« السابقةمتابعة »
have been impossible for the apostate Church to fulfil those prophecies, by disregarding the latter and paying devout attention to the former. That many therefore of those scriptures, which form the most essential part of the canon of the apostate Church, must be fabulous and false, seems as certain, as that the word of God is true. Strongly impressed with this apparently inevitable consequence from those prophecies, and dissatisfied with all the external evidence which the case admits, he turned his attention more particularly to those internal marks of authenticity or spuriousness, which genuine or fietitious scriptures must always necessarily contain. And that attentive examination brought him to the conclusions which he here submits to public consideration. He does this the more cheerfully, because the subjects of discussion, like the Gospel of Christ itself, are level to common capacities, and intelligible to every person who will exert his rational faculties about them: for where the detection of forgery and falsehood depends upon gross and palpable inconsistencies and contradictions, it is not peculiarly the province of that critical skill which requires a knowledge of the original language of the scriptures attainable to few ; but, when those contradictions are pointed out, becomes the proper business of the common sense of every reader of even the vulgar translations. He is fully persuaded, that nothing can so effectually amend and bless mankind, as a general, rational comprehension and well-grounded belief of the Gospel Covenant; and that nothing can so much promote the cause of Christian truth and piety, as the distinguishing them from fabulous falsehood and impious superstition. Unconnected for near thirty years with any religious sect or party whate soever, disapproving in every point of view of the office of a teacher of so plain a thing as Christianity, considered as a lucrative occupation, and much too far advanced in life to have any temporal interest in view, the Author trusts his mind has been perfectly unbiassed and impartial in its investigations. But if he should have deceived himself, and be judged by others to be in the wrong, still his errors, if found to be such, may most easily be exposed and refuted; and no one will be better pleased than himself with their just and candid refutation. Should this, however, be attempted, he hopes it will be effected in a more manly, rational manner,
than was adopted by the only two gentlemen
the first edition, by clearly reconciling the several objectionable passages, as the scriptures really exist, without recurring either to any human authority, or to a fanciful transposition of paragraphs, or to hypothetical systems' unwarranted by the Gospels themselves; for, by such means, a man of a fertile imagination may possibly frame an ideal history of Jesus, which may comprehend the most incongruous circumstances, as geometricians can contrive to draw a circle of some diameter for 'other through any three points which lie 'not in a right line; but, if such modes of interpreting scripture may be allowed, the most ingenious novel-writer will make the ablest commentator;and in removing the difficulties of the evangelical histories will far surpass the efforts of the most learned doctors of Christendom.
Page. 1. General remarks upon the contents of the Evangelical His
tories, and the historical evidence of their authenticity... 17 II. The only certain evidence of the truth of any Divine Re
26 IV. Further reasons for not admitting the testimony of the Fa
thers of the Church, of the second and third centuries.. 30 V. Still greater defects in their testimony, derived from the re
ceived maxim of those schools of Philosophy in which
33 VI. Reasons for preferring the Histories of Luke, and making
them the standard of comparison between the Evangelical
38 Chap. I.--Gospel according to Luke. I. Remarks on the style and composition of this Gospel-Cor
rupted with sundry interpolations-The story of the herd
*53 II. One of greater importance in the two first chapters-Soine others of less moment
CHAP: II.Gospel according to Luke continued.
favour of Luke's Histories--Supernatural testimony also
a'no's II. Miracles recorded in this Gospel
85 * The Sections in the pages marked-thys (*), were omitted in the printing; but the fresh paragraph in each, denotes where they nught to have been inserted.
-Not. written till after Luke's-Nor before the second
II. Observation respecting the two first chapters--The Au-
thor's genealogy of Jesus-Its inconsistency with his own