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Years

before

Chrift.

535

С НА Р.

PROPHETS after the CAPTIVITY, under the fecond TEMPLE.

YYRUS 2.

CY

In the third year of Cyrus, and third after the captivity

520 DariusHyftafpes 2.fixth month In the fame year and month In the fame year, feventh month In the fame year, eight month In the fame year, ninth month In the fameyear,eleventh month 516 Darius 3. 518 Darius 4.

In the fame year, ninth month Subfequent to the fourth year of Darius Hyftafpes

515 Darius 6.

462 Ahafuerus 3. 461 Ahafuerus 4. 458 Ahasuerus 7.

year

In the fame 457 Ahasuerus 8. 453 Ahasuerus 12. 445 Ahafuerus 20. 433 Ahafuerus 32. 429 Ahafuerus 36. 428 Ahafuerus 37. 296 Ptolemy Soter 9.

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XXXVI.

Ezra iv.

Daniel x. xi. xii.
Haggai i. ver. 1-12.
Haggai i. ver. 12, &c. Ezra v.
Haggai ii. ver. 1-10.
Zechariah i. ver. 1—7.
Haggai ii. ver. 10, &c.
Zechariah i. ver. 7, &c. ii—vi.
Ezra v. ver. 3, &c.
Ezra vi. ver. 1—15.
Zechariah vii. viii.

Zechariah ix-xiv.
Ezra vi. ver. 15, &c.
Efther i.

Efther ii. ver. 1-16.
Ezra vii-x.

Efther ii. ver. 16-21.
Efther ii. ver. 21, &c.
Efther iii. iv. v, &c.
Nehemiah i-iii, &c.
Nehemiah xiii. ver. 6.

Malachi i-iv.

Nehemiah xiii. ver. 6, &c. The Canon of the Old Teftament completed, by adding two books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Efther, and Malachi; by SIMON the Juft.

THE

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NE may divide men into two general claffes.

Some are without any knowledge of a Deity, or fenfe of Religion: travellers tell us, that in the Weft-Indies, the eastern parts of Tartary, and fome places of Africa, fuch people are to be found. I know this is a fact which is difputed by others; and Fabricius, a divine of the Palatinate, pretends that he has folidly confuted it. If this fact should be thought doubtful, yet it is known at leaft, that fome perfons may be found here and there in the world, who look upon the existence of a Deity as upon a fable, and who ridicule all acts of religious worship whatsoever: but one may alfo fay, that if he compare thefe with the rest of the world, they make the leaft and worst part of mankind, though many of them affect to live morally well.

All the reft of the world make profeffion that they own a God; that is to fay, a moft perfect, eternal, and independent Being; that he governs all things by his providence; that there is a difference between good and evil; that man doth well or ill in thofe actions which depend on his liberty from whence they equally conclude, that man was defigned for the duties of the religion, that fociety without it would be pure robbery; and that, as it is hard to conceive that men fhould be wholly deftroyed by death, fo it is directly contrary to the fentiments of confcience to deny all rewards for virtue, or punishments for vice, after this life.

All the diverfities of religion amongst men are reducible to two kinds. The first is, of those who fuppofe that there is more than one God; and this is the belief of all Pagans in general.

The fecond is, of thofe that acknowledge one only God; fuch are the Jews, Chriftians, and Mahometans.

Now, as for the cure of different diseases several remedies are made ufe of, fo it is vifible, that, to deliver men of their various prejudices, we must take very different methods.

The

The ignorance of those barbarous people in the Indies, Tartary, and Africa, must be removed, by teaching them the first principles, and making them apply the little fenfe they have left them of good and evil, right and wrong, to the fundamental maxims of religion.

Atheifts must be convinced by reflexions upon those principles which they admit, by fhewing that the truths which they reject are the natural confequences of thofe principles which they dare not difpute.

To convince the Heathen, who fuppofe many gods, we must examine their principles, and confute them; which is the eafieft thing in the world; the wifeft men having formerly acknowledged, as they also own to this very day, that there is but one God.

And indeed it seems, that the greatest part of philofophers did own a plurality of gods, only in compliance with the opinions of the people, which it was dangerous to contradict.

