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every age as it ariseth: but generally the evidence for particular books bas been collected, and placed by itself. Which though it have some advantages, I believe it will be found, that the method here taken has also some peculiar advantages belonging to it.
It was the reading of the works of Eusebius of Cæsarea, and particularly his Ecclesiastical History, in which he has collected so many passages of ancient writers before him, that gave the first rise to this design. Though the execution of it should not be equal to the model upon which it was formed, it may be of benefit to some. A large part of the riches of that work will be transferred into this, and will be its greatest ornament.
The numerous passages here produced out of ancient authors, will not discourage any who have ability and opportunity from going to the originals : but rather, I hope, be a means of leading some into a further acquaintance with them. After all the Ecclesiastical Histories, Bibliotheques and Memoires, that have been published, there remain, if I mistake not, good gleanings in Ecclesiastical antiquity, for those who shall be pleased to be at the pains of gathering them in. The ancient writers of the church will ever afford somewhat curious and entertaining, to an attentive and judicious reader. The study of the fathers is indeed laborious, and not very profitable with regard to any secular advantages : but it is the fitter for men of generous minds, who prefer the pleasure of gaining and communicating useful knowledge to all the pomp of a vain world. Nor is every one who looks into these writings obliged to make the study of them his professed work and employment. A man of ingenuity and a good taste may gain a considerable knowledge of them (especially of the most ancient and most valuable) for his own satisfaction in the way of amusement. As my
aim in this work has been the promoting, according to my ability, the interest of true religion; it is no small satisfaction to me, that the first part of it was so well received at home, and that it has been so far approved abroad, as to be translated by two learned foreigners; by Mr. Cornelius Westerbaen of Utrecht into Low Dutch, and by Mr. J. Christopher Wolff of Hamburgh into Latin. I cannot but esteem it an uncommon happiness, that my thoughts have been so justly represented by persons well known in the republic of letters for compositions of their own,
London, March 1, 1733-4.
Having in a former treatise produced sufficient evidence of that part of the Gospel History, which concerns the facts occasionally mentioned in the New Testament: I now proceed to lay before the public, in a like manner, the evidences of the principal facts of the same history, which in the Introduction to the foregoing part were briefly said to be these : “ The birth and preaching of John the Baptist ; the miraculous conception and birth, the discourses, miracles, predictions, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ; the mission of the apostles, the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them, and the other attestations, which were given to the divine authority of Jesus Christ, and the truth of his doctrine.”
It may be now proper to represent these particulars somewhat more at large. The substance of the history of the New Testament then is this:
Jesus, called the Christ, having been conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of a virgin named Mary, espoused to a mean person whose name was Joseph, of the family of David, was born at Bethlehem in Judea, in the reign of Herod king of the Jews, at a time when there was a taxing, or enrolment, ordered in that country by a decree of Augustus, the Roman emperor. Matt. i. Luke i. ii.
The birth of Jesus was attended and followed with some events of an extraordinary nature, Matt. ii. After eight days he was circumcised, and then presented at the temple according to the custom of the law of Moses. And his birth, as king of the Jews, having been notified at Jerusalem, by the arrival of some wise men of the East, who had seen his star in their own country, and came to Jerusalem to worship him: Herod formed a design against the life of the young child. But he was preserved by flight into Egypt, whither he was carried by Joseph, together with his mother Mary, by divine order: and after a short space of time was brought back again by Joseph, who then went and settled at Nazareth. There is little more related of the early part
of his life, except that at the age of twelve years he went up to Jerusalem at the feast of the
gave some proofs of uncommon knowledge, and returned thence to Nazareth, and was subject to his parents, Luk 41.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, then emperor of Rome, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, John, called the Baptist, son of Zacharias, of the race of the Jewish priests, and of his wife Elisabeth, (who was born a few months before Jesus, in the reign of the forementioned Herod, king of the Jews) appeared in the country beyond Jordan, preaching the
baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” And great numbers of men from all parts of Judea resorted to him, and were baptized, “ confessing their sins.” He taught that the kingdom of God was at hand, bid men bring forth fruits meet for repentance, and not to depend upon any national privileges, or external performances, for acceptance with God. “ The people were then in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts, whether he were the Christ or not.” And when the “ Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, who he was, he confessed, he was not the Christ;" at the same time openly declaring, that there was then among them a great person, whom as yet, they knew not: and though he came after him, he was so far preferred before him, that he was not “ worthy to unloose the latchet of his shoes : and whereas he baptized them with water unto repentance, this great person would baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” Luke ii. iii. Matt. iii. Mark i. John i.
