I. Evidence is the rendering in the A.V. of סֵפֶר, seapher, a book (as usually rendered), or writing (q.v.) generally, hence a document of title, i.e., deed or bill of sale (Jer 32:10,44; Jer 14; Jer 44); ἔλεγχος, proof (Heb 11:1; "reproof," 2Ti 3:16, i.e., conviction).
II. Evidence is defined by Blackstone "to signify that which demonstrates, makes clear, or ascertains the truth of the very fact or point in issue, either on the one side or the other" (Comm. 3:23). "Intuitive evidence comprehends all first truths, or principles of common sense, as 'every change implies the operation of a cause;' axioms in science, as 'things equal to the same thing are equal to one another;' and the evidence of consciousness, whether by sense, or memory, or thought, as when we touch, or remember, or know, or feel anything. Evidence of this kind arises directly from the presence or contemplation of the object, and gives knowledge without any effort upon our parts. Deductive evidence is distinguished as demonstrative and probable. Demonstrative evidence rests upon axioms, or first truths, from which, by ratiocination, we attain to other truths. It is scientific, and leads to certainty. It admits not of degrees;
and it is impossible to conceive the contrary of the truth which it establishes. Probable evidence has reference, not to necessary, but contingent truth. It admits of degrees, and is derived from various sources; e.g., experience, analogy, and testimony" (Fleming, Vocabulary of Philosophy, s.v.).
The Scotch school of metaphysics presents the doctrine of evidence as follows: "The theory of evidence was not unknown to Aristotle and the ancient writers, but it is chiefly to the researches of modern logicians, from Bacon downwards, that we are indebted for a complete exposition of it. The grounds on which we believe a statement to be either true or false are termed the evidence. These grounds, it is obvious, may vary in kind as well as in degree. Some truths are capable of being established with undoubted certainty; others, again, admit of a proof more or less strong. It is of great importance, therefore, to know by what kind of evidence any fact or statement can be supported, and thus we may readily ascertain to what extent our belief in it may be carried. The two great classes into which all kinds of evidence are usually reduced are. intuitive and deductive, the former calling for immediate and irresistible belief, independently of any process of argumentation whatever; the latter requiring for its proof various consecutive steps of reasoning. Some writers are in the habit of dividing evidence into three classes: intuitive — deductive, and. demonstrative, and the evidence of testimony. Under intuitive evidence, which commands instant and irresistible belief, are generally included, besides those priori truths which are necessarily involved in an act of consciousness, the evidence of sense, of memory, and of axioms or general principles. 'It is well, however, to bear in mind that consciousness and intuitive evidence are convertible terms, and that is in no sense entitled to be considered as resting on intuitive evidence which is not involved in an act of consciousness. This view of the subject no doubt limits the number of intuitive, and therefore dogmatically certain truths; sufficient, however, remains to establish a sure foundation for all future reasonings of every kind. And this is all that ought to be desired. Those truths only are entitled tom be ranked as intuitions which we cannot deny without involving ourselves in an obvious contradiction. What is essentially necessary to the operation of our intellectual and moral nature is intuitive. We cannot think, for example, without being subjected to the influence of the evidence of consciousness. To these, then, in so far as man is concerned, dogmatical certainty belongs. He cannot doubt their truth without disclaiming the nature with which he has been endowed. The evidence of intuition, or consciousness, is certain in itself, but from its truths no other truths can be deduced. Hence the distinction drawn between this and all the other species of evidence, which are classed under one head, termed deductive. Deductive evidence, or that which is chiefly available in the evolution of unknown from known truths, is usually distinguished into two kinds, demonstrative and moral, or probable evidence, giving rise to a corresponding distinction in modes of reasoning. It is of great importance that the difference between demonstrative and probable evidence be kept constantly in view, that we may be prevented from confounding two species of truth so completely distinct from one another. The evidence of demonstration applies to necessary, moral or probable evidence to contingent truth. The great mass of objects upon which our judgment and reasonings are exercised rests upon probable evidence. Demonstrative evidence is very limited in the range of its application, extending no farther than to the relations of number and quantity, which are capable of being expressed in language so strictly definite as to admit of no misunderstanding or mistake. On the strict definition of terms rests the whole certainty of mathematical truth, which is not an absolute, therefore, but a hypothetical certainty; and to the great mass of phenomena, and events with which we are familiarly, conversant, such a mode of reasoning would be altogether inapplicable. The language employed is too vague and ambiguous to admit of strict definition; and such is the imperfection of language that, however desirable it might be to have words used in, a fixed meaning, it is impracticable. The idea has, no doubt, been entertained of reducing words, expressive of our views on general subjects, to a fixed and certain signification; and even the illustrious names of Leibnitz and Locke are found in connection with such a plan, and yet we fear the experience of all past ages must pronounce it utopian. However advantageous, indeed, such a plan in some respects might be, it is very doubtful whether it might not so fetter and constrain the mind that no scope would be given for the exercise of those powers which the labor required in procuring probable evidence summons into action his very injurious to the mind to entertain too strong a partiality for one species of evidence rather than another. We thereby lose sight of the important fact that the same kind of evidence is not equally applicable in all cases, and that therefore we ought only to require such evidences as the particular circumstances of the case admit. Instead, therefore, of being dissatisfied with the kind of evidence adduced, it ought to be' our chief inquiry whether, in any given case, we have obtained the strongest evidence of that kind which is applicable." On the distinction between probable and demonstrative evidence, see Butler, Analogy of Religion (Introduction). See also Gardner, Christian (Encyklopaedia page 352; Bergier, Dict. de Theologei, 2:534; Brown, On Cause and Effect, notes E, F; Abercrombie, On Intellectual Powers, part 2; Starkie, On Evidence, 1:471; Gambier, On Moral, Evidence (London, 1824, 8vo).; Locke, Essay, book 4, chapter 15. Evidences of Christianity, the title generally given by English writers to the proofs of the divine origin of the Christian revelation. This branch of theology does not include demonstrations of the being of God against the atheists, but is directed against all who deny the divine authority of Christianity and of the Scriptures on which it rests. The term Apologetics has been adopted in Germanv for the name of this science, and under that title and that of Apology we have given an account of the forms which the proofs and defences of Christianity have assumed in the various periods of Church history. In this article we give (I.) a summary of the evidences as they are commonly stated by English writers; (II.) a summary of the views held by different writers as to the relative value of the several branches of evidence.
