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able him at one glance, to form a complete estimate. We shall have occasion to call his attention to this so often, that we may appear to many of our readers to have expatiated upon our introductory principle to a degree that is tiresome and unnecessary. We conceive, however, that it is the best and most perspicuous way of putting the argument.
30. I. The different pieces which make up the New Testament, were written by the authors whose names they bear, and at the time which is commonly assigned to them.
31. After the long slumber of the middle ages, the curiosity of the human mind was awakened, and felt its attention powerfully directed to those old writings which have survived the waste of so many centuries. It were a curious speculation to ascertain the precise quantity of evidence which lay in the information of these old documents. And it may belp us in our estimate, first to suppose, that in the researches of that period, there was only one composition found which professed to be a narrative of past times. A number of circumstances can be assigned, which might give a certain degree of probability to the information even of this solitary and unsupported document. There is, first, the general consideration, that the principle upon which a man feels himself induced to write a true history, is of more frequent and powerful operation, than the principle upon which a man feels himself induced to offer a false or a disguised representation of facts to the world. This affords a general probability on the side of the document in question being a true narrative; and there may be some particulars connected with the appearance of the performance itself, which might strengthen this probability. We may not be able to discover in the story itself any inducement which the man could have in publishing it, if it were mainly and substantially false. We might see an expression of honesty, which it is in the power of written language, as well as of spoken language, to convey. We might see that there was nothing monstrous or improbable in the narrative itself. And, without enumerating every particular calculated to give it the impression of truth, we may, in the progress of our inquiries, have ascertained that copies of this manuscript were to be found in many places, and in different parts of the world, proving, by the evidence of its diffusion, the general esteem in which it was held by the readers of past ages. This gives us the testimony of these readers to the value of the per
formance; and as we are supposing it a history, and not a work of imagination, it could only be valued on the principle of its being true information which was laid before them. In this way, a solitary document; transmitted to us from a remote antiquity, might gain credit in the world, though it had been lost sight of for many ages, and only brought to light by the revival of a literary spirit, which had lain dormant during a long period of history.
32. We can farther suppose, that, in the progress of these researches, another manuscript was discovered, having the same characters, and possessing the same separate and original marks of truth with the former. If they both touched upon the same period of history, and gave testimony to the same events, it is plain that a stronger evidence for the truth of these events would be afforded, than what it was in the power of either of the testimonies taken separately to supply. The separate circumstances which gave a distinct credibility to each of the testimonies, are added together, and give a so much higher credibility to those points of information upon which they deliver a common testimony. This is the case when the testimonies carry in them the appearance of being independent of one another. And even when the one is derived from the other, it still affords an accession to the evidence, because the author of the subsequent testimony gives us the distinct assertion, that he believed in the truth of the original testimony.
33. The evidence may be strengthened still farther, by the accession of a third manuscript, and a third testimony. All the separate circumstances which confer credibility upon any one document, even though it stands alone and unsupported by any other, combine themselves into a much stronger body of evidence, when we have obtained the concurrence of several. If, even in the case of a single narrative, a probability lies on the side of its being true, from the multitude and diffusion of copies, and from the air of truth and honesty discernible in the composition itself, the probability is heightened by the coincidence of several narratives, all of them possessing the same claims upon our belief. If it be improbable that one should be written for the purpose of imposing a falsehood upon the world, it is still more improbable that many should be written, all of them conspiring to the same perverse and unnatural objects. No one can doubt, at least, that of the multitude of written testimonies
which have come down to us, the true must greatly preponderate over the false ; and that the deceitful principle, though it exists sometimes, would never operate to such an extent, as to carry any great or general imposition in the face of all the documents which are before us. The supposition must be extended much farther than we have yet carried it, before we reach the degree of evidence and of testimony, which on many points of ancient history, we are at this moment in actual possession of. Many documents have been collected, professing to be written at different times, and by men of different countries. In this way, a great body of ancient literature has been formed, from which we can collect many points of evidence, too tedious to enumerate. Do we find the express concurrence of several authors to the same piece of history ? Do we find, what is still more impressive, events formally announced in one narrative, not told over again, but implied and proceeded upon as true in another? Do we find the succession of history, through a series of ages, supported in a way that is natural and consistent? Do we find these compositions which profess a higher antiquity, appealed to by those which profess a lower ? These, and a number of other points, which meet every scholar who betakes himself to the actual investigation, give a most warm and living character of reality to the history of past times. There is a perversity of mind which may resist all this. There is no end to the fancies of scepticism. We may plead in vain the number of written testimonies; their artless coincidence, and the perfect undesignedness of manner by which they often supply the circumstances that serve both to guide and satisfy the inquirer, and to throw light and support upon one another. The infidel will still have something, behind which he can entrench himself; and his last supposition, monstrous and unnatural as it is, may be, that the whole of written history is a laborious fabrication, sustained for many ages, and concurred in by many individuals, with no other purpose than to enjoy the anticipated blunders of the men of future times, whom they had combined with so much dexterity to bewilder and lead astray.
