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the Apostolic Fathers, and especially the Epistles, which bear the pame of Ignatius, have descended to us in a very questionable shape. And though we should probably go too far, if we asserted, as some critics have done, that they are entirely spurious, this at least is cere tain, that if they came originally from the hands of those Fathers, their writings have been so interpolated with passages, which from the nature of the subjects could not have existed in the first century, as to cast a shade over that which may probably be genuine. At the same time it must be admitted, that if those writings have been only interpolated, the interpolations appear to have been made for a different purpose, than that of obtaining evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament. But still they are not exempt from it. And even if every doubt were removed, even if it were certain, that all the passages were genuine, which have been quoted from the Apostolic Fathers, as evidence for the New Testament, they would still fail of producing the effect intended. For most of them are really of that description, that the authors might have written them, though they had never seen the book, or books, to which they are supposed to allude. If then we make their writings the foundation of our proof, we expose ourselves to the charge of building on a foundation of sand. Of this weakness our adversaries have taken advantage; and nothing has so contributed to impair the proof, that the New Testament is authentic, as the importance which has been falsely attached to the works of the Apostolic Fathers. pp. 17, 18.
In the twenty-fourth lecture, the historical evidence, for which the reader has been prepared by the remarks of the learned Professor in the preceding lecture, is given in detail, commencing with Jerome, and including Gregory of Nazianzum, Epiphanius, Athanasius, Eusebius of Cæsarea, Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Irenæus. These authorities are selected because they form the links of a chain of evidence which connects, on the one hand, with the fifth century, when the existence of the books which are included in the New Testament is so unreservedly admitted as to require no inductions of proof; and, on the other, with an age so near to the
apostolic age, that where the chain of evidence will cease, its place can be supplied by argument which will incontestably prove, that there was only one short period, in which a forgery was possible, and that, if during that period a forgery had been attempted, it could not have escaped detection. These authorities are not merely cited, but their testimonies are compared with each other, and the specific value of each is distinctly shewn: the enumeration is in every part accompanied with very useful remarks. In the twenty-fifth lecture, are stated the results of the evidence adduced in the preceding one; and the position is argued at considerable length, that, if the historical books of the New Testament were universally received, they Vol. XXII. N.S.
must have been received as authentic in the very places where they were composed, and by the persons to whom they were first delivered. This argument is applied in several directions, for the purpose of making manifest the absurdity of the supposition, that the books of the New Testament could have been a forgery. The internal evidence is the subject of the succeeding lecture, the last of part V. Its nature and value are well explained, and instances of undesigned coincidences are given as confirmatory of the external evidences, and as proofs of authenticity. Paley's truly admirable book, the “ Horæ Paulinæ," is distinctly pointed out to the attention of Bishop Marsh's readers; which we notice chiefly forthe sake of remarking that, in these parts, no account is given of the principal Authors in Theological
Learning, an omission which we shall be glad to have sup. plied in the future parts. The account is included in the title of the Lectures, as an essential part of the Professor's plan, but has, we believe, appeared only in reference to the first branch of them, the Criticism of the Bible.
The sixth part of the “ Course of Lectures,” relates to the Credibility of the New Testament, which is considered in reference to the character and situation of the writers, and the contents of the writings themselves. But, as the conclusiveness of arguments derived from such sources, necessarily depends on the integrity of the works attributed to the writers of the New Testament, the Bishop discusses this point previously to under taking to establish their credibility and the truth of their contents. lle proceeds to shew, that the books which we now possess as the works of the Apostles and Evangelists, are the same books as those which were composed by Apostles and Evangelists. The notion of integrity, as related to credibility, does not imply a verbal perfection : it is sufficient for this purpose, if the facts originally
recorded, and the doctrines originally delivered in the New Testament, are the same in the existing copies.
• That integrity which is necessary to establish Credibility, does not depend on a variation of words, if there is no variation in the sense.' It will be sufficient, therefore, if we can prove, that the New Testament has descended to us, upon the whole, in the same state in which it was originally written; and that we may justly confide in every thing which relates to facts and to doctrines.
In proceeding with his subject, Bishop Marsh argues, that a general corruption of the sacred text was impracticable, and justly concludes, that the mutual and general check against corruption, which was afforded by the joint operation of manuscripts, fathers, and versions, must have preserved to us the
New Testament in the same state, upon the whole, that it was left in by the writers themselves. The following remarks deserve the serious consideration of some late writers, who have discovered a strange tenacity of opinion in respect to 1 John V. 7.
• I am aware indeed, that this argument, and not only this argu. ment, but every argument for the Integrity of the New Testament, which has been used in this Lecture, must fall at once to the ground, if it be true, that the passage in question proceeded from the pen of St. John. If that passage existed in Greek manuscripts anterior to those which have descended to the present age, and was expunged by adversaries of the doctrine which it contains, the extinction of the passage must have been universal. It must have affected the manuscripts in the hands of the orthodox, no less than the manuscripts belonging to the heretics. It must have equally affected the manuscripts of the ancient versions. It must have equally affected the quotations of the Greek Fathers, who quote the sixth and eighth verses in succession, without the words which begin with iv tw.ougavợ, and end with ir tnym Now if it was really possible, that such corruptions could, in spite of every impediment, be thus generally extended, what becomes of all the arguments which have been employed in this. Lecture to prove the general Integrity of the New Testament? Those arguments are founded on the supposed impossibility of doing that, which must have been done, if the passage in question originally existed in Greek manuscripts.' pp. 14–16.
