Isaac Watts on the Rational Defence of the Gospel

Thus I have endeavoured to answer those objections against the gospel, which are pretended to arise from the truths or doctrines of it: and before I proceed to answer those cavils which are raised against it, because of the professors of it, I must finish the present Discourse with a word or two of improvement.

Use 1. If this be a gospel not to be ashamed of, then study it well: learn the truths and doctrines of it thoroughly,—truths and doctrines which St. Paul, so wise, and so great a man, did not blush to profess, and preach, and die for. Value it as he valued it: the more you know it, the more you will esteem it: and the better you are acquainted with all the glorious articles of it, the less you will be ashamed of it: the divine harmony of the whole will cast a beauty and lustre on every part.

Use 2. Furnish yourselves with arguments for it daily, that you may profess it without shame, and defend it without blushing: this is a day of temptation, and you know not what conversation you may be called into by Divine Providence; you know not what cavils you may meet with to assault your faith and attack Christianity. Be ready, therefore, to give reasons of the hope that is in you, and to make a just and pertinent reply to gainsayers, and convince those, if possible, that are led away captive by the wiles of the devil to forsake Christ and his. gospel. Let not every turn of wit, or sleight of argument and sophistry, make you waver in your faith. It is a gospel that will bear the trial of reasonings and reproaches. It has something in itself that is divine, and therefore it is able to support the professors of it against an army of cavillers.

—Isaac Watts, “A Rational Defence of the Gospel,” in Sermons on Various Subjects, Divine and Moral (London: William Baynes and Son, 1826), pp. 298-99


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Dr. Timothy McGrew serves as a Senior Research Fellow with He is Professor of Philosophy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He hold a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University (1992). He has published in numerous journals including Mind,The Monist, Analysis, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, and Philosophia Christi. His most recent publications include “Evidence” inThe Routledge Companion to Epistemology, a co-authored anthology in The Philosophy of Science, and co-authored (with his wife, Lydia) an article on the argument from miracles in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. He specializes in theory of knowledge, logic, probability theory, and the history and philosophy of science. He is an avid chess player, enjoys the great hymns of the faith, and directs the Library of Historical of Apologetics, which can be found online and on Facebook. Tim has been married to Lydia for 28 years and they have three children, all of whom play chess.


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