I. Summary of Christian Evidences. — The evidences of Christianity are usually classed by English writers under three heads — External, Internal, and Collateral. The External evidences are those which demonstrate the authenticity, credibility and divine authority of the Scriptures, including the arguments from miracles and prophecy. The Internal evidence is drawn from the excellence and beneficial tendency of the doctrines and morals of Scripture, from the character of Christ, and froan the marks of integrity, consistency, and inspiration which are inherent in the record. The Collateral evidence is drawm from the history of Christianity itself, from its marvellous diffusion, its effects upon human nature, upon the progress of society, and upon what is generally called civilization. One of the best sketches of the evidences, according to: this classification of them, is that given by Watson (Institutes, volume 1). Preliminary to a consideration of these direct evidences, he gives an excellent sketch of the presumptive evidence, of which the following is a brief outline. Man is universally admitted, by all who admit the being of God, to be a moral and, responsible agent, under the dominion of the law of God. But deists assert that this law is given in nature sufficiently, and that. revelation is unnecessary. It can be shown, on the other hand, that human reason, unaided, has never afforded to man any clear standard of moral quality for actions, and that, even if it could do so, its decisionslack authority to control the will; they are, at best, but opinions, which may be received or not, at pleasure. History shows that sober views of religion have been found nowhere since the times of the patriarchs, except in the writings of the O. and N.T., and in writings drawn from: them; and that whatever truth; has been found in the religious systems of the heathen can be traced to revelation. Their notions as to the very rudimentary doctrines of religion e.g. God, providence, immortality, etc., clearly show the necessity of revelation. Admitting, then, the presumption that a revelation should be given in some way, we, may show, a priori, that it must
(1) contain information on the subjects most important to man; (2) that it must accord with the principles of former revelations; (3) that it must have an external authentication; and (4) that it must contain provisions for its own effectual promulgation. All these conditions are fulfilled by the revelation given in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and nowhere else.
1. The external evidences include miracles and prophecy. "We need not inquire whether external evidence of a revelation is in all cases requisite to him n who immediately and at first receives it; for the question is not, whether private revelations have ever been made by God to individuals, and what evidence is required to authenticate them, but what is the kind of evidence which we ought to require of one who professes to have received a revelation of the will of God with a command to communicate it to us, and to enjoins it upon our acceptance and submission as the rule of our opinions and manners. He may believe that a divine communication has been made to himself, but his belief has no authority to command ours. He may have actually received it, but we have not the means of knowing it without proof. That proof is not the high and excellent nature of the truths he teaches in other words, that which is called the internal evidence cannot be that proof. For we cannot tell whether the doctrines he teaches, though they should be capable of a higher degree of rational demonstration than any delivered to the world before, may not be the fruits of his own mental labor. He may be conscious that they are not, but we have no means of knowing that of which he is conscious except by his own testimony. To us, therefore, they would have no authority but as the opinions of a man whose intellectual attainments we might admire, but to wham we could not submit as to an infallible guide, and the less so it any part of the doctrine taught by him were either mysterious or above our reason, or contrary to our interests, prejudices, and passions. If, therefore, any person should profess to have received a revelation of truth from God to teach to mankind, and that he was directed to command their obedience to it an pain of the divine displeasure, he would be asked for some external authentication of his mission; nor would the reasonableness and excellence of his doctrines be accepted in place of this. The latter might entitle him to attention, but nothing short of the former would be thought a ground sufficiently strong for yielding to him an absolute obedience. Without it he might reason and be heard with respect, but he could not command. On this very reasonable ground the Jews on the occasion asked our Lord, "By what authority doest thou these things?" and on another, "What sign showest thou unto us?" Agreeably to this, the authors both of 'the Jewish, and the Christian revelations profess to have authenticated their mission by the two great external proofs, MIRACLES and PROPHECY, and it remains to be considered whether this kind of authentication be reasonably sufficient to command our faith and obedience.
The question is not whether we may not conceive of external proofs of the mission of Moses, and of Christ and his apostles, differing from those which are assumed to have been given, and more convincing. In whatever way the authentication had been made, we might have conceived of modes of proof differing in kind, or more ample in circumstance; so that to ground an objection upon the absence of a particular Mind of proof, for which we have a preference, would "be trifling. But this is the question: Is a mission to teach the will of God to man, under his immediate authority, sufficiently authenticated when miracles are really performed, and prophecies actually and unequivocally accomplished? We have, then, first to show that miracles and prophecies are possible, that their credibility can be established by human testimony, and that, when thus authenticated, they afford the necessary evidence of revelation. These topics will be treated under the heads of MIRACLES and PROPHECY (q.v.). The records of both miracles and prophecy are found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The antiquity of these writings is demonstrated by the very fact of the existence, on the one hand of the Jewish 'polity,' and, on the other, of the Christian religion, as well as by the concurrent testimony ,of ancient profane authors. These books can be shown, by testimony more accurate and minute than exists with regard to any other ancient records, to be substantially the same now as when originally written, nay, that they have come down to our times without any material alteration whatsoever. The credibility of the testimony of the sacred writers themselves is fairly proved by the character of the men, by the circumstances under which they wrote, and by the entire absence of motive for falsification. Allowing, then, the New Testament to be genuine, it follows, "1. That the writers knew whether the facts they state were true or false (Joh 1:3; Joh 19:27,35; Ac 27:7,9).
