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"To do something to instruct, but more to undeceive, the timid and admiring student;-
to excite him to place more confidence in his own strength, and less in the infallibility of
great names;-to help him to emancipate his judgment from the shackles of authority;-to
teach him to distinguish between shewy language and sound sense;-to warn him not to pay
himself with words;-to shew him that what may tickle the ear or dazzle the imagination, will
not always inform the judgment;-to dispose him rather to fast on ignorance than to feed
himself with error."

Fragment on Government.





Printed for the Editor, by George Smallfield.




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is extant. This presumption is corroborated by the consideration, that, as history, it was the credit that was actually given to the facts in question which caused the gradually-increasing diffusion and establishment of Chris

Christianity. It was thought of favour,
ably at the time by persons of whose
judgment I had a good opinion. I
have since been asked, whether it
would not be desirable that I should_tianity.*
reprint it. To this I should for several
reasons object. The substance of it,
however, will be found in the following
observations, which, if they appear to
you to be useful, you will not, per
haps, think out of place in your Repo-

The Christian religion has existed for about 1800 years; and previous to this period it did not exist. It derives its origin from a person called Jesus Christ, who lived in Judea, and was crucified by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. A short time after the death of its founder, it was preached in the Roman empire by a few of his followers, and gained increasing credit and establishment, till at length it at tained a decided pre-eminence above the Pagan religion and worship which had prevailed there for many ages, and which it finally overthrew. This conversion of the Pagans to Christianity must be considered as one of the most signal revolutions which ever took place upon earth, and is an event of which every philosophical mind must wish to know the real and proper causes. The only history which appears to account for this singular phenomenon is that of the New Testament; and this history consists of a clear and distinct narrative of facts, which, if admitted, will readily explain this extraordinary revolution. Hence arises a claim which this history lays to our attention, and likewise a strong presumption in its favour; as it must be allowed to stand in a very different predicament from a narrative of facts which will account for no existing phenomenon, and of which no monument, except the historical testimony,

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Dr. Priestley, in his Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, (a work truly inestimable,) has the following paragraph: "With respect to hypotheses, to explain appearances of any kind, the philosophical Christian considers himself as bound to admit that which (according to the received rules of philosophizing or reasoning) is the most probable; so that the question between him and other philosophers is, whether his hypothesis or theirs will best explain the known facts, such as are the present belief of Judaism and Christianity, and also the belief of them in the earliest ages to which they can be traced." With deference to an authority which I so highly respect, I should rather say, that until the New Testament history has been shewn to be unworthy of credit, every hypothesis to explain the origin and progress of Christianity is unnecessary, and consequently undeserving of attention.

Let it then be considered by what

thing of the early history of Christianity, Let us suppose that we knew nobut merely understood that it commenced

at the time at which its origin is dated, that it gradually subverted the idolatry of the Heathen world, and that wherever it came it carried with it a pure system of morality, and inspired a confident assurance of a life to come. Let the Christian Scriptures be put into our hands with proper evidence of their authenticity. Should we not think that we had found

nomenon? Or should we think that the the true cause of an extraordinary phevolume ought to be rejected because it professed to give the narrative of a divine interposition?

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