large success of the gospel in foreign missions, the reproduction of the self-same holy faith and joy and obedience in the converts from Paganism now, as in the first age of Christianity, the desolations and miseries which the triumph of infidelity has uniformly produced are all so many points in favour of such an exposition of the evidences of our faith as may prepare, by the historical testimony, for the internal evidences of the religion of Christ.
Nor can we doubt that the blessing and grace of that Saviour, who is pleased to honour the humblest means used in his service, will be afforded to us in the course of our argument, if only we enter upon it and pursue it in a spirit of meekness and candour, and with a sincere desire to know, in order that we may do, the will of God.
For I shall take for granted in my argument the Being of a God, and those other truths of natural religion which the Deist is generally so ready to grant, and which he boasts of as all