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Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh

you a reason of the hope that is in you...1 PET. iii, 15.

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TAE Lady, for whose private use this Letter was written, feels desirous that the relief, which it is calculated to afford, may not be confined to herself. She has, therefore, prevailed with the Friend from whom she received it, to allow her to publish it for the benefit of others.


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. Feb. 18, 1804. DEAR MADAM :

I SUSPECT that much of the depression which you mentioned to me lately, proceeds from the present relaxing season. You are nervous; and have been of late much confined to your house. Solitude, also, as well as society, has its peculiar temptations. Probably Mr. - professionally engaged with his vonted energy, would smile at the apprehensions which disturb his wife, though he feels equally interested in the subject before us. But, certainly, there is something more than nerves and seasons to be considered, with respect to the minds of pious persons occasionally harassed with infidel objections. I spoke, indeed, only what occurred at the moment, in · reply to your difficulty: yet, as you tell me that you received benefit from my observations, and now wish for the substance on paper, I will endeavour to recollect what I then said.

I remember to have begun by remarking, that the religious world has not been sufficiently instructed in the Evidences of Revelation; or, as to the ground on which thinking men receive the Bible as the Word of God. Young converts are so affected with the discovery of their lost condition, of the importance of salvation, and of the Scriptures as their only rule, that they are for proceeding as soon and as fast as possible. If they can but build rightly on the foundation, they have no question as to the foundation itself. And, indeed, if this foundation should never be called in question afterwards, all would be well ; but I feel con


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vinced that something more than an implicit faith is necessary here: a merely traditional adherence to Scripture lies too much exposed to assaults, especially in such an age as this an age, in which one scarcely take up a daily print, or pass an hour in company, without meeting some remark which has a tendency, more or less, to sap the ground on which we stand.

I myself was once a professed infidel: that is, one who, carried away first by the love of sin, hoped the Bible might not be true. I then listened to such as were hardened enough to assert that it was not true: till, at length, I believed my own lie; and the vanity of appearing something like a philosopher, who had thrown off the traditions of the nursery, set me on propagating that lie. But when, like the prodigal, “] came to myself

, I had many painful steps to tread back, and many difficult and intricate paths to retrace. I now wished that the Bible might be true, and was glad to receive help from any able guide who had written on its evidences. Grotius, Bishop But

many others helped me to see, that he, who is acquainted with the evidence which God has annexed to his word, has not only every thing he can reasonably require, but that, as Mr. Soame Jenyns has remarked, he will find it requires more faith to be a consistent Infidel than to be a Christian.

But you ask, “Do you never feel a shake after all this inquiry and experience?" I answer, Now and then, an unexpected and malignant blast meets my mind, and obliges me to have recourse to my usual method. Perhaps, after what I have known and felt, I ought to repel it instantly as a temptation. Perhaps, at my standing, I ought not to honour such an assault with any examination at all. But I am not telling you what may be my duty, but what is my practice. Moreover, such is the frame of my mind, that I fear no other method than that which I take

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would satisfy it. As soon, then, as an alarm is given, I cast the eye of my mind over the leading evidences of the Scriptures, of which I have an habitual recollection, and which I need not particularize in their order to you. I likewise contemplate facts and experience, and soon obtain repose. Like a man who is told that the foundation of his house is in danger, I call for the key of the vaults on which my dwelling stands. I light a candle, walk down stairs, and pass very deliberately through the arches : I examine very particularly the arch suspected; and, after having satisfied myself that the foundation remains perfectly safe, I walk up again, lock the door, hang up the key, put out the candle, and quietly go about my business, saying as I go, They may raise an alarm, but I find all. IS SAFE."

"Have you had occasion,” say you, " often thus to go down ? Not


often. “ Did you always return satisfied ?” Always.

66 Then be so kind as to mention some part of that train of thinking from which this satisfaction arises."

Were I, Madam, conversing with an avowed Infidel, it would be proper to bring forward a regular statement of the evidences of Revelation : but thiş will not be necessary here; especially as your present request respects only those considerations which generally satisfy my own mind,

I shall begin with informing you, that I cannot look around me, without being struck with the Analogy observable in the works of God. I find the Bible written in the style of his other books of Creation and Providence. The pen seems in the same hand. I see it, indeed, write, at times, mysteriously in each of these books; but I know that mystery in the works of God is only another name for my ignorance. The moment, therefore, that I become humble, all becomes right.

I observe nothing coming from the hand of man

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