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Samaritans had received the word of God, they sent thither Peter and John, who, by laying their hands upon these new converts, communicated to them the gifts of the Holy Ghost. The same success which Philip had at Samaria, attended the other disciples in the different places to which they went; and thus the persecution at Jerusalem was the means of conveying the Gospel “ throughout Judæa, Galilee, and Samaria,” and even “ as far as Phænice, Cyprus, and Antioch (b)."
During the first eight years after the ascension of our Saviour, the preaching of the Apostles and others was confined to the Jews. The call of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, and the miraculous conversion of St. Paul, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, have been already noticed. Subsequent to these important events, the Scripture History furnishes us with scarcely any information, except some few particulars relative to St. Peter, and a more detailed account of the sufferings and exertions of St. Paul. All these circumstances have been related in the history of those Apostles, and therefore it will be only necessary to add, that we learn from the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles, that
(b) Acts, c. II. V. 19.
within thirty years after the ascension of our Saviour, Christian churches were founded in Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Italy, Syria, and many countries of Asia Minor, which consisted both of Jewish and Gentile converts.
SUCH is the history of the New Testament; and that the books which contain this history were written, and immediately published, by persons contemporary with the events, is fully proved, as we have seen in the preceding chapters, by the testimony of an unbroken series of authors, reaching from the days of the Evangelists to the present times; by the concurrent belief of Christians of all denominations; and by the unreserved confession of avowed enemies to the Gospel, In this point of view the writings of the antient fathers of the Christian church are invaluable. They contain not only frequent references and allusions to the books of the New Testament, but also such numerous professed quotations from them, that it is demonstratively certain, that these books existed in their present state a few years after the appearance of Christ in the world. No unbeliever in the apostolic age, in the age immediately subse
quent quent to it, or indeed in any age whatever, was ever able to disprove the facts recorded in these books; and it does not appear, that in the early times any such attempt was made. The facts therefore related in the New Testament must be admitted to have rea ened. But if all the circumstances of the history of Jesus, that is, his miraculous conception in the womb of the Virgin, the time at which he was born, the place where he was born, the family from which he was descended, the nature of the doctrines which he preached, the meanness of his condition, his rejection, sufferings, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, with many other minute particulars; if, I say, all these various circumstances in the history of Jesus exactly accord with the predictions of the Old Testament relative to the promised Messiah, in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, it follows that Jesus was tliat Messiah.—And again, if Jesus really performed the miracles as related in the Gospels, and was perfectly acquainted with the thoughts and designs of men, his divine mission cannot be doubted. --Lastly, if he really foretold his own death and resurrection, the descent of the floly Ghost, its miraculous effects, the sufferings of the Apostles, the call of the Gentiles, and the destruction of Jerusalem, it necessarily follows that he spake by the authority of God himself. These and many other arguments, founded in the more than human character of Jesus, in the rapid propagation of the Gospel, in the excellence of its precepts and doctrines, and in the constancy, intrepidity, and fortitude of its early professors, incontrovertibly establish the truth and divine origin of the Christian religion, and afford to us, who live in these latter times, the most positive confirmation of the promise of our Lord, that “ the gates of hell shall not prevail ayainst it (u)."
The Places and Times of writing the Books
of the New TESTAMENT.
A.D. St. Matthew -- - Judæa - - ---- - 38 St. Mark - - . - Rome - - - - - St. Luke .. - - Greece - - St. John - - - - - Asia Minor - - - - - 97 Acts - - - - - - Greece - - - - - - - 64 Romans - - - - - Corinth - 1 Corinthians - - - Ephesus • - 2 Corinthians - - - Macedonia - .. Galatians - - . Corinth or Macedonia Ephesians - - - - Rome. - - Philippians - - - - Rome - - - - .. Colossians - - - - Rome • - - . - - 1 Thessalonians . - Corinth 2 Thessalonians - - Corinth - - - - - i Timothy - - - - Macedonia - .. 2 Timothy - - - - Rome - - - - - - . 65 Titus -... - Greece or Macedonia . . 64 Philemon - - - - Rome - - - - - - - 62 Hebrews - - - - Rome - - - - - - St. James - - - • Jerusalem - .
. . i St. Peter . - Rome - 2 St. Peter - - - - Rome . - - - - - - 65 1 St. John
- Judæa - .. 2 St. John . . . - Ephesus - - - - - - 69 3 St. Jolin - - Ephesus
• - 69 St. Jude - - - - - Unknown - - - - - - 70 Revelation - - - - Patmos - - - - 95 or 96
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.