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Of the Great Corruption of the Jewish People
The Circumstances of our Saviour's last Sufferings
DR. NATHANIEL LARDNER.
DR. NATHANIEL LARDNER was born at Hawkhurst, in the county of Kent, on the 6th of June, 1684. His father, Mr. Richard Lardner, was a minister of respectable character among the protestant dissenters, and, for a considerable number of years, pastor of a congregation at Deal; but whether ne was in that situation at the time of his son's birth does not appear: perhaps, as the toleration act had not then taken place, he might not as yet have become a settled preacher. The mother of our author was the daughter of a Mr. Collier, formerly of the borough of Southwark, but who afterwards retired to Hawkhurst, which is a large village, south of Cranbrook, and lying in that part of Kent which borders upon Sussex. It was probably at his grandfather's house that young Lardner was born. Where he received his grammatical education, cannot now be ascertained; though it is supposed, from his father's residence at Deal, that it might be at that place. Wherever it was, there can be no doubt, from the literature which he afterwards displayed, of his having made an early progress in the knowledge of the learned languages. From the grammar school he was removed to a dissenting academy in London, under the care of the Reverend Dr. Joshua Oldfield. Here, however, he must have continued but a very little time; for in the latter end of 1699, being then only in the sixteenth year of his age, he was sent to prosecute his studies at Utrecht, under the professors D'Uries, Grævius, and Burman, names of no small celebrity in the literary world. Under such tutors, Mr. Lardner made a suitable
improvement in various branches of learning; and he brought back with him a testimonial from professor Burman, to that purpose.
It was not uncommon, at that period, for the young men who were intended for the dissenting ministry in England, to study abroad, and particularly in the universities of Holland. Several persons, who afterwards became of no small consideration among the dissenters, and who distinguished themselves by their valuable writings, were educated in this manner. Mr. Martin Tomkins went over with Mr. Lardner to Utrecht, and they found there Mr. Daniel Neal.
After spending somewhat more than three years at Utrecht, Mr. Lardner removed to Leyden, where he studied about six months. In 1703, he returned to England, in company with Mr. Tomkins and Mr. Neal; and from that time to the year 1709, we have no memorials concerning him. This space was probably spent by him at his father's house, who quitted Deal in 1703 or 1704, and came to reside in or near London; and we may be certain that young Mr. Lardner employed himself in a close and diligent preparation for the sacred profession which he had in view. He was not one of those who are in haste to display their talents in the pulpit; for it was not till the second of August, 1709, when he was above twenty-five years of age, that he preached his first sermon. This was at Stoke-Newington, for his friend Mr. Martin Tomkins, who had become the minister of a congregation at that place. The subject of Mr. Lardner's discourse was taken from Romans i. 16; "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.' There could not have been a more proper text, for a man who was destined, in the order of Divine Providence, to be one of the ablest advocates for the authenticity and truth of the Christian Revelation that ever existed. During the four years which succeeded to this event, we have no information concerning our author, excepting that he was a member of the congregational church under the pastoral charge of the Rev. Mr. Matthew Clark, a gentleman of eminence among the dissenting clergymen of that period, and father to Dr. Clark, a physician of character, reputation, and extensive practice, who died not long since at Tottenham, in Middlesex.
In 1713, Mr. Lardner was invited to reside in the house of Lady Treby, the widow of Sir George Treby, Knt. who had been appointed Lord Chief Justice of the court of Common Pleas in 1692, and had sustained that high office and dignity,