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“ upon this subject (the authenticity of the New Testament) are Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel-History, and Less's Truth of the Christian Religion (the subject of the following sheets). The former of these works, which has been censured for its prolixity, contains a very large collection of testimonies from the Fathers and other ancient writers, and is highly va« luable to those who would examine the whole series of evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament, : The works of Lardner have been lefs read, than they deserve: every one interested in this inquiry should pofsefs, them, were it only for occasional reference, and they are indispensible to a clergyman, who cannot remain indifferent on so important a subject, and whose duty is not only to believe but to convinced. The latter of these works, is more agreeable to read because prolixity is avoided, and it is easy to oversee the whole chain of reasoning at a single view. Various testimonies which Lardner had quoted, are omitted by Less, because they were not sufficiently convincing, and he has supplied what. Lardner had omitted. Every reader will remark, in perusing this treatise, what I have learnt in frequent conyersation with the author,
that it is the result of a conscientious, even anxiously conscientious inquiry, which he had instituted for his own private conviction. Doubts on which Lardner never thought, he has felt and proved." -Thus far Michaelis: and his learned translator has borne his teftimony to the value of the present work in a note to the passage juft quoted: “ It would be impoffible” says he “ to give an abridgement of it in these notes, as the author himself is very concise: but the whole deserves to be translated in a separate work."--To the tertimony of such authorities I will add nothing: that which has obtained the praise of Michaelis, and the recommendation of Marsh, needs no further panegyric.
I have only to say a few words in respect to the translation. It is made from the last edition-of the Original printed at Gottingen 1786, and is always, it is hoped, faithful to the sense of the author, and generally as literal as the peculiar idioms of the different languages will allow. The whole work of Dr. Less, which is called by the general name of Geschichte der Religion, or History of Religion, is comprised in three volumes. The first is employed on the history of both natural and revealed Re
ligion. In the second the divine origin of Chriftianity is proved at large. And the third is occupied with the examination and refutation of objections to the Christian Religion. · As the following treatise is taken from the body of a work of such magnitude, which is only divided according to the grand divisions of the subject, I conceived it neceffary to alter its form by breaking it into the fubdivifions of books, chapters &c.; in order that the connection of one part with another might be more readily perceived, and the whole more easily comprehended. From the fame cause I have fometimes omitted a word, a sentence, or even a whole paragraph, which appeared unneceffary in the present inquiry, and had an evident reference to parts of the work unconnected with the subject of these sheets.
In the quotations from the Holy Scriptures, Less has frequently paraphrased the paffage, from a defire to convey the sense without retaining the obsolete phraseology of the authorised translation of his country. It was my wifh to have always adhered literally to our English version ; but, as a translator, I have been obliged, in order to retain my author's argument, to retain the form in which it is
conveyed, and have therefore been sometimes compelled to render his paraphrase word for word, when I could not introduce the common version. .... , I have ventured in one or two cases to change the examples adduced by the author for others more familiar to an English reader; these are so unimportant that I do not think it necessary to indicate the particular instances.
However unimportant in point of magnitude may be the present work, yet it contains a large body of information. The subject matter, which if dilated in the modern fashion, would fill a folio, is here condensed into one small volume. This conciseness, has tended to render the style of the Original extremely inelegant; and may perhaps have had a similar effect on the Translation. To which must be added, that conceiving perspicuity in a work of this kind to be a paramount quality, I have studied to make my book rather lucid than elegant, and have been more anxious that the reader should be convinced by the folidity of the argument, than delighted by the beauty of the expreffion.
Some time since I had formed an intention of publishing in the English language Dr. Less's
larger larger work on the Truth of the Chriftiant Religion, and had made no small progress in the translation: that intention I have relinquished for the present; whether at any future period I may renew the design will depend on causes which are not under my direction.