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volumes, containing nearly three thousand pages, and forms, we scruple not to say, the most comprehensive and useful manual of biblical literature extant in the English language.
The first volume contains a critical inquiry into the genuineness, authenticity, uncorrupted preservation, and inspiration of the Sacred Canon. Having shewn the necessity of a Divine revelation from a view of the degraded state of moral and religious knowledge among the ancients, as well as among heathen nations to the present day, the author proceeds to refute the objection of modern infidels, that philosophy and right reason are sufficient to instruct men in their duty, by exhibiting, in their own words, the discordant and contradictory speculations of modern opposers of revelation in respect to religion and morals, and the baneful effects actually produced upon nations and individuals by the gloomy and demoralizing system, if system it may be called, of infidelity. The condensed details of facts produced in this part of the work are of a most painful nature; but they claim the serious consideration of every candid antagonist of Christianity, and ought to excite increased gratitude in every Christian for the heaven-descended gift of the "words of eternal life."
Having proved the necessity of a Divine revelation, and shown the probability that such a revelation would be mercifully afforded, the author proceeds to examine the claims of the Old and New Testament, which profess to be that revelation, to the exclusion of all other systems. Among the attacks made on Christianity, one of the most formidable-and the one that lies at the root of all the rest-is that which is directed against the truth of the canonical Scriptures. It has been asserted, that we derive a set of rules and opinions from a series of books not written by the authors to whom we ascribe them; and that the volume which we call divine, and which is the basis of our faith and manners, is but a forgery. It is of the utmost importance therefore, as a preliminary step, to ascertain the genuineness, authenticity, and uncorruptness of the several books contained in the Bible, considered simply as compositions; after which the credibility of their respective authors must be investigated; and, lastly, their claims to be received as of Divine inspiration. In discussing these momentous topics, it might, as Mr. Horne observes, be the shorter way to begin with the New Testament; for, if the claims of this part of the volume of revelation be proved, those of the Old Testament cannot be reasonably doubted, because the New Testament incessantly refers to the Old, and makes ample quotations from it. Since, however, the modern impugners of revelation have directed their arguments chiefly against the Old Testament in order to impeach the New, Mr.
Horne commences with the former; observing, that if that which was only preparatory, can be shewn to be of Divine original, that which succeeded, and which completed the former, must have an equal sanction. There is an apparent want of logical strictness in this argument; a prophecy, for example, might be of Divine origin, and therefore infallible, while an alledged event, purporting to be the fulfilment of it, might be a mere fiction. As one instance among many, the Messiah was to be despised and rejected; but it would not necessarily follow, that, because a person professing to be the Messiah was despised and rejected, he was therefore the real Messiah. The foundation might have been divinely laid, and merely human materials have been built upon it. But, notwithstanding this apparent inconclusiveness, the argument is not really inconclusive; for it can be shewn, not merely that the Old Testament is true, and that the dispensation there commenced is completed in the New, but that it is completed no where else, (and completed it must be by the hypothesis, or the Old Testament which predicts a completion could not be true), besides which, it can be further shewn, that the alleged completion of it in the New was a genuine completion, and that it bears such marks as prove that this was the very, and, as was just remarked, the only completion intended by the Omniscient Revealer. Mr. Horne's argument substantially involves these points; and, therefore, though not quite logically enounced, is, in fact, perfectly conclusive.
Having stated the external and internal evidences for the genuineness, authenticity, and credibility of the Old Testament, our author proceeds over the same ground with respect to the New. The details in this part of his work are minute, but their importance abundantly compensates for the length at which they are necessarily treated. The critical nature and consecutiveness of argument of this and other portions of Mr. Horne's volumes, prevent our detaching many passages by way of specimen; we cannot, however, resist the temptation of quoting a few paragraphs from the chapter which contains the author's selection of testimonies to the credibility of the Scriptures, drawn from natural and civil history, and particularly that comparatively new branch of collateral testimony,-the incidental confirmation of scriptural facts by coins, medals, and ancient marbles. Our first extract shall consist of a peculiarly interesting passage from the testimonies of heathen advocates to the lives, characters, and sufferings of the early Christians. The testimonies of Tacitus, who is confirmed by Suetonius, Martial, and Juvenal; of Pliny the Younger, and Trajan; of Celsus, Lucian, Julian the Apostate, and others, are presented at length, and with suitable annotations. Of these, the most important is that of Tacitus, which
we select on account of some puny attempts which have lately been made to undermine the credibility of that faithful historian. "The first persecution of the Christians was raised by the emperor Nero, A. D. 65, that is, about thirty years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Concerning this persecution, we have the testimonies of two Roman historians, Tacitus and Suetonius.
