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mind that is at all scrupulous about the rec- author, which he had rather been without,
cognize, that, in minuteness of information,
would far outweigh the profane in ti
rec- author, which he had rather been without, the Gospel history. Though its evidence is tion, too, and the time of its appearance, are tan- because he finds it difficult to compute the precisely the same in kind, and vastly supe- far better established, and by precisely that
It precise amount of its influence; and the rior in degree to the evidence for the history kind of argument which is held decisive in en- consideration of this restrains him from that of the profane writer, its evidence has been every other question of erudition. used clear and decided conclusion, which he questioned, and the very circumstance of its all this, we have the testimony of at least
Besides nde- would infallibly have landed in, had it been being questioned has annexed a suspicion to five of the Christian fathers, all of whom had t is purely a secular investigation.
it. At all points of the question, there has the same, or a greater, advantage in point of dive! There is something in the very sacredness been a struggle and a controversy. Every time than Tacitus, and who had a much and of the subject, which intimidates the under ignorant objection, and every rash and petu- nearer and readier access to original sources are, standing, and restrains it from making the lant observation, has been taken up and of information. Now, how comes it that the
re-same firm and confident application of its commented upon by the defenders of Chris- testimony of Tacitus, a distant and later hiscult faculties, which it would have felt itself tianity. There has at last been so much said torian, should yield such delight and satisfacety, perfectly warranted to do, had it been a about it, that a general feeling of insecurity is tion to the inquirer, while all the antecedent
eir question of ordinary history. Had the apos apt to accompany the whole investigation. testimony (which, by every principle of apun- tles been the disciples of some eminent phi There has been so much fighting, that Chris-proved criticism, is much stronger than the I of losopher, and the fathers of the church, their
wanity now is looked upon as debatable other) should produce an impression that is an- immediate successors in the office of presid
groued. Other books, where the evidence comparatively languid and ineffectual? Is iting over the discipline and instruction of the is much inferior, but which have had the ad- Jis owing, in a great measure, to the principle
It ten-numerous schools which they had establish
vantage of never being questioned, are re- to which we have already alluded. due ed, this would have given a secular complexceived as of established authority.
It is is a sacredness annexed to the subject, so ar-lion to the argument, which we think would
striking to observe the perfect confidence llong as it is under the pen of fathers and uth, have been more satisfying to the mind, and
which an infidel will quote a passage evangelists, and this very sacredness takes nces have impressed upon it a closer and more
moln an ancient historian. He perhaps does away from the freedom and confidence of and familiar conviction of the history in question.
10 overrate the credit due to him. But the argument. The moment that it is taken uiry, / We should have immediately brought it in presen
with a tabellated and compara- up by a profane author, the spell which held nent, to comparison with the history of other phi
ol all the evidences that can be the understanding in some degree of restraint been losophers, and could not have failed to re
or the gospel of Matthew, and any is dissipated. We now tread on the more cognize, that, in minuteness of information,
orian, which he chooses to fix familiar ground of ordinary history; and the 28 to in weight and quantity of evidence, in the
qua tet each distinct evidence be dis- evidence for the truth of the Gospel appears all concurrence of numerous and independent
no other principle than the more assimilated to that evidence, which cum- testimonies, and in the total absence of every
and approved principles of criti- brings home to our conviction the particues in circumstance that should dispose us to annex
assure him that the sacred history lars of the Greek and Roman story. o be suspicion to the account which lay before
ber and value o
Weigh the profane in the num-/ rgu- us, it far surpassed any thing that had come
To say that Tacitus was upon this subject
Inil value of its testimonies. Effect down to us from antiquity. It so happens,
la disinterested historian, is not enough to
Mon of the above remarks, we explain the preference which you give to imo- however, that, instead of being the history of
One experience of those who have his testimony. There is no subject in which - re-la philosopher, it is the history of a prophet first. The veneration we annex to the sacredness
examination. We ask them the triumph of the Christian argument is
satisfaction which they felt, more conspicuous, than the moral qualifica- op- of such a character, mingles with our belief
aine to those parts of the ex- tions which give credit to the testimony of lege in the truth of his history. From a question -mo- of simple truth, it becomes a question in
the argument assumes a its witnesses. We have every possible evihich, which the heart is interested; and the sub
FAIDI. Let us take the testi-Idence, that there could be neither mistake
$ for an example. He as- nor falsehood in their testimony: a much hor;) ject from that moment assumes a certain
on of our Saviour in the greater quantity of evidence, indeed, than the boliness and mystery, which reil thestrength
us, and under the procurator-can actually be produced to establish the ad- of the argument, and takes off from that laated miliar and intimate conviction which we
temporary check, which credibility of any other historian. Now all wer annex to the far less authenticated histories
Eugion; its revival, and the we ask is, that where an exception to the matter of profane authors.
