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detected. In this respect the Acts of the Apostles, as the author was more liable to error, affords even more conclusive evidence than the Gospels. The latter are only conversant about the habits, language, and laws of the Jewish people, and the forms of the Roman provincial government in Judæa. The Acts take a wider, and consequently more dangerous range for an impostor. We are introduced to historical
personages, some of whom are distinctly drawn by pagan writers, to Festus !, Felix, Agrippa, Gallio. We detect not the slightest incongruity in their offices, actions, or characters. We are placed in cities, better known than any other of the ancient world, Antioch, Ephesus, Athens, Corinth, Rome: every locality, every custom, every opinion strictly coincides with our previous knowledge.
9 E quibus Antonius Felix per omnem sævitiam ac libidinem jus regium servili ingenio exercuit, Drusilla, Cleopatra, et Antonii nepte in matrimonium accepta. Tacit. Hist. V. And as he reasoned of temperance, righteousness, and the judgment to come, Felix trembled. Acts xxiv. 25.
The rabbinical traditions confirm the remarkable characters of Gamaliel and Ananias. See Biscoe.
The forms of the Roman law', a subject not likely to be familiar with such writers, are accurately observed. To do justice however to this part of the subject would require a minute and copious induction, such as that of the indefatigable Lardner, or at least the skilful summary of Paley.
V. If this book, as it appears, was published during the lifetime of those who were cotemporary with the apostles, either Jews or Gentiles, converts or unbelievers, it was a direct appeal at once to the personal knowledge of eyewitnesses, and to the public records. The enemies of Christianity
M. Huber remarque fort bien, qu'il paroît, par toutes les circonstances du jugement de Pilate, que toutes les régles du droit humain y furent exactement observées, et que cela peut nous convaincre de la vérité de cette histoire. Des gens du petit peuple parmi les Juifs, tels qu'étoient les Evangélistes, ne pouvoient pas être si bien instruits de cela ; et s'ils n'avoient vu la chose, ou s'ils ne l'avoient apprise de témoins oculaires, ils n'auroient jamais
la raconter, comme ils ont fait, sans dire quelque chose qui se trouveroit contraire à l'usage des gouverneurs dans les provinces Romaines. Le Clerc, Bibl. anc. et mod. quoted by Jortin, Eccles. Hist. I. 50. The argument is still more conclusive from the frequent judicial proceedings which occur in the Acts.
were neither few nor inactive, but the Christians not merely defied these implacable antagonists to disprove the existence and agency of the apostles, they gave them dates, facts, and places, to guide their investigations and facilitate their own detection. They named the cities in which the apostles had founded churches, governors before whose tribunals they were led, prisons into which they were cast, converts which they made, infidels who resisted their arguments. They stated where they began, where they succeeded, where they failed. Now if it could have been argued that neither the memory of man, nor traditionary information, nor official documents preserved the slightest vestige of such transactions, would the Christians have dared to confront, or the heathens neglected to institute such an inquiry. Some of these events were not such as to obtain merely an ephemeral notoriety. The Jews must have had some permanent tradition about the appearance of the new sect. Whether the Gospel was publicly announced on a high festival immediately after the death of Jesus; whether
it gained ground in the city, whether any of its converts suffered death in its defence, whether any remarkable man, like Paul, embraced the faith, these facts must have been undeniable, or they would have been denied. The appearance of Christianity at Ephesus, Antioch, Corinth, or Athens, the conversion of Sergius Paulus, Paul's arguing before the Areopagus, were not, according to his own phrase, things done in a corner. Even at a later period, when Trypho opposed, or when Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian wrote elaborate treatises against
s Paul himself appeals to the personal knowledge of Agrippa: For the king knoweth of these things before whom also I speak
freely, for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for the thing was not done in a corner. Acts xxvi. 26.
Jortin observes well on the particularity of the apostolic writings: “A man of very ordinary abilities, who re“ lates various things, of which he has been an ear or an “ eyewitness, is under no difficulty or pain ; but a forger, “ if he had the abilities of an angel, whose imagination “must supply him with materials, can never write in 6 such a manner; and if he has tolerable sense, will avoid “ entering into such a minute detail, in which he must “ perpetually expose his ignorance or dishonesty.” Eccl. Hist. I. 50.
Christianity, if the Christian accounts had been questionable on these primary points, they would have perceived and seized their advantage. These antichristian writings indeed have perished; but as we know that the Christian controversialists" did not find it necessary to obviate such objections, we may fairly conclude, that these leading facts of the apostolic history were attested by the consentient voice of pagan and Christian tradition.
VI. Nor is the internal evidence of style and manner of composition less conclusive. The style of the Acts not only bears a remarkable similarity with that of the Gospel professedly written by the same author, but differs from the other evangelic writers precisely in those points and to that degree, which might be expected, from what
* Lactantius affirms, that Hierocles, in his writings against the Christians, acknowledged the low and illiterate state of the apostles: “ Præcipue tamen Paulum Petrumque “ laceravit, cæterosque discipulos tanquam fallaciæ semi
natores, quos eosdem tamen rudes fuisse et indoctos 6 testatus est: nam quosdam eorum piscatorio artificio “ fecisse quæstum.” Inst. Div. V. 3.
Justin, Origen, Eusebius, Cyril.