1265-1321 Dante Alighieri.

Evidences of Christianity, in their external, or historical, division ... online

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Smt caste delicia mea scriptura tus ; nee foliar in eis, nee fallam ex eis.— AuausTiiri.





18 5 2.

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Entered by the author, according to Act of CongreaSi in the yeai 1832, in th^
office of the Clerk of the District Court of the United States for iht Southern
District of New York.

Printed bv T. K. k P. G. OoJIas.

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Ta£ history of the foUowing lectures may be git^ in few words. In Ike
autumn of eighteen hundred and thirty-one, when the University of the C4ty
<»f New York had not yet organized its dasses, nor appointed its instnicters,
it was represented to the Couneil, that a eourse of lectures on the Evidences
of Christianity was exceedkigly needed, and would probably be well attended
by young men of intelligenee and education. On Uie strength of such repre-
sentation, the author of this volume was requested, by the Chancellor of the
University, to undertake the work desired ; not, he is well aware, on accoun;
of any special qualifications for a task which many others in the city woula
have executed much more satisfectorily ; but because, having lectured on the
Evidences of Christianity, while connected with the Military Academy at
West Point, he was supposed to be in a great measure prepared at this time
for a similar effort It was under a considerable misunderstanding of the
extent to which the proposed engagement would be expected to go, that the
author expressed a hesitating willingness to assume its responsibility. The
next thing was the honour of an appointment, by the Council of the University,
to the office of ^ Lecturer on the Evidences of Christianity." Alarmed at tho
prospect of so much additional work, but desirous of serving a ri.<ting and
most hopeful institution, as well as of advocating the gospel of the L<>*d Jesas
Christ; he consented to the appointment, with the expectation of finding, in
ihy manuscripts of the former course, enough preparation already made to
prevent any considerable increase to his accumulated engagements. What
was his disappointment, on inspecting those compositions, to find himself so
little satisfied with their plan and whole execution, that instead of attempting
to mend their infirmities and supply their deficiencies, it seemed much better
to'lay them all aside in their wonted retirement, and begin anew both in study
and writing! Thus, in Uie ftiidst of exhausting duties, as a parish minister,*
and in a state of health by no means well established, he was unexpectedly
committed to an amount of labour which, had it been all foreseen, he would
not have dared to undertake. Mean while, a class of many hundreds, from
MDong the most intelligent in the community, and composed, to a considerable

• The author was at tJiat time Rector of St Ano'g Church, Brooklyn, N. Y.


extent, of members of the " New York Young Men's Society for Intellectual
and Moral Improvement," had been formed, and was waiting the conunence-
ment of the course. A more interesting, important, or attentive assemblage
of mind and character, no one need wish to address. The burden of prepara-
tion was delightfully compensated by the pleasure of speaking to such an
audience. The lecturer could not but feel an engrossing impression of the
privilege, as well as responsibility of such an opportunity of usefulness.
He would Uiankfully acknowledge the kindness of divine Providence, in his
having been permitted and persuaded to embrace it, and for a measure of
health, in the prosecution of its duties, far beyond what he had reason to
expect His debt of gratitude is inexpressibly increased by the cheering
information, that much spiritual benefit was derived from the lectures by
some whose minds, at the outset of the course, were far from the belief of the
blessed gospel, as a revelation from GkxL

The idea of publication did not originate with the author. He oegan the
work with no such riew. Had it not been for the favourable opinion of the
Council of the University, as to the probable usefulness of the step, and
the urgent advice of distinguished individuals of that body; he would have
shrunk from contributing another volume to a department of divinity, already
so well supplied by authors of the highest grade of learning and intellect
After the recent lectures of Daniel Wilson, D. D., the present excellent bishop
of Calcutta, not to speak of many other and earlier works in the same field,
it will not seem surprising to the present author if some should think it quite
presumptuous, at least unnecessary, for a writer of such inferior qualifications,
in every sense, to offer an additional publication. But all have not read, nor
may all be expected to read the books which have already been issued.
Nothing can be more conclusive; and yet, to multitudes of readers, they must
remain as if they were not A work of inferior claims may find readers, and
do much good, in consequence of IocaI circumstances drawuig attention to its
pages, where all others would be overlooked. Vessels of moderate draught
may go up the tributary streams of public thought, and may deal advantage-
ously with the minds of men, where others of heavier tonnage could never
reach. Should such be an advantage of this unpretending publication, its
apparent presumption may be pardoned, and its author will, by no means,
have laboured in vain. That many fi&ults will be found in it, he cannot but
anticipate. That any have arisen from haste, carelessness, or want of pains,
he will not dishonour his sense of duty, however he might excuse his under-
standing, by the plea. He. can only say that he has tried to do well, and to do
good. If, in the opinion of any qualified critic, he has succeeded, he desires
to regard it as a matter of thankfulness to God, not of praise to himself. If
he has failed, let the infirmities of the lecturer, not the merits of the subject,
receive the blame.

