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further acquaintance with its nature, than that it forbids the practices to which they are attached, and which most of those around them follow.
Now, I am far from asserting, that an intimate knowledge of the historical evidences of the Gospel is necessary to faith. Happily there is evidence of the truth of our religion, which does not arise from external testimony; and multitudes, be fore they have ever felt the want of external testimony, are impressed with this evidence, which sets them above doubt and beyond the reach of scepticism. No. thing leads them to hesitate respecting the certainty of that which they find generally confessed, and publicly taught, and which from their infancy they have been accustomed to venerate. And this confidence is supported and confirmed by the impressions resulting from habitual acquaintance with the Scriptures, and the irresistible conviction which they are caleulated to fix upon the devout and hunble mindo in aus:
Others, however, are differently constituted, and differently circumstanced. It strikes them at once, how much that is contradictory to the usual experience of the world is involved in the Scripture histories. It strikes them, that in the naked delineation of the history of Jesus Clarist there is nothing to command immediate assent; and it is notorious, that many persons, in different countries, have advanced pretensions-Hike his, with various degrees of success. Then in the mysteriousri doctrines of the Gospel there is much that the mind, which has once been allowed to hesitate, is very ill disposed to receive, till the authority has been confirmed by irresistible evidence. Even with
many who have not given themselves up to avowed scepticism, and who have a sincere respect for Christianity in the abstract from the benefits which it confers upon society, vague notions of uncertainty in its evidence, and of difficulties in its : doctrines, float upon the mind, and keep it in a most unprofitable state of hesitation. In persons thus circumstanced, before any thing like Christian faith can exist, the origin of Christianity must be examined more narrowly, and clearly seen to be divine. And these are the persons whose case I have particularly in view in the present Treatise. Every Christian is exhorted in Scripture to know why he believes': and considering the authority which Christianity bears upon its' front; and considering the weight which that' authority has derived from the character of those whom it has satisfied, and from the
1 Pet. iji. 15.
general assent of the civilized world ;-it surely is reasonable to expect, that as many refuse or delay their assent, they should know why they do not believe. I have therefore endeavoured to put my argument in such a shape, as may give a substantive form both to belief and unbelief.