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the warlike spirit has declined in her votaries. Christianity blooms in perpetual vigour, and retains, after every trial, the genuine features of truth, sanctity, and authority.
Let every candid hearer review these points and say whether the propagation and perpetuity of our holy religion be not a proof of its divine authority. Let him remember the singularity of the attempt, the rapidity and extent of the success, the nature of the doctrine, the peculiar obstacles it had to surmount, and the immense change produced in all the habits of the converts; and let him contrast all this with what his observation suggests in the history of the church and of the world, and close the whole by contemplating the calm and dignified position of Christianity at the present hour. When he has considered these points, let him unite the argument derived from them, with the proofs previously produced from miracles and prophecies, and I think he will confess that the facts of the propagation of the Gospel are in themselves an irresistible argument of its divine original.
But this is not all. A great additional force is added to this conclusion, by remembering that all these facts of the propagation of Christianity, incontrovertible as they are in them.
selves, were further in direct fulfilment of the predictions of the Old Testament prophets, and of our Lord, repeatedly and most expressly declared. The general argument from prophecy we stated in our last lectures. Now the one great end of all the scheme which we then developed, was this very establishment of Christianity, this very throwing open the privileges of the church to all nations, this very triumph of the gospel over idolatry and vice. The wonderful success of Christianity was in pursuance of a declared purpose, announced in the earliest ages of mankind, and renewed from time to time in a still more explicit manner. In the case of the propagation of the gospel we see the divine pledge, given in the word of prophecy, redeemed and fulfilled.
A new confirmation of the two arguments results from this union.
Four thousand years before the times of the gospel, the promised Seed was predicted. By the mouth of Jacob, the gathering of the nations to the future Messiah was foretold. Moses and David and Isaiah, and all the prophets, predicted the calling of the Gentiles, their incorporation into the Christian church, the conversion of the world. We noticed this in our view of the prophecies of the Messiah,
The event, therefore, of the propagation of I confess to you, my mind sinks under the accumulated conviction of this combined evidence. I confess to you, that the propagation of the gospel assumes, in my view, an attitude of moral demonstration which no one but the Almighty God could have given it. I see the wisdom and foreknowledge of God in the predictions of it: and his power and truth and mercy in its accomplishment. I can conceive of no higher evidence being proposed to a reasonable creature like man. The divine operations in every part of the Christian revelation demonstrate the immediate hand of God; and, wherever we look, the proofs of this supernatural original, break in upon the humble and sincere heart. The proof of Christianity is a universal proof springing from all its parts, and attending it in every step of its progress. If one topic fail to produce conviction, let the enquirer act as he does in the case of the divine Providence in the works of nature. Let him have recourse to the universality of the evidences, the different classes of proof, the concurring and unexpected marks of divine agency and interference.
I. But in order to the full effect of these demonstrations, A RIGHT STATE OF MIND is indispensable. Nothing can satisfy the proud, the obdurate, the captious.—But why do I thus speak ?-I see the doubting mind impressed. I behold the nighty force of truth. I hear the confession of the fickle and conceited youth now awakened to consideration. The new and combined demonstration of the divine origin of the Christian religion, from the rapidity and extent of its propagation, fills him with astonishment. He falls down and worships the God of salvation. He acknowledges his former ignorance and folly. He takes up the New Testament with other feelings than he ever did before. He falls prostrate in penitence at the foot of that Saviour whom he had neglected or despised. He breaks off those sins and habits which made unbelief or hesitation unavoidable; and he admits the purifying doctrine of the Son of God.
Go on, then, young enquirer, in the course of sincere penitence and humiliation on which you have begun. Listen not again to the objections and sophistry of the wicked. Open your heart to the full dominion of Christianity. Bring into captivity every thought unto the obedience of Christ. Be honest to your convictions. Act upon what you know. Implore the grace of that Holy Spirit in his ordinary operations, whose extraordinary power accompanied the first apostles. The conversion of
the gospel, when it took place, had not only all the weight belonging to its separate and independent importance, and all the authority derived from the previous evidences from mira. cles and prophecies, but moreover all the superadded proof of an issue appointed and foretold by Almighty God, all the additional impress of design and prescience and arrangement and sovereignty, in the fact itself. This very propagation was the blessing foretold by all the holy prophets since the world began.
The case is stronger than this. After a series of predictions for four thousand years, our Lord appeared upon earth. The Jewish people had forgotten their spiritual privileges and blessings, had misunderstood their prophecies, had loaded their religion with traditions and the commandments of men, had cherished vain hopes of a temporal Messiah, a political deliverance, an earthly rule over the nations. Faith and charity and spirituality had fled. They reject therefore the Son of God. They blind their eyes against his miracles, and harden their hearts against his doctrine. They crucify him at last as a blasphemer; but not before he had predicted his own resurrection, predicted the descent of the Holy Ghost, predicted the promulgation of the gospel among the nations, predicted the dissolution of the