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EXAMINATION OF THE TESTIMONY
BY THE RULES OF EVIDENCE ADMINISTERED
COURTS OF JUSTICE.
WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE TRIAL OF JESUS.
BY SIMON GREENLEAF, LL.D.
DANE PROFESSOR OF LAW IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY.
REVISED AND CORRECTED BY THE AUTHOR,
W. SMITH, 113, FLEET STREET ;
In introducing to the notice of the British Public, Mr. Professor GREENLEAF's Harmony of the Four Gospels, the publishers have much satisfaction in announcing, that it has become a Standard Work in the United States of America: and its intrinsic value has induced them to make it known, in the hope of promoting its circulation, in this country.
The spirit of infidelity is far more restless and active on the other side of the Atlantic, than, happily, it has been in our highly-favoured land : and, in consequence, it has called forth some of the most able and powerful minds to correct and subdue it. Among these advocates of Divine Revelation, the profound lawyer, Professor Greenleaf, holds a most honourable and distinguished place; and his work may justly be regarded as combining sound and practical knowledge with well-directed zeal and piety. Its character has been very fairly appreciated in two leading North American journals, from which the following extracts are made, as indicative of its contents, and also of the high estimation in which its learned author is deservedly held in his own country.
EXTRACT OF A NOTICE OF PROFESSOR GREENLEAF ON THE FOUR GOSPELS,
OCTOBER 24, 1846, IN “THE NEW YORK OBSERVER.” The Author is a lawyer, very learned in his profession, acute, critical and used to raising and meeting practical doubts. Author of a treatise on the law of evidence, which has already become a classic in the hands of the profession which he adorns, and teaches in one of the Law Seminaries which do honour to our country in the eyes of Europe, he brings rare qualifications for the task he assumes. That he
should, with the understanding and from the heart, accept the Gospel as the truth, avow it as his Hope, and seek to discharge a duty to his fellow-men by laying before them the grounds on which he founds this acceptance and this hope, are cheering circumstances to the Christian, and present strong appeals to the indifferent.
To his profession, to the lawyers of the country, however, this work makes a strong appeal. They are a very secular profession. Their business is almost wholly conversant with material interests. Their time is absorbed in controversies, of passion, or of interest. Acute, critical, and disputatious, they apparently present a field unpropitious for the acceptance of a religion, spiritual, disinterested, and insisting on perfect holiness. Still, they necessarily need to know and must enforce the rules of finding truth and justice; the principles for ascertaining truth and dispensing justice are the great subjects of all their discussions, so far as they are discussions of any general principle. From this cause it is, that this profession has numbered among its members, in every age, Christians of great eminence, and in our own day and country, we cannot turn to the eminent men of this profession in any large community, without the satisfaction of finding our Faith embraced by those whose habits of practical as well as speculative investigation, render them evidently the best able to appreciate its claims and to detect any imperfections in its proof.
So we trust it always may be ; and we are assured that the best models of the mode of investigating matters of legal controversy as the proof of facts, are writings on the evidences. Paley's treatise and that of Chalmers, on the oral testimony in favour of Christ's mission, Paley's examination of the writings of the apostle Paul, are, we are assured, the best models extant for forming the habit of examining oral and documentary evidence. These are subjects on which it is of vital importance, in a secular view, that a lawyer's habits should be right : in a spiritual view the importance is unspeakable. Mr. Greenleaf has doubtless felt this truth, and has also felt that his position would give to his labours some authority with his brethren and with the public. He has given himself honourably to the labour, and spread its results before the world.
It is long since Infidelity has found its advocates among the truly learned. Among the guesses and speculations of a small portion of unsanctified medical men, she still finds now and then a champion. Historians and philosophers have long since discussed her pretensions. And now from the Jurists and Lawyers, the practical masters of this kind of investigation, works are appearing, whereby not only an earnest reception of the Gospel is manifested, but the mode and means of investigation are pointed out and shown to correspond with those principles of action and of credit by which all human affairs are governed.
We lose in respect to our own investigations on this subject by its very sacredness We have an idle dread, that it is not open to free investigation : to severe practical tests. We need to be invited, to be pressed to examine this subject freely. Dr. Chalmers in one department of this inquiry has led the way. Mr. Greenleaf in another has also presented an example. And it will not be competent, after these men have thus investigated and taught the rules and laws of investigation, for any man who is not willing to arrogate superior claims to learning and ability, to turn aside superciliously from an examination of the Gospels.
Such are our views of this work, which we commend to all: to the legal profession, from the character of its topics and the rank of its author : to men desirous of knowledge, in every rank in life, because of its presenting this subject under such a treatment as every-day practical questions are treated with.