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Supernatural Religion, Vol. III. (of III) An Inquiry into the Reality of Divine Revelation   By: (1826-1907)

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First Page:

SUPERNATURAL RELIGION:

AN INQUIRY INTO THE REALITY OF DIVINE REVELATION.

IN THREE VOLUMES. VOL. III.

COMPLETE EDITION. CAREFULLY REVISED.

LONDON:

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.,

1879.

[The Right of Translation is Reserved.]

"Credulity is as real, if not so great, a sin as unbelief."

Archbishop Trench.

"The abnegation of reason is not the evidence of faith, but the confession of despair."

Canon Lightfoot.

PG EDITOR'S NOTE: This file has been provided with an image of the original scan for each page which is linked to the page number in the html file. Nearly every page in the text has many Greek passages which have been indicated where they occur by [———] as have many complex tables; these passages may be viewed in the page images. Some of the pages have only a few lines of text and then the rest of the page is taken up with complex footnotes in English, Greek and Hebrew. The reader may click on the page numbers in the html file to see the entire page with the footnotes. —DW

SUPERNATURAL RELIGION: AN INQUIRY INTO THE REALITY OF DIVINE REVELATION

PART IV. THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

CHAPTER I. THE EXTERNAL EVIDENCE

Before we proceed to examine the evidence for miracles and the reality of Divine Revelation which is furnished by the last historical book of the New Testament, entitled the "Acts of the Apostles," it is well that we should briefly recall to mind some characteristics of the document, which most materially affect the value of any testimony emanating from it. Whilst generally asserting the resurrection of Jesus, and his bodily ascension, regarding which indeed it adds fresh details, this work presents to us a new cycle of miracles, and so profusely introduces supernatural agency into the history of the early church that, in comparison with it, the Gospels seem almost sober narratives. The Apostles are instructed and comforted by visions and revelations, and they, and all who believe, are filled with the Holy Spirit and speak with other tongues. The Apostles are delivered from

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prison and from bonds by angels or by an earthquake. Men fall dead or are smitten with blindness at their rebuke. They heal the sick, raise the dead, and handkerchiefs brought from their bodies cure diseases and expel evil spirits.

As a general rule, any document so full of miraculous episodes and supernatural occurrences would, without hesitation, be characterized as fabulous and incredible, and would not, by any sober minded reader, be for a moment accepted as historical. There is no other testimony for these miracles. Let the reader endeavour to form some conception of the nature and amount of evidence necessary to establish the truth of statements antecedently so incredible, and compare it with the testimony of this solitary and anonymous document, the character and value of which we shall now proceed more closely to examine.

It is generally admitted, and indeed it is undeniable, that no distinct and unequivocal reference to the Acts of the Apostles, and to Luke as their author, occurs in the writings of Fathers before one by Irenæus(1) about the end of the second century. Passages are, however, pointed out in earlier writings as indicating the use and consequent existence of our document, all of which we shall now examine.

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Several of these occur in the "Epistle to the Corinthian s," ascribed to Clement of Rome. The first, immediately compared with the passage to which it is supposed to be a reference,(1) is as follows:

[ ]

The words of the Epistle are not a quotation, but merely occur in the course of an address. They do not take the form of an axiom, but are a comment on the conduct of the Corinthians, which may have been suggested either by written or oral tradition, or by moral maxims long before current in heathen philosophy.2 It is unnecessary to enter minutely into this, however, or to indicate the linguistic differences between the two passages, for one point alone settles the question... Continue reading book >>




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