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BOOK III.

THE UNCORRUPTED PRESERVATION

OF THE NEW TESTAMENT,

CHAP. I. The Books extant at present in the New

Testament, are the same Writings which were originally composed by the Authors whose Names they bear.

BUT, it may perhaps be said, have not those books been long ago destroyed ? Are not these which we have at present in the New Testament some of the writings which, in the early ages of Christianity, were falfely ascribed to the immediate disciples of Jesus? Or, how can we be assured, whether they are not so changed by latter interpolations and erasures, as to have become entirely

R2 . different ,different from the originals ? - It is therefore necessary to shew, that these writings have descended to us unaltered, or, in other words, the uncorrupted preservation of our present New Testament. And this I shal} prove

1. From their Contents. AS early as the two first centuries of the Christian era, we find the very fame faćts and the very fame doĉtrines universally received by the Christians, which we, of the present day, believe on the credit of the New Testament.That Jesus was born under the Roman emperour Augustus, and taught in the Jewish territory; that he publicly performed many and great miracles;. was perfecuted by his enemies the Jews, though innocent, even to death on the cross; and arofe alive from the grave on the third day after his death; that a belief in this' Jesus and his doctrine

is

is the only way to falvation for all those to whom they have been promulgated; that this fame Jesus has published and ordained for his disciples the wisest and most falutary precepts in respect of our conduct towards God, towards ourselves, and towards our neighbour; that hereafter he will descend gloriously from heaven, into which he vifibly ascended, in order to awaken the dead, and to judge the whole race of mankind:--all this is afferted in all the earliest writings of Christian antiquity' to have been the univerfal belief of Christians.-And

i See abové, Part I. Book II. Chn i-iii.

m It is only neceffary to read, for instance, the 19th and 20th ch. of Irenæus's fifth book Adversus hæreses, where he gives a short sketch of the Christian doctrine as it then existed.-The principal writings on this subject are, Dionysii Petravii Dogmata Theologica ; Jacob Basnage Histoire de l'Elise ; Lardner L. cit.; and Dr. Semler's Collections from the writings of the old teachers, which he has prefixed to Baumgarten's Dogmatic and Polemic.

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all this likewise is contained in those books which we now possess under the names of the Evangelists and Apostles. II.--Because an universal corruption

of these writings was impossible; nor can the least veftige of such a corruption be found in history.

THAT these books should be universally corrupted was totally impofsible from the very state of Christianity. -The Christian religion, even in the first century, was spread through every part of the known world. From the persecutions which then took place, the distinct communities existing at Jerufalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and in many other considerable cities, had little or no external connection with each other. As early as the first century arose Heretics, whole tenets were refuted by the Orthodox in their writings. Christians, even 'of no rank or consequence, were in poffeffion of

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many copies of these books, which were
reverenced and read with the greatest
attention". During the two first cen-
turies no secret was made of any one
relation or doctrine of the holy scrip-
tures. On the contrary, Justin Mar-
tyr, Tertullian, Irenæus, appeal to the
facility which every one enjoyed of
reading their scriptures; and what has
been termed the Disciplina arcani,
which attempted an occasional sup-
pression of different histories or doc-
trines, is a custom of latter times, and
crept into Christianity with Pseudo-
Platonismo. And at a very early pea,
riod many translations of them were
made into the Syriac and Latin lan-
guages. Now it must have been almost
a miracle, if—notwithstanding the great
variety of copies, and translations, of
the originals, spread abroad among

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o See Walch On the use of the Holy Scripture among the ancient Christians. Leipzig, 1779, in 8vo. See above, p. 94. R 4

distinct

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