Page images
PDF
EPUB

we are told that he was blindfolded. In Matt. xxvi. 65, the charge on which the Jews condemned Christ was blasphemya crime of all others the best fitted to make him the object of popular indignation. Whereas in Luke. xxiii. 2, when instead of being accused before the Jews, he was taken to the Roman governor before whom this charge would not have been so effective, he was represented as “perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ a king.” All this is in harmony, but surely an unstudied harmony, with John X. 33, John v. 18, and Acts xxiii. 29.—Lastly, in John vi. 5, we find Jesus singling out Philip in the question he put, as to the means that could be provided at the place where they then wére, for the entertainment of a multitude overtaken with hunger. In Luke ix. 10, we read that it was a desert place, belonging to a city called Bethsaida. And lastly, in John i. 44, we are told that Philip was of Bethsaida—the likeliest person then to whom this question should have been addressed. These are but a few examples out of the many. In Mr. Blunt's work, which is a superior performance, the reader will meet with a goodly number of others to the full as striking and satisfactory, as those which we have now given.

11. Scripture throughout is replete with this internal evidence; but, without instancing any other or separate portions of it, let us advert for one moment to that great and general coincidence

—that unity of purpose and counsel, by which from first to last the whole of it is pervaded. In the whole history of the world, there is nothing that bears the least resemblance to it-an authorship beginning with Moses and terminating with the Apostle John, that is, sustained by a series of writers for 1500 years, many of them isolated from all the rest, and the greater part of whom were unknowing and unknown to each other, insomuch that there could be no converse and no possible concert between them. A conspiracy between parties or individuals so situated had been altogether superhuman. Their lots were cast in different generations; and nothing can explain the consistency or continuity of their movements towards one and the same great object, but that they were instruments in the hands of the one God, who, from generation to generation, keeps unchangeably by the counsels of His unerring wisdom, and the determinations of His unerring will. The convergency towards one and the same fulfilment of so many different lights, appearing in different ages of the world and placed at such a distance from each other, admits we think of but one interpretation_nor, without the power and the prescience of an overruling God, can we account for thatgoodly that regular progression of consentaneous and consecutive authorship, which is carried forward by the legislators and seers and historians of the children of Israel. And this evidence is not confined to the articulate testimony of their writings. The ritual, the institutions, the events, of which their priestly and consecrated land was the theatre, all tell us of the same thing; and announce that divine harmony which connects the dim prefigurations of the elder with the brighter developments of the latter dispensation. There is a minute and microscopic cognizance which might be taken of the harmonies of scripture, and which comes intimately home to the conviction of the inquirer; but there is also a consistency of greater lineaments

-an unbroken continuity of design which passes onward from century to century—the congruities, not of one personal history, but of a scheme that commences with the first origin and has its consummation in the final destinies of our species—a succession of profest revelations, of which the first and last stand apart at the distance of greatly more than a millennium, yet all actuated by one reigning spirit, and having, for their object the establishment of a spiritual economy which might reconcile glory to God in the highest with peace on earth and good will to men—these form the correspondences, not of a story that embraces but the transactions of one individual, but of a system which is commensurate to the world and bespeaks in its leading characters the mind and the majesty of God.*

12. But there is another species of adaptation, alike prolific of argument with that on which we have insisted hitherto—not the coincidence only which obtains between scripture and scripture, but the coincidence alike varied and minute and circumstantial, which obtains between scripture and the works either of Jewish or Christian authors-or rather between scripture and the state of things as made known by these authors in and about Judea. The title of Mr. Blunt's work to which we have

* We ask the reader to reflect how unlike in this respect the religion of Mahomet is to that of Jesus Christ.

already referred, is, “ The veracity of the Gospels and Acts from their coincidences with each other and Josephus.The truth is that from the one comparison we might educe an argument of the very same character and effect, with that more strictly internal argument, which, by means of the other comparison, has been presented with such signal ability and success by Dr. Paley. In mathematics, if one line of perfect straightness but coincide with another in two points, then they are perfectly straight throughout and coincide universally. What is now affirmed of a line in mathematics does not hold to the same extent of a line in history—but certain it is, that the greater is the number of points at which any given history coincides with another that is received and trusted in as authentic, the greater is the probability of their entire coincidence both with truth and with each other—the inference from their mutual agreement being, that both copied from and therefore that both agree with the same original realities which they are employed in describing. This probability is greatly enhanced by the situation in which we find these points of coincidence_that is in situations the least prominent, the least noticeable, the least obtrusive, and therefore the least likely to attract the observation of readers or inquirers. We can imagine a number of coincidences to be framed by an inventor, but then it would be in places which served his immediate purpose best; nor would he ever think of devising a number of coincidences, and then placing them so beyond the reach of common access or observation, that not one in ten thousand of his readers ever could have

discovered them. They are agreements like these which form the materials of one and the same argument, whether in the process of internal or of external comparison. When the comparison is between parts of scripture, the resulting evidence is like that afforded by the fragments of a cloven tally. When the comparison is between scripture and other authors, the resulting evidence is altogether of the same genus—though, without supposing a disjunction of parts, it is more like that afforded by the adaptation of a key to its lock, of a die to its counterpart mould, of a seal to its impression, or of any unbroken whole to the external contour from which it has taken both its dimensions and its outline. · 13. The literature connected with this part of the argument too was, like the other, originated by infidelity. Contradictions were alleged by Woolston and others, between scripture and the known customs and history of scripture times ; and, not only have these been satisfactorily disposed of; but the ulterior achievement in this walk of investigation has been, that a strong affirmative evidence is now raised, on the basis of a deeper and more manifold coincidence, between scripture and external history or external observation, than was before known or even imagined. Both ancient writers and modern travellers have made their respective contributions to this argument, which, though defensive at the first, has earned a great positive accession to the cause, and made it far more rich in evidence than before. In the work of reconciling the apparent contradictions, the

« PreviousContinue »