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" of distinguished talents, and acknowledged eminence in his
profession, and in the constant habit of weighing, sifting, 6 and scrutinizing evidence, with the minutest accuracy, in
courts of justice, has publickly declared, that he considered 6 this Prophecy, if there were nothing else, to support “ Christianity, as absolutely irresistible." See the Bishop of London's Lectures, Vol. II. pages 180, 181. * And Mr. Erskine's Speech at the Trial of Williams, for publishing Paine's Age of Reason.
The prediction of Jesus concerning the destruction of Jeo rusalem being verified not only his character as a true Prophet of God was established—but the great controversy concerning the true nature of the Messiah's character was finally setiled; it being thereby proved that his coming as the Messich, as he had told the Jewish Rulers upon his trial, would be in cloud's—or in vengeance, instead of his coming to raise them to great worldly prosperity: Thus was the doctrine of the first coming of Christ fully established, and it may now be left to the judgment of the impartial part of mankind, whether the Historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was not entirely mistaken, when he asserted that 6 the
near approach of the end of the world, had been predicted " by the Apostles, and that those who understood, in their 66 literal sense, the discourses of Christ himself, were obliged " to expect the second and glorious coming of the Son of Man " in the clouds before that generation was totally extinguished, 66 which had beheld his humble condition
upon earth." He will see in the assertion of this Writer, that " for wise pur
poses this error was permitted to subsist in the Church,” nothing but a gross and ill founded libel on our holy religion, and that the doctrine of the second coming of Christ was eminently calculated for wise purposes, not for a short period of time only, but for the support of the faith and prac ice of Christians in all ages of the world, and that the more closely the mysterious language of Prophecy and Revelation, upon this subject, is pressed--the more clearly it will appear to be a doctrine every way worthy of God, and worthy of the acceptation of mankind. It has been considered, imperfectly as it has hitherto been understood, as deserving of credit, by men of the most enlightened understandings which the world ever saw by men who are not destitute of candor, of judgment, or of fidelity-by men who are not inferior in these qualities, to those who have espoused the opposite party,
*" The fidelity the veracity, and probity of Josephus," says the Bishop of London, “ are universally allowed: and Scaliger in particular “ declares, that not only in the affairs of the Jews, but even of foreign na " tions, he deserves more credit than all the Greek and Roman Writers put • together. Certain at least it is, that he had that most essential qualification " of an historian, a perfect and accurate knowledge of all the transactions “ which he relates ; that he had no prejudices to mislead him in the repre. " seritation of them; and that above all, he meant no favor to the Christian
For even allowing the so much controverted passage, in which he " is supposed to bear testimony to Christ, to be genuine, it does not appear “ that he ever became a convert to his religion, but continued, probably,
a zealous Jew to the end of his life.” See his Lectures, Vol. II. page 175
It is difficult to resist transcribing largely from the Writer from whom these last words are taken, but the whole of the passage is so well worth attention, that it is here presented to the Reader as no improper conclusion of the Work.
66 The Character of our Lord is a subject which has occu
pied the thoughts, and exercised the talents, of the wisest " and best men in every age, since his religion was first an6 nounced to the world. It is a subject which could not “ fail to be investigated by those, who have professedly con" sidered how far his pretentions, as a divine teacher, were “ founded in truth. Accordingly, they who have asserted,
well as they who have denied, that he was commissioned “ from on high, have scrutinized his actions with the inost “ diligent and anxious care. The result of the investigations,
employed by the former, is of course highly favourable to " the character of Jesus ; since they could not otherwise " have conceived him deserving of the sacred title of a Pro
phet, authorised to communicate so full and so important
a revelation of the will of God to his creatures. But not« withstanding their belief in his divine mission, their “ authorily is not to be neglected, nor the reasons, upon li which their conclusions are founded, therefore to be dis. “ regarded_even by those, who would take a survey of the o evidences of this religion, upon grounds the most impar“ tial, and with views the most liberal. If indeed any symp“ toms of incapacity, of prejudice, of unfairness, appear in " the course of their investigations, we may then lay aside “ their testimony; as we should be justified, for the same
reasons, in laying aside that of the historians, who supply “ materials for the enquiry. But if the Writers who have
“ finally rested their faith on the pretensions of Jesus are “ not destitute of candour, of judgment, of fidelity; if " they are not inferiour in these qualities to those, who have
espoused the opposite party ; their conclusions are entitled “ to our acquiescence, and their authority to our deference,
as much as those of any other Writers, upon any other " subject of science or of morals. We might therefore boldly os appeal to our adversaries, whether they can disprove " the conclusions which Law, and White, and Newcome, 66 have drawn in favour of the exemplary virtue of Jesus. " Nor should the vulgar consideration, that these Writers 56 were Priests, and therefore interested in drawing the conclu“ sions for which they have contended, detract from the weight 66 of their observations, or the soundness of their arguments. “ If, as Priests, they be supposed to lean towards the cause of
a profession, which is sometimes attended with emolument " or distinction ; yet the mere wish to serve a particular
cause, would not enable them to establish a position, 66 which must look for support to a series of historical testimony.
