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#KİN TED FOR J. JOHNSON, No. 72, ST. PAUL'S CÜURCH-VARDS

1793

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NOTHING was ever more unexpected by me than that I, or, indeed, that any

other person, should, at this day, have occasion to enter into a discussion of the subject of these Letters ; as nothing seemed to be better established than the authenticity of almost all the canonical books of the New Testament, no unbeliever having, of late years, hinted a suspicion to the contrary, and every reasonable doubt having been removed by such laborious and candid writers as Mr. Jones, and Dr. Lardner, not to mention several others, whose works could not be unknown to Mr. Evanson. That such einen books were extant, in, or very near to, the

widence time in which the events recorded, or alluded to, in them happened, so that it was impossible but that the truth might be known with respect to them, there is abundantly more evidence than there is of any other historical books whatever having been written, and published, in the same circumstances. Doubts, there

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fore, with respect to the authenticity of the books of the New Testament (I mean the universally received ones, as the four Gospels, and the greater part of the Epiftles ascribed to Paul) might justly extend to all other writings whatever, and lead to universal scepticism.

By what particular train of thought Mr. Evanson was originally led to entertain the doubts which at length produced the work on which I here animadvert, does not appear. That it was, directly or indirectly, from any disbelief of Christianity, I have not the fmalle eft fufpicion. His noble conduct in refigning a valuable church preferment, rather than recite the offices, after he had rejected the doctrines, of the established church, is an abundant proof both of his firm belief of Christianity, and of the happy influence it had upon his mind ; unbelievers in general making no fcruple to adhere to any church, so long as they can receive the emoluments of it. The cast of Mr. Evanfon's writings also proves, not only that he is a Christian, but that Christian literature is his favourite study, all his publications being of this kind, intended to enforce, and illustrate, fome article of Christian faith or practice.

But having given more particular attention to the subject of prophecy, to which we are

indebted men,

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indebted for his excellent Letter to the bishop of Worcester, he appears to me to have over- non looked, and undervalued, the evidence of the rús Christianity from teftimony ; not seeming to Visconna have considered the nature of it, and how it is certa, has actually operated in all ages, and must do, interior while human nature is the same that it now $ Per meu is, and ever has been. Also, not being able heart of him to vindicate, so well as he could wish, some calor particular passages in the Gospels of Matthew, kwani ke pus Mark, and John, and in some of the Epistles of Paul, which have been urged in support of doctrines and practices which he justly deems to be corruptions of genuine Christianity, he may

have wished to find those books not to be genuine, as that would be the easiest way of getting rid of the difficulty; and without con, fidering the external evidence of their authenticity, and not having the critical skill, or the patience, that was requisite to ascertain the true sense of those passages, he has hastily concluded them to be spurious productions. In a state of mind which I have supposed, nothing is easier than to find objections to any writings; and when a man has, though ever so hastily, and incautiously, advanced any thing in public, the best of us are so much

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