That many books have been consulted in the preparation of this volume,
^nd that the author is greatly indebted to the more learned labours of numerous
oredecessors, he need not acknowledge. It seems unnecessary to mention

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more particularly than is done in the margin, the Tarious works from which
assistance or authority has been derived. Wherever quotations occur they
are marked, and almost always credited to their respective authors. The
elaborate work of Xjardner on the Credibility of the Qospel History, and the
books of Josephus, being more frequently cited than any other ; it may be
well to mention that the edition of Josephus, referred to in the marginal notes,
is tliat of Whiston's translation, in one volume octavo, London, 1836; and
the quotations from Lardner are out of the qiuurto edition of his works, in five
volumes, London, 1815.

And now, without further preface, let this humble attempt to promote the
saving truth of Jesus Christ be committed to Him whose blessing alone can
honoiu* it Should it receive but little favour from man, and yet be made, in
the Lord's hand, the instrument of leading some misguided soul from the
darkness and barrenness of infidelity to the precious light and hope of the
gospel, its name will then be written in heaven, and its unworthy author will
have a rich reward. C. P. M.


The English friends of the author of these Lectures on the Evidences
of Christianity are unanimous in deciding that they wiU constitute a val-
uable addition to our sacred literature. On a subject which has been re-
peatedly treated, and often by men of distinguished talent and learning,
much that is essentially new is not to be expected. Yet the specific pur-
pose for which a work of this kind is undertaken may cause the main ar-
guments to be placed in such a position, while some of the subordinate
topics may be exhibited in so strong a light, as to give to the whole an
air of light and freshness well fitted to convey high gratification in union
with rich instruction. Several, indeed, of the trains of reasoning pur-
sued by the author seem to be entirely original ; at the same time that
they are conducted with considerable skill, and by their accumulative
property, lead to an ultimate issue that must make a deep and salutarv
impression on the mind of any candid investigator of this ever moment-
ous subject. It may, farther, be added, that the Christian feeling, benev-
olence, and warmth with which the author conducts his inquiry, in its
several stages, honourably distinguish this work from many of its pred-
ecessors ; while they show that, instead of regarding Christian truth as
supplying matter for a pleasing speculation, he considers it as that which
alone can make men truly holy, happy, honourable, and useful, and trans-
'brm the world from an Aceldama to the Paradise of God.
May Ist, 1833.


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So many, and such remarkable instances of a divine blessifig havlng^^
been graciously vouchsafed in the reading of this book, have come to the
author's knowledge, that he cannot but regard it as a duty to see that it
be no longer allowed to remain out of print, as it has been for some- time
past. It would make a very interesting little book were it in the power
of the author to recollect and relate the particulars of the many cases of
persona who have ascribed their conversion from infidelity, and their af-
fectionate embracing of the gospel, under the blessing of God, to the use
of this little, tinpretending work. In many instances, the accounts were
given to the author by the persons themselves, earnestly seeking an in-
terview for the purpose ; in others, by their friends made happy by their
conversion ; or by those who had advised the reading of the book, and
wished its writer to be partaker, with them, in the joy of knowing that it
nad been made a signal blessing. Some are now in the ministry of the
gospel, who, when they began the perusal, were in the darkness of infidel-
ity. A copy of the first edition was sent by the author, as a present, to the
library of a literary institution. ^ Some time after, he received a request
for another copy, with the reason that the first had got worn out before it
ever reached its destination. The explanation was, that an officer of the
institution had lent it to a person living in a neighbouring village, who
was well known among the inhabitants as an infidel, and who had suc-
ceeded in poisoning the minds of many in the vicinity against the gospel,
God blessed the book to the breaking up of that man's whole boasted sys-
tem of opinion. He became a Christianf and then sent the volume, as a
missionary, among those whom he had poisoned. When its rounds were
done (which were greatly blessed), it was worn out, and a new one was
requested for the library.

