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been made like the Son of God.* By the same art he tarns the vail which Moses put over his face where it shone, into a type of the Jews not understanding the scriptures, that is, his spiritual sense of them.t In the same way he pretends that God himself preached the gospel to Abraham. I By the same help he declares the baptism of the Israelites unto Moses. This he finds typified by their passing the Red sea, and their being under the cloud of smoke. The water which the Israelites drank from the rock Moses struck, he calls spiritual drink; and he not only makes that rock to follow the camp, but will have the rock itself to be the Messiah.|| By the same never-failing art he proves that the tribe of Levy paid tithe some hundred years before its existence. I In short, the passover, the tabernacle and every thing in it, the Israelites' wanderings in the wilderness, their entering into the land of Canaan, and the whole Jewish economy and history is, by St. Paul, turned into types; and he makes every thing subservient to his point. But if this method proves any thing, it proves that the
same passages and figures might prove a thousand things besides, - for which they may be made to stand, and such proofs would be to the full, as conclusive as St. Paul's..
This must be the natural consequence of believing that the letter killeth, or rather of resolving to kill the letter ; because, otherwise the letter would kill their purposes : and when once we embrace the opinion of making the terms which are peculiar to one thing, stand for another, the same thing may be made to typify things the most opposite and contrary to each other. Thus it is observed, that the serpent was remarkable for an insidious cunning, and therefore stands as a proper emblem of a deceiver."** Another asserts that "it cannot be doubted but under the nanie of the serpent we ought to understand the devil.”+$. Yet, notwithstanding the serpent stands for and means the devil, one of the evangelists declares, “ as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the son of man be listed up:"If by which means the serpent serves to typify both Jesus and the devil. Such strange things are allegories! A fruitful imagination might still carry the allegory farther, and show how the serpent caused the people to err by the worship which was paid it.
* Heb. vii. 3. † 2. Cor. iii. 13. 15. I Galat. iii. 8. 8 1. Cor. x. 1, 2. || Ibid. 3. I Heb. vii. 9, 10. ** Sherloch on prophecy. p. 57. tt Calmet's Dict.--on the word serpent. It John. iii. 14.
Now let me seriously ask, can such whims he admitted for proofs? or can any one pretend the conversion of the Jews on such evidence ? May we not as well believe Luther to have been the antitype of Aaron, (as one of his followers pretended) because he first set up the candlestick of the reformation? or shall we believe Calvin to have been the antitype of the same High Priest ? (as one of his followers pretended, “because it was beyond all doubt, (says be) that if he had not taken the snuffers into his hand, the candlestick must have given so dim a light, that few people would have been the better for it ?"* Pray, is there not just the same foundation for the idle dreams of Luther's and Calvin's followers in making each their master to be Aaron's antitype, as there is for those others made by St. Paul? If we believe the one, why not the other? Can such reveries pass because delivered under the name of this or that man? The authority of all men 'must be upon a level, if they deliver thing's alike inconsistent, or equally contrary to facts. How easily may scripture be applied to every passage of a man's life, if such liberty be allowed? but certainly any person would be deservedly laughed at, who should pretend to prove the actions of his life from thence by turning it into types. It is therefore evident that the prophecies ought to be taken in their plainest and most obvious sense, and literal meaning: “for it is but justice to the omnipotent being, to believe that he speaks candidly and intelligibly to his creatures ;”+ and is highly derogating from the goodness of God to think otherwise ; and therefore the contrary method, when made use of, must be incoherent and inconsistent, enthusiastical and erroneous, invented for unwarrantable purposes, and made use of to deceive and blind our eyes for lack of better proof, excluding the scripture from any meaning at all, and as it may be made use of to prove any thing, and to square to every man's opinion, it can of course have ne force in argument, and therefore cannot be produced in proof of any thing. Of this opinion was Bishop Smallbrook, who says, “so very fanciful a thing is allegorical interpretation, that not only different fathers build different
* Le Clerck. Bibl. tom. 10. p. 313. See likewise Universal History, p. 404. v. 3. 7 Independent Whig. No. 74.
allegories on the same facts, but the very same fathers, at different times, and on different subjects, make different applications of the very same literal story;* and in his preface, he says, “ allegories prove any thing out of any thing.”+
I cannot better conclude this letter, than with a passage of the same bishop, I viz :-"all that I would desire of the reader here, is to observe the great uncertainty of mystical interpretation in itself, as it is a mere creature of fancy."
• (Continued from page 187.). You will, perhaps, reverend sir, consider it a bold undertaking on my part, to attempt to show that there never was such a person as Jesus of Nazareth. I grant that it is so ; but I am not the first who has maintained this position. The celebrated Volney, in the notes to his “ Ruins of Empires,” has assigned, what appear to me, conclusive reasons for rejecting the whole account given in your sacred books, respecting your Messiah, as an idle, and cunningly devised fable. I am well assured, also, that the Emperor Napoleon made no secret of his disbelief in the existence of Jesus. One who had it from his own mouth, told me, that that Emperor had caused a strict inquiry to be made on the subject, and that this resulted in satisfying him there was as little ground for considering Jesus of Nazareth a real personage, as there was for believing in the existence of the divinities of the Romans, or other heathen nations.
