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In private letters to intimate companions some expression would surely let fall a hint at least of fraud, if there were any. Yet the same uniform design of promoting sincerity, benevolence, and piety, is perceived; and the same histories of Christ and of Paul are alluded to as true accounts, in his private as in his public epistles.
Besides numerous undesigned coincidences in historical circumstances and facts, which Dr. Paley has specified, there is also an undesigned agreement throughout, between the sentiments and manner of writing of Paul in his Epistles, and the account of his character and conduct given in the book of Acts. Every instance of this kind bespeaks reality, and therefore deserves notice as a branch of internal evidence. The Epistles of Paul show the author to be a man of parts and learning, of sound judgment, quick conception, crowded thought, fluent expression, and zealous and indefatigable in his endeavours to accomplish the point at which he aimed. These properties correspond with the history of him contained in the Acts. Brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, he was instructed in Jewish learning. His speech to the philosophers and people of Athens, his behaviour and addresses to Agrippa, Festus, and Felix, &c. prove his sagacity, his judicious selection of topics, and his skill in reasoning. The violent manner in which he is recorded in the Acts to have persecuted the first Christians, agrees with the ardour of spirit that breathes in all his letters, and the glowing warmth of his style.
There are, indeed, great seeming discordances, which, however, are easily reconcileable by attending to his ardent temper, and to the ruling principle of his conduct in different periods of his life. His rage against the Christians (owing to strong Jewish prejudices) was furious and unrestrained, and unjustifiable against any peaceable persons, such as they were. On the other hand, his Epistles manifest a warmth and eagerness governed by a calmer principle. After his conversion, Paul was at the same time prudent, steady, and ardent. He was as indefatigable as he had been before; but, instead of cruel and unjust means to attain his purposes, he employed argument, persuasion, and the merciful and mighty power of God. The religion he embraced accounts for these changes easily and naturally. His conversion to Christianity, the circumstances of which are related in the book of Acts, and which are mentioned or alluded to in his Epistles, harmonise every seeming contradiction in his character, and thus become a strong evidence of the truth both of his history and of his Epistles.
A similar observation may be made concerning Peter. Is there not a striking uniformity in the character of this Apostle, as it is detineated by the sacred writers, and as it is discoverable in the style, manner, and sentiments of his Epistles? Do they not bear the marks of the same energy, the same unpolished and nervous simplicity, the same impetuosity and vehemence of thought, the same strength and vigour of untutored genius; strong in the endowments of nature, but
1 Acta viji. 3. ; ix. I.
without the refinements of art or science ? Now there would scarcely have been found such a nice agreement between the character of Peter given in the writings of others, and exemplified in his own, if the one had been a fiction, or the other spurious. It is the same Peter that speaks in the Gospel history, in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Epistles which bear his name. The seal of his character, as graven by the Evangelists, exactly corresponds with the impression of his letters. This is an argument of the genuineness of his Epistles, and of the truth of the Christian religion.'
The other books of the New Testament furnish ample materials for pursuing this species of evidence from undesigned coincidences of different kinds. Dr. Paley,” and Mr. Wakefield, have both produced some instances of it between the Gospels, to which we shall only add, in the last place, that the similitude or coincidence between the style of John's Gospel, and the first epistle that bears his name, is so striking, that no reader, who is capable of discerning what is peculiar in an author's turn of thinking, can entertain the slightest doubt of their being the productions of one and the same writer.
IT. G. Taylor's Ess, on the Cond. and Char. of Peter. 2 Evid. of Christ. part ii. e. 4.
3 Internal Evidences, pp. 207--210. 4 The following comparative table of passages, from the Gospel and first Epistle of Saint John, will (we think) prove the point above stated beyond the possibility of contradiction. Epistle.
Gospel. Ch. I. 1. That which was from the be- Ch. I. 1. In the beginning was the ginning – ο εθεασαμεθα, which we have word. 14. And, edsausoa, we beheld his contemplated – concerning the living glory: word.
4. In him was life.
14. The word was made flesh. II. 5. Whosoever keepeth his word, XIV. 23. If a man love me, he will truly in that man the love of God is keep my words, and my father will love perfected.
him. II. 6. He who saith he abideth in him, XV. 4. Abide in me, and I in you. As ought himself also so to walk, even as the branch cannot bring forth fruit of ithe walked. See ch. iii. 24. iv. 13. 16. self, except it abide in the vine, no more
can ye, except ye abide in me. II. 8. I write to you a new command- XIII. 34. A new commandment I give nient.