ue, not only over Judea, veracity of any historian is removed, you
alt sto It may be further observed, that every
r y of Rome. Now all this is I restore him to that degree of credit and me ony sed part of the Christian argument has been
hals of Tacitus. But it is fluence which he ought to have possessed, ion, made to undergo a most severe scrutiny.
ar more direct and cir- / had no such exception been made. In all/ The same degree of evidence which in
in the annals of another case has an exception to the credibility of an rid questions of ordinary history commands the
uled the History of the author been more triumphantly removed, to easy and universal acquiescence of every
by the Evangelist than in the case of the early Christian ris- inquirer, has, in the subject before us, been
e performances carry I writers: and vet, as a proof that there really Ein- taken most thoroughly to pieces, and pur
ou the appearance of exists some such delusion as we have been ny. / sued, both by friends and enemies, into all
-authenticated docu- | labopring to demonstrate, though our eyes gth its ramifications. The effect of this is unques
circumstances, are perfectly open to the integrity of the of tionable. The genuineness and authenticity
possesses a Christian witnesses, there is still a disposiHe of the profane historian, are admitted upon
bine testimony of I tion to give the preference to the secular his mce/much inferior evidence to what we can ad
companion of these torian. When Tacitus is placed by the side ter. duce for the different pieces which make up
was an eye witness to of the evangelist Luke, even after 1 his the New Testament. “And why? Because
1. Hecisive argument, which establishes the credit ui- the evidence has been hitherto thought sul
vitlan historian of the latter historian has convinced the una conficient, and the genuineness and authenticity
and in personal know-I derstanding, there remains a tendency This / have never been questioned. Not so wila
ces in his mind to annex a confidence to the account USS of his publica-l of the Roman writer, which is allogen
In illustration of the above rem
attended to this examination. We as
amination, where the argument a
alt sted in the Annals of Tacitus
Which the testimony of Luke possesses a ch
Ol the events recorded by him. He cisive
had the advantage ove
in time and in place, and in perso
ledge of many
U many of the circumstances in his mir
u story. The genuineness of his
disproportioned to the relative merits of his historical parts of the New Testament were testimony.
written by the disciples of our Saviour. This Let us suppose, for the sake of farther il- is very decisive evidence. But how does it lustration, that Tacitus had included some happen, that it should throw a clearer gleam more particulars in his testimony, and that, of light and satisfaction over the mind of in addition to the execution of our Saviour, the inquirer, than he had yet experienced he had asserted, in round and unqualified in the whole train of his investigation ? terms, that this said Christus had risen from Whence that disposition to underrate the the dead, and was seen alive by some hun- antecedent testimony of the Christian wridreds of his acquaintances. Even this would ters? Talk not of theirs being an intenot have silenced altogether the cavils of rested testimony; for, in point of fact, the enemies, but it would have reclaimed many same disposition operates, after reason is an infidel; been exulted in by many a sin-convinced that the suspicion is totally uncere Christian ; and made to occupy a fore-founded. What we contend for is, that this most place in many a book upon the eviden- indifference to the testimony of the Chrisces of our religion. Are we to forget all the tian writers implies a dereliction of princiwhile, that we are in actual possession of ples, which apply with the utmost confimuch stronger testimony ? that we have the dence to all similar inquiries. concurrence of eight or ten contemporary The effects of this same principle are perauthors, most of whom had actually seen fectly discernible in the writings of even Christ áster the great event of his resurrec-Jour most judicious apologists. We offer no tion ? that the veracity of these authors, and reflection against the assiduous Lardner, the genuineness of their respective publi- who, in his credibility of the Gospel history, cations, are established on grounds much presents us with a collection of testimonies