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were necessary to announce his office and character to the men of Nazareth, more than these were unnecessary, and that their unbelief affords the best grounds to conclude, that they were so. Consider too, that, if no reasons had occurred to us for this conduct, it could not certainly appear that it was unreasonable. When we know, in fact, what the method of God's dealing with mankind has been, in any instance, we may be able perhaps to discern good reasons for it. But we can seldom affirm with any shew of reason, from any preconceptions or general speculations of our own, what it should or must be. Here we are manifestly out of our depth, and cannot stir a step without the hazard of absurdity or impiety.

If we have reason to admit the divine authority of our Religion, whatever conduct it ascribes to Jesus, must be fit and right, however impenetrable to us. If we admit it not, our concern is to see that we have reason for not admitting it. This matter is to be tried by the evidence given of that authority only, I mean by the external proofs, and historic testimony, on which it rests. When this is done, no slight cavils of reason, no fanciful suspicions, no plausible objections, nor any thing else but the most obvious contradiction

in something it asserts to the clearest dictates of the human understanding (which no man has ever yet found) can possibly shake, or so much as affect, that authority.

In the present case, we have seen how entirely groundless the objection is to Christ's conduct at Nazareth. But if this objection could not have been answered, nothing had followed but a conviction of our ignorance. It might still be true (as we now see it to be), that Jesus acted agreeably to his divine character in not doing many miracles before the people of Nazareth, because of their unbelief.

SERMON XL.

PREACHED MAY 23, 1773.

2 COR. iv. 5.

We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.

WE may consider these words, either as an

admonition to the ministers of the Gospel, To preach not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; or simply as a fact, which St. Paul asserts of himself and the other Apostles, That they preached not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.

In either sense, the words are instructive; but I take them in the latter sense, only. I would confirm and illustrate this assumed fact: and then employ it as a medium to prove the

divine authority of the sacred writings. If it be true, that the Apostles preached not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, it will, perhaps, be seen to follow, That therefore they preached not from their own private suggestions, but by the direction of the Spirit of God,

The assertion of the Text is, indeed, general, and to this effect, "That a number of persons, who were employed to convert the world to the Religion of Jesus, did, in the tenour of their lives and the course of their ministry, pay no regard to their own interests of any kind, and were only intent on the due discharge of their commission."

But the subject, in that extent, is too large for a discourse of this nature. What I would offer to your consideration, is ONE SINGLE INSTANCE of that indifference which the Apostles shewed to their own interests, I mean, Their total disregard of human applause in preaching the Gospel.

In this restrained sense of the words, men may be said to preach themselves, in Two respects: When they shew a solicitude to set themselves forth with advantage: 1. as to their MORAL character. And 2. as to their INTELLEC

TUAL.

VOL. VII.

I. When men would give an advantageous idea of their moral character, they usually express this design, either, 1. By representing or insinuating their superior worth and virtue: Or, 2. By suppressing or palliating what may render it suspected: Or, 3. lastly, By dwelling on such topics, and in such a manner, as may give occasion to others to think well of their moral qualities.

Let us try the Apostolic writings by each of these marks.

1. The first way that men take to illustrate their moral character, is, By representing, or insinuating their worth and virtue, on all occasions.

Consider those apologists for themselves, who have left us memoirs of their own lives. You will find, in most of these, an ambitious display of those moral virtues, by which they desire to be distinguished. They lose no opportunity of setting forth the purity of their designs, and the integrity of their practice. The rest, may do this with less pomp and affectation: they may preserve a modesty in the language, and a decent reserve in the air and cast, of their narration. Still, the same purpose is discoverable in all these writers, whether they

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