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3 A Treatise of the Universe - -
THE PRINCIPAL FACTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
THE design of this Work has been shown in the Preface and Introduction to the foregoing part. It is, in short, to enable persons of ordinary capacities, who have not an opportunity of reading ancient authors, to judge for themselves concerning the external evidence of the facts related in the New Testament. They who are pleased to attend to this will soon perceive the reason of the method observed in this work : why I not only transcribe passages at length, but likewise prefix a history of the authors themselves. This I have done very much in the words of other ancient writers, who were their contem oraries, or not very remote from them in time: mentioning a so the sentiments of some learned moderns, eminent for their skill in antiquity, who have already written with great diligence and accuracy the history of my authors and their works. Somewhat of this kind was necessary for the information and satisfaction of those, for whom this work is chiefly intended. It might be well expected, that I should observe the age and character of the witnesses I produce: and distinguish their genuine writings from others, if any have been without ground ascribed to them. The testimonies themselves I have endeavoured likewise so to dispose, as that the value of them might be most readily perceived.
I am aware that some learned men, who have already formed their judgment upon a full knowledge of antiquity, may at first dislike the alleging in this volume so many passages, which contain at the most only allusions to the writings of the New Testament, some of which too ma a pear doubtful and uncertain. But if these had been W 0le omitted, I do not see how the representation of this evidence could have been complete. And when it is considered, that I do not lay a stress upon all these pass es, but after the producing them, sum up the testimony 2? each author, and often distinguish the importance of the passages alleged, and leave it to every one to judge as he sees best; I hope, this conduct will be no longer disaézproved.
The authors are produced in the order of time. By this means their authority and the value of their testimonies immediately appear: it being allowed by all, that the respect for a writer’s testimony ought to be proportioned very much to his nearness to the time of which he writes.
Many of the passages are placed at the bottom of the page in their original languages, which will not be disagreeable to those who are acquainted with them. And beside these, there are a few notes, more particularly intended for the less learned reader.
The translations are my own, unless I give notice of my borrowing from others: for which, I suppose, there will be seldom occasion. But there is one person of great eminence on account of his station in the church, and the merit of his services for the christian religion, to whom I am obliged to make my acknowledgments in this place: I mean His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbur . There are few of the many passages of the Apostolical fat ers here alleged, which I had not translated, as I collected them out of the originals: but I have since thought proper, to make my own more agreeable to his lordship’s well known and apostolical English : and I have often taken his translation entire, with out. any alteration.
Though I have used my best care and diligence, it is nevertheless very natural to be apprehensive of some errors and omissions in a work of this com ass and difficulty. I can rely u on the candour of the earned and judicious, who ma 0 serve them: and upon information I will readily own and, correct the errors, and supply the omissions if they are material. For what is here aimed at is not glory, but truth and a fair representation of it.
The method is prolix: but the subject is of im ortance. And perhaps in this way some disputes may he s ortened, and some questions decided, which could not be so well determined otherwise. And ossibly the whole we have to offer may be brought within ess room than could be at first imagined.
The work will not, I presume, be judged altogether use-i less, or unnecessary at this time. The fathers have not been hitherto considered in this method. Though many excellent and beautiful passages have been transcribed out of them by others in modern languages, none have yet, so far as I know, attempted the transcribing at length their testimony to the sacred scriptures. Nor as the canon of the New Testament been often considered and enquired into in this method, of placing together at once the testimony of