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all the coasts thereof , from two years old-, and under: These are things of that publick nature , that it was impossible they should be feign'd, when St. Matthew's Gospel was first published. If they had not been true, thousands must have been able to contradict them, and discover the Falshood of them. When matters of Fact are related, with so many manifest and publick Circumstances, it is an Appeal to the world for the Truth of what is written •, and no Man of common sense would contrive,a false Story with such publick Circumstances, as that every Reader may be able to disprove it. If any Man should affirm, that in such a City or Village in England, at the Command of such a King, and at such a time, within our Memory, all the Infants, from two years old and'under, were murther'd, he must scarce expect to be believ'd, or to confirm any thing else he has to deliver, by such a Fiction to introduce it.
The triumphant Shouts and Hofannas of the Mnl»titude at Christ's Entrance into Jerusalem, whereby all the city was moved, Matt. xxi. 10, n. immediately before the Passover, when there was the greatest Concourse of People, was a thing that could not soon be forgotten: At the same time he drove out all that fold and bought in the Terns le, and overthrew the tables -of the Money-changers ; and when he was in the Temple, the blind and the lame came to him and he healed them; and the chief-priefis and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the Children crying in the Temple Hofannah to the Son of David, and they were fore displeaSd at it. The Evangelists would never have brought in the Chief-Priests and Scribes themselves, with the whole People of Jerusalem , and the vast numbers of Jews and Proselytes out of all Nations, assembled at the Passover, as Spectators and Witnesses of these things, if they had not been so certain of them as to appeal to them all, for the Truth of what they relate, so lately, and so solemnly, and pnblickly done.
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The Darkness of the whole Earth for three hours together, in the midst of the day, the Veil of the Temple's being rent from the top to the bottom, the Earthquake, and the rending of the Rocks, and the opening of the Graves, are things that must have been generally known, and could not be feign'd ; or if any Man can be so vain as to imagine they might, let him but consider, whether such things could now be imposed upon any People, by the Writings of a few Men, as done in the Metropolis of a Nation, at a solemn time, within the Memory of thousands yet living, who are able to contradict them , from their own certain Knowledge. If a Man should pretend, that but a few years ago , in the chief City of any Kingdom or Nation, one part of the principal Church was rent from the bottom to the top, by an Earthquake, which tore asunder the Rocks, and open'd the Graves of the dead, and that at the fame time, the Moon being in that Pofitipn, that the Sun could suffer no Eclipse, the Sun was darken'd from twelve at noon, to three in the afternoon, could he hope to gain any Credit or Belief to any Doctrine he had to propagate, by feigning such Circumstances, as would put it into the Power of every Man that heard of them to disprove him? Would not this be the readiest and the most effectual way he could possibly invent, to expose himself and his Cause?
The Death of Judas, and the Cause and Manner of it, which is so clear a Vindication of our Saviour, and so plain a Proof that he is the Christ, was known unt» all the dwellers of Jerusalem , insomuch as that field was called in their proper tongue, Aceldama , that is to fay , the field of blood, Acts i. 19. Matt, xxvii. 8. If this Field had not been so call'd, and this had not been, well known at Jerusalem, would any Man have written in this manner?'
And besides the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy Disciples, who all believ'd and attested the Truths
contain'd in the Evangelists, many Persons of Authority and Note among the Jews are mention'd, who would have founds themselves concern'd to disprove what is related, if it had been false. Nicodemus is said to have come to Christ by night, who was a Pharisee, and a Ruler of the Jews, John ill. 2. vii. 50. xix. 39. and to put this Mark upon him three several times, That htcame to Jesus by night, and durst not own his.coming to him, was no flattering Character , or such as might engage Nicodemus or his Friends to dissemble the Injury, if it had not been true that Nicodemus was his Disciple. The like is said of Joseph of Arimathea, a rich Man, and an honourable Counsellor, 'Man. xxvii. 57. Mar. xv. 43. that he was a, Disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear ef the Jews, Joh. xix. 38. Herod and Pontius T'Hate, Annas and Caiaphas, and several other Persons particularly named, and most of them with no Commendation, but with that Character, which the Truth of the History required , would be concern'd themselves, or their Friends and Relations for them, after their Decease, to expose any Falshood, that could have beendiscover'd in the History of our Saviour.