stronger than have ever been alleged in be- which should make every Christian proud half of Tacitus, or any ancient author of his religion. In his evidence for the auWhence this unaccountable preference of thenticity of the different pieces which make Tacitus? Upon every received principle of up the New Testament, he begins with the criticism, we are bound to annex greater con- oldest of the fathers, some of whom were fidence to the testimony of the apostles. It the intimate companions of the original is vain to recur to the imputation of its being writers. According to our view of the an interested testimony. This the apologists matter, he should have dated the commencefor Christianity undertake to disprove, and ment of his argument from a higher point, actually havedisproved it, and that by a much and begun with the testimonies of these greater quantity of evidence than would be original writers to one another. In the held perfectly decisive in a question of second Epistle of Peter, there is a distinct common history. If aster this there should reference made to the writings of Paul; and remain any lurking sentiment of diffidence in the Acts of the Apostles, there is a reor suspicion, it is entirely resolvable into ference made to one of the four Gospels. some such principle as I have already alluded (Had Peter, instead of being an apostle, rankto. It is to be treated as a mere feeling,-a ed only with the fathers of the church, and delusion which should not be admitted to had his epistle not been admitted into the have any influence on the convictions of the canon of scripture, this testimony of his understanding.
would have had a place in the catalogue, The principle which we have been at- and been counted peculiarly valuable, both tempting to expose, is found, in fact, to run for its precision and its antiquity. There is through every part of the argument, and to certainly nothing in the estimation he enaccompany the inquirer through all the joyed, or in the circumstances of his epistle branches of the investigation. The authen- being bound up with the other books of the ticity of the different books of the New New Testement, which ought to impair the Testament forms a very important inquiry, credit of his testimony. But in effect, his teswherein the object of the Christian Apolo- timony does make a weaker impression on gist is to prove, that they were really written the mind, than a similar testimony from by their professed authors. In proof of this, Barnabas, or Clement, or Polycarp. It there is an uninterrupted series of testimony certainly ought not to do it, and there is a from the days of the apostles; and it was not delusion in the preference that is thus given to be expected, that a point so isoteric to the to the latter writers. It is in fact, another Christian society could have attracted the example of the principle which we have attention of profane authors, till the religion been so often insisting upon. What profane of Jesus, by its progress in the world, had authors are in reference to Christian authors rendered itself conspicuous. It is not then at large, the fathers of the church are in retill about eighty years after the publication ference to the original writers of the New of the different pieces, that we meet with the Testament. In contradiction to every aptestimony of Celsus, an avowed enemy to proved principle, we prefer the distant and Christianity, and who asserts, upon the later testimony, to the testimony of writers strength of its general notoriety, that the who carry as much evidence and legitimate
to the credibility of the New
of his historical parts of the New Testament were
written by the disciples of our Saviour. This per il- | is very decisive evidence. But how does some happen, that it should throw a clearer geae
that, of light and satisfaction over the mind ei -jour, the inquirer, than he had yet experiene lified in the whole train of his investigation! from Whence that disposition to underrate the hun- antecedent testimony of the Christian Fr: would ters? Talk not of theirs being an inte als of rested testimony; for, in point of fact, the many same disposition operates, after reason is 7 sin-convinced that the suspicion is totally unfore-founded. What we contend for is, that this iden- | indifference to the testimony of the Cura ll the tian writers implies a dereliction of prueon of ples, which apply with the utmost cogi.
e the dence to all similar inquiries.
