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should be set aside,* and others substituted in their place. He was well aware that they had been written by the express command of God, as everlasting memorials for the guidance of his people, and that every attempt to question their divine authority and binding nature throughout all ages, would be nothing short of blasphemy. Hence the extreme caution which Jesus is acknowledged to have shown on this subject; and hence the lesson which he thereby gave his followers, constantly to regard the law as promulgated on the Mount, as the only “ light to their feet, and lamp to their paths." It is no doubt written in “ the gospels,” that those divine precepts had been violated, and many false interpretations put on them by some of our nation. But, granting this to have been the case, it no where appears that this was assigned as a reason by Jesus, for abrogating the law in toto. On the contrary, he most explicitly declared, that the only object he had in view was a reformation in the conduct of its professors. The law itself was “ boly, just, and true,” which he came not to destroy, but to “ fulfil,” hy calling the attention of those who had departed from it, to its true spirit and meaning, and not to any project he had in view of establishing a new religion by the substitute of another code.
The obvious deduction from these facts is, that the books now in the bands of ......ians are not of divine authority, and never could have been written by the immediate followers of Jesus. This, indeed, is put beyond all dispute by ecclesiastical history, from which it clearly appears that the gospels were the production of persons who lived many years after the days of the apostles, and who, in consequence of the numerous sects and parties into whieh the new religion was then divided, found it necessary to fabricate books, and to palm them on one or other of these apostles, for the purpose of supporting their own particular creed. St. Augustinet admits that Faustus had good reason for charging the early ......ians with practising this deceit, when he asserted, that “the gospels and epistles were not written by the apostles, but a long time after them, by certain obscure persons, who, lest no credit should be given to their stories, did prefix to their writings the names of the apostles, and partly of those who succeeded the apostles; affirming that what
Matt. v. v. 19.
+ Augustine Contra Faustus, lib. 32. c. ?
they wrote themselves was written by these.” Iræneus* also complained of these pious frauds. He says “that in order to amaze the simple, and such as are ignorant of the scriptures of truth, they
obtrude on them an inexpressible multitude of apocryphal and - spurious scriptures, of their own devising.t I might quote a host
of ancient writers in support of the same fact, were it not that it is put beyond all dispute by the admissions of modern writers on church history. Such, however, as are curious to know more of this matter, will find detailed accounts of the frauds practised in the early periods of ......ianity, by the framers of gospels, epistles, &c. in the writings of Origin, Tillemont, Epiphanius, Clemens Romanus, Ignatius, Justin, and Clemens of Alexandria, all of whom are ranked among the fathers; and (among the moderns) similar accounts may be seen in Dodwell's Dissertations on Iræneus; in the work of the profound Freret, entitled “ Examen Critique des Apologistes de la Religious Chretienne;" in the “ Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti,” published at Hamburgh in 1719; in the elaborate and learned writings of Toland, particularly his “ Defence of the Life of Milton;" and in a variety of other celebrated works on ecclesiastical history.
These spurious gospels and epistles were the natural consequence of the religion, intended to be established, being without any solid foundation. Had Jesus possessed authority to give a new revelation to mankind, or bad that power been conferred on any of his disciples after his decease, the revelation itself would have carried with it evidence of its divine authority; it would have had the seal
* fræneus Adversus Hæres, lib. iii. chap. 17.
+ I have now before me a list of these books, amounting to upwards of seventy, which a celebrated author of the last century ascertained to have once existed, by the evidence of the Nazarene fathers, who frequently quoted them in their writings, but which are now destroyed. Among these early writings, I find a gospel attributed to each of the following Nazarenes: Peter, Andrew, James, Bartholomew, Philip, Thomas, Thaddeus, Matthias, Paul, and Barnabas; another gospel of John, and of Mark, with numerous epistles, books of the nativity, doctrines, preachings, liturgies, itineraries, judgments, acts, memorials, traditions, passions, visions, narratives, precepts, and revelations. In this curious list, there are no less than eight books attributed to Mary, one of which is entitled, “ The Book of the Virgin Mary and her Midwife," and another, “ The Book of Mary, concerning the Miracles of ......, and the Ring of King Solomon." --Jesus, also, was believed to have been the author of seven books or tracts, one of which, it is said, he “ dropt down from heaven.”
