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Genealogy, according to
Matthew. 23 Josaphat 24 Asa 25 Abia 26 Roboam 27 Solomon 28 David*
Genealogy, according to
Now, if these men, Matthew and Luke, set out with a falsehood between them (as these two accounts shew they do] in the very commencement of their history of Jesus Christ, and of whom, and of what he was, what authority (as I have before asked) is there left for believing the strange things they tell us afterwards? If they cannot be believed in their account of his natural genealogy : how are we to believe them, when they tell us, he was the son of God, begotten by a ghost; and that an angel announced this in secret to his mother ? If they lied in one genealogy, why are we to believe them in the other ? If his natural genealogy be manufactured, which it certainly is, why are we not to suppose, that his celestial genealogy is manufactured also; and that the whole is fabulous ? Can any man of serious reflection hazard his future happiness upon the belief of a story naturally impossible · repug
* From the birth of David to the birth of Christ is upwards of 1080 years ; and as the life time of Christ is not included, there are but 27 full generations. To find therefore the average age of each person mentioned in the list, at the time his first son was born, it is only necessary to divide 1080 by 27, which gives 40 years for each person. As the lifetime of man was then but of the same extent it is now, it is an absurdity to suppose, that 27 following generations should all be old bachelors, before they married; and the more so, when we are told, that Solomon, the next in succession to David, had a house full of wives and mistresses before he was twenty-one years of age. So far from this genealogy being a solemn truth, it is not even a reasonable lie. The list of Luke gives about twenty-six for the average age, and this is too much,
nant to every idea of decency; and related by persons already detected of falsehood? Is it not more safe, that we stop ourselves at the plain, pure, and unmixed belief of one God, which is Deism, than that we commit ourselves on an ocean of improbable, irrational, indecent, and contradictory tales ?
The first question, however, upon the books of the New Testament, as upon those of the Old, is, Are they genuine ? were they written by the persons to whom they are ascribed ? for it is upon this ground only, that the strange ings related therein have been credited. Upon this point, there is no direct proof, for or against , and all that this state of a case proves, is doubtfulness; and doubtfulness is the opposite of belief. The state, therefore, that the books are in, proves against themselves as far as this kind of proof
But, exclusive of this, the presumption is, that the books called the Evangelists, and ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and that they are impositions. The disordered state of the history in these four books, the silence of one book upon matters related in the other, and the disagreement that is to be found among them, implies, that they are the production of some unconnected individuals, many years after the thir they pretend to relate, each of whom made his own legend; and not the writings of men living intimately together, as the men called apostles are supposed to have done : in fine, that they have been manufactured, as the books of the Old Testament have been, by other persons than those whose names they bear.
The story of the angel announcing what the church calls the immaculate conception, is not so much as mentioned in the books ascribed to Mark and John; and is differently related in Matthew and Luke. The former says, the angel appeared to Joseph ; the latter says, it was to Mary ; but either, Joseph or Mary, was the worst evidence that could have been thought of: for it was others that should have testified for them, and not they for themselves. Were any girl that is now with child to say, and even to swear it, that she was gotten with child by a ghost, and that an angel told her so, would she be believed ? Certainly she would not. Why then are we to believe the same thing of another girl whom we never saw, told by nobody knows who, nor when, nor where ! How strange and inconsistent it is, that the same circumstance that would weaken the belief even of a probable story, should be given as a motive for believing this one that has upon the face of it every token of absolute impossibility and imposture !
The story of Herod destroying all the children under two years old, belongs altogether to the book of Matthew ; not one of the rest mentions any thing about it. Had such a circumstance been true, the universality of it must have made it known to all the writers; and the thing would have been too striking, to have been omitted
by any. This writer tells us, that Jesus escaped this slaughter, because Joseph and Mary were warned by an angel to flee with him unto Egypt; but he forgot to make any provision for John, who was then under two years of age. John, however, who staid behind, fared as well as Jesus, who fled; and therefore the story circumstantially belies itself.
Not any two of these writers agree in reciting, exactly in the same words, the written inscription, short as it is, which, they tell us, was put over Christ when he was crucified ; and besides this, Mark says, He was crucified at the third hour (nine in the morning]; and John
it was the sixth hour (twelve at noon.*] The inscription is thus stated in these books.
Matthew This is Jesus the king of the Jews.
John Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews. We may infer from these circumstances, trivial as they are, that those writers, whoever they were, and in whatever time they lived, were not present at the scene. The only one of the men called apostles, who appears to have been near the spot, was Peter; and when he was accused of being one of Jesus's followers, it is said (Matthew, chap. xxvi., ver. 74), “Then Peter began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man;" yet we are now called upon to believe the same Peter, convicted by their own account of perjury. For what reason or on what authority shall we do this ?
The accounts that are given of the circumstances that, they tell us, attended the crucifixion, are differently related in these four books.
