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four Gospels: and many more wrote commentaries on the several constituent parts of this sacred volume.
Now, as the evidences thus afforded by Christian writers during the first four centuries, are very abundant, and various in form and manner; so it is to be remembered that this vast company of witnesses consisted of individuals who lived at different times, were scattered over widely separated countries, occupied very
different stations in the church and in the world, and were, in general, totally independent one of another. But diversified as they were in almost every respect, yet, in the testimony which they bear to the genuineness and authority of the New Testament, there is an entire and uninterrupted harmony. What can account for such a harmony, but truth?
II. During the first few centuries of the Christian era, while revealed religion was gradually spreading in the world, many versions of the New Testament were made into the vernacular dialects of those nations among whom a knowledge of divine truth was disseminated. The old Syriac version contains the whole of the New Testament, except the Revelation and four of the Catholic epistles, viz. the second of Peter, the first and second of John, and the epistle of Jude. It is remarkably accurate and faithful, and was probably written during the second century. The same period is supposed to have given birth to those numerous Latin Versions, and especially the Vetus Itala, mentioned by Augustine, which formed the basis of the Vulgate of Jerome. The existing translation of the New Testament into Sahidic, the language of Upper Egypt, is traced by the learned Woide to the same ancient date. The Ethiopic and Coptic versions also, are of great and allowed antiquity. Now, these ver
TESTIMONY OF ENEMIES.
sions could not have been made, if the original of the New Testament had not existed previously; and it is quite obvious that they would not have been made, if that volume had not in those early ages been
generally received, as truly the work of the apostles and evangelists.
III. The genuineness of the books of the New Testament was allowed by the enemies of Christianity, as well as by its friends. Among the early heretics, who fell away from the truths of the Gospel into the most absurd and unscriptural errors, there were many who rejected the divine authority of those parts of the New Testament which did not comport with their own creeds. But that its contents were the real productions of their supposed authors, seems to have been a point generally admitted by these bewildered disputants, as Michaelis shows to have been the case in reference to particular parts of the New Testament, with the Ebionites, with Cerinthus, and with Marcion : Introd. to New Test., vol. i, ch. JI, § 7, by Marsh.
Still more important is the testimony of the heathen enemies of Christianity. From the works of Origen we learn that his opponent, the acute and bitter Celsus, quoted largely from the New Testament, and argued against Christianity on the allowed principle, that the Gospels and epistles were actually written by the apostles and their companions : and the same observation applies to those still more powerful enemies of our religion-Porphyry and Julian: Michaelis, vol.i, ch. II, § 8. It is a triumphant argument in favour of the New Testament, that, during the first three centuries and a half after the Christian era, almost the whole of it was admitted to be genuine by the opposers, as well as by the defenders, of Christianity; and that
DIALECT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
the first person of whom we read as venturing to advance a contrary sentiment, was Faustus, an illiterate Manichæan, who lived at the close of the fourth century.
IV. The strong and satisfactory testimonies to which we have now adverted, are confirmed by a variety of internal evidences of a very convincing character. The first of them is the dialect in which the whole New Testament is writen. Greek was the language more generally spoken than any other in those various countries (considered as a whole) where the Gospel was first propagated. Since, therefore, it was the intention of the apostles and evangelists to be as extensively useful as possible, it was to be expected that they should write their histories and epistles in Greek. But the Greek, in which the New Testament is composed, is not classical Greek; it is the Greek which comes from the pen of Hebrews—with a very large infusion of their national phraseology. From this circumstance we derive a strong confirmatory evidence, that the New Testament was truly the work of the apostles and their companions. Certainly it could not have been written in those later periods of the church, when there were no longer to be found any Hebrew Christians. The Christian fathers of the second, third, and fourth, centuries, were utterly incapable of writing in any such dialect.
V. Another plain internal indication of the genuineness of the New Testament, may be found in the very numerous allusions, contained in its several parts, to the habits and condition of the Jews, Greeks, and Romans, at the time when it is considered to have been written, as well as to many minor historical circumstances which happened during the life, or soon after the death, of Jesus Christ. The variety and
CORRESPONDENCE WITH JOSEPHUS, &c.
particularity of these allusions are such as would never have been ventured on by a forger in an after age; and their correctness and freedom from anachronism, as evinced by the correspondent testimonies of Josephus and other authors, plainly prove that the New Testament was composed by individuals who were personally conversant with the subjects on which they wrote.
To point out a few particulars: a very considerable intricacy attaches to the history of the family of Herod. In the works of Josephus and other historians, we read of Herod the great, whom the senate of Romne, at the instigation of Marcus Antonius, appointed to be king of Judea—of his three sons Archelaus, Philip, and Herod Antipas, who severally ruled over distinct provinces, viz. Judea, Galilee, and Trachonitis—of Herod Agrippa the Elder, (grandson of Herod the great) under whose dominion these provinces were again combined, and who, on a public occasion, was smitten with a fatal disease at Cæsarea-and, lastly, of Herod Agrippa the younger, and of his sisters Mariamne, Bernice, and Drusilla, the last of whom was the wife of the Roman Governor, Felix. Now, in the New Testament most of the principal members of this family are mentioned, and a variety of allusions are made to their history, character, and circumstances. And, although some of these details are of a subordinate nature, yet all of them, on examination, turn out to be correct; they are the faithful, natural, references of cotemporary writers to facts which are known to have taken place in their day. Precisely the same may be said of the account, given in the New Testament, of the various Roman Governors in Judea and elsewhere; of the titles and dignities which they bore ;
HARMONY OF ITS SEVERAL PARTS.
of the authority which they assumed; and of the practices to which they and their people were accustomed. All is natural—all is evinced, by other well authorized evidences, to be correct and real. With regard to the Jews themselves, the argument now stated is much enhanced in value by the consideration, that, after the taking and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, (A.D. 72) the customs and general condition of that extraordinary people underwent, in various respects, a total change. When we find the evangelists who profess to relate the events of their own time, describing, incidentally indeed, but truly and accurately, the very peculiar circumstances of the Jewish polity under the government of Rome—the course of the priesthood—the councils--the synagogue worship—the sects, and their opinions—and the general habits and character which, at that remarkable period, are known to have attached to the Jews, we may rest fully assured, that the Gospels are no forgeries—that they are the genuine production of the apostolic age, and of the authors whose names they bear. For the particulars appertaining to this part of the subject, see Lardner's Cred., book I, part i.
VI. Lastly, One part of the New Testament will often be found to afford a powerful confirmation of the genuineness of another. For example, the Gospel of John bears strong marks of having been written in order to complete the account of the life and discourses of Jesus, as delivered by Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and thus, the positive evidences adduced in favour of his Gospel are reflected on those of his predecessors. Again, the numerous undesigned and almost latent accordances which subsist between the statements made by Luke in “ the Acts,” and by