Изображения страниц

answer to epistles, and passages cited from those which they answer, directions and observations suited to the state of several churches, seeming contradictions, and real difficulties which might have easily been avoided, things mentioned which worldly considerations would have suppressed, and things omitted which invention and imagination might have supplied ; a character of Christ, arising from his words and actions, of a most singular kind, left to its intrinsic merit, and aided by no art ; and in the writings of St Paul, sentiments warm, pathetic, and coming from the heart; particularities in each gospel suitable to the character, knowledge, situation, and circumstances of each evangelist, &c. &c.

The forgers of these things, if they were such, must have equalled Father Harduin's * atheistical monks of the thirteenth century, who, according to his fantasucal account, in an age of ignorance and barbarity, surpassed in abilities all the ancients and moderns, forged the Latin and Greek authors wliom we call classical, and were not only great poets, orators, grammarians, linguists, and knaves, but great mathematicians, chronologers, astronomers, geographers, and critics, and capable of inserting, in their proper places, names and accounts of men, rivers, cities, and regions, eclipses of the sun and moon, Athenian archons, Attic months, Roman consuls, and olympiads, all which happy inventions have been since, confirmed by astronomical calculations and tables, voyages, inscriptions, fasti capitolini, fragments, ma


Harduin's craziness consisted in rejecting what all the world re-' ceived ; the opposite folly to which is the receiving what all the world rejects.



nuscripts, and a diligent comparing of authors witir each other.

There is not one page in the New Testament, which affords not internal characters of being composed by men who lived at the time when the things happened which are there related. This is as evident, as it is that the noble English historian, who wrote an account of the troubles in the time of Charles the First, was himself concerned in those transactions. The discourses of Christ, as I have observed elsewhere, are always occasional, and full of allusions to particular incidents. The historical parts of the New Testament, and the travels of Christ and of his apostles correspond with the accounts and descriptions which may be collected from other authors. In the judgment which Pilate passed upon Christ, the rules of the Roman law were observed *. What is accidentally mentioned concerning the behaviour of Felix and Gallio, and some others, agrees with the character which Roman writers have given of them. There are endless particularities of this kind which might be produced. A man of very ordinary abilities, who relates various things of which he has been an ear and an eye-witness, is under no difficulty or pain : but a forger, if he had the abilities of an angel, whose imagination must sup

ply 'M. Huber remarque fort bien, qu'il paroit, par toutes les circonstances du jugement de Pilate, qui toutes les regles du Droit Romain y furent exactement observées ; et que cela peut nous convaincre de la verité de cette histoire. Des gens du petit peuple parmi les Juifs, tels qu'étoient les Evangelistes, ne pouvoient pas être si bien instruits de cela; et s'ils ne l'avoient apprise de témoins oculaires, ils n'auroient jamais pu la raconter, comme ils ont fait, sans dire quelque chose qui se trouveroit contraire à l'usage des gouverneurs, dans les provin--, ces Romaines. Le Cleron Bibl. anc. et mod. T. x. p. 100. See ab so Huber, Dissert.

ply him with materials, can never write in such a manner, and if he has tolerable sense, will avoid entering into such a minute detail, in which he must perpetually expose his ignorance and his dishonesty.

Christ began to preach when he was about thirty years of age, and the Jews from his countenance judged him to be more advanced in life * He close apos tles, some of whom were married, one was employed in a public office, and, most were probably as old as himself, if not older. If they had not been cut off by martyrdom, yet few of them, in the course of nature, would have survived the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70. which was about 74 years after the birth of Christ. Ecclesiastical history assures us that St Peter and St Paul died before that time ; and Christ had told Peter that he should be put to death in his old age. : History informs us, that St John lived long after the destruction of Jerusalem, and Christ had given an intimation that he should see that event, for he said once to his disciples, There be some standing here who shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom; and afterwards, when Peter was desirous to know what should befal John, Christ replied, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

St John had seen the three gospels, for he wrote his own as a supplement to them, which appears plainly. in the harmony of the Evangelists. He omits these predictions of Christ, though he was present at that discourse, of which omission the most probable reason, is, that the other three had mentioned them.



* John viii. 57.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke, relate, that when the Jews came to seize Christ, a disciple drew his sword, and wounded one of them. John alone names him, and says that it was Simon Peter. The cause of their silence is obvious ; Peter was living when they wrote, and they suppressed his name for several reasons, but when John wrote, Peter was dead.

The three first evangelists make no mention of the resurrection of Lazarus, perhaps lest the Jews, who had consulted to put him to death, should assassinate him. When St John wrote, it is probable that he was dead, and therefore he gave a particular account of that resurrection.

There is reason to think, that St John also might compose a part at least of his gospel a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, since he speaks of the porches of Bethesda as standing *, v. 2. though this amounts, not to a full and conclusive proof, and may be a small inaccuracy of style, or, it may be, those porches remained undemolished.

St Luke ends his history of the Apostles with St Paul's dwelling at Rome for two years, A. D. 65. He mentions nothing farther, and therefore probably wrote: the Acts before the death of that apostle ; and he refers us to his own gospel, as to a book which he had published before. .

Ecclesiastical history † informs us, that Mark's gospel had the approbation of Peter, and that Mark was instructed by him, which opinion seems somewhat fa-. voured by the narration of Peter's fall and repentance. Matthew and Luke say, that he tocpt bitterly; Mark says


**Eçı di — xorupecklace. 'Hy d, which is in some few copies, is probably the emendation of a critic.

+ Euseb. i. 15.

only, he wept, but represents his crime in stronger terms than Luke. Matthew relates at large the commendation and the commission which Christ gave to Peter : Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona : for fresh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father wohich is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and ichatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heuven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven, xvi. 17. Mark omits it, viii. 29.

St Peter, who died before A. D. 70. mentioned the approaching ruin of Jerusalem, in the Acts of the Apostles *, and in his own epistles t, as the best commentators agree; and so does St James I, andSt Paull, and the author of the epistle to the Hebrews 1.

Papias ." And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” Acts ii. 19.

+ " But the end of all things is át hand. --- The time is come, that judgment must begin at the house of God. And if it first begin with us, what will be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear ?" 1 Pet. iv. 7.

I Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for the miseries that shall come upon you.-Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of our Lord. For thecoming of the Lord draweth nigh. The judge standeth before the door," James v. i.

W“ The Lord is at hand,” Phil. iv. 5. “To fill up their sins al ways; for wrath is come upon them to the uttermost," 1 Thess. xi. 16. “ The day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night," &c. 1 Thess. V. 2. The same event is also perhaps alluded to, 2 Thess. i. 6. doc. and 2 Thess. ii. 2. do's.

9 “ Ye bave need of patience that--ye might receive the promise.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »