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as in the case of authenticity, we are ready to produce a variety and an abundance of evidence far exceeding what the best established and the most unquestionable books of ancient profane history can pretend to, still, the nature of the evidence is the same in one case as in the other. The fact that one history is called sacred, and another profane; that in one book the actions of a holy and extraordinary philanthropist named Jesus are related, and in another the actions of a wicked and extraordinary man-slayer named Cæsar, occasions not the least difference in the nature of the evidence by which the credibility of both must be ascertained.

Here it would be perfectly safe and reasonable to rest the question of credibility upon the proof arrived at in the last lecture. Although it does not follow, in all cases, that to prove a book authentic, is to prove it credible also with regard to its principal events; yet, in the case before us, the fact that the books of the New Testament were written in the first century of Christianity, and by the apostles and original disciples of Christ, is complete evidence that in respect to the main events of the gospel history they are true. If one should write a romance, calling it the memoir of some well-known and distinguished personage, and publish it, not as grave, credible biography, but under the character of a novel, the authenticity of the work would have no connection with its truth. But should he issue a book professing to be the true biography of Washington; should he vouch in every way for its truth, and stake

his reputation upon its accuracy, in the midst of a generation familiar with the life of that noble man, and still containing some who were his companions and the eye-witnesses of many of his deeds, it would be reasonably inferred, that unless the author were an idiot or a madman, his work must be correct, at least in the great mass of its statements and in all its conspicuous events. He must be aware that, under such circumstances, no important narrative without truth could escape detection. The fact, therefore, that he has published, in the midst of this generation, what he expects to be received as a correct biography of Washington, is sufficient warrant that, however inaccurate it may be in minute details, and however deficient in many respects of good writing and useful history, we may safely receive its principal narratives. Such a thing cannot be produced as a book published in the age in which its events are said to have occurred, and among the people to whose minds those events are said to have been familiar-a book which its author gravely avowed and defended as true and accurate, and yet which, in its principal narratives, in its prominent characters and occurrences, was not in accordance with fact. Men have too much sense, if not too much honesty, to attempt such a Quixotic adventure; especially when character and worldly interests are committed by the falsehood. But there is no book to which this remark is so applicable as the New Testament. Not only was it published in the age in which the events related are asserted to have oc

curred, and among the people to whom they are said to have been notorious, but in an age and among a people awake to the whole subject of its history, determined to sift its correctness to the uttermost, capable of the severest scrutiny, and anxious to take advantage of the smallest inaccuracy. This the writers were perfectly aware of. They must have known that in the brevity of the history, in the fewness of its principal facts, in the great prominence and notoriety of each, in the few persons to whom they belong as their leading agents, in the few places and the confined region in which they are said to have occurred, and in the brief space of time within which they were all embraced, their adversaries possessed advantages for investigation which nothing but bold and plain truth could confront, and no fiction could possibly elude. That in the face of all these advantages, they did publish, and stake their characters and lives upon the correctness of their narratives, is a full warrant that they published truth. This argument can only be escaped by charging the writers of the New Testament with a degree of idiocy or madness, which the eminent wisdom and excellence of their works prove to have been impossible. I venture to say, that should the same argument be alleged with equal force in behalf of any other ancient book of history, its credibility as to the main events related would be considered, independently of any other evidence, as placed beyond a reasonable suspicion.

Here, then, we might proceed to open the New

Testament as a book of correct narrative; certified that, because authentic, it is therefore, as to all important matters of fact, credible. But we are not restricted to a single method of proof. The subject is compassed about with a cloud of witnesses. We take up another and broader plan of argument, the force of which none can mistake.

Let me ask by what sort of evidence you would feel assured of the credibility of any history professing to relate events of a past age? Suppose you should discover a volume hitherto concealed, professing to have been written by some well-known individual of the Augustan age, and to contain a narrative of events in the personal history and domestic life of Augustus Cæsar. You would first examine into its authenticity. That settled, you would inquire into the credibility of its narrative. The first question would be, did the writer possess every advantage of knowing the events in the personal history of Augustus? May I depend on the sufficiency of his knowledge? Now, he may not have lived with Augustus, and yet his knowledge may have been perfectly adequate. But your mind would be fully satisfied on this head, should it appear that the writer was not only a contemporary, but that he was domesticated with Augustus-conversed familiarly with him, lived at his table, assisted at his councils, accompanied him on his journeys.

The question of adequate knowledge being thus at rest, another would remain: May I depend on the honesty of the writer? In ordinary cases, you

would be satisfied if nothing appeared in the book itself, or in the testimony of contemporaneous writings, impeaching his honesty. But your satisfaction would be much increased should you discover, in the style and spirit of the narrative, in its simplicity, modesty, and freedom of manner, in the circumstantial character of its details and the frequency of its allusions to time, place, and persons, those internal features of honesty which it is so extremely difficult, if not impossible, to counterfeit. Your confidence would grow exceedingly if, on a comparison of the book with other well-established histories of the same times, you should discover not only that there is no contradiction in any particular, but that all its allusions to the customs, institutions, prejudices, and political events of the times, are abundantly confirmed from other sources. This would set the honesty of the writer in a very favorable light.

But suppose, that at this stage you should discover three other books upon the same subject, each evidently written by a person in the family and confidence of Augustus, or else with equally favorable opportunities of knowing him-each evidently an independent work, and having all the inward and outward marks of truth before detailed. Suppose, that on comparing these four histories together, you find that while each contains some minor facts which the others do not, and relates in its own style and language what all contain in common, there is yet no disagreement among them; but on the contrary, the most perfect confirmation one of another. Surely,

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