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the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, such as tongues, miracles, healing, prophecy, and the like, when every one of them knew that there was nothing in it.
You must, in like manner, own it impossible for such multitudes of people, for so long a track of time, to be imposed upon by pretences of miraculous operations; and none of them ever detect the imposture so much as in one single instance, while all of them had the opportunity of doing it when they pleased, if the facts had not been true.
Can you imagine it any ways possible, that such multitudes, in the first ages of Christianity, in such distant countries and nations, should conspire together to acknowledge these facts, and the doctrines founded on them, at the peril of their lives; and no man among these professors themselves, or among the heretics and apostates that fell away from them, should discover the fraud, either living or dying ?
You will certainly own it utterly impossible, that so many thousands, in so many lands, could with joy and cheerfulness submit to such poor and afflicted lives, and to such cruel and barbarous deaths, as were the common lot of the first Christians, in confirmation of a religion founded upon facts which they knew to be false. And
you must acknowledge it also altogether impossible, at any time after these facts were pretended to be done, to palm the history of them upon the world, if it was false; and to persuade so many nations to receive it for truth. It were impossible to persuade any nations, and much more all the early nations of Christendom, that, at some distant forgotten age, there were a number of men that came
among them, taught them the doctrines of Christianity, confirmed the same by miracles, baptised them into the faith, and established a settled order of the ministry in their churches: from which time, they have all of them professed the Christian faith, had the New Testament in their hands, and enjoyed a continued succession of ministers and ordinances. Let an attempt of this kind be made upon our Indians, and try if any one man among them can be imposed upon to believe these things.
To this I may add, that it is absolutely impossible, at any one time, to have obtruded the inspired writings upon the world, if they were indeed spurious; and to have made all the Christian nations believe that these were written in the apostolic age, speedily translated into divers languages, publicly kept, and publicly read and preached in their churches; that they, and their fathers before them, had always reverenced and esteemed them as the rule of their lives, and their guide to eternal happi
What success, but scorn and derision, could be hoped for from such an attempt ?
I may once more subjoin to all this, that it is at least highly improbable, that the early writers against Christianity should never deny these facts, if they were not notoriously true, when they could not want advantages to detect any fraud or deceit that can possibly be supposed in a case of this kind. And it is yet more improbable, that any of the adversaries of Christianity should confirm the truth of these facts, as we find some of them do, if they had not been most apparently and undoubtedly true. And now, Sir, what can be wanting, what can you
demand' or desire more, to confirm you in the faith of Christianity? It is established upon the veracity of God himself; upon those facts, by which he has from heaven attested to the truth of it; and these facts are verified by evidences which cannot possibly deceive us. By believing, therefore, we set to our seal that God is true: but he that believeth not maketh him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
You may perhaps tell me, that if you had seen these miracles yourself, you would have believed them. But has not every body else the same claim to this sort of satisfaction as you; and the same reason to desire to be eye and ear witnesses of such miraculous operations? At this rate, miracles would cease to be miraculous; they would become common and familiar things; and no longer strike the mind with any conviction at all, any more than the ebbing and flowing of the sea, the rising and setting of the sun, or any other such displays of the divine power, in the common course of providenca.
Upon the whole, there is no evidence wanting to leave the believer inexcusable. There is evidence every way.sufficient to satisfy the mind of an impartial inquirer after truth. And it is impossible for any man in the world to imagine any means of confirmation in this important truth, superior to what is herein set before you. How unreasonable would it therefore be, to require more evidence in a case wherein we have already as much as we are possibly capable to receive ? That it may be effectual to establish you in the faith, is, and shall be, the prayer of,
AN HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF THE BIRTH, LIFE,
PASSION, RESURRECTION, ASCENSION, AND FUTURE KINGDOM OF OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR, COLLECTED FROM THE PROPHECIES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
any endeavours of mine have contributed in the least towards your satisfaction. I am thereby the more encouraged to hope, that your remaining difficulties may easily be obviated; and particularly, that it will not prove difficult to answer your present demand: to show you " how you may certainly know that the prophecies of the Old Testament had a direct reference to Jesus Christ.” You may know this by the exact accommodation of the prediction with the event. That this, therefore, may be set before you in a proper light, I will endeavour to give you (in the form of a history) a brief representation of our blessed Saviour, gathered from the Old Testament, and leave you to compare this with the narrative of him in the New. If these agree, you thereby have a certain discovery of the divine original of these prophecies; since none but an ompiscient mind could possibly foresee these events. And you have likewise the same certainty, that Jesus Christ the predicted Messiah, and that his mission is divine,
since what was foretold of the Messiah in the
prophecy is fulfilled in him.
The time of the manifestation of this glorious person, whom I am now to describe, was during the continuance of the kingdom of Judah, while a sceptre was in the hand, and a lawgiver came from between the feet, of that tribe, Gen. xlix. 10.; while the second temple was yet standing, Mal. iii. 1. Hag. ii. 7.; just 450 Chaldee years after the decree went forth to restore and to build Jerusalem, which was in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia, Dan. ix. 25.* This king likewise came into the world, and the God of heaven set up his everlasting kingdom, at that season of the fourth or Roman monarchy, Dan. ii. 44., when there was an end put to the dreadful shaking of the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land, and indeed of all nations, by the wars of Alexander the Great'; the four kingdoms that arose out of his conquests; and the Romans the conquerors of them all; and when peace was restored to the world, Hag. ii. 6, 7, 9. which happened when Augustus Cæsar was emperor of Rome, and Herod the Great was king of Judea.
As to the pedigree or descent of our blessed Saviour, it must be considered with respect to the two different natures that were united in this glorious person.
For how wonderful soever it may appear to us, the man Christ Jesus was also Emmanuel,
* Daniel's seven weeks and threescore and two weeks, or 483 years, were to terminate at the death of the Messiah. We must therefore subtract from that number the 33 years of his life, and there remains 450 years to his birth.