The question of Credibility, interrupted by the necessary introduction of the proofs of integrity, and a series of valuable remarks on the celebrated passage in the first Epistle of John, is taken up in the twenty-eighth Lecture, where it is treated of by the Margaret Professor in his usual perspicuous, and able manner. The writers of the New Testament, he shews, possessed every qualification that can be required of a writer to make his writings worthy of credit. They could have no motive to deception, and their sincerity is unimpeachable. They could not themselves be deceived in respect to facts which were cognizable by their senses, and their perfect sobriety of manner gives us assurance that no delusions were misleading them in regard to the subjects on which they wrote. The situation and circumstances of the New Testament writers, equally with their personal character, vouch for the credibility of their records, as they afforded every facility for the detection of falsehood, if their accounts had not been faithful. The cases of the two Evangelists, Mark and Luke, who were not Apostles, are argued separately and at length.
In the twenty-ninth Lecture, the credibility of the facts recorded in the New Testament, is considered; and the pretensions of each book are estimated singly, by a comparison of its parts with each other,-- of one book as compared with another, -and of the whole number of books as compared with other works of acknowledged credit. Examined singly, the parts are in agreement; compared with each other, the books mutually support one another; and the facts which they detail, receive confirmation from independent writers of established credit. The conclusion of this Lecture is so excellent that we shall lay it before our readers.
• The review which has been taken of the facts recorded in the New Testament, shall be concluded with some remarks, from which it will appear, that the actions ascribed to our Saviour, are of that description, that they could not have been recorded, if they had not been true. Independently of the miracles performed by our Saviour, which shall be considered in the next Lecture, his general conduct, as described by the Evangelists, is that of a person surpassing both in wisdom and in goodness the most perfect character that was ever drawn by Roman or by Grecian eloquence. The character of our Saviour, as represented by the Evangelists, is not drawn in a formal manner, exhibiting at one view the various qualities of which that character is composed. The character of our Saviour must be learnt by comparing the facts recorded of him with the situations in which he was placed, and the circumstances under which he acted. This comparison exbibits unshaken fortitude in the severest trials, calmness undisturbed by provocation, kindness returned for injury, and dignity maintained inviolate through every action of his life. Nor is the wisdom and judgement displayed on every trying occasion less conspicuous in the character of our Saviour. At the same time we perceive the gradual unfolding of a scheme for the general welfare of mankind, a scheme uniform and consistent in all its parts, yet misunderstood at first by the Apostles themselves, as being opposed to the general prejudices of the Jews. Facts of this description could not have been invented by the Apostles. Plain and unlettered Jews, as the twelve Apostles were, though adequate to the office of recording what they had seen and heard, were incapable of fabricating a series of actions, which constitute the most exalted character that ever existed upon earth. If the learning and the ingenuity of Plato or Xenophon might have enabled them to draw a picture of Socrates more excellent than the original itself, it was not in the power
of uolettered Jews to give ideal perfection to a character which was itself imperfect, and to sustain that ideal perfection, as in a dramatic representation, through a series of imaginary events. Indeed, it is highly probable, that the Apostles and the Evangelists were not wkolly aware of that perfection which they themselves have described. For that perfection is not contained in any formal panegyric, expressive of the writer's opinion, and indicating that opinion to the reader. It is known only by comparison and by jnference. We are reduced, therefore, to this dilemma. Either the actions which are ascribed to our Saviour, are truly ascribed to him; or actions have been invented for a purpose, of which the inventors themselves were probably not aware, and applied to that purpose by means which the inventors did pot possess. And when we further consider, that the plan developed by those facts was in direct opposition to the notion of the Jews respecting a temporal Messiah, we must believe in what was wholly impossible, if we believe that unlettered Jews could have invented them.' pp. 71-73.
The question of miracles is indisputably of primary importance in the consideration of the truth of Christianity. If miracles have never been performed, the faith of the followers of Jesus is only a delusion. If the performance of miracles be incapable of proof, then, all other evidence on which Christians repose their confidence, must be imperfect, and may be deceptive. It is to miracles that the Author of Christianity himself appealed as the proper proofs of a Divine mission. The examination of this question is, therefore, very properly made the subject of Bishop Marsh's concluding Lecture on the Credibility of the New Testament. The consideration of it is too momentous to be omitted ; and the strict course of proceeding which he had marked out for himself, rendered the previous discussions necessary, that the series of deductions might be regular and continued.'
Bishop Marsh defines a miracle, something which cannot be performed without the special interference of God himself.' • A miracle,' he subsequently remarks, neither is, nor can be • the work of man, unassisted by the special interference of God. For when a miracle is performed, an effect is produced, which is contrary to the laws of nature. The concluding terms of this passage would suggest, we think, a definition preferable for its simplicity and precision to the one which he has formally announced. A miracle is the production of an effect which is contrary to the laws of nature. Whatever definition, however, may be adopted, it is evident that the works which are ascribed by the writers of the Gospels to Jesus Christ, are works which they attribute to Divine power, and which stand out from all acts and effects within the compass of human ability. All persons, whether believers or unbelievers, must admit, that the acts which are declared to have been performed by Jesus Christ, are, in the Gospels, represented as the grounds on which he challenged the regard of mankind to his authority as a teacher immediately come from God. And there can be but one question in respect to them-Did they really take place? The miracles of the New Testament are transactions of a most striking and stupendous character : can we justify ourselves in believing them as facts which form a