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PAINTED FOR F. C. AND J. RIVINGTON, NO. 62, ST. PAUL'S
CHURCH-YARD; J. HATCHARD, NO. 190, PICCADILLY ;
THE fubject of the work now offered to the public in an English translation is an examination of the following questions: Whether the books of the New Testament were really written by the perfons to whom they are ascribed; Whether they have descended to us perfectly uncorrupted in all effential matters, as they left the hands of their authors; And, lastly, Whether they contain a narration of events which did actually take place.
That this inquiry is of the greatest consequence, and demands our most impartial attention, will be evident from these confiderations:- That if we cannot answer the above questions in the affirmative, then is the Chriftian Religion a cunningly devised fable:--but, on the contrary, if in result of the examination, it should be found that the New Testament is both genuine and authentic,--then it
will require but few arguments to fhew that the miracles contained in it, are true, that the writers were inspired persons, and that our holy faith is a revelation of the will of God.
On this subject the learned author of the following work, Dr. Less, had himself entertained doubts during many years of his life: for his own private satisfaction he instituted a severe and rigid inquiry: the result is exhibited to the Public in the present treatise; and to himself the consequence was a solid, rational, and satisfactory conviction. The Original was put into my hands, during my residence in Germany, by a person of distinguished worth: on perufal it appeared to me extremely well calculated, from its conciseness, perfpicuity, and severity of examination to produce the fame effect on others, and to be of service to the Christian cause; as I cannot conceive it possible for any man, who honestly and impartially, seeks after truth, to read it with the attention which the subject demands, without receiving the same conviction which the author himself obtained. This opinion of the original work first led me to form the design of translating it into my native language.
Few are the writers who have expressly treated on the Authenticity of the books of the New Testament, and fewer ftill who have done it in a manner always fatisfactory to the reader. Du Pin is miferably defective: and Jones seems to have been anxious rather to shew that certain writings are Apocryphal, than to prove that the books of the New Teftament are Canonical. Indeed he has passed over all the Epistles and the Apocalypse without paying the least regard to them.
But since his time Dr. Lardner has employed immense labour and profound erudition on the same subject: nor do I know any man to whom the Christian world has more obligations than to the author of the Credibility of the Gospel-Hiftory. He appears to have almost exhausted his subject, and to have rendered any subsequent undertaking of a fimilar nature per-' fectly unnecessary. Instead of giving my own opinion on the difference between the present treatise and the voluminous work of Lardner, I will lay before the reader the sentiments of the great Michaelis and of the Rev. Herbert Marsh, one of the most accurate Theological scholars that any age or country has ever proa duced. - The best treatises” fays Michaelis
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