Lardner was born at Hawkhurst, Kent. After studying for the Presbyterian ministry in London, and also at Utrecht and Leiden, he was licensed as a preacher in 1709, but was not successful. In 1713 he entered the family of a lady of rank as tutor and domestic chaplain, where he remained until 1721. In 1724 he was appointed to deliver the Tuesday evening lecture in the Presbyterian chapel, Old Jewry, London, and in 1729 he became assistant minister to the Presbyterian congregation in Crutched Friars. He was given the degree of D.D. by Marischal College, Aberdeen, in 1745. He died at Hawkhurst on the 24th of July 1768.
An anonymous volume of Memoirs appeared in 1769; and a life by Andrew Kippis is prefixed to the edition of the Works of Lardner, published in 11 volumes in 1788, in 4 volumes in 1817, and 10 volumes in 1827. The full title of his principal work - a work which, though now out of date, entitles its author to be regarded as the founder of modern critical research in the field of early Christian literature - is The Credibility of the Gospel History; or the Principal Facts of the New Testament confirmed by Passages of Ancient Authors, who were contemporary with our Saviour or his Apostles, or lived near their time.
Other works by Lardner are A Large Collection of Ancient Jewish and Heathen Testimonies to the Truth of the Christian Revelation, with Notes and Observations (4 vols., 4to, 1764-1767); The History of the Heretics of the two first Centuries after Christ, published posthumously in 1780 and a considerable number of occasional sermons.
Works by Nathaniel Lardner
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