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and Children, and Servants of his own Priests them felves, were moft of them Chriftians.

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If any one then, upon a ferious confideration of all Circumstances, can withstand the conviction of fo great Evidence; I would only ask him, whether he believes any History or Relations of Matters of Fact, which he never faw, and defire him to fhew what degrees of Certainty he can difcern in any of them, which are not to be found here: And befides, to confider, that if in a vicious and fubtile Age, a Doctrine fo contrary to Flesh and Blood, by fo weak and incompetent Means, could obtain fo univerfally amongst Men of all Tempers, and Profeffions, and Interests, in all Nations of the World, against so violent oppofition, without the help of Miracles; this is as great a Miracle as can be conceived: Either therefore the Chriftian Religion was propagated by Miracles, or it was not: If it was, then the Miracles, by which it was propagated, prove it to be from God; if it was not propagated by Miracles, the Propagation it felf is a Miracle, and fufficient to prove it to be from Him.

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CHAP. XVII.

Of the Writings of the Apoftles and Evangelifts.

IT

Tis juftly efteem'd a fufficient reafon for the cre dibility of any Hiftory, if it be written by Men of Integrity, Men who have no fufpicion upon them of difhonefty, and have no temptation to deceive, and who relate nothing but of their own times, and within their own knowledge, tho' the Authors never fuffer'd any lofs, nor run any hazard, in afferting what they deliver. But the Hiftory of Chrift has this farther

ther Advantage, that many of the most considerable things in it were done in the fight of his Enemies; and that which is an Hiftory to future Ages, was rather an appeal to that Age, whether the things related

were true, or not.

The Hiftory of our Saviour's Life, and Death, and Refurrection, and Afcenfion, as it hath been proved, was attefted by his Apoftles, to the faces of his very Crucifiers; and they all remained upon the Place, where what they witneffed had been done, for several Years afterwards, declaring and preaching to all People, the things which they had seen and heard. And foon after his Afcenfion, when all the Proceedings againft him were fresh in memory, they committed the fame to writing in Greek, which was the moft a common Language, and generally known at that time. b St. Matthew, who firft penn'd his Gofpel, living among the Jews, is faid to have written it in Hebrew or Syriack, (tho' it was foon after tranflated into Greek) fo that whoever of the Jews did not underftand the Greek Tongue, might read the Gofpel in their own Language. Not long after, the other Gofpels were penn'd, and they were all in a fhort time difperfed into the feveral Parts of the World, and tranflated into all Languages. It is particularly related, that St. John's Gospel, and the Acts of the Apoftles, were foon tranflated into the Hebrew Tongue.

The Evangelifts give fuch an Account both of the Birth and Death of our Saviour, as muft fuppofe them recorded at Rome: For there the Cenfual Tables were kept, where, by St. Luke's Account, the Name of

a

Quid fibi volunt in mediis Barbarorum regionibus Graca urbes ? Quid inter Indos, Perfáfque Macedonicus fermo? Scythia civi tates Achais, Ponticis impofitas litoribus oftentat

Athenienfis

in Afiâ Turba eft. Senec. Confolat. ad Helviam. init. Eufeb. 1. 3. c. 39.

b Iren. 1. 3. c. I. tech. xiv. p. 195.

Cyrill. Hierof. CaEpiphan. Hæref. Ebion.

X 2

Our

our Saviour must have been register'd; and his Death and Refurrection were fo remarkable, as they relate them, that according to the custom used in the Government of the Roman Provinces, the Emperor must have a relation fent him of them; and (as I have fhewn) both Juftin Martyr and Tertullian appeal to the Roman Records for the truth both of the Birth and Refurrection of our Saviour. The memory of the Maffacre of the Infants by Herod, is preferved to us by a Saying of Auguftus concerning Herod upon it, which is mention'd in Macrobius a Heathen Author. For Auguftus was told, that among others, Herod had caus'd his own Child to be flain; which, whether true or no, gave occafion to the Emperor to make this Obfervation, That it was better to be Herod's Swine than his Son. The reason why Jofephus has given no Account of this Slaughter of the Infants, is fuppofed to be, because when Herod had before been guilty of fo many and fo great Cruelties, in killing fo many of his Friends, of his Sons, and Wives, it seem'd no extraordinary thing for him to flay the Male Infants, who were two Years old and under, in a small Town or Village, and the adjacent Territory. Tacitus mentions our Saviour's Suffering under Pontius Pilate and Tertullian, in his Apology, tells, the Heathens, that the miraculous Eclipfe of the Sun, which was at Chrift's Death, ftood upon record in their own Regifters: Whether it were for the Strangenefs of the thing, it being contrary to the courfe of Nature, or that their Superftition had made it cuftomary to register all the Eclipfes which happen'd. It must be acknowledg'd, that the Paffage in & Jofephus concerning our Saviour, is not without its Difficulties: But at the fame time, it must be own'd, that it is altogether as unaccount