2. That the character of these writers, so far as we can judge by their works, seems to render them worthy of regard, and leaves no room to imagine they intended to deceive us. The manner in which they tell their story is most happily adapted to gain our belief. There is no air of declamation and harangue; nothing that looks like artifice and design: no apologies, no encomiums, no characters, no reflections, no digressions; but the facts are recounted with great simplicity, just as they seem to have happened, and those facts are left to speak for themselves. Their integrity, likewise, evidently appears in the freedom with which they. mention those circumstances which might have exposed their Master and themselves to the greatest contempt amongst prejudiced and inconsiderate men, such as they knew they must generally expect to meet with (Joh 1:45-46; Joh 7:52; Lu 2:4,7; Mr 6:3; Mt 8:20; Joh 7:48). It is certain that there are in their writings the most genuine traces not only of a plain and honest, but a most pious and devout, a most benevolent and generous disposition, as everyone must acknowledge who reads their writings.
3. The apostles were under no temptation to forge a story of this kind, or to publish it to the world knowing it to be false.
4. Had they done so, humanly speaking, they must quickly have perished in it and their foolish cause must have died with them, without ever gaining any credit in the world. Reflect more particularly on the nature of those grand facts, the death, resurrection and exaltation of Christ, which formed the great foundation of the Christian scheme, as first exhibited to the apostles. The resurrection of a dead man, and his ascension into an abode in the upper world, were such strange things that a thousand objections would immediately have been raised against them, and some extraordinary proof would have been justly required as a balance to them. Consider the manner in which the apostles undertook to prove the truth of their testimony to these facts, and it will- evidently appear that, instead of confirming their scheme, it must have been sufficient utterly to have overthrown it, had it been itself the most probable. imposture that the wit of man could ever have contrived. See Ac 3; Ac 9; Ac 14; Ac 19, etc. They did not merely assert that they had seen miracles wrought by Jesus, but that he had endowed them with a variety of miraculous powers; and these they undertook to display, not; in such idle and useless tricks as sleight of hand might perform, but in such solid and important works as appeared worthy of divine interposition, and entirely superior to human power. Nor were these: things undertaken in a corner, in a circle of friends or dependents; nor were they said to be wrought, as might be suspected, by any confederates in the fraud; but they were done often in the most public manner. Would impostors have made such pretensions as these? or, if they had, must they not immediately have been, exposed and ruined? Now, if the New Testament be genuine, then it is certain that the apostles pretend to have wrought miracles in the very presence of those to whom their writings were addressed; nay, more, they profess likewise to have conferred those miraculous gifts in some considerable degrees on, others, even on the very persons to whom they write, and they appeal to their consciences as to the truth of it. And could there possibly be room for delusion here?
5. It is likewise certain that the apostles did gain early credit, and succeeded in a most wonderful manner. This is abundantly proved by the vast, number of churches established in early ages at Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, etc.
6. That, admitting the facts which they testified concerning Christ to be true, then it was reasonable for their contemporaries, and is reasonable for us, to receive the Gospel which they have transmitted to us as a divine revelation. The great thing they asserted was, that Jesus was the Christ, and that he was proved to be so by prophecies accomplished in him, and by miracles wrought by him, and by others in his name. If we attend to these we shall find them to be no contemptible arguments, but must be forced to acknowledge that the premises being established, the conclusion most easily and necessarily follows; and this conclusion, that Jesus is the Christ, taken in all its extent, is an abstract of the Gospel revelation, and therefore is sometimes put for the whole of it (Acts 8:37; 1218)."
