Theological Institutes

Part First - Evidences of The Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures

By Richard Watson

Chapter 12


FROM the preparatory course of argument and observation which has been hitherto pursued, we proceed to the investigation of the question, whether there are sufficient reasons to conclude that such a revelation of truth, as we have seen to be so necessary for the instruction and moral correction of mankind, is to be found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; a question of the utmost importance, inasmuch as, if not found there, there are the most cogent reasons for concluding, that a revelation was never vouchsafed to man, or that it is irretrievably lost.

No person living in an enlightened country will for a moment contend, that the Koran of Mohammed, or any of the reputed sacred Writings of the Chinese, Hindoos, or Budhists, can be put into competi­tion with the Bible; so that it is universally acknowledged among us, that there is but one book in the world which has claims to Divine  authority so presumptively substantial as to be worthy of serious examination,-and therefore if the advantage of supernatural and infallible instruction has been afforded to man, it may be concluded to be found in that alone. This consideration indicates the proper temper of mind, with which such an inquiry ought to be approached.

Instead of wishing to discover that the claims of the Scriptures to Divine authority are unfounded, (the case it is to be feared with too many,) every humble and sincere man, who, conscious of his own mental infirmity, and recollecting the perplexities in which the wisest of men have been involved on religious and moral subjects, will wish to find at length an infallible guide, and will examine the evidences of the Bible with an anxious desire that he may find sufficient reason to ac. knowledge their Divine authority; and he will feel, that, should lie be disappointed, he has met with a painful misfortune, and not a matter for triumph. If this temper of mind, which is perfectly consistent with full. and even severe examination of the claims of Scripture, does not exist, the person destitute of it is neither a sincere nor an earnest inquirer after truth.

We may go farther and say, though we have no wish to prejudge the argument, that if the person examining the Holy Scriptures in order to. ascertain time truth of their pretensions to Divine authority, has had the means of only a general acquaintance with their contents, he ought, if a lover of virtue as well as truth, to be predisposed in their favour; and that, if he is not, the moral state of his heart is liable to great suspicion.

For that the theological system of the Scriptures is in favour of the highest virtues, cannot be denied. It both prescribes them, and affords the strongest possible motives to their cultivation. Love to God, and to.. all mankind; meekness, courtesy, charity; the government of the appetites and affections within the rules of temperance; the renunciation of. evil imaginations, and sins of the heart; exact justice in all our dealings ;-these, and indeed every other virtue, civil, social, domestic, and personal, are clearly taught, and solemnly commanded: and it might b& confidently put to every candid person, however skeptical, whether the universal observance of the morality of the Scriptures, by all ranks and nations, would not produce the most beneficial changes in society, and secure universal peace, friendship, and happiness. This he would not deny; this has been acknowledged by some infidel writers themselves; and if so,-if after all the bewildering speculations of the wisest men on religious and moral subjects, and which, as we have seen, led to nothing definite and influential, a book is presented to us which shows what virtue is, and the means of attaining it; which enforces it by sufficient sanctions, and points every individual and every community to a certain remedy for all their vices, disorders, and miseries ;-we must renounce all title to be considered lovers of virtue and lovers of our species, if we do not feel ourselves interested in the establishment of its claims to Divine authority; and because we love virtue, we shall wish that the proof of this important point may be found satisfactory. This surely is time temper of mind we ought to bring to such an inquiry; and the rejection of the Scriptures by those who are not under its influence, is rather a presumption in their favour than a consideration which throws capon them the least discredit.

In addition to the proofs which have been given of the necessity of a revelation, both from the reason of things, and the actual circum­stances of the world, it has been established, that miracles actually performed, and prophecies really uttered and clearly accomplished, are satisfactory proofs of the authority of a communication of the will of God through the agency of men. We have however stated, that in cases where we are not witnesses of the miracles, and auditors of the predictions, but obtain information respecting them from some record, we must, before we can admit the force of the argument drawn from them, be assured, that the record was early and faithfully made, and has been uncorruptly kept, with respect to the miracles; and, with respect to the prophecies, that they were also uttered and recorded previously to those events occurring which are alleged to be accomplishments of hem. These are points necessary to be ascertained before it is worth the trouble to inquire, whether the alleged miracles have any claim to be considered as miraculous in a proper sense, and the predictions as revelations from an omniscient, and, consequently, a Divine Being.

The first step in this inquiry is, to ascertain the existence, age, and actions, of the leading persons mentioned in Scripture as the instruments by whom it is professed time revelations they contain were made known.

With respect to these PERSONS it is not necessary that our attention should be directed to more than two, MOSES and CHRIST,-one the reputed agent of the Mosaic, the other the author of the Christian revelation; because the evidence which establishes their existence and actions, and the period of both, will also establish all that is stated in the same records as to the subordinate and succeeding agents.

The Biblical record states, that Moses was the leader and legislator of the nation of tine Jews near sixteen hundred years before the Christian era, according to the common chronology. This is grounded upon the tradition and national history of the Jews; and it is certain, that so far from there being any reason to doubt the fact, much less to suppose. with an extravagant fancy of some modern infidels, that Moses was a mythological personage, the very same principles of historical evidence which assure us of the truth of any unquestioned fact of profane history, assure us of the truth of this. It cannot be doubted but that the Jews existed very anciently as a nation. It is equally certain, that it has been an uninterrupted and universally received tradition among them in all ages, that Moses led them out of Egypt, and first gave them their system of laws and religion. The history of that event they have in writing, and also the laws attributed to him. There is nothing in the leading events of their history contradicted by remaining authentic historical records of those nations with whom they were geographically and politically related, to support any suspicion of its accuracy; and as their institutions must have been established and enjoined by some political authority, and bear the marks of a systematic arrangement, established at once, and not growing up under the operation of circumstances at distant periods, to one superior and commanding mind they are most reasonably to be attributed. The Jews refer them to Moses, and if this be denied, no proof can be offered in favour of any other person being entitled to that honour. The history is therefore uncontradicted by any opposing evidence, and can only be denied on some principle of skepticism which would equally shake the foundations of all history whatever.

The same observations may be made as to the existence of the Founder of the Christian religion. In the records of the New Testament he is called Jesus CHRIST, because he professed to be the Messias predicted in the Jewish Scriptures, and was acknowledged as such by his followers; and his birth is fixed upward of eighteen centuries ago. This also is at least uncontradicted testimony. The Christian religion exists, and must have had an author. Like the institutions of Moses, it bears the evidence of being the work of one mind; and, as a theolo­gical system, presents no indications of a gradual and successive elaboration. There was a time when there was no such religion as that of Christianity, and when pagan idolatry and Judaism universally prevailed; it follows, that there once flourished a teacher to whom it owed its origin, and all tradition and history unite in their testimony, that that lawgiver was Jesus Christ. No other person has ever been adduced, living at a later period, as the founder of this form of religion.

To the existence, and the respective antiquity ascribed in the Scriptures to the founders of the Jewish and Christian religion, many ancients writers give ample testimony; who being themselves neither of the Jewish nor Christian religion, cannot be suspected of having any de sign to furnish evidence of the truth of either. MANETHO, CHEREMON, APOLLONIUS, and LYSIMACHUS, beside some other ancient Egyptian whose histories are now lost, are quoted by Josephus, as extant in his days; and passages are collected from them, in which they agree that Moses was the leader of the Jews when they departed from Egypt, and the founder of their laws. STRADO, who flourished in the century before Christ, (Geog. 1. 16,) gives an account of the law of Moses, as forbidding images, and limiting Divine worship to one invisible and universal Being. Justin, a Roman historian, in his 36th book devotes a chapter to an account of the origin of the Jews; represents them as sprung from ten sons of Israel, and speaks of Moses as the commander of the Jews who went out of Egypt, of the institution of the Sabbath, and the priesthood of Aaron. PLINY speaks of Moses as giving rise to a sect of Magicians, probably with reference to his contest with the magicians of Egypt. TACITUS says, "Moses gave a new form of wor­ship to the Jews, and a system of religious ceremonies, the reverse of every thing known to any other age or country." JUVENAL, in his 14th Satire, mentions Moses as the author of a volume, which was preserved with great care among the Jews, by which the worship of images and eating swine's flesh were forbidden; and circumcision and the observation of the Sabbath strictly enjoined. LONGINUS cites Moses as the lawgiver of the Jews, and praises the sublimity of his style in the account he gives of the creation. The ORPHIC verses, which are very ancient, inculcate the worship of one God, as recommended by that law "which was given by him who was drawn out of the water, and received two tables of stone from the hand of God."- (Eus. Praep. Ev. 1. 13, c. xii.) DIODORUS SICULUS, in his first book, when he treats of those who consider the gods to be the authors of their laws, adds, "Among the Jews was Moses, who called God by the name of law, lao," meaning Jehovah. Justin MARTYR expressly says, that most of the historians, poets, lawgivers, and philosophers of the Greeks, mention Moses as the leader and prince of the Jewish nation. From all these testimonies, and many more were it necessary might be adduced, it is clear that it was as commonly received among ancient nations, as among the Jews themselves, that Moses was the founder and lawgiver of the Jewish state.