And as for the Jews, forafmuch as they agree with the Chriflians and Mahometans about the unity of God, we are only to prove to them the truth of that which is the very effence of the Chriflian Religion, in oppofition to their prejudices: one may prove this against the Jews without any trouble, because they ara agreed in most of thofe principles which the Chriftian Religion fuppofes. So likewife it is eafily established against the Mahometans, who grant the truth of Chriftian Religion in general, but pretend that it ought to give place to Mahometanijm, as the Law ought to give place to the Gofpel, preached by Jefus Chrift.

My defign is not to profecute every one of thefe ways in particular. There are books enough in the world which folidly prove the neceffity of Religion against all forts of Atheifts, as well those who are fo through ignorance, as those who profefs themselves fuch from love to libertiniẩm, and to pass for men of a mighty reach.

There are alfo feveral famous authors who have made it evident, that reafon alone is fufficient to overthrow all Pagan religions whatsoever.

I am refolved to follow a more compendious and fure method, that is, to demonftrate the truth of the Chriftian Religion, confidered by itself.

In fhort, it is impoffible (confidering the oppofition there is between the Chriftian Religion and all the other religions in the world) but that, if the Chriftian Religion fhould be the true, all others must be false in thofe articles wherein they effentially differ from it.

And on the other hand, one cannot explain thofe arguments which clearly evince the truth of Chriftianity, without convicting all other religions of falfchood, because they are deftitute of those proofs which are peculiar to the Chriftian Religion.

I know wery well that there are feveral ways which lead to the end which I propofe. Men that think much, wish that a perfect conformity of the Chriftian Religion with the confcience of man might be demonftrated, from reflexions on the heart of man, and the dictates of it, which to them would be a convincing and demonftrative proof.

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Others apply themselves to a fpeculative examination of the doctrines and proofs of the Chriftian Religion, to fhew their conformity with the notions of reason. I will not deny but that both thefe employ themfelves ufually in this fort of study, and that truth finds a confiderable fupport from their meditations.

But

But how useful foever they may be, I have rather chofen to follow another course, as thinking it of more advantage, folidly to establish the facts which the Chriftian Religion propofeth; which appears to me to be more proper to perfuade all forts of readers, and better levelled to the ordinary capacity of those who newly enter upon the examination of this truth.

And as the neceffity of revelation is generally owned by heathens, and by all other nations of the world, I thought it a thing altogether unneceffary to enter upon the examination of feveral abftracted questions, fuch as thefe: whether there be any natural knowledge of God, whether men are naturally inclined to be religious, and the like. When I fhall have firmly proved, that God revealed himself, that he prescribed a fervice to the first men, who left the rules of it to all their pofterity, from whence all the religion that ever was, or is yet in the heathen world, was derived, I fhall have prevented many very unprofitable difputes, and which can only perplex the mind by their obscurity.

I have therefore confined myself to certain confiderations, which do fo establish the truth of the books of the Old and New Teftament, as by their union they firmly prove the truth of the Chriftian Religion.

I hope that it will not be thought needful for me to demonftrate, that the Mahometan religion ought not to abolish the Chriftian, as the Chriftians pretend that the Christian Religion abrogated the ceremonial part of the Jewish worship.

As foon as an understanding Reader fhall make fome reflexions upon the nature of the arguments which demonftrate the truth of the Chriftian Religion, he may eafily perceive that God never framed the model of that religion which the Mahometans would obtrude upon us.

REFLEXIONS

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Concerning the FUNDAMENTALS of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION.

WE

E are to confider three things in the Chriftian Religion; the Matters of Fact it propounds to us for true, the Promises it affords us, and the Worship it commands.

The Matters of Fact it propounds to us as true, are-that God created the world; that he formed the first man, from whom the reft of mankind have been propagated; that a while after this man was created, he violated the law God had given him; and that whereas he deserved to have perished for this his difobedience, God was pleased, inftead thereof, to comfort him with the hopes of a Saviour which was to be born of the feed of his wife; that God hath actually fent this Saviour into the world, which comprehends the whole economy of Chrift, viz. his birth, life, preaching, miracles, death, refurrection, and afcenfion into heaven, &c.

The

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