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'the they deliver themselves with the most be
the miliar and unembarrassed simplicity. They the do not appear to anticipate the surprise of nge their readers, or to be at all aware that the cha- marvellous nature of their story is to be air diffi- l obstacle to its creditor reception in themes r of bourhood. At the first performance of de otice Saviour's miracles, there was a strong and
ers. I a widely spread sensation over the w Doe iters country. His fame went abroad, and d f its people were amazed. This is quite hauluite ral; and the circumstance of no surprise
all being either felt or anticipated by the erameet gelists, in the writing or their history, cum rom best be accounted for by the truth of the ad it history itself, that the experience of years pose had blunted the edge of novelty, and for ob- dered miracles familiar, not only to them.
of but to all the people to whom they address as if Jed themselves. what! What appears to us a most striking nish- ternal evidence for the truth of the Gospel unpa- is that perfect unity of mind and of purpose vera- which is ascribed to our Saviour. Had De 7 at- been an impostor, he could not have for f his seen all the fuctuations of his history, and
yet no expression of surprise is recorded to Tists, have escaped from him. No event appear 2 ex- to have caught him unprepared. West they no shifting of doctrine or sentiment, wdi ? they view to accommodate to new or unespecte nder , circumstances. His parables and warning us to to his disciples give sufficient intimalik been that he laid his account with all 18 r, he events which appeared to his unenliebtence ston- / friends to be so untoward and so unprolS
hising. In every explanation of his ocjeta ment we see the perfect consistency of a DE
hen before whose prophetic eye all futurile la com- open; and when the events of this is ch it, came round, he met them, not as chame sur- that were unforeseen, but ascertainties we
the he had provided for. This consistencje athy his views is supported through all the Fly hose ations of his history, and it stands food! punt contrasted in the record of the evangers , of with the misconceptions, the surpriza s in disappointments of his followers. The gram ory, ual progress of their minds from the spet sit. did anticipations of earthly grandeur, W ther full acquiescence in the doctrine of a iny, fied Saviour, throws a stronger light on hief perfect unity of purpose and of concertu
the which animated his and which can on inct be accounted for by the inspiration 123
as filled and enlightened it. It may hare bet the possible enough to describe a well-sustalizu ica- example of this contrast from an actua ere tory before us. It is difficult, however," In conceive, how it could be sustained 80 W the and in a manner so apparently arties
arently artless by and means of invention, and particularly nty the inventors made their own erron
in-their own ignorance form part of the isk, cation.
III. THERE was nothing in the situation / parted from, and no object of veneration of the New Testament writers, which leads abandoned. It did not involve in it the deus to perceive that they had any possible in-nial or relinquishment of our own gods, but ducement for publishing a falsehood. only the addition of so many more gods to
We have not to allege the mere testimo-l our catalogue. . ny of the Christian writers, for the danger In this respect, however, the Jews stood to which the profession of Christianity ex- distinguished from every other people withposed all its adherents at that period." Wel'in the limits of the Roman empire. Their have the testimony of Tacitus to this effect. religious belief carried in it something more We have innumerable allusions, or express than attachment to their own system. It intimations, of the same circumstance in the carried in it the contempt and detestation Roman historians. The treatment and per- of every other. Yet, in spite of this circumsecution of the Christians make a principle stance, their religion was protected by the ngure in the affairs of the empire; and there mild and equitable toleration of the Roman is no point better established in ancient his-government. The truth is, that there was Oly, than that the bare circumstance of I nothing in the habits or character of the eing a Christian, brought many to the Jews, which was calculated to give much punishment of death, and exposed all to disturbance to the establishinents of other
langer of a suffering the most appalling countries. Though they admitted converts w repulsive to the feelings of our nature. I from other nations, yet their spirit of prose
not difficult to perceive, why the lytism was far from being of that active
government, in its treatment of or adventurous kind, which could alarm the stans, departed from its usual princi- Roman government for the safety of any
toleration. We know it to have existing institutions. Their high and ex
r uniform practice, to allow everyclusive veneration for their own system Indulgence to the religious belief of those gave an penter of those gave an unsocial disdain to the Jewish
unsocial disa which they estab-character, which was not at all inviting to • The truth is, that such foreigners : but still, as it led to nothing demanded of them no ex- mischievous in point of effect, it seems to oderation or principle. It was have been overlooked by the Roman governiant with the Spirit of Pagan- ment as a piece of impotent vanity.
