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argument is but one, and the evidence direct; the mind ascends to the truth of the gospel but one step, and that is its divine glory.
It would be very strange, if any professing Christian should deny it to be possible, that there should be an excellency in divine things, which is so transcendent, and exceedingly different from what is in other things, that if it were seen, would evidently distinguish them. We cannot rationally doubt, but that things which are divine, that appertain to the Supreme Being, are vastly different from things that are human. There is a God-like, high, and glorious excellency in them, so distinguishing them from the things which are of men, that the difference is ineffable; and therefore such as if seen, will have a most convincing, satisfying influence upon any one, that they are what they are, viz. divine. Doubtless there is that glory and excellency in the Divine Being, by which he is so infinitely distinguished from all other beings, that if it were seen, he might be known by it. It would therefore be very unreasonable to deny, that it is possible for God to give manifestations of this distinguishing excellency, in things by which he is pleased to make himself known; and that this distinguishing excellency may be clearly seen in them. There are natural excellencies that are very evidently distinguishing of the subjects or authors, to any one who beholds them. How vastly is the speech of an intelligent man different from that of a little child! And how greatly distinguished is the speech of some men of great genius, as Homer, Cicero, Milton, Locke, Addison, and others, from that of many other intelligent men! There are no limits to be set to the degrees of manifestation of mental excellency, that there may be in speech. But the appearances of the natural perfections of God, in the manifestations he makes of himself, may doubtless be unspeakably more evidently distinguishing, than the appearances of those excellencies of worms of the dust, in which they differ one from another. He that is well acquainted with mankind, and their works, by viewing the sun, may know it is no human work. And it is reasonable to suppose, that when Christ comes at the end of the world, in the glory of his Father, it will be with such ineffable appearances of divinity, as will leave no doubt to the inhabitants of the world, even the most obstinate infidels, that he who appears is a divine person. But above all, do the manifestations of the moral and spiritual glory of the Divine Being, (which is the proper beauty of the divinity), bring their own evidence, and tend to assure the heart. Thus the disciples were assured that Jesus was the Son of God, for they beheld his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, John i. 14. When Christ appeared in his transfiguration to his disciples, as an outward glory to their bodily eyes—which was a sweet and admirable symbol and semblance of his spiritual glory-together with his spiritual glory itself, manifested io their minds; the manifestation was such as did perfectly, and with good reason, assure them of his divinity; as appears by what one of them says concerning it, 2 Pet. i. 16–18. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty: for he received from God the Faiher, honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved. Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him in the holy mount. The apostle calls that mount, the holy mount, because the manifestations of Christ there made to their minds, and with which they were especially impressed and ravished, was the glory of his holiness, or the beauty of his moral excellency: or, as another of these disciples, who saw it, expresses it, His glory, as full of grace and truth.
Now this distinguishing glory of the Divine Being has its brightest manifestation in the things exhibited to us in the gospel ; the doctrines there taught, the word there spoken, and the divine counsels, acts and works there revealed. These things have the clearest, most admirable, and distinguishing representations and exhibitions of the glory of God's moral perfections, that ever were made to the world. And if there be such a distinguishing, evidential manifestation of divine glory in the gospel, it is reasonable to suppose that there may be such a thing as seeing it: what should hinder but that it may be seen? It is no argument that it cannot be seen, because some do not see it; though they may be discerning men in temporal matters. If there be such ineffable, distinguishing, evidential excellencies in the gospel, it is reasonable to suppose, that they are such as are not to be discerned, but by the special influence and enlightenings of the Spirit of God. There is need of uncommon force of mind to discern the distinguishing excellencies of the works of authors of great genius. Those things in Milton, which to mean judges appear tasteless and imperfections, are his inimitable excellencies in the eyes of those who are of greater discerning, and better taste. And if there be a book of which God is the author, it is most reasonable to suppose, that the distinguishing glories of his word are of such a kind, as that the sin and corruption of men's hearts---which above all things alienate them from the Deity, and make the heart dull and stupid to any sense or taste of those things wherein the moral glory of the divine perfections consists -would blind them from discerning the beauties of such a book ; and that therefore they will not see them, but as God is pleased to enlighten them, and restore an holy taste, to discern and relish divine beauties,
This sense of the spiritual excellency and beauty of divine things, also tends directly to convince the mind of the truth of the gospel. Very many of the most important things declared in the gospel are hid from the eyes of natural men, the truth of which in effect consists in this excellency, or so immediately depends upon it, and results from it, that in this excellency being seen, the truth of those things is seen. As soon as ever the eyes are opened to behold a holy beauty and amiableness in divine things, a multitude of most important doctrines of the gospel that depend upon it, (which all appear strange and dark to natural men,) are at once seen to be true. As for instance, hereby appears the truth of what the word of God declares concerning the exceeding evil of sin; for the same eye that discerns the transcendent beauty of holiness, necessarily therein sees the exceeding odiousness of sin: the same taste which relishes the sweetness of true moral good, tastes the bitterness of moral evil. And by this means a man sees his own sinfulness and loathsomeness; for he has now a sense to discern objects of this nature; and so sees the truth of what the word of God declares concerning the exceeding sinfulness of mankind, which before he did not see. He now sees the dreadful pollution of his heart, and the desperate depravity of his nature, in a new manner; for his soul has now a sense given it to feel the pain of such a disease. This shows him the truth of what the scripture reveals concerning the