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too_in the external harmonies of scripture with other and separate testimony, as well as in its internal harmonies with itself—a great and general coincidence, between the whole history which it unfolds to us, and all that is known beside of the history of the world. And the history in the Bible is the history of the world; but under the peculiar aspect, in the language of Butler, of its being God's world.* He deduces a strong argument for the truth of scripture, from the immense number of places at which it lies open to comparison with profane history; and yet the manner in which it stands its ground, and bears to be confronted with all the informations and documents of antiquity. This argument for the general truth of scripture grows in strength and intensity, the more intensely it is reflected on. This book professes to be an account of the world regarded as the dominion and property of God; and, both in its commencement and its conclusion as well as its intermediate contents, there is a greatness altogether commensurate to this object-beginning as it does with the creation of the species, and ending with an account of the two distinct and everlasting destinies which await the two great divisions of the human family. In the conducting of this sublime narrative, there are references to beings and places external to our world, arising from the interchanges which are said to have taken place between the visible and the invisible—the occasional visits from heaven to earth, actual or alleged—the inspirations which descended

* Analogy, Part II. chap. rii,

upon men; and, in the course of these allusions we have not only repeated notices of God, but of other orders of intelligence beside ourselves and of the relations in which we stand to them. Now, in the glimpses which are thus afforded of an extended moral economy, we are unable to confront the informations of scripture, with any independent knowledge of our own. We have no direct or personal observation of angels and spirits; and we are not in circumstances, either for obtaining a confirmation of the Bible, or of detecting in its state-, ments any marks of imposture-by comparing what it tells of things supernal to the world, with aught that we previously or originally know of these things.

18. But the Scripture not only offers notices and allusions in regard to matters external to the world; it offers these notices far more abundantly in regard to matters that are within the compass of the world, but external to the church and all which matters, unlike to the former, were within the compass of human observation, and many of which have been derived by historical transmission to ourselves in the present day. The truth is, that the Bible may be said to present us with a general outline of the world's history—as consisting in the movement of nations, in the rise and fall of earth's great empires, in the most noted chronological eras; and adventuring, as it does, both on the names of countries, and the monarchs that ruled over them, and the manners that characterised their people—never did imposture, if imposture indeed it be, so expose herself to a thousand lights of cross-examination, or so multiply

her vulnerable points, by the daring and extended sweep, that she has thus taken among the affairs of men. There is something incredible in a compact or conspiracy of deceivers, the scheme and spirit of which were handed down from one to another through a whole millenium; but that one and all of them should have sustained such a general historic consistency through the whole of that period, that no glaring contradiction has yet been detected, between the multitude of incidental notices that the penmen of Scripture have made to the countries around Judea, and at a great distance from it, and the actual state of the world—that sacred and profane history should so have harmonized, as that a consistent erudition, made up of an immense variety of particulars, has actually been raised and established out of the connection* between them—that there should be such a sustained coincidence from the first dawnings of history, and extended by means of prophetic anticipation to the present day—truly, apart from the peculiar evidence of prophecy altogether, there is much in the artless and unforced agreements which are everywhere spread over so broad a surface of comparison, as to stamp the strongest appearance of truth both on the general narrative of the bible, and by implication, on the miraculous narrative, that, without the slightest appearance of ingenuity or elaborate design, is so incorporated therewith.

* See Shuckford, Prideaux, and Russel on the connections betweeu sacred and profane History. ·

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On the Moral Evidence for the Truth of the

New Testament.

1. The argument of the last chapter is of frequent application in questions of general criticism; and upon its authority alone many of the writers of past times have been admitted into credit, and many have been condemned as unworthy of it.

The numerous and correct allusions to the customs and institutions, and other statistics of the age in which the pieces of the New Testament profess to have been written, give evidence of their antiquity. The artless and undesigned way in which these allusions are interwoven with the whole history, impresses upon us the perfect simplicity of the authors, and the total absence of every wish or intention to palm an imposture upon the world. And there is such a thing, too, as a general air of authenticity; which, however difficult to resolve into particulars, gives a very close and powerful impression of truth to the narrative. There is nothing fanciful in this species of internal evidence. It carries in it all the certainty of experience, and experience too upon a familiar and well-known subject, the characters of honesty in the written testimony of our fellow-men. We are often called upon, in private and every-day life, to exercise our judgment upon the spoken testimony of others; and we both feel and understand the powerful evidence which lies in the tone, the manner, the circumstantiality, the number, the agreement of the witnesses, and the consistency of all the particulars with what we already know from other sources of information. Now, it is undeniable, that all those marks which give evidence and credibility to spoken testimony, may also exist to a very impressive degree in written testimony; and the argument founded upon them, so far from being fanciful or illegitimate, has the sanction of a principle which no philosopher will refuse; the experience of the human mind on a subject on which it is much exercised, and which lies completely within the range of its observation.

2. We now enter on the consideration of the moral evidence for the truth of the New Testament, as gathered, however, not from the present character of the witnesses, but from the nature of that ethical system which they delivered; or, more generally. still, not from themselves but from the subject-matter of their testimony. Doubtless, we may collect from the performance itself, such marks of truth and honesty, as entitle us to conclude, that the human agents employed in the construction of this book were men of veracity and principle. But this argument has already been resorted to, * and a very substantial argument it is. Our present attempt is to found an internal evidence for the divinity of scripture on the morality of its doctrines, or the purity of that moral light which

* In Chap. iii. of Book II., where we also adverted to the argument of the last chapter, but not with such particularity or fulness, as 10 prevent our again recurring to it.

VOL. IV.

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