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of accident, it is enough. It does not require many circumstantial coincidences to determine the mind of a jury as to the credibility of a witness in our courts, even where the life of a fellow-creature is at stake. I say this, not as a matter of charge, but as a matter of fact, indicating the authority which attaches to this species of evidence, and the confidence universally entertained that it cannot deceive. Neither should it be forgotten, that an argument thus popular, thus applicable to the affairs of common life as a test of truth, derives no small value, when enlisted in the cause of Christianity, from the readiness with which it is apprehended and admitted by mankind at large.
2. Nor is this all. The argument derived from coincidence without design has further claims, because, if well made out, it establishes the Evangelists as independent witnesses to the facts they relate ; and this, whether they consulted each other's writings, as some maintain, or not; for the coincidences, if good for any thing, are such as could not result from combination, mutual understanding, or arrangement. If any which I may bring forward may seem to be such as might have so arisen, they are only to be reckoned ill chosen, and dismissed. Undesignedness must be
apparent in them, or they are not to the purpose. In our argument we defy four men to sit down together, to transmit their writings from one to another, and produce the like. Truths known independently or each of them, must be at the bottom of documents having such discrepancies and such agreements as these in question. The point, therefore, whether the Evangelists have or have not copied from one another, which has been so much labored, is thus rendered a matter of comparative indifference. Let them have so done, as the adversaries of Christianity might be disposed to insist, still by our argument would their independence be secured, and the nature of their testimony be shown to be such as could only result from their separate knowledge of substantial facts.
3. I will add another consideration which seems to me to deserve serious attention : that in several instances the probable truth of a miracle is involved in the coincidence. This is a point which we should distinguish from the general drift of the argument itself. The general drift of our argument is this, that when we see the writers of the Gospels clearly telling the truth in those cases where we have the means of checking their accounts,
when we see that they are artless, consistent, veracious writers, where we have the opportunity of examining the fact, it is reasonable to believe that they are telling the truth in those cases where we have not the means of checking them,--that they are veracious where we have not the means of putting them to the proof. But the argument I am now pressing is distinct from this. We are hereby called upon, not merely to assent that St. Matthew and St. Luke (for example) speak the truth when they record a miracle, because we know them to speak the truth in many other matters, (though this would be only reasonable, where there is no impeachment of their veracity whatever,) but we are called upon to believe a particular miracle, because the very circumstances which attend it furnish the coincidence. I look upon this as a point of very great importance, and I am therefore pleased that my first coincidence in order, happens to be one of this description.
In the fourth chapter of St. Matthew we read
thus :— And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon call
ed Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them, and they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him."
Now let us compare this with the fifth chapter of St. Luke. “ And it came to pass that as the people pressed upon him to hear the Word of God, he stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake, but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all
the night and taken nothing; nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when he had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their net brake ; and they beckoned to their partners which were in the other-ship that they should come and help them; and they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord; for he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken; and so was also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all and followed him."
The narrative of St. Luke may be reckoned the supplement to that of St. Matthew ; for that both relate to the same event I think indisputable. In both we are told of the circumstances under which Andrew,
Andrew, Peter, James and John became the decided followers of Christ; in both they are called to attend him in the same terms, and those remarkable and technical terms ; in both the scene is the