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most even scales of truth; and then to submit to, and follow the truth, wherever it may lead, with singleness of heart, in the fear of God.
Let me also recommend a deep seriousness of purpose, in this pursuit. I mean that calm and settled earnestness of mind, which a just sense of the unspeakable importance of the subject, and of the responsibility under which all, even the most indifferent, must treat it, will necessarily inspire.
Lastly, prayer is by all means to be employed in this pursuit. It is written most wisely, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God." But do I forget that I am speaking from the chair of a lecture-room, instead of the pulpit of a church? Prayer! How do I know but that I am addressing many who are already on the side of infidelity? Would I say to them, study the evidences of Christianity with prayer? Is it not equivalent to begging the question? Is it not asking them to do what, as professors of infidelity, they object to? In one sense, I verily believe it is begging the question. A spirit of serious, earnest prayer for the knowledge of truth, is utterly inconsistent with the spirit of infidelity. Who does not feel the singularity involved in the idea of seeing a thorough infidel engaged in secret, earnest prayer to be preserved from all bias in search of truth, and to be led in the way in which God would have him to go? And yet, if he be not an Atheist, he can have nothing to say against the propriety of such a step. But is it true that infidelity and the spirit of prayer are practically
so inconsistent ? Is it true that we have already accomplished at least half our work of conviction, when we have persuaded an unbeliever to make religious truth a subject of serious supplication at the throne of grace? What does this say for the gospel?
The man who is desirous of being allowed to remain in unbelief will not seek a spirit of prayer. He would not like to ask God for what might break up all his present fancied security. But if any one feels that he lacks wisdom, in this great concern of eternity, and desires to know the way of light and life, "let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5.
AUTHENTICITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
OUR last lecture was only introductory to the important subject to which I have undertaken to lead your attention. In the present, we enter directly upon one of its principal branches.
The study of the evidences of Christianity may be either brief or extended, according to the object with which it is pursued. If it be merely the possession of some one distinct and conclusive train of reasoning, perfect in itself, the investigation may soon be ended. The student may take any single miracle or fulfilled prophecy; he may choose his premises from the narrative of the resurrection of Christ, or the conversion of St. Paul, or the propagation of Christianity, and confining his argument to the point selected, may deduce a finished proof of the divine authority of the gospel. But if he desire not only rational satisfaction for his own mind, but a full view of all those great highways of evidence which, from every quarter, concentrate upon Christianity— if he would behold, not only that it is capable of conclusive proof, but how variously and wonderfully its divine Author has encompassed it with proofs of every kind, drawn from innumerable sources, and
prepared at all points for every objection, he may lay himself out for a work of extensive research, as well as of rich gratification and improvement.
The evidences of Christianity are classed under two general denominations, external or historical, and internal evidence. Under the latter, are included whatever proofs of divine original may be drawn from the doctrines of the gospel; its incomparable system of morality; the adaptation of the religion of Christ to the condition and wants of mankind; the holy and elevated character of its Founder; together with all those incidental, but striking and various marks of uprightness, accuracy, and benevolence, which appear in the spirit and manner of the New Testament writers, or which are seen by a comparison of their several books one with another. Such are the principal heads of internal evidence. Under the name of external or historical evidence, we find whatever exhibits the need of a revelation, as apparent in the state of opinion and practice among the most enlightened nations at the commencement of the gospel; the argument establishing the authenticity of the Scriptures, and the credibility of the history contained therein; the proofs arising from miracles, from fulfilled prophecy, from the propagation of Christianity, and from the social and personal benefits which have always accompanied its promotion, according to the degree in which its native character and influence have had room to appear. Such are the principal heads of external evidence.
The present course of lectures, for want of time to
carry it further,* will be confined to the department last described; which is chosen in preference to the other, not because it is more important or conclusive, but as more capable of having justice done it in a series of discussions such as that to which the circumstances of these lectures restrict us.
Should we embrace in our view of this grand division of evidence whatever belongs to it, your attention would first be called to the indispensable necessity of a divine revelation, as the history of the ancient world displays it, and as it is still exhibited in the dark places of the earth. This however we have not room to include in our course. Though extremely impressive and worthy of investigation, it is not an essential argument. The straightforward method of philosophical inquiry directs its attention to the testimony simply that an event did occur, and will not suspend assent till the need of such an event shall have been fully explained. If convincing evidence be adduced to the matter of fact that a revelation has been given, we may be reasonably content, while our limits forbid the proof that it was needed. Whoever may desire to read on this head will find it well discussed in the first volume of Lectures on the Evidences, etc., by the Rev. Daniel Wilson, afterwards Bishop of Calcutta; or in the admirable letters on the same subject, by Olinthus Gregory, LL. D., Professor
See the Bible Not of Man, or the Argument for the Divine Origin of the Sacred Scriptures drawn from the Scriptures themselves. By Rev. Gardiner Spring, D. D. Amer. Tract Society.