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be the subjects of different lectures. To that of authenticity our attention will this evening be confined. Let us begin with the following:
How does it appear that the several writings composing the volume of the New Testament were written by the men to whom they are ascribed, the original disciples of Christ, and are consequently authentic?
We pursue precisely the same method in determining the authorship of the New Testament, as in ascertaining that of any other book of a past age. For example, we possess a celebrated poem entitled Paradise Lost. It bears the name of Milton. How do we know that Milton composed it? The answer is easy. Our fathers received it, as his production, from their fathers, and they from theirs. By such steps we ascend to the very year in which the book was first published, and find it invariably ascribed to Milton. Moreover, the history of the age in which he lived speaks of it as unquestionably and notoriously his work. Writers of every succeeding age refer to and quote it, as well known to be his. The language of the poem bears the characteristic marks of Milton's times. Its spirit, genius, and style display the distinctive features of Milton's mind and character. And finally, though Milton had many enemies, and lived in a time of great divisions, and this poem redounded greatly to his praise, and many must have been disposed, had they been able to discover some false pretensions in his claim to its authorship, no other person in that age was ever mentioned as disputing his title; but all united in acknowledging him as the writer of Paradise Lost. On this evidence, although the poem professes to have been written as far back as the year 1674, we are so perfectly certain of its authenticity, that the man who should dispute it would be justly suspected of idiocy or mental derangement. And had Milton lived in the seventh, instead of the seventeenth century, a similar body of evidence would have been equally satisfactory. If, instead of the seventh century, he had lived in the first of the Christian era, similar evidence, reaching up to his time, would still prove beyond a question that he wrote Paradise Lost. Thus it is evident that time has no effect to impair the force of such proof. Whether a book be ascribed to the Christian era, or to five centuries before or after, the evidence being the same, it is equally satisfactory. It as well convinces us that the history ascribed to Herodotus, in the fifth century before Christ, was written by that historian, as that the Æneid was written by Virgil a little before the birth of Christ, or the “Faerie Queene" by Spenser, in the fifteen hundred and ninetieth year after that event. We are no less satisfied of the authenticity of the orations of Demosthenes, than of that of Newton's Principia, though between the dates of their publication there is an interval of more than two thousand years. So little does the age of a book affect the evidence required to establish its authenticity.
Now, in ascertaining the authorship of the New Testament, we are furnished with evidence precisely similar to that which settles the question so conclu. sively as to either of the works above-mentioned.* An unbroken chain of testimony ascends from the present generation to the preceding, and thence to the next beyond, and thence onward again till it reaches the very age of the apostles, exhibiting an uninterrupted series of acknowledgments of the New Testament, as having been written indeed by those primitive disciples to whom its several parts are as. cribed. Besides this, historians and other writers of the age ascribed to this volume, as well heathen and Jewish as Christian, not only recognize its existence in their day, but speak of it as notoriously the production of its reputed authors. The language is characteristic of their age, nation, and circumstances. The style and spirit exhibit the well-known peculiarities of their respective minds and dispositions. And again, although the New Testament at the time of its first appearance, either in parts or collectively, was surrounded with numerous, learned, and ingenious, as well as most bitter enemies, both among heathens and Jews; and although there arose at an early period many animated controversies between the real believers in gospel truth, on one side, and sundry heretical pretenders to the Christian faith, whose cause would often have been materially served by a well-sustained denial of the authenticity of certain of the books of the New Testament, none in the primitive ages, whether heretics or open enemies, ever denied that this volume contained the genuine writings of the original apostles and disciples of Christ. On the contrary, all received, argued, and acted upon it as unquestionably authentic. Thus we have the same evidence that the books of the New Testament were written by those whose names they bear, as that Paradise Lost was written by the man whose name it bears. The force of this evidence is in no wise diminished by the consideration that the apostles lived in the first, and Milton in the seventeenth century.
* “We know," says St. Augustine, “the writings of the apostles, as we know the works of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Varro, and others, and as we know the writings of divers ecclesiastical authors; for as much as they have the testimony of contemporaries, and of those who have lived in succeeding ages.".
Thus have you received a general outline of the argument. We proceed to a more particular view.
THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT ARE QUOTED
OR ALLUDED TO BY A SERIES OF WRITERS WHO MAY BE
FOLLOWED UP IN UNBROKEN SUCCESSION FROM THE PRES
ENT AGE TO THAT OF THE APOSTLES.
In proof of this, it is unnecessary for the satisfaction of any person of ordinary information to trace the line of testimony from the present time, or from any point of departure lower down than the fourth century. Whoever has the least acquaintance with the history of the civilized world as far upward as the fourth century, must know that the acknowledgment of the New Testament, as composed of authentic writings, is interwoven with all the literature, science, and political as well as religious institutions of every subsequent age. We begin, therefore, the chain of testimony at the fourth century.
It is a very impressive evidence of the high estimate in which the New Testament was universally held at this period, that besides innumerable quotations in various writings, no less than eleven distinct, formal catalogues of its several books were composed at various times during the fourth century by different hands; and two of them by large and solemn councils of the heads of the Christian church. All of these are still extant; and all agree in every particular important to the present argument, with the list of the New Testament writings as at present received. In the year 397 a national or provincial council assembled at Carthage, consisting of forty-four bishopsAugustine, bishop of Hippo, was a member. The forty-seventh canon of that council is thus written: “It is ordained that nothing besides the canonical Scriptures be read in the church under the name of divine Scriptures; and the canonical Scriptures are these," etc. In the enumeration we find precisely our New Testament books, and no more.*.
About the same time Augustine wrote a book entitled, “Of the Christian Doctrine,” in which is furnished a catalogue of what he considered the authentic writings of the evangelists and apostles, agreeing entirely with ours. "In these books," saith he, “ they who fear God, seek his will."
A short time before this, Rufinus, a presbyter of Aquileia, published an “Explication of the Apostle's Creed,” in which he includes a catalogue of the Scrip
* Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel History, vol. 2, p. 574 † Ibid. vol. 2, p. 578.