Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Page

has been generally made on this subject. The 'Veracity of the Evangelists' does not depend on the mode in which they obtained their materials, but on the mode, in which they employed their materials. St. Mark and St. Luke employed their materials as faithfully, as they obtained their materials securely. Proof of this assertion. St. Mark and St. Luke encountered the same dangers with the Apostles, and therefore gave similar proofs of their sincerity. General inference to the Credibility of the four Gospels, as drawn from the arguments employed in this section.

[ocr errors]

LECTURE XXIX.

The Credibility of the facts recorded in the New Tes

tament estimated from a consideration of the facts themselves. Three different ways, in which those facts may be considered.

We may compare the several parts of each single book : or we may compare one book with another: or we may compare the whole with other works of acknowledged credit. The Gospels, when examined singly, are found to be consistent in their several parts, and have so far the internal marks

When the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke are compared with the Gospel of St. Matthew, they are found to corroborate each other. The matter, which is common to the three first Gospels, forms of itself a Narrative of our Saviour's ministry, from his baptism to his death and resurrection. Hence arose the supposition, that such a Narrative once existed in a separate form. The supposition of such

of truth.

Page a Narrative accounts not for any verbal harmony: it accounts only for the harmony in the matter of the three first Gospels. The harmony in the arrangement of the common matter by St. Mark and St. Luke, inerplicable on any other supposition, unless we abandon the notion, that St. Mark and St. Luke wrote independently of each other. A faithful adherence, on the part of St. Mark and St. Luke to a written communication from the Apostles an argument for the Credibility of their Gospels. Credibility of the facts, which each of the three first Gospels has peculiar to itself. Character of St. John's Gospel different from that of the other three : but his Gospel equally credible. The apparent contradictions in our four Gospels do not impair the veracity of the writers, or the credibility of their writings. Comparison of the Acts of the Apostles, with the Epistles of St. Paul; and the inference thence deduced, that the history is true. Confirmation of the facts recorded in the New Testament, by a comparison with Josephus and Tacitus. The actions ascribed to our Saviour, shewn to be of that description, that the Apostles and Evangelists not only would not have recorded them, but could not have recorded them, if they had not been true

54

LECTURE XXX.

Special inquiry into the Credibility of the Miracles

recorded in the New Testament. Importance of this inquiry to the truth of Christianity. Definition of a miracle, as the term is used by Christ and his

Page Apostles. Attempts of the Jews in the time of our Saviour to evade the inference from miracles by ascribing them to the agency of evil spirits. Absurdity of such attempts, and insufficiency of the answers, which have been sometimes given. A real miracle can be performed only by the special interference of God himself. The attempts of the Jews, to account for the miracles of our Saviour, however absurd those attempts might be, establish the existence of the miracles. Objections of modern philosophers to the existence of miracles, on the ground that they are incapable of proof. Answer to the objection, that the notion of a miracle destroys itself. Answer to the argument from experience as explained by Mr. Hume. Proof that miracles may be established by human testimony. Proof that the miracles, recorded in the New Testament, are sufficiently established by human testimony. Illustration of the argument by an examination of the miracle performed in the restoration of Lazarus. The Miracles ascribed to the Apostles equally credible. Additional argument for the Credibility of the Miracles performed by St. Paul. Inference from the Credibility of facts to the Credibility of doctrines ; whence it appears, that the doctrines recorded in the New Testament, are doctrines, which came from God

74

.

LECTURE XXVII.

The Authenticity of the New Testament having been established in the Lectures, which I gave on a former occasion, I now enter on a subject of equal importance, the Credibility of the New Testament. The two subjects, though closely connected, are in themselves distinct. The question of authorship is one thing : the question of truth is another. As a history may be true, though the author is unknown, so the authorship may be certain, and yet the history be doubtful. From the fact, that a book, ascribed to an ancient author, is justly ascribed to him, we cannot argue to the truth of its contents without intermediate links in the chain of our reasoning. And, though the process, by which we go from the first to the şecond, is in some cases easier, than in others, it is in all cases necessary to establish the latter by a separate and independent proof.

The meaning of the term 'authentic', as used in these Lectures, has been already explained

A

on a former occasion, and may be easily inferred from the observations, which have just been made. But to remove all danger of mistake, in regard to a word which is variously used, I will again explain the different applications of it, and again assign the reason for preferring that sense, which is here ascribed to it. While some writers use the term 'authentic' as synonymous with 'genuine', there are other writers, who distinguish the terms, by using the epithet 'genuine' for books written by the authors to whom they are ascribed, and applying the term "authentic' in those cases only, where such books are likewise entitled to credit. When the term 'authentic is used in this latter sense, it would be tautology to speak of authenticity and credibility : for authenticity then includes credibility. We must then speak of books, as being genuine and credible; which comes to the same thing, as if we called them authentic and credible, when the terms in question are used as synonymous. Now every author, when a word is used in different senses, may adopt that, which he himself prefers, provided he gives a previous definition, and throughout the course of his reasoning adheres to that definition. But experience has shewn, that when the term authentic is professedly used in the compound sense of 'genuine and credible', men sometimes

« AnteriorContinuar »