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through the most remote regions, for the purpose of comparing their different tenets *. As this person was a converted Jewt, his evidence must be conceived superior to every objection. The substance of his testimony has been preserved by Eusebius; and is still direct in our favour. Having enumerated the succession of bishops in the church of Rome, and spoken of his familiarity with the bishop which presided in that city, in his own times, he thus expressly declares I; “ but in every succession, and every city, that doctrine is held, which the law, and the prophets, and our Lord himself had inculcated.” As it is specifically stated by the historian who preserves this account, thạt he had left the most plenary testimonials of his religious opi. nions g; and, as the historian hinaself has acknowledged the di
as heretical and profane); we can be at no loss to determine in what sense he understood the author before us, in representing the catholic church as agreeing in their opinions of . the person of Christ.
The testimony which was thus collected by the primitive writers who visited different churches, is indisputably confirmed by the members of the same churches who assembled in one place, for the purpose of delivering their sentence in council. Besides the convention which was held under Victor, bishop of Rome, against the first heretick on record, who held the notions of the modern Unitarians 1 ; a synod was held at Antioch, against Paul of Samosata, in which that heretick, though vested with the government of the see, was deposed, for impugning the divinity of the Saviour **. About fifty-six years subsequent to this period the celebrated council of Nice was convened ; in which it is no where disputed, that the orthodox doctrine was fully canvassed, and formally recognized and confirmed, by the bishops of the Catholic Church, in a solemu confession, attested by their subscription :
On the weight of this sentence of the Catholic Church, in deciding the point at issue, we have already stated our opinion ;
* Euseb. ibid. Lib. IV. cap. xxii. p. 181.1. 31. sqq. + Id. ibid. p. 184. 1. 7.
| Id. ibid. p. 182. 1. 10. év exásn de doadoxiña sej in ixásne nóma štwę έχει, ως ο νόμος κηρύττει και οι προφήται και ο Κύριος,
$ Id. ibid. p. 181. 1. 31-33. || Vid. Supr. p. 227. n. t. I Euseb. ib. Lib. V.
252. 1. 252-33. ** Conf. Euseb. Lib. VII. cap. xxixi p. 358. 1. 27. sqq. S. Athan de Synodd. $ 45. Tom. II. p. 759. b.
tt Euseb. Vit. Const. Lib. VII. cap. xiv. p. 585. 1. 4. Socratą Hist. Eccl. Lib. I. cap. viii, p. 22. 1. 11--13.
and had all the monuments of ecclesiastical antiquity irrecoverably perished, from this single sentence the primitive doctrine might be infallibly collected. The venerable assembly who met for the purpose of comparing their opinions, were collected from the remotest parts of the civilized world. To that council flocked the divines from Arabia and Persia on the one side, and of the British isles on the other*. In this vast assemblage of the learning and piety of the habitable globe, there was not a single dissenting voice from the general sentence, which acknowledged the pre-existence of Christ, and admitted his divinity, as at least antecedent to the creation t. But five bishops, and these as inconsiderable in their name as their number 8, denied his co-eternity and co-essentiality with the Father. For this uniformity of testimony, it is scarcely necessary to repeat, there can be but one mode of accounting; that the opinion in which so many witnesses agreed, must have been coincident with that which they severally derived by tradition from the Apostles of Christ.
Irrefragable as the body of proof is which thus'accumulates as we advance, in support of the orthodox faith, it forms but a part of the testimony to which the Church may appeal in der fence of the purity of its faith. Those who would question this evidence, as of suspicious authority, in consequence of the cor* rupted channel through which it is derived, may be finally referred to the Pagans and Jews for a testimony of its integrity, Within a few years of the death of the last surviving Apostle, 'the proconsulate of Asia was committed by Trajan to the younger Pliny. The desertion of the Heathen temples, within the sphere of his immediate jurisdiction, in consequence of the rapid 'extension of Christianity, excited his alarm, and became the subject of his complaint to the Emperor . The most effectual means were taken by the proconsul to acquire a just knowledge of the tenets and institutions of a sect, whose history was novel and extraordinary. For this purpose he examined two young persons, of the office of deaconness, by torture, that the strength of their sufferance operating on the weakness of their sex, he might acquire, from their extorted confessions, a perfect insight into the nature of the new religion. The result of this experiment,
* Euseb. Vit. Const. Lib. VII. cap. vii. p. 579. 1. 35. sqq. Conf, cap. xix. p. 588. 1. 87. Soerat. Hist. Ecc. Lib. I. cap viii. p. 18,
1, 48. sqq.
