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confidently say, that, to the best of my knowledge and remembrance, as there is no copy of the greek, so neither is there any translation of the New Testament which I have seen, whether ancient or modern, how defective and faulty soever, from which all the principal facts and doctrines of christianity might not be learnt, so far as the knowledge of them is necessary to salvation, or even to some considerable degrees of edification in piety. Nor do I except from this remark, even that most erroneous and corrupt version, published by the English jesuits at Rheims, which is undoubtedly one of the worst that ever appeared in our language.

But I desire not, that with respect to our own translation of the New Testament, a matter of so great moment as the fidelity of it should rest on my testimony alone, or entirely on that of any of my brethren, for whose integrity and learning you may have the greatest and justest esteem. I rejoice to say, that this is a head, on which we cannot possibly deceive you, if we were ever so desirous to do it. And indeed in this respect, that is our advantage, which in others is our great calamity, I mean the diversity of our religious opinions. It is certain, that wheresoever there is a body of dissenters from the public establishment, who do yet agree with their brethren of that establishment in the use of the same translation, though they are capable of examining it, and judging of it; there is as great evidence as could reasonably be desired, that such a translation is in the main right; for if it were in any considerable argument corrupted, most of the other debates would quickly lose themselves in this: And though such dissenters had all that candour, tenderness, and respect for their fellow-christians, which I hope we shall always endeavour to maintain, yet they would, no doubt, think themselves obliged in conscience to bear a warm and loud testimony against so crying an abomination, as they would another day appear free from the guilt of a confederacy, to poison the public fountains, and destroy the souls of men. we make no complaint on this subject; we all unite in bearing our testimony to the oracles of God, as delivered in our own language. Oh that we were equally united in regulating our doctrine, and our discipline, our worship, and our practice by them!

But

You see then, on the whole, how much reason there is to believe, "that the books of the New Testament, as they are now in your hands, were written by those whose names they bear, even the first preachers and publishers of christianity."

better face dispute, whether the writings ascribed to Homer, Demosthenes, Virgil, or Cæsar, be in the main such as they left them, than he could question it concerning those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James, and Paul, whether they are in the main so.

I say, in the main, because we readily allow, that the hand of a printer, or of a transcriber, might chance in some places to insert one letter or word for another, and the various readings of this, as well as of all other ancient books, prove, that this has sometimes been the case. Nevertheless those various readings are generally of so little importance, that he who can urge them as an objection against the assertion we are now maintaining, must have little judgment, or little integrity; and indeed, after those excellent things which have been said on the subject by many defenders of christianity, if he have read their writings, he must have little modesty too.

Since then it appears, that the books of the New Testament, as they now stand in the original, are, without any material alteration, such as they were, when they came from the hands of the persons whose names they bear, nothing remains to complete this part of the argument, but to shew,

5. "That the translation of them, now in your hands, may be depended upon, as in all things most material, agreeable to the original."

This is a fact, of which the generality of you are not capable of judging immediately, yet it is a matter of great importance: It is therefore a very great pleasure to me to think, what ample evidence you may find another way, to make your minds as easy on this head, as you could reasonably wish them. I mean, by the concurrent testimony of others, in circumstances in which you cannot imagine they would unite to deceive you.

There are, to be sure, very few of us, whose office it is publicly to preach the gospel, who have not examined this matter with care, and who are not capable of judging in so easy a case. I believe you have seen few in the place where I now stand, that could not have told you, as I now solemnly do, that, on a diligent comparison of our translation with the original, we find that of the New Testament, and I might also add, that of the Old, in the main faithful and judicious. You know indeed, that we do not scruple on some occasions to animadvert upon it; but you also know, that these remarks affect not the fundamentals of religion, and seldom reach any farther than the beauty of a figure, or at most the connection of an argument. Nay, I can

confidently say, that, to the best of my knowledge and remembrance, as there is no copy of the greek, so neither is there any translation of the New Testament which I have seen, whether ancient or modern, how defective and faulty soever, from which all the principal facts and doctrines of christianity might not be learnt, so far as the knowledge of them is necessary to salvation, or even to some considerable degrees of edification in piety. Nor do I except from this remark, even that most erroneous and corrupt version, published by the English jesuits at Rheims, which is undoubtedly one of the worst that ever appeared in our language.