2. The Internal evidence of Christianity is drawn from a consideration of the doctrines of Scripture, of their consistency with the character of God, and their tendency to promote the virtue and happiness of men. It takes note also of the morals of Christianity, and of their superiority to all other systems of ethics; and especially of the character of Christ, as a real life far transcending even the highest imaginations of merely human moralists. "Of its just and sublime conceptions and exhibitions of the divine character; of the truth of that view of the moral state of man upon which its disciplinary treatment is founded; of the correspondence that there is between its views of man a mixed relation to God as a sinful creature, and yet pitied and cared for, and that actual mixture of good and evil, penalty and forbearance, which the condition of the world presents; of the connection of its doctrine of atonement with hope; of the adaptation of its doctrine of divine influence to the moral condition of mankind when rightly understood, and the affecting benevolence and condescension which it implies; and of its noble and sanctifying revelations of the blessedness of a future life, much might be said — they are subjects, indeed, on which volumes have been written, and they can never be exhausted. Nowhere except in the Scriptures have we a perfect system of morals; and the deficiencies of pagan morality only exalt the purity, the comprehensiveness, the practicability of ours. The character of the Being acknowledged as supreme must always impress itself upon moral feeling and practice, the obligation of which rests upon his will. The God of the Bible is 'holy,' without spot; 'just,' without partiality; 'good,' boundlessly benevolent and beneficent; and his law is the image of himself, 'holy, just, and good.' These great moral qualities are not made known to us merely in the abstract, so as to be comparatively feeble in their influence, but in the person of Christ, our God incarnate, they are seen exemplified in action, displaying themselves amidst human relations, and the actual circumstances of human life. With pagans the authority of moral rules was either the opinion of the wise, or the tradition of the ancient, confirmed, it is true, in some degree, by observation and experience; but to us they are given as commands immediately issuing from the supreme Governor, and ratified as his by the most solemn and explicit attestations. With them many great moral principles, being indistinctly apprehended, were matters of doubt and debate; to us, the explicit manner in which they are given excludes both: for it cannot be questioned whether we are commanded to love your neighbor as ourselves; to do to others as we would that they should do to us, a precept which comprehends almost all relative morality in one plain principle; to forgive our enemies; to love all: mankind; to live righteously and soberly, as well as godly; that magistrates must be a terror only to evil- doers, and a praise to them that do well; that subjects are to render honor to whom honor, and tribute to whom tribute, is due; that masters are to be just and merciful, and servants faithful and obedient. These, and many other familiar precepts, are too explicit to be mistaken, and too authoritative to be disputed; two of the most powerful means of rendering law effectual. Those who never enjoyed the benefit of revelation, never conceived justly and comprehensively of that moral state of the heart from which right and beneficent conduct alone can flow; and, therefore, when they speak of the same virtues as those enjoined by Christianity, they are to be understood as attaching to them a lower idea. In this the infinite superiority of Christianity displays itself. The principle of obedience is not only a sense of duty to God and the fear of his displeasure, but a tender love, excited by his infinite compassions to us in the gift of his Son, which shrinks from offending. To this influential motive as a reason of obedience is added another, drawn from its end: one not less influential, but which heathen moralists never knew the testimony that we please God, manifested in the acceptance of our prayers, and in spiritual and felicitous communion with him. By Christianity, impurity of thought and desire is restrained in an equal degree as are their overt acts in the lips and conduct. Humanity, meekness, gentleness, placability, disinterestedness, and charity are all as clearly and solemnly enjoined as the grosser vices are prohibited; and on the unruly tongue itself is impressed 'the law of kindness.' Nor are the injunctions feeble; they are strictly LAW, and not mere advice and recommendations: 'Without holiness no man shall see the Lord' and thus our entrance into heaven, and our escape from perdition, are made to depend upon this preparation of mind. To all this is added possibility, nay, certainty of attainment, if we use the appointed means. A pagan could draw, though not with lines so perfect, a beau ideal of virtue which. he never thought attainable; but the 'full assurance of hope' is given by the religion of Christ to all who are seeking the moral renovation of their nature, because 'it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure.' When such is the moral nature of Christianity, how obvious is it that its tendency, both as to individuals and to society, must be in the highest sense beneficial! From every passion which wastes, and burns, and frets, and enfeebles the spirit, the individual is set free, and his inward peace renders his obedience cheerful and voluntary; and we might appeal to infidels themselves whether, if the moral principles of the Gospel were wrought into the hearts and embodied in the conduct of all men, the world. would not be happy; whether if governments ruled, and subjects obeyed, by the laws of Christ; whether if the rules of strict justice which are enjoined upon us regulated all the transactions of men, and all that mercy to the distressed which we are taught to feel. and to practice came into operation; and whether, if the precepts which delineate and enforce the duties of husbands, wives, masters, servants, parents, children, did, in fact, fully and generally govern all these relations — whether a better age than that called golden by the poets would not then be realized, and Virgil's
Jams redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna, [Now Astraea returns, and tihe Saturnian reign,]
be far too weak to express the mighty change? [It was in the reign of Saturn that the heathen poets fixed the Golden Age. At that period, according to them, Astraea (the goddess of justice), and many other deities, lived on earth, but, being offended with the wickedness of men, they successively fled to heaven. Astraea staid longest, but at last retired to her natives seat, and was translated into the sign Virgo; next to Libra, who holds her balance.] Such is the tendency of Christianity. On immense numbers of individuals it has superinduced these moral changes; all nations where it has been fully and faithfully exhibited, bear, amidst their remaining vices, the impress of its hallowing and benevolent influence: it is now in active exertion in many of the darkest and worst parts of the earth, to convey the same blessings; and he who would arrest its progress, were he able, would quench the only hope which remains to our world, and prove himself an enemy not only to himself, but to all mankind. What, then, we ask, does all this prove, but that theScriptures are worthy of God, and propose the veryends which rendered a revelation necessary? Of the whole system of practical religion which it contains we may say, as of that which is embodied in our Lord's sermon on the mount, in the words of one who, in a. course of sermons on that divine composition, has entered most deeply into its spirit, and presented a most. instructive delineation of the character which it was intended to form, Behold Christianity in its native form, as delivered by its great author. See a picture of God, as far as he is imitable by man, drawn by God's own hand. What beauty appears in the whole! How just a symmetry! What exact proportion in every part! How desirable is the happiness here described! How venerable, how lovely is the holiness!' 