In a work, however, like the present, there is a difficulty in finding a place for evidence of this kind. To pursue the details of proof throughout, would be to transcribe a great part of Dr. Lardner’s eleven octavo volumes: to leave the argument without proofs is to leave it without effect; for the persuasion produced by this species of evidence depends upon a view and induction of the particulars which compose it.
The method which I propose to myself is, first, to place before the reader, in one view, the propositions which comprise the several heads of our testimony, and afterwards to repeat the same propositions in so many distinct sections, with the necessary authorities subjoined to each.*
* The reader, when he has the propositions before him, will observe that the argument, if he should omit the sections, proceeds connectedly from this point. _________
The following, then, are the allegations upon the subject which are capable of being established by proof:—
I. That the historical books of the New Testament, meaning thereby the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, are quoted, or alluded to, by a series of Christian writers, beginning with those who were contemporary with the apostles, or who immediately followed them, and proceeding in close and regular succession from their time to the present.
II. That when they are quoted, or alluded to, they are quoted or alluded to with peculiar respect, as books ‘sui generis’; as possessing an authority which belonged to no other books, and as conclusive in all questions and controversies amongst Christians.
III. That they were, in very early times, collected into a distinct volume.
IV. That they were distinguished by appropriate names and titles of respect.
V. That they were publicly read and expounded in the religious assemblies of the early Christians.
VI. That commentaries were written upon them, harmonies formed out of them, different copies carefully collated, and versions of them made into different languages.
VII. That they were received by Christians of different sects, by many heretics as well as Catholics, and usually appealed to by both sides in the controversies which arose in those days.
VIII. That the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, thirteen Epistles of Saint Paul, the first epistle of John, and the first of-Peter, were received without doubt by those who doubted concerning the other books which are included in our present canon.
Ix. That the Gospels were attacked by the early adversaries of Christianity, as books containing the accounts upon which the religion was founded.
X. That formal catalogues of authentic Scriptures were published; in all which our present sacred histories were included.
Xi. That these propositions cannot be affirmed of any other books claiming to be books of Scripture; by which are meant those books which are commonly called apocryphal books of the New Testament.