As to CHRIST, it is only necessary to give the testimony of two historians, whose antiquity no one ever thought of disputing. SUETONIUS mentions him by name, and says, that Claudius expelled from Rome those who adhered to his cause.[1] TACITITS records the progress which the Christian religion had made; the violent death its founder had suffered; that he flourished under the reign of Tiberius; that Pi­late was then procurator of Judea; and that 'the original author of this profession was Christ.[2]  Thus, not only the real existence of the founder of Christianity, but the period in which he lived is exactly ascer­tained from writings, the genuineness of which has never been doubted.

The ANTIQUITY OF THE BOOKS which contain the history, the doc. trines, and the laws, of the Jewish and the Christian lawgivers, is next to be considered, and the evidence is not less satisfactory. The importance of this fact in the argument is obvious. If the writings in question were made at, or very near, the time in which the miraculous acts recorded in them were performed, then the evidence of those events having occurred is rendered the stronger, for they ware written at the time when many were still living who might have contradicted the narration if false; and the improbability is also greater, that, in the very age and place when and where those events are said to have been performed, any writer would have dared to run the hazard of prompt, certain, and disgraceful detection. It is equally important in the evidence of prophecy; for if the predictions were recorded long before the events which accomplished them took place, then the only question which remains is, whether the accomplishment is satisfactory; for then the evidence becomes irresistible.

With respect to the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the language in which they are written is a strong proof of their antiquity. The Hebrew ceased to be spoken as a living language soon after the Babylonish captivity, and the learned agree that there was no grammar made for the Hebrew till many ages after. The difficulty of a forgery, at any period after the time of that captivity, is therefore apparent. Of these books too there was a Greek translation made about two hundred and eighty-seven years before the Christian era, and laid up in the Alexandrian library.

Josephus gives a catalogue of the sacred books among the Jews, in which he expressly mentions the five books of Moses, thirteen of the Prophets, four of Hymns and Moral Precepts; and if, as many critics maintain, Ruth was added to Judges, and the Lamentations of Jeremiah to his Prophecies, the number agrees with those of the Old Testament as it is received at the present day.

The Samaritans, who separated from the Jews many hundred years before the birth of Christ, have in their language a Pentateuch, in the main exactly agreeing with the Hebrew; and the pagan writers before cited, with many others, speak of Moses not only as a lawgiver and a prince, but as the author of books esteemed sacred by the Jews.[3]

If the writings of Moses then are not genuine, the forgery mat have taken place at a very early period; but a few considerations twill show, that at any time this was impossible.

These books could never have been surreptitiously put forth in the name of Moses, as the argument of LESLIE most fully proves :-" It is impossible that those books should have been received as his, if not written by him, because they speak of themselves as delivered by Moses, and kept in the ark from his time: 'And it came to pass when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take the book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee,' Deut. xxxi, 24-26. A copy of this book was also to be left with the king: 'And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites; and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life,' &c, Deut. xviii, 18. This book of the law thus speaks of itself, not only as a history or relation of what things were done, but as the standing and municipal law and statutes of the nation of the Jews, binding the king as well as the people. Now in whatever age after Moses this book may be supposed to have been forged, it was impossible that it could be received as truth, because it was not then to be found (as it professed to be) either in the ark or with the king, or any where else; for when first invented, every body must know that they had never heard of it before.

"Could any man, now at this day, invent a book of statutes or acts of parliament for England, and make it pass upon the nation as the only book of statutes that ever they had known? As impossible was it for the books of Moses (if they were invented in any age after Moses) to have been received for what they declare themselves to be, viz, the sta­tutes and municipal law of the nation of the Jews: and to have persuaded the Jews, that they had owned and acknowledged these books, all along from the days of Moses, to that day in which they were first invented; that is, that they had owned them before they had ever so much as heard of them. Nay, more, the whole nation must, in an in­stant, forget their former laws and government, if they could receive these books as being their former laws. And they could not otherwise receive them, because they vouched themselves so to be. Let me ask the Deists but one short question: Was there ever a book of sham laws, which were not the laws of the nation, palmed upon any people, since the world began? If not, with what face can they say this of the book of laws of the Jews? Why will they say that of them which they confess impossible in any nation, or among any people?

"But they must be yet more unreasonable. For the books of Moses have a farther demonstration of their truth than even other law books have; for they not only contain the laws, but give a historical account of their institution, and the practice of them from that time: as of the passover, 'fl memory of the death of the first born in Egypt, Num. viii, 17, 18: and that the same day, all the first born of Israel, both of man and beast, were, by a perpetual law, dedicated to God: and the Levites taken for all the first born of the children of Israel. That Aaron's rod, Which budded, was kept in the ark, in memory of the rebellion, and wonderful destruction of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and for the confirmation of the priesthood to the tribe of Levi. As likewise the pot of manna, in memory of their having been fed with it forty years in the wilderness. That the brazen serpent was kept (which remained to the days of Hezekiah, 2 Kings xviii, 4,) in memory of that wonderful deliverance, by only looking upon it, from the biting of the fiery serpents, Numbers xxi, 9. The feast of pentecost, in memory of the dreadful appearance of God upon Mount Horeb, &c.

"And beside these remembrances of particular actions and occur­rences, there were other solemn institutions in memory of their deliverance out of Egypt, in the general, which included all the particulars. As of the Sabbath, Deut. v, 15. Their daily sacrifices and yearly expiation; their new moons, and several feasts and fasts. So that there were yearly, monthly, weekly, daily remembrances and recognitions of these things.

"And not only so, but the books of the same Moses tell us, that a particular tribe (of Levi) was appointed and consecrated by God as his priests; by whose hands, and none other, the sacrifices of the people were to be offered, and these solemn institutions to be celebrated That it was death for any other to approach the altar. That their high priest wore a glorious mitre, and magnificent robes of God's own contrivance, with the miraculous Urim and Thummim in his breastplate whence the Divine responses were given, Num. xxvii, 21. That at his word the king and all the people were to go out, and to come in. That these Levites were likewise the chief judges even in all civil causes and that it was death to resist their sentence, Deut. xvii, 8-13; 1 Chron. xxiii,4. Now whenever it can be supposed that these books of Moses were forged in some ages after Moses, it is impossible they could have been received as true, unless the forgers could have made the whole nation believe, that they had received these books from their fathers, had been instructed in them when they were children, and had taught them to their children; moreover, that they had all been circumcised, and did circum­cise their children, in pursuance to what was commanded in these books that they had observed the yearly passover, the weekly Sabbath, the new moons, and all these several feasts, fasts, and ceremonies, commanded in these books: that they had never eaten any swine's flesh, or other meats prohibited in these books: that they had a magnificent tabernacle, with a visible priesthood to administer in it, which was confined to the tribe of Levi; over whom was placed a glorious high priest, clothed with great and mighty prerogatives, whose death only could deliver those that were fled to the cities of refuge, Num. xxxv, 25, 28. And that these priests were their ordinary judges, even in civil matters: I say, was it possible to have persuaded a whole nation of men, that they had known and practised all these things if they had not done it? or, secondly, to have received a book for truth, which said they had practised them, and appealed to that practice?

"But now let us descend to the utmost degree of supposition, viz. that these things were practised, before these books of Moses were forged; and that those books did only impose upon the nation, in making them believe that they had kept these observances in memory of such and such things as were inserted in those books.

