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in which it is found, as destitute of divine authority. I have brought Mr. Thirlwall to confront the question of fact; let me quote Dr. Paley in relation to this statement of principle. "I know not," he says, "a more rash or unphilosophical conduct of the understanding, than to reject the substance of a story, by reason of some diversities in the circumstances with which it is related. The usual character of human testimony (Dr. Paley is discussing the discrepancies between the several Gospels) is, substantial truth under circumstantial variety." "On the contrary, a close and minute agreement induces the suspicion of confederacy and fraud."* If both these statements be true, the phenomena of inspiration would be identical with those of confederacy and fraud. I estimate the Scriptures far too highly to hesitate, for a moment, about pointing out to your notice certain small variations and inconsistencies, utterly destructive of the doctrine of plenary inspiration; but absolutely confirmatory, in some instances, of the veracity of the historians, and, in all, compatible with it. Our faith scorns the insinuation, that these sacred writings require "any forbearance from the boasted understanding of man."
1. The different Evangelists are at variance with each other, with respect to the calling of the first Apostles. They differ with respect to the time, the place, the order; e. g.:
First, as to time; Matthewt represents the imprisonment of John the Baptist as the occasion of our Lord's beginning to preach, and as preceding the call of any Apostles.
Johnt represents Andrew and Simon, Philip and Nathanael, as called, the miracle at Cana as wrought, a Passover as attended at Jerusalem,-a residence of Jesus and his disciples in the rural district of Judæa, as going on; and then adds, "for John was not yet cast into prison."
Next, as to place: according to Matthew and Mark,§ Andrew and Peter are called by the Lake of Galilee; according to John, in Judæa.
And as to order: Matthew and Mark represent the two pairs of brothers, as successively called: first, Andrew and Peter; then, after a short interval, James and John.
Luke, making no mention of Andrew, represents the others as simultaneously called.
John represents Andrew as called with himself; and Peter, as subsequently called, through the instrumentality of his brother Andrew. Of James, (though affirmed by the other Evangelists to have been his own companion in the call,) he is silent.
*Evidences of Christianity, Part III., ch. i.
+Matt. iv: 12-22. Jahni· 25__51 A Mart. 10 20 IT km ». 1A 11,
The three first writers not being present, it is nothing wonderful that they are less accurate than the fourth, who was. 2. The three denials of Peter, as recorded by the first, third, and fourth Evangelists, will be found inconsistent in their minute circumstances. The denials are uttered,
1. to a maid. according to Matthew,* 2. to another maid.
according to Luke,†
3. to those who stood by.
2. to a man.
3. to another man.
according to John,‡
1. to the maid who admitted him. 2. to the officers of the palace. (3. to a man, (a relation of Malchus.) 3. Matthew§ and Luke state, that one Simon bore our Lord's cross to Calvary; John, that Jesus bore it himself. 4. The inscription annexed by Pilate to the cross is given differently by every one of the Evangelists.
Matthew:** This is Jesus, the king of the Jews."
Luke: "This is the king of the Jews."
John: "Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews." 5. Matthew and Mark¶¶ state that our Lord on the cross was reviled by both the malefactors; but Luke*** affirms that when one of them was guilty of this shocking mockery, he was rebuked by the other; and that the latter received the well-known assurance, "this day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.".
6. The last discrepancy which I shall mention, has reference to the final Passover, and its relation to the day of crucifixion. But in order to understand the case, and indeed to read with intelligence the whole series of events connected with the crucifixion and resurrection, it is necessary to hear in mind the following facts:
(a.) That the Jewish day commenced in the evening, and was reckoned from sunset to sunset.
*Matt. xxvi: 69-end. xxvii : 32. **xxvii: 37.
xix: 19. ***xxiii : 39-43.
(b.) That the Jewish Sabbath was the seventh day of the week, and extended from six o'clock on Friday evening, to the same time on Saturday.
(c) That at the Passover, the paschal lamb was slain at the end of one Jewish day, and eaten immediately, i. e., at the commencement of the next, or about six or seven in the evening. The three hours before sunset, during which it was prepared, were called the preparation of the Passover, and belonged to the fourteenth of the month; while the hours after sunset, during which it was eaten, belonged to the fifteenth. The phrase, preparation of the Sabbath, was used in like manner, to denote the three hours before sunset every Friday.
(d.) The Passover being fixed to the fifteenth of the month, and that a lunar month, necessarily moved over all the days of the week; and might fall, of course, into coincidence with the weekly Sabbath.
(e) The feast of unleavened bread was a festival of seven days' duration, the first day of which coincided with that on which the Passover was eaten, following of course that on which it was killed.
