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SECT. XIII. An answer to this objection, that some things are contained in these books which are inconsistent with one another.

IT is objected by some, that the sense of these books is sometimes very different: but whoever fairly examines this matter will find, that, on the contrary, this is an addition to the other arguments for the authority of these books; that in those places which contain any thing of moment, whether in doctrine or history, there is every where such a manifest agreement, as is not to be found in any other writers of any sect, whether they be Jews,432432   The different opinions amongst whom, as they are to be seen in other places, so likewise in Manasses, the son of Israel, a very learned man in this sort of learning, in his books of the creation and resurrection. or Greek philosophers,433433   See the fore-cited book of the opinion of the philosophers. or physicians,434434   See Galen of sects, and of the best sect; and Celsus of physic, is the beginning; to which the Spagirici may be added. or Roman lawyers;435435   There was a remarkable difference of old between the Sabiniani and Proculiani; and now betwixt those who follow Bartolus and his followers, and those who follow Cujacius and others who were more learned. See Gabriel’s common, more common, and most common sentences. in all which we very 139often find, that not only they of the same sect contradict one another, as Plato and Xenophon do,436436   See Xenophon’s epistle to Æschines, the disciple of Socrates. Athenæus xi. Laërtius’s life of Plato; and Gellius, book xiv. but very often the same writer sometimes asserts one thing, and sometimes another;437437   Many have shewn this of Aristotle; and others, of the Roman lawyers. as if be had forgot himself, or did not know which to affirm: but these writers, of whom we are speaking, all urge the same things to be believed, deliver the same precepts concerning the life of Christ, his death, and return to life again: the main and principal things are every where the same. And as to some very minute circumstances, which make nothing towards the main thing, we are not wholly at such a loss for a fair reconciliation of them, but that it may easily be made; though we are ignorant of some things, by reason of the similitude of things that were done at different times, the ambiguity of names, one man’s or place’s having many names, and such like. Nay, this very thing ought to acquit these writers of all suspicion of deceit; because they who bear testimony to that which is false are used to relate all things so by agreement, that there should not be any appearance of difference.438438   This is what the emperor Adrian affirms; in witnesses, we are to examine whether they offer one and the same premeditated speech; L. Testium, D. de Testibus. Speculator, lib. i. part. v. de Teste in pr. n. 81. A very exact knowledge of all circumstances is not necessary in a witness. See Luke i. 56. iii. 23. John ii. 6. vi. 10, 19. xix. 14. And if, upon the account of some small difference, which cannot be reconciled, we must immediately disbelieve whole books, then there is no book, especially of history, to be believed; and yet Polybius, Halicarnassensis, Livy, and Plutarch, in whom such things are to be found, keep up their authority amongst us in the principal things; how much more reasonable then is it, that such things should not destroy the credibility of those whom we see, from their own writings, have always a very great regard to piety and truth! There remains another way of confuting testimonies—from contrary external testimonies:—

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