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genuineness, quoting from their works in the very words, which we now find in them, and agreeing in the same story with respect to their lives and actions, we cannot require stronger evidence to prove, that the several books in the new testament were published at the time and by the persons, that have been severally assigned to them.
Now all this testimony we have in abundance: and it even goes farther; for it confirms the outline of the main history, in which these several authors concur. Let us consider therefore, what that history was, of which (it is to be borne in mind) we have four separate narratives, all coinciding in substance, and all written by eye-witnesses, or at least by contemporaries!
That there was such a person as Jesus Christ, that he was no fictitious personage, but actually lived in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, and was crucified under the government of Pilate, is borne out by the authority of all contemporary testimony whatsoever, whether pagan or christian; nor among the multitude of anecdotes, recorded
of him, is there extant any credible one from from any quarter, which tends to blacken his memory, impeach his veracity, or fix any spot of blame on his character. He was, to say the least of him, a very remarkable person, who, though born of a mean parent, and regularly attended only by twelve humble followers, spent more than three years in walking about from one end of Palestine to the other, doing good, wherever he went, healing every kind of sickness with a word or a touch, even raising the dead, and teaching such doctrines as confessedly were above the lessons of the greatest philosophers of the best ages of Greece or Rome. With all this he had none of the parade of learning or pride of superiority. He seemed to shun applause, to retire from observation, and more than once escaped from the importunate officiousness of the multitude, who wished to make him a king; and, when at last his miracles and his authority had awakened the envy of the ruling powers, who procured against him a sentence of death, though without being able to convince his judge of any fault in him, he submitted to his
fate with the meekness and composure of one, who had long expected it, and whose heart was engaged on objects, which the malice of his enemies could neither defeat, nor impede. Such was the very extraordinary character, whose history is brought forward to us in every part of the new testament: and, as the truth of this statement was not called in question at the time by those, who were most interested to overthrow it, it seems little to say of such a person, that he ought to be believed upon his word, at least in any point, which he maintains consistently, and on which he seems competent to decide. If this be not so, human testimony must be altogether set aside, and cannot be relied on in any matter. Now this person not only maintained, that there is a God, but, if we may credit the evangelists, whose credibility in reporting his words is not denied by the adversaries of his doctrine, that he had seen and known him, that he was one with him, and that he was his son; and, lest all this should be represented, as the mere fancy of wild and visionary enthusiasm, he put the truth of his words to the test of a most hazard
All things that are written
by the prophets concerning the son of man,' (said he, meaning himself by that designation,) shall be accomplished; for he shall be delivered unto the gentiles, and they shall scourge him, and put him to death; and the 'third day he shall rise again.' This was not only foretelling the fact of his resurrection, but giving warning to his enemies, that they might do their worst, to hinder it: and accordingly they did their worst. They had heard of the prediction; and they therefore sealed the stone, which was placed at the entrance of the sepulchre, in which his body was laid, and set a guard of soldiers, to watch it, till the third day should be past. Yet, notwithstanding all these precautions, he did rise again. Two heavenly figures descended, to roll away the stone, and break the seal; and he arose in the face of the dazzled and terrified soldiers: and, though a different and incredible tale was told of this by his enemies, the proofs of it were too numerous and palpable to be overborne. He was seen repeatedly by his disciples, whose assurances we have, attested to us both by
their writings, and by their lives and death. He was seen by others also, and particularly (it is asserted by contemporaries) on one occasion by five hundred persons at once. was seen subsequently to ascend into Heaven; and lastly, as the consummation and crown of the whole, we have the separate and incontrovertible testimony of saint Paul, that he appeared to him afterwards from Heaven: and so decisive was this testimony deemed in the age, when it was first promulgated, that within a few years after his resurrection the belief of it prevailed not through Judea only, but over half the civilized world. We are not, however, at present concerned with the fact of this resurrection further, than as it enables us to prove, that there is a God. A resurrection from the dead is confessedly not within the ordinary course of nature; and wherever it occurs, it reveals a hand, superior to its power. In this instance however it is not simply maintained, that Jesus rose from the dead. That (it may be alleged perhaps) might have been the effect of chance. But Jesus, when alive, foretold, that he should arise, and, after