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Τ Η Ε. EVIDENCES
OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
SECTION 1. I. General division of the following discourse,
with regard to Pagan and Jewish Áuthors, who mention particulars relating
to our Saviour. II. Not probable that any such should be
mentioned by Pagan Writers who lived at the same time, from the Nature of such
transactions. III. Especially when related by the Jews : IV. And heard at a distance by those who · pretended to as great miracles of their own. V. Besides that, no Pagan Writers of that
age lived in Judæa or its Confines.
VI. And because many books of that age are
loft. VII. An instance of one record proved to be
authentick. VIII. A second record of probable, though
not undoubted, authority. 1. PMEG HAT I may lay before you
a full state of the subject under our consideration, and methodize the several
particulars that I touched upon in discourse with you; I shall first take notice of such Pagan Authors as have given their testimony to the history of our Saviour ; reduce these Authors under their respective classes, and shew what authority their testimonies carry with them. Secondly, I shall take notice of * Jewiss Authors in the same light.
II. There are many reasons, why you Tould not expect that matters of such a wonderful nature should be taken notice of by those eminent Pagan writers, who were contemporaries with Jesus Christ, or by those who lived before his Difciples had personally appeared among them, and al
* The Author did not live to write this second Part.
certained the report which had gone abroad concerning a life so full of miracles.
Supposing such things had happened at this day in Switzerland, or among the Grisons, who make a greater figure in Europe than Judæa did in the Roman Empire, would they be immediately believed by those who live at a great distance from them ? or would any certain aca count of them be transmitted into foreign countries, within fo short a space of time as that of our Saviour's publick ministry ? Such kinds of news, though never so true, seldom gain credit, till some time after they are transacted and exposed to the examination of the curious, who by laying together circumstances,, attestations, and characters of those who are concerned in them, either receive, or reject what at first none but eye-witnesses could absolutely believe or disbelieve. In a case of this fort, it was natural for men of sense and learning to treat the whole account as fabulous, or at farthest to suspend their belief of it, until all things stood together in their full light.
III. Besides, the Jews were branded not only for superstitions different from all the religions of the Pagan world, but : in a particular manner ridiculed for be- . ing a credulous People; so that whatever reports of such a nature came out of that country, were looked upon by the heathen world as false, frivolous, and improbable.
IV. We may further observe, that the ordinary practice of Magic in those times, with the many pretended Prodigies, Di- .. vinations, Apparitions, and local Miracles among the Heathens, made them less attentive to such news from Judæa, 'till they had time to consider the nature, the occasion, and the end of our Saviour's miracles, and were awakened by many surprizing events to allow them any confideration at all.
V. We are indeed told by St. Matthew, that the fame of our Saviour, during his life, went throughout all Syria, and that ihere followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, Yudea, Decapolis, Idumea, from beyond Jordan, and from Tyre and Sidon. Now had there been any hiitorians of those times and places, we might have expected to have seen in them fome account of those wonderful transactions in Judea; but there is not any single Author extant, in any kind, of that age, in any of those Countries.