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whose narratives there is no imitation, but great diversity.
A second similar correspondency is the following: Matthew and Mark make a charge, upon which our Lord was condemned, to be a threat of destroying the temple; “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands :''* but they neither of them inform us, upon what circumstances this calumny was founded. Saint John, in the early part of the history, + supplies us with this information ; for he relates, that, on our Lord's first journey to Jerusalem, when the Jews asked him, “ What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things ? he answered, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." This agreement could hardly arise from any thing but the truth of the case. From any care or design in Saint John, to make his narrative tally with the narratives of other evangelists, it certainly did not arise, for no such design appears, but the absence of it.
A strong and more general instance of agreement is the following. The first three evangelists have related the appointment of the twelve apostles, and have given a catalogue of their names in form. John, without ever mentioning the appointment, or giving the catalogue, supposes throughout his whole narrative, Christ to be accompanied by a select party of his disciples; the number of those to be twelve ;g and whenever he happens to notice any one as of that number,!! it is one included in the catalogue of the other evangelists: and the names principally occurring in the course of his history of Christ, are the names extant in their list. This last agreement, which is of considerable moment, runs through every Gospel, and through every chapter of each.
All this bespeaks reality.
# Mark xiv. 58.
# Chap. ii. 19. Matt. x. 1. Mark iii. 14. Luke vi. 12. Chap. vi. 70.
11 Chap. xx. 24. vi. 71.
CHAP. V. Originality of our Saviour's character. The Jews, whether right or wrong, had understood their prophecies to foretell the advent of a person, who by some supernatural assistance should advance their nation to independence, and to a supreme degree of splendour and prosperity. This was the reigning opinion and expectation of the times.
had Jesus been an enthusiast, it is probable that his enthusiasm would have fallen in with the popular delusion, and that, whilst he gave himself out to be the person intended by these predictions, he would have assumed the character to which they were uni. versally supposed to relate.
Had he been an impostor, it was his business to have flattered the prevailing hopes, because these hopes were to be the instruments of his attraction and success.
But, what is better than conjectures, is the fact, that all the pretended Messiahs actually did so. We learn from Josephus, that there were many of these. Some of them, it is probable, might be impostors, who thought that an advantage was to be taken of the state of public opinion. Others, perhaps, were enthusiasts, whose imagination had been drawn to this particular object, by the language and sentiments which prevailed around them. But, whether impostors or enthusiasts, they concurred in producing themselves in the character which their countrymen looked for, that is to say, as the restorers and deliverers of the nation, in that sense in which restoration and deliverance were expected by the Jews.
Why therefore Jesus, if he was, like them, either an enthusiast or impostor, did not pursue the same conduct as they did, in framing his character and pretensions, it will be found difficult to explain. A mission, the operation and benefit of which was to take place in another life, was a thing unthought of as the subject of these prophecies. That Jesus, coming to them as
their Messiah, should come under a character totally different from that in which they expected him; should deviate from the general persuasion, and deviate into pretensions absolutely singular and original; appears to be inconsistent with the imputation of enthusiasm or imposture, both which, by their nature, I should expect, would, and both which, throughout the experience which this very subject furnishes, in fact have, followed the opinions that obtained at the time.
If it be said, that Jesus, having tried the other plan, turned at length to this; I answer, that the thing is said without evidence ; against evidence ; that it was competent to the rest to have done the same, yet that nothing of this sort was thought of by any.
ONE argument, which has been much relied upon (but not more than its just weight deserves), is the conformity of the facts occasionally mentioned or referred to in Scripture, with the state of things in those times, as represented by foreign and independent accounts; which conformity proves, that the writers of the New Testament possessed a species of local knowledge, which could only belong to an inhabitant of that country, and to one living in that age. This argument, if well made out by examples, is very little short of proving the absolute genuineness of the writings. It carries them up to the age of the reputed authors, to an age in which it must have been difficult to impose upon the Christian public, forgeries in the names of those authors, and in which there is no evidence that any forgeries were attempted. It proves, at least, that the books, whoever were the authors of them, were composed by persons living in the time and country in which these things were transacted; and consequently capable, by their situation, of being well informed of the facts which they relate. And the argument is stronger when applied to the New Testament, than it is in the case of almost any other writings, by reason of the mixed nature of the allusions which this book contains. The scene of action is not confined to a sin. gle country, but displayed in the greatest cities of the Roman empire. Allusions are made to the manners and principles of the Greeks, the Romans, and the Jews. This variety renders a forgery proportionably more difficult, especially to writers of a posterior age. A Greek or Roman Christian, who lived in the second or third century, would have been wanting in Jewish literature; a Jewish convert in those ages would have been equally deficient in the knowledge of Greece and Rome.*
This, however, is an argument which depends entirely upon an induction of particulars; and as, consequently, it carries with it little force, without a view of the instances upon which it is built, I have to request the reader's attention to a detail of examples, distinctly and articulately proposed. In collecting these examples, I have done no more than epitomize the first volume of the first part of Dr. Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel History. And I have brought the argument with. in its present compass, first, by passing over some of his sections in which the accordancy appeared to me less certain, or upon subjects not sufficiently appropriate or circumstantial ; secondly, by contracting every section into the fewest words possible, contenting myself for the most part with a mere apposition of passages; and, thirdly, by omitting many disquisitions, which, though learned and accurate, are not absolutely necessary to the understanding or verification of the argument.
The writer principally made use of in the inquiry, is Josephus. Josephus was born at Jerusalem four years after Christ's ascension. He wrote his history of the Jewish war some time after the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in the year of our Lord LXX, that is, thirty-seven years after the ascension; and his history of the Jews he finished in the year XCIII, that is, sixty years after the ascension.
* Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament (Marsh's Translation), c. ii, sect. xi.
At the head of each article, I have referred, by figures included in brackets, to the page of Dr. Lardner's volume, where the section, from which the abridgment is made, begins. The edition used, is that of 1741.
I. (p. 14.] Matt. ii. 22. “When he (Joseph) heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea, in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee."
In this passage it is asserted, that Archelaus succeeded Herod in Judea; and it is implied, that his power did not extend to Galilee. Now we learn from Josephus, that Herod the Great, whose dominion included all the land of Israel, appointed Archelaus his successor in Judea, and assigned the rest of his dominions to other sons; and that this disposition was ratified, as to the main parts of it, by the Roman em
Saint Matthew says, that Archelaus reigned, was king in Judea. Agreeably to this, we are informed by Josephus, not only that Herod appointed Archelaus his successor in Judea, but that he also appointed him with the title of King; and the Greek verb Baoilever, which the evangelist uses to denote the government and rank of Archelaus, is used likewise by Josephus.t
The cruelty of Archelaus's character, which is not obscurely intimated by the evangelist, agrees with diyers particulars in his history, preserved by Josephus :
-“ In the tenth year of his government, the chief of the Jews and Samaritans, not being able to endure his cruelty and tyranny, presented complaints against him to Casar." I
II. [p. 19.) Luke iii. 1.“ In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar,--Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and of the region of Trachonitis,—the word of God came unto John."
By the will of Herod the Great, and the decree of Augustus thereupon, his two sons were appointed, one
* Ant. lib. xvii. c. 8. sect. 1. + De Bell. lib. i. c. 33. sect. 7. 1 Ant. lib. xvii. c. 13. sect. 1.