country worshipped differ- But the case was widely different with
as a general principle of the Christian system. It did not confine each country had its gods. litself to the denial or rejection of every habitants of that country other system. It was for imposing its own har homage and veneration. lexclusive authority over the consciences here was no interference be- of all, and for detaching as many as it a religions which prevail-could from their allegiance to the religion
fell in with the policy of their own country. It carried on its man government to allow the full- forehead all the
llow the full-forehead all the offensive characters of a ther religions, and it de- monopoly, and not merely excited resent. os principle. It was ment by the supposed arrogance of its pre
ciple with them to tensions, but from the rapidity and extent t.countries; and the of its innovations, spread an alarm over the different from their whole Roman empire for the security of al
rely its establishments. Accordingly, at the com N o justice, but to mencement of its progress, so long as it was ne sentiment of hor- confined to Judea and the immediate neign
asphemy or sacri- bourhood, it seems to have been in perfect
meer Paganism, safety from the persecution of the Roman did not involve in government. It was at first looked upon as a
er. In mere modification of Judaism, and that the
country, first Christians differed from the rest of their on our own; nor did it I countrymen only in certain.
nat others their own superstition. For a few years after contempt or discredit the crucifixion of our Saviour, il We had been edu- have excited no alarm on the part
depart from ence for the man emperors, who did not departon er, no principle was de-I their usual maxims of toleratio
lished themselves. The truth is, that su
est toleration to other religions,
ymen only in certain questions of
Our Saviour, it seems to a no alarm on the part of the Ro
naxims of toleration, til they
began to understand the magnitude of its | luntary martyrdom in the cause of their
Having premised these observations, we
would resign fortune, and character, and The disposition of the Jews to the religion life, in the assertion of what he knew to be of Jesus was no less hostile; and it mani-a falsehood. The first Christians must have fested itself at a still earlier stage of the believed their story to be true; and it only business. The causes of this hostility are remains to prove, that if they believed it to obvious to all who are in the slightest de- be true, it must be true indeed. gree conversant with the history of those A voluntary martyrdom must be looked times. It is true, that the Jews did not at upon as the highest possible evidence which all times possess the power of life and death; it is in the power of man to give of his sinnor was it competent for them to bring the cerity. The martyrdom of Socrates has Christians to execution by the exercise of never been questioned, as an undeniable legal authority. Still, however, their powers proof of the sincere devotion of his mind of mischief were considerable. Their wishes to the principles of that philosophy for had always a certain controul over the mea- which he suffered. The death of Archsures of the Roman governor; and we know, bishop Cranmer will be allowed by all to that it was this controul which was the be a decisive evidence of his sincere remeans of extorting from Pilate the unrigh-jection of what he conceived to be the erteous sentence by which the very first rors of Popery, and his thorough conviction teacher of our religion was brought to a in the truth of the opposite system. When cruel and ignominious death. We also the council of Geneva burnt Servetus, no know, that under Herod Agrippa the power one will question the sincerity of the latter's of life and death was vested in a Jewish belief, however much he may question the sovereign, and that this power was actu- truth of it. Now, in all these cases, the ally exerted against the most distinguished proof goes no farther than to establish the Christians of that time. Add to this, that sincerity of the martyr's belief. It goes but the Jews had, at all times, the power of in- a little way, indeed, in establishing the justflicting the lesser punishments. They couldness of it. This is a different question. A whip, they could imprison. Besides all this, man may be mistaken, though he be sinthe Christians had to brave the frenzy of an cere. His errors, if they are not seen to be enraged multitude; and some of them actu- such, will exercise all the influence and aually suffered martyrdom in the violence of thority of truth over him. Martyrs have the popular commotions.
