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nents argue against the books on any other ground. The question of authorship would have had no interest, except as bringing along with it that of fidelity and truth of history. Indeed, in almost all the testimonies adduced in the last Lecture, we came at the evidence of authenticity through that of credibility. When Justin Martyr, for example, asserts that the first Christians assembled on the Sunday, that the memoirs of the Apostles were read, and that the president afterwards exhorted the peo, ple to the imitation of such excellent things : the passage is manifestly, and, in the first instance, a proof of the full credit attached to the facts recorded in the New Testament; though of course that implies the existence of the books which recorded them, and the uncontradicted reception of them as the authentic writings of the Apostles. So of all the rest. The quotations are made, not to prove the au: thenticity, which we gather from them incidentally, as it were, but for the highest and most practical purposes, for exhortation and reproof and consolation, resting upon the truth of the several facts contained in them, that is, resting upon the credibility of the history.
Here then we might pause. The authenticity, under the circumstances of the case before us, sufficiently sustains the credibility: The reason why we dwelt so long on that preliminary question, may now be appreciated. It carries every thing with it. Nor can any mere cavil or surmise on minor points, be allowed for a moment, to shake this solid conclusion. We must have strong and decisive testimonies--facts supported by historical documents-ancient and undoubted witnesses more numerous and trustworthy than those we have adduced, before we can entertain any doubts as to the full confidence due to the gospel history. I need not say, that no such testimonies have ever been produced, or attempted to be produced. Christianity has never yet met with a fair and manly adversary.
I proceed to appeal,
III. TO ALL OTHER ACCESSIBLE SOURCES OF INFORMATION. Some of these have been adverted to in our former Lectures-others are now first adduced. .... ..,
1. The governors of the Roman provinces were accustomed to send to Rome accounts of remarkable transactions, which were preserved as the acts of their respective governments. Pontius Pilate gave an account of the death and resurrection of Christ in his Memoirs of Jewish affairs, called, Acta Pilati. Eusebius, (A.D. 315,) referring to them, says: “Our Saviour's resurrection being much talked of throughout Palestine, Pilate informed the
Emperor of it.” To these acts, deposited amongst the archives of the empire, the primitive Christians always appealed in their disputations with the Gentiles, as to most undoubted testimony. Thus, Justin Martyr, in his first Apology, (A. D. 140,) having mentioned the crucifixion of Christ, adds, “ And that these things were so done, you may know from the Acts written in the time of Pontius Pilate." Tertullian, in his Apology, (A.D. 198,) says: “Of all these things relating to Christ, Pilate himself, in conscience already a Christian, sent an account to Tiberius, then Emperor.” And in another place he appeals to them in this pointed manner : "s Search your own commentaries or public writings; at the moment of Christ's death, the light departed from the sun, and the land was darkened at noonday, which wonder is related in your own annals, and is preserved in your archives to this day.”3
Thus we set out with a record of the chief facts of the New Testament in the public annals of the Roman empire.
2. The testimony of Heathen writers to the authenticity of the New Testament, which we produced in our last discourse, was confined to those whom controversies brought into contact with the Christians, Celsus, Porphyry, Julian. These all admit the facts of the gospel history,
3 Apology, c. 21.
and argue upon them. But numerous profane authors, likewise, not at all engaged in controversy with Christians, notice the chief events recorded in our books, as the religion spread through the empire. They speak of Christianity itself, indeed, with the ignorance or scorn which might be expected from proud idolaters, who took no interest practically in the new doctrine; but their testimony to the facts is on this account the more undeniable. I pass over the important testimonies of Suetonius, Martial, Juvenal, Ælius Lampridius, Lucian, Epictetus, the Emperor Marcus Antoninus, and others, in order to appeal to Tacitus and Pliny, the one contemporary with the Apostles, the other of the next age.”
Tacitus relates, about the thirtieth - year after our Lord's resurrection, “ that the city of Rome being burnt, the Emperor Nero, to avert the infamy of being accounted the author of that calamity, threw the odium of it on the Christians, who had their name from Christ, who suffered death in the reign of Tiberius, under his Procurator, Pontius Pilate.” Here is a summary of the gospel history in the annals
• See Lardner in loc. 5 We shall have again to refer to this testimony more at length, when we come to the subject of the propagation of Christianity.
of the celebrated historian Tacitus, who so little favoured Christianity, that he called it “ exitiabilis superstitio; ” and whose testimony, even in the opinion of Gibbon, is incontrovertible.
Pliny's letter to the Emperor Trajan, in the succeeding century, (A.D. 170,) completes the narrative. For he testifies that “ the Christians filled his government of Bithynia; that the heathen temples and worship had been forsaken; that they met on a certain day to sing hymns to Christ as to God; and that their lives were innocent and pure."_" Comparing Pliny's letter with the account in the Acts,” says a French writer, “it seems to me that I had not taken up another author, but that I was still reading the historian of that extraordinary society."
Such testimonies stamp a credibility, not only upon the particular facts on which they chance to fall, but upon the entire narrative to which such accredited facts belong.
3. But we have in the next place, by the goodness of Providence, the testimony of a Jewish historian, Josephus, to our sacred narrative. He lived and died a Jew. He was born A. D. 37. He wrote his History of the Jewish Wars,
6 Bonnet in Paley.