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its “riches,” to which its magic scenes—its turmoils and its competitions—have exposed them.
Knowledge and intellectual culture, activity and vigour, when not so obstructed, are auspicious to personal religion :
piety has found
And such thine, in whom
For sanctity of manners undefiled.” This is no empty boast, no unmerited panegyric. The old and the new world can supply additional names, from among both the higher and the subordinate classes of the profession; and we could point to men of the law, who, happily for themselves and the public, having been subjected to the best influences under the parental roof, are “not ashamed of Christ and of his words,” but with consistent zeal stand forth as the advocates of both.
Professor Greenleaf's avowed design is not to undertake a general examination of the evidences of Christianity. He does nothing more than inquire concerning the testimony of the four evangelists; bringing their narratives to an unexceptionable test; that which human tribunals employ in the case of evidence adduced on matters confessedly inferior to this. -Our religion is founded on facts—such as the birth, ministry, preaching, miracles, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus. Now the evangelists relate all these either on their own individual knowledge, or on the authority of witnesses alleged to be every way competent. What credit is due to them? The question must be answered in agreement with the recognized and approved principles by which testimony is sifted; and of these rules none can be more impartial and satisfactory than what our tribunals are in the practice of applying. The supreme importance of the events testified-their immediate relation to our spiritual and everlasting interests—makes no difference: the evidences are still the evidences of facts. But if the testimony of the evangelists, supposing it relevant to the issue in a question of property, or of personal right, between man and man, ought to be credited and have weight in a court of judicature, then, upon the like principles, it ought to receive our belief as to the case where it is actually brought forward. If, on the other hand, we should justly reject it, in this latter instance, although most solemnly avouched, then, assuming the validity of our rules of evidence, we shall be more than excused if we withhold from it our belief on any similar, yet less memorable, occasion.-Pp. 2, 3.
Having sketched the early history of Judaism, the Dane Professor says of the evangelic records,
“ The genuineness of these writings really admits of as little doubt, and is susceptible of as ready proof, as that of any ancient writings whatever."+-P.6.
+ Professor G. means that they have not been “materially corrupted or fal. sified either by heretics or Christians."
We shall transcribe the rules to which he submits the Gospels: and we shall, afterwards, in the same order, notice his application of his principles.
The rules are what follow:
“ Every document apparently ancient, coming from the proper depository or custody, and bearing on its face no EVIDENT marks of forgery, the Law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise.”—$ 8, p. 9.
" In matters of public and general interest all persons must be presumed to be conversant, on the principle that individuals are presumed to be conversant with their own affairs."—$ 9, p. 8.
“ In trials of fact by oral testimony, the proper inquiry is, not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but whether there is suficient probability that it is true.”—$ 6, p. 4.
“ A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence.”—$ 27, p. 21.
" In the absence of circumstances which generate suspicion, every witness is to be presumed credible, until the contrary is shewn ; the burden of impeaching his credibility lying on the objector.”—$ 28, p. 22.
“ The credit due to the testimony of witnesses, depends upon, firstly, their honesty; secondly, their ability; thirdly, their number ; fourthly, the consistency of their testimony with experience; and, fifthly, the coincidence of their testimony with collateral circumstances.”—$ 29, p. 25.
In our deliberate judgment, no rules of testimony can be fairer; and they are stated with admirable clearness and precision. Let them be severally considered.
(1). The first concerns the production of ancient documents coming from the proper repository or custody.
By this the practice of Courts of Law is uniformly governed ; nor without good reason. Documents produced from their appropriate places of deposit, and bearing no signs of forgery, our tribunals assume to be genuine, and permit to be read in evidence, unless the opposing party can shew that they are false. Now this presumption of Law is the presumption at once of Charity and of Justice. The Law takes for granted that every thing has been done regularly and honestly, unless the reverse be proved.
Mark, then, the case of the evangelic memoirs :
“ They have been used in the church from time immemorial, and thus are found in the place where alone they ought to be looked for : they come to us, and challenge our reception of them as genuine writings, exactly as Domesday Book, the ancient statutes of Wales, or any other of the ancient documents which have recently been published under the British Record Commission are received. We find them in familiar use in all the churches of Christendom, as the sacred books to which all denominations of Christians refer as the standard of their faith. There is no pretence that they were engraven on plates of gold and discovered in a cave, nor that they were brought from heaven by angels; but they are received as the plain narratives and writings of the men whose names they respectively bear, made public at the time they were written; and though there are some slight discrepancies among the copies subsequently made, there is no pretence that the originals were any where corrupted."--Pp. 7, 8.