'If,' says Jeremy Taylor, 'wisdom, and mercy, and justice, and simplicity, and holiness, and purity, and meekness, and contentedness, and charity be images of God and rays of divinity, then that doctrine, in which all these shine so gloriously, and in which nothing else is ingredient, must needs be from God. If the holy Jesus had come into the world with less splendor of power and mighty demonstrations, yet the excellency of what he taught makes him alone fit to bet he master of the world;' and agreeable to all this has been its actual influence upon mankind. Although, says Bishop Perteus, Christianity has not always been so well understood or so honestly practiced as it ought to have been; although its spirit has been often mistaken and its precepts misapplied, yet under all these disadvantages it has gradually produced a visible change in those points which most materially concern the peace and quiet of the world. Its beneficent spirit has spread itself through all the different relations and modifications of life, and communicated its kindly influence to almost every public and private concern of mankind. It has insensibly worked itself into the inmost frame and constitution of civil states. It has given a tinge to the complexion of their governments, to the temper and administration of their laws. It has restrained the spirit of the prince and the madness of the people. It has softened the rigors of despotism and tamed the insolence of conquest. It has, in some degree, taken away the edge of the sword, and thrown even over the horrors of war a veil of mercy. It has descended into families; has diminished the pressure of private tyranny; improved every domestic endearment; given tenderness to the parent, humanity to the master, respect to superiors, to inferiors ease; so that mankind are, upon the whole, even in a temporal view, under infinite obligations to the mild and pacific temper of the Gospel, and have reaped from it more substantial worldly benefits than from any other institution upon earth. As one proof of this among many others, consider only the shocking carnage made in the human species by the exposure of infants, the gladiatorial shows, which sometimes cost Rome twenty or thirty lives in a month; and the exceedingly cruel usage of slaves allowed and practiced by the ancient pagans. These were not the accidental and temporary excesses of a sudden fury, but were legal, and established, and constant methods of murdering and tormenting mankind. Had Christianity done nothing more than brought into disuse, as it confessedly has done, the two former of these inhuman customs entirely, and the latter to a very great degree, it has justly merited the title of the benevolent religion. But this is far from being all. Throughout the more enlightened parts of Christendom there prevails a gentleness of manners widely different from the ferocity of the most civilized nations of antiquity; and that liberality with which every species of distress is relieved is a virtue peculiar to the Christian name. But we may ask farther, What success has it had on the mind of man as it respects his eternal welfare? How many thousands have felt its power, rejoiced in its benign influence, and under its dictates been constrained to devote themselves to the glory and praise of God! Burdened with guilt, incapable of finding relief from hunman resources, the mind has here found peace unspeakable in beholding that sacrifice which alone could atone for transgression. Here the hard and impenitent heart has been softened, the impetuous passions restrained, the ferocious temper subdued, powerful prejudices conquered, ignorance dispelled, and the obstacles to real happiness removed. Here the Christian, looking round on the glories and blandishments of this world, has been enabled, with a noble contempt, to, despise all. Here death itself, the king of terrors, has lost all his sting; and the soul, with a holy magnanimity, has borne up in the agonies of a dying hour, and sweetly sung itself away. to everlasting bliss. In respect to its future spread, we have reason to believe that all nations shall feel its happy effects. The prophecies are pregnant with matter as to this belief. It seems that not only a nation or a country, but the whole habitable globe, shall become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ" (Watson, Dictionary, s.v. Christianity).
3. The Collateral evidence treats of the marvelous diffusion of the Gospel, and of its actual effects upon mankind and upon the history of civilization, as proofs of its divine origin. "Of its early triumphs, the history of the Acts of the Apostles is a splendid record; and in process of time it made a wonderful progress through Europe, Asia, and Africa. In the third century there were Christians in the camp, in the senate, and in the palace; in short, everywhere, as we are informed, except in the temples and the theaters: they filled the towns, the country, and the islands. Men and women of all ages and ranks, and even those of the first dignity, embraced the Christian faith, insomuch that the pagans complained that the revenues of their temples were ruined. They were in such great numbers in the empire, that, as Tertullian expresses it, if they had retired into another country, they would have left the Roman territory only a frightful solitude. For the illustration of this argument, we may observe that the Christian religion was introduced everywhere in opposition to the sword of the magistrate, the craft and interest of the priests, the pride of the philosophers, the passions and prejudices of the people, all closely combined in support of the national worship, and to crush the Christian faith, which aimed at the subversion of heathenism and idolatry. Moreover, this religion was not propagated in the dark by persons who tacitly endeavored to deceive the credulous, nor delivered out by little and little, so that one doctrine might prepare the way for the reception of another; but it was fully and without disguise laid before men all at once, that they might judge of the whole under one view. Consequently mankind were not deluded into the belief of it, but received it upon proper examination and conviction. Besides, the Gospel was first preached and first believed by multitudes in Judaea, where Jesus exercised his ministry, and where every individual had the means of knowing whether the things that were told him were matters of fact; and in this country, the scene of the principal transactions on which its credibility depended, the history of Christ could never have been received unless it had been true, and known to all as truth. Again: the doctrine and history of Jesus were preached and believed in the most noted countries and cities of the world, in the very age when he is said to have lived. On the fiftieth day after our Lord's crucifixion, three thousand persons were converted in Jerusalem by a single sermon of the apostles; and a few weeks after this, five thousand who believed were present at another sermon preached also in Jerusalem (Ac 2:41; Ac 4:4; Ac 6:7; Ac 8:1; Ac 9:1,20). About eight or ten years after our Lord's death, the disciples were become so numerous at Jerusalem and in the adjacent country that they were objects of jealousy and alarm to Herod himself (Ac 12:1). In the twenty-second year after the crucifixion, the disciples in Judaea are said to have been many myriads (Ac 21:20). The age in which Christianity was introduced and received was famous for men whose faculties were improved by the most perfect state of social life, but who were good judges of the evidence offered in support of the facts recorded in the Gospel history; for it should be recollected that the success of the Gospel was not restricted to Judaea, but it was preached in all the different provinces of the Roman empire. The first triumphs of Christianity were in the heart of Greece itself, the nursery of learning and the polite arts, for churches were planted at a very early period at Corinth, Ephesus, Beroea, Thessalonica, and Philippi. Even Rome herself, the seat of wealth and empire, was not able to resist the force of truth at a time when the facts related were recent, and when they might, if they had been false, have easily been disproved. From Greece and Rome, at a period of cultivation and refinement, of general peace and extensive intercourse, when one great empire united different nations and distant people, the confutation of these facts would very soon have passed from one country to another, to the utter confusion of the persons who endeavored to propagate the belief of them. Nor ought it to be forgotten that the religion to which such numbers were proselyted was an exclusive one. It denied, without reserve, the truth of every article of heathen mythology, and the existences of every object of their worship. It accepted no compromise; it admitted of no comprehension. If it prevailed at all, it must prevail by the overthrow of every statue, altar, and temple in the world. It pronounced all other gods to be false, and all other worship vain. These are considerations which must have strengthened the opposition to it, augmented the hostility which it must encounter, and enhanced the difficulty of gaining proselytes; and more. especially when we recollect that, among the converts to Christianity in the earliest age, a number of persons remarkable for their station, office, genius, education, and fortune,, and who were personally interested by their emoluments and honors in either Judaism or heathenism, appeared among the Christian proselytes. Its evidences approved themselves not only to the multitude, but to men of the most refined sense and most distinguished abilities, and it dissolved the attachments which all powerful interest and authority created and upheld" (Watson, 1.c.).
