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gained, the matter of the authorship and date of the Gospels can be explored without the bias which a prejudice against the miraculous elements in the narrative creates against its apostolic origin. Then it remains to establish the truthfulness of the apostolic witnesses, and, further, to vindicate the supernatural features of the Gospel history from the objection that is suggested by the stories of pagan miracles and by the legends of the saints. The concluding chapters, up to the last, contain a variety of corroborative arguments, and enter into topics relating to the Scriptures and the canon. In preparing these chapters, I have sought to direct the reader into lines of reflection which may serve to impress him with the truth contained in the remark that the strongest proof of Christianity is afforded by Christianity itself and by Christendom as an existing fact. The final chapter considers the bearing of the natural and physical sciences upon the Christian faith and the authority of the Scriptures.
It has become the fashion of a class of writers to decry all works having for their aim to vindicate the truth of Christianity it is considered enough to say that they emanate from "Apologists." The design would seem to be to connect with this technical word of theology a taint carried over from the meaning attached to it in its ordinary use. But an Apologist," in the usage of the Greek authors, is simp.y one who stands for the defence of himself or of his cause. When Paul began his address to the mob at Jerusalem, he called on them to hear his "Defence;" that is, as the Greek reads, his "Apology." When Agrippa gave him leave to defend himself against the charges made against him, he "stretched forth his hand," and apologized; as it is rendered in the English version, "answered for himself." It might
be convenient, but it is hardly magnanimous, for the assailants of Christianity to invite its disciples to leave the field wholly to them, or to endeavor to secure this result by calling names. It is quite true that the advocates of any opinion in which the feelings are enlisted are liable to forget the obligation they are under to rid themselves of every unscientific bias, and to carry into all their reasonings the spirit of candor and uprightness. But, whatever faults on this score have been committed by some of the defenders of the faith, it can scarcely be claimed that their antagonists, as a rule, have shown a greater exemption from these partisan vices. The remark is sometimes rashly thrown out, that defences of religious truth are of no value in convincing those who read them. The contrary, as regards especially their effect on inquiring minds not steeled against persuasion, is shown by experience to be the fact. Certain it is, that from the era of Celsus and Porphyry, to the days of Voltaire and Strauss, Christian believers have felt bound to meet the challenge of disbelief, as an apostle directs, by giving a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Peter, iii, 15).
I must expect, that, among the readers who may be interested in the general subject of this volume, some will be less attracted by the sections that are concerned with the philosophical objections to theism, or with the critical evidence in behalf of the genuineness of the Gospels. But even this class, I trust, will find the major part of the book not altogether ill-suited to their wants. I venture to indulge the hope, that they may derive from it some aid in clearing up perplexities, and some new light upon the nature of the Christian faith and its relation to the Scriptures
It should be stated that a portion of this volume has been
published, mostly as a connected series of articles, in the Princeton Review. These, however, have been much altered, and in some cases largely rewritten. More than half of the chapters have not before appeared in print in any form.
NEW HAVEN, Aug. 8, 1883.