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very same in all the translations and manuscripts of the original; and perfectly coincide with the quotations and commentaries of the primitive writers; —we must either reject the writing* of Xenophon, Thucydides, Livy and Tacitus, for whose authenticity neither so many nor strong arguments can be found, and, in a word, all the ancient writings in the world, as not genuine, —or we must acknowledge, that the scriptures of the New Testament are authentic, and in every matter of importance, perfectly uncorrupted.
But from this alone we cannot determine their Credibility. An author may write of events, which happened in his time and in the place of his residence, but should he be either credulous or a fanatic, or mould we have reason to suspect his honejty, his evidence is of no value. In order, therefore, to establish the Credibility of an author, we must examine more closely
into his particular character, and inquire whether he possessed abilities sufsicient to scrutinize the truth, and honesty enough faithfully to relate it as it happened.
Now the historical writers of the New Testament are distinguished also from all others whose credibility has never been called in question by any reasonable man, in this respect—that if historical subjects were capable of mathematical, demonstration, we must acknowledge that their credibility has been not only morally proved, but even demonstrated mathematically.
They were immediate Witnesses.
THE writers of the New Testament lived at the time, and in the place, of the actual occurrence of the events, which are the subject of their history. St. Matthew, St. John, St Peter, St.
James, James, and St. Jude, were Jews by birth, and lived in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, at Jerusalem, the scene of the history which they relate. They were all, moreover, immediate disciples of Jesus, and the facts contained in their histories had been subject to the scrutiny of their own senses. —It is true that St. Paul was a native of Tarsus, and not among those who had been the friends of Jesus, and the eye-witnesses of his actions. Yet he had lived a long time at Jerusalem, had studied Theology under Gamaliel, a Jewish scholar at that time in the greatest repute, and diligently employed himself in acquiring a thorough knowledge of the Jewish religion.—We have but few biographical memoirs extant of St. Mark and St Luke: Yet thus much we do know, that the former composed his history under the immediate inspection of St. Peterh, and the
h See the testimonies of Clement of Alexandria, Papias, and Tertullian, on this subject.
1 , latter fatter his narration under the immediate inspection of St Paul'. Their histories must therefore be considered to possess the fame authority as if they had been written by the eye-witnesses themselves, whom we have named above k.
They xcere also competent Witnesses.
THE, writers of the New Testament had the most important reasons, and sufficient abilities, to examine into the truth or falfhood of their histories.
5 See the testimonies of Tertullian and Origen.
k The Acts of tlie Apostles and the Gospel by St. Luke form but one book. For in the Acts of the Apostles i. I. the writer names his Gospel wgwroi Jioyoi, librum primum, the firjl part; he continues immediately from thence, where he had left off in the Gospel j and has dedicated both to one man, namely, Theophilus.—Consequently, whatever is said by the ancients concerning the History of St. Luke, is to be understood not only of the Gospel, but also of the Acts of the Apostles.
They They relate their memoirs, not for the purpose of delighting future ages, or of conveying information in the usual method of historical writings; but they build on them a System of Religion, from which alone they expected their temporal and eternal welfare. c If Christ be not risen,' says St Paul1, £ then is our doctrine and your faith false; then are we yet in our sins; then they who have died in the belief of the truth of our religion are perished for ever; then are we persecuted Christians of all men the most miserable.' A history which they conceived to be so essential, the very foundation of all their hopes and of all their faith, had been undoubtedly scrutinized and proved by them with the most anxious care.