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fous were those hiftorians to justify the truths which they recorded,.. that they fealed them with their blood, in almost all parts of the world. And we read of no other compofition, no other record. whatever, though it related to the moft abfolute monarchy, and though never so many potentates and princes endeavoured to eftablish its reputation, that was so boldly, fo courageoufly defended. Their defign was not like that of the generality of mankind, to flatter, and by that means to infinuate themselves into the good graces of fome powerful prince. For had Jefus been a mere man, they could have proposed no advantage to themselves in flattering him after his crucifixion: neither could they be perfons who wrote for gain; fince they freely parted with all that this world holds dear; nay, their very lives, in defence of their writings.

If we examine the style of them, we shall find it plain, eafy and. familiar. Therein the divinity of Jefus Chrift is peremptorily afferted; and yet the infirmities of his humanity are no ways concealed: therein are the infirmities of his humanity acknowledged; and yet his divinity is not any ways deftroyed: therein the frailties and miscarriages of the apoftles themselves; fuch as their too curious difpofition, their ambition, and the like, are faithfully recorded; and, in a word, not the least oftentation of themselves, or pompous panegyric on their mafter is therein to be found. PETER, we are told, fhamefully fell, and denied his Lord no lefs than thrice, within the compass of a few hours. Now, why should his disciple, MARK, who compofed his gospel by his direction, record his weakness and expofe him ?The fons of Zebedee, JOHN and. JAMES, defire to fit the one on the right-hand of Jefus, and the other on his left, in his kingdom. What obligation did they lie under to publish these private mifcarriages, the discovery of which might in all human probability leffen the reputation and authority of their writings?-They acknowledge, that Jesus himself was fometimes weary, fometimes thirfty, and often in tears, all which


are common infirmities incident to human nature; yet no lefs ftrenuously do they affert him to be God, and chearfully lay down their lives in defence of his divinity. But might they not have concealed these infirmities of his without the leaft prejudice to the truth? Doubtlefs, they might; and any one in the common courfe of thinking, would imagine, that fuch a procedure might have highly advanced the credit of the Gofpel. But they were men of deeper penetration, and were fully perfuaded, that the bright rays of his godhead would shine forth with the greater lustre, even through the dark veil of his manhood. In a word, they fet down every minute circumstance, such as the time, the place, the day, the hour, the town, the house; nay, the very names of the perfons concerned. Now the more particular they were, the more liable, doubtless, they were to be detected and discovered. Befides, they talk not in Judea of tranfactions in the Indies, but in Bethany, Bethfaida, and Jerufalem itself; they point out the very street, the gate, the pool, where fuch and such miracles were wrought before witnesses, who were then living; the blind faw, the lame walked, and the dead arose, &c.-Now had they afferted a falfehood, how easily had they been detected? What opportunities did they give their enemies to triumph over them ?-And yet among so many inveterate and enraged Pharifees; among fo many people, fo ready and willing both to fay and do the utmost that the most bitter malice could prompt them to; how came it to pass, that not one should rise up in judgment against them? Since therefore fpleen and ill nature are too apt to caft reflections and find fault where there is no just occafion; and fince the most inveterate envy and hatred of their enemies, who lived in the places where thofe wonders were tranfacted, and at a time too, when their power and authority car-1 ried all before them, could not find the minutest circumstance mifrepresented, we muft naturally conclude, that the history of the Gofpel is unquestionably true, genuine, and authentick.


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However, to fatisfy the incredulity even of unreasonable men, we shall further proceed to demonftrate the truth of such tranfactions in the history of our blessed Lord and Saviour as have been deemed the most exceptionable. Now we are told in the Gospel, that when Jefus was born in Bethlehem, the wife men faw a STAR in the east, which went before them, and conducted them to the place where the infant lay.

There are fome, perhaps, who will abfolutely deny, that there ever was such a star: but let any one judge how little the evangelift muft raise his own credit, and advance his master's intereft by fetting out with an apparent falfehood, which all the world could have difproved. But we read in Pliny, that, at the fame time AUGUSTUS being then the chief prefident of the sports that were celebrated in honour to Venus Genitrix at Rome, there appeared a comet, or blazing ftar in the heavens; for fo they called all uncommon and extraordinary stars: whereupon, the college of priests, on account of the fingular and peculiar marks of it, paft this judgment that it did not prognosticate, as most do, either war, peftilence, or famine, but the falvation of mankind.-And CHÆREMON, the ftoic philofopher, being likewife of opinion, that this star presaged some future happiness; and finding that his gods drooped at its appearance, travelled into Judea, with fome other astrologers, to find out the true God.-CHALCIDIUS too, the platonist, fays, in direct terms, that the Chaldeans made this obfervation, that it foretold the fudden appearance of God upon earth, in order to pour down the dew of his heavenly benediction on all mankind.

