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have been read with pleasure, and little doubt would have been entertained of the accuracy of their historians, to whom the same degree of credit would have been attached, as to the most accredited of Greece and Rome. It would not have been deemed an objection, that other nations had not related the Jewish history, since they had not preserved their own.
“Let any one consider what authority he has for believing the text of Cicero, of Aristotle, of Plato, or of any other ancient writer, and let him ask what security he has that their writings have not been altered ; and let him trace by what channels they have been transmitted ; how preserved, and how many there were in every age, who neither could, nor did take, any interest in them, or use any exertions to preserve the text uncorrupted. When he has collected all the information he can gain on these subjects, and after he has meditated on all the chances and probabilities of the corruption or preservation of the text,- let him compare it with the evidence that awaits his investigation, and let him acknowledge there is no such to be found in favour of any other book whatever. Be they a revelation from God, or a forgery, the evidence of the accurate transmission of these writings from the period of the Babylonish captivity,—from the time of the translation of the Septuagint; and, with respect to the books of the New Testament, from the moment they were written, is of such a nature, that human prudence, had it devised, or human power, had it exerted itself, could not have produced such a variety of
channels, direct or indirect; nor could it have excited such multitudes in every age, whether favourable or hostile to them, to obtain the end proposed. No such evidence ever can be produced in favour of any other book ; nor is it possible that, were we to ask for a series of clear, direct, and unbroken evidence, we could hope to find it; but, to satisfy the most scrupulous mind, the series of proofs in favour of the Scriptures is unbroken, and this series commences at a very early period, before any one was interested to deny, or doubt, the genuineness of the Jewish records: two other series, also, commenced in the Samaritan and Septuagint translations: and, in the time of the preaching of the Apostles,—when opposition would be made, the new series, unbroken in tenor, was opened up, and transmitted to every nation, through every age; and the great depositaries of the whole, were the Jews—who reject Christianity: the Christians—who embrace their own and the Jewish records: and the Heathen-who reject both. These contending parties preserved that which was confided to them; and the writings of each, whether as quoting from the original books to express their belief, or to confute them by reasonings, were so many addi. tional sources of preservation and correction,—that, had the original books perished, they might have been recomposed from the writings of believers, and of unbelievers.
“ Notwithstanding, however, the mass of evidence derived directly and indirectly from the belief and disbelief
ent, from the nature, the
a variety a
of thousands in every age, modern unbelievers are not satisfied. They pretend to an astonishment, that a greater number of unbelieving authors did not refer to the Christian religion in the first period of Christianity. This astonishment, however, if real, is without foundation ; for most of the heathen authors of Greece and Rome have noticed it-ex. gr. Tacitus, Pliny, Martial, Persius, and Juvenal certainly considered it as the greatest wonder that ever occurred.
“ We find that Tacitus, Pliny, Celsus, Porphyry, and Galen-as far as they treat of the subject-confirm the facts related, and only reject the doctrines inferred. I would—were no Christian testimony in existence-believe them. For, if they were false, why not disprove them ? And if they were false, why does Tacitus, Suetonius, and others, say that Christ was put to death? -admitting one of the principal facts, while they leave the inquirer to infer that the others are true also, since they are neither denied nor disproved.
“Let not modern unbelievers, therefore, mourn over the silence of their early predecessors, nor let them argue against the Christian religion because all the writers of antiquity have not noticed its commencement. Had they all written, could they have done more than Tacitus, Celsus, and Julian? Why did not these disprove the facts related, and trample the new religion to the ground ? Why permit an error to be introduced, since it was so easy to prevent it? Could they not then detect falsehood as easily as at this time? Could they not examine
witnesses, and weigh evidences ? Why did such inertness and incapacity seize the whole world at this period ? An indolence which has never since been manifested ! As philosophers and men of letters, it was their duty to detect and expose error of every kind, especially errors that were calculated to overturn the common belief of all. Did their silence and neglect evince their inability? or did they, with a prophetic spirit, leave the task to such geniuses as were afterwards to arise—the Voltaires, Gibbons, Paines, and Humes of a later day?”
(Referred to in page 229.]
The paper here mentioned, as well as the remarks on the Pentateuch, are still in the possession of Mr. H., who has hitherto declined to comply with the request of the Editor. In arguing on the same question, Dean Sherlock observes,
“There is no proportion, indeed, between time and eternity; and it is, therefore, difficult to conceive that every momentary sin should, in its own nature, deserve eternal punishment. But there is no difficulty to conceive, that an immortal sinner may, by some short and momentary sins, sink himself into an irrecoverable state of misery, and that he must be miserable as long as he continues to be.
We do not here consider the proportion between the sin and the punishment,-be
tween a short and transient act, and eternal punishment, --for it is not the sin, but the sinner, that is punished for his sin,
Therefore, an immortal sinner, who can never die, and will never cease to be wicked, must always be miserable.
The justice of God is only concerned to punish sinners. That their punishments are eternal, is a necessary consequence of their immortality.”
While this work was in the course of publication, a correspondence took place between the Editor and one of the parties interested in the previous conversations ; and as the Editor is desirous that full justice should be awarded to each, she has decided that the ensuing extract should be inserted; it does equal honour to the writer, and to the person who is the subject.
“I cannot but feel a degree of apprehension at your intention of giving to the world an account of the discussions that took place at Cephalonia, because the public generally judge harshly and hastily, and it is very difficult to make them understand that a person of the purest principles and with the best intentions may endeavour to reconcile the Christian dispensation with the prominent attributes of the Deity—I mean his omnipotence, justice, and mercy. I have always been impressed with the