« PrécédentContinuer »
and translated into such a great variety of languages; it is impossible, had such a corruption of them taken place, that they should agree in one common reading. And hence it happens that the text of different copies is found to vary in those passages where even the slightest alteration has been admitted.
How does it appear that the fourth cause of doubt. ing the veracity of writings,-namely, that there is sufficient evidence to weaken their credibility, -does not exist here?
This you may yourself by this time have perceived; since there are no conclusive and sufficient testimonies, from men entitled to credit, by which these writings can be disproved or invalidated.
You have explained the first consideration whereby the authenticity of the New Testament is established; state to me now what the second is, to which you
Although this consideration alone, that there exists no just cause why these writings should be suspected, affords a strong argument in proof of their authenticity, yet I will mention another of far greater weight, which must necessarily command for them our assent.
What is that?
The truth of the Christian Religion: for as this is comprised in the books of the New Testament, and in no other writings except such as rest upon their authority, it is evident that these books also account, necessarily entitled to credit.
But how do you prove that the Christian Religion is true?
are, on this
First, from the divinity of its author ;--and secondly, from the nature and circumstances of the Religion itself; for these all demonstrate that it is divine, and consequently true.
Whence does it appear that Jesus Christ, the author of the Christian Religion, was divine?
From the truly divine miracles which he wrought and also from this circumstance,—that after having submitted to the most cruel death, on account of the religion he had taught, God raised him again to life.
How do you know that he wrought miracles; and that those miracles were divine ?
That he wrought miracles, is proved by the acknowledgement, not only of those who believed in him, but also of his professed enemies, the Jews. That those miracles were divine, may easily be inferred from hence, that otherwise they must be attributed to the devil; but this the perfect holiness of the doctrine of Christ, established by these miracles, makes it impossible for us to admit; as it is utterly hostile to the counsels of the devil, and designed for his shame
[This is one topic respecting which the Unitarians of the present day differ in opinion from the Socinians of Poland, namely, the existence of a real being, called the Devil, or Sa
originally of angelic rank, but now degenerated; of inveterate malice, and unrelenting cruelty; who delights to injure mankind; and whose power of injuring them extends to their minds and to their bodies, to this material world, and to the future state.” Most modern Unitarians have abandoned this belief, as a vulgar error, involving the most palpable inconsistencies, and wholly irreconcileable with the fundamental truths of natural and revealed religion. The reader will find this subject most ably discussed in Mr. John Simpson's Essays on the
and complete discomfiture, and for the highest glory of God. You will, moreover, perceive the divinity of the miracles of Jesus, when I shall have proved that God raised him from the dead. For, as he asserted that he wrought miracles by a divine power, it is evident, since God after his crucifixion restored him to life, that what he had declared was true-namely, that his miracles were divine.
Prove to me, then, that God raised him from the dead?
This appears from the two following considerations: --first, that many persons almost immediately after his death most positively affirmed that they had beheld him raised from the dead; and, on account of their attesting this fact, exposed themselves to much persecution, and several of them to the most painful deaths. It hence necessarily follows, either that Jesus was actually raised from the dead; or else, that these men, by persisting to declare what they knew to be false, voluntarily subjected themselves to such heavy misfortunes, and to the most cruel deaths. The latter case, common sense alone would show to be impossible :—the former must therefore be considered as demonstrated. Secondly, a great multitude of other persons also, who had received their information from these first witnesses, submitted, in attes
Language of Scripture, volume i. essay ii. intituled “ An attempt to explain the meaning of the words yow, EATAN, EATANAE, A TABOAOE, etc.” He may also consult Mr. Farmer's excellent Essays on the Demoniacs of the New Testament, and on Christ's Temptation. TRANSLATOR.]
tation of the same fact, to heavy calamities, and to the most horrid deaths; which they never would have done, unless they had been convinced of its certainty by the most indisputable evidence',
| What is asserted here, and in some answers that follow, as well as the truth of the Christian Religion generally, may, without adverting to other arguments, be in this manner clearly demonstrated : No person of sane mind will deny that some things were done antecedently to his birth, and when he could not have been a present spectator : but he can know this in no other way than by testimony and historical relation. Now if any history be worthy of credit, certainly that of Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples may safely be considered in this light; a history which has through so many ages been confirmed, by the constant and unanimous testimony of an uninterrupted succession of witnesses of such high respectability, existing among all the various nations of the earth, and differing widely from each other in their language and manners, and in their opinions on other points : No one, besides, during the whole of this interval, having been able to impeach the credit of the religion itself, by substantiating against it a charge of falsehood, while almost all have been labouring to extirpate it by force. It is apparent, as will be shown in the sequel, that these witnesses could not have been instigated to give their testimony by any prospects of worldly advantage;-and yet (and in this consists the force of the argument) an immense host of them, like a cloud, reaching from the earliest age down to our own time, may be produced. The reader who wishes to see the truth of Christianity discussed more at length, may consult the work of Faustus Socinus on the Authority of the Holy Scriptures, Grotius's book on the Truth of the Christian Religion, Joachim Stegman junior's Brevis Veritatis Religionis Christiance Demonstratio (Brief Demonstration of the Truth of the Christian Religion) inserted in the works of Brennius,
and Henry More's Magni Mysterii Pietatis Explanationes, Lib. Sept.b BENEDICT WISSOWATIUS.
b[Socinus's work above referred to, is not so well known to the English reader as it ought to be, considering its great merit. It contains a clear and comprehensive summary of the argli
Is there any other proof of this fact?
Yes :-for it is wholly incredible that this religion, -which holds out to its professors none of the glory, wealth, or pleasures of this world, but on the contrary takes away from them all such attractions, and subjects them to many of the adversities and afflictions of the present state, should have been received by so many nations, unless it had been confirmed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; and also by the signal miracles wrought in his name after this
ments in favour of the genuineness and credibility of the Scriptures, and of the truth of the Christian Religion: and its utility has been superseded by no publication of more recent date. The best Latin edition is that printed without the author's name, at Steinfurt in 1611, under the editorial direction of Vorstius, whose pious labour drew on him the heavy censures of the bigots of the time, who did not believe, it seems, that “any good thing could come out of Racow.' This edition is now exceedingly scarce. An English translation of it was published in 1731, in a thin octavo volume, by Mr. Edward Combe, a divine of the Church of England, who prefixed a de dication to the Queen. This translation is also scarce : it is moreover of rather uncouth execution: and, on these accounts, he would deserve well of the Christian world, who should give the work to the English public in a more pleasing and inviting dress.
Grotius's treatise is better known, both to the scholar and to the mere English reader ; the Latin being no unusual school book, and several English translations being current in the market. Dr. Smallbrook, bishop of St. David's, says of this work, that Grotius in the composition of it " was, among several other authors, more especially assisted by the valuable performance of a writer otherwise justly of ill fame, viz. Faustus Socinus's little book De Auctoritate S. Scripturæ." (Charge to the Clergy of St. David's, 1729.) The reader will be at no