The other Books of the New Testament are explicatory and consequential to the Gospel or History of Christ \ and besides they contain many memorable and publick Facts, as the speaking of all sorts of Languages, and working all kinds of Miracles at the solemn Feast of Pentecost; and the Conversion of many thousands thereby, the frequent Examination of the Apostles before the Council at Jerusalem, their Preachings and Miracles in the most publick places, as in the Temple, in the Streets, ac. these are things that could not be imposed upon the World in that very Place, and in defiance of that very People, before whom they are said to have been done. Gamaliel, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, Dionysus the Arcopagite, Sergius Paulus, Sima* mon Magus-, Felix-, King Agrippa , Tertullus , GaMo, and others, were Names of too great Note and Fame to be used in a false Story, in which they are so much concern'd. And all their Proceedings in the Courts of Judicature were kept upon Record, and therefore could not be pretended , (without being discover'd ) by those, who always had so many Adversaries.
The miraculous Power bestow'd upon the Apostles was chiefly employ'd in curing Diseases, and for the Health and Preservation of Mankind, but they had a Power of inflicting Diseases likewise, and Death it self, upon just occasions, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts v. of Ely mas the Sorcerer, Ails xiii. and the incestuous Corinthian-, 1 Cor. v. And wlien this was done by private Men, 3nd divulg'd to the World, with the Names of the Persons who inflicted Diseases and Death it self, and of those, on whom they were inflicted, this is an Evidence both of the Truth of the Matter of Fact, and of the Power by which it was done: for no Author could think to serve his Friend or his Cause, by relating things of this nature , unless they had been evidently done in a miraculous manner, and by a Divine Commission and Authority.
The Conversion of St. Paul was a thing so memorable, both for the Manner of it, and for the Business he was going about, and the Persons that employ'd him, and for his known Zeal at other times , in persecuting the Church, that St. Paul appeals to King Agrippa, as one, who could not be ignorant of a thing so notorious, Atts xxvi. 26. and it was the great Providence and Wisdom of God, that a Man so well known and esteem'd by the Pharisees and Chief-Priests before his Conversion , should be the greatest Instrument , both by his Preaching and Writings , for the Propagation of the Gospel j and both his Epistles, and the other Books of Holy Scripture, have the fame Proof, from the Observations already mention'd, concerning the Names and Characters of Persons , and
other Circumstances. And they were always read in the Assemblies of Christians, and were appointed to be read in them , Colojs. iv. 16. 1 Tbejs. v. 27. And the Writings both of him , and of the Evangelists , and the other Apostles, are cited by Authors contemporary with the Apostles, by Barnabas an Apostle himself, and by Clemens Romania, Ignatius, Polycarp, &c. and they have been acknowledg'd to be the genuine Works of those whose Names they bear, both by Jews and Heathens , and particularly by Tryphon the Jew, in his Dialogue with Justin Martyr \ and by Julian 1 the Apostate. It is enough in this place to observe, that (excepting some very few Books, of which an Account shall elsewhere be given) the Books of the Scriptures of the New Testament have been receiv'd as genuine, from their first Appearance in the World, during the Lives of their several Authors, and have been deliver'd down for such through the several Ages of the Church. In the main, they have been so unanimously receiv'd, and so fully attested by Christians, that the Jews and Heathens themselves never denied them to be genuine, nor ever pretended the principal Matters of Fact to be false or doubtful. m Many of the Eye-witnesses to the Miracles of our Saviour and his Apostles, liv'd to a great Age •, St. John himself above an hundred years, and he preach'd the Gospel above seventy years. n St. James was Bishop of Jerusalem thirty years. Simeon the Son of Cleopas, lived to an hundred and twenty years, and Polycarp the Disciple of St. John, at his 0 Martyrdom profess'd, that he had been a Servant of Christ fourscore and six years , and he was Bishop above sixty years, as it ap-1 pears from St. Ignatius* Epistles, whom he surviv'd about that number of years. r And Irenœus, in an E
1 Apud Cyril, lib.x.
m Euseb. 1. iii. c. 29. Hieron. adv. Jovin. 1.1.