Well then, let us proceed upon this supposition, (however groundless,) and now, will not the same impossibilities occur, as in the former case? For, first, this must suppose that the Jews kept all these observances in in memory of nothing, or without knowing any thing of their original, or the reason why they kept them. Whereas these very observances did express the ground and reason of their being kept, as the passover, in memory of God's passing over the children of the Israelites, in that night wherein he slew all the first born of Egypt, and so of the rest.

"But, secondly, let us suppose, contrary both to reason and matter of fact, that the Jews did not know any reason at all why they kept these, observances; yet was it possible to put it upon them-that they had kept tnese observances in memory of what they had never heard of before that day, whensoever you will suppose that these books of Moses were first forged? For example, suppose I should now forge some romantic story of strange things done a thousand years ago; and, in confirmation of this, should endeavour to persuade the Christian world that they had all along, from that day to this, kept the first day of the week in memory of such a hero, an Apollonius, a Barcosbas, or a Mohammed; and had all been baptized in his name; and swore by his name, and upon that very book (which I had then forged, and which they never saw before,) in their public judicatures; that this book was their Gospel and law, which they had ever since that time, these thousand years past, universally received and owned, and none other. I would ask any Deist, whether he thinks it possible that such a cheat could pass, or such a legend be received as the Gospel of Christians; and that they could be made believe that they never had any other Gospel?

"Let me give one very familiar example more in this case. There is the Stonehenge in Salisbury Plain, every body knows it; and yet none knows the reason why those great stones were set there, or by whom, or in memory of what.

"Now, suppose I should write a book to-morrow, and tell them that these stones were set up by Hercules, Polyphemus, or Garagantua, in memory of such and such of their actions. And for a farther confirmation of this, should say in this book, that it was written at the time when such actions were done, and by the very actors themselves, or eye witnesses. And that this book had been received as truth, and quoted by authors of the greatest reputation in all ages since. More. over that this book was well known in England, and enjoined by act of parliament to be taught our children, and that we did teach it to our children, and had been taught it ourselves when we were children. I ask any Deist, whether he thinks this could pass upon England? and whether, if I, or any other should insist upon it, we should not, instead  being believed, be sent to Bedlam?

"Now, let us compare this with the Stonehenge, as I may call it, or twelve great stones set up at Gilgal, which is told in the fourth chapter of Joshua. There it is said, verse 6, that The reason why they were set up was, that when their children in after ages, should ask the meaning of it, it should be told them.

"And the thing in memory of which they were set up, was such as could not possibly be imposed upon that nation, at that time when it was said to be done; it was as wonderful and miraculous as their passage through the Red Sea.

"For notice was given to the Israelites the day before, of this great miracle to be done, Josh. iii, 5. It was (lone at noon-day before the whole nation. And when the waters of Jordan were divided, it was not at any low ebb, but at the time when that river overflowed all his banks, verse 15. And it was done, not by winds, or in length of time which winds must take to do it; but all on the sudden, as soon as the 'feet of the priests that hare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, then the waters which came down from above, stood and rose up upon a heap, very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan; and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the Salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over, right against Jericho. The priests stood in the midst of Jordan till all the armies of Israel had passed over. And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lift up upon the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned into their place, and flowed over all his banks as they did before. And the people came out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho, and those twelve stones which they took out of Jordan did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, say­ing, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then shall ye let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over; as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over, that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.' Chap. iv, from verse 18.

"Now, to form our argument, let us suppose that there never was any such thing as that passage over Jordan; that these stones at Gilgal were set up upon some other occasion, in some after age; and then, that some designing man invented this book of Joshua, and said that it was written by Joshua at that time, and gave this stonage at Gilgal, for a testimony of the truth of it; would not every body say to him, We know the stonage at Gilgal, but we never heard before of this reason for it, nor of this book of Joshua. Where has it been all this while? And where, and how came you, after so many ages, to find it? Beside, this book tells us, that this passage over Jordan was ordained to be taught our children, from age to age; and, therefore, that they were always to be instructed in the meaning of that stonage at Gilgal, as a memorial of it. But we were never taught it, when we were children; nor did ever teach our children any such thing. And it is not likely that it could have been forgotten, while so remarkable a stonage did continue, which was set up for that and no other end!

"And if, for the reasons before given, no such imposition could put upon us as to the stonage in Salisbury Plain; how much less could it be to the stonage at Gilgal?

"And if, where we know not the reason of a bare naked monument, such a sham reason cannot be imposed, how much more is it impossible to impose upon us in actions and observances, which we celebrate in memory of particular passages? How impossible to make us forget those passages which we daily commemorate; and persuade us that we had always kept such institutions in memory of what we never heard of before; that is, that we knew it before we knew it!"

This able reasoning has never been refuted, nor can be; and if the books of the law must have been written by Moses, it is as easy to prove that Moses himself could not in the nature of the thing have deceived the people by an imposture, and a pretence of miraculous attestations, in order, like some later lawgivers among the heathens, to bring the people more willingly to submit to his institutions. The very instances of miracle he gives, rendered this impossible. "Suppose," says the same writer, "any man should pretend, that yesterday he divided the Thames, in presence of all the people of London, and carried the whole City, men, women, and children, over to Southwark, on dry land, the Waters standing like walls on both sides: I say, it is morally impossible that he could persuade the people of London, that this was true, when every man, woman, and child, could contradict him, and say, that this Was a notorious falsehood, for that they had not seen the Thames so divided, nor had gone over on dry land.

"As to Moses, I suppose it will be allowed me, that he could not have Persuaded 600,000 men, that he had brought them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea; fed them forty years, without bread, by miraculous manna, and the other matters of fact, recorded in his books, if they had not been true. Because every man's senses that was then alive must have contradicted it. And therefore he must have imposed upon all their senses, if lie could have made them believe it, when it was false and no such things done.

"From the same reason, it was equally impossible for him to have made them receive his five books as truth, and not to have rejected them as a manifest imposture, which told of all these things as done before their eyes, if they had not been so done. See how positively he speaks to them, Deut. xi, 2, to verse 8: 'And know you this day, for I speak not with your children, which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched-out arm, and his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt, unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt and unto all his land, and what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red Sea to overflow them as they pursued after you; and how the Lord bath destroyed them unto this day: And what he did unto you in the wilder. ness, until ye came unto this place; and what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliah, the son of Reuben, how the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel. But your eyes have seen all tile great acts of the Lord, which he did,' &c.

"From hence we must suppose it impossible that these books of: Moses (if an imposture) could have been invented and put upon the people who were then alive when all these things were said to be done."

By these arguments[4] tile genuineness and authenticity of the books of Moses are established; and as to those of the prophets, which, with some predictions in the writings of Moses, comprise, the prophetic branch of the evidence of the Divine authority of the revelations they contain, it can be proved both from Jewish tradition, the list of Josephus, the Greek translation, and from their being quoted by ancient writers, that they existed many ages before several of those events occurred, to which we shall refer in the proper place as eminent and unequivocal' instances of prophetic accomplishment. This part of the argument will therefore be also sufficiently established: the prophecy will be shown to have 'been delivered long before the event, and the event will be proved to be a fulfilment of the prophecy. A more minute examination of the date of the prophetic books rather belongs to those who write expressly on the canon of Scripture.

The same author from whom we have already largely quoted, (Leslie,) applies his celebrated four rules for determining the truth of matters of fact in general, with equal force to the facts of the Gospel history as to those contained in the Mosaic writings. The rules are, "1. That the matter of fact be such, as that men's outward senses, their eyes and ears, may be judges of it.-2. That it be done publicly in the face of the world.-3. That not only public monuments be kept up in memory of it, but some outward actions be performed.-4. That such monuments and such actions and observances be instituted, and do commence from the time that the matter of fact was done."

We have seen the manner in which these rules are applied to the books of Moses. The author thus applies them to the Gospel :- "I come now to show, that as in the matters of fact of Moses, so likewise all these four marks do meet in the matters of fact which arc recorded in the Gospel of our blessed Saviour. And my work herein will be the shorter, because all that is said before of Moses and his books, is every way as applicable to Christ and his Gospel. His works and his miracles are there said to be done publicly in the face of the world. as he argued to his accusers, 'I spake openly to the world, and in secret have I said nothing,' John xviii, 20. It is told, Acts ii, 41, that three thousand at one time, and Acts iv, 4, that above five thousand at another time, were converted upon conviction of what themselves had seen, what had been done publicly before their eyes, wherein it was impossible to have imposed upon them. Therefore here were the two first rules before mentioned.

