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authors of them. But every thing, which we find in the New Testament is precisely what we might expect to find, from persons so circumstanced as the Apostles and Evangelists. Whether we consider the New Testament in reference to matters of geography, or in reference to states and governments, or in reference to prevailing customs, we every where find representations, which accord with the geography, the policy, and the customs of the first century. The facts, which are recorded, and the sentiments, which are delivered, harmonize with the country, the age, and the character of the several writers. The language also is exactly the kind of language which such persons would have used. In short every thing throughout the New Testament, is in unison with the belief, that the several books of it were written by the authors, to whom they are ascribed. Now it has been shewn already, that the external evidence in the present case is so strong, as to require nothing more from internal evidence, than a bare agreement with it. And since the internal evidence sufficiently shews, that the several books of the New Testament, might have been written by the authors, to whom they are ascribed, the external evidence incontestably proves that they were so.
Here then we might rest contented with the proof, which has been already given. But since internal evidence may go further, than that of a mere auxiliary to the external, and every thing, which relates to the authenticity of the New Testament deserves our serious attention, let us consider how far internal evidence may be carried on the present occasion. Let us inquire, whether a proof may be obtained from the New Testament itself, independently of external evidence, not only that it might have been written by the persons to whom the several books are ascribed, but that those books could not have been written by any
other persons, than persons so circumstanced as the Apostles and Evangelists.
Let us begin with the historical books of the New Testament, and consider, in the first place, the knowledge which they display of the several relations, which the Jews, in the time of our Saviour, bore, as well to each other, as to foreign nations. The various changes, both in their civil and in their religious state, from the reign of Herod the Great to the Procuratorship of Festus, with the jarring opinions of the different Jewish sects, are so introduced in the historical books of the New Testament, as could be expected only from writers, to whom the civil and religious state of the Jewish nation was familiar. The divisions and subdivisions made by the Romans in the governments of Judæa, Samaria, and Galilee, the subjection of Judæa to a Roman Procurator on the banishment of Archelaus, its temporary administration by Herod Agrippa, and its subsequent return to the Procuratorship, are facts not formally recorded in the historical books, but occasionally introduced, and so introduced, as would be done by no writer, who had lived in a different country, or in a different age. From the intimate knowledge thus displayed by the persons who wrote the historical books of the New Testament, we must conclude, that they were conversant with Palestine, and contemporary with the facts, which they record. The knowledge, which they display, relates frequently to matters so minute, to matters of such little apparent interest, beyond the narrow limits of Judæa, that a writer of any other country, or of any other age could hardly have possessed it. And the difficulty of obtaining it in any subsequent age was further increased by the destruction of Jerusalem, and the subversion of the Jewish state ; a subversion so complete, as to have obliterated among the Jews themselves all remembrance of minute relations and transactions, which preceded that event. The history of our Saviour which is recorded in the Gospels, and the transactions at Jerusalem, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, must have been recorded therefore at a time, when the Jewish state was still in being. Nor is it merely a knowledge of things relating to Judæa, that we find displayed in the New Testament. Whether they relate to Jerusalem, or relate to Ephesus, or to Corinth, or to Athens, or to Rome, we find representations, that accord with the places, which are the scenes of action. That an impostor therefore in the second century should have united this knowledge of foreign countries with that minute knowledge of Judæa, as it existed in the first century, is quite incredible.
But for the sake of argument, let us suppose that the thing was possible, and consider the conclusion, to which the supposition will lead. If the historical books of the New Testament were fabricated by an impostor, or by impostors, who had all the knowledge necessary to make those books agree with the circumstances, under which they were said to be written, and they were accordingly made to agree, in order to conceal the fraud, the fraud would still betray itself, and betray itself through the means, which were employed to conceal it.
In compositions, which are not intended to deceive, but are honest representations of what the writers know or believe, an agreement with dates, whether of time or of place, and in general an accordance with things that are co-existent, will be of such a description, as to betray no appearance of design. And for this reason will such agreement be without design, because there is no fraud to be concealed. Indeed they who have had opportunities of searching for internal marks of authenticity, whether in books, or in written letters, will have observed examples of coincidence in dates, of which the writers themselves were evidently not aware. And the authenticity of their writings is thus established by means, which had escaped their own notice. But if an impostor undertakes to fabricate a work in the name of another, and in order to give colour to the forgery contrives an artificial coincidence with times, or places, or co-existent transactions, such coincidence being itself a fabrication, contrived for a particular purpose, the contrivance will always be apparent. The object of an impostor is to obtain the semblance of authenticity ; and that object would be defeated, if the coincidence were not easily perceived. Far different is the situation of a writer, who has no need of contrivance, who has no imposition