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Biblical Reliability

John Brown on Biblical Ethics and Self-Attestation


It has been remarked, that the moral precepts of Christianity are highly valuable, not only when viewed in reference to their primary and direct object, the direction and guidance of the movements of the inner and outer man, the regulation of the temper and conduct, the dispositions and actions, but also when considered in their subsidiary and indirect references, particularly in their bearing on the evidence of the Divine origin of that system of revelation of which they form so important a part. That bearing is manifold. Let us look at it in its various phases. Were a book, consisting partly of doctrinal statements and partly of moral precepts, claiming a Divine origin, put into our hands; and were we to find on perusal the moral part of it fantastic and trifling, inconsistent with the principles of man’s constitution, unsuitable to the circumstances in which he is placed, and incompatible with the great laws of justice and benevolence, we should enter on the examination of the evidence appealed to, in support of its high pretensions, under the influence of a strong and justifiable suspicion. …

Samuel Drew on Trusting the New Testament


You pass on to an examination of "the books, called the Old and New Testament;" but, pausing on the margin of your inquiry, you ask, "who told us they were the word of God?" to which you answer, "Nobody can tell;" and hence you conclude, that "they must be false." That this is a legitimate inference, very few, I presume, will have the hardihood to assert. If I were to ask, Who told us, that the History of Josephus, the Epistles of Pliny, the Orations of Cicero, and the Elements of Euclid, were all written by the authors whose names they bear? and should be answered, "Nobody can tell," would this falsify the testimony of facts, which these books respectively contained? No one, I think, would presume to make such an assertion…

Samuel Drew on History as Trusting Testimony


Let us suppose the case of a man who was born blind. He can have nothing but oral testimony of such things as are visible to others. Does it therefore follow, that, to him, the luminaries of heaven do not exist, and, consequently, demonstrate nothing of the power and wisdom of God? No: the demonstration still exists, by an intellectual communication from others; and this, to him, is a revelation. What is history, but a revelation of facts, though man is the recorder, the witness, the auditor, and oftentimes the cause? View your premises however I may, they are demonstrably false; and, consequently, what you draw from them must fall to the ground. … You further tell us, that "the whole account is traditionary." The truth of this assertion, will depend, in no small degree, upon the definition of the term. But, if what you assert, were granted, I cannot perceive, how this would falsify the account. If the supposed facts contained in the Bible, be traditionary, and are, therefore, false, there is no historical account in existence, that will not be implicated in the common charge; and, if this be admitted, all moral and historical certainty, must, at one stroke, be banished from the world.

Samuel Drew on Christianity Coopting Pagan Myths


You [Thomas Paine] say, “It is curious to observe, how the theory of what is called the Christian church, sprang out of the tail of the Heathen mythology.” That your curiosity should be excited, when you think a favourable opportunity presents itself, of bringing the Bible into disrepute, is not a matter that excites much surprise; but evidence, that would connect your allegations with truth, would prove more satisfactory than an expression of curiosity. But so contrary to fact is this assertion, that we find no more than two or three quotations, from any Heathen author, in all the New Testament, and these are merely moral sentences; while the Old Testament is quoted and alluded to about five hundred times. … Nor does it appear, that either the Stoics, or the Epicureans, in the days of the Apostles, were acquainted with the discovery which you have made. By these, Paul was accused, with being “a setter forth of strange Gods,” when he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And for this offence, he was taken and brought unto the Areopagus, and charged with bringing strange things to their ears. … It will be vain to reply, that this is hearsay evidence. If Bible evidence be hearsay, I would ask, from what source did you derive your information, respecting Christ and his Apostles? You quote, without hesitation, from the Bible, whatever you conceive will militate against the characters of those whom you condemn, and invalidate the authenticity of the Book itself; you cannot, therefore, in common justice, refuse and appeal to the same authority, even when an opposite purpose is to be served. And, when this is granted, unless I am much deceived, the head of prejudice will be more conspicuous than the tail of the Heathen mythology.