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ters of his heroes are all in accordance with their actions; and breathe the spirit of a rude and unpolished social state while the language, in its masculine freedom and boldness, not yet tamed down by measure and rule, exhibits the same character, and gives evidence to the same fact, alike in its beauties, and defects.
Again, through the lively, rambling pages of Herodotus, we see the eager, inquisitive, and somewhat credulous traveller. In the nervous and masterly style of Thucydides, we are at no loss to trace the practical philosopher, the able soldier, and the enlightened statesman. When we read in Xenophon a morality purer than that of his age, we remember, that he was the pupil of Socrates, and admire the reflected light of the great moralist of heathenism. The courtly Horace exhibits the practical working of the school of Epicurus: while the life of Cicero and his philosophy mutually throw light on each other: whether we be disposed to account the one wise in its moderation, and the other sound in its cautious conclusions; or to pronounce his character in action to have been temporising and irresolute-his tenets in speculation uncertain and obscure.
We pass to modern times, and mark the writings of Erasmus and of Luther, bearing the impress of the different minds and tempers of their respective authors, and corresponding in character with what
we know their conduct to have been. Both, perhaps, in the outset, equally fond of the investigation of truth, and bent on its discovery. But the one, of a refining and subtle turn of mind, which led to speculation rather than action-of a quiet and pacific temper, a lover of literary ease, averse to disputes, abhorring violence, and with so much at least of worldliness in his disposition, as rather to bend, his conscience in some points to his interest, than to sacrifice his interest to his views of truth. The other, bold, vehement, undaunted— incited by dangers, rather than deterred-impetuous in argument as in action-taking broad and general views, regardless of minor difficultiescareless of consequences to himself or others-enlisting passion on the side of principle, and resolved to follow, at all hazards, where these combined motives led.
In perusing the works of our own historians, do not we read more profitably, by bearing in mind how the histories of Clarendon and Burnet take their respective tones partly from the private character, partly from the political situations of their respective authors? how that Hume was a disciple of a cold and infidel school; while the sneering scepticism of Gibbon tinges every page even of plain narration; and conveys a continued false impression through an account of facts seldom open to impeachment on the score of inaccuracy.
Nor is this line of observation merely a means of deriving passing pleasure, or of enabling us to enter more fully into the spirit of known writers. It is capable also of being used for all the purposes of proof: both for the detection of fictitious or spurious works for assigning anonymous writings to their real authors; and for adding confirmation to those, whose authority has been impeached on insufficient grounds. Few persons probably are unacquainted with the interesting essays of this kind, which the letters of Junius, and the popular fictions of a late distinguished writer have called forth in our own days, or the exposure of the forgeries of Chatterton in the last age: while scholars will remember the spurious Sibylline oracles, and the letters of Phalaris; in his essay on which Bentley has shown, how accumulated stores of learning, and keenness of critical acumen may be brought to bear on such an investigation; and subjecting alike facts, language, manners, and sentiments to the test of a rigid scrutiny, has demonstrated the work in question, which had long passed for genuine, to be a forgery of a later age.
This course of investigation and proof has not been overlooked by those, who have turned their attention to the evidence for the truth of the scriptures. In fact it comprises, in its various branches, a large part of what is commonly called the internal evidence: different portions of which have fre
quently given scope for the talents of the learned, and exercised their ingenuity.
Thus Hebrew scholars have shown, from the style and language of the books of the old Testament, that they could not have been written at any other periods than those, to which they are respectively assigned. They point out a progress in the Hebrew tongue from the books of Job and Moses, to that of Malachi, through the psalms of David, and the writings of the earlier prophets; such as the English reader will trace in proceeding from Chaucer, to Spenser and Shakspeare,-from those poets, to Waller and Cowley-from these, to the writers of the present age.
A similar argument has been applied to the books of the New Testament, as far as the case will admit. As however they are all the works of the same age, there is not room for it to the like extent. But it is easy to go so far in a similar proof as to show, that their language and style are proper to the period, to which we assign their composition. They are written, with possibly two exceptions, in Greek, as the language in that day in most general use among those to whom they were addressed. But it is not the Attic Greek of the age of Pericles or Alexander; but such, as might be expected from men habitually conversant with the idioms of another tongue, and not much practised in the correct and elegant use of that in which they wrote: such in short, as
would naturally be used by Jews of that day, and of that class of life to which the Apostles belonged. The style and language therefore of the books of the New Testament, would go far to show, that they were written about the time they profess to have been, and by such persons, as those to whom they are ascribed.
Additional proofs again have been accumulated in support of this fact from other points of internal evidence, independent of all external testimony, which can hardly fail to bring home conviction to every candid mind-I mean such, as the circumstantial correctness of the narrative; and the many cases of obviously undesigned and incidental agreement with facts, with which we are acquainted from other sources of information-a line of argument, which is so fully developed in Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel History, and which has been epitomized by Paley in his Evidences.
The further point, that these books were written, not only by such persons, and at that time, but by the very writers, whose names they bear, is first and mainly proved by external evidence-by the uninterrupted testimony of all ages to their genuine
And we should on this ground acknowledge the scriptures of the New Testament, as the works respectively of the several authors, to whom they are assigned, on evidence the same in kind, though infinitely stronger in degree, as that, on which we