But I desire not, that with respect to our own translation of the New Testament, a matter of so great moment as the fidelity of it should rest on my testimony alone, or entirely on that of any of my brethren, for whose integrity and learning you may have the greatest and justest esteem. I rejoice to say, that this is a head, on which we cannot possibly deceive you, if we were ever so desirous to do it. And indeed in this respect, that is our advantage, which in others is our great calamity, I mean the diversity of our religious opinions. It is certain, that wheresoever there is a body of dissenters from the public establishment, who do yet agree with their brethren of that establishment in the use of the same translation, though they are capable of examining it, and judging of it; there is as great evidence as could reasonably be desired, that such a translation is in the main right; for if it were in any considerable argument cor rupted, most of the other debates would quickly lose themselves in this And though such dissenters had all that candour, tenderness, and respect for their fellow-christians, which I hope we shall always endeavour to maintain, yet they would, no doubt, think themselves obliged in conscience to bear a warm and loud testimony against so crying an abomination, as they would another day appear free from the guilt of a confederacy, to poison the public fountains, and destroy the souls of men. we make no complaint on this subject; we all unite in bearing our testimony to the oracles of God, as delivered in our own language. Oh that we were equally united in regulating our doctrine, and our discipline, our worship, and our practice by

them!

But

You see then, on the whole, how much reason there is to believe, "that the books of the New Testament, as they are now in your hands, were written by those whose names they bear, even the first preachers and publishers of christianity."

of easy and natural consequences, that the gospel is most certainly true: But that is a topic of argument, abundantly sufficient to furnish out matter for another discourse. May God command his blessing on what has been already laid before us, that through the operation of his Spirit, it may be useful for establishing our regard to the scripture, and for confirming our faith in that Almighty Redeemer, who is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last*; Whom to know is life everlasting†, and in whom to believe is the great security of our eternal salvation! Amen.

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fore, that the facts they assert were true; and if they were true, then it was reasonable for their contemporaries, and is reasonable for us, to receive the gospel as a divine revelation;-especially, if we consider what has happened in the world for the confirmation of it, since it was first propagated by them. This is the conclusion, to which I was to lead you; and I beg, you would seriously consider each of the steps, by which we arrive at it.

1. It is exceeding evident, "that the writers of the New Testament certainly knew, whether the facts they asserted were true, or false."

On

And this they must have known for this plain reason; because they tell us, they did not trust merely to the report, even of persons whom they thought most credible; but were present themselves, when several of the most important facts happened, and so received them on the testimony of their own senses. this St. John, in his epistle, lays a very great and reasonable stress: That which we have seen with our eyes, and that not only by a sudden glance, but which we have attentively looked upon, and which even our hands have handled of the word of life, i. e. of Christ and his gospel,-declare we unto you*.

Let the common sense of mankind judge here. Did not Matthew and John certainly know, whether they had personally and familiarly conversed with Jesus of Nazareth, or not? Whether he had chosen them for his constant attendants and apostles? Whether they had seen him heal the sick, dispossess devils, and raise the dead? And whether they themselves had received from him such miraculous endowments, as they say he bestowed upon them? Did not they know, whether he fell into the hands of his enemies, and was publicly put to death, or not? Did not John know, whether he saw him expiring on the cross, or not? And whether he received from him the dying charge which he records+? Did he not know, whether he saw him wounded in the side with a spear, or not? And whether he did, or did not see, that effusion of blood and water, which was an infallible argument of his being really dead? Concerning which, it being so material a circumstance, he adds, He that saw it bears record, and he knoweth that he saith true; i. e. that it was a case, in which he could not possibly be deceived. And with regard to Christ's resurrection, did he not certainly know, whether he saw our Lord again and again? And whether he handled his body, that

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