"Then for the two second: Baptism and the Lord's Supper were instituted as perpetual memorials of these things; and they were not instituted in after ages, but at the very time when these things were said to be (lone; and have been observed without interruption, in all ages through the whole Christian world, down all the way from that time to this. And Christ himself did ordain apostles and other ministers of his Gospel, to preach and administer the sacraments; and to govern his Church: and that always, even unto the end of the world, Matt. xviii, 20

Accordingly, they have continued by regular succession to this day: and no doubt ever shall while the earth shall last. So that the Christian clergy are as notorious a matter of fact, as the tribe of Levi among the Jews. And the Gospel is as much a law to the Christians, as the book of Moses to the Jews: and it being part of the matters of fact related in the Gospel, that such an order of men were appointed by Christ, and to continue to the end of the world; consequently, if the Gospel was a fiction, and invented (as it must be) in some ages after Christ; then, at that time when it was first invented, there could be no such order of clergy, as derived themselves from the institution of Christ; which must give the lie to the Gospel, and demonstrate the whole to be false. And the matters of fact of Christ being pressed to be true, no otherwise than as there was at that time, (whenever the Deists will sup. pose the Gospel to be forged,) not only public sacraments of Christ's institution, but an order of clergy, likewise, of his appointment to administer them: and it being impossible there could be any such things before they were invented, it is as impossible that they should be re­ceived when invented. And therefore, by what was said above, it was as impossible to have imposed upon mankind in this matter, by inventing of it in after ages, as at the time when those things were said to be done.

"The matters of fact of Mohammed, or what is fabled of the heathen deities, do all want some of the aforesaid four rules, whereby the certainty of matters of that is demonstrated. First, for Mohammed, he pretended to no miracles, as he tells us in his Alcoran, c. 6, &c; and'.' those which are commonly told of him pass among the Mohammedans themselves but as legendary fables; and, as such, are rejected by the wise and learned among them: as the legends of their saints are in the Church of Rome. See Dr. Prideaux's Life of Mohammed, page 34.

"But, in the next place, those which are told of him do all want the two first rules before mentioned. For his pretended converse with the moon; his Mersa, or night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and thence to heaven, &c, were not performed before any body. We have only his own word for them. And they are as groundless as the delusions of the Fox or Muggleton among ourselves. The same is to be said (in the second place) of the fables of the heathen gods, of Mercury's stealing sheep, Jupiter's turning himself into a bull, and the like; beside the folly and unworthiness of such senseless pretended miracles.

"It is true the heathen deities had their priests: they had likewise feasts, games, and other public institutions in memory of them. But all these want the fourth mark, viz. that such priesthood and institutions should commence from the time that such things as they commemorate were said to be done; otherwise they cannot secure after ages from the imposture, by detecting it, at the time when first invented, as bath been argued before. But the Bacchanalia, and other heathen feasts, were instituted many ages after what was reported of these gods was said to be done, and therefore can be no proof. And the priests of Bacchus, Apollo, &c, were not ordained by these supposed gods; but were appointed by others, in after ages, only in honour to them. And therefore these orders of priests are no evidence to the matters of fact which are reported of their gods.

"Now to apply what has been said. You may challenge all the Deists in the world to show any action that is fabulous, which has all the four rules or marks before mentioned. No, it is impossible. And (to resume a little what is spoken to before) the histories of Exodus and the Gospel never could have been received, if they had not been true; because the institution of the priesthood of Levi, and of Christ; of the Sabbath, the Passover, of Circumcision, of Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, &c, are there related, as descending all the way down from those times, without interruption. And it is full as impossible to persuade men that they had been circumcised or baptized, had circumcised or baptized their children, celebrated passovers, sabbaths, sacraments, &c, under the government and administration of a certain order of priests, if they had done none of these things, as to make them believe that they had gone through seas upon dry land, seen the dead raised, &c. And without believing these, it was im­possible that either the Law or the Gospel could have been received.

And the truth of the matters of fact of Exodus and the Gospel, be­ing no otherwise pressed upon men, than as they have practised such public institutions, it is appealing to the senses of mankind for the truth of them; and makes it impossible for any to have invented such stories in after ages, without a palpable detection of the cheat when first invented; as impossible as to have imposed upon the senses of mankind, at the time when such public matters of fact were said to be done."[5]

But other evidence of the truth of the Gospel history, beside that which arises from this convincing reasoning, may be adduced.

In the first place, the narrative of the evangelists, as to the actions, &c, of Christ, cannot be rejected without renouncing all faith in history, any more than to deny that he really existed.

"We have the same reason to believe that the evangelists have given us a true history of the life and transactions of Jesus, as we have that Xenophon and Plato have given us a faithful and just narrative of the character and doctrines of the excellent SOCRATES. The sacred writers were, in every respect, qualified for giving a real circumstantial detail of the life and religion of the person whose memoirs they have transmitted down to us. They were the select companions and familiar friends of the hero of their story. They had free and liberal access to him at all times. They attended his public discourses, and in his moments of retirement he unbosomed his whole soul to them without disguise. They were daily witnesses of his sincerity and goodness of heart. They were spectators of the amazing operations he performed and of the silent unostentatious manner in which he performed them. In private he explained to them the doctrines of his religion in the most familiar, endearing converse, and gradually initiated them into the principles of his Gospel, as their Jewish prejudices admitted. Some of these writers were his inseparable attendants, from the commencement of his public ministry to his death, and could give the world as true and faithful a narrative of his character and instructions, as Xenophon was enabled to publish of the life and philosophy of Socrates. If PLATO hath been in every respect qualified to compose an historical account of the behaviour of his master in his imprisonment; of the philosophic discourses he addressed to his friends before he drank the poisonous bowl; as lie constantly attended him in those unhappy scenes; was present at those mournful interviews;[6]-in like manner was the Apostle John fitted for compiling a just and genuine narration of the last consolatory discourses our Lord delivered to his dejected followers, a little before his last sufferings, and of the unhappy exit he made, with its attendance circumstances, of which he was a personal spectator. The foundation of these things cannot be invalidated, without unvalidating the faith of history. No writers have enjoyed more propitious, few have ever enjoyed such favourable opportunities for publishing just accounts of persons and things as the evangelists. Most of the Greek and Roman historians lived long after the persons they immortalize, aid the events they record. The sacred writers commemorate actions they saw, discourses they heard, persecutions they supported; describe characters with which they were familiarly conversant, and transactions amid scenes in which they themselves were intimately interested. The pages of their history are impressed with every feature of credibility: an artless simplicity characterizes all their writings. Nothing can be farther from vain ostentation and popular applause. No studied arts to dress up a cunningly devised fable. No vain declamation after any miracle of our SAVIOUR they relate. They record these astonishing operations with the same dispassionate coolness, as if they had been common transactions, without that ostentatious rhodomontade which enthusiasts and impostors universally employ. They give us a plain, unadorned narration of these amazing feats of supernatural power saving ncrtliing previously to raise our expectation, or after their performance breaking forth into any exclamation-but leaving the reader to draw the conclusion. The writers of these books are distinguished above all time authors who ever wrote accounts of persons and things, for their sincerity and integrity. Enthusiasts and impostor: never proclaim to the world the weakness of their understanding, and the defects of their character. The evangelists honestly acquaint the reader with the lowness of their station, the indigence of their circumstances, the inveteracy of their national prejudices, their dullness of apprehension, their weakness of faith, their ambitious views, and the warm contentions they agitated among themselves.. They even tell us how they basely deserted their Master, by a shameful precipitate flight, when he was showed by his enemies; and that after his crucifixion, they had all again returned to their former secular employments-for ever resigning all the hopes they had once fondly cherished, and abandoning the cause in which they had so long been engaged, notwithstanding all the proofs which had been exhibited, and the conviction they had before enter­tained, that JESUS was the Messiah, and that his religion was from God. A faithful picture this, held up to the reader, for him to contemplate the true features of the writer's mind. Such men as these were as far from being deceived themselves, as they were incapable of imposing a false­hood upon others. The sacred regard they had for truth appears in every thing they relate. They mention, with many affecting circum­stances, time obstinate, unreasonable incredulity of one of their asso­ciates-not convinced but by ocular and sensible demonstration. They might have concealed from the world their own faults and follies-or if they had chosen to mention them, might have alleged plausible reasons to soften and extenuate them. But they related, without disguise, events and facts just as they happened, and kit them to speak their own lan­guage. So that to reject a history thus circumstanced, and impeach the veracity of writers furnished with these qualifications for giving the justest accounts of personal characters and transactions, which they enjoyed tine best opportunity for accurately observing and knowing, is an affront offered to the reason and understanding of mankind; a sole­cism against the laws of truth and history, which would, with equal rea­son, lead men to disbelieve every thing related in HEEODOTVS, Thucydides, Diodorus Siculus, Livy, and TACITTJS; to confound all history with fable and fiction; truth with falsehood, and veracity with impos­ture; and not to credit any thing how well soever attested ;-that there Were such kings as the Stuarts, or such places as Paris and Rome, because we are not indulged with ocular conviction of them. The truth of the Gospel history [independent of the question of the inspiration of the sacred writers] rests upon the same basis with the truth of other ancient books, and its pretensions are to be impartially examined by the Same rules by which we judge of the credibility of all other historical monuments. And if we compare the merit of the sacred writers, as historians. with that of other writers, we shall be convinced, that they are inferior to none who ever wrote, either with regard to knowledge of persons, acquaintance with facts, candour of mind, and reverence for truth." (HARwood's Introduction to the New Testament.)

