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imposing a forgery upon the public; and in order to give colour and probability to the fraud, names, places, and circumstances,
, found in the history, may be studiously introduced into the letters, as well as a general consistency be endeavoured to be maintained. But here it is manifest, that whatever congruity appears, is the consequence of meditation, artifice, and design.-The third case is that wherein the history and the letters, without
direct privity or communication with each other, derive their materials from the same source; and, by reason of their common original, furnish instances of accordance and correspondency. This is a situation in which we must allow it to be possible for ancient writings to be placed ; and it is a situation in which it is more difficult to distinguish spurious from genuine writings, than in either of the cases described in the preceding suppositions ; inasmuch as the congruities observable are so far accidental, as that they are not produced by the immediate transplanting of names and circumstances out of one writing into the other. But although, with respect to each other, the agreement in these writings be mediate and secondary, yet is it not properly or absolutely undesigned : because, with respect to the common original from which the information of the writers proceeds, it is studied and factitious. The case of which we treat must, as to the letters, be a case of forgery: and when the writer, who is
personating another, sits down to his composition—whether we have the history with which we now compare the letters, or some other record, before him; or whether he have only loose tradition and reports to go by-he must adapt his imposture, as well as he can, to what he finds in these accounts; and his adaptations will be the result of counsel, scheme, and industry ; art must be employed; and vestiges will appear
management and design. Add to this, that, in most of the following examples, the circumstances in which the coincidence is remarked are of too particular and domestic a nature, to have floated down upon the stream of general tradition.
Of the three cases which we have stated, the difference between the first and the two others is, that in the first the design may be fair and honest, in the others it must be accompanied with the consciousness of fraud; but in all there is design. In examining,
1 therefore, the agreement between ancient writings, the character of truth and originality is undesignedness : and this test applies to every supposition; for, whether we suppose the history to be true, but the letters spurious; or the letters to be genuine, but the history false: or, lastly, falsehood to belong to both--the history to be a fable, and the letters fictitious: the same inference will result--that either there will be no agreement between them, or the agreement will be the effect of design, Nor will it elude the prin- , ciple of this rule, to suppose the same person to have been the author of all the letters, or even the author both of the letters and the history; for no less design is necessary to produce coincidence between different parts of a man's own writings, especially when they are made to take the different forms of a history and of original letters, than to adjust them to the circumstances found in
With respect to those writings of the New Testament which are to be the subject of our present consideration, I think that, as to the authenticity of the epistles, this argument, where it is sufficiently sustained by instances, is nearly conclusive ; for I cannot assign a supposition of forgery, in which coincidences of the kind we inquire after are likely to appear. As to the history, it extends to these points :-It
proves the general reality of the circumstances : it proves
the historian's knowledge of these circumstances. In the present instance it confirms his
pretensions of having been a cotemporary, and in the latter part of his history a companion of St. Paul. In a word, it establishes the substantial truth of the narration ; and substantial truth is that which, in every historical inquiry, ought to be the first thing sought after and ascertained: it must be the ground-work of every other observation.
The reader then will please to remember this word undesignedness, as denoting that upon which the construction and validity of our argument chiefly depend.
As to the proofs of undesignedness, I shall in this place say little; for I had rather the reader's persuasion should arise from the instances themselves, and the separate remarks with which they may be accompanied, than from any previous formulary or description of argument. In a great plurality of examples, I trust he will be perfectly convinced
that no design or contrivance whatever has been exercised : and if some of the coincidences alleged appear to be minute, circuitous, or oblique, let him reflect that this
very indirectness and subtility is that, which gives force and propriety to the example. Broad, obvious, and explicit agreements prove because it
may be suggested that the insertion of such is the ordinary expedient of every forgery: and though they may occur, and probably will
occur, in genuine writings, yet it cannot be proved that they are peculiar to these. Thus what St. Paul declares in chap. xi. of 1 Cor. concerning the institution of the eucharist " For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me”- though it be in close and verbal conformity with the account of the same transaction preserved by St. Luke, is yet a conformity of which no use can be made in our argument; for if it should be objected that this was a mere recital from the Gospel, borrowed by the author of the epistle, for the purpose of setting off his composition by an