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ever watching, accusing, and persecuting-none of them ever pretended to the discovery that these books, so fraudulently introduced, were not those which the apostles wrote and Christians had always read; but all believed them to be the identical writings to which the churches had invariably referred as the law and the testimony.

You must go still further, and suppose that, notwithstanding the wide publicity which the genuine works of the apostles had obtained among the primitive churches, so immediately did these spurious productions expel them from the notice and recollection of all people, that no interval is known during which the question between the two conflicting volumes was so much as even debated. You must suppose that the spurious were instantly and everywhere treated with the reverence belonging to inspired books; that though divers sects of heretics were starting up in various parts, all recognized their authority; that the churches of Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, Galatia, and Thessalonica, all believed that these several epistles, falsely pretending to have come to them from St. Paul, were those very ones the autographs of which were then in their possession, and copies of which they had been continually reading in public from the time the originals were received from the apostle. Lastly, it must be supposed, that so perfect was the forgery, that although every weapon and artifice that wit and learning and power could contrive, has been employed during eighteen hundred years, for the single purpose of undermining the foun

dations of Christianity, no one of its enemies has yet succeeded in picking a flaw in the authenticity of its books. He that can digest all this for the purpose of maintaining that our sacred writings are not authentic, can swallow the most abject absurdity. He supposes an endless succession of miracles wrought upon innumerable minds for the promotion of imposture. He believes the laws of nature to have been continually violated, under the government of a holy God, to countenance unrighteousness. In sustaining this belief, he must adopt a principle, with regard to miracles, the boldness and novelty of which even Hume would have been jealous of. He was so modest as only to maintain that no testimony can prove a miracle. Here, however, the sceptic must maintain that the most absurd miracle can be proved, not only without any testimony, but against all testimony.

Enough has now been said to enable you to judge whether the learning or the honesty of the miserable Paine is most to be admired, when he says, "Those who are not much acquainted with ecclesiastical history, may suppose that the book called the New Testament has existed ever since the time of Jesus Christ; but the fact is historically otherwise. There was no such book as the New Testament till more than three hundred years after the time that Christ is said to have lived." Whether we ought to save this poor sceptic from the charge of a gross and deliberate falsehood, by imputing to him disgraceful ignorance, I leave you to decide.

And now, having maintained our cause, permit

me to say, that in argument with unbelievers, we cannot in justice be required to present any of the evidence to which you have been listening. The whole burden of proof lies with the objector. Should the authenticity of Paradise Lost be called in question, no believer in its Miltonian origin would feel himself called upon to prove it. We should wait in calmness till the sceptic had sustained his objection. The book has lived long enough with a fair reputation, to be considered authentic till proved to be spurious. So would common justice warrant us in saying with regard to the New Testament. Eighteen centuries of high and holy reputation are enough to sustain its authenticity, till sceptics, besides pronouncing, shall prove it a forgery. Let the objector be kind enough to state the proof of its spuriousness; let him show the deficiencies in its evidence; let him establish objections to its legitimacy, which all the enemies that surrounded its birth were unable to venture; then will it be time for friends to stand on the defensive and prove its apostolic parentage. But this we know not that any opposer of Christianity ever pretended to have done. How these books were forced upon the world; when Christians were so asleep as not to perceive that they were not the books which they had always been reading, and consulting, and expounding, and loving, and suffering for; when the enemies of Christians were so miraculously blinded, and the den of lions in which the church for so many centuries existed was so miraculously hushed and overruled, that such an imposture could gain ad



mission and dwell in universal quietness, without so much as one paw to pounce on the prey or one vigilant foe to discover its existence-what is the evidence that such an event ever took place, I never heard of a human being undertaking to show. You might as well pretend to prove that our American Declaration of Independence, circulated in numberless copies through the country, is not authentic-that our revolutionary fathers published no such document, or else that ours is not the declaration which they published. The adversaries of Christianity are wary. It would require learning and time and talents to make even a plausible show of strength, in conflict with the testimony to the authenticity of the New Testament; but it takes no time, requires no talent or knowledge, for such persons to insinuate that its books are forgeriesto put out a wise suspicion that they were not written by the original disciples. No argument can refute a sneer, nor any human skill prevent its mischief. They know that many a mind will catch the plague of infidelity by the touch of their insinuation, without ever finding, or caring to seek the antidote. Any body can soil the reputation of an individual, however pure and chaste, by uttering a suspicion, which his enemies will believe, and his friends never hear of. A puff of idle wind can take up a million of the seeds of the thistle, and do a work of mischief which the husbandman must labor long and hard to undo, the floating particles being too trifling to be seen, and too light to be stopped. Such are the seeds of infidelity, so easily sown, so difficult to be gathered

up, and yet so pernicious in their fruits. It is the work of God, much more than of man, that they do not spread more rapidly and widely. The hand of divine Providence interposes to arrest it, where the regular array of human reasoning would have no room to use its strength.

Here we should leave the subject, were it not that one question of importance remains to be answered. How do we know that the New Testament has preserved its integrity? While it appears so conclusively that our present books are verily those which the evangelists and apostles wrote, and the primitive churches loved and read, how does it appear that they have undergone no material alteration since those times? On this head, the answer is complete.

We may reason from the perfect impossibility of any material alteration. The Scriptures, as soon as written, were published. Christians eagerly sought for them, copies were multiplied, carried into distant countries, esteemed a sacred treasure, for which disciples were willing to die. They were daily read in families and expounded in churches; writers quoted them; enemies attacked them; heretics endeavored to elude their decisions; and the orthodox were vigilant, lest the former in their efforts to escape the interpretation should change the text. In a short time, copies were scattered over the whole inhabited portion of the earth. Versions were made into different languages. Harmonies and collations and commentaries and catalogues were carefully made and published. Thus universal notoriety, among friends and enemies,

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