corruption of man's nature, his original sin, his ruinous condition, his need of a Saviour, and of the mighty power of God to renew his heart, and change his nature. Men by seeing the true excellency of holiness, see the glory of all those things which both reason and scripture shew to be in the Divine Being; for it has been shown, that the glory of them depends on this. And hereby they see the truth of all that the scripture declares concerning God's glorious excellency and majesty, his being the fountain of all good, the only happiness of the creature, &c. This again shews the mind the truth of what the scripture teaches concerning the evil of sin against so glorious a God; also the truth of what it teaches concerning sin's just desert of that dreadful punishment which it reveals; and concerning the impossibility of our ossering any satisfaction, or sufficient atonement for that which is so infinitely evil and heinous. And this again shews the truth of what the scripture reveals concerning the necessity of a Saviour, to offer an atonement of infinite value for sin. This sense of spiritual beauty enables the soul to see the glory of those things which the gospel reveals concerning the person of Christ; and so enables to see the exceeding beauty and dignity of his person, appearing in what the gospel exhibits of his word, works, acts, and life ; and this apprehension of the superlative dignity of his person, shews the truth of what the gospel declares concerning the value of his blood and righteousness; the infinite excellency of that offering he has made to God for us, its sufficiency to atone for our sins, and recommend us to God. And thus the Spirit of God discovers the way of salration by Christ; the soul sees the fitness and suitableness of this way, the admirable wisdom of the contrivance, and the perfect answerableness to our necessities of the provision that the gospel exhibits. A sense of true divine beauty being given, the soul discerns the beauty of every part of the gospel-scheme. This also shew's the soul the truth of what the word of God declares concerning mau's chief happiness, as consisting in holy exercises and enjoyments, and the unspeakable glory of the heavenly state. What the prophecies of the Old Testament, and the writings of the apostles declare concerning the glory of the Messial's kingdom, is now all plain ; and also what the scripture teaches concerning the reasons and grounds of our duty. The truth of all these things revealed in the scripture, and many more that might be mentioned, appear to the soul, only by that spiritual taste of divine beauty, which has been spoken of; they being hidden things before.
And besides all this, the truth of all those things which the scripture says about experimental religion, is hereby known; for they are now experienced. And this convinces the soul, that one who knew the heart of man, better than we know our own bearts, and perfectly knew the nature of virtue and holiness, was the author of the scriptures. And the opening to view, with such clearness, such a world of wonderful and glorious truth in the gospel, that before was unknown, being quite above the view of a natural eye, but now appearing so clear and bright, has a powersul and invincible influence on the soul, to persuade it of the divinity of the gospel.
Unless men may come to a reasonable solid persuasion and conviction of the truth of the gospel, by internal evidences in the way that has been spoken, viz. by a sight of its glory, it is impossible that those who are illiterate, and unacquainted with history, should have any thorough and effectual conviction of it at all. They may without this see a great deal of probability of it; it may be reasonable for them to give much credit to what learned men and historians tell them; and they may tell them so much, that it may look very probable and rational to them, that the Christian religion is true; and so much that they would be very unreasonable not to entertain this opinion. But to have a conviction, so clear, and evident, and assuring, as to be sufficient to induce them, with boldness to sell all, confidently and fearlessly to run the venture of the loss of all things, and of enduring the most exquisite and long continued torments, and to trample the world under foot, and count all things but dung for Christ, the evidence they can have from history, cannot be sufficient. It is impossible that men, who have not something of a general view of the historical world, or the series of history from age to age, should come at the force of arguments for the truth of Christianity, drawn from history, to that degree, as effectually to induce them to venture their all upon it. After all that learned men have said to them, there will remain innumerable doubts on their minds; they will be ready, when pinched with some great trial of their faith, to say, “ low do I know this, or that? How do I know when these histories were written? Learned men tell me these histories were so and so attested in their day; but how do I know that there were such attestations then? They tell me there is equal reason to believe these facts, as any whatsoever that are related at such a distance; but how do I know that other facts which are related of those ages, ever were ?" Those who have not something of a general view of the series of historical events, and of the state of mankind from age to age, cannot see the clear evidence from hisstory of the truth of facts in distant ages; but there will remain endless doubts and scruples.
But the gospel was not given only for learned men. There are at least nineteen in twenty, if not ninety-nine in a hundred, of those for wliom the scriptures were written, who are not capable of any certain or effectual conviction of the divine authority of the scriptures, by such arguments as learned men use. If men who have been brought up in heathenism, must wait for a clear and certain conviction of the truth of Christianity, until they have learning and acquaintance with the bistories of politer nations, enough to see clearly the force of such kind of arguments, it will make the evidence of the gospel, to them, immensely cumbersome, and will render the propagation of the gospel ainong them infinitely difficult. Miserable is the condition of the Houssatunuuck Indians and others, who have lately manifested a desire to be instructed in Christianity, if they can come at no evidence of the truth of Christianity, sufficient to induce them to sell all for Christ, in any other way but this.
It is unreasonable to suppose, that God has provided for his people, no more than probable evidences of the truth of the gospel." He has with great care abundantly provided, and given them the most convincing, assuring, satisfying, and manifold evidence of his faithfulness in the covenant of grace; and as David says, made a covenant, ordered in all things and sure. Therefore it is rational to suppose, that at the same time, he would not fail of ordering the matter so, that there should not be wanting as great and clear evidence, that this is his covenant, and that these promises, are his promises; or, which is the same thing, that the Chris