To the objection (if such an objection be alleged), that “ the originals are lost," we oppose a second rule of Law:
(2). Reasoning from what passes among individuals and in ordinary life, we say that " in matters of public and general interest all persons must be presumed to be conversant."
In such matters the prevailing current of assertion is resorted to as evidence; for it is to this that every member of the community is supposed to be a party. Now the multiplication of copies of the four Gospels was a notorious fact. If any ancient document concerning our public rights were lost, copies which had been as universally received and acted upon as those of the Gospels have been, would be admitted in evidence in any of our Courts of Justice.*-Pp. 8, 9.
The burden of proof lies on the objector; and this by the plainest rules of Law. Imagine that it were the case of a claim to a franchise; imagine that a copy of an ancient deed or charter were tendered in support of the title, “ under parallel circumstances on which to pronounce its genuineness, no lawyer, it is believed, would venture to deny either its admissibility in evidence, or the satisfactory character of the proof."-Pp. 9, 10.
No portion of Professor G.'s treatise is so attractive and useful as his sketch of the history of the four evangelists; their lives, qualifications and writings. He gives a succinct account of each, and then comments with conciseness on their testimony.
MATTHEW ($ 12—15, pp. 10–13].—This evangelist was a native Jew, familiar with the opinions, rites and usages of his countrymen, conversant with the sacred writings, and habituated to their idiom; a man of plain sense, but of little learning, except what he derived from the Scriptures of the Old Testament: he wrote seriously and from conviction, and had, on most occasions, been present and attended closely to the transactions which he relates, and relates, too, without any view of applause to himself.
Even his employment as a collector of taxes and customs greatly assisted his power of forming just inferences from what he saw and heard of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Under this head Dr. G.'s statements and reasonings are more than ordinarily impressive: we copy them without abridgment:
“The tribute imposed by the Romans upon countries conquered by their arms was enormous. In the time of Pompey the sums annually exacted from their Asiatic provinces, of which Judea was one, amounted to about four millions and a half sterling, or about twenty-two millions of dollars.t These exactions were made in the usual forms of direct and indirect taxation; the rate of the customs on merchandize varying from an eighth to a fortieth part
* It were earnestly to be wished that the principles on which this reasoning is formed, and the subjects to which our author applies it, had a larger share in plans of general education. I should rejoice in the study of them being no longer confined to men trained for certain of the learned professions. They are of great importance to all who aim at the acquisition of solid knowledge, and desire to qualify themselves for employing and communicating it with effect. The Logic which alone deserves the name, has its basis in correct, perspicuous and extensive views of the powers and operations of the mind, and therefore of the nature, the divisions and the rules of evidence. In like manner, an acquaintance with the history and uses of manuscripts, or with what has been emphatically styled CRITICISM, bears an intimate relation to the power of recommending and defending the Christian Scriptures. See this case most perspicuously illustrated in Bentley's Remarks on Freethinking (1737), pp. 92–114.
† It must not be forgotten that this work is dated from "Harvard University."
of the value of the commodity, and the tariff including all the principal articles of the commerce of the East, much of which, as is well known, still found its way to Italy through Palestine, as well as by the way of Damascus and of Egypt. The direct taxes consisted of a capitation-tax and a land-tax assessed upon a valuation or census periodically taken, under the oath of the individual, with heavy penal sanctions. It is natural to suppose that these taxes were not voluntarily paid, especially since they were imposed by the conqueror upon a conqnered people, and by a heathen, too, upon the people of the house of Israel. The increase of taxes has generally been found to multiply discontents, evasions and frauds on the one hand, and, on the other, to increase vigilance, suspicion, close scrutiny, and severity of exaction. The penal code, as revised by Theodosius, will give us some notion of the difficulties in the way of the revenue officers in the earlier times of which we are speaking. These difficulties must have been increased by the fact that, at this period, a considerable portion of the commerce of that part of the world was carried on by the Greeks, whose ingenuity and want of faith were proverbial. It was to such an employment, and under such circumstances, that Matthew was educated; an employment which must have made him acquainted with the Greek language and extensively conversant with the public affairs and the men of business of his time; thus entitling him to our confidence, as an experienced and intelligent observer of events passing before him. And if the men of that day were, as in truth they appear to have been, as much disposed as those of the present time to evade the payment of public taxes and duties, and to elude, by all possible means, the vigilance of the revenue officers, Matthew must have been familiar with a great variety of the forms of fraud, imposture, cunning and deception, and must have become habitually distrustful, scrutinizing and cautious, and, of course, much less likely to have been deceived in regard to many of the facts in our Lord's ministry, extraordinary as they were, which fell under his observation. This circumstance shews both the sincerity and the wisdom of Jesus in selecting him for an eye-witness of his conduct, and adds great weight to the value of the testimony of this evangelist.”