"Tacitus was contemporary with the apostles. Relating the great fire at Rome, in the tenth year of Nero's reign, he says, that the people imputed that calamity to the emperor, who (they imagined) had set fire to the city, that he might have the glory of re-building it more magnificently, and of calling it after his own name; but that Nero charged the crime on the Christians; and in order to give the more plausible colour to this calumny, he put great numbers of them to death in the most cruel manner. With the view of conciliating the people, he expended great suis in adorning the city, bestowed largesses on those who had suffered by the fire, and offered many expiatory sacrifices to appease the gods.-The historian's words are:'But neither human assistance, nor the largesses of the emperor, nor all the atonements offered to the gods, availed: the infamy of that horrible transaction still adhered to him. To suppress, if possible, this common rumour, Nero procured others to be accused, and punished with exquisite tortures a race of men detested for their evil practices, who were commonly known by the name of Christians. The author of that sect (or name) was Christus, who in the reign of Tiberius was punished with death, as a criminal, by the procurator Pontius Pilate. But this pestilent superstition, though checked for a while, broke out afresh, not only in Judea, where the evil first originated, but even in the city (of Rome), the common sink into which every thing filthy and abominable flows from all quarters of the world. At first those only were apprehended, who confessed themselves of that sect; afterwards a vast multitude discovered by them; all of whom were condemned, not so much for the crime of burning the city, as for their enmity to mankind. Their executions were so contrived as to expose them to derision and contempt. Some were covered over with the skins of wild beasts, that they might be torn to pieces by dogs; some were crucified; while others, having been daubed over with combustible materials, were set up as lights in the night time, and thus burnt to death. For these spectacles, Nero gave his own gardens, and, at the same time, exhibited there the diversions of the circus; sometimes standing in the crowd as a spectator, in the habit of a charioteer, and at other times driving a chariot himself: until at length, these men, though really criminal and deserving exemplary punishment, began to be commiserated, as people who were destroyed, not out of regard to the public welfare, but only to gratify the cruelty of one man.'*.
"The testimony, which Suetonius bears to this persecution, is in the following words:The Christians likewise were severely punished, a sort of people addicted to a new and mischievous superstition.' + Tacitus, Annal. lib. xv. c. 44. Lardner's Heathen Testimonies, chap. v. Works, vol. vii. pp. 251-259, 8vo.; or vol. iii. pp. 610-614, 4to.
Suetonius in Nerone, c. xvi. Lardner, chap. viii. Works, vol. vii, pp. 265--272, 8vo.; vol. iii. pp. 618-622, 4to.
"The preceding accounts of the persecution of the Christians by Nero, are further confirmed by Martial, the epigrammatist (who lived at the close of the first century), and by Juvenal, the satirist (who flourished during the reigns of Domitian, Nerva, Trajan, and Adrian); both of whom allude to the Neronian persecution, and especially to the pitched coat in which the Christians were burnt.