A second source of evidence to the truth of the history of the evangelists, may be brought from the testimonies of adversaries and heathens to the leading facts which they record.

No public contradiction of this history was ever put forth by the Jewish rulers to stop the progress of a hateful religion, though they had every motive to contradict it, both in justification of themselves, who were publicly charged as "murderers" of the "Just One," and to preserve the people from the infection of the spreading delusion. No such contradiction has been handed down, and none is adverted to or quoted by any ancient writer. This silence is not unimportant evidence but the direct testimonies to the facts are numerous and important.

We have already quoted the testimonies of Tacitus and Suetonius to the existence of Jesus Christ, the Founder of the Christian religion and of his crucifixion in the reign of Tiberius, and during the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate, the time in which the evangelists place that event. Other references to heathen authors, who incidentally allude to Christ, his religion, and followers, might be given ; such as Martial, Juvenal, Epictetus, Trajan, the younger Pliny, Adrian, Apuleius, Lucian of Samosata, and others; some of whom also afford tes­timonies to the destruction of Jerusalem, at the time, and in the cir­cumstances predicted by our Saviour, and to the antiquity and genu­ineness of the books of the New Testament. But as it is well oh. served by the learned Lardner, in his "Collection of Jewish and Hea­then Testimonies," (vol. iv, p. 330,) "Among all the testimonies to Christianity which we have met with in the first ages, none are more valuable and important than the testimonies of those learned philosophers who wrote against us; Celsus, in the second century, Porphyry and HIER0CLES in the third, and JULIAN in the fourth." Referring to LARDNER for full information on this point, a brief exhibi­tion of the admissions of these adversaries will be satisfactory.

CELSUS wrote against Christianity not much above one hundred and thirty years after our Lord's ascension, and his books were an­swered by the celebrated ORIGEN. The following is a summary of the references of this writer to the Gospel history, by Leland. (Answer to Christianity as old as the Creation, vol. ii, c. 5.) The passages at large may be seen in Lardner's Testimonies.

Celsus, a most bitter enemy of Christianity, who began in the second century, produces many passages out of the Gospels. H e represents Jesus to have lived but a few years ago. He mentions his being born of a virgin; the angel's appearing to Joseph on occasion of Mary's being with child; the star that appeared at his birth; the wise men that came to worship him when an infant; and Herod's massacring the children; Joseph's fleeing with the child into Egypt by the admoni­tion of an angel; the Holy Ghost descending on Jesus like a dove when be was baptized by John, and the voice from heaven declaring him to be the Son of God; his going about with his disciples, his heal­ing the sick and lame, and raising the dead; his foretelling his own sufferings and resurrection; his being betrayed and forsaken by his own disciples; his suffering both of his own accord and in obedience to his heavenly Father; his grief and trouble, and his praying, Father, it be possible, let this cup pass from me! the ignominious treatment be met 'with; the robe that was put upon him, the crown of thorns, the reed put into his hand; his drinking vinegar and gall, and his be­ing scourged and crucified; his being seen after his resurrection by a fanatical woman, (as he calls her, meaning Mary Magdalene,) and by his own companions and disciples; his showing them his bands that were pierced, the marks of his punishment. He also mentions the angels being seen at his sepulchre, and that some said it was one an­gel, others, that it was two; by which he hints at the seeming varia­tion in the accounts given of it by the evangelists.

It is true, he mentions all these things only with a design to ridicule' and expose them. But they furnish us with an uncontested proof, that the Gospel was then extant. Accordingly he expressly tells the Christians, These things we have produced out of your own writings, p. 106. And he all along supposeth them to have been written by Christ's own disciples, that lived and conversed with him; though he pretends they feigned many things for the honour of their Master, p. 69, 70. And he pretends, that he could tell many other things relative to Jesus, beside those things that were written of him by his own disciples; but that he willingly passed by them, p. 67. We may conclude from his expresssions, both that he was sensible that these accounts were written by Christ's own disciples, (and indeed he never pretends to contest this,) and that he was not able to produce any contrary accounts to invali­date them, as he certainly would have done, if it had been in his Power: since no man ever wrote with greater virulence against Christianity than he. And indeed, how was it possible for ten or eleven publicans and boatmen, as he calls Christ's disciples by way of contempt, (p. 47,) to have imposed such things on the world, if they had not been true, SO as to persuade such vast multitudes to embrace a new and de­spised religion, contrary to all their prejudices and interests, and to believe in one that had been crucified!

"There are several other things, which show that Celsus was acquainted with the Gospel. He produces several of our Saviour's say­ings, there recorded, as that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God; that to him who smites us on one cheek, we must turn the other; that it is not possible to serve two masters; his precept against though fulness for tomorrow, by a comparison drawn from crows and lilies; his foretelling that false prophets should arise and work wonders. He mentions also some passages of the Apostle Paul, such as these: The world is crucified unto me and I unto the world;-the wisdom of man is foolishness with God ;-an idol is nothing.

"The use I would make of all this is, that it appears here with an uncontested evidence, by the testimony of one of the most malicious and virulent adversaries the Christian religion ever had, and who was also a man of considerable parts and learning, that the writings of the evangelists were extant in his time, which was the next century' to that in which the apostles lived; and that those accounts were written by Christ's own disciples, and consequently that they were writ­ten in the very age in which the facts related were done, and who therefore, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to have convicted them of falsehood, if they had not been true."

Porphyry flourished about the year '270, a man of great abilities; and his work against the Christians, in fifteen books, was long esteemed by the Gentiles, and thought worthy of being answered by Eusebius, and others in great repute for learning, he was well acquainted with the books of the Old and New Testaments; and in his writings are plain references to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, John, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistle to the Galatians, and probable references to the other Epistles of St. Paul. About the year 303, Hicrocles, a man of learning and a magistrate, wrote against the Christians in two books. He was well acquainted with our Scriptures, and made many objection to them, thereby bearing testimony to their antiquity, and to the great respect which was shown them by the Christians; for he has referred both to the Gospels and to the Epistles. He mentions Peter and Paul by name, and did not deny the truth of our Saviour's miracles; but, in order to overthrow the argument which the Christians built upon them, be set up the reputed miracles of Apollonius Tyanaues to rival them. The Emperor Julian, who succeeded Constantius in the year 361, wrote also against the Christians, and in his work has undesignedly borne a valuable testimony to the history and books of the New Testament. lie allows that Jesus was born in the reign of Augustus, at the time of a taxing made in Judea by Cyrenius. That the Christian religion had its rise, and began to be propagated, in the times of the Roman emperors Tiberius and Claudius. lie bears witness to the genuineness and authenticity of the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Acts of the Apostles. And he so quotes them as to intimate that these were the only historical books received by Christians, as of authority; and the only authentic memoirs of Jesus Christ, and his apostles, and the doctrines preached by them. He allows the early date of the Gospels, and even argues for them. He quotes, or plainly refers to the Acts of the Apostles, as already said; to St. Paul's Epistles to the Romans, to the Corinthians, and to the Galatians. He (hoes not deny the miracles of Jesus Christ, but allows him to have healed the blind, and the lame, and demoniacs, and to have rebuked the winds, and to have walked upon the waves of the sea. He endeavours, indeed, to diminish those works, but in vain. He endeavours also to lessen the number of the early believers in Jesus, but acknowledges, that there were multitudes of such men in Greece and Italy before St. John wrote his Gospel. He likewise affects to diminish the quality of the early believers; and yet acknowledges, that beside men servants and maid servants, Cornelius, a Roman centurion at Cesarea, and Sergius Paulus, proconsul of Cyprus, were converted to the faith of Jesus be the end of the reign of Claudius. And he often speaks with great indignation of Peter and Paul, those two great apostles of Jesus, and successful preachers of his Gospel, so that, upon the whole, be has undesignedly borne witness to the truth of many things recorded in the books of the New Testament, He aimed to overthrow the Christian religion, but has confirmed it. His arguments against it are perfectly harmless, and insufficient to unsettle the weakest Christian.