It would not enable them to wrest facts to their purpose, which are inscribed in the unvarying records of
past ages; it would not enable them to suppress or dis" tort evidence, which is interspersed in the writings of men " of every party, and of every country ; it would not enable " them to produce those internal marks of truth and nature, « to which they have appealed, in confirmation of their opi“ nions. Nothing but conviction could have impelled so many
Writers to handle the same subject, to place it in so many different lights, to support it with such unaffected " zeal, and such overpowering argument. We may more
over remark, that not merely Priests of an Established 6 Church, whose situation sometimes leads to wealth and “ and consequence; but Priests of every Sect--Priests who" have nothing to expect but opposition, if they are known;
or poverty, if they are not known-nay, Priests who have " altogether abandoned their profession--men, in short, of " the most discordant views, and hostile sentiments, have “ still supported, with uniform conviction, and maintained " with unvarying ardour, the truth of the Christian dispen66 sation. In this latter description of Writers, we may s remark the names of Priestley, Wakefield, and Evanson'; 6 of men, who differing from each other, as much as they
i dissent from the National Church, yet, upon the same 6 general grounds of historical truth, admit the divine origin « of Christianity. Nor must we fail to reply, if the objection so should still be urged pertenaciously, that Laymen of the “ most distinguished abilities, and of the most enlarged views, 56 have, in all ages, vied with Churchmen in the pious and « useful labour of fixing, upon the solid basis of reason and “ truth, the credibility of the Gospel History. So far then " as their statements are built upon facts, and their conclu. “ sions logically deduced, there is no pretence for with
holding assent to the arguments in favour of the Charaéter “ of Jesus, though they chance to fall from the pen of a « Priest or a Prelate.
Of the Meaning of the Phrase THE END OF
THE WORLD—or age-as made Use of by St,
Matthew, Chapter xxiv. IT T was observed; in the examination of the meaning of this
chapter, p. 90. that there seems to be good reason for think ing that the phrase the end of the world signifies, not the final judgment of the world--but the end of the Fewish dispensation, or the destruction of Jerusalem ; to which the predi&tion of our Lord, which gave occasion to the questions of the Disciples, most indisputably was confined. It
appears to be one good argument that this was the meaning of the Evangelist, in this place, that as the learned University Preacher has observed by comparing St. Luke “ with St. Matthew, we discover that the two questions of 66 the latter relate entirely to one subject; the first to the “ time when the vengeance was to be inflicted—the second to " the signs which were to precede its execution.”
But besides this—other evidence is not wanting to prove that the end of the world sometimes signifies, in the New Testament, the end of the age, during which the Jewish church and state were to last. The learned Bishop Pearce has produced two passages of this nature, from the Epistles, which are submitted to the judicious Reader's candid consideration, together with such remarks upon the connection of the Writer's arguments, as seem strongly to corroborate this meaning.
The first passage to which the learned Bishop refers is, 1 Cor. x. 11. All these things, viz. (the things of which the Apostle had before been speaking) happened to them for examples, and they are written, for our admonition, upon whom The ENDS OF THE WORLD are come.
The Bishop's Note upon this passage is as follows: “ St. Paul,” says 'he, “ did not imagine that the end of the world was at hand, as
some Commentators have much to his prejudice supposed : $6 He only alluded to the Jewish distinction of time." The other passage is, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. ix. 26. Now once, in THE END OF THE WORLD hath he, the Messiah,