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the pretensions of Jesus, considered the sign, and thus knew that it was 66 the last hour," and that his master was soon to appear.
It appears from the 2nd Epistle of Peter, ch. iii. that there were many in his days who scoffed at his master, saying contemptuously, “where is the promise of his coming ?" And Peter replies by telling them that their contempt is misplaced, for that 6 one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” John, in the 1st eh. of Revelations says, concerning the coming of Jesus, “ Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” And in the last chapter of Revela. tions he represents Jesus, as saying, “Surely I come quickly”!
In short, the Apostles, when they wanted to encourage their desponding Proselytes, they usually did it with such words as these, “ be anxious for nothing, the Lord is, at hand.”—“ Behold! the Judge standeth before the door.”_" Be patient, therefore, Brethren, (says James) for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh...And this persuasion did not end, as might be expected, with that century; for we find that the Heathens frequently laughed at the expectations of the Primitive Christians, who, till the fourth century, never gave up the expectation of the impending advent of their master. Nay, so rooted was this idea in their minds, that, understanding the words of Jesus concerning John, “ if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee," to mean that that disciple should not die, but survive till the glorions appearance of his. Lord, so far were they from being convinced of the vanity of their expectations by that Apostle's actual decease, that they insisted, that, though he was buried, he was not dead, but only slept, and that the earth over his body rose and fell with the action of bis breathing!!
It is now hardly necessary to add, that Jesus did not at all answer the character of a true Prophet, when tested by the criteriun laid down in Deut. for ascertaining the truth of the claims of a prophet to a divine mission.
Let us now see, whether he taught the worship of other Beings beside Jehovah, for if he did, the other test laid down in Deut. will also decide against him. Now did he not command the worship of himself in these words “ all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father" ? This certainly commands to render to Jesus the same homage which is rendered to God. I might prove that his Disciples did worship him, by referring to many passages in the New Testament, especially in the Revelations; in the latter part of which, Jesus is represented as saying, “ I am the Alpha, and the Omega, the beginning, and the end, the first, and the last,” terms applied to Jehovah in Isaiah, where God says, (as if in express opposition to such doctrine) that there is no God with him : He knows not any ; there was none before him, neither shall there be any after him.” I could also adduce many passages relating to Jehovah of Hosts, quoted from the Old Testament, and applied in the New to Jesus. Witness the following : Jo. xii. 41, alludes to Isaiah vi. 5; Rev. i. 8, 11, 17, and ii. 8, to Isaiah xli. 4, xliii. 11, and xliv. 6; Jo. xxi. 16, 17, and Rev. ii. 23, to 1st Kings viii. 39, Po. vii. 9, Jer. xi. 20, and xvii. 20, Rev. xx. 12, to Is. xl. 10;-and, to crown all, Jesus in Rev. i. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, is described in almost the same words as is the Supreme God," the Ancient of Days,” in Daniel vii. ch. and were there not other proofs in abundance to this purpose, this resemblance alone would decide me.
I now leave it to the cool judgment of the reader, whether Jesus prophecied truly; or did, or did not teach the duty of paying religious homage to other Beings besides God? and if so, it is consequent, according to the tests by Christians acknowledged to be given by God himself in Deuteronomy, that Jesus was not sent by, or from Him; for if he was,-GOD'S OWN WORDS WOULD BE CONTRADICTED BY GOD'S OWN DEEDS.
In the preceding Chapters, I have taken the New "Testament as I found it, and have argued upon the sup. position that Jesus and the apostles really said, and reasoned, as has been stated. I shall now endeavour to show, by an examination of the authenticity of the four Gospels, and it is not certain, that they were really guilty of such mistakes as are related of them in those Books.
* The Life and Doctrines of Jesus, and his Follow. ers, are contained in the pieces composing the Volume called the New Testament. The genuineness of the Books, i. e. whether they were written by those to whom they are ascribed, must be judged of from the external testimony concerning them, and from internal marks in the books themselves. For the miraculous acts therein, and therein only contained, and related, cannot prove the truth, and authenticity of the Books, because the authority, and credibility of the Books themselves must be firmly established, before the miracles related in them can reasonably be admitted as real facts.
