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for what unassisted reason could not have discovered, unassisted reason could not have invented. It was not the intention of this work to enter into
any very particular examination of the external evidences of the Christian religion.
We cannot, however, omit requesting our reader's attention to the harmony which exists between the quotations just inserted from the ancient Jewish prophet Isaiah, who commenced his prophetic mission 786 years before Christ, and many more passages of similar import might be selected from his writings and those of his cotemporaries,) and the relations of the New Testament writers—and that the nation to whom posterity are indebted for these prophecies, who firmly believed their authenticity many ages prior to the Christian era, were then, and still remain, the avowed and inveterate enemies of Christianity, thereby barring the possibility of collusion. Reflection on these circumstances will find them containing the most wonderful attestation to the truth of the Scriptures, and extraordinarily fulfilling the predictions of St. Paul, who informs his hearers, That he would not have them ignorant of this mystery, that blindness, in part, is happened unto Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, for concerning the gospel they are enemies for our sake, that we make obtain mercy through their unbelief. (Romans xi. 25, 28. 30.) That the effect produced by their unbelief was the adding numbers of proselytes to the Christian Church, historic pages fully ascertain. From among the many writers who have offered their attestation
to this truth, we shall quote Mr. Addison's remarks on this subject. “I find,” says this excellent writer, “no argument made a stronger impression on the minds of those eminent pagan converts, for strengthening their faith in the history of our Saviour, than the predictions relating to him in those old prophetic writings, which were deposited among the hands of the greatest enemies to Christianity, and owned by them to have been extant many ages before his appearance. The learned heathen converts were astonished to see the whole history of their Saviour's life published before he was born, and to find that the evangelists and prophets, in their accounts of the Messiah, differed only in point of time; the one foretelling what should happen to him, and the other describing those very particulars as what had actually happened. This our Saviour himself was pleased to make use of, as the strongest argument of his being the promised Messiah, and without it would hardly have reconciled his disciples to the ignominy of his death. The heathen converts, after having travelled through all human learning, and fortified their minds with the knowledge of arts and sciences, were particularly qualified to examine these prophecies with great care and impartiality, and without prejudice or prepossession. If the Jews, on the one side, put an unnatural interpretation to these prophecies, to evade the force of them in their controversies with the Christians; or if the Christians, on the other side, over-strained several passages in their applications of them, as it often happens among
men of the best understanding, when their minds are heated with any consideration that bears a more than ordinary weight with it; the learned heathens may be looked upon as neuters in the matter, when all these prophecies were new to them, and their education had left the interpretation of them free and indifferent. This set of arguments had, therefore, an invincible force with those pagan philosophers who became Christians, as we find in most of their writings. They could not disbelieve 'our Saviour's history, which so exactly agreed with every thing that had been written of him many ages before his birth ; nor doubt of those circumstances being fulfilled in him, which could not be true of any person who lived in the world besides himself. This wrought the greatest confusion in the unbelieving Jews, and the greatest conviction in the Gentiles, who everywhere speak with astonishment of those truths they met with in this new magazine of learning which was opened to them; and carry the point so far as to think, whatever excellent doctrines they had met with among pagan writers, had been stolen from their conversation with the Jews, or from the perusal of those writings which they had in their custody.”
But the strong, external evidence derived from the unbelieving Israelites, is very far from being confined to the early ages of Christianity, as we still enjoy the full advantage of it. The ancient prophecies, which they now continue most religiously to believe, which it is impossible to suspect as having been manufactured by any in
dividual, or confederacy of their own nation, who would hardly have been at the pains of inventing predictions, as heralds of their own disgrace, by proclaiming denunciations and judgments that were to fall upon their own heads; nor can we imagine that Deity would have sanctioned prophecies that were not derived from himself, by permitting, under most remarkable circumstances, and through a series of most unforeseen events, their accomplishment to be so wonderfully manifested at the distant period of two thousand five hundred and ninety-two years ;—now, these predịctions we see most illustriously fulfilled before our own eyes, and are ourselves the witnesses of the dispersion of the Jews among every nation on the earth. St. Paul, therefore, well observes, That through their fall (by exhibiting so remarkable a proof of the truth of Christianity,) is the riches of the Gentiles; how much more will be their fulness? he in continuation asks. (Rom. xi. 11, 12.) What an incontestable attestation will be elicited at the completion of the other prophecies respecting them! We shall only subjoin two further remarks on this subject.
First, there can be no room to suppose that the New Testament writers bent their relation, designedly, to correspond with the Jewish prophecies, as most of the leading facts which they relate are corroborated by heathen historians, we find many of these collected in the second section of Mr. Addison's Evidences. We e now come to consider what undoubted authorities are extant among pagan writers; and here we must premise
that some parts of our Saviour's history may be reasonably expected from pagans; I mean such parts as might be known to those who lived at a distance from Judæa, as well as to those who were the followers and eye-witnesses of Christ. Such particulars are most of these which follow, and which are all attested by some one or other of those heathen authors who lived in, or near, the age of our Saviour, and his disciples. That Augustus Cæsar had ordered the whole empire to be censed, or taxed, which brought our Saviour's reputed parents to Bethlehem ; this is mentioned by several Roman historians, as Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dion. That a great light, or new star, appeared in the east, which directed the wise men to our Saviour; this is recorded by Chalcidius. That Herod, king of Palestine, so often mentioned in the Roman history, made a great slaughter of innocent children, being so jealous of his successor, that he put to death his own sons on that account; this character is given of him by several historians, and this cruel fact is mentioned by Macrobius, a heathen author, who tells it as a known thing, without any mark or doubt upon it. That our Saviour had been in Egypt: this Celsus, though he raises a monstrous story upon it, is so far from denying, that he tells us our Saviour learned the art of magic in that country. That Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, that our Saviour was brought in judgment before him, and by him condemned and crucified; this is related by Tacitus. That many miraculous cures, and works out of the ordinary course of nature were wrought by