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called a sanhedrim, or council, on the appearance of the wise men from the east, he demanded where the Messiah was to be born: and they immediately replied, in Bethlehem, according to the prophet.
Daniel declared when the precise time of his suffering should be.
Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi foretold that all these events should be accomplished before the destruction of the second temple.
Now of these few prophecies relating to a Saviour, which are selected of the many scattered up and down the Old Testament, the first was given four thousand
before the fulfilment or appearance of the person foretold.
The second, to Abraham, was nearly two thousand years before that period.
The next, 10 Jacob, was above seventeen hundred years before Christ.
David was inspired to mention Christ above a thousand years
before his birth. Micah's prophecy was given seven hundred years previous to the event.
Isaiah's prophecy, one so full and perfect in relation to the promised Redeemer, that the writer is called the Evangelical Prophet, was delivered eight hundred years before that Redeemer appeared.
The prediction of Daniel above five hundred years before the Messiah
And Malachi, the last of the prophets, above four hundred years before the coming of our Lord.
Now the right way, in considering the perfect fulfilment of these prophecies, is not to form our judg..
ment by separate and particular passages, but by the connexion of the whole; by the exact coincidence and entire agreement of all the prophecies which at several times denoted the Messiah, brought into one point and laid together.
In order to do this, we must first search the evangelists.
These evangelists are four men who were followers of, or believers in, this Redeemer, so long promised. They severally undertake to write his life ; at least the principal passages of it. They begin by declaring him the promised Redeemer, Christ and Lord. That his mother was a virgin of the royal house of David; that his birth was attended with signs in the heavens ; that he was from jealousy persecuted by Herod in his infancy, and that children were slain, in the hope of destroying him also; that his wisdom was astonishing in his tender years; that he had a forerunner, a holy man, called John the Baptist, who baptized him with water ; that when he came to the ministry, he began to work every sort of miracle, and to preach the word of truth to all who would hear ; that he was persecuted by the Jews; that he appointed twelve disciples, and afterwards seventy, whom he instructed in the finest lessons of piety and virtue; that he was at length betrayed by one of the twelve, and carried before Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor, who unwillingly condemned him to be crucified; that he was insulted, buffetted, and nailed to the cross; that he expired on it after several hours of suffering ; great prodigies attended his death ;- that he was wounded with a soldier's spear in the side, and then
taken down from the cross, and entombed in a new stone sepulchre, which sepulchre was guarded by a band of sixty soldiers, having for its security an immense block of stone for a door at the entrance; that on the third day, as the Saviour had foretold, he actually rose from the dead, walked out of the tomb, and was seen by many in the course of forty days; at the end of which period he ascended up into heaven, and a short time afterwards sent down the Holy Ghost upon his apostles and disciples, by which gift they were enabled to preach the gospel in all tongues, and to work miracles in the name of Jesus.
All this we learn from the evangelists, andas we hope for everlasting salvation, so do we believe; so did our ancestors believe; and so did those primitive christians also believe, who in ten long persecutions* under heathen princes or sceptical Jews, poured out
* Before the Roman empire was converted to Christianity, there are commonly reckoned ten general persecutions: the first in the reign of Nero, A.D. 64; the second in that of Domitian, 95; the third under Trajan, 100; the fourth under Antoninus, 165; the fifth under Sererus, 197; the sixth under Maximius, 235; the seventh under Decius, 249; the eighth under Valerian, 257; the ninth under Aurelian, 274; and the tenth under the reign of Diocletian, 303; till at length Christianity came to be established by human laws.-Stackhouse, vol. 6.
Tacitus tells us, that in these persecutions several were at first seized who made profession of this new religion ; and by their confession, infinite numbers of others were detected and executed ; and in the manner of their execution were treated with all the instances of scorn and barbarity. Some of them were wrapt up in the skins of wild beasts, and worried and devoured by dogs. Others were crucified, and others burnt alive in paper coats, dipped in pitch wax, and other combustible matters, that when day
their blood, and suffered every torture that rage could inflict, or the cruellest malice devise, rather than renounce a faith on which every hope depends. But let us inquire if none but the evangelists have borne testimony to these wonderful events ? Events which, as it should appear, must have agitated whole provinces in their importance and consequences.
This it is now our business to answer. And in order to do so, let us pretend, for argument's sake, to look on the subject with an eye of doubt. Let us not think it enough that the testimony of those most interested in propagating their doctrines should be alone relied on. What though we have a genuine authenticated history of one man, not written by one man but by four, with a large mass of collateral evidence, that this mass of evidence, direct and otherwise, have been received in great part from the very
light failed, they might serve for torches and illuminations in the night.
The doctrines, however, of Christianity continued to spread, and converts to be multiplied, notwithstanding that all the states of the world, for three hundred years, were combined against the propagation of them.
Justin Martyr, who lived in the first age of Christianity, informs us, in his dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, that there was no nation in the known world where some did not pray to God io the name of Jesus Christ. And Pliny, a heathen writer in the reigo of Trajan, not even seventy years after the resurrection, in a letter to the Emperor, declares that Christianity bad so far prevailed in Bithynia, where he was governor, that the temples of the gods were almost desolated, their sacred rites a long time intermitted, and there were very few that would buy any sacrifices, notwithstanding great severities were indicted upon Christians of every rank, sex, and age.- Seeds Sermons, vol. 2.
time of the events it goes to prove, down to the present day, by the learned, the wise, the great, and the powerful, of the christian world; that all the rage of malice, the keenness of satire, the force of talent, the ingenuity of criticism, and the labour of research, have been employed in different ages, and exerted to bear down the testimony of this volume by the heathen world, and yet that its value, its genuine worth and excellence should be seen to rise higher under every attack. What though this assertion be supported by the fullest proof, and we should admit that the four men alluded to were, in their acts, supported and assisted by the power of God, Father and Son, as in their words and doctrines they were enlightened and instructed by the Holy Spirit proceeding from both ?
And let us, for a moment, not choose to consider it sufficient that one of the greatest enemies of the christians, who put himself forward in the cruel persecution of them by the Jews, who not only poured forth threats of slaughter and vengeance, but with all the furious zeal of deadly hate pursued and arrested wherever he could find them, and even assisted in the massacre ; let it not be thought sufficient that this man, in the midst of such a career, was stopped ; received a sudden check from some hidden or apparent cause, and from a cruel enemy and opposer became a convert, a believer, a most illustrious teacher of the the doctrine, and at length suffered, a martyr to the faith. And even though the man relate his own story. the enormities of his youth, and the repentance and labours of his age, yet let us not hold his testimony