When a great part of the people had been baptized, Jesus also came to John, and was baptized of him in Jordan. Matt. iii. 13, “ And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. At which time Jesus was about thirty years of age,” Luke iij. 23.
Having been thus baptized, he was led by the Spirit into a solitary and desert place, where he fasted forty days and forty nights, and had a great and remarkable temptation, Matt. iv. Luke iv. The temptation being ended, “ he returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee,” and wrought miracles, and began to gather disciples, who “ seeing his glory believed on him.” At which time John still baptizing, bore testimony to him: that he was the person of whom he had spoken, and that he must increase. But, says he,“ I
, must decrease : he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him," John ii. 11, iii, 30, 34.
Soon after this, John was cast into prison for his free, but just reproofs of Herod the tetrarch of Galilee: by whose order he was also afterwards beheaded, Matt. xiv. 1--12. Mark vi. 16, 29. Luke iii. 19, 20. ix. 9.
When John had been cast into prison, Jesus began to preach more publicly: and having chosen out of the number of his disciples twelve, whom he named apostles, to be generally with him, that they might be afterwards the witnesses to the world of his life, his doctrine, miracles, and resurrection, he went about the several parts of the country of Judea, resorting likewise to Jerusalem at the time of the great feasts of the Jewish nation, Matt. iv. 12. Mark i. 14. iii. 13. Luke vi. 12, 13, Acts x. 39-41.
He taught that men should repent, and for their encouragement declared, that he “ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” Matt. ix. 13. He moreover taught, that God is to be worshipped in spirit and truth, and that such worship is acceptable in all places, John iv. 21, 23, 24: That the things which defile a man are those which “ proceed out of the heart; evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Matt. xv. 19, 20: That the great branches of men's duty, are the love of God and their neighbour: That men should do to others as they would that others should do to them, Matt. vii. 12: That they ought to imitate God in mercy, forgiveness, and all goodness, Matt. v. 44, 45: That they ought to be pure in heart, as well as unblamable in their outward actions: That they ought not to pray, fast, or give alms to be seen of men; but in all things to act with an eye to the approbation and acceptance of God, who seeth the most secret, as well as the most public actions. He recommended moderate affections for the things of this present world, and bid men seek in the first place the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and without solicitude and anxiety about the concerns of this life, to confide in the providence of God, which oversees and directs all things, Matt. vi. 1, 19, 20, 25. He assured them that they who believed in God, and in him whom God had sent, and obeyed the commandments delivered by him, should enjoy eternal life," and he would raise" them “ up at the last day,” John vi. 39: That God had given all authority and judgment to him, and that he would come again, and render to all according to their works. And of this doctrine taught by him, he required a sincere and open profession, declaring, Matt. x. 32, 33, 66 Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will also confess before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
These, and the like excellent precepts, and powerful inducements to all virtue, he taught and inculcated every where; speaking sometimes plainly, sometimes in parables, as men were able to hear him: always with such a mixture of authority and familiarity for the manner, such weight and dignity for the matter of his discourses, that the multitude “ wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth;” and enemies were obliged to acknowledge, that never man spake like him, Matt. v. vi. vii. Luke vi. Matt. xij. Mark iv. 33. Luke iv, 22. John vï. 46.
As he went about teaching this doctrine, he wrought many miracles as evidences, that the Father had sent him, and of the truth of all his words. He turned water into wine; fed with a few loaves and fishes great multitudes in desert places; walked on the sea; calmed the winds and the waves; gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, soundness and strength to the lame, and those that were bowed down; healed diseases of all sorts; restored to their right mind lunatics and dæmoniacs, and raised the dead. These miracles were performed at his word, in an instant, and some were wrought on persons at a distance from him. They were done by him in the most public and open manner; at Jerusalem, and in every part of Judea and Galilee; in cities, in villages, in synagogues, in private houses, in the streets, and the highways, in the presence of enemies, before scribes and pharisees, and rulers of synagogues, when attended by multitudes : in a word, before men of all characters.
There were also in the course of his ministry divers other signal testimonies given to him. Beside the voice from heaven at his baptism, he was transfigured in the presence of three of his disciples, when“ his face shone as the sun, and his raiment was white as light, and a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said : This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him," Matt. xvii. 1-8. See Mark ix. 2. Luke ix. 28. At another time, being at Jerusalem, surrounded by a great multitude, and having prayed, “ Father, glorify