Paleay's View of the Evidences of Christianity for a long time held the first place as a textbook on evidences in England. Paley even goes so far as to say we can conceive of no way in which a revelation could be made except by miracles. "In whatever degree it is probable, or not very improbable, that a revelation should be communicated to mankind at all, in the same degree it is probable, — or not very improbable, that miracles should be wrought. Therefore, when miracles are related to have been wrought in the promulgation of a revelation manifestly wanted, and, if true, of inestimable value, the improbability which arises from the miraculous nature of the things related is not greater than the original improbability that such a revelation should be imparted by God." The book is divided into two parts: I. The direct historical evidence of Christianity, and wherein it is distinguished from the evidence alleged for other miracles; II. The 'auxiliary evidences of Christianity'. The first part is then divided into two propositions:
(I.) "That there is satisfactory evidence that many, professing to be original witnesses of the Christian miracles, passed their lives in labors, dangers, and sufferings, voluntarily undergone in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, and solely in consequence of: their belief in those accounts; and that they also submitted, from the same motives, to new rules of conduct."
(II.) "That there is not satisfactory evidence that persons pretending to be original witnesses of any other similar miracles have acted in the same manner in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, and solely in consequence of their belief in the truth of those accounts." The argument rests on the credibility of testimony, and aims to show that the testimony in this case is indubitable. The second part treats briefly the argument from prophecy, from the morality of the Gospel, and the internal evidences afforded both by the sacred writings, and by the doctrines and histories which they contain.
Coleridge, who disparaged the comparative value of evidence from miracles and prophecy, dictated to a friend the following scheme of evidences:
I. Miracles, as precluding the contrary evidence of no miracles.
II. The material of Christianity, its existence and history.
III. The doctrines of Christianity, and the correspondence of human nature to these doctrines, illustrated,
1st, historically, as the actual production ,of the new world, and the dependence of the fate of the planet upon it;
2d, individually, from its appeal for its truth to an asserted fact, which, whether it be real or not, every man possessing reason has an equal power of ascertaining within himself, namely, a will which has more or less lost its freedom, though mot the consciousness that it ought to be and may become free; the conviction that this cannot be achieved without the operation of a principle connatural with itself; the evident rationality of an entire confidence in that principle, being the condition end means of its operation; the experience in his own nature of the truth of the process described by Scripture as far as he can place himself within the process, aided by the confident assurances of others as to the effects experienced by them, and which he is striving to arrive at.
All these form a practical Christian. Add, however, a gradual opening out of the intellect to more and more clear perceptions of the strict coincidence of the doctrines of Christianity, with the truths evolved by the mind from inflexions on its own nature. To such a man one main test of the objectivity, the entity, the objective truth of his faith, is its accompaniment by an increase of insight into the moral beauty and necessity of the process which it comprises, and the dependence of that proof on the causes asserted. Believe, and, if thy belief be right, that insight which gradually transmutes faith into knowledge will be the reward of that belief. The Christian, to whom, after a long profession of Christianity, the mysteries remain as much mysteries as before, is in the same state as a school-boy with regard to his arithmetic, to whom the facit at the end of the examples in his ciphering-book is the whole ground for his assuming that such and such figures amount to so and so. 3d. In the above I include the increasing discoveries in the correspondence of the history, the doctrines, and the promises of Christianity with the past, present, and probable future of human nature; and in this state a fair comparison of the religion as a divine philosophy with all other religions which have pretended to revelations and all other systems of philosophy, both with regard to the totality of its truth and its identification with the manifest march of affairs. I should conclude that, if we suppose a man to have convinced himself that not only the doctrines of Christianity, which may be conceived independently of history or time, as the Trinity, spiritual influences, etc., are coincident with the truths which his reason, thus strengthened, has evolved from its own sources, but that the historical dogmas, namely, of the incarnation of the creative Logos, and his becoming a personal agent, are themselves founded in philosophical necessity then it seems irrational that such a man should reject the belief of the actual appearance of a religion strictly correspondent therewith, at a given time recorded, even as much as that he should reject Caesar's account of his wars in Gaul, after he had convinced himself a priori of their possibility. As the result of these convictions, he will not scruple to receive the particular miracles recorded,. inasmuch as it would be miraculous that an incarnate God should not work what must to mere man appear as miracles, inasmuch as it is strictly accordant with the ends and benevolent nature of such a being to commence the elevation of man above his mere senses by attracting and enforcing attention, first, through an appeal to those senses. But with equal reason will he expect that no other or greater force should be laid on those miracles as such; that they should not be spoken of as good in themselves much less as the adequate and ultimate proof of that religion; and, likewise, he will receive additional satisfaction should he find these miracles so wrought, and on such occasions, as to give them a personal value as symbols of important truths when their miraculousness was no longer needful or efficacious" (Coleridge, Works, N.Y., 5:555).
