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Questions for the Letters on the Gospels
bear in mind, that the Gospel was first preached to the Jews, in Judea ; and that the Evangelists and Apostles, with the exception perhaps of St. Luke, were all of the Hebrew nation. Much of the peculiar beauty of the inspired writings cannot be perceived, unless the history, condition, and character of the Jews have become objects of your attention, not only during the period of the Mosaic dispensation, as recorded in the Old Testament, but at the time of our Lord's appearance. It is also important to understand the frequent allusions in the New Testament to their opinions, habits, manners, and ceremonies. A view of the darkness and depravity which prevailed in the world, both among Jews and Gentiles, at the period when our Saviour appeared upon earth, will enable you to appreciate more justly the Divine excellence of the christian dispensation. I shall be highly gratified, if the historical sketches, I propose to give you, in a series of Letters, to illustrate the Evangelists, induce you to apply with renewed ardour to the study of the New Testament.
State of the World at the Time of our Saviour's
MY DEAR NIECES,
I will now fulfil the promise in my preceding letter, and give you a brief account of the ignorance and depravity which overspread the earth, until the Sun of righteousness arose, and opened new and celestial prospects to the benighted world.
When the Son of God was born in Judea, the greatest part of the habitable earth was subjected to the Romans; and their vast dominions were styled, all the world, as in Luke ii. 1. The sceptre of universal power was then swayed by Augustus Cæsar, who, after he had conquered his enemies, gave peace to the nations. This event took place in the year in which our Saviour was born. The Roman empire was then in the zenith of its prosperity and splendor; and the benign in.