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CHAPTER II. ARGUMENTS DRAWN FROM OTHER CONSIDERATIONS. Beside the
argument already adduced, there are others, to which we will now
advert. I. It would have been inconsistent with the common
sentiments and practice of mankind, for transcribers to make such
alterations and additions as have been imagined, in the sacred
books which they were copying. No one can be so dull as not to feel
the importance and propriety of preserving the genuine text of
books, which are regarded as works of authority, or as possessing a
peculiar character in consequence of their having been composed by
a particular author. In proportion as a work is of higher
authority, this sentiment will be stronger. It would be idle to
imagine, that the habit of making additions and alterations at
will, which is attributed to the transcribers of the Gospels, was
common in ancient times, and practised in the transcription of
other writings, the histories, for instance, of Thucydides or
Tacitus. But with the great body of believers, the Gospels were
peculiarly guarded from corruption; and what we apprehend so little
concerning other writings, is still less to be apprehended
concerning them. The Christians of the first two centuries, it
cannot be doubted, valued very highly their sacred books, and none
more highly than those which contained records of the actions and
discourses of Christ. But they valued them, as sacred books, and as
authentic histories, and not as the patchwork of unknown
transcribers. They would not, therefore, suffer them gradually to
assume the latter character. They would not cause, or permit,
alterations and additions to be silently introduced into books of
history, the authenticity of which would be thus destroyed; and
sacred books, the peculiar character of which Avould in
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