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anxiety, and prayer ; but it is highly improbable that men should, without any intervening cause, become on a sudden enthusiasts on points they had never thought on before---much more in favour of opinions, against which they had been violently prejudiced, from the firit dawn of reason, by habit, instruction, religion and example; yet such opinions the Jews must have embraced before they could have admitted the crucified Jesus to the Messiah, whom the prophets had foretoldf1it is, I contend for it, very incredible that blind õnthusiasm could have any weight in this case, except against the reception of such opinions. The warm and bigotted Jew would instantly reject, and, I may fay, enthusiastically oppose them. The only process by which he could be induced to admit the truth of the gospel, was the most sober, deliberate, and argumentative, which can be imagined ; requiring an accurate examination of the prophetic writings, and a close comparison of their contents, with the character and history of our bleffed Lord.

The questions which must arise on such an enquiry, were surely such as are most remote from the influence of fanatic delusion. Whether Jesus Christ was born of the tribe of Judah, of the family of David, in the town of Bethlehem ?-whether his character and doctrines were clearly delineated, his crucifixion and resurrection foretold in the prophecies ?--whether it was a misinterpretation of these

sacred

facred writers, to expect on their authority a temporal Meffiah. These questions, and a variety of others such as these, must immediately present themselves on the first appeal to the argument from prophecy, and to decide them in favour of Christianity, required a patient attention, and a fobriety of mind, which were utterly repugnant to the very nature of enthusiasm.

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Suitably to these principles, we find in the history of the first progress of the gospel, that those, and those only, who would listen to reasoning, who impartially and carefully examined the scriptures, were influenced by the apostle's appeal to them.-When at Antioch, in Pisidia, Paul in the synagogue, after the reading the law and the prophets, stood up to explain what had been read; his discourse exhibits a view of the entire Jewish history, and critical explanations of some passages of fcripture, as remote from the wildness of enthusiasm, as can be conceived. The Jews on that day listened with attention, and many of them, as well as of the religious profelytes, d followed the apostles, who speaking to them, perfuaded them to continue in the grace of God. But when the Gentiles wished to hear the same

arguments, and when on the next fabbath-day almost the whole city affembled together to hear the word of the preachers, the bigotry of the Jews would no

e Acts xiii. 14.

d Acts xiii. 43.

longer longer bear the eagerness of their intrusion, “ fee. “ ing the multitudes they were filled with envy, and

speak against those things which were spoken by 6 Paul, contradi&ting and blaspheming,” and by their opposition raised such perfecution against the apostles, as compelled them to save their lives by flight ; nor was this fury appeased even by their flight, for they pursued the apostle to Iconium and Lystra, till they had, as they hoped, inflicted that vengeance which their enraged bigotry required ; for at Lystra f they “ persuaded the people, and

having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, “ fupposing he had been dead.”

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The characters of enthufiasm are precipitation and violence; these uniformly contributed not to forward, but to oppose the success of the first preachers of Christianity.

If the Jews at : Berea were influenced by the reasoning of the apostles, “ so that many of them be“ lieved, also of honourable women that were Greeks, " and of men not a few,”-it was because they not only“ received the word with all readiness of mind," but searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were fo.

In truth it seems to me difficult in the extreme, to peruse the epistles to the Hebrews, the Romans, and

e Acts xiii. 45.

f Acts xiv. 19.

& Atts xvii. 10.

the

the Galatians, in all which this argument from the prophecies, and the general scope of the Jewish dispensation is largely applied, to confirm and illustrate the gospel, without observing a clearness of thought, an extent of information, and a sobriety of intellect, utterly repugnant to the character of enthusiasm. The ignorant and superficial may deride, because they do not understand such reasoning; but the serious and sober enquirer will trace its coherence, and admire its strength.

Admitting the truth of these principles, we cannot wonder at the confidence with which St. Paul urged this topic of argument, before King Agrippa, whom he knew to be possessed of information which qualified him to judge of its force.—“ "I think myself happy,

king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee, especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions among the Jews.;

wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.This is surely not the language of a deluded and wild visionary. Ne-such men appeal to the tribunal of ignorance alone, and rely for success on the folly and the precipitance of their hearers. Not fo the apostle, his was the cause of truth and soberness; he rejoiced to appeal to an enlightened and rational judge." I continue, says he, unto this day witnes

sing both to small and great, saying none other

h Acts xxvi. the whole chapter.

things,

" things than those which the prophets and Moses “ dia say should come; that Christ should suffer, “ and that he should be the first that should rise “ from the dead, and should thew light unto the “ people and the Gentiles.”

When the ignorance of the Roman governor led him to exclaim, “ Paul, “ too much learning hath made thee mad.” How calm and rational the reply !~" I am not mad, most • noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and “ soberness ; for the king knoweth of these things, “ before whom I also speak freely, for I am per“ suaded none of these things are hid from him, “ for this thing was not done in a corner. King

Agrippa believest thou the prophets ? I know that -“ thou believest.”—Does the king's reply disavow either the notoriety of the facts thus attested, or the validity of the argument from prophecy ? -Almoft,

said Agrippa, thou persuadest me to be a Christian." More he could not have admitted without becoming wholly a Christian ; and this was morally impossible, that a proud and voluptuous Jewish monarch should, at the hazard of his crown, embrace the faith of an upstart, a despised and hated sect, the founder of which had been crucified, and the chief preacher of which appeared before him a prisoner, loaded with chains and obloquy; this could not be without some supernatural change, violently and irresistibly overpowering every feeling of his soul, and fubverting his whole moral character, and we never find miracles employed to work such a change as this. But

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