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of God. Nothing could have served more effectually to relieve him from that interposition and embarrassment in the performance of his high mission, to which he would have been exposed on the part of his parents, if born in the common course of nature. It took him from their control, and made them feel, that in regard to him they were not to interfere with the purposes of God. It an abiding sense from his earliest years, that his destiny on earth was peculiar and marvellous ; and must have operated most powerfully to produce that consciousness of his intimate and singular connexion with God, which was so necessary to the formation of the character he displayed, and to the right performance of the great trust committed to him. It corresponds with his office; presenting him to the mind of a believer, as an individual set apart from all other men, coming into the world with the stamp of God upon him, answerably to his
purpose here, which was to speak to us with authority from God; Note, p. Ixii.
I have said in respect to this last paragraph, that my satisfaction is not unmingled; and I have said this merely because this paragraph, while containing what I deem to be truth and nothing but truth, does not by any means contain what in my view is the whole truth, in respect to the Saviour's origin. His genetic history goes farther back, as I apprehend the subject, than Mr. Norton has here intimated. John has given it to us in his Gospel. “In the beginning was the Word.” Mr. Norton, it would seem from the tenor of this paragraph, does not admit the preexistence of the Logos, and therefore has some mode of interpretation by which he gives quite another turn to the sense of John 1: 1 and other kindred passages, than that which is commonly assigned to them. But in what tolerable sense the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us, provided that no preexistence is assigned to him before conception in the womb of Mary, I have not yet seen made out. That Mr. Norton has some interpretation which seems admissible to his own mind, I doubt not. But he has no where told us in this volume what it is. Nor do I blame him for this. He did not design the volume to be an exposition of his theological creed, nor a book of theological polemics. I do not recollect that he has even once intimated, in the whole book, what his particular views are respecting the nature and rank of the Logos and of the Holy Spirit. It would be difficult, I believe, to make out from his Treatise any where, that Mr. Norton is a Unitarian ; although those who are much conversant with doctrinal statements might conjecture this, on the ground that every declaration of a positive nature, on this great subject, is carefully avoided. I suppose it probable, that Mr. Norton stands in sentiment respecting this matter, nearly in the position where Lardner stood; and like him, he has throughout his work carefully avoided every thing, in general, which would be justly offensive to any party in the Christian church. In a book like his, this is admissible, perhaps commendable. At least those who differ from the author of this book in regard to the rank of being in which the Saviour is to be placed, must allow him at least the praise of courtesy, inasmuch as he has said little or nothing on this subject which can justly offend them.
Most heartily can I go with Mr. Norton in the declarations above quoted, which have given rise to these remarks. As heartily can I go much farther ; but I am not persuaded that I ought to find fault with him, because he has not taken occasion here to avow his whole creed. He was not obliged to do so; and the expediency of so doing should be committed to his own judgment.
But let us return to Mr. Norton's discussion of the objections against the genuineness of the Gospels. The principal difficulties that have of late been raised, have sprung, as he supposes, and probably with good reasons, from the theory of an Original Ĝospel, antecedent to our present Gospels, and the common source from which the Evangelists have all drawn.
This Protevangelium, however, did not itself remain unaltered. Every or any possessor of it, as Eichhorn and others suppose, made what additions or alterations he pleased, according as he was prompted to do this by traditional information, communicated either orally or by written documents which fell into his hands. The Original Gospel, then, when it came into the hands of the Evangelists, came in forms or editions (so to speak) which differed much from each other. The primitive text was indeed the basis ; but the additions and emendations had very much changed the appearance and the contents of that text. Hence, as one Evangelist obtained one copy, and another fell upon a different one, and as all drew from their respective copies, so their agreement in very many instances can be accounted for, while the ground of their disagreement is at the same tiine apparent.
Will it be believed, in after generations, that such a theory as this could have spread far and wide in the Christian world, and that a great portion of the writers on the Gospels in GerVOL. XI. No. 30.
many for the last fifty years have defended, or at least admitted it? But what is still more, can one believe that such a theory should have been strenuously advocated in England, by no less a person than the translator of Michaelis, the present Lord Bishop of Peterborough? Yet such is the case. 'In whatever way we may account for it, we cannot doubt of the facts themselves. Writers of the graver cast, and such as do not mean to consider themselves as attached to Neology, have often admitted and built upon this theory. Thus we find Kuinoel, every where in his Commentary on the first three Gospels, appealing to the Protevangelium for the solution of difficulties and the explanation of apparent contrarieties.
