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reason, or the construction of ancient writings (of which kind are the several theories which have, at different times, gained possession of the public mind in various departments of science and literature ; and of one or other of which kind are the tenets *also which divide the various fects of Chriftianity): but that we speak of a system, the very basis and postulatum of which was a fupernatural character ascribed to a particular person; of a doctrine, the truth whereof depended entirely upon the truth of a matter of fact then recent. « To establish a new religion, even amongst a few people, or in one single națion, is a thing in its self exceedingly difficult. To reform some corruptions which may have spread in a religion, or to make new regulations in it, is not perhaps so hard, when the main and principal part of that religion is preserved entire and unshaken ; and yet

this

very ten cannot be accomplished, without an extraordinary concurrence of circumstances, and may be attempted a thousand times without success. But to introduce a new

faith,

of

.

faith, a new way of thinking and acting, and to persuade many nations to quit the religion in which their ancestors had lived and died, which had been delivered down to them from time immemorial, to make them forsake and despise the deities which they had been accustomed to reverence and worship; this is a work of still greater dif

The resistance of education, worldly policy, and superstition, is almost invincible.”

ficulty *

If men, in these days, be Christians in consequence of their education, in submil. fion to authority, or in compliance with fashion, let us recollect that the very contrary of this, at the beginning, was the case, The first race of Christians, as well as milJions who succeeded them, became such in formal opposition to all these motives ; to the whole power and strength of this influence. Every argument therefore, and every instance, which sets forth the preju. dice of education, and the almost irresistible effects of that prejudice (and no persons are more fond of expatiating upon this subject than deistical writers), in fact confirms the evidence of Christianity.

Jortin's Dis. on the Christ. Rel. p. 107, ed. iv.

dice dian

But, in order to judge of the argument which is drawn from the early propagation of Christianity, I know no fairer way of proceeding, than to compare what we have seen of the subject, with the success of Christian missions in modern ages. In the EastIndia mifsion, supported by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, we hear fometimes of thirty, fometimes of forty, being baptised in the course of a year, and these principally children.

Of converts properly so called, that is, of adults voluntarily embracing Christianity, the number is extremely small. « Notwithstanding the labour of missionaries for upwards of two hundred years, and the establishments of different Christian nations who support them, there are not twelve thousand Ina dian Christians, and those almost entirely outcasts *

I lament, as much as any man, the little progress which Christianity has made in these countries, and the inconsiderable effect that has followed the labours of its missionaries; but I see in it a strong proof of the divine origin of the religion. What had the apostles to affift them in propagating Christianity, which the missionaries have not? If piety and zeal had been sufficient, I doubt not but that our missionaries possess these qualities in a high degree ; for nothing except piety and zeal could engage them in the undertaking. If sanctity of life and manners was the allurement, the conduct of these men is unblamable. If the advantage of education and learning be looked to, there is not one of the modern missionaries, who is not, in this respect, superior to all the apostles; and that not only absolutely, but, what

* Sketches relating to the history, learning, and manners of the Hindoos, p. 48, quoted by Dr. Robertson, Hift. Dif. concerning ancient India, p. 236.

is

is of more importance, relatively, in comparison, that is, with those amongst whom they exercise their office. If the intrinsic excellency of the religion, the perfection of its morality, the purity of its precepts, the eloquence or tenderness or sublimity of various parts of its writings, were the recommendations by which it made its way, these remain the same. If the character and circumstances, under which the preachers were introduced to the countries in which they taught, be accounted of importance, this advantage is all on the side of the modern miffionaries. They come from a country and a people, to which the Indian world look up

with sentiments of deference. The apostles came forth amongst the Gentiles under no other name than that of Jews, which was precisely the character they despised and derided. If it be disgraceful in India to become a Christian, it could not be much less so to be enrolled amongst those,“

« quos per flagitia invisos, vulgus Christianos appellabat.” If the religion which they had to encounter be considered, the difference, I

apprehend,

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