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everlasting happiness in the life to come. If, for instance, it were true, that the Holy Gospels were not written by the Evangelists to whom they are áseribed, or that the Epistles, which we believe to be St. Paul's, were the fabrications of an impostor, who assumed the name of the Apostle, though it would still be an unfair conclusion, that Christianity itself was a fraud (since we cannot argue from the doubtfulness of a record to the falsity of the things recorded), we should yet be destitute of positive proof, and unable to afford the evidence required, that our religion was given by divine revelation. It is a matter" therefore of the highest importance to establish the authenticity of the sacred writings. And this importance will appear still more conspicuous, when we have shewn, how closely the proof of their authenticity is connected with the proof of their divine authority, or with the evidences for our Holy Religion.

But before we enter on this proof, it is necessary to give a definition of the term “Authentic' For as the term is used by different writers in different senses, it is impossible that any one should argue with perspicuity on this subject, unless he previously explains what he himself understands by it. Some writers use the term 'authentic' in so extensive a sense, as to make it include both

the question of authorship, and the question of fidelity and truth. In this acceptation of the term, a book, though genuine if written by the person to whom it is ascribed, is not authentic, unless the accounts, which it contains are worthy of credit. With this distinction between the terms authentic' and 'genuine,' great caution is necessary to prevent confusion in the conduct of the argument. For with this distinction the proof of genuineness is one thing, the proof of authenticity is another. And though we may often argue from the former to the latter, we cannot always do it. There are many books, both ancient and modern, of which no doubt is entertained in regard to the authorship, but of which doubts may be entertained in regard to the question, whether the authors have related what is worthy of credit. But it too frequently happens, that writers who thus distinguish authenticity from genuineness, overlook the distinction in their mode of reasoning: and the very circumstance, that other writers have used the terms as synonymous, has led them more easily to the conclusion, that when they have conducted the proof of genuineness, they have furnished also a proof of authenticity, even in their sense of the term. It is true, that when the question relates to the sacred writings, a proof of the former affords a sure foundation, on which we may establish the truth of the latter. But the inference is not immediate, unless we take for granted, what it is our previous duty to prove, Another inconvenience arising from such an application of the terms 'genuine' and 'authentic,' is, that, though they are thus distinguished, they do not each for itself denote a separate quality, but are so far alike, that the latter includes the former, while it includes also an additional quality.

These inconveniences will be avoided, by using the term 'authentic' in the confined sense, in which many English, and most foreign writers use it; and by expressing the quality, otherwise included in the term 'authentic,' by a term, which applies to that quality only. In this manner all ambiguity will be avoided, and the argument may be conducted with precision. Instead therefore of employing the terms 'genuineness' and 'authenticity', I employ the terms authenticity' and 'credibility ; the former to denote, that a book was written by the author, to whom it is ascribed, the latter to denote, that the contents of the book are justly entitled to our assent.

There is one more point, on which the use and application of these terms requires explanation. If the term 'authenticity' is taken in a sense, which distinguishes it from that of credibility, why, it may be asked, have both of these subjects been referred to the same branch of Divinity? The answer is, that though they are distinct in themselves, and each of them requires a separate proof, they are so connected, when the question relates to the sacred writings, that they may justly be considered as parts of the same division, and forming together only one branch of Divinity.

The first inquiry must of course be directed to the authenticity of the sacred writings : for till this point has been determined, we cannot enter on the inquiry about their credibility. If they were forgeries, the ground on which we assent to them, would not exist. We must likewise separate the proof of authenticity in reference to the Old Testament, from the proof of authenticity in reference to the New: for the evidence and the arguments, which are applicable to the former, are different from the evidence and the arguments, which are applicable to the latter. The Old Testament, from the priority of its composition, would on that account take precedence of the New. But there are other reasons, which in the present instance make it adviseable to depart from the order of time. For not only is the authenticity of the New Testament a matter of primary importance to every Christian, but the proof of it may be conducted independently of the Old Testament, whereas the authenticity of the Old Testament derives at least a part of its support from the authenticity of the New. The authenticity therefore of the New Testament shall be the subject of our investigation at the present season.


In the conduct of this inquiry we must always bear in mind, that we are concerned with a question, which is purely historical. The inquiry is, whether the books of the New Testament were written in the first century, and by the authors, to whom they are ascribed, or whether (as many have asserted) those books are the fabrications of a later age, and destitute of claim to the authorship assigned to them. This question must be examined on the same principles, and in the same manner, as we would examine the claims of any other ancient writings. To those, who question the fact, that the Epistles ascribed to St. Paul were written by that Apostle, we must apply the same kind of reasoning, which we would apply to those, who might choose to doubt whether Cicero or Pliny were the authors of the Epistles ascribed to them. That the Epistles of St. Paul were written by inspiration, which those of Cicero

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