The quotations from Porphyry, Hierocles, and Julian, may be consulted in Lardner, who thus sums up his observations on their testimony :- "They bear a fuller and more valuable testimony to the books of the New Testament, and to the facts of the evangelical history, and to the affairs of Christians, than all our other witnesses beside. They pro­posed to overthrow the arguments for Christianity. They aimed to bring back to Gentilism those who had forsaken it, and to put a stop to the progress of Christianity, by the farther addition of new converts. But in those designs they had very little success in their own times; and their works, composed and published in the early days of Christianity, are now a testimony in our favour, and will be of use in the defence of Christianity to the latest ages.

"One thing more which may be taken notice of, is this: that the remains of our ancient adversaries confirm the present prevailing senti­ments of Christians, concerning those books of the New Testament which we call canonical, and are in the greatest authority with us. For their writings show, that those very books, and not any others now generally called apocryphal, are the books which always were in the highest repute with Christians, and were then the rule of their faith, as they are now of ours."

To the same effect are the observations of Paley. These testimonies' "prove that neither Celsus in the second, Porphyry in the third, nor Julian in the fourth century, suspected the authenticity of these books, or even insinuated that Christians were mistaken in the authors to whom they ascribed them. Not one of them expressed an opinion upon this subject different from that which is holden by Christians. And when we consider how much it would have availed them to cast a doubt upon this point if they could, and how ready they showed themselves to take every advantage in their power, and that they were men of learning and inquiry, their concession, or rather their suffrage upon the subject, is extremely valuable."

That the facts and statements recorded in the evangelic history were not forgeries of a subsequent period, is made also still more indubitable from the fact, that the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles are quoted or alluded to by a series of Christians, beginning with those who were contemporary with the apostles, or who immediately followed, and proceeding in close and regular succession from their time to the present. "The medium of proof stated in this proposition," observes Dr. Paley, "is of all others the most unquestionable, and is not diminished by the lapse of ages. Bishop Burnet, in the History of his Own Times, inserts various extracts from Lord Clarendon's History. One such assertion is a proof that Lord Clarendon's History was extant when Bishop Burnet wrote, that it had been read and received by him as a work of Lord Clarendon's, and regarded by him as an authentic account of the transactions which it relates; and it will be a proof of these points a thousand years hence. The application of this argument' to the Gospel history is obvious. If the different books which are received by Christians as containing this history are quoted by a series of writers, as genuine in respect of their authors, and as authentic in respect to their narrative, up to the age in which the writers of them lived, then it is clear that these books must have had an existence previous to the earliest of those writings in which they are quoted, and that they were then admitted as authentic." "Their genuineness is made out, as well by the general arguments which evince the genuineness of the most indisputed remains of antiquity, as also by peculiar and specific proofs, by citations from them in writings belonging to a period immediately contiguous to that in which they were published; by the dis­tinguished regard paid by early Christians to the authority of these books; (which regard was manifested by their collecting of them into a volume, appropriating to that volume titles of peculiar respect, trans. hating them into various languages, disposing them into harmonies, writing commentaries upon them, and still more conspicuously by the reading of them in their public assemblies in all parts of the world;) by a universal agreement with respect to these books, while doubts were entertained concerning some others; by contending sects appealing to them; by many formal catalogues of these, as of certain and authori­tative writings published in different and distant parts of the world; lastly, by the absence or defect of the above-cited topics of evidence, when applied to any other histories of the same subject." (Paley's Evidences, cap. x.)

All the parts of this argument may be seen clearly made out by passages quoted from the writers of the primitive ages of the Christian Church, in Dr. Lardner's "Credibility," Dr. Paley's " Evidences," and many other writers in defence of Christianity. It is exhibited in great force also in the first volume of Home's "Introduction to the Study of the Scriptures."


THE documents which claim to have been thus handed down to posterity are the five books attributed to Moses himself, and usually denominated the Pentateuch. Now, time question before us is, whether they were, indeed, written synchronically with the Exodus, or whether they were composed in the name of Moses, at a much later period.

"That the Jews have acknowledged the authenticity of the Pentateuch, from the present day to the era of our Lord's nativity, a period of more than eighteen centuries, admits not of a possibility of a doubt. But this era is long posterior to that of Moses himself: it will be necessary, therefore, in order to establish the point under discussion, to travel backward, step by step, so far as we can safely penetrate, according to the established rules of moral evidence.

" About two hundred and seventy seven years before the Christian era, in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, the Pintateuch, with the other books of the Old Testament, was translated into Greek, for the use of the Alexandrian Jews; and from the almost universal prevalence of that language, it henceforth became very widely disseminated, and was thus rendered accessible to the learned and inquisitive of every country.

"Now, that Greek translation which is still extant, and which is in the hands of almost every person, demonstrates that the Hebrew Pentateuch must have existed two hundred and seventy seven years before Christ, because there is that correspondency between the two, which amply proves that the former must have been a version of the latter. But, if it certainly existed two hundred and seventy. seven years before Christ, it must have existed in the days of Ezra, at the time of the return from Babylon, in the year before Christ five hundred and thirty six; because there is no point between those two epochs, to which, with a shadow of probability, we can ascribe its composition. It existed, therefore, in the year five hundred and thirty six, before the Christian era.

Thins we have gained one retrogressive step: let us next see whether, with equal certainty, we can gain another.

"As it cannot be rationally denied, that the Pentateuch has been in existence ever since the return of the Jews from Babylon, in the year five hundred and thirty­six, before the Christian era, some have thence been pleased to contend, that it was the work of Ezra; being a digested compilation of the indistinct and fabulous traditions of that people, which, like most nations of antiquity, they possessed in great abundance.

"To such an opinion, when thoroughly sifted, there are insuperable objections, however specious it may appear to a hasty observer.

"In the book of Ezra, the law of Moses, the man of God, is specifically referred to, as well known written document then actually existing; and, in the succeeding book of Nehemiah, we have an ample account of the mode in which that identical written document was openly read to the people, under the precise name of the Book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. Nor is this all: it was not that Ezra produced a new volume, and called upon the Jews to receive it as the authentic law of Moses; but the people themselves called upon Ezra to bring forth and read that book, as a work with which they had long been familiarly acquainted. The law of Moses, therefore, must have bees well known to exist in writing previous to the return from Babylon; and as Ezra could not have produced under that namo a mere compilation of oral traditions, so neither could he have suppressed the ancient volume of the law, nor have set forth instead of it, that volume which the Jews have ever since received as the authentic Pentateuch. His own book affords proof positive, that some written law of Moses was known previously to have existed: and the call of the people, that it should be read to them, demonstrates that it could not long have perished; for if the work had been confessedly lost for many years, the people could not have called for that, which neither they nor their fathers had ever behold. If, then, it were suppressed by Ezra, in favour of his own spurious composition, lie must both have contrived to make himself master of every extant copy of the genuine work, and lie must have persuaded a whole people to receive as genuine, what almost every man among them must immediately have perceived to be spurious. For, if the genuine work were in existence down to the very time of Ezra, a point clearly involved in the demand of the people to have it read to them; and if the people had long been accustomed to hear it reed to them, a point equally implied in their recorded demand upon Ezra, they must all have been adequately acquainted with its contents; and the higher ranks among them must have repeatedly perused, and must therefore have known the whole of it, just as intimately as Ezra could do himself. But, what was thus universally familiar could be no more set aside by the fiat of an individual in favour of his own spurious composition, than the Pentateuch could now be set aside through out Christendom, in favour of some newly produced volume which claimed to be thee genuine law of Moses. Add to this, that whoa the foundations of the second temple were laid, many persons wore alive who well remembered the first. These consequently must have known whether there was or was not a written law of Moses anterior to the captivity; nor could they be deceived by the production of any novel composition by Ezra.

