ST. LUKE i. 1-4.

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a decla ration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed."

The design of this Lecture is to treat of the evidences by which the genuineness and authenticity of the books of the New Testament are supported, and to notice, as occasion may require, such external and internal evidences of the divine authority and inspiration of the gospel as may present themselves in the progress of our discussions.

I have before adduced the testimony of both the friends and enemies of the christian religion, to establish all the leading and essential facts which are recorded in the gospel history, and which are all-sufficient to place that subject beyond the power of reasonable or historical contradiction. We shall therefore proceed to notice the plain and pointed evidences by which we are induced to believe that the writings of the New Testament deserve the fullest confidence; and which afford the only rational ground of hope for a sinful and guilty world.

The first book in the New Testament, which naturally invites our attention, is the Gospel, which is alleged to have been written by Matthew, surnamed Levi, who was a disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. This man was an Hebrew by birth and education, and was employed by the Roman authority as a tax-gatherer, and also collected the revenue of such goods as were exported or imported at Capernaum, a maritime town, on the sca of Galilee He likewise received the tribute of all passengers that went

by water. From this occupation, he was called by the divine Redeemer, to be a witness of his life and a minister of his word.

The fact of his having filled a public and responsible office under the Roman government, is a sufficient evidence of his respectability and talents. It has never been denied by any of the early writers, either among the friends or enemies of christianity, that Matthew was a disciple and apostle of Christ nor has this fact ever been denied by any modern writer of respectable character or talents.

That Matthew wrote the gospel history which bears his name, has uniformly been admitted by christians, from the days of the apostles to the present time: Nor did any of the early opposers of the gospel intimate a doubt on this subject; but on the contrary, quoted it as a genuine production. But the period in which it was written, has been a subject of much inquiry and discussion. All the controversialists, however, are agreed in assigning it a higher antiquity than they give to any other book of the New Testament. No writer on this subject, who has rendered himself familiar with the productions of the early christians, pretends that the narrative in question was written at the distance of more than about thirty years; while the most conclusive evidence assigns for the period of its publicity, from four to eight years after the crucifixion. It would indeed be very strange that thirty years should be suffered to pass away without leaving any authentic account of the life and doctrines of Christ, in such form as to be accessible by the multitude of those who had embraced the christian religion in Judea, and the adjoining regions; for they would require, as a matter of course, to be furnished with the history of the life and instructions of Christ, that they might compare them with the prophecies of the Old Testament, in which they reposed the fullest confidence, and be able to vindicate the principles and doctrines of their religion against the objections of their Jewish opposers. There are so many plain and pointed allusions to the persecutions which began immediately after the ascension of Christ, and which continued for six years, as to render it almost certain that the narrative of Matthew was written during that period. Besides these

references, the gentleness with which he mentions the cruelty of Herod, towards John the Baptist, and his indignities to Christ, on the morning of his crucifixion, would naturally induce the belief that he wrote during the reign of that prince; as he exhibited no more of the odious traits of his character, lest they should excite his jealousy, or the disaffection of his subjects. If he was influenced by these motives, he must have written his gospel before the year 39, for in that year Herod was deposed and banished by the emperor Caligula. Finally, Matthew, mentions Pilate as being then governor of Judea; but Vitellius, governor of Syria, ordered Pilate to appear at Rome to answer to a complaint brought against him by the Samaritans; and before he arrived, the emperor, Tiberius, was dead This emperor died in the year 37. Nor was Pilate, ever after, procurator of Judea; for it was soon after annexed to the province of Syria. This circumstance renders it highly probable that Matthew's gospel was written as early as the year 37.

