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Christ of Nazareth, necessary to be established.... Geography of Palestine
CHAP. II.—The Christian and Pagan Creeds collated.... The Apostle's
between the philosophers and the vulgar.... The philosophers were Deists.... The
CHAP. IV.–The state of the Jews.... The Jews the grand exception to
of the soul ; while the Heathens had more practical faith therein, than any
CHAP. V.- State of Philosophy....A general prevailing debility of the
Christians before the Christian era.... Christian frauds.... Christian scriptures not
CHAP. X.-Corollaries....Eusebius....Sufficient guarantee for the text of
CHAP. XI.-Corroborations of the evidence arising from the admissions
thesis....Evanson....Bretschneider....Falsehood of gospel geography, of gospel
tion.... Miracles of Æsculapius better authenticated than those of Jesus....
CHAP. XXVI.—Mercury, Jesus Christ.... The Word, Jesus Christ....Ame-
CHAP. XLII.--The Fathers of the Third Century....Origen....
gion... The testimony of Lucian, of Phlegon.... The passage of Macrobius....
ON all hands 'tis admitted that the Christian religion is matter of most serious importance : it is so, if it be truth, because in that truth a law of faith and conduct measuring out to us a propriety of sentiment and action, which would otherwise not be incumbent upon us, is propounded to our observance in this life ; and eternal consequences of happiness or of misery, are at issue upon our observance or neglect of that law.
To deny to the Christian religion such a degree of importance, is not only to launch the keenest sarcasm against its whole apparatus of supernatural phenomena, but is virtually to withdraw its claims and pretensions altogether. For if men, after having received a divine reve. lation, are brought to know no more than what they knew before, nor are obliged to do any thing which otherwise they would not have been equally obliged to do ; nor have any other consequences of their conduct to hope or fear, than otherwise would have been equally to be hoped or feared ; then doth the divine revelation reveal nothing, and all the pretence thereto, is driven into an admission of being a misuse of language. On the other hand, the Christian religion is of scarce less importance, if it be false ; because, no wise and good man could possibly be indifferent or unconcerned to the prevalence of an extensive and general delusion. No good and amiable heart could for a moment think of yielding its assent to so monstrous an idea, as the supposition that error could possibly be useful, that imposture could be beneficial, that the heart could be set right by setting the understanding wrong, that men were to be made rational by being deceived, and rendered just and virtuous by crédulity and ignorance. ! To be in error one's self, is a misfortune ; and if it be such an error as mightily affects our peace of mind, it is a very grievous misfortune ; to be the cause of error to others, either by deceiving them ourselves, or by connivance, and furtherance of the councils and machinations by which we see that they are deceived, is a crire ; it is a most cruel triumph over nature's weakness, a most