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refuse his testimony because you might denominate him an interested witness?

I have thus enlarged upon this head, because I am going to present you with the concurrent testimony of seven ancient writers, in confirmation of the accuracy of the gospel history as given by St. John. They are writers whose testimony has this particular value, whereas once they were Jews and enemies to the gospel, they were afterwards converted to its belief and service, became Christians, and as Christians wrote, and gave every practical evidence that what they wrote they believed. Of these, three composed regular histories of the life and labors of Christ, similar in object to that of John. One of them, besides a memoir of Christ, has carried on the subsequent history of Christianity, under the name of the Acts of the Apostles. Four others composed various letters to different individuals, or bodies of Christians, in which they allude continually to events related in the narratives of the former. Now all these several writings are perfectly independent, each of the rest. We have them bound up in one volume, and are apt to overlook the fact that they are as independent productions as if they had never been in contact with one another. Written by various authors in widely remote countries, in all parts of the first century from its forty-first to its ninety-seventh year, in as many different styles and methods as they had writers, these productions cannot, with the least reason, be suspected of having been composed in concert. Of the competency of the knowledge of

each writer, we can have no more doubt than in the case of St. John. In each of their histories we see the same circumstantiality, the same striking internal characteristics of honesty, as we have already noticed in that of the other evangelist. Now, let us divest ourselves of the delusion so apt to arise out of the thought that they are Christian witnesses, and as if this were a question as to the truth of a history of Pythagoras by one of his disciples, and these other writers were also contemporaneous disciples of Pythagoras, let us bring them face to face and see how they agree. Here, then, we have four independent histories of the life of Christ, all of them by his contemporaries, besides the other documents we have mentioned. Now, "it is an extraordinary and singular fact, that no history since the commencement of the world has been written by so great a number of the companions and friends of an illustrious person as that of our Saviour. One contemporary history is a rarity; two is a coincidence scarcely known; four is, so far as appears, unparalleled."* We have therefore an unequalled opportunity of coming at the truth. We compare our several histories. find them contradictory, our confidence declines. If they bear a systematic, particular, and yet comprehensive resemblance, we must suspect collusion. But we perceive neither the contradiction nor the resemblance. We see great variety. What one re

If we

They differ in

lates, another sometimes leaves out. arrangement, in minuteness, and sometimes as to fact,

*Wilson's Lectures.

in such manner that the reader might be alarmed at first view, lest there should be found a contradiction; while such is the actual agreement, that all difficulties vanish before a strict investigation, and, down to the utmost minuteness of statement, their mutual. support is undiminished by a single opposing representation. The attempts of infidels to make out the appearance of a contradiction, show to what shifts they have been driven, and how accurate is the concurrence. Now this unfailing agreement of four several, independent, and contemporaneous historians, each so circumstantial, each so full of allusions to the events and institutions and customs of the times, and none contradicted by any evidence whatever, is as convincing an evidence of the honest accuracy of all, as any mind should require. Were the gospel history untrue, such evidence would have been morally impossible. It is peculiar to that history. No other can plead it to any similar extent. And here we feel that we might safely leave the question of credibility. But there are two or three points remaining, which must not be left unnoticed.

Should I occupy enough of your time to take any thing like a full view of the whole of this argument, I should here introduce the uncontradicted acknowledgment of Jewish and heathen enemies of the gospel to the purity and integrity of the primitive disciples of Christ; the strong evidence of their having pos sessed these virtues, which is exhibited in the peculiarly modest and humble manner of the evangelists in speaking of themselves, never concealing or excus


ing what might make exceedingly against them, but always mentioning what might seem humiliating or honorable to themselves in the same plain, simple way as they relate any other matter of fact. We should also introduce the variety of incidental confirmations obtained from profane writers, and from coins, of various particulars contained in the gospel history. We should cite especially the testimony of Tacitus to the time and the fact of the Saviour's crucifixion; as well as the records called the Acts of Pilate, bearing witness to the same event, and appealed to by early Christian writers as notoriously laid up among the papers of the Roman senate. But since we have not room for every thing, we must dispense with these particulars.*

Let it be remembered, that we are still employed upon the honesty of the writers of the gospel history. Suppose then, for a moment, that they were not honest in their statements-that they knew they were endeavoring to pass off a downright imposition upon the world. We will not speak of their intellect in such a case, but of their motive. Now, it would be difficult to suppose that any man could devote himself to the diligent promotion of such an imposture without some very particular motive; much more, that without such motive the eight various writers concerned in the New Testament should have united in the plan. What motive could they have had? If impostors, they were bad men; their motive, therefore, must have been bad. It must have been to ad* See Horne's Introduction, vol. 1.

vance themselves either in wealth, honor, or power. Take either, or all of these objects, and here, then, is the case you have. Four historians, with four other writers of the New Testament—all but one of them poor, unlearned men-undertake to persuade the world that certain great events took place before the eyes of thousands in Judea and Galilee, which none in those regions ever saw or heard of, and which they know perfectly well did never occur. They see beforehand that the attempt to make Jews and heathens believe these things will occasion to themselves all manner of disgrace and persecution. Nevertheless, so fond are they of their contrivance, that though it is bitterly opposed by all the habits, prejudices, dispositions, and philosophy—all the powers and institutions of all people, they submit cheerfully to misery and contempt; they take joyfully the spoiling of their goods; they willingly endure to be counted fools and the offscouring of all things; yea, they march thankfully to death out of a mere desire to propagate a story which they all know is a downright fabrication! At every step of their progress they see and feel, that instead of any worldly advantage, they are daily loading themselves with ruin. At any moment they can turn about and renounce their effort, and retrieve their losses; and yet, with perfect unanimity, these eight, with thousands of others equally aware of the deception, persist most resolutely in their career of ignominy and suffering. Not the slightest confession, even under torture and the strong allurements of reward, escapes the lips of any. Not

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