"Such is time evidence afforded by the very books of Ezra and Nehemiah, to the existence of a written law of Moses prior to the return from Babylon, of a law familiarly known to the whole body of the people. But there is yet another evidence to the same purpose, analogous to that furnished by the Greek translation of the seventy.

"We have now extant two Hebrew copies of the law of Moses: the one received by the Jews, the other acknowledged by the Samaritans: each main taming that their own is the genuine record. Now, if we examine these two copies, we shall find their coincidence throughout to be such, that we cannot doubt a moment as to their original identity in every word, and in every sentence.

"We road, that after the king of Assyria had deported the ten tribes, and had colonized their territories with a mixed multitude from various parts of his dominions, the new settlers were infested by the incursions of wild beasts. This calamity, agreeably to the prevalent notion of local tutelary gods, they attributed to their not worshipping the god of the land after his own prescribed manner, To remedy the defect, therefore, one of the deported Levitical priests was sent to them, that he might teach them, as the Asayrian monarch expressed himself, the manner of the god of the land. The priest accordingly came among them, and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear Jehovah; but while they duly received his instructions, they mixed the service of the true God with the service of their native idols. Hence, so far as that particular was concerned, we are informed, that they neither did after their statutes, nor after their ordinances, nor after the law and commandment which Jehovah commanded the children of Jacob.

"Now, it is obvious, that the whole of this account supposes them to have a copy of the Pentateuch; for, if the priest were to instruct them in the law of the Lord, lie would, of course, communicate to them a copy of that law; and though their ancient superstitions led them to disregard its prohibitions, still it could not have been properly said of them, that they neither did after their sta­tutes, nor after their ordinances, nor after the law and commandment which Jeho­vah commanded the children of Jacob, if all the while they were wholly unac. quainted with those statutes and those ordinances, and with that law, and with that commandment. It is manifest, therefore, that they must at that time have received the copy of the Pentateuch, which they always afterward religiously preserved. But this copy is the very same as that which the Jews and ourselves still receive. Consequently, as the Samaritans received it some years prior even to the Babylonic captivity of Judah, and as it is the very same code as that which some would fain attribute to Ezra, we may be sure, that that learned scribe could not possibly have been its author, but that he has handed down to us the genuine law of Moses, with the utmost good faith and integrity.

"Here we cannot but observe the providence of God in raising up so unobjectionable a testimony as that of the Samaritans. They and the Jews cordially hated each other, and they both possessed a copy of the Pentateuch. Hence, had there been any disposition to tamper with the text, they acted as a mutual check; and the result has been, that perhaps not a wilful alteration can be shown, except the text relative to Gerizim and Ebal.

"The universal admission of the Pentateuch, as the inspired law of Moses, throughout the whole commonwealth of Israel, prior to its disruption into two hostile kingdoms, the magnificent temple of Solomon, and the whole ritual attached to it, plainly depends altogether upon the previously existing Penta­teuch; and that cede so strictly prohibits more than one practice of Solomon, that even to say nothing of the general objection from novelty, it is incredible either that he should have 'been the author, or that it should have been written under his sanction and authority.

"As little can we, with any degree of probability, ascribe it to David. His life was occupied with almost incessant troubles and warfare; and it is difficult to conceive, how a book written by that prince could, in the space of a very few years, be universally received as the inspired composition of Moses, when no person had ever previously heard that Moses left any legislative code behind him.

"The Pentateuch might be more plausibly given to Samuel than to either of those two princes; but this supposition will not stand for a moment the test of rational inquiry. We shall still have the same difficulty to contend with as before: we shall still have to point out how it was possible that Samuel should Persuade all Israel to adopt, as the inspired and authoritative law of Moses, a mere modern composition of his own, which no person had ever previously heard of.

"We have now ascended to within less than four centuries after the exodus from Egypt, and the alleged promulgation of the law from Mount Sinai; and from Ezra to Samuel, we have found no person to whom the composition of the Pentateuch can, with any show of reason or probability, be assigned. The only remaining question is, whether it can be thought to have been written during the three hundred and fifty six years which elapsed between the en trance of the Israelites into Palestine, and the appointment of Saul to be king of Israel.

"Now, the whole history which we have of that period utterly forbids such a supposition. The Israelites, though perpetually lapsing into idolatry, are uniformly described as acknowledging the authority of a written law of Moses; and' this law, from generation to generation, is stated to be the directory by which the judges governed the people. Thus, Samuel expressly refers to a well known commandment of Jehovah, and to the Divine legation of Moses and Aaron, in a speech which he made to the assembled Israelites. Thus, the man of God, in his prophetic threat to Eli, similarly refers to the familiar circumstance recorded in the Pentateuch, that the house of his ancestor had been chosen to the pontificate out of all the tribes of Israel. Thus, when the nations are enumerated which were loft to prove the people, it is said that they were left for this purpose, that it might be known whether the Israelites would hearken unto the commandments of Jehovah, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. Thus, Joshua is declared to have written the book which bears his name, as a supplement to a prior book, which is denominated the book of the law of God. Thus, likewise, he specially asserts, that this book of the law of God is the hook of the law of Moses; speaking familiarly of precepts, which are written in that book; represents himself as reading its contents to all the assembled people, so that none of them could be ignorant of its purport; and mentions his' writing a copy of it in the presence of the children of Israel. Arid thus, finally, we hear of the original, whence that copy is professed to have been taken, in the volume of the Pentateuch itself; for we are there told, that Moses with his own hand wrote the words of Tills law in a BOOK; and that he then commanded the' Levites to take THIS BooK of the law and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant, that it might be there for a witness in all succeeding ages against the Israelites, in case they should violate its precepts." (Abridged from FABER's Hore Mosaicae.)


"IN events so public and so signal, there was no room for mistake or deception. Of all the miracles recorded in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, there is not one of which the evidence is so multiplied as that of the descent of the Holy (host on the day of pentecost; for it rests not on the testimony of those, whether many or few, who were all with one accord in one place. It is 'stifled by all Jerusalem, and by the natives of regions far distant from Jerusalem; for there were then, says the historian, 'dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, but of every nation under heaven ; and when the inspiration of the disciples was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were all confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another. Behold, are not all these who. speak Galileans? and how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein WST were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopatamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, and Pamphyhia, in Egypt, and the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hoar them speak in our tongues time wonderful works of God.'

"It hath been objected by infidelity to the resurrection of Christ, that he ought to have appeared publicly, wherever he had appeared before his cruci­fixion: but here is a miracle displayed much farther than the resurrection of Christ could have been by his preaching openly, and working miracles for forty days in time temple and synagogues of Jerusalem, as he had done formerly; and this miracle is so connected with the resurrection, that if the apostles speaking a variety of tongues be admitted, the resurrection of Jesus cannot he denied. ­In reply to those (probably the natives of Jerusalem,) who, imagining that the apostles uttered gibberish, charged thorn with being full of new wine, St. Peter said, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words; for these men are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is but time third hour of the day. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and signs, and wonders, which God did by him in time midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: him being delivered by time determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified amid slain. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, lie hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.'

"Thus, by the miraculous effusion of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, were time resurrection and ascension of Christ proved to a variety of nations of Asia, Africa, and Europe, all the quarters of the globe which were then known, as completely as if he had actually appeared among that mixed multitude in Je­rusalem, reproved the high priest and council of the Jews for their unbelief and hardness of heart, amid then ascended in their presence to heaven. They had such evidence as was incontrovertible, that St. Peter and the other apostles were inspired by the spirit of God; they could not but know, as every Theist admits, that the Spirit of God never was, nor ever will be, shed abroad to enable any order of men to propagate falsehood with success; one of those who, by this inspiration, were speaking correctly a variety of tongues, assured them, that Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had slain, was raised from the dead, and exalted to time right hand of God; and that the same Jesus had, according to his promise, shed abroad on the apostles that which they both saw and hoard. The consequence of all this, we are told, was, that three thousand of his audience were instantly converted to the faith, and time same day incorporated into the Church by baptism.

