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EVIDENCES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
Q. WHAT do you mean by the Christian religion ?
A. The Christian religion is that revelation which God made of his will by his Son Jesus Christ, wherein are contained doctrines to be believed, precepts to be practised, and motives to enforce obedience.
Q. Wherein appears the truth of the Christian religion ?
Ă. The truth of the Christian religion appears from that full and clear evidence which our Saviour and his apostles gave of their divine mission and authority, by prophecies and miracles, and from the nature of the religion they taught, which is worthy of God, and tends to promote the happiness and welfare of mankind.
Q. What proof have we that there ever was such a person as Jesus Christ, and that he suffered under Pontius Pilate?
A. It is a fact which has never been disputed, that there was such a person as Jesus Christ, who lived in the reign of the emperor Tiberius. It is not only universally acknowledged by Christians, but hath been owned by Jews who have written of those times; and the Heathens themselves have borne their testimony to the truth of this matter of fact, as Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the younger. That the same Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, is averred both by Christians and Jews. The Christians professed it, notwithstanding the ignominy they might thereby seem to bring upon themselves, who worshipped him as a God; and the Jews owned it, notwithstanding the provocation they might thereby give to the Christians; for it was by their ancestors that he was delivered to be crucified. It is very probable there were public records of the whole matter at Rome, as the account was sent by Pontius Pilate to Tiberius: For the ancient Christians, in their apologies, appealed to it, which they had too much understanding and modesty to have done, if no such account had ever been sent, or had not been then extant. The great enemies of Christianity, Celsus and Julian, never made this matter of fact a controversy. No history, therefore, can be better established by the unanimous testimony of people very different from one another, than that of the life and death of Jesus Christ
Q. What evidence did Jesus Christ give that he was a prophet sent from God?
A. All the former prophecies which related to the Messiah were fulfilled in him. This ought to have been a convincing argument to the Jews, who owned these prophecies to have been of divine inspiration. He received the testimony of a voice from Heaven several times. He was endowed with the power of working miracles; and particularly with the gift of prophecy, proved and made good by the fulfilment of his own predictions; than which nothing can be a greater evidence of a divine mission, because the greatest proof of infinite power and knowledge.
Q. What prophecies that related to the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus Christ?
A. All those prophecies that concerned the birth and life of the Messiah, his death, resurrection, and ascension were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Q. What prophecies that related to the birth of the Mesa siah were fulfilled in Jesus?
A. According to Jacob's prophecy, the Messiah was to come about the time of the dissolution of the Jewish government; the sceptre was not to depart from Judah, that is, the power and authority of the Jewish government were not to cease, till Shilo came ; by whom the ancient Jews did understand the Messiah. It was also foretold by the prophets Haggai and Malachi, that he should come before the destruction of the second temple ; and the destruction of the temple was foretold by Daniel, with the precise time of our Saviour's coming. And to manisest to the worlí that Christ is come, the Jews are now dispersed amorig all nations, and their government lost, and their families confounded : The second temple is long since destroyed, and the city of Jerusalem made desolate, which was foretold should be after the cutting off of the Messiak. As the time of Christ's birth was foretold, so was the place of it. It was prophesied that the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem of Judea : and the providence of God so ordered it, that Joseph and Mary should be brought up to Bethlehem, by a general tax which Augustus then laid; not only that she might be delivered, but that their names might be there entered, and their family ascertained and proved, without doubt, to have descended from David. The
c Haggai ii. 6, 7, 8, 9. Mal. ii. 1. d Daniel ix. 24, 25, 26, 27.
Genesis xlix. 10.
person of whom our Saviour was born was likewise foretold : according to Isaiah, she was to be a virgin ; and thus Christ was emphatically the seed of the woman, agreeably to the promise made to our first parents.
Q. What prophecies which related to the life of the Mes. siah were fulfilled in Jesus?
A. The meanness and obscurity, and sorrows of his life, are expressed by Isaiah.
The Messiah was spoken of by the prophets as a person that was to be reputed vile and abject, who should be despised and rejected of men.“ Accordingly, in the gospel, Christ is called a Nazarene, and had not where to lay his head; and yet, notwithstanding these circumstances, he was to be eminent for his patience and meekness. His abode was to be chiefly in Galilee ;-; and, accordingly, Christ was brought up at Nazareth, and dwelt at Capernaun His character of a prophet was asserted by Moses and Isaiah ;and this character Christ sustained, in that he foretold future contingences. His power of working many and great miracles was foretold by the same prophet ;' and this prediction was accomplished by Christ in such a manner that many of the people believed in him, and said, When Christ cometh shall he do greater miracles than this man hath done ?m It was foretold that the people should receive him with joy and triumph, when he came riding upon an ass ;" which prediction was afterwards fulfilled;' and that he should be sold for thirty pieces of silver, the price which Judas received for betraying his master.“
Q. What prophecies which related to the death of the Messias were fulfilled in Jesus ?
A. His violent death was foretold by the prophets, and by several types which represented and prefigured his death,
h Psalın Ixix. 9, 1014
teaiah 141. 1. i Isaiah xxxy. 5, 6:
e Micah v.2. isaiah liii. 7.
Isaiah liii. 8, 3.
Matt. i). 6: ; Isaiah ix. 1.
. Mat. xxi. $
m John vii. 31.
n Zech. ix. 9.