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be deemed not only unintelligible, but false, by the perfons into whofe hands the books upon their publication were to come, should nevertheless be inferted, for the purpose of producing an effect upon remote generations. In forgeries which do not appear till many ages after that to which they pretend to belong, it is poffible that fome contrivance of that fort may take place; but in no others can it be attempted.





There is fatisfactory evidence that many, profeffing to be original witnesses of the Chrif tian miracles, pased their lives in labours, dangers and fufferings, voluntarily undergone in atteftation of the accounts which they delivered, and folely in confequence of their belief of thofe accounts; and that they also fubmitted from the fame motives to new rules of conduct.

THE account of the treatment of the religion and of the exertions of its first preachers, as stated in our scriptures (not in a profeffed history of perfecutions, or in the connected manner in which I am about to recite it, but difperfedly and occasionally, in the course of a mixed, general history, which circumftance alone negatives the fuppofition

of any fraudulent defign), is the following: "That the founder of Christianity, from the commencement of his miniftry to the time

of his violent death, employed himself wholly in publishing the institution in Judea and Galilee; that, in order to affift him in this purpose, he made choice, out of the number of his followers, of twelve perfons, who might accompany him as he travelled from place to place; that, except a short abfence upon a journey, in which he sent them, two by two, to announce his miffion, and one, of a few days, when they went before him to Jerufalem, these persons were ftatedly and conftantly attending upon him; that they were with him at Jerufalem when he was apprehended and put to death; and that they were commiffioned by him, when his own ministry was concluded, to publish his gospel, and collect disciples to it from all countries of the world." The account then proceeds to ftate, "That, a few days after his departure, these persons, with some of his relations, and fome who had regularly frequented their fociety, affembled at Jerusalem; that, confidering the office of preaching the religion as now devolved upon them, and one of their number having deferted the caufe,

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caufe, and, repenting of his perfidy, having destroyed himself, they proceeded to elect another into his place; and that they were careful to make their election out of the number of those who had accompanied their mafter from the firft to the laft, in order, as they alledged, that he might be a witness, together with themfelves, of the principal facts which they were about to produce and relate concerning him ; that they began their work at Jerufalem, by publicly afferting, that this Jefus, whom the rulers and inhabitants of that place had fo lately crucified, was, in truth, the person in whom all their prophecies and long expectations terminated; that he had been fent amongst them by God; and that he was appointed by God the future judge of the human fpecies; that all who were folicitous to fecure to themselves happiness after death, ought to receive him as fuch, and to make profeffion of their belief, by being baptized in his name t." The hiftory goes on to relate," that confiderable

*Acts i. 21, 22. + Acts xi.


numbers accepted this propofal, and that they who did fo, formed amongst themselves a ftrict union and society; that, the attention of the Jewish government being foon drawn upon them, two of the principal perfons of the twelve, and who alfo had lived most intimately and conftantly with the founder of the religion, were feized as they were difcourfing to the people in the temple; that, after being kept all night in prifon, they were brought the next day before an affembly, compofed of the chief perfons of the Jewish magiftracy and priesthood; that this affembly, after fome confultation, found nothing, at that time, better to be done towards fuppreffing the growth of the fect, than to threaten their prifoners with punishment, if they perfifted; that these men, after expreffing, in decent but firm language, the obligation under which they confidered themselves to be, to declare what they knew, "to speak the things which they had seen and heard," returned from the coun

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