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either Christ mistook the nature of his own religion, or that his followers have perfectly disqualified it to answer the purpose of universality for which he intended it. I know that it will be said that the great mass of mankind are very imperfect judges of moral truth. I answer that there is a still greater mass, who are much less qualified to judge of historical truth. I cannot conceive how the idea that Christianity must derive all its efficacy as history, can maintain its hold on any mind tolerably acquainted with the character of historical testimony. Historical testimony in support of events analogous to those with which a universal experience acquaints us is above the judgment of the generality of people. None but thoroughly educated men, who have paid a particular attention to historical criticism, can properly estimate the authority of the documents from which the history of England, for instance, or of France is derived. How strange then is the supposition, that every one who calls himself a Christian is capable of understanding the reasons upon which it is asserted, that the existing historical testimony to the reality of the Bible miracles is sufficient ! An ingenious answer has been lately given to this difficulty, by my excellent friend Dr. H *
6 that it is enough for the mass of the people to know that the authenticity of the Christian documents has stood the attacks of the unbelieving writers.' But how do they know this, except through the controversionalists on their own side ? How can they be sure, that while the law of the land threatens with severe punishment any one who in a publication should conclude against the authenticity of any considerable part of the Bible, there are not many among those on wlose authority they rely, who secretly believe that the German critics of the Rationalist school (as they are called) have had the best of the argument! I cannot conceive how any unprejudiced person to whom the difficulties of historical proof are known, can deliberately assert, that the great mass of mankind of all countries and ages can receive Christianity upon historical grounds; especially, if upon such grounds it be their duty
* who says,
to believe in the miracles both of the Old and the New Testament !
I have, my dear friend, been writing on, day by day, and only for a very short period each time, for my health has been, and continues much worse than usual. I fear, therefore, that you will find it difficult to collect any clear and distinct general notion from the rambling thoughts which I have already consigned to this letter; as my strength does not allow me to recast it, and reduce what I have said into one clear and distinct view, I must take the liberty of sending to you this rather loose collection of notes, requesting your attentive consideration of them individually. It is of great importance to ascertain whether these objections to some deeply rooted notions which exist among all denominations of Christians are as valid as I think, or not. [The only method by which we can arrive at a perfect knowledge of the object of Providence in the unquestionably great work which began with our era, and has uninterruptedly proceeded up to the moment when, in consequence of the moral impulse then given to a great portion of mankind, I am anxiously exerting myself on the subject of Christianity,—the only way to complete the Reformation which Luther proclaimed, is to remove, one by one, every false notion which we may find connected with the profession of the gospel.] While employed in the removal of individual errors, we should be upon our guard against the usual bugbear, 'where shall we stop ?—'what will be left ?' When we shall have removed what is positively not Christianity, then, and not till then, shall we be able to perceive what true Christianity is.
Ever, with sincere affection,
J. BLANCO WHITE. THE Rev. JAMES MARTINEAU.
NOTES TO LECTURE I.
Note 1. “ More than Clement and Barnabas, who are excluded."
WITHOUT entering upon the intricate question respecting the origin of the first records of Christianity, and the relation of apocryphal to canonical wrilings, it may be safely affirmed, that no one, at all acquainted with the discussions to which they bave led, can maintain the broad distinction,--the distinction between inspiration and imposture,-commonly conceived to sepa. rate the received from the rejected books. The external arguments usually adduced, to support the authority of our present sacred writings, are reducible to two: the simple antiquity of the books, attested by quotations from them, and references to them, in ecclesiastical authors of the third and second centuries : and the ascription of authority exclusively to them, by the writers and the Catholic churches of the same period. The former of these evidences may certainly be claimed for more than one of the apocryphal books : for Epiphanius supposes “the Gospel of Cerinthus,” and Jerome “the Gospel according to the Egyptians," to be of the number of those alluded to by Luke in the preamble to his Gospel. And the latter of these arguments, whatever weight it may have for the received Scriplures, will not be held conclusive against the books now rejected and lost, by those who consider, on what principles the church writers awarded their preference to certain works, and their reproaches to others. Instead of dissenting from doctrines because contained in apocryphal books, they threw away books as apocryphal, because they contained obnoxious doctrine. Every thing which opposed the views of the orthodox or dominant party, was to be put down; and the use of a Gospel by an heretical (i. e., unsuccessful) sect was sufficient reason for reviling and rejecting it. For an admirable estimate of the testimony of “ the Fathers,” respecting points of this kind, see “Second Travels of an Irish Gentleman in Search of a Religion,” by Rev. J. Blanco White, vol. I., chap vii.
Note 2. “ By the murmurs and restlessness of imbecile rage.”- Page 8.