The book ascribed to Matthew says, chap. xxvii. ver. 45, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth "hour.” Ver. 51, 52, 53, “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent : and the graves were opened ; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Such is the account which this dashing writer of the book of Matthew gives ; but in which he is not supported by the writers of the other books.
The writer of the book ascribed to Mark, in detailing the circumstances of the crucifixion, makes no mention of any earthquake, nor of the rocks rending, nor of the graves opening, nor of the dead men walking out. The writer of the book of Luke is silent also upon the same points. And as to the writer of the book of John, though he details all the circumstances of the crucifixion down to the burial of Christ, he says nothing about either the darkness—the
• According to John, the sentence was not passed till about the sixth hour (noon), and consequently, the execution could not be till the afternoon; but Mark says expressly, that he was crucified at the third hour (nine in the morning), chap. xv., ver. 25, John, chap. xix., ver. 14.
reil of the temple the earthquake-the rocks—the graves-nor the dead men.
Now, if it had been true, that those things had happened, and if the writers of these books had lived at the time they did happen, and had been the persons they are said to be, namely, the four men called apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it was not possible for them, as true historians, even without the aid of inspiration, not to have recorded them. The things, supposing them to have been facts, were of too much notoriety not to have been known, and of too much importance not to have been told. All these supposed apostles must have been witnesses of the earthquake, if there had been any ; for it was not possible for them to have been absent from it; the opening of the graves, and the resurrection of the dead men, and their walking about the city, is of greater importance than the earthquake. An earthquake is always possible, and natural, and proves nothing ; but this opening of the graves is supernatural, and directly in point to their doctrine, their cause, and their apostleship.' Had it been true, it would have filled up whole chapters of those books, and been the chosen theme and general chorus of all the writers, but instead of this, little and trivial things, and mere prattling conversations of, he said this, and he said that, are often tediously detailed, while this most important of all, had it been true, is passed off in a slovenly manner by a single dash of the pen, and that by one writer only, and not so much as hinted at by the rest.
It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told. The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again, and went into the city, and what became of them afterwards, and who it was that saw them; for be is not hardy enough to say he saw them himself;—whether they came out naked, and all in natural buff, hesaints and she-saints; or whether they came full dressed, and where they got their dresses : whether they went to their forner habitations and reclaimed their wives, their husbands, and their property, and how they were received; whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions, or brought actions of crim. con. against the rival interlopers; whether they remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or working; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive and buried themselves.
Strange indeed, that an army of saints should return to life, and Lobody know who they were, nor who it was that saw them, and that not a word more should be said upon the subject, nor these saicts have any thing to tell us ! Had it been the prophets who [as we are told] had formerly prophesied of these things, they must have had a great deal to say. They could have told us every thing, and we should have had posthumous prophecies, with notes and commentaries upon the first, a little better at least than we have
Had it been Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua, and Samuel, and David, not an unconverted Jew had remained in all Jerusalem. Had it been John the Baptist, and the saints of the time then present, every body would have known them, and they would have out-preached and out-famed all the other apostles. But instead of this, these saints are made to pop up, like Jonah's gourd, in the night, for no purpose at all but to wither in the morning. Thus much for this part of the story.
The tale of the resurrection follows that of the crucifixion ; and in this as well as in that, the writers, whoever they were, disagreeso much, as to make it evident that none of them were there.
The book of Matthew states, that when Christ was put in the sepulchre, the Jews applied to Pilate for a watch or a guard to be placed over the sepulchre to prevent the body being stolen by the disciples ; and that in consequence of this request, the sepulchre was made sure, sealing the stone that covered the mouth, and setting a watch. But the other books say nothing about this application, nor about the sealing, nor the guard, nor the watch, and according to their accounts there were none. Matthew, however, follows up this part of the story of the guard or the watch with a second part, that I shall notice in the conclusion, as it serves to detect the fallacy of these books.
The book of Matthew continues its account, and says, [chap. xxviii, ver. 1,] that at the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn, toward the first day of the week, came Mary Mugdalene and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. Mark says it was sun-rising, and John says it was dark. Luke says it was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women, that came to the sepulchre; and John states, that Mary Magdalene came alone. So well do they agree about their first evidence ! They all, however, appear to have known most about Mary Magdalene ; she was a woman of a large acquaintance, and it was not an ill conjecture that she might be upon the stroll.
The book of Matthew goes on to say, (ver. 2,] “And behold, there was a great earthquake, for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” But the other books say nothing about any earthquake, nor about the angel rolling back the stone, and sitting upon it ; and, according to their accounts, there was no angel sitting there. Mark says, the angel was within the sepulchre sitting on the right side. Luke says there were two, and they were both standing up; and John says, they were both sitting down, one at the head and the other at the feet.
Matthew says, that the angel that was sitting upon the stone on the outside of the sepulchre told the two Marys that Christ was risen, and that the women went away quickly. Mark says, that the women, upon seeing the stone rolled away, and wondering at