Now the external evidence in favour of these Books is the testimony of those men called “the Fathers." And as the value of testimony depends upon the character of the witnesses, it would be proper first to state as much as can be learned of these men. As time will not permit me to adduce all that might be said upon this subject, I shall here only take upon me to assert,
* The Reader is requested by the Author to understand, and bear in mind, that it is not at all intended by any of the observations contained in this chapter on the Histories of the four Evangelists, to re. flect npon, or to disparage the characters of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, under whose names they go; because he believes, and thinks it is proved in this chapter, that the real authors of these Histo. Ties were very different Persons from the Apostles of Jesus: and that in fact the accounts were not written till the middle of the second century, about a hundred years after the supposed authors of them were dead. Of course, none of the observations contained in the chapter relative to these Histories, were considered, or intended to apply to any of the twelve Apostles, who were not men who could make such mistakes as will be pointed out. These mistakes belong entirely to the Authors who have assumed their names.
that they were most credulous, superstitious, and weak men, and, what is worse, made no scruple of telling lies to support, and favor what they called " the cause of Truth.” For they were writers of Apocryphal Books, attributing them to the Apostles ; and moreover great miracle-mongers who vamped up stories of prodigies to delude their followers : and which they themselves knew to be false. I say I take upon me to assert this, and to confirm, and establish this accusation, I refer the Reader to Dr. Middleton's 6 Free Enquiry," a learned Christian, who therefore had no interest to misrepreresent this matter. And he will there find these accusations amply verified, and traits of character proved upon them, by no means favourable to the credibility of their testimony.
The first of these Fathers whose testimony is fully adduced to prove the authenticity of the Gospels, is Papias, a Disciple of John. The character given of him by Eusebius is, that “ he was a superstitious, and credulous man.” And this is easily proved by recording some of the stories, concerning Jesus, and his followers, written by this Papias in a Book extant in the time of Eusebius. One of these stories is mentioned by Trenaus, who says, that Papias had it from John ; who, according to Papias, said, that Jesus said, that—" The days shall come, in which there shall be vines, which shall severally have ten thousand branches ; and every one of these branches shall have ten thousand lesser branches ; and every one of these branches shall have ten thousand twigs ; and every one of these twigs shall have ten thousand clusters of grapes; and every one of these grapes being pressed shall yield two hundred and seventy-five gallons of wine. And when a man shall take hold of any of these sacred bunches, another bunch shall cry out “ I am a better bunch, take me, and bless the Lord by me !” There's a Munehausen for you Reader! Well! this Papias is the first witness who lived after Matthew, who has spoken of his Gospel. He lived about the year 116 after Jesus. And what does he say of it? Why this.' Matthew composed a writing of the Oracles (meaning without doubt the Doctrines of the Gospel,] in the Hebrew Language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.” So far as this Testimony goes it is positive evidence, that the only Gospel of Matthew extant in 116, was extant in Hebrew ; and there was then no translation of it, for 6 every one interpreted as he was able.” The present Gospel called of Matthew was then not written by him, for it is in Greek. And that it has not at all the air of being a translation is asserted by most of the learned. As it stands then, it was not written by Matthew : and that it cannot be a translation of Matthew's Hebrew, is not only plain from the circumstance of its style, and other marks understood by Biblical Criticks, but can also be proved by another story related by this same Papias concerning the manner of the death of Judas. “His body, and head (says Papias) became so swollen, that at length he could not get through a street in Jerusalem, where two chariots might pass abreast, and having fallen to the ground, he- burst asunder.
Now though this ridiculous story is undoubtedly false, yet it is not credible that Papias, who had so great a reverence for the Apostles as to collect and gather all 6 their sayings,” would so flatly by his story of the death of Judas contradict the story of Matthew, if the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew contained that part of the Greek Gospel of Matthew which relates the manner of Judas' Death.
Justin Martyr lived after Papias, in the middle of the second century; and though he relates many circumstances agreeing in the main with those recorded in the Gospels, and appears to quote sayings of Jesus from some Book or Books; yet it is substantially acknowl. edged by Dr. Marsh, the learned annotator on Michaeli's Introduction, that these quotations are so unlike the words, and circumstances in the received Evangelists to which they appear to correspond, that one of two things must be true; either, that Justin, who lived 140 years after Jesus, had never seen any of the present Gospels ; or else, that they were in his time in a very different state from what they now are.
The next Christian Father who mentions the Gospel of Matthew is Trenaus, who says also that 6 Matthew wrote his Gospel in the Hebrew Language.” The char