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tically showing the harmony of them with other | The argument depending upon a large induction parts of divine truth. But this can afford no of particulars, renders it impossible to give such ground of objection to their fidelity: quite the an abstract of it as shall convey an adequate idea reverse. They wrote not by concert, nor did they of its force and conclusiveness ; but the following bestow any pains to avoid the appearance of in- summary of the author's recapitulation and conconsistency; yet the exact coincidence which is clusion will not be without its use. perceived among them by the diligent student, is “ When we take into our hands the letters (of most astonishing, and cannot be accounted for on Paul], which the consent and suffrage of antiquity any rational principles, without admitting that they have thus transmitted to us, the first thing that wrote under the invariable dictates of truth, and, strikes our attention is the air of reality and in many respects, as “they were moved by the business, as well as of seriousness and conviction, Holy Spirit." *
which pervades the whole. Let the sceptic read 5. But to advert more particularly to the New them. If he be not sensible of these qualities, Testament. No person can attentively peruse the the argument can have no weight with him. If four gospels without perceiving that they were he be—if he perceive in almost every page the designed by their respective authors to promote language of a mind actuated by real occasions, some particular purpose, suggested by the cha- and operating upon real circumstances, I would racter or circumstances of the people to whom wish it to be observed that the proof which arises they were more immediately addressed; which from this perception is not to be deemed occult or purpose was somewhat diverse or different.t Still, imaginary, because it is incapable of being drawn however, the most perfect agreement will be found out in words, or of being conveyed to the appreto subsist among the whole, except in a very few hension of the reader in any other way, than by minute particulars, which is quite consistent with sending him to the books themselves.” After their general truth and accuracy.
having shown that the genuineness and originality 6. But between the epistles of Paul and his of the epistles, ascertained by the series of inhistory in the Acts of the Apostles there exist ductions which had been instituted, lead to the many notes of undesigned coincidence or corre- conclusion that there was such a person as Paul; spondency; while the simple perusal of the writ- that he went about preaching the religion of ings is sufficient to prove that neither the history which Jesus Christ was the founder; and that the 'was taken from the letters, nor the letters from letters which we now read were actually written the history. And the undesignedness of the agree- by him on the subject, and in the course of that ments (which undesignedness is gathered from ministry; Dr. Paley proceeds to remark, that, their latency, their minuteness, their obliquity, beside the proof they afford of the general reality and the suitableness of the circumstances in which of Paul's history, of the knowledge which the they consist to the places in which those circum- author of the Acts of the Apostles had obtained stances occur, and the circuitous references by of that history, and the consequent probability which they are traced out) demonstrates that they that he was what he professes himself to have have not been produced by meditation, or by any been, a companion of the apostles—they meet fraudulent contrivance. But coincidences from specifically some of the principal objections upon which these causes are excluded, and which are which the adversaries of Christianity have thought too close and numerous to be accounted for by proper to rely. In particular they show, (1) That accidental occurrences or fiction, must necessarily Christianity had fixed and established itself before have truth for their foundation.
the destruction of Jerusalem, and that confusion 7. This argument appeared to the mind of which attended and immediately preceded it, and Paley to be of so much value (especially for its by which inquiry was rendered impracticable. assuming nothing beyond the bare existence of (2) That the epistles themselves could not have the books) that he has pursued it through the been compiled from reports and stories current at thirteen epistles of Paul, in his able and original the time ; for a man could not write the history of work entitled “Horæ Paulina,” which should be his own life from reports; nor, which is the same read with close attention by every person who thing, could he be led by reports to refer to pasdesires to see the authenticity of this important sages and transactions in which he states himself section of the Scriptures completely demonstrated. to have been immediately present and active.
