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was risen, he appeared to his disciples alone. mean, that they have used the exclusive word alone; but that all the instances which they have recorded of his appearance, are instances of appearance to his disciples; that their reasonings upon it, and allusions to it, are confined to this supposition; and that, by one of them, Peter is made to say," Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead." The commonest understanding must have perceived, that the history of the resurrection would have come with more advantage, if they had related that Jesus appeared, after he was risen, to his foes, as well as to his friends, to the scribes and Pharisees, the Jewish council, and the Roman governor; or even if they had asserted the public appearance of Christ in general unqualified terms, without noticing, as they have done, the presence of his disciples upon each occasion, and noticing it in such a manner as to lead their readers to suppose that none but disciples were present. They could have represented it one way as well as the other. And if their point had been, to have the religion believed, whether true or false; if they had fabricated the story ab initio, or if they had been disposed, either to have delivered their testimony as witnesses, or to have worked up their materials and information as historians, and in such a manner as to render their narrative as specious and unobjectionable as they could; in a word, if they had thought of any thing but of the truth of the case, as they understood and believed it; they would, in their account of Christ's several appearances after his resurrection, at least have omitted this restriction. At this distance of time, the account as we have it, is perhaps more credible than it would have been the other way; because this manifestation of the historian's candour, is of more advantage to their testimony, than the difference in the circumstances of the account would have been to the nature of the evidence. But this is an effect which the evangelists would not foresee; and I think that it was by no means the case at the time when the books were composed.
Mr. Gibbon has argued for the genuineness of the Koran, from the confessions which it contains, to the apparent disadvantage of the Mahometan cause.* The same defence
Vol. IX. c. 50, note 96.
vindicates the genuineness of our gospels, and without prejudice to the cause at all.
There are some other instances in which the evangelists honestly relate what, they must have perceived, would make against them.
Of this kind is John the Baptist's message preserved by St. Matthew and St. Luke, (xi. 2, 3. vii. 19.) " Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?" fess, still more to state, that John the Baptist had his doubts concerning the character of Jesus, could not but afford a handle to cavil and objection. But truth, like honesty, neglects appearances. The same observation, perhaps, holds concerning the apostacy of Judas.*
John vi. 66.
"From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." Was it the part of a writer, who dealt in suppression and disguise, to put down this anecdote?
Or this, which Matthew has preserved (xiii. 58.) "He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbe
Again, in the same evangelist, (ver. 17, 18.) "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil; for, verily, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." At the time the gospels were written, the apparent tendency of Christ's mission was to diminish the authority of the Mosaic code, and it was so considered by the Jews themselves. It is very improbable, therefore, that, without the constraint of truth, Matthew should have ascribed a saying to Christ, which, primo intuitu, militated with the judg ment of the age in which his gospel was written. Mar
*I had once placed amongst these examples of fair concession, the remarkable words of St. Matthew, in bis account of Christ's appearance upon the Galilean mountain; and when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted." I have since, however, been convinced, by what is observed concerning this passaget in Dr. Townsend's Discourse upon the Resurrection, that the transaction, as related by St. Matthew, was really this: "Christ appeared first at a distance; the greater part of the company, the moment they saw him, worshipped; but some, as yet, i. e. upon this first distant view of his person, doubted; whereupon Christ came up to them and spake to them," &c. that the doubt, therefore was a doubt only at first for a moment, and upon his being seen at a distance, and was afterwards dispelled by his nearer approach, and by his entering into conversation with them.
cion thought this text so objectionable, that he altered the words so as to invert the sense." *
Once more, Acts xxv. 19. "They brought none accusation against him, of such things as I supposed, but had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive." Nothing could be more in the character of a Roman governor than these words. But that is not precisely the point I am concerned with. A mere panegyrist, or a dishonest narrator, would not have represented his cause, or have made a great magistrate represent it, in this manner, i. e. in terms not a little disparaging, and bespeaking on his part much unconcern and indifference about the matter. The same observation may be repeated of the speech which is ascribed to Gallio, (Acts viii. 14.) "If it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it, for I will be no judge of such matters."
Lastly, where do we discern a stronger mark of candour, or less disposition to extol and magnify, than in the conclusion of the same history? in which the evangelist, after relating that Paul, upon his first arrival at Rome, preached to the Jews from morning until evening, adds, "and some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not."
The following, I think, are passages, which were very unlikely to have presented themselves to the mind of a forger or a fabulist.