seen fectly discernible in the writings of eten
into ference made to one of the four Gomes Luded Had Peter, instead of being an apostle, rank 9,-a ed only with the fathers of the church, 2. ed to had his epistle not been admitted into the of the canon of scripture, this testimony of
would have had a place in the cataloge at- and been counted peculiarly valuable, le run for its precision and its antiquity. There i nd to certainly nothing in the estimation he e
the joyed, or in the circumstances of his episte hen-being bound up with the other books of New New Testement, which ought to impair miry, credit of his testimony. But in effect, hisia Dolo-timony does make a weaker impression itten the mind, than a similar testimony TUD this, Barnabas, or Clement, or Polycarp. zony certainly ought not to do it, and there is 3 s not delusion in the preference that is thus g7VC
the to the latter writers. It is in fact, anote
the example of the principle which we gion been so often insisting upon. What proper had / authors are in reference to Christian authors chen at large, the fathers of the church are in te tion ference to the original writers of the ne
the Testament. In contradiction to every a y to proved principle, we prefer the distant en the later testimony, to the testimony of WTIES
authority along with them, and who only If it were necessary in a court of justice differ from others in being nearer the origi- to ascertain the circumstances of a certain nal source of information. We neglect and transaction which happened in a particular undervalue the evidence which the New neighbourhood, the obvious expedient would Testament itself furnishes, and rest the be to examine the agents and eye-witnesses whole of the argument upon the external of that transaction. If six or eight concurand superinduced testimony of subsequent red in giving the same testimony-if there authors.
was no appearance of collusion among A great deal of all this is owing to the them--if they had the manner and aspect manner in which the defence of Christianity of creditable men-above all, if this testimohas been conducted by its friends and sup- ny were made public, and not a single indiporters. They have given too much into vidual, from the numerous spectators of the the suspicions of the opposite party. They transaction alluded to, step forward to falsify have yielded their minds to the infection of it, then, we apprehend, the proof would be their skepticism, and maintained, through looked upon as complete. Other witnesses the whole process, a caution and a delicacy I might be summoned from a distance to give. Which they often carry to a degree that is in their testimony, not of what they saw, excessive; and by which, in fact, they have but of what they heard upon the subject; done injustice to their own arguments. but their concurrence, though a happy done of them begin with the testimony of enough circumstance, would never be lookTacitus as a first principle and pursue the led upon as any material addition to the eviinvestigation upwards, as if the evidence dence already brought forward. Another
We collect from the annals of the Ro- court of justice might be held in a distant man historian were stronger than that of country, and vears after the death of the orichristian writers who flourished nearer | ginal witnesses. It might have occasion to the ol the investigation, and whose verify the same transaction, and for this lity can be established on grounds purpose might call in the only evidence
re altogether independent of his which it was capable of collecting--the tesdy. In this way, they come at last timony of men who lived after the transac
dibility of the New Testament tion in question, and at a great distance from Writers, but by a lengthened and circuitous the place where it happened. There ment were diluted at every step in the pro
The reader feels as if the argu- be no hesitation, in ordinary cases, about
uted at every step in the pro- the relative value of the two testimonies; "Yation, and his faith in the Gos- and the record of the first court could be ty is much weaker than his faith appealed to by posterity as by far the more
that are far less authenticated. valuable document, and far more decisive us and the New Testament to and of the point in controversy. Now, what we omparison, and subject them complain of, is, that in the instance before
listone of ordinary and re-l us this principle is reversed. The report of u principles, and it will be found that hearsay witnesses is I
I be found that hearsay witnesses is held in higher estimaes the former out of sight in tion than the report of the original agents
aracters, and evidences and spectators. The most implicit credit is entic history. The truth of the given to the testimony of the distant
1 a much firmer and morellater historians, and the testimony of the
100ting, than many of its de- original witnesses is received, W tion of. They give us any concep- much distrust as if they carried the marks
I that boldness of argu-lof villany and imposture lipon their loreWhich the merits of the question heads.
The genuineness of the first record ime. They ought to I can be established by a much greater weight
ided front to their ad- and variety of evidence, than the genuinenem, that, in the New ness of the second. Yet all the suspicion n the concurrence of its that we feel upon this subject annexes to Mly and independent, the former; and the apostles and evangel
tradicted authority | ists, with every evidence in their favour red from the earliest which it is in the power of testimony to
nability furnish, are, in fact, degraded from the place versaries of our religion which they ought to occupy among me au
reability-in the genuine credited historians of past times. carries on Westy and fairness which it! The above observations may help to PC
ice of it; that in these, I pare the inquirer for forming a just and ! y thing else, which can give va- partial estimate on
partial estimate of the merits of the Christen history of past times.) tian testimony. His great ouj
pour of evi- to guard against every bias of the under
Tacitus can- standing. The general idea is, that a pre1 which the absence of that I dilection in favour of Christlar
| him to overrate the argument. We bei
cess of derivation, and his faith in th
the latter leaves the form
entitle them to assume. They ou
and in every thing the
lidity to the written history,
in testimony. His great object should be
not confirm, and whick Vestimony could
mony of Writers met
wony could not have diminished.