(3) That the converts to Christianity were not
composed of a barbarous, mean, or ignorant set of See Scott's Essays, Essay I., $ 2. + The reader who desires to enter into this subject may find been altogether unintelligible
. (4) These writings
men: to such persons the cpistles would have it ably discussed and illustrated in Townson's Discourses on the Gospels.
also prove the truth of the Christian history generally; and particularly the existence and labours in the epistles of Paul, are corroborated by the tesof the other apostles, and the existence of various timony of Jewish and pagan writers, who lived so Christian churches in different countries, especially near to the times that it was impossible for them of a considerable one at Jerusalem, where Chris- to have been deceived. Josephus, a contemporary tianity was published by those who had attended writer, speaks unequivocally of the person and the miraculous ministry of its founder. (5) They extraordinary works of Christ, of the success of also furnish evidence, of the best description, of his labours, and of the sufferings of some of his the soundness and sobriety of St. Paul's judgment disciples; and Pliny (A. D. 107), Tacitus (A. D. His caution and discrimination are everywhere 110), Suetonius (A. D. 116), Celsus (same cenapparent; and his morality is throughout calm, tury), Porphyry (A. D. cir. 250), Julian (cir. pure, and rational. (6) They are decisive, too, A. D. 350), and several other early pagan writers, as to the sufferings of the author, the distressed either distinctly speak of the life and death of state of the Christian church, and the dangers Christ, and of the origin and manners of his diswhich attended the preaching of the gospel. (7) ciples; or, by the references which they make to Equally important are the evidences which they the sacred books, they admit them to have been furnish of the miraculous powers with which the genuine and authentic documents. apostle was invested, and also of his publicly 2. It is deserving of notice, that the three lastexerting them upon numerous occasions.* mentioned writers wrote expressly against the Chris
8. Now let the circumstances which have been tian religion, although they did not venture to say thus briefly enumerated—and they might be aug- or insinuate any thing against the facts of the Scripmented at least ten-fold—be thrown together, and ture history. Now, if the truth of those facts had their combined force and value be fairly and dis- been in the least degree questionable, can there passionately estimated, and we have no fear of be a doubt that these its enemies would have incurring a charge of rash assertion or offensive assailed them with the same zeal and virulence dogmatism, in saying that no man can refuse his which they directed against the religion with assent to the truth of the New Testament, on the which these facts were identified ? This would mere ground of its own evidences, without being have been so obvious and short a method of prodriven to the reception of difficulties infinitely ceeding, in the prosecution of their object, that more numerous and weighty than are to be found they could not fail to have resorted to it; and the in any part of the Christian history.
omission, therefore, warrants the inference, that VI. Do the books of the New Testament re- the facts which attest the Christian system were ceive any confirmation from external and inde- admitted to be placed beyond cavil or dispute. pendent sources of information ? 1. We have already seen that the narrative com
SECTION VI. prised in the New Testament accords in several and important particulars with general history. Not only is its historical complexion exactly that 1. It is almost unnecessary, after what has been of the times to which it belongs; it also receives said in discussing the subject of various readings direct and ample confirmation from such writings in the first part of this work, and of the genuineof that period as have come down to us. Lardner, ness and authenticity of the several books of and after him Paley, have shown the numerous Scripture in the present chapter, to enlarge upon agreements between the histories of Josephus and a question pertaining to the integrity or uncorthe Scripture narratives, not only in articles of rupted preservation of the text; but a few addipublic history, but sometimes in minute, recondite, tional remarks may seem to be called for. and very peculiar circumstances, in which, of all
2. That the books composing the Old and New others, a forger is most likely to have been found Testaments are not only genuine and authentic, tripping ; but we are precluded, by our narrow but have been preserved free from material accispace, from prosecuting this interesting inquiry, dental errors or wilful alterations since they left and must refer the reader for the proofs to the the hands of their respective authors, we have works of these able and indefatigable writers. the most conclusive evidence that the nature of From the details which they have furnished, it the case admits. Of the Old Testament, the will be found that the main facts of the gospel original MSS. were long preserved by the Hebrews Darrative, and of the early history of the church, who were most sedulous, and almost superstitious, as it is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and in their efforts to preserve them in all their original
integrity. They repeatedly transcribed them, * Horæ Paulinæ, chap. xvi.
comparing the transcripts most carefully with the
THE INTEGRITY OF THE BIBLICAL TEXT.
