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THE design of the following pages is to unite the historical with the internal evidences of Christianity, and present them in a popular and practical form. They are intended for the benefit of those numerous individuals, or rather classes of persons-especially amongst the young-who are exposed, in a day like the present, to the seductions of vice, and the scoffs of infidelity; and whom it is most essential to imbue with such a deep impression of the truth and obligation of Christianity, as may shield them from those bold, but insidious statements, which go to undermine their faith, and shake the very foundations of all moral principle in man.
The able and elaborate productions on the Evidences, with which our literature abounds, are calculated rather for the sceptic than the
unestablished Christian. The cautious and measured language; the careful abstinence from mysterious or unwelcome topics; the repeated pauses for the consideration of objections; the abstract, speculative tone of discussion, almost uniformly prevalent in such works, are not the most favourable means of producing an effect upon the heart.
A fluctuating or uninformed Christian requires plain information; an accumulation of arguments; a bold and manly address; the fair and undisguised statement of the whole case; an exhibition of the direct moral and spiritual benefits of Christianity; and practical appeals to the conscience and feelings. In a word, his professed principles should be taken for granted, and acted upon; and the historical evidences considered only as the introduction to the claims of Christianity upon his obedience, as a moral and responsible
The real character of the gospel; its remedy for the wants and misery of man; its revelation of a stupendous scheme of redemption by the Son and Spirit of God, ought not to be concealed in such addresses.
It is the author's firm opinion that much injury has been unconsciously done to the cause of Christianity, amongst the class of persons to whom he is referring, by complimenting away the peculiarities of revelation; by debating the evidences as a merely intellectual question; by treating as a slight matter the evil of unbelief; and by keeping out of sight the main blessings of redemption, and the temper of mind in which these should be enquired into and received. The author thinks, that secret infidelity will never be effectually checked amongst us, and pure Christianity revived, till the infinite importance of practical religion pervades more apparently the whole manner in which we endeavour to establish our people in the evidences of the gospel.
To avoid, indeed, minute details, to keep on firm and tenable ground, to shun topics really doubtful or unessential, and to connect all our practical addresses with clear historical testimonies-in short, to convince the understanding, whilst we aim at the heart-is the obvious dictate of prudence in every treatise on the Evidences-which the author hopes he has not overlooked.
His object has been to lead the sincere enquirer, step by step, through the chief arguments which establish the truth and importance of Christianity. He begins with the admissions of natural religion. He then proceeds to point out how men act in common life on all similar occasions. He next shows the real force of the accumulated evidences in favour of the Christian faith; and presses home upon the heart the immense obligation of practically obeying truth so far as it is known.
The immediate occasion of preparing this course of Lectures, was the confirmation, by the Lord Bishop of London of a large number of young persons in the author's parish last spring. These it became his most pleasing duty to instruct and further establish in their Christian profession. To assist him in this, he could find no work exactly of the kind he desired. He wanted a full and popular review of the whole argument. The excellent summary of Bishop Porteus was too brief and too much in the form of an essay for his purpose. He was induced therefore to venture on the hazardous measure of preparing the course, of
• More than seven hundred.