+ Socrat. ibid. p. 22. 1. 11-13,
Plin. Epist. Lib. X. cap. xcvii. p. 729, ed. Varior. 1669.
which involves a proof, in the very attempt to extort a confes-
* Plin Epist. Lib. X. cap. xcvii. p. 724. “ Adfirmabant autem hanc fuisse summam, vel culpæ suæ, vel erroris, quod essent soliti, stato die, ante lucem convenire, ca
he had been previously termed by the great evangelical prophet.
The last witnesses, to whose testimony we nay appeal against the determined blasphemy of the modern intidel, are those old and implacable enemies of vur Lord and Redeemer, by whom he was rejected and crucified. However they denied that Jesus was the Christ, they were forward to admit the divinity of their Messiah. We possess translations and paraphrases of their prophets, we retain apocryphal histories, and learned commentaries on their sacred writers, which as pub. lished before the appearance of Christ upon earth, deliver a testimony uninfluenced by that party spirit which has since em. bittered their controversies with Christians. But from these impartial vouchers we deduce additional confirmation of the distinguishing doctrines of our holy religion. They join in prop claiming with one common voice*, that the Messiah, on whom the expectations of the Jewish nation were fixed, was to be born of a Virgin, that his going forth was of old, even from everlasting, and that assuming the name and character of the Almighly, he was to be Jehovah their righteousness.
Such is the strong line of circumvallation within which that sacred band,, the army of martyrs and confessors, who have contended and died for the faith, have entrenched themselves against the open or secret attacks of the intidel and blasphemer, On hearing that the bulwarks of our Sion were again menaced with an attack, we confess our ingenuity was not a little baffled in endeavouring to discover the vulnerable point to which we should first be called to meet the assailants. It was, however, with no small share of mortification and surprise, that we found ourselves summoned to the weary task of retracing ground, over which our predecessors, of whose labours we may now speak with ile tenderest sympathy, have been long weary in travelling, again and again.
We had been indeed told, by a talking title-page, as our rea. ders have been already fully apprised, that "the origin of the introductory chapters of Matthew and Luke was (at length) brought to light from Josephus.” But we must plead guilty to the count of dulness, to which our thankless though necessary office often and perhaps justly exposes us, in the heavy task which is imposed on us of following where others precede; that we did not anticipate a larger portion of our author's “ Intro
* Vid. Rittangel. in Lib. Jezir. p. 81. sqq. ed. 1642. Basnage Hist. des Juit. Liv. V. chap. x. $ 6.7. Tom. VIII. p. 117. sqq. ed. 1716. Kidder Dem, of Messiah, P. I. ch. ix. p. 106. Allix Judgm. of Jew. Church ag. Unitar, passim.;
duction" than we can confess to, and which now appears to us by
In the proof
There are few discussions, however distinguished by their absurdity, which can be prolonged to any extent, (where the fatal extreme is avoided of wearying the reader by their tediousness and length) that do not afford something novel or ludicrous, to repay the patience of the reader, who follows them on to the close. When the Tolands or Woolätons of the last age exposed a soft or vulnerable part to the rod of the chastiser, they sometimes unexpectedly exhibited themselves in those curious postures, which afforded sonje food for laughter, where they did not provoke a painful sense of disgust. But with such a drowsy and determined dullness has the sorry animal before us, (whose species is not defined by the quickness of their perception, but the length of their ears,) laid himself down to the lash, that we derive pothing but weariness from the painful duty he bas imposed on us of goading hin out of that sacred inclosure into which he has obtruded. Others' err through inadvertence, but the sciolist with whom we are engaged, blunders by premedita ţion and design,