originals, and even numbering the words and by the agreement with it of all the quotations letters.* That the Jews neither mutilated nor which occur in the writings of the Christians, corrupted their sacred books, is evident from the from the earliest age to the present time. In fact, silence of the prophets, as well as of Christ and so far from there having been any gross adulterahis apostles, who, though they bring many heavy tion in the sacred volumes, the best and most able charges against them, never once accuse them of writers have proved that, even in lesser matters, this sin; as also from the agreement, in every the Holy Scriptures have suffered less from the essential point, of all the Versions and MSS. injury of time and the errors of transcribers, than (amounting to upwards of 1,100) now extant.t any other writings whatever; and that the very In fact, the constant reading of the sacred books worst MS. extant would not misrepresent one (which constituted at once the rule of faith and article of faith, or destroy one moral precept.g the code of national law), in public and private; the numerous copies of the original, as well as of
SECTION VII. the Septuagint Version, which was widely spread
THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLICAL BOOKS. over the world; the various sects and parties into which the Jews were divided after their canon of
of Having now ascertained that the books comScripture was closed, as well as their dispersion posing the Old and New Testaments are in every into every part of the globe, concurred to render particular true, as we now possess them, it follows any attempt at fabrication improbable and impos- that they comprise the subject-matter of a divine sible before the time of our Saviour; and after
revelation. They assert this, and claim it as that period, the same books being in the hands of their distinguishing character. They rest the the Christians, they would instantly have detected obligation to receive their testimony upon this the fraud of the Jews, had they attempted such a ground : “ For if the word spoken by angels was thing; while the silence of the Jews (who would stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience not have failed to notice the attempt, had it been received a just recompence of reward ; how shall made) is a clear proof that they were not corrupted we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which by the Christians.
at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and 3. The evidence for the integrity of the New was confirmed unto us by them that heard him, Testament is equally satisfactory. The multipli- God also bearing them witness, both with signs cation of copies, both of the original and of trans- and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts lations into other languages, which were read, not of the Holy Ghost, according to' his own will ?" only in private, but publicly in the religious assem- Heb. ii. 2-4. This passage of the apostolic blies of the Christians ; # the reverence of the writings indicates not only the divine character of whole body of the faithful for these writings; the the substance of the biblical books, but also the variety of sects and heresies which arose at an specific proofs by which that divine character is early period in the Christian church, each party attested and sustained. At these proofs it is now appealing to the Scriptures in support of its doc- our business to glance. They are, miracles and trines and rites ;-all these things rendered any prophecy—the qualities of the doctrines promaterial alteration in the sacred books utterly im- pounded—and their miraculous propagation through possible; while the silence of their acutest enemies, the world. A few words upon each of these who would most assuredly have charged them with topics shall close this chapter. the attempt if it had been made, and the agree- I. We have already said, when treating of the ment of all the MSS. and Versions extant, are accumulated evidence of divine revelation, that positive proofs of the integrity and incorruptness MIRACLES—public,, unequivocal miraclesexhiof the New Testament, which are further attested bited, bring home to the very senses of men the in
tervention of a divine power; and that, competently * There is a very remarkable passage in Josephus against witnessed and recorded, they transmit the conAppion, b. 1, 8, where he asserts that such was the veneration viction from age to age. Now such miracles—that among the Jews for the sacred books, that in the very long series of ages, no one, down to his time, had ever dared to add is, unequivocal and publicly exhibited miracles to or take away any thing from them, or even to make in them are the very credentials which are exhibited of the least alteration.
the divine mission and authoritative teaching of + See Part I, chap. 2, sect. 5.
the prophets, the Messiah, the apostles, and the # It is notorious, too, that no book was permitted to be read in the primitive church but what was deemed canonical; a proof, not only of the divine authority of the sacred writings, $ Parean has some lucid remarks on the integrity of the but of their integrity also. They were ever before the eye, and books of the Old Testament, in his “Principles of Intersounding in the ear.