Mr. Norton has judiciously reserved the discussion of this subject for the Notes subjoined to his work. He has done the same, in regard to several apocryphal Gospels which Eichhorn appeals to, as having existed antecedently to our present Gospels, and sprung from the same Protevangelium. I shall therefore dismiss the subject of them for the present, intending to resume it in the sequel, when I come to speak of the Notes in question. I would merely suggest here, with Mr. Norton (p. 94), that the whole theory rests, and must rest, upon mere presumption ; for no Original Gospel, such as it assumes, was ever heard or spoken of, so far as we have any knowledge of Christian antiquity, among the churches of the primitive or early ages. But a mere presumption can not, on any proper grounds of estimating evidence, be admitted to outweigh the positive and abundant testimony to the genuineness of the present Gospels, which has been produced.
That the reader may see to what shifts the defenders of these multiplex Gospels are driven, I will produce a passage from our author in which this matter is briefly stated, and briefly, but conclusively, discussed.
It has been affirmed by Eichhorn, as a general truth, that“ before the invention of printing, in transcribing a manuscript, the most arbitrary alterations were considered as allowable; since they affected only an article of private property, written for one's individual use.” This statement, which, if correct, would destroy the credit of all ancient writings, seems to have been made through inadvertence; and therefore, though apparently a principal argument in defence of the supposed corruption of the Gospels, cannot be regarded as a proper subject for particular remark. It is important only as showing, that in attacking the genuineness of their text, one is un. consciously led to assume principles which would equally prove the corruption of all other ancient works; p. 100.
The remainder of the first chapter is en ployed in discussing some allegations of Celsus, of a slanderous nature, against the Gospels. The answer which Mr. Norton makes is able and satisfactory.
The summary with which this first part of Mr. Norton's book is conluded, should be here presented by way of brief recapitulation.
" It (the genuineness of the Gospels) appears from the essential agreement among the very numerous copies of these books, so diverse in their character, and in their mode of derivation from the original. This agreement among different copies could not have existed, unless some archetype had been faithfully followed : and this archetype, it has been shown, could have been no other than the original text. It appears from the reverence in which the Gospels were held by the early Christians; and the deep sense which they had of the impropriety and guilt of making any alteration in those writings. It appears from the historical notices respecting their text, which are wholly inconsistent with the supposition of its having suffered essential corruptions. And, finally, it appears from the internal character of the books themselves, which show no marks of gross, intentional interpolation ; but, on the contrary, exhibit a consistency of style and conception, irreconcilable with the supposition of it'; pp. 107, seq.
Part II. presents us with the evidence that the Gospels have been ascribed to their true authors.
It is agreed on all hands, that at or near the close of the second century, the four Gospels were generally, or rather universally received in the church, with the exception of a party or parties of heretics. Mr. Norton therefore goes on to shew, that they were attributed to the then reputed authors during the time which preceded this, i.e. in the earliest ages of the church, This he does by appeal to all the leading early Christian writers; some of them within the second century, and some of them just beyond its termination.
His quotations from Irenaeus, Theophilus of Antioch, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Celsus the opposer of Christianity (about 176), and Origen, shew, in a manner past all contradiction, what was thought, said, and written, respecting the authors of the four Gospels, within the period of 160—230 or 240. Earlier evidence is produced in the sequel,
In the selection of bis testimony, Mr. Norton is careful and judicious. He does not, like even Lardner, bring in every thing which he can find; but he appeals to a few direct, plain, unequivocal passayes in each writer, which can leave no possible doubt on the mind what that writer's sentiments were respecting the point in question.
Would that many writers understood the business of selecting evidence much better than they appear to do! They are not contented with the principle, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established, but they must have as many as they can summon, and of all sorts of character. Especially is this true of the appeals made to the Bible in defence of some particular doctrines. The texts that have once been adduced as evidence, no matter how unskilfully or how inconsistently with exegetical principles, are not to be given up, but always to be brought forward in a contest. Numbers seem to be regarded as more formidable than the kind of weapons, or skill to wield them. And all who from conscientious motives feel bound to refrain from going to such an extent in the quotation of testimonies, are regarded as secretly cherishing some heretical doubts or difficulties.
I can scarcely imagine any thing better adapted to revolt the mind of a simple and candid inquirer, than such a method of accumulating testimony. Nor can I conceive how any thing could be better adapted to gratify a wary opponent. If an advocate at the bar should summon twenty or thirty witnesses to prove the signing of a deed, or of a note of band, or to establish almost any other fact, would not the very fact of summoning so many, strike the jury with suspicion ? And would not his antagonist advocate exult in the opportunity of cross-examining twenty or thirty witnesses, who would be sure, if adroitly managed, to produce more or less of contradictions that would render the whole body of testimony suspicious ?
Yet, plain as this matter seems to be, I am constrained to ask : When will it be understood, that a question in dispute is not to be decided by the number, but by the weight and quality, of the witnesses adduced ? Mr. Norton, however, seems well to understand this matter, for he has conducted bis investigations with due regard to it; and he has given much more weight to his book in consequence of so doiny.
But it is not the testimony of the authors quoted, which is the only thing coucerned with the question at issue. They