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Reflections upon the preceding Account.

IN viewing the progress of Chriftianity,

our first attention is due to the number of converts at Jerufalem, immediately after its founder's death; because this fuccefs was a fuccefs at the time, and upon the spot, when and where the chief part of the history had been tranfacted.

We are, in the next place, called upon to attend to the early establishment of numerous Chriftian focieties in Judea and Galilee, which countries had been the scene of Christ's miracles and ministry, and where the memory of what had paffed, and the knowledge of what was alledged, must have yet been fresh and certain.

We are, thirdly, invited to recollect the


fuccefs of the apoftles and of their companions, at the feveral places to which they came, both within and without Judea; because it was the credit given to original witneffes, appealing for the truth of their accounts to what themselves had feen and heard. The effect alfo of their preaching ftrongly confirms the truth of what our hiftory positively and circumftantially relates, that they were able to exhibit to their hearers fupernatural atteftations of their miffion.

We are, laftly, to confider the fubfequent growth and fpread of the religion, of which we receive fucceffive intimations, and fatiffactory, though general and occafional, accounts until its full and final establishment.

In all these several stages, the history is without a parallel; for it must be observed, that we have not now been tracing the progrefs, and defcribing the prevalency, of an opinion, founded upon philofophical or critical arguments, upon mere deductions of R 4 reason,

reafon, or the conftruction of ancient writings (of which kind are the feveral theories which have, at different times, gained poffeffion of the public mind in various departments of science and literature; and of one or other of which kind are the tenets alfo which divide the various fects of Christianity): but that we speak of a system, the very bafis and poftulatum of which was a fupernatural character ascribed to a particular perfon; 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 fingle nation, is a thing in itfelf exceedingly difficult. To reform fome corruptions which may have spread in a religion, or to make new regulations in it, is not perhaps fo hard, when the main and principal part of that religion is preserved. entire and unfhaken; and yet this very often cannot be accomplished, without an extraordinary concurrence of circumstances, and may be attempted a thousand times without fuccefs. But to introduce a new faith,


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faith, a new way of thinking and acting, and to perfuade 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 forfake and despise the deities which they had been accustomed to reverence and worship; this is a work of still greater difficulty *. The refiftance of education, worldly policy, and fuperftition, is almost invincible."

If men, in these days, be Christians in confequence of their education, in submisfion to authority, or in compliance with fashion, let us recollect that the very contrary of this, at the beginning, was the cafe. The first race of Chriftians, as well as millions who fucceeded them, became fuch in formal oppofition to all these motives; to the whole power and ftrength of this influence. Every argument therefore, and every inftance, which fets forth the preju

*Jortin's Dif. on the Chrift. Rel. p. 107, ed. iv.


dice of education, and the almoft irresistible effects of that prejudice (and no persons are more fond of expatiating upon this fubject than deistical writers) in fact confirms the evidence of Chriflianity.

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 feen of the subject, with the success of Chriftian miffions in modern ages. In the EastIndia miffion, fupported by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, we hear fometimes of thirty, fometimes of forty, being baptifed in the course of a year, and these principally children. Of converts: properly fo called, that is, of adults voluntarily embracing Chriftianity, the number is extremely small. "Notwithstanding the labour of miffionaries for upwards of two hundred years, and the establishments of different Chriftian nations who support them, there are not twelve thousand Indian

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