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the purpose of impressing it on the reader, to have made a general reference to Lardner—without attempting, what we have done but slightly, to instance a few of the specimens. The number, the minuteness, the circumstantiality of the allusions, and the manifest undesignedness wherewith they occur in the course of the narration—all serve to satisfy the inquirer, that a history which touches the truth at so many points, could not have done so fortuitously and at random; and these coincidences are so obviously beyond the reach, or even though within possibility could so little subserve any of the purposes of design, that no other conclusion remains for us—but that they touch the truth at so many points, only because they touch it generally or at all points; or because truth is the direction in which the writers of the New Testament move, the groundwork along which the platform of the gospel history is laid. The coincidence with truth at so many places, in the absence of the art that could have framed or even of the power that could have accomplished it, is the sure token of an entire coincidence. 15. One precious fruit of these investigations is, that they have demonstrated, and upon their own new and peculiar evidence alone, the antiquity of the evangelical record. None but contemporary writers could have exhibited so minute and manifold an accuracy, amid the ephemeral changes, which, in these days of incessant fluctuation, were ever taking place in the civil and political arrangements "*VU And what makes it altogether conduct, in a few years after the resurrection of T, Jerusalem was destroyed and the whole
fabric of the Jewish polity was swept away—so that not a fragment or a vestige of it remained. On this tremendous event we feel assured, that the local practices and peculiarities which are so statistically and truly set forth in the New Testament must have been described by eye-witnesses, or at least during the subsistence of the Hebrew commonwealth—for the memory of them could not have survived a single generation. The unavoidable inference as to the early publication of these narratives, is of immense worth to the christian argument—proving, as it does, that they made their appearance at a period far enough back; for affording every facility, whether to the confirmation or the exposure of the miracles which are recorded in them.
16. And there is one great synchronism, which, singly and of itself, fixes the age of the composition of the New Testament; and settles it down to the first age of Christianity. It is such a style as could only have proceeded from men of Hebrew origin, who wrote in Greek, but in a Greek tinged and interspersed with the peculiarities of their own vernacular language. And accordingly, it is alike distinguishable from the language of classic authors, and from that of the christian fathers, of the second and third centuries. To imagine that the innumerable Hebraisms and Syriasms of the New Testament were interpolated, or rather intertwined with the whole structure of the book, for the sole purpose of giving a colour or consistency to its reputed authorship in the days of the Apostles, were to accredit some forger of a later age, with the most difficult, upon men; and, in the course of these allusions we have not only repeated notices of God, but of other orders of intelligence beside ourselves and of the relations in which we stand to them. Now, in the glimpses which are thus afforded of an extended moral economy, we are unable to confront the informations of scripture, with any independent knowledge of our own. We have no direct or personal observation of angels and spirits; and we are not in circumstances, either for obtaining a confirmation of the Bible, or of detecting in its statements any marks of imposture—by comparing what it tells of things supernal to the world, with aught that we previously or originally know of these things. 18. But the Scripture not only offers notices and allusions in regard to matters external to the world; it offers these notices far more abundantly in regard to matters that are within the compass of the world, but external to the church—and all which matters, unlike to the former, were within the compass of human observation, and many of which have been derived by historical transmission to ourselves in the present day. The truth is, that the Bible may be said to present us with a general outline of the world's history—as consisting in the movement of nations, in the rise and fall of earth's great empires, in the most noted chronological eras; and adventuring, as it does, both on the names of countries, and the monarchs that ruled over them, and the manners that characterised their people—never did imposture, if imposture indeed it be, so expose herself to a thousand lights of cross-examination, or so multiply
her vulnerable points, by the daring and extended sweep, that she has thus taken among the affairs of men. There is something incredible in a compact or conspiracy of deceivers, the scheme and spirit of which were handed down from one to another through a whole millenium; but that one and all of them should have sustained such a general historic consistency through the whole of that period, that no glaring contradiction has yet been detected, between the multitude of incidental notices that the penmen of Scripture have made to the countries around Judea, and at a great distance from it, and the actual state of the world—that sacred and profane history should so have harmonized, as that a consistent erudition, made up of an immense variety of particulars, has actually been raised and established out of the connection* between them—that there should be such a sustained coincidence from the first dawnings of history, and extended by means of prophetic anticipation to the present day—truly, apart from the peculiar evidence of prophecy altogether, there is much in the artless and unforced agreements which are everywhere spread over so broad a surface of comparison, as to stamp the strongest appearance of truth both on the general narrative of the bible, and by implication, on the miraculous narrative, that, without the slightest appearance of ingenuity or elaborate design, is so incorporated therewith. CHAPTER II.
* See Shuckford, Prideaux, and Russel on the connections between sacred and profane History.
On the Moral Evidence for the Truth of the
1. The argument of the last chapter is of frequent application in questions of general criticism; and upon its authority alone many of the writers of past times have been admitted into credit, and many have been condemned as unworthy of it. The numerous and correct allusions to the customs and institutions, and other statistics of the age in which the pieces of the New Testament profess to have been written, give evidence of their antiquity. The artless and undesigned way in which these allusions are interwoven with the whole history, impresses upon us the perfect simplicity of the authors, and the total absence of every wish or intention to palm an imposture upon the world. And there is such a thing, too, as a general air of authenticity; which, however difficult to resolve into particulars, gives a very close and powerful impression of truth to the narrative. There is nothing fanciful in this species of internal evidence. It carries in it all the certainty of experience, and experience too upon a familiar and well-known subject, the characters of honesty in the written testimony of our fellow-men. We are often called upon, in private and every-day life, to exercise our judgment upon the spoken testimony of others; and we both feel and understand the powerful