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not find in them any new occasion of buffoonery or scurrility. He however ridicules the idea of the 'greater and lesser' prophets,' which common sense explains to mean no more, than that the books of the latter are much shorter than those of the former.
'I have now,' says this confident writer, ' gone 'through the Bible,' (meaning the Old Testament,) as a man would go through a wood, with ' an axe on his shoulder, and fell trees: here they lie; and the priests, if they can, may replant · them. They may stick them in the ground, but they will never grow.' A man going through a wood with an axe on his shoulder, and felling 'trees,' differs widely from cutting down the whole wood, and preventing the future growth of trees in it: and, if Mr. P. supposes that he has done this," it is as when a hungry man dreameth that "he eateth; but he awaketh and his soul is empty." You have busied yourself,' says Bishop Watson, ' in exposing to vulgar contempt 'a few unsightly shrubs; you have entangled 'yourself in thorns and briars; you have lost your way on the mountains of Lebanon: the goodly 'trees whereof, lamenting the madness, and pity'ing the blindness of your rage against them, 'have scorned the blunt edge and base temper of your axe, and laughed unhurt at the feebleness ' of your stroke.'
I appeal to every impartial man, who will bestow pains fairly to investigate the subject, whether Mr. P. has substantiated a single charge against the
' P. i. p. 18.
writers of the Old Testament.
In very many in
stances he has proved himself ignorant of the book which he opposes; and a false witness and calumniator. He has shewn, indeed, that the contents of the Old Testament do not always accord to modern notions, or to man's imaginations and self-flattering opinions; that its arrangement is not formed on modern notions of method; and that, in a history of much above three thousand years, some trivial difficulties are found, for which, after above two thousand years since the close of it, it is not easy for us to account: but the grand design, tendency, and effect of the whole; and all the unanswerable proofs of a divine original from miracles, prophecies, internal evidences, and the present state of the Jews, and other nations, remain untouched; and, I will venture to affirm, beyond the reach of every hostile assailant.
Aware of Mr. P.'s talents and determined hostility and resolution; and conscious that a joyless life and hopeless death must be the consequence, if the only source of my confidence and consolation could be torn from me; I opened his books with a sort of trepidation. But I must declare that I never felt a firmer assurance that the Bible is the word of God, than I do at this moment; having seen how very small, and how very frivolous is the sum total of what the keenest capacity and most virulent enmity can produce against it.
MR. P. opens his attack on this part of the scripture by saying, 'The New Testament, they tell us, ' is founded on the prophecies of the old: if so, it 'must follow the fate of its foundation."-Injudicious concessions have often been made by the friends of truth: and this seems to be one. The prophecies of the Old Testament prepared the way for the coming of Christ; and, as accomplished in him, they constitute an unanswerable proof that Christianity is a divine revelation. The testimony of our Lord and his apostles likewise confirms the divine inspiration of the Old Testament: and, when the apostle reasoned with the Jews, they reasoned from the scriptures, as allowed by them to be "the oracles of God;" not resting the cause exclusively on miracles. But they addressed the gentiles in another manner: and the New Testament stands on its own basis: internal and external evidence confirms most fully its divine original; and it might alone support the authority of the Old Testament also, had we not other proof in abundance. But indeed the two parts of scripture give stability and symmetry to each other.
'P. ii. p. 64.
The Old Testament led to an expectation of the New, as its completion; the New Testament presupposes the truth of the history, and the divine authority of the laws, ordinances, and instructions of the Old.
Mr. P. admits in a hesitating manner that such a person as Christ may have existed; adding, that there is no ground either to believe or disbe'lieve!" Indeed! Was the existence of any one man since the creation ever so undeniably proved? It would be comparatively a moderate degree of scepticism, to doubt the existence of Alexander, Julius Cæsar, or Mohammed: for the effect of their existence, on the state of mankind in all succeeding ages, is very small, compared with that produced by Christianity: and how could that religion have existed if Christ had not existed? -But, it is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in 'the New Testament, and the wild and visionary 'doctrines raised thereon,' that he contends against.' It would have been more explicit had he stated what he thought to be the fable,' and what he allowed to be possibly the fact. But as he has not done this; we can only say, that the indisputable facts allowed by Jews and Gentiles, and commemorated in days and ordinances, from those times to the present day, leave but scanty materials for the fable which he meant to oppose.
It is now generally allowed that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph in the line of Solomon, and Luke that of Mary in the line of Nathan, sons of David. The method in use among the Jews, in
1 P. ii. p. 65.
keeping their registers, required the name of Joseph to be inserted, instead of that of Mary his wife, as constituting a link in the chain or pedigree and it was proper that both genealogies should be given. This solution of the difficulty is so obvious and satisfactory, that it is wonderful any difference in sentiment should have prevailed among learned men on the subject. The writers of the New Testament would not have had common sense, if they had inserted manifest contradictions in their narratives and forgery could have no occasion for them, as it would have been very easy for one of them to copy from the others. Indeed lists of names are strange things to forge! Though I firmly believe that the evangelists wrote by the superintending inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I suppose they copied such matters from the public registers: and, as none of the ancient enemies of Christianity attempted to disprove these genealogies while the original registers existed, it will be wonderful if proof should now be given that they were falsified.
The genealogy of Matthew, from David to Christ, contains no more than twenty-seven generations, and Mr. P. asserts on this account that it is not 'so much as a reasonable lie:' for he computes that, upon an average, every one in this succession lived to the age of forty, before his eldest son was born. He should have said his eldest surviving son, yet that would have been but little to the purpose. For Solomon was not David's eldest son; Abijah was not Rehoboam's: and, after the cap