Now, upon the enquiry of the wife men, HEROD was refolutely bent on the murder of all the children in Bethlehem, and the parts adjacent, who were two years old and under, taking it for granted, that by fuch a procedure, he should deftroy that child among the rest, which the ftar referred to. In this barbarous and inhuman action he fpared not even his own child. Upon which account MACROVOL. IH.



BIUS records this pointed turn of Augustus, "be Herod's hog than his fon."

The next difficulty that occurs to us, is this, that CHRIST should be born of a VIRGIN. But fince God had foretold it, who should prevent its coming to pass? And who can queftion his power, when he is fully affured of his will? But this prophecy was so very remarkable, that SIMON MAGUS, not to be thought in any respect inferior to Jefus, affured his difciples, that he was the son of a virgin; a thing which the bleffed Jefus never published of himself. Moreover, we read, that the temple of peace fell down to the ground, that very day at Rome, at the foundation whereof, the ORACLE OF APOLLO being confulted by the Romans, the anfwer was; THAT IT SHOULD STAND TILL A VIRGIN SHOULD BE "WITH CHILD, AND HAVE A SON," which they mifconftrued for the promise of an eternal duration.

As to ST. JOHN BAPTIST, our Lord's harbinger and herald; his holy life, his exalted piety, his doctrine and his death, are all recorded in JOSEPHUS's history much to the fame purpose as they are in our evangelifts. If we look into the life of our moft gracious Saviour we fhall find it one continued feries of benevolent miracles: and this confideration that all his actions were defcribed and published with fo many particular circumstances, the leaft of which could no ways be contested, should alone be fufficient to strengthen and confirm our faith. For which reason, we shall now proceed to his death.

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"From the fixth hour unto the ninth hour there was darkness "over all the earth;" that is, at noon-day. If any one doubts of this fact, PHLEGON, Adrian's freed-man, the most exact and curious chronologer of his time, hath obferved, that there was an unnatural eclipse of the fun, attended with a violent earthquake, in the eighteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, in which our Lord and Saviour was crucified. And EUSEBIUS affures us, that he has


met with the fame obfervation in fome of the Heathen hiftorians. LUCIAN alfo, one of the priests of Antioch, refers the judges who condemned him to their own annals. "You will find it "recorded, fays he, that in Pilate's time an unnatural darkness "covered the earth at mid-day, and the fun withdrew his light, "as if afhamed to fee his Maker fuffer."-Now concerning the earthquake that immediately enfued, Phlegon before-mentioned fpeaks of it in much the fame terms as our Evangelifts do, and afcribes it to the eclipfe. Now, fince accidents like thefe fo very feldom happen, and fince these are allowed to fall out in one and the fame year, and about the fame time, they cannot rationally be fuppofed to be any other than those our authors treat of. In a word, the vail of the temple was rent in twain:-As to the giving credit to, or disbelieving this affertion, there required no more than a journey to the place to be fully convinced. But Jofephus fpeaking of the ill omens that portended the destruction of the Jews, takes particular notice of this as one.


Behold! the Lord of life is dead!—But then the third day he rifeth again, according to his own prediction.-Had he said, as Mahomet did, about eight hundred years hence, I will visit you again, then he had fafely kept them in fufpence till the expiration of that term but fince he fays, within three days I will come again, the fallacy, if it had been fuch, had foon been plainly detected. Women faw him, the incredulous felt him; he ate, drank, and conversed with them at several times, and for feveral days fucceffively. The Apoftles, though at first startled and astonished at the various incidents confequent to this tranfaction, foon preached, published, and at laft fealed it with their blood. Even he whom a fimple fervant maid confounded, even he, who in his master's life-time denied him thrice in one hour, preached him, and proclaimed his refurrection in Jerufalem before the magistrates and priests; and no persuasions, no menaces could deter him from such X 2 publication.

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