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EVIDENCES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
QWHAT 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? 4. 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 prophečies 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 Messiah 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,d with the precise time of our Saviour's coming. And to manifest to the world that Christ is come, the Jews are now dispersed among 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
b Genesis xlix. 10. c Haggai ii. 6, 7, 8, 9; Mal. iii. 1. d Daniel ix. 24, 25, 26, 27.