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CH A P. VỊ.
NE argument, which has been much relied upon (but not more than its just weight deserves), is the conformity of the facts occasionally mentioned or referred to in scripture, with the state of things in those times, as represented by foreign and independent accounts. Which conformity proves, that the writers of the New Testament possessed a species of local knowledge, which could only belong to an inhabitant of that country, and to one living in that age. This argument, if well made out by examples, is very little short of proving the absolute genuineness of the writings. It carries them up to the age of the reputed authors, to an age,
in which it must have been difficult to impose upon the Christian public, forgeries in the names of those authers, and in which there is no evidence that any forgeries were attempted. It prcves at leait, that the books,
whoever were the authors of them, were composed by persons living in the time and country in which these things were transacted; and consequently capable, by their situation, of being well informed of the facts which they relate. And the argument is stronger, when applied to the New Testament, than it is in the case of almost
any other writings, by reason of the mixed nature of the allusions which this book contains. The scene of action is not confined to a single country, but displayed in the greatest cities of the Roman empire. Allufions are made to the manners and principles of the Greeks, the Romans, and the Jews. This variety renders a forgery proportionably more difficult, especially to writers of a posterior age.
A Greek or Roman Christian, who lived in the second or third century, would have been wanting in Jewish literature; a Jewish convert in those ages would have been equally deficient in the knowledge of Greece and Rome*
* Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament (Marsh's translation), c. ij. fec. xi.
This, however, is an argument which depends entirely upon an induction of particulars; and as, consequently, it carries with it little force, without a view of the instances upon which it is built, I have to request the reader's attention to a detail of examples, distinctly and articulately proposed. In collecting these examples, I have done no more than epitomize the first volume of the first part of Dr. Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel History. And I have brought the argument within its present compass, first, by passing over fome of his sections in which the accordancy appeared to me less certain, or upon subjects not sufficiently appropriate or circumstantial ; fecondly, by contracting every section into the fewest words possible, contenting myself for the most part
with a mere apposition of passages; and, thirdly, by omitting many disquisitions, which, though learned and accurate, are not absolutely necessary to the understanding or verification of the argument.
The writer principally made use of in
the enquiry, is Jofephus. Josephus was born at Jerusalem four years after Christ's ascension. He wrote his history of the Jewish war some time after the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in the year of our Lord seventy, that is, thirty-seven years
after the ascension ; and his history of the Jews he finished in the year ninetythree, that is, fixty years after the ascension,
At the head of each article, I have re, ferred, by figures included in brackets, to the page of Dr. Lardner's rolume, where the fection, from which the abridgement is made, begins. The edițion used is that of 1741.
I. (p. 14.) Mat. xi. 22. 6. When he (Joseph) heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea, in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither : notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned alide into the parts of Galilee."
In this passage it is afferted, that Archea
laus succeeded Herod in Judea ; and it is implied, that his power did not extend to Galilee. Now we learn from Josephus, that Herod the Great, whose dominion included all the land of Israel, appointed Archelaus his fucceffor in Judea, and assigned the rest of his dominions to other sons; and that this disposition was ratified, as to the main parts of it, by the Roman emperor *.
St. Matthew says, that Archelaus reigned, was king in Judea. Agreeably to this, we are informed by Josephus, not only that Herod appointed Archelaus his successor in Judea, but that he also appointed him with the title of king; and the Greek verb Bavlneue, which the evangelist uses to denote the government and rank of Archelaus, is used likewise by Josephus t.
The cruelty of Archelaus's character, which is not obscurely intimated by the
* Ant. lib. xvii. c. 8, sec. I.
De Bell. lib. i. c. 33, sec. 7.