On the argument of Butler's Analogy, SEE BUTLER.
II. As to the comparative value of the different classes of the Christian evidences there has been much dispute. Coleridge admitted the value of the testimony from miracles for the Jews at the beginning of Christianity, but considered that argument as much less valuable now than the internal evidence. "It was only to overthrow the usurpation exercised in and through the senses that the senses were miraculously appealed to. Reason and religion are their own evidence. The natural sun is in this respect a symbol of the spiritual. Ere he is fully risen, and while his glories are still under veil, he calls up the breeze to chase away the usurping vapors of the night season, and thus converts the air itself into the minister of its own purification: not surely a proof or elucidation of the light from heaven, but to prevent its interception. Wherever, therefore, similar circumstances coexist with the same moral causes, the principles revealed and the examples recorded in the inspired writings render miracles superfluous; and if we neglect to apply truths in expectation of wonders, or under pretext of the cessation of the latter, we tempt God, and merit the same reply which our Lord gave to the Pharisees on a like occasion. I shall merely state here what my belief is concerning the true evidences of Christianity.
1. Its consistency with right reason I consider as the outer court of the temple, the common area within which it stands.
2. The miracles, with and through, which the religion was first revealed and attested, I regard as the steps, the vestibule, and the portal of the temple.
3. The sense, the inward feeling in the soul of each believer of its exceeding desirableness, the, experience that he needs something, joined with the strong foretokening that the redemption and the graces propounded to us in Christ are what he needs — this I hold to be the true foundation of the spiritual edifice. With the strong a priori probability that flows in from 1 and 3 on the correspondent historical evidence of 2, no man can refuse or neglect to make the experiment without guilt. But,
4, it is the experience derived from a practical conformity to the conditions of the Gospel; it is the opening eye, the dawning light, the terrors and the promises of spiritual growth, the blessedness of loving God as God, the nascent sense of sin hated as sin, and of the incapability of attaining to either without Christ; it is the sorrow that still rises up from beneath, and the consolation that meets it from above; the bosom treacheries of the principal in the warfare, and the exceeding faithfulness and long-suffering of the uninterested ally; in a word, it is the actual trial of the faith in Christ, with. its accompaniments and results that must form the arched roof, and faith itself is the completing KEY-STONE. In order to an efficient belief in Christianity a man must have been a Christian, and this is the seeming argumentumn in circulo incident to all spiritual truths, to every subject not presentable under the forms of time and space, as long as we attempt to master by the reflex acts of the understanding what we can only know by the act of becoming. 'Do, the will of my father, and ye shall know whether I am of God.' These four evidences I believe to have been, and still to be, for the world, for the whole Church, all necessary, all equally necessary; but that at present, and for the majority of Christians born in Christian countries, I believe the third and the fourth evidence to be the most operative; not as superseding, but as involving a glad, undoubting faith in the two former" (Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, chapter 24).
Ullmann (Sinlessness of Jesus, § 1) remarks "that the nature of the case, and the necessities of their contemporaries, justified the apostles in proving the divine mission of Christ by the argument from miracles and prophecy. But the necessity of the times and of individuals may in this respect vary; and although the Gospel in its essence remains the same, and contains eternal, unchangeable truth, yet in a different age a different method of proof may lead more immediately to the acknowledgment of this truth. In our own time it seems proper to fix our eyes especially upon the spiritual character of Jesus in order to obtain satisfactory proof of the divinity of his mission and instructions, not because the apostolical mode of proof has become untenable, but because the other mode has a more vital efficacy on account of the style of education prevalent at the present day. We do not finf ourselves in immediate, conscious connection with the spirit and prophecies of the Old Testament, as thee Jews were in the time of the apostles; we live among contemporaries to whom miracles are more a ground of doubt than of faith; we should not forget that the, proof from miracles exerts its full power, properly speaking, on none but the eye- witnesses of them and, conducts us to the desired conclusion only by a circuitous path. On the other hand, a vivid apprehension of the inward character of Jesus brings us nearest to the operative center of Christianity, and at the; same time makes us feel the influence of the moral power which goes forth from that center. Here faith in Jesus rests immediately on himself; it is free, spiritual confidence in his person. As with his contemporaries everything depended on the yielding confidence with which they received the favors which he brought them, so likewise with us this confidence may be the element of a full belief in Christianity, and is, at all: events, a condition of receiving benefit from our Redeemer." The tendency of German theology has gone against the external: evidences of Christianity, but this very tendency opened the door to rationalism and infidelity, above which German orthodoxy has only recently begun to emerge. On this point, see the Nasa York Review, 2:141 sq. See also bishop Butler's admirable discussion of the "particular" evidence for Christianity in his Analogy of Religion, part 2, chapter 7. See also Mansell, in Aids to Faith, Essay 1 (London, 1861, 8vo). The tendency of the best modern apologists is not to thrust the argument from miracles. into the background, but to vindicate it afresh. So Auberlen, Gottliche Offenbarung (1864); Mozley, On Miracles; Fisher, Essays on the supernatural Origins of Christianity, page 12 sq., 