bled on the opposite sides of the question. Nothing is more evident than the utter It is impossible, then, to rest on this cirdisgrace which was annexed by the world cumstance as an argument for the truth of at large to the profession of Christianity at either system; but the argument is always that period. Tacitus calls it "superstitio deemed incontrovertible, in as far as it goes exitiabilis," and accuses the Christians of to establish the sincerity of each of the parenmity to mankind. By Epictetus and ties, and that both died in the firm convicothers, their heroism is termed obstinacy, tion of the doctrines which they professed. and it was generally treated by the Roman Now, the martyrdom of the first Chrisgovernors as the infatuation of a miserable tians stands distinguished from all other exand despised people. There was none of amples by this circumstance, that it not that glory annexed to it which blazes merely proves the sincerity of the martyr's around the martyrdom of a patriot or a belief, but it also proves that what he bephilosopher. That constancy, which, in lieved was true. In other cases of martyranother case, would have made them, illus-dom, the sufferer, when he lays down his trious, was held to be a contemptible folly, life, gives his testimony to the truth of an which only exposed them to the derision opinion. In the case of the Christians, when and insolence of the multitude. A name they laid down their lives, they gave their and a reputation in the world might sustain testimony to the truth of a fact of which the dying moments of Socrates or Regulus; they affirmed themselves to be the eye and but what earthly principles can account for the ear witnesses. The sincerity of both the intrepidity of those poor and miserable testimonies is unquestionable; but it is only outcasts, who consigned themselves to a vo- | in the latter case that the truth of the testi
PM dream, or a trance, or a midnight fanc
its | luntary martyrdom in the cause of their cess religion?
Having premised these observations, we - its offer the following alternative to the mind mos- of every candid inquirer. The first Christhe tians either delivered a sincere testimony, irst or they imposed a story upon the wärld
be / which they knew to be a fabrication. the The persecutions to which the first Chris ents tians voluntarily exposed themselves, cut
for pel us to adopt the first part of the alteraney tive. It is not to be conceived, that a ma
would resign fortune, and character, and ion life, in the assertion of what he knew to be ani-a falsehood. The first Christians must have the believed their story to be true; and it only are remains to prove, that if they believed it to de- be true, it must be true indeed. ose A voluntary martyrdom must be looked ot at upon as the highest possible evidence which ath; it is in the power of man to give of his su
the cerity. The martyrdom of Socrates has e of never been questioned, as an undeniable vers proof of the sincere devotion of his mind shes to the principles of that philosophy is nea- / which he suffered. The death of Archnow, I bishop Cranmer will be allowed by all o
the be a decisive evidence of his sincere te igh-) jection of what he conceived to be the er first rors of Popery, and his thorough convictus to a in the truth of the opposite system. When also the council of Geneva burnt Servetus, no wer one will question the sincerity of the latters vish / belief, however much he may question be
ctu- truth of it. Now, in all these cases, the shed proof goes no farther than to establish the that sincerity of the martyr's belief. It goes do E in-Ja little way, indeed, in establishing the jus:
uldness of it. This is a different questions this, man may be mistaken, though he be suof an cere. His errors, if they are not seen tok actu- such, will exercise all the influence and ale of thority of truth over him. Martyrs bek
| bled on the opposite sides of the questio Litter | It is impossible, then, to rest on ibis , corld cumstance as an argument for the trubu y at either system ; but the argument is a majo titio deemed incontrovertible, in as far as I do s of to establish the sincerity of each of the par and ties, and that both died in the firm conti acy, tion of the doctrines which they professel man Now, the martyrdom of the first chos able tians stands distinguished from all other el e of amples by this circumstance, that I mazes merely proves the sincerity of the martyr or a belief, but it also proves that what he to y in lieved was true. In other cases of marts lus-dom, the sufferer, when he lays down Olly, / life, gives his testimony to the truth of a sion opinion. In the case of the Christians, wla ame they laid down their lives, they gare tain testimony to the truth of a fact of will lus; they affirmed themselves to be the eye and
for the ear witnesses. The sincerity of ou able testimonies is unquestionable; but it is cons
VO- I in the latter case that the truth of the less
mony follows as a necessary consequence founding a new faith; but what glory did of its sincerity. An opinion comes under the latter propose to themselves from being the cognizance of the understanding, ever the dupes of an imposition so ruinous to liable, as we all know, to error and delusion. every earthly interest, and held in such A fact comes under the cognizance of the low and disgraceful estimation by the world senses, which have ever been esteemed as at large? Abandon the teachers of Chrisinfallible, when they give their testimony to tianity to every imputation which infidelity, such plain, and obvious, and palpable appear on the rack for conjectures to give plausiances, as those which make up the evan-bility to its system, can desire, how shall gelical story. We are still at liberty to we explain the concurrence of its disciples ? question the philosophy of Socrates, or the There may be a glory in leading, but we orthodoxy of Cranmer and Servetus; but if see no glory in being led. If Christianity We were told by a Christian teacher in the were false, and Paul had the effrontery to solemnity of his dying hour, and with the appeal to his five hundred living witnesses, dreadful apparatus of martyrdom before whom he alleges to have seen Christ after him, that he saw Jesus after he had risen his resurrection, the submissive acquiesfrom the dead; that he conversed with him cence of his disciples remains a very inexmany days; that he put his hand into the plicable circumstance. The same Paul, in print of his sides; and, in the ardour of his his epistles to the Corinthians, tells them Joyful conviction, exclaimed, “My Lord, that some of them had the gift of healing, and my God!" we should feel that there and the power of working miracles; and
is no truth in the world, did this language that the signs of an apostle had been and this testimony deceive us.
