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Tarsus, after having been educated at the feet of Gamaliel, and arrested by divine power and grace on the road to Damascus, and made to “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” Everywhere in the epistles bearing his name, are written the strong characters of the peculiar zeal and boldness, as well as education, that belonged to Paul; while throughout the writings ascribed to John, there breathes the sweet spirit of gentleness and tender affection, so characteristic of " that disciple whom Jesus loved.” Similar statements might be made with regard to other writers of the New Testament, in proportion as their peculiarities of temperament are known and conspicuous.

From all that has now been said, it may easily be made to appear, that if the historical books of the New Testament, the gospels and Acts of the Apostles, on which our subsequent argument will chiefly depend, be not authentic—in plainer terms, if they be forgeries, nothing less than a miracle can account for their early and universal currency. Remember that John lived to the end of the first century. It cannot be supposed that books falsely pretending to have been written by those very evangelists with whom he had been so intimately associated, and one of them professing to have been written by himself, could have gained a reputable currency in the churches while he lived. He certainly knew what he and the other evangelists had published; and no motive can be assigned that could have induced him to suffer a forgery to pass unexposed. We conclude, therefore,

that if these books be not authentic, they must have been palmed on the churches after the death of John; that is, after the beginning of the second century. Suppose we descend to the third. Can it be im. agined that the deception was introduced after this century commenced? Impossible ; since by this time the books in question were read every Lord's day, in all the churches, quoted by writers of all countries, universally received as the oracles of God. If.a deception was introduced at all, it was brought in somewhere between the death of John and the third century—somewhere in the course of the second. Now, to obtain a clearer view of the difficulties which such an attempt must have had to overcome, let it be supposed that during the present year, a volume containing a digest of laws, under the title of "Laws of the City of New York,” should appear among us, pretending to be a code of municipal regulations, composed, about seventy years ago, by a few of the most distinguished inhabitants of that period, and to have been received by the citizens, and appealed to in their municipal courts ever since, as the book of the laws of this city; claiming, moreover, to be acknowledged and obeyed by the present generation as the very code inherited from their fathers; what would be its chance? A moral impossibility would prevent its success. Nothing but lunacy would undertake such a scheme. It would be enough for lawyers and judges and people to say, “ It was never heard of before. It has never been known in our courts." But this is only a feeble illustration of the case before us. If the books in question were forged in the name of the evangelists, you must suppose that at some period within a hundred years of St. John, while many were living who had either known him personally or conversed with those who did enjoy, that privilege, a volume appeared among the churches differing widely from those books which, as works of the evangelists, they had received and read from the beginning, and yet demanding to be considered as nothing more nor less than those very works. You must suppose the abettors of the imposition to have said to the various nations of Christians, 6. These are the genuine gospels in which you were educated; which your fathers died for; which your persecutors endeavored to destroy, and your martyrs labored to save; which have been daily read in your families, expounded in your churches, quoted in your writings, and appealed to in all your controversies with heretics and enemies." And yet it must be supposed that Christians, notwithstanding their notorious love for the writings of the evangelists, and their great care in preserving them, were so easily and universally imposed on, as never to perceive that these fraudulent works, instead of having been expounded and read and quoted and appealed to in all their churches, had never been heard of before. You have to suppose, moreover, that while Christianity was surrounded on all sides and opposed at every step by keen-sighted and determined enemies—Jews, on the one hand, with all their cunning; Greeks and Romans on the other, with all their skill and power,

ever watching, accusing, and persecuting—none of them ever pretended to the discovery that these books, so fraudulently introduced, were not those which the apostles wrote and Christians had always read; but all believed them to be the identical writings to which the churches had invariably referred as the law and the testimony.

You must go still further, and suppose that, notwithstanding the wide publicity which the genuine works of the apostles had obtained among the primitive churches, so immediately did these spurious productions expel them from the notice and recollection of all people, that no interval is known during which the question between the two conflicting volumes was so much as even debated. You must suppose that the spurious were instantly and everywhere treated with the reverence belonging to inspired books; that though divers sects of heretics were starting up in various parts, all recognized their authority; that the churches of Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, Galatia, and Thessalonica, all believed that these several epistles, falsely pretending to have come to them from St. Paul, were those very ones the autographs of which were then in their possession, and copies of which they had been continually reading in public from the time the originals were received from the apostle. Lastly, it must be supposed, that so perfect was the forgery, that although every weapon and artifice that wit and learning and power could contrive, has been employed during eighteen hundred years, for the single purpose of undermining the foundations of Christianity, no one of its enemies has yet succeeded in picking a flaw in the authenticity of its books. He that can digest all this for the purpose of maintaining that our sacred writings are not authentic, can swallow the most abject absurdity. He supposes an endless succession of miracles wrought upon innumerable minds for the promotion of imposture. He believes the laws of nature to have been continually violated, under the government of a holy God, to countenance unrighteousness. In sustaining this belief, he must adopt a principle, with regard to miracles, the boldness and novelty of which even Hume would have been jealous of. He was so modest as only to maintain that no testimony can prove a miracle. Here, however, the sceptic must maintain that the most absurd miracle can be proved, not only without any testimony, but against all testimony.

Enough has now been said to enable you to judge whether the learning or the honesty of the miserable Paine is most to be admired, when he says, “Those who are not much acquainted with ecclesiastical history, may suppose that the book called the New Tes. tament has existed ever since the time of Jesus Christ; but the fact is historically otherwise. There was no such book as the New Testament till more than three hundred years after the time that Christ is said to have lived.Whether we ought to save this poor sceptic from the charge of a gross and deliberate falsehood, by imputing to him disgraceful ignorance, I leave you to decide.

And now, having maintained our cause, permit

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