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the Chriftian church, are of fuch a nature as must, I think, imprefs conviction on every mind not previously biaffed by the most unreasonable prejudice. The narrow limits I have prescribed to myself will not allow me to attempt to traverse this mighty maze; but there are two confiderations, connected with the prophetic branch of evidence, which I cannot wholly omit to mention. The first is, the present state and circumstances of the Jewish nation. The Jewish prophets have unanimously afferted, and Christianity confequently fuppofes, a general restoration of that people to their own country, where they may again perhaps become the medium of the divine communications to the rest of mankind. Now it must be allowed, that the bare poffibility of the fulfilment of a prediction of this nature is itself a most singular and extraordinary circumftance. Two thoufand years ago the nation of the Jews, a pretty Arabian horde, as they have been contemptuously styled,' were conquered by the Babylonians, a great and powerful people, and carried far away into captivity; and though it might naturally be expected, that they would in process of time have coalefced with their conquerors, and have been ultimately abforbed and annihilated by the union, the fact is, that, dispersed and scattered as they have almost ever fince been over the face of the globe, they have never, perhaps, in a single instance, in any country, loft their religous or national diftinctions, and they are now generally fupposed to be as G 3


numerous as before the Babylonian, or, as fome think, even the Affyrian captivity. This is perfectly amazing; it is contrary to all hiftory, and all experience of the courfe of human affairs in fimilar cafes; it has been boldly and not improperly ftyled a ftanding miracle. Within one thousand or twelve hundred years back, a great variety of extraordinary and important revolutions have taken place among the nations of Europe. In our own country, the Britons were conquered by the Saxons, the Saxons by the Danes, and the Danes and Saxons by the Normans; but in a few centuries thefe oppofite and hoftile nations were confolidated into one indistinguishable mass. A part of the British nation indeed, by retiring into an inacceffible and mountainous country, and fecluding themselves from the reft of the island, ; has retained its language and nationality, though not its religion, to the present time; but this cannot be looked upon as in any degree analogous to the ftate of the Jews.

Italy, about the fame time that Britain was fubdued by the Saxons, was conquered by the Goths and Vandals; and it is not eafy to conceive a more striking contraft, than that which subsisted between the polished inhabitants of that delightful country, and their favage invaders; and yet how foon did all diftinction ceafe between them! In France, the Roman colonies gradually affimilated with the ancient Gauls; and in Spain, though the Moors continued for feveral ages, and till

till their final expulfion, a diftinct people, after they were once reduced to a ftate of fubmiffion and fubjection their numbers very fenfibly diminifhed; and there is no room to doubt, but that they would in courfe of time have mingled with the general mafs: but with regard to the Jews, the wonder is, that though they do not in any country where they are fettled bear any proportion to the natural inhabitants, though they are univerfally reduced to a ftate of the loweft fubjection, and even exposed to hatred, contempt, and perfecution; yet in no inftance does there feem to be any appearance or probability of diminution with refpect to their numbers, in no inftance do they difcover any decay of attachment to their religious principles. According to the beft information I could ever obtain from hiftory, the fituation of the Jews is abfolutely without example; but it should at the fame time be remembered, that the reality of a miraculous interpofition refpecting this nation by no means depends upon the proving it to be strictly unique; that this fituation is uncommon and extraordinary will be readily admitted, and yet, extraordinary as it may be deemed, it is perfectly conformable to those antient oracles and prophecies which have always been regarded by them as facred and divine. The cafe of the remaining defcendants of the ancient Britons is likewife, undoubtedly, very remarkable and fingular; but it by no means amounts to a proof, or even a prefumption, of a G 4 fupernatural

fupernatural interpofition; but if it could be proved, that the prefent condition and circumftances of that people were the fubject of clear and exprefs predictions pronounced two thousand years ago, then indeed we might well fuppofe, and I think we muft unavoidable fuppofe, the intervention of a fagacity and forefight more than human; and this is the conclufion which must unavoidably refult from an impartial confideration of the peculiar and unprecedented fituation of the Jewish nation, taken in connection with those antient prophecies which either express or imply it.

The fecond obfervation I have to make is this: It is evident, from the express declarations of Christ and his apostles, that Christianity was ori ginally deftined, as indeed it is calculated, for an univerfal religion: this event is the fubject of numerous prophecies. Now it is truly remarkable, that the present fituation of things in the world is fuch, that there feems a ftrong probability, if we reafon merely from the regular operation of moral caufes, that the time will come when Christianity shall be diffused throughout the univerfe. Those nations which have embraced the Christian religion have acquired fo complete an afcendency over the reft of mankind, that as it is utterly incredible on the one hand that they themfelves fhould be induced to forfake the religion of their ancestors, and to adopt any other fyftem from nations comparatively illiterate and barbarous; fo, on the other hand, it seems per


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fectly confonant to the ufual course of human events, that as the arts, the arms, and the learning of Europe are every day making fome progrefs, the religion of Europe will also gradually extend itfelf; and as to the important but accidental circumftance of its being profeffed by that part of the globe which has obtained fo prodigious and decifive a fuperiority, it poffeffes the intrinfic advantage of an appearance of evidence, at least, as well as moral excellence, far beyond that of any religion which can be opposed to it, what can be the result of a conteft fo circumstanced, but the final downfal of those various fyftems of superstition and abfurdity which at prefent prevail in the world? A long fucceffion of ages must no doubt elapfe previous to this glorious confummation; but if we confider the different afpect which Christianity wears at prefent, from that which it prefented two or three centuries ago; if we confider the prodigious improvements which have been made during this period in every branch of human knowledge; if we confider with how much greater facility that knowledge is now capable of being communicated; if we confider the mutual intercourfe which is established, and the intimate connections which fubfift, between the most diftant parts of the globe; if we confider the ardent and enterprifing fpirit by which the European nations are animated; the furprising effects which that fpirit has already produced, and the ftill more wonderful effects which it is calculated

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