wrought among them in wonders and hristianity be not true, then the first mighty deeds. A man aspiring to the glory sans must have been mistaken as to of an accredited teacher, would never have e subject of their testimony. This suppo- committed himself on a subject, where his WV is destroyed by the nature of the sub-| falsehood could have been so readily ex.
"Was not testimony to a doctrine posed. And in the veneration with which
a trance, or a midnight fancy, merely the testimony of their writer to the night deceive the imagination. It truth of the Christian miracles, but the tes
mony to a multitude, and'a succes- timony of a whole people, who had no me of palpable facts, which could never terest in being deceived.
ed the senses, and which pre- Had Christianity been false, the reputassibility of mistake, even though tion of its first teachers lay at the mercy of
testimony only of one indi- every individual among the numerous pronen, in addition to this, we selvtes which they had gained to their sys
the testimony, not of one Item. It may not be competent for an uniduals; that it is a story lettered peasant to detect the absurdity of a
of forms, but substan- doctrine; but he can at all times list his e same; that it is the concurring testimony against a fact, said to "
the pened in his presence, and under the obye-witnesses- we may, af- servation of his senses. Now it so happens, ruge in the idea of falsehood I that in a number of the epistles, there are
. No to be admitted, Tallusions to, or express intimations of, the
herent writers of the miracles that had been wrought in the difit could have all blundered ferent churches to which these epistles are uch method, and such addressed. How comes it, if it be all a fa
brication, that it was never exposed ? We their sufferino spite of the magnitude know, that some of the disciples were riven from the there are infidels, who, Idriven, by the terrors of persecuting vio
1. Part of the alternative. I lence. to resign their profession. HOW he second, and have af- should it happen, that none of them ever
establishing a new attempted to vindicate their apostacy, by 1st Christians to as- laying open the artifice and insincerity of
sserting, what they their Christian teachers? We may be sure od. But (though we that such a testimony would have been ng the last branch of the highly acceptable to the existing authorities forget, that we have the lof that period. The Jews would na
to the truth of made the most of it; and the vigilant and mat it is the conduct only I discerning officers of the Roman gove
1 be account- ment would not have failed to turn it to ac
i question. The count. The mystery would have been ea. cachers and the taught. posed and laid open, and the ci aspire to the glory of latter ages would have been saus
have deceived the senses, and
We know, that, in spite of the ma
have recurred to the second, a
e of the parties, which can be account-m
The former may aspire to
ages would have been satisfied as to
the wonderful and unaccountable steps byated, by martyrdom, the guilt which they which a religion could make such head in felt they had incurred by their dereliction the world, though it rested its whole autho- of the truth. This furnishes a strong exrity on facts, the falsehood of which was ample of the power of conviction, and accessible to all who were at the trouble to when we join with it, that it is conviction inquire about them. But no! We hear of in the integrity of those teachers who apno such testimony from the apostates of pealed to miracles which had been wrought that period. We read of some, who, ago-anong them, it appears to us a testimony nized at the reflection of their treachery, in favour of our religion which is altogether returned to their first profession, and expi-l irresistible.
