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merely considered in itself, is by no means sufficient to prove that its origin is divine, it must yet be recollected, that on its first publication in the world, it may, on account of the opposition which it had to encounter, and the difficulty with which it had to contend, justly be compared, as to any reasonable prospect of its succeeding, to the sapless stock of which I have spoken, and from which no fruit, in the ordinary course of events, 'could reasonably be expected. Its spread and triumph, therefore, under such circumstances, evidently proves that it was accomplished by the power of God. He it was who interposed on its behalf; and in blessing it, and accelerating in so extraordinary a manner its interests in the world, he has, as I shall now endeavour to show, (by giving a more detailed account of the circumstances under which it thus spread,) abundantly testified its divine original.


Of the extraordinary Spread of the Gospel, at the Commence

ment of the Christian Era.

The Lord Jesus Christ, who was the first preacher of the gospel, and the original founder of the New Testament dispensation, had no civil advantages, temporal power, or worldly influence to support his claims to a divine commission, or accelerate the interests of the religion which he came to establish, and which he commanded to be preached among all nations, (Luke xxiv. 47.)

He held no exalted rank in civil society. He was not enrolled amongst the noble and the great, but occupied a low and an obscure situation in common life, and was, as to his humanity, and the trials connected with the situation in which he was placed, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” (Jer. liii. 3.) If we read his history as it is recorded by the four Evangelists, we shall find that he was despised by the people, rejected by the rulers, opposed by the priests, and had to depend for success en

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tirely upon the truth, the justice, and the merits of his cause, in opposition to all that pride, and

power, and

prejudice, and malice could bring against it.

The instruments which he employed to preach the gospel after his ascension to glory, were also, as to every outward circumstance, equally disadvantageously situated. Instead of selecting the men whom he appointed to this arduous and important undertaking from amongst the learned, the noble, and the great, he selected them from the common ranks of society. The twelve apostles whom he designated to this office were men, who as it respects their abilities, attainments, and influence, did not rank above the common level of mankind. The success, therefore, which attended their efforts, cannot be attributed either to their extraordinary qualifications for their work, or to any previous combination of auspicious circumstances. If we look into the Acts of the Apostles, we shall there see, that outward circumstances, instead of being auspicious, were quite the

The whole face of exterior appearances was entirely against them. Their prospects, calculating according to the general occurrence of human events, were hopeless and desperate, and they had no reasonable ground whatever to expect success. Should it be enquired, why their prospects of success were thus dark and forlorn, I reply, because the religion which they undertook to propagate was diametrically opposed to all the natural feelings and inclinations of the human heart. It was opposed to all the established systems of religion in the world, and refused to coalesce with any of them. It had to contend with an intolerant and persecuting government, a prejudiced people, and an interested priesthood. When, therefore, these devoted servants of Christ attempted to execute his commission by preaching the doctrines of his holy religion, they had to contend with a world in arms. The hostile bands of Satan immediately marched to arrest their progress. The powers that be joined in the confederacy. Pride, and rage,and malice, raised their brazen fronts, and the raging storm of persecution threatened at once to

crush in its infancy the Redeemer's infant cause. But all these mighty impediments were utterly insufficient to arrest its progress. It went on, and prospered, in spite of the determined opposition, and vigorous endeavours of its most potent foes to check its career. Hostility, and power, and pride fell vanquished before it, and the most complete 'success attended the efforts of its messengers in their endeavours to publish it to the nations. Still it proceeded, and still it increased, until at length it filled the world with fruit. Its enemies retired ashamed and confounded. The unnerved arm of opposition slunk from the contest; and its foes being all conquered by the force of its truths, it was left in quiet possession of the field, filled with the spoils of victory, and extending universal peace and holiness, as the fruit of the triumphs it had won. The acknowledged principle, that a corresponding connection must ever exist between cause and effect, will hold good, when applied to the moral as well as to the natural world. And the extraordinary success which attended the preaching of the gospel under such disadvantageous circumstances, must, according to this principle, (the truth of which is supported by reason, and confirmed by observation,) be attributed to some operative cause, sufficient to produce such a wonderful and unprecedented effect. It is trifling and vain to say that it was the natural result of the apostles' zealous, laborious, and continued proselyting exertions. Experience shews us, that no such effects attend the efforts of those who are engaged in its propagation in the ordinary course of events. This astonishing success, therefore, which crowned the labours of the apostles, can only be attributed to the co-operation of a divine power, which accompanied the word preached, and made it effectual to the overturning of the power of darkness, and the universal establishment of the Redeemer's kingdom. We read, (Mark xyi. 20,)“ That they (i. e. the apostles) went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with thein;" which declaration accords with his gracious pro

mise, recorded in Matt. xxviii. 20, to be with them always, even unto the end of the world.

Let the reader, therefore, divest his mind of prejudice, and he must, when he contemplates the rapid and almost universal spread of Christianity which, at the commencement of its publication, resulted from the labours of these devoted men, be constrained to acknowledge the truth of this inspired declaration. The first preachers of Christianity could no more have accomplished what they did, in their own strength, or by their own exertions, than a child could pluck the sun from the heavens, or alter the courses of the planetary worlds. If God had not been with them, their work of faith and labour of love would have produced no effect. In all probability, the old superstition would never have been overturned, but to the present day darkness would have continued to cover the earth, and gross darkness the people, (Isa. lx. 2.)

I have now briefly adverted to the instruments employed to preach the gospel at the commencement of the Christian era---to the abounding and continued opposition which they universally had to encounter---and to the unparalleled success which every where attended their labours. On the ground, therefore, of this statement, I cannot but suppose that every candid man will be ready to acknowledge, that under such circumstances it never could have succeeded, and spread in the manner which it did, had not the interposing arm, and co-operating power of God, attended the labours of his servants, and been present for their defence and support. If, therefore, the interposition of a divine power was absolutely requisite to effect such a triumph, then the fact, that such a triumph has actually been gained, sufficiently evidences that this divine power was actually engaged on its behalf: and the single circumstance of that power thus interposing and effecting its establishment necessarily proves, that its origin is divine; because we cannot suppose, that had it been the offspring of fraud and imposi

tion, God would have thus interposed, and by causing his own power to co-operate with the labours of those who were engaged in its propagation, in such an extraordinary manner have blessed their endeavours, and succeeded their efforts to effect its establishment in the world.

For the confirmation of this statement, and in order to shew the correctness of the foregoing argument, allow me to appeal to the labours of the missionaries now engaged in preaching the gospel of Christ to the inhabitants of this country. Though very small is their success, compared with that which attended the labours of the first preachers of this holy religion, a slight attention to their comparatively disadvantageous circumstances sufficiently accounts for it. The apostles had means which they could employ, and facts to which they could appeal, which these niissionaries have not. They were, according to a promise which the Saviour bad given them, and which is recorded in Luke xxiv. 49, and Acts i. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, endued with "a power from on high,” by which they were peculiarly qualified for their work. The present is merely an ordinary, whilst the former was altogether an extraordinary and miraculous age. God upholds the preachers of the present day, and blesses in a common way their efforts; but he worked with, and blessed the labours of the first messengers of his truth, in an eminent and uncommon degree. The influences of the Spirit of God, who is the efficient agent in the work of conversion, are now in their measure restrained. They were copiously poured out upon the labours of the apostles; and to this peculiar and extraordinary measure of divine influence must be attributed the unparalleled and abounding success which every where attended their efforts.

The undeniable fact, therefore, that they went forth, “ the Lord working with them," brings the point in dispute at once to an issue, by demonstratively proving, as

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