III. 11. This is the message which ye that ye love one another as I have have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
II. 8. The darkness passeth away, and I. 5. The light shineth in darkness. the light which is true, now shineth. 9. That was the true light.
10. Abideth in the light, and there is XI. 10. If a man walk in the night, he no stumbling-block to hin.
stumbleth, because there is no light to
him. II. 13. Young children, I write to you, XVII. 3. This is the eternal life, that because ye have known the Father. they might know thee the only true God.
14. Because ye have known hiin from And Jesus Christ whom thou hast the beginning.
II. 29. Every one who worketh right- III. 3. Except a man be begotten again. eousness, is begotten of God. See also 5. Except a man be begotten of water iii. 9. v. i.
and of the Spirit. III. 1. Behold how great love the Fa. 1. 12. To them he gave power to bether hath bestowed on us, that we should come the sons of God, even to them who be called the sons of God!
believe on his name. III. 2. We shall be like him, for we XVII. 24. Be with me where I am, sball see him as he is.
that they may behold my glory.
Writings so circumstanced prove themselves and one another to be genuine.
The forgers of these things, if forgeries they were, must (as Dr. Jortin has forcibly remarked) have equalled Father Hardouin's atheistical monks of the thirteenth century; who, according to his fantastical account, in an age of ignorance and barbarism, surpassed in abilities all the antients and moderns; forged the Greek and Latin authors whom we call classical; and were not only great poets, but also great mathematicians, chronologers, geographers, astronomers, and critics, and capable of inserting in their proper places names and accounts of men, rivers, cities,
and regions, eclipses of the sun and moon, Athenian archons, Attic months, Olympiads, and Roman consuls : all which happy inventions have been since confirmed by astronomical calculations and tables, voyages, inscriptions, Fasti Capitolini, fragments, manuscripts, and a diligent collation of authors with each other.
Such are the evidences, both external and internal, direct and collateral, for the genuineness and authenticity of the New Testament : and when their number, variety, and the extraordinary nature of many of them are impartially considered, it is impossible not to come to this convincing conclusion, viz. that the books now extant in the New Testament are genuine and authentic, and are the same writings which were originally composed by the authors whose names they bear.
III. 8. He who worketh sin is of the VIII. 44. Ye are of your father the devil; for the devil sinneth from the be- devil - He was a murderer from the ginning.
beginning III. 13. Do not wonder, my
brethren, XV. 20. If they have persecuted me, that the world hateth you.
they will also persecute you. IV. 9. By this the love of God was III. 16. God so loved the world, that manifested, that God sent his Son, the he gave his only begotten Son, that whoonly begotten, into the world, that we soever believeth on him might not pemight live through him.
rish, but have everlasting life. V. 12. No man hath seen God at any I. 18. No man hath seen God at any time.
time. V. 13. These things I have written to XX. 31. These things are written, that you who believe on the name of the Son ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ of God, that ye may know that ye have the Son of God, and that believing ye eternal life ; and that ye may believe on might have life through his name. the name of the Son of God. V. 14. If we ask any thing according
XIV. 14. If ye shall ask any thing in to his will, he heareth us.
my name, I will do it. V. 20. The Son of God is come, and XVII. 2. Thou hast given him power hath given us an understanding, that we over all flesh, that he might give eternal know him that is true, and we are in him life to as many as thou hast given him. that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. 3. And this is eternal life, that they might This is the true God and eternal life. know thee the only true God, and Jesus
Christ whom thou hast sent. Macknight
on the Epistles, Pref. to 1 John, sect ii. Remarks on Eccles. Hist. vol. i. pp. 28. et seq. Less's Authenticity of the New Testament, translated by Mr. Kingdon, pp: 1.–26. Michaelis, vol. 1. pp. 4–54. Hales's Analysis of Chronology, vol. ii. book ii. pp. 687–692. Stosch, de Canone, p. 89.. Pictet, Théologie Chrétienne, tome i. p. 83. Ernesti Interp. Nov. Test pars iii. p. 147. et seq. See also a very copious discussion of the Evidences for the authenticity of the New Testament in “ An Inquiry into the Books of the New Testament, by John Cook, D. D. Professor of Divinity in St. Mary's College, St. Andrew's. Edinburgh, 1821.” 8vo.
