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that he only intended to insinuate that, on account of the certainty of the resurrection of his disciples, their natural death was not to be accounted dying; yet still, according to this author himself, the quibble would hold as truly of the most profligate unbeliever as of those who believed on him; for, c. v.
v. 28 and 29, he says, “the hour is coming
“in which all that are in the graves shall hear
Holy Ghost, they went every one to his owii home in Galilee, and recommenced their for- . mer occupations: but, unhappily for the author's credit, this is not only repugnant to reason and probability, but irreconcilably contradictory to both the histories of Luke. These, and two or three more sentences such as these, to be picked out of the long, valedictory conversation of Jesus, said to be held with his disciples immediately preceding his crucifixion, make up the whole of the internal testimony of the spirit of prophecy to be met with in this scripture, so long injuriously attributed to the prophetic Apostle John.
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|AVING thus stated, what to me appear contradictions absolutely irreconcilable; and submitted to the public, the reasons which have long induced me to reject three of the four generally received Gospels, as spurious fictions of the second century, unnecessary, and even prejudicial, to the cause of true Christianity, and in every respect unworthy of the regard which so many ages have paid to them; I have accomplished all that I at first proposed. Leaving every reader, therefore, to judge for himself, as I have done, and to criticise my reasoning with the same unreserved freedom, with which, though a sincere convert to the Gospel Covenant, I have found it necessary for my own rational conviction to scrutinize the respective
authenticity and credibility of these importU
ant scriptures, it was my original intention, here to have closed the present disquisition. But, because the same train of investigation hath led me to reject likewise several of the canonical Epistles, upon the sole authority of which, several fundamental doctrines of the orthodox Church, and of various sects of professed Christians, are confidently taught the people, for doctrines of the Gospel of Christ, I think it my duty, to add briefly my reasons for expunging also out of the volume of duly authenticated scriptures of the New Covenant, the Epistles, to the Romans—to the Ephesians—to the Colossians—to the Hebrews—of James—of Peter—of John—of Jude—and, in the book of the Revelation, the Epistles to the seven Churches of Asia.
Of these, whosoever is at all acquainted with the history of the constitution of the present canon of the Christian scriptures, well knows that the Epistles to the Hebrews, of James, second of Peter, second and third of John and of Jude, were rejected as spurious by many Churches, from the first of their appearance; and not universally received as genuine writings of the authors whose names they bear, till the fifth century, when a majority of votes in the Council of Carthage, for the Greek Church, and the decision of Pope Innocent, for the Latin, determined the long controverted question, in favour of their genuine authenticity; a determination which, to me, who am both a Protestant against papal infallibility, and fully convinced of the corrupt apostasy of the prelates of the Church, much earlier than the fifth century, affords no kind of satisfaction, but rather excites the contrary. * . . In the Epistle to the Romans, the author writes indeed in the name of Paul ; but he writes to a Christian Church, already subsisting at Rome, and celebrated for its faith in Christ throughout the whole world, before he himself had been there; for, v. 13–15, he says, “I would not have you ignorant, brethren, “that often-times I purposed to come unto “you (but was let hitherto), that I might have “some fruit among you also, even as among “other Gentiles; I am debtor bothto the “Greeks and the barbarians, both to the wise “ and the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I “am ready to preach the Gospel to you that “are at Rome also.” In c. xv. v. 25, &c. he ascertains the time of Paul's writing this Epistle to be, when he was going to Jerusalem, with the contributions for the poor Christians of that