It is an undoubted fact, that no historian cotemporary with the supposed, writers of your New Testament, mention your Messiah as a person of whose reality there could be no doubt. The Roman historian Tacitus, is not only silent on this particular, but from his not noticing the wonderful events said to have accompanied the birth, life, and death of Jesus, he evidently heard nothing of them in his time, or if he did hear of them, he
* Vin. of the Miracles. c. 5. p. 254. † Ibid. p. 8. Ibid. c. 8. p. 359.
$ Napoleon Buonaparte, in conversation with M, Despire, author of a work entitled “The Origin of All Religious Worships," in presence of The Chancellor Livingston, observed, that he established the catholic religion for the French, not because he believed that such a person as Jesus ever existed, but that it was necessary to adopt a religion to suit the prejudices of the people ; "and this,” said M. Despire,“ is my opinion also.”
regarded them as utterly unworthy of belief or attention, and the mere inventions of some disordered brain. It was peculiarly the business of this historian, to put on record all the events, however trifling, which had occurred in the Roman empire. To enable him to do this satisfactorily, he had access to the public archives, consisting of the reports regularly made to the governors of the different provinces, of every thing which had occurred under their government. Had such a person as Jesus of Nazareth appeared in Judea, and attracted the notice of the public in the way mentioned in your gospels, it was impossible the governor of that province could neglect rendering an account of these astonishing transactions to his imperial master; and if rendered, it cannot be doubted, from the well known impartiality of Tacitus, that he would have given a faithful detail of what had been reported. Nothing of all tbis occurred. The acknowledged authentic historian of Rome is silent on the appearance and wonderful works of a personage in whose identity and character, not only the Roman empire, but the whole world, is said to have been deeply interested.
To the conclusive evidence of the non-existence af Jesus of Nazareth, arising from the silence of Tacitus, I might add, that of Josephus, and Philo. They are, no doubt, historians belonging to our nation, but the circumstance of their having been allowed, on all hands, to be impartial writers, utterly precludes the idea of their having suppressed any thing in their works, which had the appearance of authenticity. Now not a word is to be found in the writings of these authors, either respecting the appearance of your Messiah,or the mighty things he is said to have done. I shall make every allowance you can ask, for what you may call their “natural prejudices ;" but I defy you to impugn their testimony, when you find it so completely substantiated by the prince of Roman historians, Tacitus.
I am perfectly aware, that there is now in the hands of your votaries, an edition of the works of Josephus, in which our countryman is made to say of Jesus of Nazareth what he could never have said, without becoming one of his followers. The passage, however, to which I allude, has long been proved to be a forgery; one of those “ pious frauds," which has been found necessary in all ages to resort to, in Yorder to give credence to your system, and to maintain your usurped authority over the minds of your credulous and deluded followers.
It is in vain for you to pretend that the extensive belief in the existence of the founder of your religion, is a sufficient proof of his having actually appeared on the earth. The Chinese, and other nations of the East, can boast of a much greater number of believers in their religious dogmas. Of one thousand million of people inhabiting this globe, you can
only enumerate about 213 millions who profess to have heard of the name of your Messiah. If numbers, therefore, are to decide the question, it must follow, that the idols of the Chinese, of the natives of Hindostan, of the Persians, of the Tartar tribes, to say nothing of the worshippers of the terrible Oden, and the innumerable divinities of the Northern and African nations, would all have equally well founded claims with your Jesus, to be acknowledged the true and only Deity that ought to be adored. .
The truth is, the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, whom you call your Messiah, has no other foundation than that given it by your gospels ; their authority is, now-a-days, admitted without examination, and a confidence reposed in them to which they are not entitled. It shall be my business, in subsequent letters, to demonstrate this in the fullest manner; and if I succeed, as I am confident I shall, in the estimation of every liberal minded man, in making it appear that these gospels are not what they pretend to be, but palpable forgeries, it will remain for those who are so tenacious of the actual existence of Jesus, to produce some better proof than they now offer to our nation, that this imaginary personage was really and truly the Messiah who was “ to redeem Israel.” The assertion that the existence of Jesus is as well established as that of Julius Cæsar, or most of the ancient celebrated characters, even though it were true, which I deny, can have no effect on this question ; because it is a matter of indifference whether Cæsar lived or not. But, in the case under consideration, we are told it is of the greatest importance to our future welfare that we should believe in the mission of your Messiah, and that we shall be doomed to everlasting misery, if, after having heard his gospel preached, we should be so unfortunate as to see cause to reject it. In the ordinary affairs of life, we never yield our assent to the rules or regulations which may be proposed for our government, without having reasoned on, and examined them thoroughly. Why then should we adopt a system involving our eternal condition, on evidence less satisfactory? Why should we admit the proofs of the existence of a pretended supernatural being, which would be rejected were they to be offered in support of one who had no such pretensions, and who, even if his realitywere placed beyond all dispute, would still be a being like ourselves ? (To be continued.)
The list of authorities noticed by Abraham, in confirmation of his position, is omittted, as authority can never be allowed as proof; and although the existence of Jesus may, at this day, not be susceptible of affirmative proof, not having been noticed by historians, neither can their silence be considered as proofs of his non-existence ; being at least only negative evidence, or rather the want of evidence, and only shows that if he did exist, he was not of celebrity sufficient to be noticed by them.-This I am of opinion, was the real state of the case. É, J.,