I do not
"Martial has an epigram, of which the following is a literal translation:- You have, perhaps, lately seen acted on the theatre, Mucius, who thrust his hand into the fire: if you think such a person patient, valiant, stout, you are a senseless dotard. For it is a much greater thing, when threatened with the troublesome coat, to say, sacrifice,' than to obey the command,- Burn the hand.''* troublesome coat or shirt of the Christians, was made like a sack, of paper or coarse linen cloth, either besmeared with pitch, wax, or sulphur, and similar combustible materials, or dipped in them; it was then put upon the Christians; and, in order that they might be kept upright,--the better to resemble a flaming torch, their chins were severally fastened to stakes fixed in the ground. †
In his first satire, Juvenal has the following allusion:
To glance at Tigellinus, and you glare
In that pitch'd shirt in which such crowds expire,
Or, more literally,- Describe a great villain, such as was Tigellinus,' (a corrupt minister under Nero), and you shall suffer the same punishment with those, who stand burning in their own flame and smoke, their head being held up by a stake fixed to a chain, till they make a long stream' (of blood and fluid sulphur) on the ground.' §
"The above cited testimony of Tacitus, corroborated as it is by contemporary writers, is a very important confirmation of the evangelical history. In it the historian attests, 1. That Jesus Christ was put to death as a malefactor by Pontius Pilate, procurator under Tiberius; 2. That from Christ the people called Christians derived their name and sentiments; 3. That this religion or superstition (as he terms it) had its rise in Judea, where it also spread, notwithstanding the ignominious death of its founder, and the opposition which his followers afterwards experienced from the people of that country; 4. That it was propagated from Judea into other parts of the world as far as
* In matutina nuper spectatus arena
Martial. lib. x. epig. 25.
+ Lardner, chap. vi. Works. vol. vii. pp. 260-262, 8vo.; or vol. iii, pp. 615,
Mr. Gifford's translation, p.27. The original passage is thus:
Pone Tigellinum, tædâ lucebis in illâ,
Quâ stantes ardent, qui fixo gutture fumant,
Et latum media sulcum deducit arenâ. Juven. Sat. lib. i. 155–157, Lardner, chap. vii. Works, vol. vii. pp. 262–265, 8vo.; or vol. iii. pp. 616 618, 4to.
Rome; where, in the tenth or eleventh year of Nero, and before that time, the Christians were very numerous; * and 5. That the professors of this religion were reproached and hated, and underwent many and grievous sufferings.
"On the above cited passage of Tacitus, Gibbon has the following remark: The most sceptical criticism is obliged to respect the TRUTĂ of this extraordinary fact,' (the persecution of the Christians under Nero), AND THE INTEGRITY OF THIS CELEBRATED PASSage of TaCITUS. The FORMER' (its truth) is confirmed by the diligent and accurate, Suetonius, who mentions the punishment which Nero inflicted upon the Christians. The LATTER' (its integrity and genuineness) may be PROVED by the consent of the most antient manuscripts; by the inimitable character of Tacitus; by his reputation, which guarded his text from the interpolations of pious fraud; and by the purport of his narration.'† Such is the observation of the elegant and learned historian, whose hatred of Christianity has led him, in other parts of his work, to misrepresent both it and the Christians; yet, in defiance of all historical and critical testimony, an opposer of revelation (now living) has affirmed, that the texts which are to be found in the works' of Tacitus, are too much suspected of interpolations to be adduced as an authority.' The effrontery of this assertion is only surpassed by the wilful ignorance which it exhibits, especially as the writer alluded to has reprinted Gibbon's misrepresentations of Christians and Christianity, in a cheap form, in order to deceive and mislead the unwary." (Vol. i. p. 220223.)
The following passage, which is not less interesting to classical than to biblical scholars, contains a condensed but most satisfactory refutation of the specious objections which have been attempted to be raised against the credibility of the Scripture history, from the silence of the Greek and Latin writers respecting many important facts recorded in the sacred text. After shewing generally that the silence of the writers in question may be satisfactorily accounted for, by their extreme ignorance concerning events which occurred very long before their own time, and the peculiar contempt entertained by them for both Jews and Christians, the author proceeds as follows to add several specific and perfectly satisfactory reasons in reference to their silence respecting the remarkable events in the life of Christ.
"1. That many books of those remote ages are lost, in which it is
The expression of Tacitus is, ingens multitudo, a vast multitude; which Voltaire, with his accustomed disregard of truth, has represented as only a few poor wretches, who were sacrificed to public vengeance. Essay on History, vol. i. ch. v. p. 60. Nugent's Translation. Dr. Macknight has completely exposed the falsehood of that profligate writer, in his Credibility of the Gospel History, pp. 300-302. Mr. Gibbon's false translation and misrepresentations of the passage of Tacitus above cited, are ably exposed in the appendix to Bp. Watson's Apology for the Bible, addressed to the historian.
+ Decline and Fall, vol. ii. pp. 407, 408.