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TABLE OF CONTENTS.
The facts already developed, recapitulated, and their ten-
dency to prove the truth of Christianity pointed out .... 187
BEFORE I proceed to those facts which it is my object to place before the reader, and which appear to me to furnish the strongest evidence for the mitacles ascribed to Jesus Christ in the four Gospels, I must premise a few remarks necessary to form a correct judgement of their validity.
A modern reader naturally concludes that the term Christian, which is applied to all the followers of Christ throughout Christendom, however divided into sects and parties, must have been used with the same latitude in all ages. The conclusion, however natural, is erroneous; for the Jewish believers never went by that name, nor did they give the title of Christianity to the faith which they had embraced as the followers of Jesus. This an unquestionable fact from the evangelical writers. In the new Testament the word is Christian's
never occurs, excepting in two or three places as the subject of discourse. The first converts made by the apostles, continued to be called Jews : the apostle Paul, in his Epistles, addresses the churches which he had established, not as Christians but as “ holy men,” or men free from the vices and impurities which had characterized them before their conversion, and which still continued to debase the rest of mankind. The apostle Peter wrote his letters to the believing Jews under the denomination of “strangers ;" and James, under that of - the twelve tribes.” The Jews of succeeding ages steadfastly followed the example of the apostles: and though their adversaries branded thern as here. tics, and endeavoured to separate them from the rest of the nation, by the opprobrious titles of Ebionites, Nazarenes, and Galileans, they uniformly declined among themselves the appellation of “ Christians.”. The reason of their conduct in this respect is to be found in the circumstances that gave birth to that term. It originated, we are told in the book of the Acts, at Antioch; and, as it should seem, with the enemies of the Gospel. Christ suffered as a traitor and a malefactor: and the malice of his opponents obviously suggested that his name, if applied to his followers, would hold them forth at once as apostates from the religion of their forefathers, and violators of the law; and, as such, meriting the vengeance of the civil power, and the abhorrence of mankind. The first converts were not ashamed of their divine master nor his cause ; but they were too discerning and considerate to overlook or to brave the baneful influence of opprobrious names. They were aware also that the adopting a new name, which marked
them out from the rest of their nation, would countenance the charge of innovation and apostasy: and as their conversion to the Gospel was in strict conforinity to the spirit of their religion as Jews, they wisely retained those appellations which belonged to them as the children of Abraham, the disciples of Moses, and the sons of the Prophets.
2. Jesus Christ is generally considered as the founder of Christianity; but this is not strictly true: Moses and the prophets, or rather the more ancient patriarchs, were 'its real founders, while Jesus Christ only completed the system of which they had laid the foundation. The existence and government of one God, to the exclusion of all other Gods—the necessity of obedience to his will, as the only means of attaining his favour; and, finally, the promise of a Great Deliverer from sin and death, are the great and distinguishing principles of Moses and the prophets : and these, assuredly, constitute the essential principles of the Gospel. The advice which our Lord gives to those who resisted his claims is, “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.” John v. 39. When he endeavoured to withdraw the attention of the Jews from the rites to the spirit of the law, they were ready to charge him with violating the religion of Moses. His answer was, “ Think not that I came to destroy the law and the prophets; I came not to destroy, but to fulfil:” which means, « Suspect me not to be guilty of innovation; I am come not to introduce a new religion, but to reform and perfect the old.” To the same purpose is the language of Paul, when branded as a heretic: “If I am a heretic, I teach the heresy of Moses' and the pro