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words, “ Thou regardest not the person of “ men,” in reproving to their faces the sins and hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees and chief priests, and in not evading his crucifixion, which he foretold a year before, and therefore voluntarily suffered. His fortitude and patience, in submitting to every indignity without murmur or complaint: and his love to mankind, in descending from heaven to suffer a cruel and ignominious death for its sake. After having passed a life wholly employed in doing good, and in a constant endeavour to promote the temporal and spiritual happiness of man, and in return experiencing every thing which ingratitude and oppression could inflict, and being at last doomed to a most disgraceful death ; at the very time he was nailed to the cross, and about to expire, in exact conformity to his doctrine, (“ Love your enemies, bless them " that curse you, do good to them that hate
you, and pray for them which despitefully “ use you and persecute you,”) he exclaimed, in favour of those even who were in the very act of crucifying him, “ Father, forgive them, “ for they know not what they do." - Such was the human character of our blessed Saviour, and thus adorned with every
conceivable virtue and perfection. I would ask, if it is consistent with candour or reason to imagine that so excellent a personage, who required of his disciples the utmost rectitude of heart and conduct, should himself transgress against truth and rectitude in so flagrant a manner, as he must have done, by asserting he was the Son of God, unless he was conscious of his being so; and since the whole tenor of our Saviour's life, conduct, and doctrines was such, as to inspire us with the highest esteem, veneration, and love for his character, and there is nothing in any part of it that gives us the least reason to distrust his word, (for, as I have before observed, his character is entirely free from either duplicity, craft, or enthusiasm, which that of an impostor never is,) it is undoubtedly a most unjustifiable breach and violation of candour, gratitude, justice, and reason, to harbour the least distrust of the solemn assertion he so often made of his divine mission, and of his being the Son of God; and for such distrust every one must answer at their peril. Such distrust is as irrational as it is unjust, and is contrary to our conduct in life; for we do not doubt the truth of a solemn assertion made by those we respect and
esteem. And I would ask, if any person had a friend, whose conduct had been long known to him, and of the trial of which he had been a frequent witness, and which to his knowledge was such, as that he had shewn on all occasions the most exemplary piety to his God, and the most distinguished benevolence to man; the greatest temperance, purity, and chastity, fortitude, truth, generosity, and disinterestedness of character ; suppose some one should say of this friend, that he had been guilty, deliberately guilty, of those detestable vices, blasphemy, and direct and premeditated falsehood; would he believe this calumny? would he believe his friend would or could commit these foul crimes? I am. sure he would not; for it is wholly repugnant to our reason and feelings to suppose a moral, pious character could be guilty of crimes,
at the idea only of the perpetration of which his soul would shudder. The solemn and express assertion therefore of our Saviour, in declaring himself to be the Son of God, ought surely to have as much weight with us, and be as much respected by us, as the word of a mere man, however perfect that man may be. And when the declaration of his being the Son of God is supported by doc
trines of a nature more sublime, heavenly, and disinterested, than could have proceeded from man; by a life so pure, that the utmost malice of his enemies could not convince it of sin; by his own miracles, and those of his Apostles, so publicly exhibited, that they could neither be counterfeited or doubted of; and by prophecies delivered by different men in different ages, and those prophecies appropriate to his person, and to that only ; it makes up the full measure of that evidence, which any candid man expects or desires ; and in such a way, as fully and completely convinces his reason, and establishes his faith in an entire and rational belief, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. And whoever encourages his mind in a contrary opinion, and disbelieves the divine mission or the divinity of our blessed Saviour, is a bitter enemy both to the temporal and eternal welfare of his soul.
Thus, after a fair and impartial examination of such leading contents of the Bible as refer to the argument undertaken in this proposition, I hope it appears to the satisfaction of the reader that there is a perfect agreement and coincidence between the promises and actions of God towards the human
race exemplified in the Old, and between the doctrines and actions of Jesus Christ in the New Testament; and that he will in consequence for ever entertain a firm and unalterable belief in the infinite goodness of God, and in the divinity of his Son our blessed Saviour; and be of opinion, that on the most rational principles of analogical reasoning he may conclude the goodness of God towards man to be as God is himself pleased to describe it; such as that “he so loved the “ world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, 66 that whosoever believeth in him should not.
perish, but have everlasting life:” and that every one should and ought to believe with St. Paul, “ This is a true saying, and worthy “ of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners :" and with St. Peter, “ Neither is there salvation in
any other ; for there is none other name “ under heaven given among men, whereby " we must be saved."