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wonder had subsided, under the influence of repetition and familiarity. In striking consistency with this is the whole aspect of St. John's narrative. goes directly forward in the relation of events, in themselves exceedingly impressive and astonishing, exhibiting no sign of any astonishment in his own mind, anticipating none in his contemporaneous readers. How is this to be explained? One can discover no plausible explanation but in the supposition that he was conscious of recording events with which, in their chief particulars, the public mind had been entirely familiarized. This may deservedly be considered a strong indication of truth.
3. I see another plain evidence to the same point, in the minute accuracy which marks all the allusions of this narrative to the manners, customs, opinions, political events, and other circumstances of the times. The situation of Judea in the time of the Saviour, was such as to bring it frequently under the eye of the profane writers of that age. From them we derive a great many particulars, illustrating the several modifications effected in the civil and religious institutions of the Jews by their subjection to Rome. And thus we have a great many points of comparison between the gospel history and the other histories of the same times. The former contains innumerable references to the peculiarities then existing in the Jewish state-its laws, courts, punishments, as well as to the opinions, prejudices, and customs then prevailing. This was dangerous ground for the inventor of a story. The continual fluctuations in public
affairs, the numerous and complex changes in the supreme officers of Judea and the neighboring provinces, as well as in the boundaries and character of their governments, within the period embraced in the gospel history, must have added greatly to the difficulty of an inventor of a narrative located in such circumstances, and filled with allusions to them. We have a Jewish historian of the same age, with which to confront the gospel history. Josephus has furnished us with a full and minute account of those internal affairs of the Jews, both civil and religious, to which allusions are made in the gospel history. It would be evidently very far beyond the limits of a lecture to attempt a proof that all the minutest allusions in our sacred history are not only uncontradicted, but wherever the same things are spoken of, are positively confirmed by the secular authority to which we have referred; but we assert it as a fact well known to every student of the gospel history, and of which any who have the disposition to examine the question may easily be satisfied. Now, it seems to me it would have been next to impossible for the inventor of a story exciting such general and intense interest, branching out into such circumstantial details, and connected at so many points with the peculiarities of the times, to tread upon ground so covered with snares without being caught.*
* For this description of evidence the reader will find much very instructive and useful matter in a recent work entitled, "Undesigned Coincidences in the Writings both of the Old and New Testaments, an Argument for their Veracity," by the Rev. J. J. Blunt, B. D., Prof. of Divinity, Cambridge, Eng.
4. Let us next consider the concurring testimony of other witnesses. We have as yet directed your attention to the gospel narrative as furnished by a single contemporaneous historian and witness. But suppose you should unexpectedly discover in the ruins. of Herculaneum three distinct writings heretofore entirely unknown, but containing the most satisfactory evidence of authenticity, and evidently written in the first century of Christianity, by three several and independent authors, each possessed of the best opportunities of knowledge; and suppose that in every one of them there should be found a history of Christ and his gospei; what an uncommon opportunity would it seem of trying the accuracy of this book of St. John. Even if these three newly discovered authors were bad men, yet, if their statements should agree with his, it would determine the accuracy of his history. But if it should appear that they were all good men, how much more complete would be their confirmation. Suppose, however, it should turn out that these three writers were not only good men, but, like St. John, disciples of Christ and ministers of his gospel, what effect would their concurrent testimony then have upon his accuracy? Would it be diminished in conclusiveness by the discovery of their Christian character? I believe that in the minds of multitudes it would, but most unjustly. Precisely the contrary should be the consequence. If four of The volume is reprinted in New York, in connection with the celebrated Horæ Paulinæ, by Paley, in which the same species of argument is carried on with reference to the epistles of St. Paul.
the chief officers in Napoleon's staff had published memoirs of his life, I venture to say that the concurrence of their several statements, instead of having its evidence weakened because they were all attached to Napoleon and admitted to his domestic circle, would be greatly strengthened in your estimation by that very circumstance, inasmuch as it would insure the accuracy of their knowledge without impeaching their integrity. But some seem to suppose that the laws regulating the force of testimony are all changed, as soon as the matter of fact in question is removed from the department of profane to that of sacred history.
How much has been made of the testimony of the Roman historian Tacitus to some of the chief facts of the gospel history. It is the testimony of a heathen, and therefore supposed to be incomparably valuable. Now, suppose Tacitus the heathen had not only been persuaded of the facts he has related, but had been so deeply impressed with the belief of them as to have renounced heathenism and embraced the Christian faith, and then published the history we now possess; who does not know, that with the infidel, and with many a believer, the force of his testimony would have been greatly diminished? No reason for this can be given, except that we have a vague idea of some depreciating effect arising from the fact that a Christian in the cause of Christianity must be an interested witness. To be sure, he is interested; but is his testimony the less valuable?
A scientific man bearing testimony to a phe
nomenon in natural history is an interested witness, because he is devoted to science; but his testimony is not the less valuable. A good man bearing testimony to the character of another good man is an interested witness, because he is the friend of virtue and of all good men; but his testimony is not the less valuable. In this and no other sense were the original disciples interested witnesses. They were interested in Christianity only so far as they believed it true. Suppose them to have known it to be untrue, and you cannot imagine the least jot or tittle of interest they could have had in it. In such a case, on the contrary, the current of all their interests and prepossessions would have run directly and powerfully in opposition to Christianity. This then being the only aspect in which they can be regarded as interested, the force of their testimony, so far from being in the least impaired, is greatly enhanced by the consideration. The bare fact that any primitive writer bearing witness to events related by St. John, was not a heathen or a Jew, but a Christian, is the very thing that should be regarded as completing his testimony. Is the evidence of Tacitus, who relates such events, but remained a heathen, any thing like so strong, as if we could say, It is the evidence of Tacitus, who was a heathen, but believed those events so firmly that he became a Christian? If a man speak well to me of the virtues of a certain medicine, but does not use it himself, is his opinion half so weighty as if he were to receive it into his own vitals, and administer it in his family? Would it be reasonable, in this case, to