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intricate and refined imposture, the chief plausibilities of which however were to lie in reserve for nearly two thousand years, till, by a process of development almost as laborious as the original invention of them, they should at length become patent to general observation, and then work their full and favourable effect on the minds of a distant posterity. Such a species of practising is wholly unexampled in the history of this world's delusions. We might as soon expect that the pretender to an estate would, with his own hands, tear the likeliest of its forged title-deeds into fragments and then bury them in scattered portions under ground, where in the course of generations they might be reassembled by some future antiquaries into a demonstration, that his were the valid rights of the property, that these were the undoubted evidences of himself being the legitimate proprietor. No impostor would first devise a number, an exceeding number of specious likelihoods in his favour; and then deposit them in places so inaccessible, as that not one in ten thousand could be in the least aware of them. This is not the way of an impostor, who is ever sure to set himself off to the greatest and most immediate advantage, and who for this purpose would make all his proofs and pretensions stand forth as discernibly as possible before the eye of public observation. There remains no other conclusion then, respecting these inferred and altogether undesigned congruities, than that they are the vestiges and proofs of a real history, and of which the world was not conscious till thoroughly explored by the shrewd and fortunate adventurer who had opened his way to them, as to a rich mine of evidence, and thence gathered the materials of an overpowering argument for the truth of our religion. But, instead of attempting the general description of this mode of inference, it is better that we should present the reader with at least one or two of its specimens--selected, not altogether because they are the most striking in the collection, but because they are among the shortest.
8. “Colossians iv.9. “With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.'
“Observe how it may be made out that Onesimus was a Colossian. Turn to the Epistle to Philemon, and you will find that Onesimus was the servant or slave of Philemon. The question will therefore be, to what city Philemon belonged. In the epistle addressed to him this is not declared. It appears only that he was of the same place, whatever that place was, with an eminent christian named Archippus. Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved and fellow-labourer; and to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in thy house. Now turn back to the epistle to the Colossians, and you will find Archippus saluted by name amongst the christians of that church. “Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord that thou fulfil it (iv. 17). The necessary result is, that Onesimus also was of the same city, agreeably to what is said of him “he is one of you. And this result is the effect either of truth which produces consistency without the writer's
thought or care, or of a contexture of forgeries confirming and falling in with one another by a species of fortuity of which I know no example. The supposition of design, I think, is excluded, not only because the purpose to which the design must have been directed, viz., the verification of the passage in our epistle in which it is said concern- . ing Onesimus, “he is one of you,' is a purpose which would be lost upon ninety-nine readers out of a hundred; but because the means made use of are too circuitous to have been the subject of affectation and contrivance. Would a forger, who had this purpose in view, have left his readers to hunt it out, by going forward and backward from one epistle to another in order to connect Onesimus with Philemon, Philemon with Archippus, and Archippus with Colosse ? all which he must do before he arrives at his discovery, that it was truly said of Onesimus, "he is one of you.'
“2 Timothy iii. 15. “And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are alle to make thee wise unto salvation.'
“ This verse discloses a circumstance which agrees exactly with what is intimated in Acts xvi. 1. where it is recorded of Timothy's mother that she was a Jewess. This description is virtually, though I am satisfied, undesignedly, recognized in the epistle, when Timothy is reminded in it that from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures.' The Holy Scriptures undoubtedly meant the Scriptures of the Old Testament. The expression bears that sense in every place in which it occurs. Those of the new had not yet acquired the name,
not to mention that in Timothy's childhood probably, none of them existed. In what manner then could Timothy have known from a child the Jewish Scriptures had he not been born on one side or both of Jewish parentage ? Perhaps he was not less likely to be carefully instructed in them, for that his mother alone professed that religion.”
9. These are but two specimens out of many alike impressive, and they are yet far from being exhausted. They will be still further multiplied by the labours of future inquirers, and so as to form an accumulating evidence, and of a kind too strictly and wholly internal-educed as it is altogether from the comparison of scripture with scripture. Were the agreements thus manifested obvious and explicit, refuge might be taken in the imputation of forgery; but, when they can only be obtained by a very circuitous track of investigation, all suspicion of contrivance is effectually done away. It is this which constitutes the main strength of that circumstantial evidence which lies in the depositions of living witnesses, who exhibit a sustained coincidence without collusion, and that too in evidence of the utmost particularity. It is consent without concert, in things of such exceeding minuteness and variety, that stamps a credit upon testimony, even when the character and condition of the witnesses are altogether unknown—nor is it necessary, for the purpose of feeling its strength, that more should be attended to than the testimony itself. The two species of agreement are quite distinguishable—that which is the fruit of artifice, and that which is altogether unsought and spontaneous; and it is the exceeding multitude of these last which makes the history of Paul, as educed from the Acts of the Apostles and from his own epistles, so pregnant with an evidence of the highest order. For these documents admit of being confronted and cross-examined in the same way that living witnesses are, who, if found to agree in every point even the most incidental and the most exempt from every appearance of design—then no other conviction can possibly result from their common testimony, than that it is the evidence of a common truth to which all the parties had access, and on which the statements of them all are founded.
The closeness and exactness of these now evolved harmonies are all the more impressive that they were before unnoticed, and which go therefore irresistibly to prove that they were also undevised --for they would not have answered the purposes of forgery. The evidence afforded by these unexpected junctions of so many little fragments which lie far apart from each other, has been aptly compared by Dr. Paley himself to the evidence given by the parts of a cloven tally, as being indeed the real parts of a real and authentic whole. No such contexture could have come forth of the hands of fiction or imposture—which never would have busied itself in framing a tissue, not of palpable but of unseen consistencies, that never could have been known, had it not been for the labours of a dexterous analyst who succeeded, but with great pains, to open up and unravel them. The thread, to use Dr. Paley's own image, which touches upon