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preceding or following the transaction : of which kind, for instance, is the particularity in the description of Saint Paul's voyage and shipwreck, in the 27th chapter of the Acts, which no man I think, can read without being convinced that the writer was there; and also in the account of the cure and examination of the blind man, in the ninth chapter of Saint John's Gospel, which bears every mark of personal knowledge on the part of the historian *. I do not deny that fiction has often the particularity of truth; but then it is, of studied and elaborate fic. tion, or of a formal attempt to deceive, that we observe this. Since, however, experience proves that particularity is not confined to truth, I have stated that it is a proof of truth only to a certain extent, i. e. it reduces the question to this, whether we can depend or not upon the probity of the relater? which is a considerable advance in our present argument; for an express attempt to deceive, in which case alone particularity can appear without truth, is charged upon the

* Both these chapters ought to be read for the sake of this very observation.

evangelists by few.

If the historian acknowledge himself to have received his intelligence from others, the particularity of the narrative shows, primâ facie, the accuracy of his inquiries, and the fulness of his information. This remark belongs to Saint Luke's history. Of the particularity which we allege, many examples may be found in all the Gospels. And it is very

difficult to conceive, that such numerous particularities, as are almost everywhere to be met with in the Scriptures, should be raised out of nothing, or be spun out of the imagination without any fact to go upon

*

.

It is to be remarked, howeyer, that this particularity is only to be looked for in direct history. It is not natural in references or allusions, which yet, in other respects, often afford, as far as they go, the most unsuspicious evidence.

*"There is always some truth where there are consi. derable particularities related ; and they always seem to bear some proportion to one another. Thus there is a great want of the particulars, of time, place, and persons, in Manetho's account of the Egyptian Dynasties, Etesias's of the Assyrian kings, and those which the technical chronologers have given of the ancient kingdoms of Greece; and, agreeably thereto, these accounts have much fiction and falsehood, with some truth : whereas Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War, and Cæsar's of the War in Gaul, in both which the particulars of time, place, and persons are mentioned, are univer. sally esteemed true to a great degree of exactness.” Hartley, vol. ji. p. 109.

VI. We lay out of the case such stories of supernatural events, as require, on the part of the hearer, nothing more than an otiose assent; stories upon which nothing depends, in which no interest is involved, nothing is to be done or changed in consequence of believing them. Such stories are credited, if the careless assent that is given to them deserve that name, more by the indolence of the hearer, than by his judgment: or, though not much credited, are passed from one to another without inquiry or resistance. To this case, and to this case alone, belongs what is called the love of the marvellous. I have never known it carry men further. Men do not suffer persecution from the love of the marvellous. Of the indifferent nature we are speaking of, are most vulgar errors and popular superstitions : most, for instance, of the current reports of apparitions. Nothing depends upon their being true or false. But not, surely, of this kind were the alleged miracles of Christ and his apostles. They decided, if true, the most important question upon which the human mind can fix its anxiety. They claimed to regulate the opinions of mankind, upon subjects in which they are not only deeply concerned, but usually refractory and obstinate. Men could not be utterly careless in such a case as this. If a Jew took up the story, he found his darling partiality to his own nation and law wounded ; if a Gentile, he found his idolatry and polytheism reprobated and condemned. Whoever entertained the account, whether Jew or Gentile, could not avoid the following reflection:-“ If these things be true, I must give up the opinions and principles in which I have been brought up, the religion in which my fathers lived and died.” It is not conceivable that a man should do this upon any idle report or frivolous account, or, indeed, without being fully satisfied and convinced of the truth and credibility of the narrative to which he trusted. But it did not stop at opinions. They who believed Christianity, acted upon it. Many made it the

Many made it the express business of their lives to publish the intelligence. It was required of those who admitted that intelligence, to change forthwith their conduct and their principles, to take up a different course of life, to part with their habits and gratifications, and begin a new set of rules and system of behaviour. The apostles, at least, were interested not to sacrifice their ease, their fortunes, and their lives for an idle tale ; multitudes beside them were induced, by the same tale, to encounter opposition, danger, and sufferings.

If it be said, that the mere promise of a future state would do all this; I answer, that the mere promise of a future state, , without any evidence to give credit or assurance to it, would do nothing. A few wandering fishermen talking of a resurrection of the dead, could produce no effect. If it be further said, that men easily believe

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