Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

P

[ocr errors][merged small]

THE defign of this work is, to recommend the perufal of thofe great authors whom I have chofen for that purpose; by briefly fhewing that the evidence of this religion is, at least, ftrong enough to merit attention and deliberate inquiry. If I can accomplish even this purpose, I fhall do fervice to a caufe, which, as a friend to mankind, I have always had much at heart. For, from feveral converfations which it has been my chance to have with unbelievers, I have learned, that ignorance of the nature of our religion, and a difinclination to study both it and its evidence, are to be reckoned among the chief caufes of infidelity.

By prefenting the reader with various authors on the fame fubject, he will have an opportunity of comparing the arguments of each writer and experiencing a pleafure which has, hitherto, fallen to the lot of few; that is, to be in poffeffion of Jo many valuable authors on this most important of all fubjects; and as the terms of fubfcription are fo remarkably easy, every perfon has now an opportunity, without injuring his circum ftances, of gratifying his curiofity.

And when he has perufed this work with a spirit of candour, with an humble and docile mind, a fincere defire to know the truth and his duty, I may venture to affure him, that he will not regret the time he has employed in the fudy, and that from the writings and converfation of unbelievers his faith will no more be endangered.

Gofport, November 12, 1799.

CHAMPIONS, &c.

CHAP. I.

REVELATION IS USEFUL AND NECESSARY.

Beattie.

THE evidence of the Christian religion is a fubject of great extent: all I propose to do is, to give a fummary view of it. I do not mean to produce proof for every one of the affertions I may make concerning matters of fact: for this would require a great deal of time. But know

ing, that to the beft caufe every fort of mifreprefentation is injurious, I fhall be careful to advance nothing as certain, but what does admit of proof, and has actually been proved by the learned authors, who have diftinguished themselves on the ide of truth in this controverfy.

THIS evidence has been divided into external and internal: the former arifing from prophecy, miracles, and hiftorical testimony; the latter, from the peculiar character, and intrinfic excellency of the Christian religion. Some authors have enlarged chiefly on the one fort of evidence, and fome on the other; and fome have been equally attentive to both. I fhall fpeak, firft, of the external evidence, and, fecondly, of the internal; though occafionally perhaps, and in order to avoid prolixity and needlefs repetition, I may speak of

both at the fame time.

THE first thing to be inquired into is, the importance and usefulness of Divine Revelation. For, if fuch a thing be useful and important, and even neceffary to man, it must be fuitable to the Divine wisdom and goodness to bestow it.

1. If man had perfevered in his primitive innocence; if principles and practice had no influnce on human happiness, or on each other; and if ignorance, inattention, and prejudice, if fuperflition and sensuality, if savage life and fanguinary pasfions, had no tendency to corrupt men's opinions, to pervert their reason, and to plunge them into guilt and wretchednefs;-on thefe fuppofitions, I fhould readily admit, that there is no need of revelation. But from daily experience, and from the hiftory of men in all ages, it appears, that not

« AnteriorContinuar »