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hundreds of particulars, that had escaped the discernment of all ordinary readers, and that has only been evolved into manifestation by a process of thorough sifting, on the part of those who have been at the pains laboriously to track, and to crossexamine, and to confront the various parts and passages of the record with each other-as nothing possibly can account for, but that the whole narrative or composition has a ground work of truth for its subject-matter. In the present chapter we shall verify this remark by one or two instances, taken from that marvellous work the Horae Paulinæ of Dr. Paley. But again exceptions have been made to scripture on the ground of its discrepancies, not with itself alone, but with the informations of other and contemporary writers. These have led to a distinct walk of inquiry from the former; and the defenders of revelation have in general reconciled the alleged contradictions. But they have not stopped there. They have discovered, we mean Lardner and his followers, such a profusion of coincidences, and these too of so incidental a character, between the Bible and other writingssuch an impregnation of historical truth, or what may be termed the truth of the times, as never could have been amalgamated by the skill of any fabricator, with a work either of fictitious design or that was the production of a later age. In like manner, the alleged immoralities of scripture have led to the triumphant exhibition of the moral, which some would place on a level with the miraculous argument for the truth of Christianity. But in no walk of evidence, we think, has the observation
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dire van only be an interdi for by thun, warural truth and authenticity of the whole. 'I lw initial map, in the track of this investigatiori, in, to deliver the Bible from the charge of its seemmy, camtrudiction for even at first sight, and on the most slight and superficial view, appearances of this mirt, do stand palpably forth on the face of the record. much therefore as a superficial infidelity would be the mont ready to seize upon. Now every semblance of this nature, if satisfactorily done away or disposed of on a nearer and stricter examination, forms a distinct argument in favour of the revolution proving, as it does, such an absence of care and contrivance as could only proceed from the consciousness of truth on the part of the narrator...olse he would not have exposed himself to a discredit, which every author, who tries to palm a fabrication upon the world, would labour most Mudiously to avoid. When the alleged
crepancy obtains between different writers in
scripture, as the evangelists of the New Testament the legitimate inference on the adjustment of such discrepancy is, that there could be no collision between them; and that their testimonies therefore are independent of each other. This whole subject has been investigated with much detail, and been most ably and elaborately argued by the defenders of Christianity.* It will be found, that, with very few exceptions, these apparent contradictions all admit of an actual solution; and the remaining ones, of a solution which may be termed hypothetical—that is a solution which would perfectly account for the seeming discrepancy, on certain given suppositions not unlikely in themselves, though not expressly warranted by any informations that we actually possess.
Even here the principle which we have elsewhere laboured to demonstrate will be found of avail- -we mean the use of an hypothesis in controversial argument, not as being competent to the office of establishing a proof, but altogether competent to the office of repelling an objection. If the supposition in question remove the discrepancy, and if, for aught we know, the supposition may be true or is not incredible—then, although not of strength enough to warrant its own absolute certainty, it may at least be of strength enough to keep an objection at abeyance, so that it shall not be suffered, when thus capable of being disposed of, to overset a religion having such weight
* We have a pretty full list of these contradictions in Horne's “ Introduction to the Holy Scriptures.” Ed. 7th, Vol. ii. Part II. Book II. ch. vii. sect. vi..with an account of the manner in which they are reconciled.
hundreds of particulars, that had escaped the dis-
hetween the Bible and other writings
ation of historical truth, or what
of fictitious design of
of scripture have