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THE RIGHT REVEREND JOHN LAW, D.D.
LORD BISHOP OF KILLALA AND ACHONRY,
AS A TESTIMONY OF ESTEEM FOR HIS VIRTUES AND LEARNING,
AND OF GRATITUDE
FOR THE LONG AND FAITIIFUL FRIENDSHIP
WITH WHICH THE AUTHOR HAS BEEN HONOURED BY HM,
THIS ATTEMPT TO
CONFIRM THE EVIDENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN HISTORV
BY HIS AFFECTIONATE
AND MOST OBLIGED SERVANT,
W. PALE Y.
SCRIPTURE HISTORY OF SAINT PAUL EVINCED.
EXPOSITION OF THE ARGUMENT.
as upon reports and traditions which prevailed in the age in which they were composed, or
upon some ancient record now lost, which CHAPTER I.
both writers consulted ; in which case also, the letters, without being genuine, may exhibit marks of conformity with the history ;
and the history, without being true, may The volume of Christian Scriptures con- agree with the letters. tains thirteen letters purporting to be written Agreement, therefore, or conformity, is only by Saint Paul; it contains also a book, which, to be relied upon so far as we can exclude amongst other things, professes to deliver the these several suppositions. Now, the point to bistory, or rather memoirs of the history, of be noticed is, that in the three cases above this same person. By assuming the genuine- enumerated, conformity must be the effect of ness of the letters, we may prove the substan- design. Where the history is compiled from tial truth of the history; or by assuming the the letters, which is the first case, the design truth of the history, we may argue strongly in and composition of the work are in general so support of the genuineness of the letters. But confessed, or made so evident by comparison, I assume neither the one nor the other. The as to leave us in no danger of confounding reader is at liberty to suppose these writings the production with original history, or of to have been lately discovered in the library mistaking it for an independent authority. of the Escurial, and to come to our hands The agreement, it is probable, will be close destitute of any extrinsic or collateral evidence and uniform, and will easily be perceived to whatever ; and the argument I am about to result from the intention of the author, and offer is calculated to show, that a comparison from the plan and conduct of his work. of the different writings would, even under Where the letters are fabricated from the these circumstances, afford good reason to history, which is the second case, it is always believe the persons and transactions to have for the purpose of imposing a forgery upon been real, the letters authentic, and the nar- the public; and in order to give colour and ration in the main to be true.
probability to the fraud, names, places, and Agreement or conformity between letters circumstances, found in the history, may be bearing the name of an ancient author, and studiously introduced into the letters, as well a received history of that author's life, does as a general consistency be endeavoured to not necessarily establish the credit of either ; be maintained. But here it is manifest, because,
that whatever congruity appears, is the con1. The history may, like Middleton's Life sequence of meditation, artifice, and design. of Cicero, or Jortin's Life of Erasmus, have The third case is that wherein the history been wholly, or in part, compiled from the and the letters, without any direct privity letters ; in which case it is manifest that the or communication with each other, derive history adds nothing to the evidence already their materials from the same source; and, afforded by the letters. Or,
by reason of their common original, furnish 2. The letters may have been fabricated instances of accordance and correspondency. out of the history ; 'a species of imposture This is a situation in which we must allow which is certainly practicable, and which, it to be possible for ancient writings to without any accession of proof or authority, be placed ; and it is a situation in which would necessarily produce the appearance of it is more difficult to distinguish spurious consistency and agreement. Or,
from genuine writings, than in either of 3. The history and letters may have been the cases described in the preceding supposifounded upon some authority common to both; tions ; inasmuch as the congruities observable are so far accidental, as that they are not circumstances ; it proves the historian's knowproduced by the immediate transplanting of ledge of these circumstances. In the present names and circumstances out of one writing instance it confirms his pretensions of having into the other. But although, with respect been a contemporary, and in the latter part to each other, the agreement in these writings of his history a companion, of Saint Paul. In be mediate and secondary, yet is it not pro- a word, it establishes the substantial truth of perly or absolutely undesigned : because, with the narration ; and substantial truth is that respect to the common original from which which, in every historical inquiry, ought to the information of the writers proceeds, it is be the first thing sought after and ascertained ; studied and factitious. The case of which it must be the ground-work of every other we treat must, as to the letters, be a case of observation. forgery: and when the writer who is perso- The reader then will please to remember nating another, sits down to his composition, this word undesignedness, as denoting that
- whether he have the history with which upon which the construction and validity of we now compare the letters, or some other our argument chiefly depend. record, before him-or whether he have only As to the proofs of undesignedness, I shall loose tradition and reports to go by, — he must in this place say little ; for I had rather the adapt his imposture, as well as he can, to reader's persuasion should arise from the inwhat he finds in these accounts; and his stances themselves, and the separate remarks adaptations will be the result of counsel, with which they may be accompanied, than scheme, and industry: art must be employed; | from any previous formulary or description and vestiges will appear of management and of argument. In a great plurality of examples, design. Add to this
, that, in most of the fol- I trust he will be perfectly convinced that lowing examples, the circumstances in which no design or contrivance whatever has been the coincidence is remarked are of too parti- exercised; and if some of the coincidences cular and domestic a nature, to have floated alleged appear to be minute, circuitous, or down upon the stream of general tradition. oblique, let him reflect that this very indi
Of the three cases which we have stated, rectness and subtilty is that which gives force the difference between the first and the two and propriety to the example. Broad, obvious, others is, that in the first the design may be and explicit agreements prove little; because fair and honest, in the others it must be it may be suggested that the insertion of such accompanied with the consciousness of fraud; is the ordinary expedient of every forgery : but in all there is design. In examining, and though they may occur, and probably therefore, the agreement between ancient will occur, in genuine writings, yet it cannot writings, the character of truth and originality be proved that they are peculiar to these. is undesignedness : and this test applies to Thus what Saint Paul declares in chap. xi. of every supposition ; for whether we suppose 1 Cor. concerning the institution of the the history to be true, but the letters spurious, Eucharist, “ For I have received of the Lord or the letters to be genuine, but the history that which I also delivered unto you, that the false, or, lastly, falsehood to belong to both Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was the history to be a fable, and the letters ficti- | betrayed, took bread; and when he had given tious : the same inference will result, – that thanks he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this either there will be no agreement between is my body which is broken for you ; this do them, or the agreement will be the effect of in remembrance of me,” – though it be in design. Nor will it elude the principle of this close and verbal conformity with the account rule, to suppose the same person to have been of the same transaction preserved by Saint the author of all the letters, or even the author Luke, is yet a conformity of which no use can both of the letters and the history ; for no be made in our argument ; for if it should be less design is necessary to produce coincidence objected that this was a mere recital from the between different parts of a man's own Gospel, borrowed by the author of the epistle, writings, especially when they are made to for the purpose of setting off his composition take the different forms of a history and of by an appearance of agreement with the original letters, than to adjust them to the received account of the Lord's Supper, I should circumstances found in any other writing. not know how to repel the insinuation. In
With respect to those writings of the New like manner, the description which Saint Testament which are to be the subject of our Paul gives of himself in his Epistle to the present consideration, I think that, as to the ! Philippians, (iii. 5,)“ Circumcised the eighth authenticity of the epistles, this argument, day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of where it is sufficiently sustained by instances, Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as is nearly conclusive; for I cannot assign a touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, supposition of forgery, in which coincidences persecuting the church ; touching the righof the kind we inquire after are likely to teousness which is in the law, blameless," appear. As to the history, it extends to these is made up of particulars so plainly delivered points : - It proves the general reality of the concerning him in the Acts of the Apostles,