pretation,” P. 1, s. 1, chap. 1., § 3,
evangelists, whose combined sayings and dis- 1 appear in close relationship to that prescience courses form the subject-matter of the divine which announced what Omnipotence was after
The plagues of Egypt, as they are wards to perform. This is more emphatically true usually denominated, consisted of a series of pub- of the miracles of our Lord and Saviour, although icly exhibited and unequivocal miracles, wrought the argument is not exclusively applicable to them. to attest the divine mission of Moses, and admitted 3. The miracles of our Lord are, then, not only even by the interested opponents of the Hebrew magnificent in their structure, but they correspond prophet and legislator, to have been performed by to predictions laid down hundreds of years before "the finger of God,” Exod. viii. 19. Throughout he had manifested forth his glory, in turning the the prophetic writings we meet with numerous water into wine at Cana in Galilee. An impostor similar occurrences, all performed with equal had here a double difficulty; he was required, not publicity, accompanied by the same unequivocal merely to perform miraculous actions, but to preevidence, and extorting from the enemies of God's serve certain striking points of agreement between people similar self-condemnatory confessions. The these and specific predictions, which were not life of our Saviour was a series of such mira- only universally circulated among the people he culous works; and upon this ground he appealed desired to convince, but were also jealously guarded to the Jewish people to admit his Messiahship, by them as their peculiar inheritance,—the last of and embrace his doctrines : “ If I had not done all their glories. And when the nature of the among them the works which none other man miracles which he required officially to perform is did, they had not had sin ; but now have they taken into account, the difficulty becomes so inboth seen and hated both me and my Father,” | surmountable, that the most egregious impostor John xv. 24. “ And many of the people believed would have shrunk from encountering it. It was on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do predicted of the Messiah, that he should declare more miracles than these which this man hath the acceptable year of the Lord ; and that decladone ?" chap. vii. 31. See also chap. x. 37, 38; ration, in its proper sense, could only have been iv. 11. To the miracles of the apostles and made by the true Messiah : such would have been evangelists, including all the primitive preachers a profitless, nay, a dangerous, annunciation to an of the gospel, the same writings also bear the impostor. But it may be said that it admitted of most unequivocal testimony, showing that in a forced interpretation; that he who could not preaching the word "God bare them witness, both legally use the prophecy, might illegally have with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, accommodated it to his own sinister views; that and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own the Antichrist might have declared the time of his will,” Heb. i. 4. The inference is irresistible. own imposture to have been the season predicted ; A miracle, being an event or occurrence out of the that he might have announced himself as the ordinary course of nature, is placed beyond the person sent from heaven to realize those oracles reach of
human agency, and therefore, when which ascribed to the Messiah the redemption of brought to pass according to previous notice, it Israel.
But suppose such an individual to be cannot but be regarded as the testimony of God, besieged by the lame, the blind, and the paralytic, bome to the character and mission of the person asking his official assistance, and imploring the or persons by whom it is performed. This con- exertions of his curative powers ; could he have clusion necessarily results from the perfect veracity acted as the Saviour of the world did in the case of the Supreme Being, who never can give his of the disciples of John, who were sent to intertestimony to any thing but truth.
rogate him regarding his Messiahship, when in the 2. The various proofs that we have shown to same hour he fulfilled what ancient prophets had exist in favour of the authenticity of the sacred predicted of the Messiah, and sent his examiners writings, are, of course, conclusive on behalf of to John to bear witness to the validity of his prethe miracles which those writings describe to have tensions ? Such an individual, like Mahomet, been wrought in attestation of their truth. But would have craftily evaded the exhibition of mirawe have not exhausted the indications of their culous powers. He would, in accordance with divinity when we have shown the publicity with the spirit of the times, have merged the worker of which they were performed, the scrutiny they miracles in the turbulent demagogue—the teacher underwent, the God-like end to which they stood of righteousness in the fierce leader of banditti, in the relation of means, as also their unspeakable and the prime agent of sedition. * greatness as actions or events. These miracles were not isolated events; they are legitimately
* The chief difficulty of infidelity (and we have a right to taken in combination with other data. Visible
press it) must be to account for the consecutive dispensations of interventions on the part of the Eternal, they religion, and the successively - formed portions of Scripture,
1 4. Taking all the circumstances into considera- prophecies, belonging to this class, of so circum
tion, then, and giving to each of them its due stantial and minute a description, that they cannot weight in the argument, it may be safely averred, fail to impress an ingenuous mind with a conviction that the miracles by which the divine revelation of their having proceeded from God. comprised in the Holy Scriptures is authenticated, 1. Thus, it was foretold that the Messiah should stand upon more irrefragable ground than do any be born of a virgin (Isai. vii. 14), in the city of other historical facts.