503 sq. The rejection of miracles generally leads to a rejection of the doctrine of the personality of God. See, for a fuller treatment of this branch of the subject, the article MIRACLES SEE MIRACLES . The chief task of the apologist for Christianity in the present age (apart from the metaphysical conflict with Pantheism and Positivism, for which see articles, under those heads) is to vindicate the authenticity and the early date of the books of the N.T. against the assaults not merely of avowed skeptics, but also of theologians within the Christian Church, such as those of the: Tubingen school (q.v.). This task resolves itself, again, into that of vindicating the historical reality of the scriptural miracles. "The recent criticism of the N.T. canon, embracing the attempt to impeach the genuineness of various books, is only a part of the great, discussion of the historical truth of the N.T.; for it is difficult to attack the credibility of the Gospel historians without first disproving their genuineness." (Fisher, Essays, page 14). In the noted Essays and Reviews (Boston ad. 1865, 12mo), Prof. Baden Powell has an article on "The Study of the Evidences of Christianity," in which he undertakes to state the present condition of the discussion, and to indicate the true line: of Christian evidences. He disparages the "professed advocates of an external revelation and historical evidence" by innuendo as well as by direct attack, and assumes the inconceivability and impossibility of miracles. See Goodwin's article in the American Theological Review, July 1861, which closes as follows: "It is one thing to urge other evidences of Christianity as stronger and more satisfactory than that from miracles; it is another thing to reject all miracles as incredible and absurd. He who takes the former course may show an eminently Christian spirit, and for ourselves we cordially sympathize with his position; but he who takes the latter course, if not an infidel himself; is certainly playing into the hands of infidels and atheists." One of the chief forms taken by recent Christian apologetics is the argument drawn from the actual phenomena of Christianity, the existing facts which nobody can deny. The first of these is the character of Christ, which has been so described by rationalistic and infidel writers (e.g. Strauss, Renan, Schenkel) as to bring the argument down almost, if not quite, to the point whether Jesus were an impostor or no. The replies to these attacks within the last twenty years have brought with greater force than ever the eternal light of evidence which the person and life of the Redeemer contain in favor of the whole system of Christianity. See the works on this subject of Neander, Lange, Schaff, Pressense, Ellicott, Young, Plumptre, and others. Dr. Schaff sums up the result of a study of Christ in one strong passage: "Jesus of Nazareth is the one absolute and unaccountable exception to the universal experience of mankind. He is the great central miracle of the whole Gospel history; and all his miracles are but the natural and necessary manifestations of his miraculous person, performed with the same ease with which we perform our ordinary daily works." The second of these phenomena is found in the books of the New Testament themselves, as affording abundant internal evidence of reality and truthfulness. The third is the specific Christian doctrine, which can be traced up (through the Epistles to the Thessalonians, Corinthians, Romans, and Galatians, the genuineness and early date of which are admitted even by the Tubingen school) to within thirty years after the death of Christ. (See an excellent article on the Unexhausted Resources of Christian Evidence, by Prof. Lorimer, in B. and F. Ev. Review, January 1865, reprinted in The Theolog. Eclectic, New Haven, in, 30 ;sq.) Dr. H. Schmidt, of Meiningen, taking the Tubingen critics at their word, undertakes to find in the four unquestioned epistles (Galatians, 1st and 2d Corinthians, and Romans) a full vindication of the truth and divine origin of Christianity. See his Der Paulinische Christus (Weimar, 1867, 8vo).
The comparison of Christianity with heathen religions 'is opening a new and rich mine of Christian evidences. The science of "Comparative Religion," so called, is yet in its infancy, but all contributions to it only tend to bring out the argument for the divine origin of Christianity into clearer relief. See Maurice, Religions of the World (1846, 12mo); Pressense, Religions before Christ (1866, 8vo); Muller, Chips from a German Workshop (1867, 2 volumes, 12o); Hardwick, Christ and ether Masters (Lond. 2d ed., 1863, 2 volumes, 12mo); and an article by Caldwell, Bapt. Quart. Rev. October 1868.
The question of the origin and dates of the several gospels is treated under the separate articles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Tubingen school, and the modern critics who follow them, put the dates forward into the second century. SEE TUBINGEN SCHOOL. On the questions involved, see Fisher, Essays, already cited; Westcott, On the Canon of the N.T. (Cambridge, 1855); Tischendorf, Wann wurden unsere Evangelien verfasst (Leipsig, 1865; transl. by W.L. Gage, under the title Origin of the four Gospels, Lond. 1868; Amer. Tract Society, 1868).
Literature. — For a pretty copious account of the literature of the subject, SEE APOLOGETICS; SEE APOLOGY. We add here the following: Translation of Luthardt's Apol. Vortrage (noticed in volume 1, page 305), entitled Apologetic Lectures on the fundamental Truths of Christianity (1867, crown 8vo); and Auberlen's Offenbarung (see our volume 1, page 301), entitled The Divine Revelation (Edinburgh, 1867); Norton's Genuineness of the Gospels, abridged edit. (Boston, 167, 12mo); Barneo, Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity in the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1868, 12mo); M'Cosh, The Supernatural in its Relations to the Natural; Westcott, Introduction to the Study of the Gospels (Boston, 1867), chapter 3; Schaff, Person of Christ (Am. Tract Society); Plumptre, Christ and Chris.tesnom (Lond. 1867, 8vo); Gratry. Les Sophistes et la Critique (Paris, 1864, 8vo); Princeton Review, April, 1852, art. 6; Bartlett on "Christianity and prominent Forms of Assault," in Bibliotheca Sacra, January, 1868; Brit. and For. Evang. Review. July 1868, art. 6. SEE APOLOGETICS; SEE APOLOGY, INSPIRATION; SEE JESUS;SEE MIRACLES.