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tianity is supported, how immediately are his efforts defeated and his weapons broken? He may invent difficulties, but the arguments of the gospel he cannot answer. What then is the condition of the inquirer? The religion of Christ thus solemnly and impressively attested, declares him a sinner before a just and holy God, condemned under sentence of the divine law to eternal retribution and woe. It tells him, that except he repent he must perish; except he believe in and follow Jesus, as his master and only hope, he cannot be delivered from condemnation. It declares, on the other hand, that if he repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he shall be saved; the sting of death will be taken away; an inheritance will be given him "that is incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." All this comes to him under the sanction of evidences innumerable, for none of which hath a refutation ever been invented. History informs him that the best and wisest men of all ages have considered those evidences incontrovertible. Immense multitudes assure him, that in embracing the gospel they have experienced the truth of its promises, and realized the holy and happy influence of its doctrines. The probability, to say the very least, must seem immense even to a sceptic, that should he reject Christianity, he would reject the truth of God and incur eternal ruin. While, on the other hand, the certainty is evident, that should he embrace it, not only would he suffer no loss in case it should prove untrue, but he would gain many precious consolations in this
life, of which infidelity is entirely barren. In these circumstances, how serious is the crisis when he is making the choice whether to be an infidel or a Christian. Does he decide for infidelity? he can gain nothing; he certainly loses much; and if the gospel be true, he loses all for ever. Does he decide for Christianity? he can lose nothing; he certainly gains a great deal; and if even then infidelity should prove to be true, he has nothing to regret but that truth and happiness should be so directly at war.
Then what a step does he take, who, notwithstanding all the evidences of the religion of Jesus, determines upon its denial! What solemnity and carefulness of investigation, what candor and impartiality of judgment, what jealousy over one's own inclinations and prejudices, what long and patient consideration, what earnest prayer for divine guidance and help should precede such a decision. One would suppose that at least the maturest knowledge, and the coolest temperament, and the most sober hours, would be waited for before coming to a point on which such tremendous consequences are suspended. What then is our amazement to see the stupid ignorance, or the senseless levity, or the lazy thoughtlessness, or the intemperate enmity, with which this momentous decision is almost always made! How many become infidels, not only without candid investigation, but without any serious thinking-without so much as an inquiry-without even a decent sobriety of mind. To such persons, I know not a more alarming occupation than that of
reading a well-ordered exhibition of the evidences of Christianity.
Have the evidences of the Christian religion been ever answered? Infidels have attacked Christianity; but any thing may be attacked. They have slandered her doctrines, ridiculed her word, reviled her precepts, hated her holiness, and influenced many to go and do likewise; but neither hatred, nor reviling, nor ridicule, nor slander is the test of truth. Have infidels ever resorted to the one only fair and honest mode of meeting, face to face, the whole array of testimony which Christianity advances, and endeavoring coolly to prove, as a matter of historical evidence, that the authenticity of the New Testament and the credibility of its history are not sustained; that the miracles of Jesus have not been supported with adequate testimony; that the prophecies of the Scriptures have met their attestation in no accurate histories; that Christianity was propagated by human force alone, and its fruits are those of a corrupt and deceitful tree? I answer, No. There is no such effort in the books of infidelity. I read of speculations, opposed to our facts; insinuations, in answer to our testimonies; sneers, in reply to our solemn reasonings; assertions, where we demanded arguments; levity and presumption, where an advocate of truth would have been serious and humble. But I know of no such thing as a book of infidelity in any sense corresponding in the nature, or grounds, or spirit of its reasoning, with such arguments for Christianity as those of Paley, or Lardner, or Gregory, or Wilson,
and a thousand others, to which no man ever dared to attempt an answer. Infidelity, like an insect on the pillar of some stupendous temple, that can see no further than the microscopic irregularities of the polished marble beneath its feet, may busy itself in hunting for little specks in the surface of the stately edifice of Christianity, but has no such eye, and takes no such elevated stand, as would enable it to survey the whole plan, and judge of its pretensions by the mutual adaptation of its parts, the harmony and grandeur of its proportions.
4. But there is a most important feature in all the evidence we have been considering, to which I now direct your special attention. It is strictly philosophical. By this I mean, that the process by which we have arrived at the truth of Christianity is precisely similar to that by which the astronomer arrives at the most certain truths of the celestial bodies, or the chemist determines the most fundamental doctrines of his important science. The grand characteristic of the philosophy that Bacon illustrated and Newton so nobly applied, and to which all science is so deeply indebted, is, that it discards speculation, places no dependence upon theory, demands fact for every thing, and in every thing submits implicitly to the decision of fact, no matter how incomprehensible, or how opposed by all the speculations of the world. This is called inductive philosophy, in distinction from that of theory and conjecture. It collects its facts by personal experiments and observation, or by the testimony of those whose experi
ments and observations, and whose fidelity in recording them, are worthy of reliance. From these it makes its careful inductions, and determines the laws of science, with a degree of plain, unpresuming authority to which every enlightened mind feels it ought to bow. The great principle of all Newton's Principia, and that on which he set the ladder that raised him to the stars, was this simple axiom: "Whatever is collected from this induction ought to be received, notwithstanding any conjectural hypothesis to the contrary, till such time as it shall be contradicted or limited by further observations." But why is not this self-evident truth as fundamental in religion as in astronomy? If Reid and Stewart have been permitted, with universal consent and approbation, to apply the simple principles of induction to the philosophy of the mind, on what possible ground can they be excluded from the philosophy of the soul—the religion of the heart? We beg as a favor, what is also demanded as a right, that Christianity may be tried by the strictest application of these principles. You are called upon for no greater effort of credulity, no more implicit reliance on testimony, in order to receive the whole system of Christianity as a divine revelation, than you are obliged daily to exercise in believing those innumerable facts in natural science which you have not the opportunity of testing by your own experiments. In regard to these, you simply ask, What is the statement? Is it accurate? Is it honest? However it may contradict your previous ideas, or seem at variance with previous phenomena,