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strongly confirms the credit of both writers. For where two men write independently, in a different manner, on different occasions, and without concert, their agreement in the relation of facts must be supposed to spring from truth.
Paul's early sentiments and manner of life-his per. secution of the church-his conversion-his preaching in Damascus his danger in, and escape from that city-his sufferings—the places to which he carried the gospel-the success, and the opposition which he found in them-his assistance from other Apostles his imprisonments--his selfdenials--his labors for his own support—his constancy and perseverance-his mi. raculous works are represented in his epistles, as they are related in the history of the Acts, witis only this difference; Luke relates them with the freedom and boldness of an historian writing of another man ;
Paul alludes to them with the modesty, or appeals to them with the reluctance of an honest man constrained to speak of himself.
Any discerning person, reading the writings of the New Testament, and comparing them together, will find decisive evidence of their genuineness and authenticity.
But we have still farther evidence in their favor,
Every man, in the least acquainted with history, knows, that, in the time when the books of the New Testament are supposed to have been written, there were those persons who are here mentioned ; as Au. gustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Herod, Pilate, Felix, Festus, Caiaphas, and many others: And that there were those sects and classes of men, which are here described; as Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and Herodians : And that there were those customs and usages, which are here related; as the feasts of the passover and penticost, the ceremony of circumcision, a great strictdess in observing the Sabbath, and in reading the law. It is well known that the Jews were under the Roman
government, paid tribute to the Emperor, received their chief magistrates by his appointment, could put po man to death without his permission; and many other things too numerous to be here mentioned.
Now if the writings of the New Testament exhibit a true account of the state of things in that age, we must believe they were extant in, or near, that age. And if the authors have strictly regarded the truth in every thing else, why should their veracity be questioned, in things which concern the Lord Jesus. If we believe there were such men as Cæsar, Herod and Pilate, who performed the works ascribed to them, Why may we not believe, there was such a person as Jesus Christ, who performed the works ascribed to him?
That there was an extraordinary person called by this name, who did many wonderful things, and was put to death under Tiberius; and that there was such a sect as Christians, denominated from him, which made a great noise, and became very numerous in the world, soon after the death of their founder, we have evidence from Heathen, as well as Christian writers.
The books of the New Testament were early received as the genuine works of the men whose names they bear; and in this character they have been handcd down to the present time. Of this we have as good evidence as we have of any ancient facts. Writers who flourished soon after the Apostles, and who were conversant with them, or with their immediate disciples, can even now, at this distance of time, be produced as witnesses of the genuineness of almost all the books of the New Testament; as the four Gospels, the Acts, thirteen Epistles of Paul, the first of Peter, and the first of John. And writers but little later bear witness to the authority of them all.
A certain writer named Papias, who lived soon after the Apostles, and was conversant with their immediato disciples, is quoted by Eusebius, a church historian, in confirmation of the gospel of Matthew. Fustin, Irene
ss and Clement of Alexandria, who wrote about the middle of the second century, quote several passages out of Mark's gospel, and prove that he wrote it, and that it was seen and commended by the Apostle Peter. Paul himself has given his sanction to Luke's gospel, by quoting a passage from it in his first epistle to Timothy. The ancients generally apply to Luke these words of Paul to the Corinthians, “We have sent the brother, whose praise is in the gospel through all the churches.” Origen declares, that Luke's gospel was approved by Paul. It is quoted by Justin and others in the second century, near the times of the Apostles. Irenæus, who was acquainted with Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, has with great accuracy proved the genuineness of the gospel received under the name of that Apostle. Several other early fathers ascribe it to him, and say, that the authority of it was never controverted in the church. Eusebius informs us that John read and approved the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and added his own as a supplement to them. The book called the Acts of the Apostles, compared with Luke's gospel, appears to have been written by the same author. All the ancients agree that it was composed by Luke, and received in the church as an authentic history. As such it is quoted by Clement of Rome, who was a companion with Paul; by Papias, who conversed with men of the Apostles' times; by Polycarp, who was John's disciple; and by Ireneus, who lived in the second century.
Thirteen of Paul's epistles, with the first of Peter, and the first of John, were never questioned ; for there were particular churches, or persons, to whom all the originals, except the two last mentioned epistles, were directed. These originals were carefully preserved in the churches which received them, as Tertullian says, down to his time : which was the third century. They were acknowledged, without hesitancy, by the whole Christian church, as Clement and Origen affirm. They
were cited as Paul's epistles, in the very age in which they were written, and in the next succeeding age, and so on in every age since.
The epistle to the Hebrews, that of James, and that of Jude, the second of Peter, the second and third of John, and the Revelation, were not, at first, universally received : But we find, by the testimony of a number of the before mentioned fathers, that, after some inquity, they were admitted as genuine and authentic in the earliest times. As these books were written either to Christians dispersed abroad, or to private persons, it was not so easy at once to ascertain their authority, as it was that of the other books, which were directed to particular churches; for there the author's handwriting, and the character of the messengers who brought them, were well known, and there they were immediately and repeatedly read.
T'he caution with which the churcbes received some of the books of the present canon, shews that, in this important matter, they did not act with a hasty credu. lity, but with a just concern to avoid imposition. So that the canon of the New Testament stands on better footing, than if no doubts had arisen about any part of it.
Not only were these books universally received by Christians of the early ages, but publicly read in the churches. Paul orders his first epistle to the Thessadonians to be read to all the holy brethren, and his epistle to the Colossians to be communicated to the church of the Laodiceans. And Peter, in his second epistle, signifies, that Paul had written a number of epistles, which were generally known in the churches, Justin Martyr, in a book which he wrote about forty years after the Apostolic age, speaks of the writings of the Apostles, as read every Sabbath in the Christian congregations.
From these testimonies it appears, that the books of the New Testament were, in that age in which they were written, and in the next succeeding age, received
as the genuine works of the men whose names they bear. And from age to age the testimonies of their reception became more and more numerous.
Yea, ve find, within about Sfty years after the Apostles, the res. timonies of heathens and infidels, that there were such books extant as those which we now receive, and that these books were acknowledged and revered by Christaans.
These writings viere, early, probably within forty or fifty years after Christ's ascension, collected into a vol. ume, and treated by Christians with peculiar marks of faith and reverence.
Now if these books had not been genuine, it is impossible that they should have gained such universal credit among Christians. If there had been no such men known as their reputed authors, they never could have obtained any credit at all. The authors appear under appropriate names and characters, call themselves apostles and disciples of Jesus ; relate many remarkable facts as then recent and notorious ; mention many miraculous works performed, and supernatural gifts exercised by them, in such places, and in the presence of such persons and churches ; appeal to the pub. lic for the truth of many of the facts related ; represent themselves and other apostles as having been present in those places, and there preached, wrought mira. cles, made converts, formed churches, and imparted supernatural gifts. Now it is impossible that any persons, especially societies, should have received these books, if they had never seen such men, known such facts, or heard of such churches. Every one who saw the writings would naturally inquire, Where are the churches which are here addressed? Who are the men that speak of themselves as so generally known ? Who has ever been acquainted with the matters which they relate with so much assurance ? Ask yourselves : Would the history of the late American war, and the revolution which followed, be received with any regard