"Would any in his senses have written a narrative of such events as these at the very time when they are said to have happened, and in any one of those countries, to lime inhabitants of which lie appeals as witnesses of their truth, it' he had not been aware that their truth could not be called in question ? Would any forger of such a book as the Acts of time Apostles, at a period near to that which he relates that such astonishing events had happened, have needlessly appealed, for time truth of his narrative, to the people of all nations, and thus gone out of his way to furnish his readers with innumerable means of detecting his imposture At no period, indeed, could forged books, such as the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, have been received as authentic, unless all the events which they record, whether natural or supernatural, had been believed, all the Principal doctrines received, and all the rites of' religion which they prescribe practised, from the very period at which they represent the Son of God as so journing on earth, laying the foundation of his Church, dying on a cross, rising from the dead, and ascending into heaven. The argument cannot, perhaps, be employed to prove the authenticity of all the epistles which make so great a part of the New Testament; but it is certainly as applicable to some of them as it to the Gospels and the book called the Acts of the Apostles.

The apostles as Michaelis justly observes, (Introduction to time New Testament, chap. ii, sect. 1,) 'frequently allude, in their epistles, to the gift of miracles which they had communicated to the Christian converts by the imposition of hands, in confirmation of the doctrine delivered in their speeches and writings, and sometimes to miracles, which they themselves had performed.' Now if these epistles are really genuine, the miracles referred to must certainly have been wrought, and the doctrines preached must have been Divine; for no man in his senses would have written to large communities, that lie had not only performed miracles in their presence, in confirmation of the Divine origin of certain doc trines, but that he had likewise communicated to thorn the same extraordinary endowments. Or if we can suppose any human being to have possessed sufficient effrontery to write in this manner to any community, it is obvious that, so far from gaining credit to his doctrine by such assertions, if not known to be true, he would have exposed himself to the utmost ridicule and contempt, and have ruined the cause which he attempted to support by such absurd conduct.

"St. Paul's first Epistle to the Thessalonians is addressed to a Christian Church, which he had lately founded, and to which he had preached the Gospel only three Sabbath days. A sudden persecution obliged him to quit this community before he had given to it its proper degree of consistence; and, what is of consequence in the present instance, he was protected neither by the power of the magistrate nor the favour of the vulgar. A pretended wonder worker, who has once drawn the populace to his party, may easily perform his exploits, and safely proclaim them. But this very populace, at the instigation of the Jews, had' ex cited the insurrection, which obliged St. Paul to quit the town. He sends there fore to the Thessalonians, who had received the Gospel, but whose faith, h apprehended, might waver through persecution, authorities, and proofs of his Divine mission, of which authorities the first and the chief are miracles and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, 1 Thess. 1, 5_10.* Is it possible, now, that St. Paul, without forfeiting all pretensions to common sense, could, when writing to a Church which he had lately established, have spoken of miracles performed, and gifts of the Holy Ghost communicated, if no member of that Church had seen the one, or received time other; nay, if many members had not witnessed both the performance and the effusions of the Holy Ghost? But it is equally impossible that the epistle, making this appeal to miracles and spiritual gifts, could have been received as authentic, if forged in the name of St. Paul, at any future periods during the existence of a Christian Church at Thessalonica. In the two first chapters it represents its author and two of his companions as having been hatelf in that city, and appeals to the Church for the manner in which they had con ducted themselves while there, and for the zeal and success with which they had preached the Gospel, and it concludes with these awful words: 'I adjure you (orkizw uma~) by the Lord, that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren;' i. 0 all the Christians of the community. Had St. Paul, and Timotheus, and Sylvanus, never been in Thessalonica, or had they conducted themselves in any respect differently from what they are said to have done in the two first chapteñ, these chapters would have convicted the author of this epistle of forgery, at whatever time it had made its first appearance. Had they been actually there, and preached, and wrought miracles just as they are said to have done; and had some impostor, knowing this, forged time epistle before us at a considerable distance of time, the adjuration at the end of it must instantly have detected the forgery Every Thessalonian Christian of common sense would have said, 'How came we never to hear of this epistle before? Its author represents himself and two of his friends as having converted us to the faith a very short time before it was written and sent to us, and he charges those to whom it was immediately sent in the most solemn manner possible, that they should cause it to be read to every one of us; no Christian in Thessalonica would, in a matter of this kind, have dared to disobey the authority of an apostle, especially when enforced by so awful an adjuration; and yet neither we nor our fathers ever heard of this epistle, till now that Paul, and Sylvanus, add Timotheus are all dead, and therefore incapable of either confirming or refuting its authenticity!' Such an epistle, if not genuine, could never have been received by any community.

"The same apostle, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, corrects the abuse of certain spiritual gifts, particularly that of speaking divers kinds of tongues, and prescribes rules for the employment of these supernatural talents; he enters into a particular detail of them, as they existed in the Corinthian Church; reasons on their respective worth and excellence; says that they were limited in their duration, that they were no distinguishing mark of Divine favour, nor of so great importance as faith and virtue, time love of God, and charity to our neighbours. Now, if this epistle was really written by St. Paul to time Corinthians, and they had actually received no spiritual gifts, no power, imparted by extraordinary means, of speaking foreign languages, the proper place to be assigned him were not among impostors, but among those who had lost their understanding. A juggler may deceive by the dexterity of his hands, and persuade the ignorant and the credulous that more than human means are requisite for the performance of his extraordinary feats; but he will hardly persuade those whose understandings remain unimpaired, that lie has likewise communicated to his spectators the power of working miracles, and of speaking languages which they had never learned, were they conscious of their inability to perform the one, or to speak the other. If the epistle, therefore, was written during the life of St. Paul, and received by the Corinthian Church, it is impossible to doubt but that St. Paul was its author, and that among the Corinthians were prevalent those spiritual gifts of which he labours to correct the abuse. If those gifts were never prevalent among the Corinthian Christians, and this epistle was not seen by them until the next age, it could not have been received by the Corinthian Church as the genuine writing of the apostle, because the members of that Church must have been aware that if those gifts, of which it speaks, had been really possessed, and so generally dis. played by their fathers, as it represents them to have been, some of themselves would surely have heard their fathers mention them; and as time epistle treats of some of the most important subjects that ever occupied the mind of man, time introduction of death into the world through Adam, and the resurrection of the dead through Christ, they must have inferred that their fathers would not have secreted from them their children a treatise on topics so interesting to the whole human race." (Gleig's Edition of Stackhouse's History of the Bible, vol. iii. Intro. p. 11, &c.)


[1] Juedaeos impulsore Christo assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit. (SUET. Edit Var. p. 544.)

[2] Auctor nomins ejus Christus, qui Tiberio imperitant, per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat (Annal. 1. 5.)

[3] See note A at the end of this chapter, for a larger proof of the above particulars.

[4] The reasoning of Leslie, so incontrovertible as to the four last hooks of the Pentateuch, does not so fully apply to the book of Genesis. Few, however, will dispute the genuineness of this, if that of the other books of Moses be con­ceded. That the book of Genesis must have been written prior to the other books of the Pentateuch is, however, certain, for Exodus constantly refers to events nowhere recorded but in the book of Genesis; and without the book of Genesis, the abrupt commencement of Exodus would have been as unintelligible to the Jews as it would be to us. The Pentateuch must therefore be considered as one book, under five divisions, having a mutual coherence and dependence.

[5] See Note B at the end of this chapter, in which the same kind of argument is illustrated by the miraculous gift of tongues.


[6] Quid dicam do Socrate, (says Cicero,) cujus morti illachrymari soleo, Pie­tonem legens.-De Nature Deorum, p. 329, Edit. Davies, 1723.-See also PLATO'S Phaedo, passim, particularly pages 311, 312.-Edit. Forster, Oxon. 1741.

* See Hardy's Greek Testament; Whitby on the Place, with Schleusner Parkhurst's Lexicons on the word dunamis.