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Watchman's story.

The prisoner convicted.

"What did he say to you, when he engaged you' ?"

"He told me that his house had been broken open, and he wished me to watch for the thief."

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"Well, relate to the jury what occurred that night."

"I watched several nights. For some nights nothing occurred. All was quiet till morning."

"In what room did you stay?"

"In the room under the chamber from which the articles had been stolen."

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Well, go on with your account."

"At last, on the 15th of June, as I was then watching, about three o'clock in the morning I heard a noise. Some one was coming softly up stairs. He went up into the room over my head, and after remaining a few minutes there, he began to come down. I immediately went out into the entry, and seized him, and took him to the watch-house. next morning he was put in prison."

The

The lawyer then pointed to the prisoner at the bar, and asked if that was the man. The witness said that it was. The judge then asked the counsel for the prisoner, if he wished to ask any questions. He replied that he did, and he immediately proceeded to question the witnesses very minutely in respect to the whole transaction. He, however, elicited nothing favorable to the prisoner. The jury finally consulted together, and all agreed that the prisoner was proved guilty; and the judge ordered him to be sent back to the prison, till he should determine what punishment must be assigned.

This is substantially the way in which all trials are conducted. Three or four points are considered very necessary. 1. That the witnesses should be of good character. 2. That they should have actually witnessed what they describe.

Points secured on trial.

Three points to be attended to.

And, 3. That the precise account which they themselves give, should come into court. These points the judge or the lawyers secure. The latter they obtain by having the witness himself always come, if it is possible, even if he has to leave most important business for this purpose. If from sickness, or any other similar cause, he can not come, his testimony is, in some cases, taken down in writing, and signed by himself, and that paper, the very one which he signed, must be brought into court, and read there. This is called a deposition. The second point is secured by not allowing any man to go any farther in his testimony than he himself saw or heard. So that sometimes, when the case is complicated, a very large number of witnesses are called, before the whole case is presented to the jury. The first point they secure, by inquiring into the character of the witnesses. If any man can be proved to be unworthy of credit, his testimony is set aside.

Now all these points must be looked at in examining the evidence of the Christian miracles. I alter the arrangement of them, however, in the following discussion, placing them now in the order in which it is most convenient to consider them. In examining the evidence relating to the Christian miracles then, we must ascertain,

1. That we have the actual account given by the original testifiers themselves.

2. That these testifiers were actual witnesses of the facts to which they give testimony,

3. That these witnesses are credible; that is, that they are honest men, and that their word can be relied upon.

These three points I shall examine in order, in reference to the Christian miracles. The witnesses are the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John; and the first inquiry, according to the list above presented, is to determine whether we have exactly the account which they themselves give.

G*

Irruption of the barbarians.

Dark ages.

Witnesses are commonly called into court to tell their own story, and then there can be no mistake. If that is impossible, as I remarked above, their deposition is taken, with certain forms, and the very paper which they originally signed is brought and read in court. But neither of these courses can be taken here. For, in the first place, the witnesses have been for a long time dead, so that they can not come forward to give their testimony; and although they wrote, at the time, a full account of the events which occurred, so long a period has since elapsed that none of the original manuscripts now remain. Time has long since destroyed all vestiges of the writings of those ancient days.

I presume that most of my readers are aware that not long after the time of our Savior, barbarians from the north, in innumerable hordes, began to pour down upon the Roman empire, until at last they subverted and destroyed it. Very many of these barbarians became nominal Christians, and preserved some copies of the Bible, and in fact, they saved many extensive and valuable libraries, consisting of course, of manuscript works, in the form generally of parchment rolls, the art of printing not being then known. They however subverted most of the institutions, and destroyed the accumulated property of civilized life, and brought a long period of ignorance and semi-barbarism, called the dark ages, upon the world. After some time, however, there began to appear in various parts of Europe signs of a gradual improvement. The monks in the various convents, having no other employment, began to explore the old libraries, and to study the books. They made themselves acquainted with the languages in which they were written, and when the art of printing was invented, they published them. In consequence, however, of the immense number of manuscripts collected in some of the libraries, a long time elapsed before they were fully explored, and even now the work is not absolutely completed.

New

Old manuscripts.

Genuineness of the Scriptures.

writings are occasionally brought to light, and published, The difficulty of deciphering such old, worn-out, faded, and almost illegible parchment rolls, is very great.

A great deal of interest was felt at the very first by these explorers, to find the oldest copies of the Bible, or of any parts of the Bible. They wished to have the most accurate and authentic copy possible; and the more ancient the copy, the more probable it was that it was taken directly from the original, and consequently the more it was to be depended upon. If they could have found a manuscript which was evidently the very copy originally written by the author himself, it would have been considered invaluable.

The number of manuscripts of the whole or of parts of the Hebrew Bible, thus found, and now preserved in various libraries of Europe, is more than four hundred; and of the Greek Testament, not far from one hundred and fifty. They are scattered all over Europe, and are preserved in the libraries with great care. The oldest of them however was written several hundred years after the death of Christ, so that we now can not ever have the manuscripts actually written by the original witnesses. The two methods usually relied on therefore in courts of justice, for being sure that the actual story of the witness himself is presented in court, fail in this We must resort therefore to another method equally certain, but different in form.

case.

The evidence relied upon to prove that the books we have now, or rather the ancient manuscripts in the libraries in Europe from which they are translated, are really the same with the accounts originally written by the witnesses themselves, is this: Immediately after they were written, a great many other Christian writers, very much interested in these accounts, began to quote them in their own letters and books. They quoted them much more copiously than it is customary to quote now, because the art of printing puts every import

Quotations.

Illustration.

ant book within the reach of all who are interested in it. Then the original accounts existed only in manuscript, and consequently could be seen and read only by a few. These few therefore in their writings made frequent and copious extracts from them; and these extracts have come down to us separately, and each one proves that the passage that it contains, which is in the account now, was in that account when the quotation was made.

An imaginary instance will make this plain. The Vatican manuscript, as it is called, that is, a very ancient manuscript preserved in the library of the Vatican at Rome, is supposed to have been written about four hundred years after Christ. It contains, we will suppose, John's Gospel, just as we have it now in our Bibles. This proves, that if the real original account which John gave was altered at all after he wrote it, it was altered before the time in which that manuscript was made. Now suppose a Christian at Antioch, living two hundred years before the Vatican manuscript was written, had been writing a book, and in it had mentioned John's Gospel, and had copied out a whole chapter. This book he leaves at Antioch: it is copied there again and again, and some copies are found there at the revival of learning after the dark ages. Here we have one chapter proved to have been in John's account two hundred years earlier than the date of the Vatican manuscript. In the same manner another chapter might have been quoted in another book kept at Alexandria, and others in other works, preserved in various other libraries. Now the fact is, that the quotations of this character which are found in ancient writings are so numerous and so extensive as to form an uninterrupted succession of evidences, beginning but a very short time after the original accounts were written, and coming down to modern times. Every chapter and verse of the original accounts are not indeed confirmed in this way,

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