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justest reason to suppose, that the rest of his gracious promise to mankind will hereafter be accomplished; and that, by the actions of his death and resurrection, the power of death will be vanquished, and life and immortality communicated to his true disciples in the world to come; and that “as in Adam 6 all died, so in Christ shall all be made “ alive.”
Since God Almighty has absolutely required, as essential to his salvation, that man should believe in the divine mission of his Son; and as he chooses that the homage man pays him should proceed from his reason as well as his gratitude; it is entirely agreeable to our ideas of his mercy to imagine, that there should be such proofs given of our blessed Saviour's divine mission, as are calculated to satisfy not indeed an obstinate or perverse, but a reasonable being. It will therefore be my endeavour, by a fair examination into the peculiarities of the life and doctrines of our Saviour, to exhibit some of these proofs ; first, from the peculiarities of his doctrines; then from those observable in his life and conduct; and, from the exact consistency and agreement between the whole, to infer the unreasonableness of any
doubt of his being the Son of God, as he af, firmed himself to be. :. Respecting the peculiarities observable in the doctrines of Jesus Christ, I shall first select the form of prayer he ordered his disciples to use; which is so far of this peculiar kind, that there is every reason to think no mere human being would ever have composed it; for what human being is there, conscious of such absolute exemption from passion and revenge, or that is conscious of such purity, rectitude, and equity of cona duct, as would have willingly ventured to risk the forgiveness of his own sins upon such issue, as his entire forgiveness of great crimes that had been or might be committed against himself?
With all the advantages that the best men have derived from philosophy and religion, I believe there neither is, or ever was, a man, who, if left to himself, would willingly run so great a risk as to put his salvation to .so .doubtful, so fearful, sq dangerous an issue. Neither is it to be imagined, that, in the composition of a prayer of such brevity, and which was intended for constant and daily use, the selfish and worldly nature of man would have ever thought of composing so
many of its members exclusively to the glory of God; or that he would have been so moderate, as only to have petitioned for his daily bread. Even with the allowance, that this is not to be understood quite in a literal sense, he might indeed have prayed not to be led into temptation, and likewise to be delivered from evil, which are probably the only two members of this divine and sublime prayer which would have occurred to the mind of a mere human being; and if this being was an abettor of the Stoic philosophy, from his proud and arrogant principles, he would have scorned to petition not to be led into temptation.
This prayer is a proof that the thoughts of God are not as our thoughts; for the celestial mind of our blessed Saviour being primarily occupied with giving glory to God, and with an anxious desire that his great name should be properly venerated and hallowed by men, and that the kingdom of God should so far come on earth, that the heavenly and angelic principles of joy, peace, and good-will should prevail on it, as they do in heaven, he composed the prayer he ordered to be used according to those grand, sublime, and benevolent ideas which were
prevalent in his own divine mind.' But as the same ideas would never have existed, if at all, at least not in the same primary manner, in the mind of a meré man, he would not, he could not have composed such a prayer; though it is easy to observe how much more the fulfilment of the component parts of this prayer would diffuse universal happiness to mankind, than the accomplishment of such worldly petitions, of whatever nature they might be, as would probably have formed the constituent parts of a prayer made for universal use by any mere human being.
The next peculiarity in the doctrines of Jesus Christ I shall remark is the convincing manner, in which our blessed Saviour inculcates and establishes the certainty of a resurrection and a future state.
The Phaedon of Plato has always been considered as the best treatise on the immortality of the soul that ever was written by man previous to the Gospel. Undoubtedly there are some very fine ideas in it; and the finest of all are probably the two following.
The first, when, by an elaborate induction of particulars, Socrates maintains the soul's
immateriality and indivisibility, for being ancompounded, and without parts, he asserts it is indivisible, and, being without matter, that it is neither capable of decay, or corruption; consequently being neither subject to be diminished, because it is not to be divided, and not subject to be consumed, because it is immaterial, it must ever remain in the same -state as to duration, and be for ever immortal.
The next is, his assertion, that there is something good, excellent, just, and great of itself, which is the nature of God; and that if there is any thing excellent besides excellence itself, it must be such from partaking of that first excellence, which he as. serts is the nature of the soul, and by which its affinity to God is proved; and, partaking of his nature, must therefore be immortal. 1. These two propositions are clear and sublime, but in general the dialogue is dark
and involved; in some parts the ideas are -utterly false, and in others they are absurd; upon the whole, it is a mixture of truth, falsehood, and sophistry, and, like the Cartesian astronomy, more likely to puzzle and confound the mind, than to convince, it. After reading the Phædon with attention, the