The author is sensitively aware of the delicacy of his speaking of these
things, lest he should seem to regard them with feelings of self-compla-
cency, and to mention them with a view to his own praise. God forbid !
How can he take praise to himself for that which is, and must be so ex-
clusively, the work of the mighty power and unsearchable grace of God,
as the conversion of a sinner from a hardened infidel to being an hum-
ble, obedient follower of Christ 1 He has three motives in speaking of'

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these things. One Is, that he may thankfaUy acknowledge the gopdnest
and condescension of Grod vn having made use of an instrument so humble
and unworthy, for the accomplishment of such a wonderful and infinitely
precious end as the turning of ioomortal souls *' from darkness to light,
and from the power of Satan unto Grod.** Certainly, when these lectures
were composed, and when the author concluded to print them, he little
suspected ever to be greeted with such accounts of their usefulness as
have oeme to his ears.

Ano^er motive is, that persons may be encouraged to put this, or
similar books, into Hie hands of those who unhappily have taken up with
sentiments opposed to the gospel of Christ. There is a mass and a so-
lemnity of strength in the evidences of Christianity, when properly pre-
sented ; there is visible upon them so distinctly the iiandwriting of God,
that they cannot fail to be exceedingly impressive ta any mind that is
once induced to consider them. The author is persuaded that professiDg
Christians are too little informed on this subject for their own benefit and
usefulness, and that the importance of the general circulation of well-di-
gested, serious, earnest, spiritually-minded works thereon is not rightly
appreciated ty the Christian community.

A third motive is, to point out one reason which may account for the
fact that, in the circulation of this book and others of the same dass, in a
certain respect which will presently be mentioned, there have occurred
so many more instances, not merely of the removal of skeptical doubts,
but also of the actual work of Grod's grace in turning sinners to himself,
than have usually been known in connection with books on the Evidences
of Christianity. No explanation can be found in any greater skill, or
weight of argument ; in any new evidences, or any new logical method
of arraying what had often been exhibited before. It seems to be in this,
that the argument is not presented merely a» an argument, abstractedly
from the great and infinitely momentous interests which depend upon the
conclusion to which the reader shall come, but is kept in close connec-
tion with the question, What must I do to he saved 1 and thus its whole
force becomes a matter of serious and solemn impression, as well as of
intellectual conviction. This is seen in the admirable lectures on the
Evidences, by Bishop Wilson, and also in the forcible volume on the
same subject, by one whom the present writer cannot speak of without
an expression of veneration and love for one of the most eminent Chris-
tians and philosophers of his age — ^his deceased friend, the late Olinthus
Gregory, LL.D. Those books exhibit gospel truth, as well as prove that
the gospel is true. The earnestness of the Christian preacher accom-
panies the argument of the scholastic reasoner. The question stands be-


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tbre the reader as one of conscience as well as of judgment. It seems
InTested with all that is serious in the worth of his soul and in the con-
sideration of eternity. God blesses such books of Evidences more than
others, as He blesses those sermons more than others which, though they
may be inferior in argument, in talent, in eloquence, have more of the
seriousness and earnestness of the gospel. Perhaps the writer may be
allowed to insert here, in confirmation of these views, the opinion of one
whose judgment he is glad of an opportunity of honouring. The present
noble president of the British and Foreign Bible Society, Lord Bexley,
addressed to the writer, in 1833, a very kind letter concerning this vol-
ume, in which he said, ** In one important respect, it seems to excel other
works of a similar k'nd, namely, that while the chain of argument is de-
duced with great clearness and force, no opportunity is lost of giving it a
practical application, and of impressing holiness on the heart, as well as
conviction on the understanding. The want of this renders many books
dry and repulsive, which are much to be admired for sagacity and extent
of information."

In the year 1833, this work was reprinted in England, under the advice
and superintendence of the late Dr. Olinthus Gregory, of the Royal Mil-
itary Academy ; and to that edition it is probably owing that a communi-
cation has been received from the committee of the venerable society of
the Church of England " for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge,*'
requesting the author's approbation to its being adopted by that society
an<* printed as one of its works for distribution.

Gambier (Ohio), Jan., 1844.