Bethlehem (Mic. v. 2), of the seed of Jesse (Isai. II. Amongst the evidences of divine revelation xi. 1-10); that he should lead a life of poverty THE FULFILMENT OF PROPHECY takes a foremost and suffering (Ps. xxii.), inflicted upon him, not place. This is a standing miracle, exhibited to for himself (Dan. ix. 26), but for the sins of others the senses of men, in every age of the world, and, (Isai. liii.); that after a short confinement in the in different degrees, commanding their attention grave he should rise again (Ps. xvi. 10); that he and regard. If, long antecedent to its occurrence, should sit upon the throne of David for ever, and a specific event, not resulting from the operation be called the “ Mighty God” (Isai. ix. 6,7)_" the of ordinary causes, and altogether independent of Lord our Righteousness” (Jer. xxxij. 16)—“ Imhuman control, be clearly and circumstantially manuel” (Isai. vii. 14; Matt. i. 23)—and, by David foretold, there is ground for a strong presumption himself, whose son he was, “Lord” (Ps. cx. 1; that the source of that foreknowledge in which the Matt. xxii. 44; Acts ii. 34). The time of his prediction took its rise, is referable to omniscience. advent was to be before the sceptre should depart If the number of such predictions become mul- from Judah (Gen. xlix. 10), during the continutiplied, and the particularity of their character ance of the second temple (Hag. iii. 7-9), and increased, the presumption of a divine interposi- within seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety tion is, of course, proportionably augmented. To years, from its erection (Dan. ix. 24). From these anticipate a general effect from the operation of and many other prophecies, the coming of the known causes, is all that the power of man can Messiah was at all times the general expectation attain to; and even in this, his calculations are not of the Jews; and that this expectation had ripened unfrequently marked by error. Even in relation into full maturity at the time of his advent, may to the commonest events, there is often a material be inferred from the number of false Messiahs discrepancy between the anticipation and the who about that period made their appearance. actual occurrence. There is no recorded instance That he was also the expectation of the Gentiles in which unaided human reason was able to scan (see Gen. xxix. 10; Hag. ii. 7), is evinced by the the future with certainty. In all human calcula- coming of the wise men from the East to pay their tions, too, the conclusion results from some known adoration to him (Matt. ii.). All over the East, data; but even with this advantage, nothing more indeed, there was a general tradition, that about than a general effect is attempted to be foretold; that time a king would appear in Judea, who the precise mode of occurrence- Lexcepting where should govern the whole world. This expectation the whole event depends upon well-known and was so strongly excited at Rome, a few months immutable laws—is rarely foreseen. The Bible. before the birth of Augustus, that the senate made on the contrary, as we have seen in a former sec- a decree to expose all the children who should be tion, contains innumerable predictions relating to born during that year. Its execution, however, very distant events, in no wise under the control was eluded by a trick of some of the senators, who of man, and resulting from no conceivable or known were induced to hope that they might become the law of nature To pass by those general predic- fathers of the promised prince. The currency
of tions of the coming of the Messiah that are to the tradition is recorded with a remarkable identity be found scattered throughout the Old Testament of phrase, by Suetonius* and Tacitust, two Rofrom Genesis to Malachi, there are numerous other man historians of great eminence. Now, that in
this there was no collusion between the Chaldeans,
Romans, and Jews, is sufficiently proved by the which are such striking phenomena in the history of our religion. desperate methods suggested, or carried into effect, The notion of an imposture-a conspiracy for a thousand years for its discomfiture. Nor, in fact, is it practicable is too wild for even madness itself. But were we for a moment to give countenance to a supposition so unnatural -to try by probability what outrages common sense, experience, and ana
* "An ancient and settled persuasion prevailed thronghont logy,we w old ask, if it be likely that those who preferred the the East, that the Fates had decreed some one to proceed from predictions regarding the Messiah would have shaped out for Judea, who should obtain universal empire.” Suet. Vesp. 4. the comirg impostor of their system a task in which be was + “Many were persuaded that it was contained in the ancient sure to have been covered over with the disgrace of complete books of their priests, that, at that very time, the East should and merited failure ?-Steele’s Philosophy of the Evidences of prevail, and that some one should proceed from Jadea, and Christianity, chap. iii., seq.
possess the dominion.” Tacit. Hist. v. 13.