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PROPHETS after the Captivity, under the second TEMPLE.
Daniel x. xi. xii.
In the same year and month Haggai i. ver. 12, &c. Ezra v.
In the sameycar,eleventhmonth Zechariah i. ver. 7, &c. ii—vi.
Ezra v. ver. 3, &c.
Ezra vi. ver. I-15.
Ezra vi. ver. 15, &C. 462 Ahasuerus 3.
Esther i. 461 Ahasuerus 4.
Esther ii. ver. 1-16.
Esther ii. ver. 16-21.
Efther ii. ver. 21, &C. 453 Ahasuerus 12.
Either iii. iv. v, &c. 445 Ahasuerus 20.
Nehemiah i-iii, 3. 433 Ahasuerus 32,
Nehemiah xiii, ver. 6. 429 Ahasuerus 36.
Malachi iwiv. 428 Ahasuerus 37.
Nehemiah xiii. ver. 6, &c. 296 Ptolemy Soter 9,
The Canon of the Old Testament
completed, by adding two books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Ether, and Malachi; by SIMON the Just.
Τ Η Ε
NE may divide men into two general classes. Some are without
any knowledge of a Deity, or sense of Religion : travellers tell us, that in the West-Indies, the eastern parts of Tartary, and some places of Africa, such people are to be found. I know this is a fact which is disputed by others; and Fabricius, a divine of the Palatinate, pretends that he has folidly confuted it. If this fa&t should be thought doubtful, yet it is known at least, that some persons 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 also say, that if he compare thele with the rest of the world, they make the least and worst part of mankind, though many of them affect to live morally well.
All the rest of the world make profession that they own a God; that is to say, a most 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 those actions which depend on his liberty : from whence they equally conclude, that man was designed for the duties of the religion, that society without it would be pure robbery; and that, as it is hard to conceive that men should be wholly destroyed by death, so it is directly contrary to the sentiments of conscience to deny all rewards for virtue, or punishments for vice, after this life.
All the diversities of religion amongst men are reducible to two kinds.
The first is, of those who suppose that there is more than one God; and this is the belief of all Pagans in general.
The second is, of those that acknowledge one only God; such are the Jews, Christians, and Mahometans.
Now, as for the cure of different diseases several remedies are made use of, so it is visible, that, to deliver inen of their various prejudices, we must take very different methods.
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 sense they have left them of good and evil, right and wrong, to the fundamental maxims of religion.
Atheists must be convinced by reflexions upon those principles which they admit, by shewing that the truths which they reject are the natural consequences of those principles which they dare not dispute.
To convince the Heathen, who fuppofe many gods, we must examine their principles, and confute them; which is the easiest thing in the world; the wiseft men having formerly acknowledged, as they also owa to this very day, that there is but one God.
And indeed it seems, that the greatest part of philosophers 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, forasmuch as they agree with the Christians and Mabometans about the unity of God, we are only to prove to them the truth of that which is the very essence of the Chriflian Religion, in opposition to their prejudices : one may prove this against the Jews without any trouble, because they ara agreed in most of those principles which the Christian Religion supposes. So likewise it is easily established against the Mabometans, who grant the truth of Christian Religion in general, but pretend that it ought to give place to Mahometanijm, as the Law ought to give place to the Gospel, preached by Jesus Chrift.
My design is not to prosecute every one of these ways in particular. There are books enough in the world which solidly prove the neceffity of Religion against all sorts of Atheists, as well those who are so through ignorance, as those who profess themselves such from love to libertinism, and to pass for men of a mighty reach.
There are also several famous authors who have made it evident, that reafon alone is sufficient to overthrow all Pagan religions whatsoever.
I am resolved to follow a more compendious and sure method, that is, to demonstrate the truth of the Christian Religion, considered by itself.
In short, it is impoffible (confidering the opposition there is between the Christian Religion and all the other religions in the world) but that, if the Christian Religion should be the true, all others must be false in those articles wherein they essentially differ from it.
And on the other hand, one cannot explain those arguments which clearly evince the truth of Christianity, without convicting all other religions of falsehood, because they are destitute of those proofs which are peculiar to the Christian Religion.
I know wery well that there are several ways which lead to the end which I propose. Men that think much, with that a perfect conformity of the Christian Religion with the conscience of man might be demonstrated, from reflexions on the heart of man, and the dictates of it, which to them would be a convincing and demonstrative proof.
Others apply themselves to a speculative examination of the doctrines and proofs of the Christian Religion, to thew their conformity with the notions of reason. I will not deny but that both these employ themselves usually in this fort of study, and that truth finds a considerable support from their meditations.
But how useful foever they may be, I have rather chosen to follow another course, as thinking it of more advantage, solidly to establish the facts which the Christian Religion proposeth ; which appears to me to be more proper to persuade all sorts of readers, and better levelled to the ordinary capacity of those who newly enter upon the examination of this truth.
And as the necessity of revelation is generally owned by heathens, and by all other nations of the world, I thought it a thing altogether unnecessary to enter upon the examination of several abstracted questions, such as these : whether there be any natural knowledge of God, whether men are naturally inclined to be religious, and the like. When I shall 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 shall have prevented many very unprofitable disputes, and which can only perplex the mind by their obscurity.
I have therefore confined myself to certain considerations, which do so establish the truth of the books of the Old and New Testament, as by their union they firmly prove the truth of the Christian Religion.
I hope that it will not be thought needful for me to demonftrate, that the Mahometan religion ought not to abolish the Christian, as the Chriftians pretend that the Christian Religion abrogated the ceremonial part of the Jewiss worship.
As soon as an understanding Reader shall make some reflexions upon the nature of the arguments which demonstrate the truth of the Christian Religion, he may easily perceive that God never framed the model of that religion which the Mahometans would obtrude upon us,
R E F L E X I O N S
E are to consider three things in the Christian 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 rest 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 disobedience, God was pleased, instead thereof, to comfort him with the hopes of a Saviour which was to be born of the seed of his wife; that God hath actually sent this Saviour into the world, which comprehends the whole economy of Christ, viz, his birth, life, preaching, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, &c.