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The Difficulty of presenting the Evidences of Christianity arises, not from any
lack of Arguments, but from the. Diffi'<;;ulty of a just Selection and Arrangement
where Materials are so abundant, p. 16. '

I. The high Imjfortance of the Investigation propoaedf p. 17.

The Question is, la the Keligum ofJeaus Christ, as exhibited in the New Testa^
mentt a Revelation from God, and, consequently f possessed of- a sovereign Right to uni-
versal Faith and Obedience t p. 17. '

We must have the Rel^on of Christ or none, p. 17.

Deism, the only imaginable Substitute, shown to offer no Refuge, p. 18.

The Investigation urged on the experimentally convinced Christian, as a mat-
ter of spiritual Pleasure and ImproveTnent, p. 25 ; and as a matter of Duty to the
Cause of 7Vm<A, and to /Ae Qood of his Neighbour, p. 25.

The same urged on the merely nominal. Christian, as necessary to a rational and
tUadfast Belief of what he' professes not to doubt, p. 26 ; and for a deeper Impres-
sum of the Solemnity of its Truth, p. 27.

The Investigation derives additional Importance from the peculiar Character of
the present Times, as those of Licentiousness, under the Boast of Freedom, in such
Inquiries, p. 28.

ft derives^ also, advantage from the present Times, as distinguished for scientijic
Research and Discovery, p. 32.

II. The Importance of strict Attention to the Spirit in which this Investigation is con-
ducted, p. 34.

The Opposition between the Precepts of Christianity and the natural Disposi-
tions of Man makes the (Question one of Feeling as well as Evidence, and has a
Tendency to magnify Objections, and to'depreciate the Contrary, p. 34.

The Pride of kumam Reason is often deeply ofi'ended at the Claims of Christian
ity, p. 36. . .. '

It is true of Christianity, as of many other very important Matters of Truth, that
Objections are more easily invented than answered, p. 39.

Phenomena which these Considerations account for, p. 40.

Docility of Mind ;

A deep Seriousness of Purpose ;

And Prayer, earnestly recommended as necessary to this Investigation, p. 40



The study of the Evidences of Christianity may be brief or extended, accord-
ing as the Object is simply Conviction ; or, in addition to that, the Pleasure of
collecting all the various Lights which may be concentrated on this Subject.

The Evidences are of two general Classes, viz.. External or Historical, and In
temal, p. 42.

A brief Account of what each Head includes, p. 42.

The present Course of Lectures confined to the External.

The complete treatment of this Division would begin with the Necessity of a Di"
vine Revelation, as the History of Mankind exhibits it, p. 43.

We begin with the Autiienticity op the New Testament, p. 44.

Difiference between Authenticity and Credibility, as used in these Lectures, p. 44.

The Question is, How does it appear that the several Parts of the New Testament
were written by the Men to whom they are ascribed, the original Disciples of Christ,
and are therefore Authentic ? p. 45.

The same Course pursued as in ascertaining the Authenticity of any other
Bouk, p. 45. A general Sketch of the Argument, p. 47.

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MIRACLES, p. 155.

Have we satisfactory JCvidence that genuine Miracles were wrought by the
Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles ? p. 155.

This Question is settled by the Proof of Credibiliiy.

Another line of Argument adopted.

The Religion of the Bible is the only one which, in its first Introduction, ap-
pealed to Miracles for Evidence of the Divine Authority of its Teachers, p. 156.

I. Supposing the Works related of Christ to have actually occurred, many of
them must have been genuine MtraeleSy p. 159.

II. The alleged Miracles of Christ were such as admitted at once of the Test ef
the Senses, p. 160.

III. They were performed in the most jmhlic Manner, p. 160.

IV. They were very Niunerous and of great Variety, p. 161.

V. The Success was in every Instance Instantaneous and Complete, p. 162.

VI. There is no Evidence of an Attempt on the part of Christ or His Apostles
to perform a Miracle in which they were accused of a Failure, p. 163.

VII. The Length of Time during which they professed to perform miraculous
Works, p. 164.

VIII. Their Works underwent the most rigid Examination from thbse who had
eveanf Opportunity of ascertaining their Character, p. 165.

Ia. Their Adversaries had every Advantage in the Fact that these Miracles
were published and appealed to immediately after, and in the Places where they
occurred, p. 166.

X. These Arguments derive important Aid from a Consideration of the Agents
whose Works were subjected to such Scrutiny, p. 168.

Online Library1265-1321 Dante AlighieriEvidences of Christianity, in their external, or historical, division ... → online text (page 1 of 36)