;

f

d Macrob. Saturnal. lib. ii. c. 4. C. 16. Tertull. Apolog. c. 21,

e If. Voff. Chron. Sacr. g Antiq. lib. 18. c. 4.

able,

able, that he should give no Chara&er of Christ himfelf, nor of Chriftians; who, as we learn from Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny, were grown too confideiable to be overlook'd by a Jewish Hiftorian; who, according to all the Rules of Hiftory, ought to have mention'd them, as a numerous and prevailing Sect, at least, if he had no better opinion of them. However, the Testimony given by Jofephus to the Vertue and Piety of h St. John Baptift, must be admitted as unqueftionable; fince nothing can be brought against it, but the like might be rais'd, by acute and bufie Men, against any other part of his Hiftory. In the Antiquities of Jofephus, as we now have them, mention is twice made of our Bleffed Saviour; once, i in his full Character; and a fecond time, k in ftiling St. James, the Brother of Jefus, who is called Chrift. And next to these express Teftimonies, (if they be rejected) his Silence is the beft Evidence which could be expected or defired of him. This proves, at leaft, that he had nothing to write against Christ. For he, who forgot not the Story of Judas of Galilee, and of Theudas, would not have fpared our Saviour, if the Accufations of the Jews had been true. And he who gave fo high a Character of St. John Baptift, and of St. James, whom he "ftyles the Brother of Jefus, who is called Chrift; and afcribes the Destruction of Jerufalem to the Divine Vengeance inflicted for his Death and Martyrdom; could give no ill Account of Jefus, for whom St. James fuffered. Jofephus then feems to have follow'd Gamaliel's Advice; And now I fay unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, left haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed. Acts v. 38, 39. What other reafon can be affign'd, why when Chrift is spoken of by the Roman

m

k Lib. 20. c. 8.

i Ib. c. 4.

Orig. contra Celf. lib. 1. & 2. X 3

Hifto

h Antiq. lib. 18. c. 7.
Lib. 18. c. 1. m Lib. 20. c. 2.

n

Hiftorians of that Age, an Account of him fhould be omitted by Jofephus, who had much more occafion to mention him, and greater opportunities to find out the Truth of all that had been preach'd or written of him? This is faid on Suppofition, that these Teftimonies of Jofephus were not genuine, which I fee no Reason to fufpect °.

The Dumbness of Zacharias till the Circumcifion of his Son John the Baptift, was a notorious publick thing, and the People who waited for him, and marvell❜d that he tarry'd fo long in the Temple, perceiv'd at his coming out, that he had feen a Vifion, and all things relating to that History were noised abroad through all the hill country of Judea, Luke i. 21. That the Wife-men came from the Eaft at the fight of the Star; that Herod heard of this, and was troubled at it, and all Jerufalem with him; that he gather'd all the Chief-Priests and Scribes together, and demanded of them, where Chrift fhould be born; and that they anfwer'd, At Bethlehem of Judea, citing the Prophecy of Michah; that Herod, when he had enquired of the Wife-men concerning the Star, and enjoin'd them to bring him word where the young Child was, being difappointed by their returning home another way, flew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coafts thereof, from two years old, and under: These are things of that publick nature, that it was impoffible they fhould be feign'd, when St. Matthew's Gospel was first publifh'd. If they had not been true, thousands muft have been able to contradict them, and discover the Falfhood of them. When matters of Fac are related, with fo many manifeft and publick Circumftances, it is an Appeal to the world for the Truth of what is written; and no man of common fenfe would contrive a falfe Story with fuch publick Circumftances, as that every Reader may be able to dif

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o Vid. If. Vof. Chron. Sacr. c. 17;

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