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ly or absolutely undesigned: because, with respect to the common original from which the information of the writers proceeds, it is studied and factitious. The case of which we treat must, as to the letters, be a case of forgery: and when the writer who is personating another, sits down to his composition—whether he have the history with which we now compare the letters, or some other record, before him ; or whether he have only loose tradition and reports to go by—he must adapt his imposture, as well as he can, to what he finds in these accounts; and his adaptations will be the result of counsel, scheme, and industry : art must be employed; and vestiges will appear
of management and design. Add to this, that, in most of the following examples, the circumstances in which the coincidence is remarked are of too particular and domestic a nature, to have floated down
the stream of general tradition.
Of the three cases which we have stated, the difference between the first and the two others is, that in the first the design may be fair and honest, in the others it must be accompanied with the consciousness of fraud ; but in all there is design. In examining,
therefore, the agreement between ancient writings, the character of truth and originality is undesignedness: and this test applies to every supposition ; for, whether we suppose the history to be true, but the letters spurious; or, the letters to be genuine, but the history false; or, lastly, falsehood to belong to both the history to be a fable, and the letters fictitious: the same inference will result—that either there will be no agreement between them, or the agreement will be the effect of design. Nor will it elude the principle of this rule, to suppose the same person to have been the author of all the letters, or even the author both of the letters and the history; for no less design is necessary to produce coincidence between different parts of a man's own writings, especially when they are made to take the different forms of a history and of original letters, than to adjust them to the circumstances found in
With respect to those writings of the New Testament which are to be the subject of our present consideration, I think that, as to the authenticity of the epistles, this argument, where it is sufficiently sustained by instances, is nearly conclusive ; for I cannot assign a supposition of forgery, in which coincidences of the kind we inquire after are likely to appear. As to the history, it extends to these points :-It proves the general reality of the circumstances: it
the historian's knowledge of these circumstances. In the present instance it confirms his pretensions of having been a cotemporary, and in the latter part of his history a companion of St. Paul. In a word, it establishes the substantial truth of the narration; and substantial truth is that which, in every historical inquiry, ought to be the first thing sought after and ascertained : it must be the ground-work of every other observation.
The reader then will please to remember this word undesignedness, as denoting that upon which the construction and validity of our argument chiefly depend.
As to the proofs of undesignedness, I shall in this place say little ; for I had rather the reader's persuasion, should arise from the instances themselves, and the separate remarks with which they may be accompanied, than from any previous formulary or description of argument. In a great plurality of examples, I trust he will be perfectly convinced that no design or contrivance whatever has been exercised : and if some of the coincidences alleged appear to be minute, circuitous, or oblique, let him reflect that this very indirectness and subtility is that which gives force and propriety to the example. Broad, obvious, and explicit agreements, prove little; because it may be suggested that the insertion of such is the ordinary expedient of every forgery: and though they may occur, and probably will occur, in genuine writings, yet it cannot be proved that they are peculiar to these. Thus what St. Paul declares in chap. xi. of 1 Cor. concerning the institution of the eucharist—" For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me”—though it be in close and verbal conformity with the account of the same transaction preserved by St. Luke, is yet a conformity of which no use can be made in our argument; for if it should be objected that this was a mere recital from the Gospel, borrowed by the author of the epistle, for the purpose of setting off his composition by an
appearance of agreement with the received account of the Lord's supper, I should not know how to repel the insinuation. In like manner, the description which St. Paul gives of himself in his epistle to the Philippians (iii. 5.)—“ Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an· Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee ; concerning zeal, persecuting the Church ; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless”- is made up of particulars so plainly delivered concerning him, in the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistle to the Romans, and the Epistle to the Galatians, that I cannot deny but that it would be easy for an impostor, who was fabricating a letter in the name of St. Paul, to collect these articles into one view. This, therefore, is a conformity which we do not adduce. But when I read in the Acts of the Apostles, that when ' “ Paul came to Derbe and Lystra, behold a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman which was a Jewess ;” and when, in an epistle addressed to Timothy, I find him reminded of his
having known the Holy Scriptures from a child,” which implies that he must, on one side or both, have been brought up by Jewish