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are so, who therefore would have professed themselves mahometans or heathens for the same reason, if they had been born, or were now living in a mahometan or heathen country. Theirs is, consequently, as I said before, a presumptuous hope. It rests on no sure foundation; and the house, which is built upon it, will in a season of trial, by which its strength shall be put to the proof, fall to the ground. Many such edifices were subverted in the day, when the desolating besom of Mahomet went forth, and swept away the half of Christendom. Others again have learned to place their hope in Christ, and to live for him without having sufficiently examined the ground of their hope: and these also are from that cause liable in time of temptation to fall away. It is but reasonable to expect, that those, who have not exercised their reason in settling the ground of their hope, should be exposed to danger from the unreasonable suggestions of unbelievers: and this is a case of far more frequent occurrence than is commonly supposed. Too little attention is commonly paid in education to the evidences of our holy

religion; too little inquiry is made into them afterwards; too much is ordinarily taken upon trust in matters of eternal moment: and thus few comparatively are ready, even among truly good and religious persons, to give a judicious and satisfactory reason of the hope, that is in them.

Of the extent, to which this inattention to the foundation of our religious belief often prevails, a stronger proof can hardly be produced or demanded, than the confession of a remarkable man, whose whole life had been zealously devoted to the service of his Redeemer, who had stood forth during many years, as the champion of religion, according to his own view of it, and whose writings have done, and by the divine blessing upon them will continue to do much for the establishment of many in the faith and hope of the gospel. I mean Richard Baxter. Yet this eminent man in a review of his religious opinions, made towards the close of a long life and in the near and certain prospect of eternity, acknowledges- Whereas in my younger days I was

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ture, but all my fear was exercised at home ' about my own sincerity, (and this was it, 'which I called unbelief), since that time my < worst assaults have been on the other side; ' and such they were, that, had I been void ' of inward experience, and had I not discerned more reason for my religion than I did before, 'I had certainly apostatized to infidelity. I am now therefore,' (adds that very competent witness,) much more apprehensive of the 'necessity of well grounding men in their

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religion. There is many a one, that hideth 'his temptations to infidelity, because he think'eth it a shame to open them, and because it

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may create doubts in others. But (I fear) the 'imperfection of most men's care of their salvation, and of their diligence in a holy life comes from the imperfection of their belief in a life to come.'

These are considerations, which may convince us of the importance of laying the foundations of our faith as deep as possible, and not taking any thing for granted, if it be capable of demonstration, in a matter of such vast importance to us. Even the being of a God,

however we have been trained up in the persuasion of it, ought not to be received without sufficient proof; and those, who are well grounded in the proof of it, ought not to think it time ill employed, if they again and again review it for the sake not only of their own conviction, but that they may be ready always to give a reason of that conviction to their younger or more ignorant brethren. It is not indeed in the power of all persons to enter into a lengthened discussion of evidence. But what I now maintain is, that no one should be contented in such an affair with less than the best evidence within his reach. Our religion is supported by many proofs, any of which singly is sufficient to sustain a rational belief. But no one ought to feel, that he has done justice to his own faith, or to what God requires of him, if he does not seek all the light in his power.

There are therefore two questions, connected with our common hope. The first is—On what evidence does the truth of Christianity itself rest?-the second-What proof have we, that we are ourselves entitled to its comforts and

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its hopes

and neither of these questions ought to be answered definitively without due inquiry.

It is true, that the answer to these questions must be assumed in infancy, that state of human life, in which our bodily subsistence as well as our opinions upon all subjects must depend altogether upon others. But, just as in other matters the young person gains experience, while he advances in years, and gradually proves by experiment what he had been originally taught by tradition, so in religion also, as the faculties expand, the mind ought to be informed, and the natural and necessary inquiry into the deep foundations of our faith encouraged and satisfied.

When I look around me, and see the number of young persons in this congregation, some brought by their parents, others collected into schools, and all growing up to that state, in which they must mingle with the world and its temptations, I cannot feel satisfied to speak to you, my brethren, from week to week, on doctrines and duties, belonging to the common

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