i in favour of Christianity may lead
the /who carry as much evidence and legitimate
that if every unfair tendency of the mind should not be looked upon as nugatory when could be subjected to a rigorous computa- applied to the investigation of those facts tion, it would be found, that the combined which are connected with the truth and operation of them all has the effect of im-establishment of the Christian religion, that pressing a bias in a contrary direction. All every prepossession should be swept away, we wish for, is, that the arguments which are and room left for the understanding, to expaheld decisive in other historical questions, tiate without fear, and without incumbrance.
CHAPTER II. .
On the Authenticity of the different Books of the New Testament.
The argument for the truth of the differ-itles, than in believing what he has never ent facts recorded in the gospel history, re-doubted—the history of Alexander, and the solves itself into four parts. In the first, it doctrine of Socrates. Could all the marks shall be our object to prove, that the differ- of veracity, and the list of subsequent testient pieces which make up the New Testa- monies, be exhibited to the eye of the readment, were written by the authors whose er in parallel columns, it would enable him, names they bear, and the age which is com- at one glance, to form a complete estimate. monly assigned to them. In the second, we We shall have occasion to call his attention shall exhibit the internal marks of truth and to this so often, that we may appear to many honesty, which may be gathered from the of our readers to have expatiated upon our compositions themselves. In the third, we introductory principle to a degree that is shall press upon the reader the known situa- tiresome and unnecessary. We conceive, tion and history of the authors, as satisfy- however, that it is the best and most pering proofs of the veracity with which they spicuous way of putting the argument. delivered themselves. And, in the fourth, I. The different pieces which make up we shall lay before them the additional the New Testament, were written by the and subsequent testimonies, by which the authors whose names they bear, and at the narrative of the original writers is sup-time which is commonly assigned to them. ported.
After the long slumber of the middle ages, In every point of the investigation, we shall the curiosity of the human mind was meet with examples of the principle which awakened, and felt its attention powerfully we have already alluded to. We have said, directed to those old writings, which have that if two distinct inquiries be set on foot, survived the waste of so many centuries. where the object of the one is to settle some It were a curious speculation to ascertain point of sacred history, and the object of the precise quantity of evidence which lay the other is to settle some point of profane in the information of these old documents. history, the mind acquiesces in a much | And it may help us in our estimate, first to smaller quantity of evidence in the latter suppose, that in the researches of that case than it does in the former. If this be period, there was only one composition right, (and to a certain degree it undoubt- found which professed to be a narrative of edly is,) then it is incumbent on the defen- past times. A number of circumstances can der of Christianity to bring forward a greater be assigned, which might give a certain dequantity of evidence than would be deemed gree of probability to the information even sufficient in a question of common litera-1 of this solitary and unsupported document. ture, and to demand the acquiescence of his There si, first, the general consideration, reader upon the strength of this superior that the principle upon which a man feels evidence. If it be not right beyond a cer- himself induced to write a true history, is tain degree-and if there be a tendency in of more frequent and powerful operation, the mind to carry it beyond that degree, than the principle upon which a man feels then this tendency is founded upon a delu- himself induced to offer a false or a disguised sion, and it is well that the reader should be representation of facts to the world. This apprised of its existence, that he may pro-affords a general probability on the side of tect himself from its influence. The supe- the document in question being a true narrarior quantity of evidence which we can tive; and there may be some particulars bring forward, will, in this case, all go to connected with the appearance of the peraugment the positive effect upon his con- formance itself, which might strengthen victions; and he will rejoice to perceive this probability. We may not be able to that he is far safer in believing what has discover in the story itself any inducement been handed down to him of the history of which the man could have in publishing it, Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of his apos- if it were mainly and substantially false.