Luke vi. 6-11. The account of this transaction by Matthew and Mark has a much less vivid impress of truth and nature : see Matt. xii. 9–14; Mark iii. 1-6. If the enemies of Christ entertained a desire to entrap him, by taking advantage of a Sabbath cure, it is surely not likely that they would themselves broach the subject (as Matthew represents), and put him on his guard, by directly asking his opinion about the lawfulness of healing on the Sabbath. Luke's account, which exhibits our Lord, as himself observing their silent curiosity on the subject, and starting the disputed question in a form which could not but perplex them, is more probable. See Schleiermacher's Critical Essay on the Gospel of St. Luke, in loc.
Note 3. “From the different positions of the observers.”—Page 9. The calling of the first Apostles (Andrew, Peter; James, and John) is recorded in the following passages of the several Evangelists : Matt. iv. 18—22; Mark i. 16–20; Luke v. 10, 11; John i. 37-end. In comparing these accounts, several discrepances present themselves, with respect to both the place and the order of the transactions.
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the scene is by the Lake of Galilee.
In John, the scene is in Judæa : the calls in Galilee being, according to this Evangelist, those of Philip and Nathanael, who are not mentioned in the other Gospels.
Matthew and Mark represent the two pairs of brothers as successively called ; first Andrew and Peter; then, after a short interval, James and John.
Luke makes no mention of Andrew, and represents the others as called simultaneously.
John represents Andrew as called with himself (for the nameless one can be no other); and Peter as subsequently called through the instrumentality of his brother Andrew. Of James he is silent. It is obvious that this account is entitled to the greatest degree of respect.
The casting of the demons into the swine is narrated in Matt, viii. 28–34; Mark v. 1-20; Luke viji. 26–39.
According to Matthew, two demoniacs were cured; according to Mark and Luke, only one. Paulus and Schleiermacher suppose that the notion of plurality was derived from the “ Legion" of demons, and the plural form into which this fancy of the maniac threw the dialogue. The silence of Malthew respecting the number of demons renders highly probable this explanation of his number of men.
According to Luke, a considerable delay ensued between Christ's command that the cure should take place, and its actual occurrence; Matthew conveys the idea that the cure followed instantly on the command.
Matthew's narrative implies, that our Lord explicitly sanctioned the belief of a positive transference of demons from the maniacs to the swine, and himself claimed in this event a two-fold miracle; first, the cure of the maniac;
then, the maddening of the swine. Luke relieves us from the anxieties of the latter half of this pretension; in his narrative, Jesus himself asserts no other miracle than the simple cure: all the rest may be an unauthorized inference of the bystanders, suggested by a loss of some portion or the whole of the berd, simultaneously with the restoration of the madman. If indeed the man had implored Christ to send the evil spirits into the swine, and the destruction of the animals had instantly followed, the coincidence would perhaps have been too remarkable to lie within the probable range of natural causes. But it does not appear that the man preferred any such request. It is indeed said (Luke viii. 32,) “they (i. e. the devils) besought him, that he would suffer them to enter into them” (the swine); but that these words describe a peti. tion from the lips of the man, is an assumption not only unauthorized, but plainly discouraged by the whole context. Wherever the man takes part in the dialogue, (v. 28–30,) he is spoken of and he speaks of himself, in his own proper person, in the singular number; e.g.“he saw Jesus;" “ he cried out;" “what have I to do with thee,” “ I beseech thee, torment me not;" “ he said, ' Legion.'” The writer, by abandoning this form of expression in v. 31, 32, indicates that he is no longer describing any speech of the maniac; but a petition, which he supposes the demons themselves to convey to their vanquisher; and which, passing between superhuman spirits and the mind of Christ, would be necessarily secret, imperceptible to the senses of bystanders, and discoverable only by inference from the incident that followed. I admit, that in Luke iv. 33, 34, we have an instance, in which a maniac personales the evil spirits supposed to possess his body; but such personation, however natural in the frenzied speech of the lunatic, appears inadmissible in the sober narrative of the bistorian.
Note 4. “For instruction in righteousness.”—Page 15. The remark on the translation of this celebrated verse is not intended to impugn the grammatical correctness of the Common Version. If indeed the authority of the Syriac, Vulgate, and Arabic versions, and of several early ecclesiastical writers were sufficient to justify the rejection of the kai which separates θεόπνευστος and ωφέλιμος, the common rendering would be inadmissible. But since by the general suffrage of manuscripts we must decide on the retention of the particle, the two translations are critically on a par; and our preference of the one to the other must be determined by considerations purely exegetical. The most plausible objection to the rendering, which for reasons that were satisfactory to Grotius, Baxter, and others, I have adopted, is this :-hat the word “ also" appears to have no force in the passage, which would indeed be improved, rather than injured, by its omission. The function of this little word is to note the introduction of some additional idea: and if we conceive the Apostle to say, that “all divinely inspired scripture is also (i. e. in addition to its quality of inspiration) profilable,” &c., bis sentiment assumes the tameness of a truism or an anticlimax. Paul