IV. But this brings us to the last division) were either agents or eye-witnesses of the of the argument, viz. that the leading facts transactions recorded, who could not be in the history of the Gospel are corrobo- deceived, who had no interest, and no rated by the testimony of others.
glory to gain by supporting a falsehood, The evidence we have already brought and who, by their sufferings in the cause forward for the antiquity of the New Tes- of what they professed to be their belief, tament, and the veneration in which it was gave the highest evidence that human naheld from the earliest ages of the church, is ture can give of sincerity. an implied testimony of all the Christians In this circumstance, it may be perceivof that period to the truth of the Gospel his- ed how much the evidence for Christianity tory. By proving the authenticity of St. goes beyond all ordinary historical eviPaul's Epistles to the Corinthians, we not dence. A profane historian relates a semerely establish his testimony to the truth ries of events which happen in a particuof the Christian miracles,—we establish the lar age, and we count it well, if it be his additional testimony of the whole church own age, and if the history which he gives of Corinth, who would never have respect- us be the testimony of a contemporary aued these Epistles, if Paul had ventured thor. Another historian succeeds him at upon a falsehood so open to detection, as the distance of years, and, by repeating the the assertion, that miracles were wrought same story, gives the additional evidence among them, which not a single individual of his testimony to its truth. A third hisever witnessed. By proving the authen- torian perhaps goes over the same ground, ticity of the New Testament at large, we and lends another confirmation to the hissecure, not merely that argument, which is tory. And it is thus, by collecting all the founded on the testimony and concurrence lights which are thinly scattered over the of its different writers, but also the testi-tract of ages and of centuries, that we obmony of those immense multitudes, who, intain all the evidence which can be got, and distant countries, submitted to the New all the evidence that is generally wishTestament as the rule of their faith. The ed for... testimony of the teachers, whether we take Now, there is room for a thousand preinto consideration the subject of that testi-sumptions, which, if admitted, would overmony, or the circumstances under which it turn the whole of this evidence. For any was delivered, is of itself a stronger argu- thing we know, the first historians may ment for the truth of the Gospel history, have had some interest in disguising the than can be alleged for the truth of any truth, or substituting in its place a falseother history, which has been transmitted hood, and a fabrication. True, it has not down to us from ancient times. The con- been contradicted, but they form a very currence of the taught carries along with small number of men, who feel strongly or it a host of additional testimonies, which particularly interested in a question of hisgives an evidence to the evangelical story, tory. The literary and speculative men of that is altogether unexampled. On a point that age may have perhaps been engaged of ordinary history, the testimony of Ta- in other pursuits, or their testimonies may citus is held decisive, because it is not have perished in the wreck of centuries. contradicted. The history of the New Tes. The second historian may have been so far tarnent is not only not contradicted, but removed in point of time from the events of confirmed by the strongest possible ex- his narratives, that he can furnish us, not pressions which men can give of their ac- with an independent, but with a derived quiescence in its truth; by thousands whol testimony. He may have copied his ac
by ated, by martyrdom, the guilt which they i in felt they had incurred by their dereliction
ho- of the truth. This furnishes a strong erwas ample of the power of conviction, and e to when we join with it, that it is conviction r of in the integrity of those teachers who apof pealed to miracles which had been wrought go-anong them, it appears to us a testimas ery, in favour of our religion which is altogether *pi-l irresistible.
of Subsequent Witnesses.
evidence of past times.