The paragraph throughout is distinguished by its originality. In the statements and train of argument of which it consists, Dr. G. successfully proves that the previous office of Matthew, as a collector of Roman taxes, gave him superior qualifications for estimating those events of our Saviour's ministry which came under his notice, and for recording them with fidelity.--We pass to the second of the evangelists, MARK (S 15–18, pp. 13—15].
His Hebrew name was John :* and he wrote his Gospel for the use of Gentile converts. There is a high probability in the supposition that it was dictated to him by Peter.
Professor G. does not hold the opinion that Mark compiled and abridged it from Matthew's. This is indeed an untenable hypothesis. The second evangelist's Gospel not only presents many tokens of being an independent narrative, but abounds with passages of characteristic excellence ; passages affording the strongest presumption of their flowing from truth and nature. One of these we take leave to place before our readers.
It is the incident mentioned in ch. v. 15—20. A furious maniac whom our Lord had cured, entreats his benefactor's permission to continue with him. However, “ Jesus suffered him not, but dismissed him, with the injunction, 'Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Master hath done for thee, and hath had pity on thee." There is that in the request, on the one hand, and in the substance and
* Acts xii. 25.
terms of the reply, on the other, which denotes reality, and points to an eye and ear witness as the reporter of it: and the whole passage harmonizes alike with the laws of the mind and with the Saviour's disinterested and lowly spirit.
LUKE (S 18-23, pp. 15–18], a native of Antioch, was by profession a physician, and for a considerable period a companion of the apostle Paul. In writing his Gospel, which he drew up for the benefit of the Gentiles, he wished to supersede certain defective and incorrect narratives then in circulation. He does not affirm himself to have been uniformly an eye-witness, though his personal knowledge of some of the transactions may justly be inferred. If, then, his testimony were the effect of inquiries made under competent authority, respecting matters in which the public are concerned, it would possess every legal attribute of an inquisition, and as such would be legally admissible in evidence. To entitle such results, however, to full judicial cognizance, it is not essential that they should be obtained under a public commission: it is sufficient if the inquiry is gravely undertaken and pursued by a man of competent intelligence, discernment and honesty. The request of a person in authority and a desire to serve the public, are, to all moral intents, as sufficient a motive as a legal commission. Thus we know that when complaint is made to the head of a department of official misconduct or abuse existing in some remote quarter, nothing is more common than to send some confidential person to the spot, to ascertain the facts, and report them to the department; and this report is confidently adopted as the basis of its discretionary action in the correction of the abuse or the removal of the offender. Indeed, the result of any grave inquiry, is equally certain to receive our confidence, though it may have been voluntarily undertaken, if the party making it has access to the means of complete and satisfactory information upon the subject. If, therefore, Luke's Gospel were to be regarded only as the work of a contemporary historian, it would be entitled to our confidence. But it is more than this. It is the result of careful inquiry and examination, made by a person of science, intelligence and education, concerning subjects which he was perfectly competent to investigate, and as to many of which he was peculiarly skilled, they being cases of the cure of maladies; subjects, too, of which he had already the perfect knowledge of a contemporary and perhaps an eyewitness, but beyond doubt familiar with the parties concerned in the transactions, and belonging to the community in which the events transpired, which were in the mouths of all; and the narrative, moreover, drawn up for the special use and probably at the request of a man of distinction, whom it would not be for the interest or safety of the writer to deceive or mislead. Such a document certainly possesses all the moral attributes of an inquest of office or of any other official investigation of facts; and as such is entitled in foro conscientiæ to be adduced as original, competent and satisfactory evidence of the matters it contains.
This, we think, is both an ingenious and a correct estimate of the testimony borne by Luke to the chief events of our Saviour's ministry.
Joun [$ 23—26, pp. 19, 20] was the youngest of the apostles, and the object of his Master's particular regard and confidence. For this reason, he was present at many scenes to which most of the other