Mat. xxi. 21. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith and doubt not, ye shall not only do this, which is done unto the fig-tree, but also, if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done; all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, it shall be done."t It appears to me very improbable, that these words should have been put into Christ's mouth, if he had not actually spoken them. The term "faith," as here used, is perhaps rightly interpreted of confidence in that internal notice, by which the apostles were admonished of their power to perform any particular miracle. And this exposition renders the sense of the text more easy. But the words, undoubtedly, in their obvious construction, carry with them a difficulty, which no writer would have brought upon himself officiously.
Luke ix. 59. "And he said unto another, follow me;
Lard.vol. XV. p. 422.
+See also xvii. 20. Luke xvii. 6.
but he kam Lo... suñer me first to go and bury my father.
und him. He the dead bury their dead, but go This answer, med ibe wingarm of God.”**
3org: ver mpressive of the transcendent importance of us concerts was apparently harsh and repulsive; Pl. da, & Wola no have been made for Christ, if he per me At least, some other instance
Lamar masszat, I, for the same reason, think impig i have bee: the production of artifice, or of a cold -bu: 8 unit you, that whosoever is angry DIN ORADET WIDOL: a cause, shall be in danger of the
an. Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, to I Canger C. the council, but whosoever shall say, Boy, shal, be in danger of heli-fire (Gehennæ.)" Ma is emphatic cogent, and well calculated to the narnese of impression, but inconsistent with the supposition et art or wariness of the part of the relator.
The short reply of our Lord to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection Cobr. xx. 16. 17.) → Touch me not. for 1 am po“ ve' ascended unto my Father." in my opinion, must have beer, founded in a reference or allusion to some prior conversation, for the want of knowing which, his meaning This very obscurity, however, is a proo a genummeness. No one would have forged such an
1 bidder from us.
The whole of the conversation, recorded in tians chanter, is, in the highest degree, unlikely to be iabriratou especially the part of our Saviour's reply between the I need only put down biliéti am the hifvegghih verse. am the living bread which came the ITTS, sentence
dowa fram hanem i am man eat of this bread be shall the bread that I will give him is my flesh, Without
wedge for the life of the world."
estor the expositions that have been given fr passive, we may be permitted to say, that it labours as an obscurity, in which it is impossible to believe that
21 DE WİD made speeches for the persons of his narradiscourse was obscure even at the time, is confessed by the Ive womit hare voluntarily involved them. Writer who has preserved it, when he tells us at the conclusun, that many of our Lord's disciples, when they had heard
This is an hard saying, who can hear it?"
king of a young child, and placing it in the
See also Mat. viii, 21.
midst of his contentious disciples, (Mat. xviii. 2.) though as decisive a proof as any could be of the benignity of his temper, and very expressive of the character of the religion which he wished to inculcate, was not by any means an obvious thought. Nor am I acquainted with any thing in any ancient writing which resembles it.
The account of the institution of the Eucharist bears strong internal marks of genuineness. If it had been feigned, it would have been more full. It would have come nearer to the actual mode of celebrating the rite, as that mode obtained very early in Christian churches; and it would have been more formal than it is. In the forged piece called the apostolic constitutions, the apostles are made to enjoin many parts of the ritual, which was in use in the second and third centuries, with as much particularity as a modern rubric could have done. Whereas, in the history of the Lord's supper, as we read it in St. Matthew's gospel, there is not so much as the command to repeat it. This, surely, looks like undesignedness. I think also that the difficulty, arising from the conciseness of Christ's expression, "This is my body," would have been avoided in a made-up story. I allow that the explication of these words, given by Protestants, is satisfactory; but it is deduced from a diligent comparison of the words in question with forms of expression used in scripture, and especially by Christ, upon other occasions. No writer would, arbitrarily and unnecessarily, have thus cast in his reader's way a difficulty, which, to say the least, it required research and erudition to clear up.
Now it ought to be observed, that the argument which is built upon these examples, extends both to the authenticity of the books, and to the truth of the narrative; for it is improbable that the forger of a history, in the name of another should insert such passages into it; and it is improbable also, that the persons whose names the books bear, should fabricate such passages; or even allow them a place in their work, if they had not believed them to express the truth.
The following observation, therefore, of Dr. Lardner, the most candid of all advocates, and the most cautious of all inquirers, seems to be well founded :-" Christians are induced to believe the writers of the gospel, by observing the evidences of piety and probity that appear in their writings, in which their is no deceit or artifice, or cunning, or design." "No remarks," as Dr. Beattie hath properly said, "are thrown in to anticipate objections; nothing of