sion were either agents or eye-witnesses of the
acts transactions recorded, who could not be obo-deceived, who had no interest, and we
| glory to gain by supporting a falsehood. ughts and who, by their sufferings in the cause T'es- of what they professed to be their beliem was gave the highest evidence that human :h, is ture can give of sincerity. ians In this circumstance, it may be perceirhis-ed how much the evidence for Christianity
St. (goes beyond all ordinary historical err notdence. A profane historian relates & ** Cuthries of events which happen in a partiet
the lar age; and we count it well, if it be bis arch own age, and if the history which he gives
ect- us be the testimony of a contemporary atured thor. Another historian succeeds him & -, as the distance of years, and, by repeating
ght same story, gives the additional evidence Jual of his testimony to its truth. A third but nen- torian perhaps goes over the same ground
we and lends another confirmation to the his h is tory. And it is thus, by collecting all tre ence lights which are thinly scattered over til esti-tract of ages and of centuries, that we of ), intain all the evidence which can be got, and
ew all the evidence that is generaly T'he ed for. Lake Now, there is room for a thousand pins esti- sumptions, which, if admitted, would overh it turn the whole of this evidence. For aj
gu-thing we know, the first historians mas ory, have had some interest in disguising any truth, or substituting in its place a fast Eted hood, and a fabrication. True, it has Dá con- been contradicted, but they form a ver with small number of men, who feel strongly or
ich particularly interested in a question of his bry, tory. The literary and speculative men a bint that age may have perhaps been engua Ta-l in other pursuits, or their testimonies may not have perished in the wreck of centuria
es. | The second historian may have been 80 10 but removed in point of time from the erents de ex-his narratives, that he can furnish us, no ac- with an independent, but with a derived -hol testimony. He may have copied his
count from the original historian, and the the Christian miracles? There is nothing falsehood have come down to us in the like this in common history,—the formashape of an authentic and well-attested his- tion of a society, which can only be extory. Presumptions may be multiplied with plained by the history of the Gospel, and out end; yet in spite of them, there is a where the conduct of every individual surnatural confidence in the veracity of man, nishes a distinct pledge and evidence of its which disposes us to as firm a belief in truth. And to have a full view of the argumany of the facts of ancient history, as in ment, we must reflect, that it is not one, but the occurrences of the present day. . . many societies, scattered over the different
The history of the Gospel, however, countries of the world ; that the principle stands distinguished from all other history upon which each society was formed, was by the uninterrupted nature of its testimony, the divine authority of Christ and his aposwhich carries down its evidence, without a tles, resting upon the recorded miracles of chasm, from its earliest promulgation to the the New Testament; that these miracles present day. We do not speak of the su-were wrought with a publicity, and at a perior weight and splendour of its evidences, nearness of time, which rendered them acat the first publication of that history, as be- cessible to the inquiries of all, for upwards ing supported, not merely by the testimony of half a century; that nothing but the
oue, but by the concurrence of several power of conviction could have induced the independent witnesses. We do not speak people of that age to embrace a religion so 01 its subsequent writers, who follow one disgraced and so persecuted; that every another in a far closer and more crowded | temptation was held out for its disciples train, than there is any other example of into abandon it; and that though some of de history or literature of the world. We them, overpowered by the terrors of pun
I the strong though unwritten testi- ishment, were driven to apostacy, yet not
is numerous proselytes, who, in one of them has left us a testimony which very lact of their proselytism, give 'the can impeach the miracles of Christianity, or wongest possible confirmation to the Gos- the integrity of its first teachers. da nl up every chasm in the recorded It may be observed, that in pursuing the
line of continuity from the days of the aposwritten testimonies for the truth tles, the written testimonies for the truth stian religion, Barnabas comes of the Christian miracles follow one another er to the first promulgators of lin closer succession, than we have any cal story. He was a contem-I other example of in ancient history. But de apostles, and writes a very what gives such peculiar and unprecedent
ter the publication of the pieces led evidence to the history of the Gospel is, uke up the New Testament. Clem- that in the concurrence of the multitudes
VDO was a fellow-labourer of I who embraced it, and in the existence of
closeness and a rapidity / that every small interval of time between no example; but what the written testimonies of authors is filled present, is the unwritten up by materials so strong and so firmly cemony of the people who mented, as to present us with an unbroken se two churches. There can be chain of evidence, carrying as much auestablished, than that these I thority along with it, as if it had been a al
planted in the days of Jurnal record, commencing from the days of what the Epistles which the apostles, and authenticated through its
addressed to them, were whole progress by the testimony of thoume utmost authority and veneration. sands. .
at the leading facts of Every convert to the Christian faith in were familiar to them:Ithose days, gives one additional testimony · power of many individu-I to the truth of the Gospel history. Is he a
to verify these facts, Gentile ? The sincerity of his testimony is Personal observation, or lapproved by the persecutions, the sunerersation with eye-witnessings, the danger, and often the certainty or u particular, it was in the martyrdom, which the profession 0.. .
every individual in the I tianity incurred. Is he a Jew? The sin either to verify the mi-cerity of his testimony is approved by all
illudes to, in his/ these evidences, and in addition to them by ch, or to detect and ex- this well known fact, that the faith and buon, had there been noitrine of Christianity were in the highe man allusion. What do Igree repugnant to the wishes and pres but the strongest possible of that people. It ought never oncerned
...o the truth of gotten, that in as far as Jews are concern
next in order to the first promulgat
held in the utmost a
There is no doubt, that the leading la
ity were in the highest dethe wishes and prejudices
ought never to be for