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COURSE OF LECTURES,
A DESCRIPTION AND' SYSTEMATIC ARRANGEMENT
SEVERAL BRANCHES OF DIVINITY:
AN ACCOUNT BOTH OF THE PRINCIPAL AUTHORS, AND OF THE PROGRESS, WHICH HAS BEEN MADE AT
HERBERT MARSH, D. D. F.R.S. & F.A.S.
LORD BISHOP OF PETERBOROUGH,
AND MARGARET PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY.
On the Credibility of the New Testament.
Printed by J. Smith, Printer to the University; AND SOLD BY DEIGHTONS, NICHOLSONS, AND BARRETT, CAMBRIDGE.
AND F. C. & J. RIVINGTON, LONDON.
The inquiry into the Credibility of the New Testa
ment distinct from the inquiry into its Authenticity. Erplanation of the term Authenticity: the use of it in these Lectures, and the reasons for so using it. Transition from Authenticity to Credibility apparently more easy in regard to the books of the New Testament, than in regard to common books. Reasons why it is not so. The Credibility of the New Testament must be established independently of its Inspiration, because the proof of Inspiration depends on the proof of Credibility. Arguments for the Credibility of the New Testament reduced to two heads. We may argue from the character and situation of the writers, or we may argue from the writings themselves. When we argue from the character of the writers to the Credibility of their writings, we argue on the supposition of the Integrity of the New Testament. Explanation of this term. Difference between a perfect text of the Greek Testament, and
Page the Integrity of the Greek Testament. Arguments for its Integrity drawn from a consideration of the obstacles to a general corruption of the Greek manuscripts. Additional obstacles opposed by the ancient versions, and the writings of the Greek Fathers. The general check, which was afforded by the joint operation of manuscripts, fathers, and versions, must have preserved to us the New Testament in the same state upon the whole, which was given to it by the writers themselves. The conduct of the Greek Church, from which we have received our Greek manuscripts, an additional reason for believing that they have not been wilfully corrupted. The arguments for the Integrity of the Greek manuscripts would be entirely destroyed, if it were true that i John v. 7. existed originally in the Greek manuscripts, and was afterwards expunged. Necessary connexion therefore between the general Integrity of the New Testament, and the evidence relating to that passage. Summary statement of the evidence. History of the passage, from its origin in the Latin version to its introduction in a modern Greek manuscript, and thence to a printed edition. Result of this inquiry is, that the general principle, by which we maintain the Integrity of the New Testament, is not affected. Application of this principle to the period, in which all other arguments would fail : and the inference thence deduced, that the Greek manuscripts, which have descended to the present age, are free from the corruptions, which have been ascribed to them.
Page The integrity of the New Testament having been proved,
we may argue from the character of the writers to the Credibility of their writings. Mode of conducting that argument. Application of it to the Apostolic Historians, St. Matthew and St. John. They had no motive to deceive others, and could not be deceived themselves. St. Matthew wrote his Gospel under circumstances, which leave no other alternative, than either that the history is true, or that a fraud was committed which was morally impossible. Similar argument applicable to the Gospel of St. John. Credibility of the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke. Though not eye-witnesses to the facts recorded in their Gospels, like St. Matthew and St. John, they derived their information from those who were eyewitnesses. Whether the information was communicated to them in writing, or only in verbal conversation. The former has been already shewn to be more probable : and, being more secure, than a communication by words, is more favourable to the Credibility of their Gospels. Their dependence on the Apostles for their information was equal in either case: and their independence, with respect to each other, is no more affected by the supposition of a written, than by the supposition of a verbal communication. The author's mode of explaining the verbal harmony of the three first Gospels does not impair, but secure the independence of St. Mark and St. Luke, as historians, with reference to each other. Strange mistake, which