The language in which it was written, has also been a subject of doubt and of controversy: Some contending that it was written in Hebrew, or, in the Syro-Chaldaic dialect, then spoken by the Jews. Others have insisted that it was written in the Greek, so as to be equally useful to Gentile, and Jewish christians. From the best ev-idence which your speaker can obtain upon this subject, he is satisfied that St. Matthew wrote his gospel, both in Hebrew and Greek-in Hebrew, for the use of the Jewish converts, previous to his departure from Jerusalem; and in Greek, for the edification of the multitude, to whom that language was familiar. It is quite evident that his Hebrew copy was corrupted by a party of the Ebionite christians, which, together with the contempt, into which the Jews and their language fell, soon after the destruction of Jerusalem, caused it to be suspected as a forgery, and rejected as a spurious production. The Greek of Matthew's gospel, however, never was viewed with suspicion by the early fathers and advocates of the gospel; and has therefore been transmitted to our times as an authentic narrative of facts. Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian, gives it as his opinion, from all the information

which he could derive from the writings of those who suc ceeded the apostles, in the government of the church, that "Matthew, having first preached to the Hebrews, deliv ered to them, when he was preparing to depart to other countries, his gospel, composed in their native language: that to those, from whom he was sent away, he might supply by his writings the loss of his presence." This same historian receives it as an undoubted fact, that the evangelist also wrote his gospel in Greek, for the benefit and instruction of the great body of christians. Nor is this an unreasonable conclusion, since the Greek was the general and popular language of that age.

To establish, beyond all reasonable doubt, the genuineness and authenticity of St. Matthew's gospel, I need only refer you to a few of the early records which have been preserved on this subject. Barnabas, a companion and associate of St. Paul, refers directly to it in his Greek epistle, no less than seven times: Clemens, Bishop of Rome, another associate of Paul, refers to this gospel twice in his epistle to the Corinthians: Hermas, or Hermes, an associate of the apostles, refers to this gospel, in his work called the Shepherd, no less than ten times: It is referred to nine times in the genuine epistles of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, who was ordained to that charge by the apostle John: Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who was born about thirty years before the death of John, the evangelist and apostle, refers to it five times in his epistle to the Philippians. In the time of Papius, who was supposed to be a disciple of St. John, it was well known, and is expressly ascribed to the evangelist by him, as well as by several other writers of the first century, who are quoted by Eusebius. In the second century it was quoted by Tatian, author of the Harmony of the Four Gospels-by Hegesippus, a Hebrew convert,-by Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch-by Clement, Bishop of Alexandria-and finally by CELSUS, that sagacious and inquisitive enemy of the christian religion, whose testimony can never be suspected of any design to favor the cause of the gospel. Many later testimonies might be added, but they are unnecessary, since the earliest writers, both for and against christianity, have

borne witness to the genuineness and authenticity of the history which was furnished by this evangelist.

Attempts have been made of late years, by several writers, to expunge the first and second chapters of this gospel, evidently for the purpose of avoiding the conclusion which they authorize of the miraculous conception of Christ. The evidences, however, of their genuineness, are too strong and clear to justify the hope of their success: For the manner in which the third chapter commences, naturally gives birth to the conclusion, that something was alluded to which went before." In those days, came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea." In those days! In what days? This language renders it perfectly evident that the evangelist had written something before, to which he here refers: And this reference is to the preceding narrative, where he informs us that Jesus came from the city of Nazareth where he dwelt, to be baptized of John in Jordan.

Again, Horne, in his introduction to the critical study of the scriptures, asserts it as an indisputable fact, that "the two first chapters of Matthew's gospel are to be found in ALL the ancient manuscripts now extant, which are entire, as well as in many that have come down to us, mutilated by the hand of time; and also in all the ancient versions without exception. Some of the manuscripts now extant, particularly the Vatican and Cambridge manuscripts, and the Codex Rescriptus in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, are undoubtedly of very high antiquity, bearing date from the fifth or sixth centuries at the latest, if they are not earlier. The versions carry us still higher. The Peschito, or Old Syriac, and what is called the Old Italic, are nearly coeval with the formation of the canon of the New Testament. The Coptic, Arabic, and other versions, also bear marks of high antiquity and though some of them contain discrepancies of more or less moment from the copies generally received, yet all of them have this part of the Gospel of Matthew, as integral portions of the whole." To the genuineness of these chapters, as well as the whole book of Matthew; Clement, of Alexandria; Hegesippus, the converted Jew and ecclesiastical historian; Justin Martyr ; Ignatius and Ire

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