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that, as made necessary by the divine command, he truly thought was over and gone: but he did it as a thing indifferent, in order hereby the more easily to convert those of the Jewish nation.
Another objection is made from Acts xvi. 30, 31. where the gaoler asks of Paul and Silas, What he must do to be saved? The answer returned is, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. “ You see here, that these “ disciples agree not in their exhortations with the “ doctrine of Jesus. For when a rich man asked “ advice of Jesus how he might obtain salvation, he “ did not enjoin him to believe in himself, but com“ manded him to keep the precepts described in the “ law of Moses, as you will find Matt. xix. 16. “ Mark x. 17. Luke xviii. 19 .” This is an objection that, I think, may be safely trusted with every reader: for is there any contrariety, any inconsistency between these two things, believing in Jesus, and obeying the commandments of God? are they not both necessary ? When the rich man applied to Jesus for instruction in so great a point as that of obtaining his salvation, it might well be taken for granted that he did believe in him as a teacher sent from God: it would have seemed therefore very unseasonable to urge this upon him. Our Saviour, who knew the hearts of all men, took a much more pertinent and suitable method to lay open his defects both of belief and practice. He saw plainly, notwithstanding his boasted obedience to the divine law, that money was his god: he therefore puts him upon the trial which he would choose, God or
y Chiz. Em. p. 2. cap. 75.
the world. This man could not find in his heart to give up the world, took that as his portion, and betrayed his want of faith and obedience. But the Jew will have it, that the direction of Jesus to this man is, that he should keep all the precepts of the law of Moses, and that it is hence incumbent on every Christian so to do, in order to his being saved. See part 1. ch. 49. n. 2, 3. and part 2. ch. 19. Whereas the instances given by our Lord in this place are all commands of a moral nature, and taken from the second Table. But had he been as explicit in his injunction to this man to keep the whole ceremonial law as the rabbi makes him, could it be inferred from thence that Christians are now bound to keep that law? It is certain, that during our Lord's life that law was in force, and every Jew was obliged to keep it in order to his being saved : it was not abolished but by his death : and our Lord plainly foretold the abrogation of it to the woman of Samaria.
The last observation made by rabbi Isaac on the book of Acts is on ch. xxviii. 3, &c. When Paul shook off the viper that had fastened on his hand, and the Barbarians saw no harm come to him, they said that he was a god. “You plainly see here “ that the foolish people, who erred concerning Je“ sus, fell into the same mistake concerning Paul, “ and called him also God?.” This sure was written by the Jew in a very great hurry, or he could not have been guilty of so egregious a blunder. Did he ever hear of or meet with Christians in any part of the world who held that Paul was God? It is here
• Chiz. Em. p. 2. C. 76.
power of God.
expressly said that they were Barbarians, that is, natives of Melita, who had never before seen St. Paul, nor as yet heard one word of Christ; these, astonished at St. Paul's miraculous escape, believe him to be one of their deities, as, some years before this, did the people of Lystra upon his having healed a cripple there. A like injudicious remark the rabbi makes upon the history of Simon Magus, related Acts viii. to which also he here refers. It is said that Simon had so prevailed on the Samaritans by his sorceries, as to be esteemed by them the great
“Hence," says the Jew, “may be “ drawn an argument against the miracles of Jesus, “ which were performed by the magic art; and “ therefore the silly people that followed him be“ lieved him also to be God a.” Should any one argue, that because Pharaoh's magicians turned a rod into a serpent, water into blood, and produced frogs, therefore all the wonderful works of Moses were wrought by the magic art, and were no proof of the power of God assisting him, would the rabbi allow the consequence? The very answer which he must return to this will be our answer to him.
Other objections answered. HAVING answered the several objections raised by rabbi Isaac, I shall next consider all other objections that I can recollect either to have heard or read started against any part of this sacred book. It is said that the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of St. Matthew agree not in the relation of the death of the traitor Judas. In the one it is related, that he went and hanged himselfa: in the other, that, falling headlong, he burst asunder, and all his bowels gushed out b. These accounts are represented as inconsistent the one with the other. It is urged, “ that if he hanged himself he “ did not die by a fall, and the gushing out of his “ bowels. And if his falling headlong was the cause “ of his death, it was not his hanging himself.” Before I proceed to give a direct answer to this objection, I would observe to you, that different circumstances, mentioned by two or more persons in relating the same facts, by no means affect the credit of the relators, or destroy the credibility of the facts, unless they are plainly contradictory the one to the other; because they may each have their course or season, and be all true.
Should several persons be called as witnesses, who saw a man travelling in the road between London and Northampton; and one should affirm, that he saw him on foot without any retinue; another should say, that he saw him in a coach drawn with six horses, attended with a great number of servants; another, that he saw him on horseback with one servant only; might it not be objected exactly in the same manner as it is to the holy writings? These circumstances are inconsistent: if he was on foot, he was neither in a coach nor on horseback; and if he was in a coach, he was not on foot. One declares he had no attendants; another, that he had many; and a third, that he was followed by one servant only. How can these things agree together? If these witnesses be further examined, and it appears that they each of them saw this man in different parts of the road; that the one saw him walking on the road towards Islington, the second in a coach and six between Islington and St. Alban's, and the third on horseback near Dunstable, the testimonies of these persons are very consistent. Nor is it any thing improbable, that a person should walk to Islington, go thence in a coach and six to St. Alban's, there mount his horse, and ride to Dunstable in his way to Northampton.
a Matt. xxvii. 5.
b Acts i. 18.
If we make but the same allowances to the sacred writers, that is, if we suppose the different circumstances mentioned by them not to have happened the same moment of time, but to have followed one the other, nothing can be more clearly consistent than are the different circumstances they relate. St. Matthew says, Judas went and hanged himself. This he thought sufficient to say of the traitor, without adding the other circumstances of his death which followed. St. Peter mentions those circumstances only which followed after he had hanged himself; that falling with his face to the ground,