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casional. The principal facts are, the birth and preaching of John the Baptist; the miraculous conception and birth, the discourses, miracles, predictions, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ; the mission of the apostles, the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them, and the other attestations which were given to the divine authority of Jesus Christ, and the truth of his doctrine. The things occasionally mentioned are the estate and character of the princes and governors, in whose time these events are placed; the state of the Jews, their opinions, and practices, and also those of other people, to whom the apostles came.

The facts related in the New Testament are all (except some few mentioned in the book of the Revelation) supposed to have come to pass before the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in the seventieth year of the christian sera. And these historians do throughout maintain the character of persons perfectly well acquainted with the matters of which they write.

Two of these books, the gospels of Matthew and John, bear the names of persons, who are said to have been present at a good part of those transactions, which they give an account of. Mark writes as one fully master of his subject, and Luke affirms, expressly, that he had per

fect understanding of all things from the very first,” Luke i. 3. and that he was able to write in order of those things he undertook to relate. In these four pieces we have the history of between thirty and forty years, from the vision of Zacharias in the temple at Jerusalem, to the ascension of Jesus Christ.

Besides these, we have also a book called the Acts of the Apostles, ascribed to the last mentioned writer; in which is contained the history of many wonderful events, which followed the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. If he had perfect understanding of all things from the very beginning of the gospel of Christ, he may be well supposed thoroughly acquainted with these late events, as nearer his own time. And indeed in a great part of this work he sustains the character of an eye-witness.

Omitting, for the present, the particular consideration of the principal facts of this history, and the direct and positive attestations given to the truth of them (as well as to the genuineness of these writings) by a great number of persons, who lived near the time in which they are supposed to have happened ; and who, after a serious and diligent inquiry, were convinced of the truth of them, and upon the ground of that persuasion renounced the principles of their

education, and ever after constantly maintained and confessed the truth of the facts and principles contained in these books, with great hazard of their ease, reputation, estates and lives : I shall now take a view of those facts only, which are occasionally mentioned in the New Testament; and inquire into the external evidences of the truth of them.

If it appear from other writers, that our sacred historians have mistaken the people and affairs of the time, in which, according to their own account, the things they relate happened ; it will be an argument that they did not write, till some considerable time afterwards. But if upon inquiry there be found an agreement between them and other writers, of undoubted authority, not in some few, but in many, in all the particulars of this kind which they have mentioned; it will be a very strong presumption that they wrote at, or very near the time, in which the things they relate are said to have happened.

This will give credit to the other, the main parts of their narration. An history written and published near the time of any events is credible, unless there appear some particular views of interest; of which there is no evidence in the present case, but quite the contrary.

The history now before us, is the history of many great and wonderful works done in some of the best peopled and most frequented parts of the earth. They are related with very particular circumstances of time and place, and some of them are said to have been done in the presence of great numbers of people. Here is withal an account of proceedings and sentences of courts of judicature, in cities of the first rank, at times of the greatest and most general resort ; and of some discourses made before persons (next under the Roman emperor) of the highest rank and distinction. One manifest design of the whole is to overthrow the religious tenets, then generally received in the world. It is written in the language, not of some obscure kingdom, but of a learned and numerous people, understood at that time by all the polite, and by many others in every part of the known world. For any men to publish such an history of such things as lately done, if not punctually true, could have been only to expose themselves to an easy confutation, and certain infamy.

I propose therefore to give a long enumeration of particulars, occasionally mentioned by the writers of the New Testament, in which they are supported by authors of the best note; and then in answer to divers objections, I shall endeavour to show, that they are not contradicted in the rest.

If I succeed in this attempt, here will be a good argument for the genuineness of these writings, and for the truth of the principal facts contained in them; distinct from the express and positive testimonies of christian writers, and the concessions of many others.

THE

CREDIBILITY

OF THE

GOSPEL HISTORY.

PART I.

BOOK I. CHAP. I.

OF PRINCES AND GOVERNORS MENTIONED IN THE

NEW TESTAMENT.

J. Herod. II. Archelaus. III. Herod the Tetrarch, and

Philip. IV. Herod the Tetrarch, and Herodias. V. Lysanias, Tetrarch of Abilene. VI. Herod (Agrippa.) VII. Felix and Festus. VIII. Felix and Drusilla. IX. Agrippa (the younger.) X. Bernice. XI. Sergius Paulus, deputy of Cyprus. XII. Gallio, deputy of Achaia.

The first thing I would observe is, that Josephus and heathen authors have made mention of Herod, Archelaus, Pontius Pilate, and other persons of note, whose names we meet with in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles; and have delivered nothing material concerning their characters, posts, or honours, that is different from what the writers of the New Testament have said of them.

I. St. Matthew assures us that “ Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king,” Matt. ii. whom St. Luke styles expressly " the king of Judea,” Luke i. 5. Herod was the son of Antipater, who had enjoyed considerable posts of honour and trust under Alexander lannæus, and Alexandra his wife and successor in the civil government of Judea, and their eldest Son Hyrcanus; who was high priest in his mother's lifetime, and after her death, had the civil power also united in him.

Nicolas of Damascus says, that Antipater was descended

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