Toland's Life of Millon. VOL. 1.
of the Almighty stamped on it; uniformity and consistency would have run through all its pages; and not a line nor a word could have been corrupted or counterfeited by impious man. But what do we find, even only a few years remote from the period in which Jesus and his apostles are said to have lived ? Not one uniform, clear, and consistent code, such as that which God gave to our fathers; but an almost incalculable number of gospels, epistles, acts, liturgies, creeds, revelations, and oracles of Sybils, every one of which containing doctrines opposed to, and subversive of the others. Had the gospel attributed to Matthew been the true history of Jesus, where was the use of the other gospels? The Almighty was surely capable of revealing bimself sufficiently in one history; “but in those days there existed not only four but fifty gospels,”* all of them pretending to fidelity, and to have been the works of apostles, or disciples, who were inspired by heaven to proclaim the true faith. If these gospels had been written in as many different languages as there were different people on the earth, and corresponded in all their parts, the reason for having so many might have been apparent. But this is not pretended; while it is an undeniable fact, that the four books afterward selected from this incomprehensible mass of writings, and now received as authentic, contradict each other in the narration given of the most prominent parts of the life and sayings of Jesus. Had they been really inspired by God it would have been impossible they could have varied, far less contradicted each other. Even were the question of inspiration abandoned, these contradictions would still prove fatal to their authenticity, because if the writers of these books were really eye witnesses, as is asserted, of the events they have recorded, they would have been uniform in their narratives, especially in a case where the faith of future generations depended so much on the accuracy, consistency, and intrinsic value of their testimony. We know of no rule by which the statements of four witnesses, disagreeing as to facts, can be received in any ordinary question. Much less ought such doubtful evidence to be admitted in a case where it is brought forward to subvert the acknowledged laws of God, which he has given for an " everlasting covenant,” and on the faithful observance of which alone the happiness of his people depends.
ABRAHAM. * Collins' Grounds and Reasons, p. 44.
EXAMINATION OF ST. MATTHEW.
Continued from page 236. That some of the books or writings of the prophets are lost to us is certain. We read of the book of Nathan the prophet, the book of Gad the seer; these books are not now to be found, and some are of opinion the book of Jasher is also lost. But, however this may be, it is certain we have the writings, the scriptures, the books of all the prophets that were in being at the time the gospel according to St. Matthew was written, or even when St. Matthew is said to have lived; therefore, when St. Matthew is made to refer us to the books of the prophets, or the words of the prophets, which is the same thing, since we say Jind dix337 927Bydebri Hanybeim Kathub, in the words of the prophets is written, or 273 zinda Hikathub Bydibbi, &c. as is written in the words of the prophets ; so that it is apparent that the words of the prophets means the books of the prophets" what was spoken by the prophets are the words of the prophets.” If this is correct, I am very much puzzled, for I find words quoted in St. Matthew as being spoken by the prophets, which are no where recorded in any part of the prophets. St. Matthew, chap. ii. v. 23. " And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, he shall be called a Nazarene.” What the writer of St. Matthew could have intended by venturing such a quotation, (which is not to be found in any one of the prophets) as being spoken by several, if not all the prophets, must be left to those who hold him to have been inspired, to say. In fact, the prophets never said any thing like it; not only the exact words quoted by St. Matthew as having been spoken by them, are no where recorded by any one of them; but even no other set of words, signifying that the Messiah should be called a Nazarene. The Bible marginal references are to Judges xiii. 5. and I Samuel i. 11.
In Judges xiii. 5. are these words, “ For lo, thou art bearing and shall give birth to a son; and po razor shall come on his head : for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb : and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
And in 1 Samuel i. 11. thus, “ And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.”
Now, in the name of common sense, do any of these quotations treat of the Messiah? or say any thing concerning a Nazarene? Both Sampson and Samuel were Nazarites, but not Nazarenes; Nazarene is a man from the town of Nazareth, and is thus expressed in Hebrew, 312 Notsree. Nazarite, means set apart, and is thus written in Hebrew, 713 Nazar, so that Nazarite cannot intend Nazarene, and I can no where find that the Messiah was or is to be called a Nazarene, or Nazarite.
ויאמר יהושע אל העס לו תוכלו לעבד את ח"כי אלהים קדשים הוא אל קנוא הוא לא ישא לפשעכם ולחטאותיכם:
And Joshua said unto the people, ye cannot-serve the Lord because he is Elohim holy ones : he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions, por your sins.” Josh. xxiv. 19.
In plainer language Joshua could not have expressed bimself to the people, on whom he wished to impress the impossibility, the utter impossibility of their serving the Lord as a plural God, as a God holy ones. This service, he tells them, is forsaking the Lord, is a trausgression and sin that he will not forgive, and which would cause their utter destruction, because he is a jealous God, that is, he is jealous of his worship ; be tells them, verse 15, If it is evil in your sight to serve, the LORD, make your choice this day whom you will serve either the Elohim whom your fathers served, who are worshipped on the other side of the river Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell. Hence it appears to be more sinful for Israel to serve the Lord as a God holy ones as a plurality in unity, than it would have been to have chosen to worship strange gods. (God guard us.) This is the whole argument of Joshua -“And now fear the LORD and serve wim, d'ona with persection (altogether) and with truth; and put away the Elohim