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portions or lessons, as appointed to be read on certain occasions in the churches. In none of them have we any thing differing in essential points from the text at present received. It is true, and it sounds to uninformed ears quite alarming, that in the manuscripts collated for Griesbach's edition of the New Testament, as many as one hundred and fifty thousand various readings are said to have been found. But all alarm. will seem gratuitous, when it is known that not one in a thousand of these various readings makes any perceptible, or at most, any important variation of meaning; that they consist almost entirely in manifest mistakes of transcribers, such as the omission or transposition of letters, errors in pointing, in grammar, in the use of certain words instead of others of similar meaning, and in changing the position of words in a sentence. The very worst manuscript, were it our only copy of the New Testament, would not pervert one Christian doctrine or precept. By all the omissions and all the additions contained in all the manuscripts, no fact, no doctrine, no duty, presented in our authorized version, is rendered either obscure or doubtful. The diversity of readings is ample proof that our present manuscripts were made from various copies in ancient times; while the inconsiderable importance of this diversity of readings shows how nearly those copies conformed to the original Scriptures, and how little difference would be seen between our present New Testament and the autographs of its writers, could they be now collated. No ancient book has preserved its text so uncorrupt
as those of the New Testament. None is attended with so many means of detecting an inaccurate reading. A common reader, could he compare the various manuscripts, would be sensible of no more difference among them than among the several copies of his English Bible, which have been printed during the last two hundred years.
The uncorrupt preservation of the text of the New Testament is also evident from its agreement with the numerous quotations in the works of early Christian writers, and with those ancient translations which are now extant. In the remaining books of the fathers of the first three centuries, quotations from the New Testament are so abundant, that almost the whole of the sacred text could be gathered from those sources. Excepting some six or seven verses, the genuineness of which is not perfectly settled, there is an exact agreement in all material respects, between those quotations and the corresponding parts of our New Testament. The same. confirmation, though still more satisfactory, is derived from ancient versions. We possess, in various languages, versions of the New Testament, reaching as far back as the early part of the second century. The Mæso-Gothic version, discovered by Mai in 1817, and made by Ulphilas, bishop of the Mæso-Goths, in the year 370, of which only fragments were possessed before, has the same text as ours. The old Syriac version, called Peshito, is considered by some of the best Syriac scholars to have been made before the close of the first century. It was certainly in exist
ence and general use before the close of the second. Though never brought into contact with our copies of the New Testament, because not known in Europe till the sixteenth century; though handed down by a line of tradition perfectly independent of, and unknown to, that by which our Greek Testament was received; yet when the two came to be compared, the text of the one was almost an exact version of the text of the other. The difference was altogether unimportant. So clearly and impressively has divine Providence attested the integrity of our beloved Scriptures.
It is now high time we had relieved your attention. You will allow me to proceed, in the subsequent lectures, on the belief that the authenticity and integrity of the New Testament have been satisfactorily proved. But let us not separate without acknowledging, in thankfulness of heart, our debt of gratitude to Him who, on a subject of such unspeakable importance, has given us such abundant reason for complete conviction. He has made the great truth for which we have been contending, like "the round world, so sure that it cannot be moved."
CREDIBILITY OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY.
In the last two lectures our attention was occupied with the authenticity and integrity of the New Testament. A body of proof was presented, of such variety and conclusiveness as should cause us to feel, that in taking these important points for granted in our subsequent course, we assume nothing which every candid mind should not acknowledge to have been satisfactorily established. You will allow me, therefore, to treat the books of the New Testament as needing no further argument to prove that they were written in the age to which they are ascribed, and by the authors whose names they bear.
But it should be remembered, that a book may be authentic and yet not credible. It may have been written indeed by the reputed author, and yet its narrative may not be worthy of confidence. This, is a possible case. Examples illustrating it are not numerous. So generally do authentic histories prove to be true, that when we have ascertained a book to have been composed by the individual whose name is on it, we have a strong presumptive argument for the truth of all the conspicuous and important features in its narrative. But inasmuch as these two things are not always associated, an
important question remains to be determined before we can open the New Testament as the book of the life and religion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and worthy of entire reliance as an account of what was done and taught by himself and his apostles. Does the New Testament contain a true history of events connected with the ministry of Jesus and his primitive disciples, so that we may receive as historically accurate whatever is related therein? This refers to what is usually called the CREDIBILITY OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY, and expresses the subject of our present lecture.
But lest the bearing of my remarks should not be distinctly understood, I will endeavor to state the subject still more precisely. Observe, then, it is not the inspiration of the gospel history, or that it was written by holy men as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, that we are now to prove; nor that it contains a revelation from God; nor that its doctrines are true; nor that any of its facts were miraculous: these are subjects which it would be premature to introduce at present. All at which we now aim, is to furnish conclusive evidence that the gospel history is true, in the same sense as Marshall's Life of Washington is true-that what it relates, as matter of fact, is worthy of entire reliance as matter of fact, independently of all inferences or doctrines with which it may be connected.
How do we prove the credibility of the gospel history? I answer, precisely as you would ascertain the credibility of any other history. Though,