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"To do something to instruct, but more to undeceive, the timid and admiring student;-
Fragment on Government.
JANUARY TO DECEMBER INCLUSIVE.
Printed for the Editor, by George Smallfield.
PUBLISHED BY SHERWOOD, NEELY AND JONES,
Mr. Cogan's Summary of the Evidences of Christianity.
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 Testa ment; 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,
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 Christianity.
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 assu rance 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 the true cause of an extraordinary phenomenon? Or should we think that the volume ought to be rejected because it professed to give the narrative of a divine interposition?