Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

thought or care, or of a contexture of forgeries confirming and falling in with one another by a species of fortuity of which I know no example. The supposition of design, I think, is excluded, not only because the purpose to which the design must have been directed, viz., the verification of the passage in our epistle in which it is said concerning Onesimus, he is one of you,' is a purpose which would be lost upon ninety-nine readers out of a hundred; but because the means made use of are too circuitous to have been the subject of affectation and contrivance. Would a forger, who had this purpose in view, have left his readers to hunt it out, by going forward and backward from one epistle to another in order to connect Onesimus with Philemon, Philemon with Archippus, and Archippus with Colosse ? all which he must do before he arrives at his discovery, that it was truly said of Onesimus, he is one of you.'

“2 Timothy iï. 15. And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.'

" This verse discloses a circumstance which agrees exactly with what is intimated in Acts xvi. 1. where it is recorded of Timothy's mother that she was a Jewess. This description is virtually, though I am satisfied, undesignedly, recognized in the epistle, when Timothy is reminded in it 'that from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures.' The Holy Scriptures undoubtedly meant the Scriptures of the Old Testament. The expression bears that sense in every place in which it occurs. Those of the new had not yet acquired the name,

not to mention that in Timothy's childhood probably, none of them existed. In what manner then could Timothy have known from a child' the Jewish Scriptures had he not been born on one side or both of Jewish parentage? Perhaps he was not less likely to be carefully instructed in them, for that his mother alone professed that religion."

9. These are but two specimens out of many alike impressive, and they are yet far from being exhausted. They will be still further multiplied by the labours of future inquirers, and so as to form an accumulating evidence, and of a kind too strictly and wholly internal-educed as it is altogether from the comparison of scripture with scripture. Were the agreements thus manifested obvious and explicit, refuge might be taken in the imputation of forgery; but, when they can only be obtained by a very circuitous track of investigation, all suspicion of contrivance is effectually done away. It is this which constitutes the main strength of that circumstantial evidence which lies in the depositions of living witnesses, who exhibit a sustained coincidence without collusion, and that too in evidence of the utmost particularity. It is consent without concert, in things of such exceeding minuteness and variety, that stamps a credit upon testimony, even when the character and condition of the witnesses are altogether unknown—nor is it necessary, for the purpose of feeling its strength, that more should be attended to than the testimony itself. The two species of agreement are quite distinguishable—that which is the fruit of artifice,

B

and that which is altogether unsought and spontaneous; and it is the exceeding multitude of these last which makes the history of Paul, as educed from the Acts of the Apostles and from his own epistles, so pregnant with an evidence of the highest order. For these documents admit of being confronted and cross-examined in the same way that living witnesses are, who, if found to agree in every point even the most incidental and the most exempt from every appearance of design—then no other conviction can possibly result from their common testimony, than that it is the evidence of a common truth to which all the parties had access, and on which the statements of them all are founded. The closeness and exactness of these now evolved harmonies are all the more impressive that they were before unnoticed, and which go therefore irresistibly to prove that they were also undevised --for they would not have answered the purposes of forgery. The evidence afforded by these unexpected junctions of so many little fragments which lie far apart from each other, has been aptly compared by Dr. Paley himself to the evidence given by the parts of a cloven tally, as being indeed the real parts of a real and authentic whole. No such contexture could have come forth of the hands of fiction or imposture—which never would have busied itself in framing a tissue, not of palpable but of unseen consistencies, that never could have been known, had it not been for the labours of a dexterous analyst who succeeded, but with great pains, to open up and unravel them. The thread, to use Dr. Paley's own image, which touches upon

so many points, would have been set forth more fully and plainly, by the original fabricator, if the whole be indeed a fabrication, and not left to be disentangled from the mass in which it lies enveloped proving incontrovertibly, that it is a substratum or a ground-work of truth from which it has been taken. The reciprocal illustration cast by texts or clauses of texts far asunder from each other, as being obviously not the result of studied adaptation, can only be the result of that living reality which pervades and animates the whole. The immense number of such correspondences, as if by an author altogether unconscious or certainly without the least endeavour to display them, yields an evidence of the strongest sort—an evidence too independent of history, and not drawn from any external source, from any outward credentials ; but from the very contents and substance of the record itself.

10. And it is an evidence not confined to that special department of scripture, whence it has been gathered in such teeming and marvellous profusion by the hand of Dr. Paley. We believe that it is an evidence more or less to be found in every true narrative of any considerable length, which has descended to us from ancient times. We must therefore expect to meet with it in other parts of scripture; and accordingly, this successful attempt of Paley, has been followed up by successful imitations on the part of other labourers. The direct narrative of the transactions in the Pentateuch, and the proper record of which is to be found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, is again presented to us in an altered and abridged

form in the book of Deuteronomy. The comparison of the history with its recapitulation has been ably prosecuted by Dr. Groves ; and much pleasing evidence of this kind has been deduced by him.* The same has been well accomplished by Mr. Blunt in another portion of scripture—the four Gospels which he confronts both with each other and with the Acts of the Apostles.f We offer from the latter performance a few brief specimens of that coincidence without design on which the whole of this particular argument is founded.Compare Matt. viii. 14. with 1 Cor. ix. 5, where from each passage, and obviously not copied the one from the other, we gather that Peter was a married man.-Read the four following passages, Mark vi. 3, Luke viii. 19, John ii. 12, and Matt. xii. 46; and it will be found that the death of Joseph is indirectly shewn by all the four evangelists, to have happened when Christ was alive, and we add, that from Luke ii. 42, 43, it appears to have happened after he was twelve years of age. In keeping with this, no mention is made of Joseph at the feast of Cana, or at the resurrection. There are certain minute and delicate traits, and certainly not the less effective on that account, of the authorship of the gospels by Matthew and John, and which harmonize with the received understanding, that themselves were the writers of them. The following are two examples taken from the former of these evangelists.

See Groves' Lectures on the four last books of the Pentateuch, designed to show the divine origin of the Jewish religion, chiefly from Internal Evidence.

† See Blunt's veracity of the Gospel and Acts, from their coincidences with each other and with Josephus.

« ZurückWeiter »