These things being premised, we are prepared to notice the points in which the Evangelists agree, and those in which they disagree, in their accounts of the crucifixion, and its connected events. They all agree in assigning the same distinguishing incidents of our Lord's personal history to the four great days of the week, most interesting to Christians, viz., to the Thursday, the last supper; to the Friday, the crucifixion; to the Saturday, the sleep in the sepulchre; to the Sunday, the resurrection. But about the position of the Jewish Passover upon these days, they singularly differ; St. John fixing it on the Friday evening, and making it therefore coincide with the weekly Sabbath; the other three, fixing it on the Thursday evening, and so following it up by the Sabbath. The variance is the more interesting from its influence on our views of the last supper; which, according to the three first Evangelists was the Passover, according to the fourth, was not the Passover. The institution of the communion, as a Christian transformation of the Jewish Festival, rests entirely on the former of these narratives; St. John is altogether silent respecting it. Yet it was he who leaned on Jesus' bosom, and stood beneath his cross.
Now what is the just inference from such discrepancies? Is it that the writers were incompetent reporters of the main facts? Not so; for there are few biographers, however well informed, whose testimony, produced in circumstances at all parallel, would not yield, on the application of as severe a test, inconsistencies more considerable. Is it that they are not veracious? Not so; for not a trace of self-interest is dis
cernible in these cases. Is it that they were not inspired? Not so; for the transition they underwent from peasants to apostles, from dragging the lake to regenerating the world, is the sublimest case of inspiration, (except one,) with which God has refreshed the nations. But it is this; that they were not intellectually infallible.
I have now endeavoured to give some idea of two different ways of regarding the Christian records.
I. They possess an internal and self-evidence, in their own moral beauty and consistency, and the unimaginable perfection of the great Son of God, whom they bring to life before With this evidence, which is open to every pure mind and true heart, which speaks to the conscience like a voice of God without, conversing with the spirit of God within, all those may be content, who think that, to accept Christ as the image of Deity, and the authoritative model of Duty, is to be a Christian.
II. Those, however, who think that, in order to be Christians, we must hold one only doctrinal creed, containing many things hard to understand, and harder to believe, are aware that nothing short of a divine infallibility can prevail with us to receive a system so repugnant to our nature. And as this is incapable of self-proof, they appeal chiefly to the external evidence and foreign attestation which belong to the Christian records; beginning with the historical method, they endeavour to show,
1. That we have the original words of the Gospel witnesses, (authenticity:)
(2.) That, this being the case, we have the very Words of God (plenary inspiration.)
Now let me detain you by one reflection on these two methods. Suppose each, in turn, to prove insufficient, as a basis of Christianity, the other remaining firm; and consider what consequences will result.
If the internal or self-evidence be inadequate, (which our objectors must suppose, for it cannot, they admit, prove their creeds,) then every one must seek a foundation for his faith in the other. He must satisfy himself, in limine, of the personal authorship of the books in the Canon; a purely literary inquiry, and one of extraordinary labour, even to those who enjoy every advantage for its prosecution. In order to be saved, doctrines must be embraced, requiring for their proof an inspiration, which does not exist in the New Testament writings, except on the supposition of their apostolic origin. The ascertainment, then, of this point, is the necessary pre
lude to all saving faith; this duty lies on the outermost thresh
hold of our acceptance with the Giver of salvation. So that God hangs the eternal welfare of every man on an investigation so critical and elaborate, that a whole life of research is not too much to understand it, and the most familiar with its details are, by no means, the most uniformly confident of its results; an investigation which assigns a certain date to each book, as the lowest limit of security; and says, if you dare to fix this letter or that Gospel upon a time later by half a century, you are lost for ever!
But may not the young and the ignorant trust in the guidance of a teacher? In his sermon on private judgment, Dr. Tattershall treats of this question, and lays down the following rule: "In the case of adults, such reliance is justifiable far, and no farther, than it is unavoidable. So far as God has not given the ability, or the opportunity of investigation, so far he will not require it; but in whatever degree any person has the power and opportunity of examining the will of God for himself,-in that degree,-whether he exercise his privilege or not,-God will hold him responsible. As to the liability to fall into error;-beyond all doubt, such liability exists, whether we submit to the guidance of any teacher, or exercise our own private judgment. How, let me ask, can we avoid drawing the following inferences?
(1.) That the greater part of mankind must be held to be in a condition rendering this reliance on a teacher "unavoidable.” (2.) For this reliance, then, such portion of mankind must be held justified in the sight of God.
(3.) But such dependence makes them liable to err; and must, in fact, have led countless multitudes into error.
(4.) If these errors are fatal to salvation, then God inflicts eternal torments for the inevitable results of a justifiable act. (5.) If these errors are not fatal to salvation, then there is salvation out of the faith.
The result, then, of this external system is, that you may be saved on either of two conditions; that you belong to the orthodox literary sect, and hold the Antiquarian opinions of the priests; or, that you belong to the ignorant, and can find out the right parties to whom to say, "I will believe as you believe."
Reverse the supposition. Conceive that in the process, becoming ever more searching, of historical inquiry, the other and external method should be found to be inadequate to the maintenance of its superstructure; what would be the fate of Christianity, trusted solely to its self-evidence? I will ima