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of an historian writing of another man; Paul alludes to them with the modesty, or appeals to them with the reluctance of an honest man constrained to speak of himself,

Any discerning person, reading the writings of the New Testament, and comparing them together, will find decisive evidence of their genuineness and authenticity.

But we have still farther evidence in their faror.

Every man, in the least acquainted with history, knows, that, in the time when the books of the New Teftament are supposed to have been written, there were those persons who are here medtioned; as Auguftus, Tiberius, Claudius, Herod, Pilate, Felix, Feftus, Caiaphas, and many others : And that there were those fects and classes of men, which are here described ; as Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and Herodians : And that there were thole customs and usages, which are here related ; as the feasts of the passover and pentecoft, the ceremony and circumcision, a great: Arianefs in observing the sabbath, and in reading the law. It is well known that the Jews were under the Roman government, paid tribute to the emperor, received their chief magiftrates by his appointment, could put no man to death without his permision; and many other things too aumerous to be here mentioned.

Now if the writings of the New Testament ex. hibit a true account of the state of things in that age, we must believe, they were extant in, or near that age. And if the authors have strictly regard. ed the truth in every thing else, why should their veracity be questioned in things, which concern the Lord Jesus. If we believe, there were such men as. Celar, Herod and Pilate, who performed the works ascribed to them;. Why may we not believe, there was such a person as Jesus Christ, who perforined the works ascribed to hiin?

That there was an extraordinary person called by this name, who did many wonderful things, and was put to death under Tiberius; and that there was such a sect as Chriftians, denominated from him, which made a great noise, and became very numerous in the world, foun after the death of their founder, we have evidence from Heathen, as well as Chriftian writers!

The books of the New Testament were early re. ceived as the genuine works of the men, whose names they bear; and in this character they have been handed down to the present time. · Of this we have as good evidence, as we have of any ancient facts. Writers who flourished soon after the Apostles, and who were conversant with them, or with their immediate disciples, can even now, at this distance of time, be produced as witnesses of the genuineness of almost all the books of the New Testament; as the four Gospels, the Aēts, thirteen Epiftles of Paul, the first of Peter, and the first of John. "And writers but little later bear witness to the authority of them all.

A certain writer named Papias, who lived soon after the Apostles, and was conversant with their immediate disciples, is quoted by Eufebius, a church hiftorian, in confirmation of the gospel of Matthew. Justin, Irenæus and Clement of Alexandria, who wrote about the middle of the second century, quote several passages out of Mark's gospel, and prove that he wrote it, and that it was seen and commended by the Apostle Peter. Paul himself has given his sancțion to Luke's gospel by quoting a passage from it in his first epistle to Timothy. The ancients generally apply to Luke these words of Paul to the Corinthians, We have fent the brother, whose praise is in the gospel through all the churches.' Origen declares, that Luke's gospel was approved by Paul. It is quoted by Juftin and others in the second century, near the times of the Apostles. Irenæus, who was acquainted with Poo lycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, has with: great accuracy proved the genuineness of the gospel received under the name of that Apoftle. ; Several other early fathers ascribe it to him, and say, that the authority of it was never controverted in the church. Eusebius informs us that John read and approved the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and added his own as a supplement to them. The book called the Aals of the Apostles, compared with Luke's gospel, appears to have been written by the fame author. All the ancients agree that it was composed by Luke, and received in the church as an authentic history. As-luch it is quoted by Clea ment of Rome, who was a companion with Paul ; by Papias, who conversed with men of, the Apolo tles' times; by Polycarp, who was John's disci: ple; and by Irenæus, who lived in the second cen: tury.

Thirteen of Paul's episles, with the first of Peter, and the first of John, were never questioned; for there were particular churches or persons, to whom all the originals, except the two last mentioned e. pistles, were directed. These originals were care, fully preserved in the churches which received them, as Tertullian says, down to his time, which was the third century. They were acknowledged, without hesitancy, by the whole Christian church, as Clement and Origen affirm. They were cited as Paul's epifles, in the very age in which they were written, and in the next succeeding age, and so on in every age since.

The epifle to the Hebrews, that of Fames, and ihat of Jude, the second of Peter, the second and third of John, and the Revelation, were not at firft universally received : But we find, by the testimo ny of a number of the before mentioned fathers, That; after some inquiry, they were admitted as genuine and authentic in the earliest times, As

these books were written either to Christians dif. persed abroad, or to private persons, it was not so easy at once to ascertain their authority, as it was that of the other books, which were directed to particular churches; for there the author's hand. writing, and the character of the messengers who brought them were well known, and there they were immediately and repeatedly read.

The caution with which the churches received some of the books of the present canon, shews that, in this important matter, they did not act with a hasty credulity, but with a just concern to avoid imposition. So that the canon of the New Testa. ment stands on better footing, than if no doubts had arisen about any part of it.

Not only were these books universally received by Christians of the early ages, but publicly read in the churches. Paul orders his first epistle to the Thessalonians to be read to all the holy brethren; and his epifle to the Colossians to be communicated to the church of the Laodiceans. And Peter, in his second epiftle, fignifies, that Paul had written a number of epilles, which were generally known in the churches. Justin Martyr, in a book which he wrote about forty years after the Apostolic age, speaks of the writings of the Apostles, as read every Sabbath in the Christian congregations.

From these testimonies it appears, that the books of the New Testament were, in that age in which they were written, and in the next succeeding age, received as the genuine works of the men whose names they bear. And from age to age the tesi. monies of their reception became more and more numerous. Yea, we find, within about fifty years after the Apostles, the testimonies of heathens and infidels, that there were such books extant as those which we now receive, and that these books were acknowledged and revered by Christians.

These writings were early, probably within forty or fifty years after Christ's ascention, collected into á volume, and treated by Chriftians with peculiar marks of faith and reverence.

Now if these books had not been genuine, it is impossible that they should have gained such uni. versal credit among Chriftians. If there had been no such men known as their reputed authors, they never could have obtained any credit at all. The authors appear under appropriate names and characters, call themselves apoftles and disciples of Jea fus ; relate many remarkable facts as then recent and notorious, mention many miraculous works performed, and supernatural gifts exercised by them, in such places, and in the presence of such perfons and churches; appeal to the public for the truth of many of the facts related ; represent themselves and other apostles as having been present in these and those places, and there preached, wrought miracles, made converts, formed churches, and imparted fupernatural gifts. Now it is impossible that any persons, especially focieties, fhould have received these books, if they had never feen such men, known such facts, or heard of such churches. Every one who saw the writings would naturally inquire, Where are the churches which are here addressed ? Who are the men that speak of them. selves as so generally known ? Who has ever been acquainted vith the matters which they relate with so much assurance ? Ask yourselves : Would the history of the late American war; and the revolution which followed, be received with any regard among the people of America in the present age, if no such events had taken place ? Or would such a fi&itious hiftory go down with credit to sueceeding ages ? The reception of a history relating to facts of recent existence and public notoriety; is an evidence of its truth.

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