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least inattention on our part impairs our hope, and weakens our hold of the heavenly treasure; and the more acquaintance we have with ourselves, the less ground shall we discover for presumptuous confidence, or for imagining, that we have any sufficiency of ourselves for the blessed hope of the gospel. The more we examine the reason of our hope, the greater occasion shall we find for meekness and fear; for meekness, because we shall be convinced, that the hope, that is in us, is not our own by any inherent right, but is the free and unmerited gift of our maker; for fear, lest on our past any presumptuous negligence or wilful offence, the prompting of nature, or the effect of temptation, should weaken the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope, which we are bound to hold fast and firm unto the end: and thus we shall become established in the assurance, that self-confidence is self-destruction, that Christ in us is the hope of glory, that in him alone we have everlasting strength, and that our hope in him is then only stedfast and sure, when the spirit of glory and of God resteth Whenever therefore we speak of the
hope, that is in us, we shall speak of it with meekness and fear, as persons, who have no claim to the mercies we enjoy, although through grace we have a most assured hope of their endurance and perpetuity.
If an examination into the reason of our hope shall produce this effect, it will be a blessed effect of it: and be assured, my brethren, that no investigation of the evidences of our faith, which produces any other, is blessed! The holy angels are meek; Christ himself was meek and lowly in heart; and, if a disciple of Christ pretend to have a hope in him without meekness, that man's religion is vain. When therefore I invite you to an examination of the evidences of your faith, I invite you at the same time to an examination of yourselves and may God enable you so to judge and know yourselves, that the hope, that is in you, may not be a vain hope, but such, that, while you have all the present comfort and all the everlasting benefit of it, he may have all the glory!
Acts xiv. 15, 16, 17.
The living God, which made Heaven and Earth, and the sea, and all things, that are therein, who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their Nevertheless he left not himself without
MANKIND, though surrounded by objects of sense, and familiar only with corporeal substances, have generally concurred in the belief of a spirit, at once infinite, incorporeal, and invisible. What can have occasioned this extraordinary coincidence? How has it happened, that persons, who differ in almost every other particular, in manners, in customs, in language, in government, and even in religion, have yet almost without exception agreed in admitting the being of a God?
is plainly impossible to assign any adequate solution of this phænomenon, unless it be either on the one hand the palpable necessity of the case, or on the other some early revelation of his existence.
Now, however plain this truth may appear to those, who have studied nature with a reference to it, the being of a God can never with any propriety be classed among self-evident propositions. It does not resemble for instance the assertion, that two and two make four, which no explanation will render clearer, but will rather perplex and obscure. On the contrary, the more it is illustrated and explored, the clearer it becomes, and certainly, when admitted without evidence or examination, deserves to be regarded, as a prejudice, rather than a belief. It remains therefore, that it must have been originally revealed.
That the almighty, when he created mankind, should have given them such a revelation of himself as would make his existence undeniable, is no improbable supposition. On the contrary, it is the very thing, which our natural reason would lead us to expect, because,
as they could not have been made acquainted with him through the medium of their senses, they of course would stand in need of such a revelation. There is therefore nothing improbable in this solution, and there is an absolute necessity for it, to account for acknowledged facts; for, while all mankind concur in this opinion, while they agree in no other, and yet could neither have acquired it through the information of their senses, nor derived it, like an axiom, from the natural adaptation of their minds to receive it, there is no other alternative remaining, but that of their having obtained it through continual tradition from an original revelation to their first parents.
If this reasoning appear inadequate to the weighty truth, which it is intended to support, that defect will be abundantly supplied in a different series of arguments, which I next proceed to produce.
The universe must either have been eternal, or it must have had a beginning. Again, if it had a beginning, it must have derived its origin either from chance, or from an