MEMOIR OF MR. GEORGE SHADFORD.
(Continued from page 57.) In a fortnight after his soul had been made happy in God, he joined the little society, consisting of twelve members, chiefly old people, in the place where he resided. The description of persons with whom he began to meet was not quite agreeable to him ; " but,” saith he, “ I thought it my duty to cast in my lot amongst them; for I was certain the Methodists (under God) were the happy instruments of my salvation." At this time, like a true follower of the Lord Jesus, while he earnestly desired the conversion of the whole world, the salvation of those who were near to him by the ties of nature excited his greatest solicitude. He had a father and mother, sister and brother, all without a saving acquaintance with God. His father was near sixty years, and his mother not far from that age. Seldom did he approach God in prayer, without sincerely and earnestly supplicating him in the behalf; and, in the performance of this duty, he experienced much encouragement. One night, he took the liberty of speaking to his parents, in as humble a manner as possible, on the subject of family prayer. He told them that he believed they had brought up him and his brother and sister in the fear of God, according to the best of their knowledge ; but added, that hitherto they had not had prayer in the family. Finding that these observations were not resented by his parents, he proposed to go to prayer with them. On their consenting, they went into another room. He had not spoken many words before they were both in tears. When they arose from prayer, they wept over each other; but what seemed to affect Mr. Shadford's parents most was, that they were taught by their own child, whom they ought to have instructed.
“ I continued,” saith Mr. S. “ to pray for them every night and morning for half-a-year. My father at length began to be in deep distress. I listened, and heard him in private crying for mercy, like David, out of the horrible pit, and mire and clay, O Lord, deliver my soul. I began to reprove, exhort,
and warn others wherever I came. My father was sometimes afraid, if I reproved the customers who came to our shop, it would give offence, and we should lose all our business. Upon which, I said, ' Father, let us trust God for once with all our concerns, and let us do this in the way of our duty, from a right principle, and if he deceives us, we will trust him no more ; for none eyer trusted the Lord and were confounded. In less than a twelvemonth, instead of losing, we had more business than we ever had before."
About this time, Mr. S. began to pray in all the public and private religious meetings which he attended; and several, through the instrumentality of his exertions, were savingly brought to God, before he attempted, in a regular way, either to exhort or preach. At that period, he had no idea of being a preacher ; but simply aimed at doing all the good in his power. The love of God burning in his heart constrained him to warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, and to speak of the unsearchable riches of Christ. In a short time, the society to which he belonged increased from twelve to forty members; and the Lord gave him several who had been his companions in sin, to be his fellow-travellers in the way of holiness.
The first time he exhorted was in the Society. The classleader put a hymn-book into his hand and requested him to give a word of exhortation.. On his receiving the book he trembled; but instantly his soul was filled with the love of God, and his fear departed. There is reason to believe that the few words which he spoke on that occasion were made a blessing to every one present. An old man, one of the first converts in the town, advised him to give himself up to much reading and prayer, from a persuasion, that God intended to make him useful in the Church.
One Sunday morning while he was exhorting in the farmer's house, his father was cut to the beart by means of some expression which he used. He fell back into the chair by which he stood, and wept, and was greatly distressed. On the evening of the same day, he said, “I know not what is the matter with me; I seem stupid and foolish ; nay, I seem lost." Mr. S. replied, “ Then you will not be long before you are found. Father, you are not far from the kingdom of God. Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost."
The next day,” saith Mr. Shadford, “I came into the room