ON THE UNCORRUPTED PRESERVATION OF THE BOOKS OF THE OLD
AND NEW TESTAMENT.
the absolute impossibility of its being falsified or corrupted either
And also of the New Testament. ALTHOUGH the genuineness and authenticity of the Old and New Testaments have been thus clearly proved, yet it may perhaps be asked, whether those books have not long since been destroyed ? And whether they have been transmitted to us entire and uncorrupted? To these inquiries we reply, that we have evidence, equally decisive and satisfactory with that which has demonstrated the genuineness and authenticity of the Old and New Testaments, to prove that they have descended to us, entire and uncorrupted in any thing material; - such evidence, indeed, as can be produced for no other production of antiquity.
I. And, first, with regard to the Old Testament, although the Jews have been charged with corrupting it, yet this charge has never been substantiated, and, in fact, the thing itself is morally impossible. Generally speaking, the arguments which have demonstrated that the Pentateuch (or five books of Moses) is not, and could not be, a forgery in the first instance, apply equally to prove that these books have not been wilfully and designedly corrupted. But, to be more particular, we may remark,
1. That there is no proof or vestige whatever of such pretended alteration. The Jews have in every age regarded the Pentateuch as the genuine and uncorrupted work of one single person, and have equally respected every part of it. Indeed, if they had mutilated or corrupted these writings, they would doubtless have expunged from them every relation of facts and events, that militated against the honour and credit of their nation. Besides, when could such an alteration or corruption have been executed ? It was not possible shortly after the death of Moses, for the memory of the transactions recorded in the Pentateuch was too recent for any one to venture upon any corruption or alteration, which public notoriety would have contradicted. The Pentateuch, therefore, could not have been
altered or corrupted so long as Joshua and that generation lived, who were zealous for the worship of God. (Josh. xxiv. 31.) Froin that time to the age of Samuel, the Israelites were under the direction of governors or judges, who determined all cases agreeably to the Mosaic law.
Further, if they had wilfully corrupted the books of the Old Testament before the time of Christ and his apostles, the prophets who flourished from Samuel to Malachi, and who were neither slow nor timid in reproving the sins both of rulers and subjects, would not have passed over so heinous an offence in silence. After the separation of the ten tribes, at least, the books of Moses were kept in the kingdom of Israel; and the rivalry, that continued to subsist between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, was an insuperable bar to any corruption or alteration ; for, it could not have been attempted in either kingdom without opposition and detection from the other, of which some notice must have been taken in their historical books. Besides, if the Old Testament had been corrupted in the time of Jesus Christ and his apostles, the Jews could not have passed without censure from them, who rebuked their hypocrisy, incredulity, and wickedness with so much severity. If there had been any alteration or corruption, it must have been the work, either of one or of many persons. It cannot be conceived that any one person could do it, without being exposed; nor that any one could have vanity enough to expect success in an attempt to alter facts in a book so universally read and so much esteemed. The unity of design, the correspondence of sentiment, and the uniform reference to the same facts, which are observable throughout the Old Testament, forbid us to imagine that many were united in corrupting or altering any part of it. In a word, no man or number of men could make an attempt of this kind without being exposed. Nor is it rational to suppose, that any man or number of men could have capacity competent to effect such a design, who would not also have had the sense to observe the necessity of making it more agreeable to the natural tempers of mankind, in order that it might obtain credit in the world.
Again, if the Old Testament had been mutilated or corrupted after the birth of Christ, out of malice to the Christians, and in order to deprive them of arguments and evidences for proving their religion, the Jews would unquestionably have expunged or falsified those memorable prophecies concerning Christ which were so irrefragably cited both by him and by his apostles. But no such obliteration or alteration has ever been made ; on the contrary, those very passages have continued in their original purity, and are sometimes more express in the original Hebrew text than in the common transla
2. In fact, neither before nor after the time of Christ, could the Jews corrupt or falsify the Hebrew Scriptures : for,
Before that event, the regard which was paid to them by the Jews, especially to the law, would render any forgery or material change in