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Sacred writers could not have been mistaken.

mony with great hesitation. For example, suppose a witness should testify that he saw some supernatural appearance in going through a dark wood by night. Few would believe him, however honest a man he might be, on account of the great danger of being deceived in going through a scene full of irregular objects, such as the varieties of vegetation, the broken rocks, the whitened trunks of decaying trees, and going through too at night, - when all forms are vague and indeterminate, and easily modified by the imagination or the fears.

Again, an honest man, one in whose word I place great confidence, may tell me of a cure for rheumatism. He says he has tried it, and it always does great good. I receive his testimony with great doubt, because he cannot probably, with the little experience he has, know how much the benefit he experienced was owing to the supposed remedy, and how much to other causes. If the same man should come home from Boston, and say that the State House was burnt-that he saw it all in flames-or any other extraordinary fact, far more extraordinary than the efficacy of a remedy for rheumatism, I should believe him, if it was only a case where he had distinct and unquestionable opportunity to observe, and where no room was left for mistake or delusion.

Now if we examine the miracles which our Savior performed, and the opportunity which the disciples had of witnessing them, we shall see that there could not have been a mistake. Remember, however, that I am not now saying that their story must be true. I am only here showing that they could not have been mistaken. They must have known whether what they were saying was true or not. The case could not be like that of a man telling a ghost story,-something which he thinks is true, but which is in reality not so. The things done, were done in open day. They were done in presence of multitudes; and they were of such a nature that those who witnessed them could not be deceived: healing what are called incurable

Proofs that sacred writers could not have been mistaken.

diseases; feeding multitudes with a small supply of food; walking on the sea; rising from the grave, after remaining upon the cross till Roman soldiers were satisfied that life was gone. Who could be a better judge of death than a Roman soldier? These, and a multitude of similar things, might be given as proofs that these witnesses could not be mistaken in what they described. They knew whether they were true or not. And consequently if the third point, that is their honesty, should be proved, we must believe what they say. If they had informed us only of a few miraculous events, and those seen by a few people, or of such a character as to render the witnesses peculiarly liable to be deceived, we might have admitted their honesty, but denied the truth of their statements. As it is, however, we cannot do this.

Not only were the facts themselves of so open and public a character that there could not be any mistake about them, but the writers of our accounts were eyewitnesses of them. They did not obtain a knowledge of them by hearsay or report: they wrote what they themselves saw and heard. It is noticeable that they themselves placed peculiar stress upon this circumstance. Luke begins his gospel by saying, "It seemed good to me, having had perfect understanding of all things from the first, to write unto thee." John, at the close of his book, distinctly records the fact, that the writer of the account was one of the principal actors in the scenes he describes; Peter, in his defence of himself before the Jewish authorities, says he cannot but speak the things he has seen and heard; and perhaps the most striking of all is, that when the apostles came together to elect one to take the place of Judas, they restricted themselves in their selection to those who had been, from the beginning, witnesses of the whole. "Wherefore," was the proposition, "of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the

They were eye-witnesses.

Third point.

Their style of writing.

baptism of John unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of, his resurrection." These men understood the laws of the human mind in regard to believing testimony. They knew well what was necessary to make out a case, and they secured it.

We have now explained how the two first points in our chain of reasoning are established, and we may consider it as certain, in the first place, that though our witnesses are not living, and consequently cannot present us their testimony in person, and although so long a time has elapsed, that their original writings are worn out and destroyed, yet that there is abundant evidence that we have the real account which they delivered; and, in the second place, that they could not be mistaken in the facts to which they give their testimony, as they were eye-witnesses of them, and the facts are of such a nature that there could be no delusion. There is no possible way now, after these two points are established, by which their testimony can be set aside, except by the supposition that they were impostors. This brings us to our third and last point, mentioned on page 135.

3. We must have evidence that our witnesses are credible; i. e. that they are honest men, and that their word can be relied upon.

The evidence on this point is, if possible, more complete and more absolutely unquestionable than upon either of the others; the honest and candid manner in which they relate their story is evidence; it is plain, straight forward, and simple. Their writings have exactly the air and tone of men conscious that they are telling the truth, but aware that it will be regarded with very different feelings by their readers. They narrate, frankly and fully, the events in which they or their companions were to blame; and they do nothing more in regard to the guilt of their enemies. There are no palliating or extenuating statements or ex


Barabbas chosen and Christ rejected.

pressions on the one side, nor any disposition to apply epithets of odium or exaggeration upon the other. The story is simply told, and left to work its own way.

How differently do men act in other cases! How easily can you tell upon which side the writer is, when he gives an account of circumstances relating to a contest between two individuals or two parties! Open to any history of the battle of Waterloo, or of the campaign in Russia, and how long can you doubt whether the author is a friend or an enemy of Napoleon? Now turn to St. John's account of the trial and crucifixion of the Savior-a most unparalleled scene of cruel suffering-and there is not a harsh epithet, and scarcely an expression of displeasure, on the part of the writer, from the beginning to the end of it; you would scarcely know what was his opinion. Take, for instance, the account of the preference of Barabbas by the Jews. Another writer would have said, "The Jews were so bent on the destruction of their innocent and helpless victim, that when Pilate proposed to release him, in accordance with their custom of having a prisoner annually set at liberty on the day of their great festival, they chose a base malefactor in his stead; they preferred that a robber, justly condemned for his crimes, should be let loose upon society, rather than that the meek and lowly Jesus should again go forth to do good to all." But what does John say? There is no attempt in his account to make a display of the guilt of the Jews—no effort to throw odium upon them-no exaggeration-no coloring. "Will ye," says Pilate, "that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying-Not this man, but Barabbas. Now, Barabbas was a robber."

In the same spirit is the whole account-not only the narrative of this writer, but all the writers of the New Testament: it breathes a spirit of calm, composed dignity, which scarcely any thing can equal. In the midst of one of the greatest moral excitements which the world has ever seen, and writing upon the very subject of that excitement,

Elevated views.

They were disinterested.

Our Savior's farewell.

and themselves the very objects of it, they exhibit a selfpossession and a composure almost without a parallel. Exposed to most extraordinary persecution and consequent suffering, they never revile or retort upon their oppressors. It is impossible to avoid the conclusion, when reading the chapters of the New Testament, that the writers understood and felt the moral sublimity of the position they were occupying. They seem to have felt that they were speaking, not to a few thousand contemporaries in Judea, but to countless millions of human beings, scattered over the earth, or coming up, generation after generation, to read their story, to the end of time. They rise entirely above all the influences then pressing so strongly upon them, and in calm and fearless independence offer their testimony. They could not have done this-it is not in human nature to have done it—had they not been sustained by this consideration, viz.: They knew that they were telling THE TRUTH on the most momentous subject ever presented to men, and THAT THEY WERE TELLING IT TO THE WHOLE


Another proof of their honesty is, that they were entirely disinterested; or rather, they were interested to conceal the truth, not to tell it. Their testimony brought them nothing, and could bring them nothing but reproach, and suffering, and death. They saw this in the history of the Savior, and, instead of endeavoring to keep them unconscious of the sufferings that awaited them, he plainly and frankly foretold all, just before he left them. He told them in the most affecting manner-the communication he made is recorded in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the Gospel according to St. John-all that should befall them. "You must not expect," said he, in substance, "to find the world more kind to you than it has been to me. They have per

secuted me, and they will persecute you. They will put you out of the synagogues, and whosoever killeth you will think he doeth God service. I tell you these things beforehand, so that when the time shall come, you will

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