Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

The expression in St. Matthew's Gospel is, and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews, until this day. The intervening time, as I said before, in Matthew's case, is eight years, and the intervening time in the case of Josephus, is about sixty years. Judge then which of the two ought to be disputed the soonest, the genuineness of the Gospel of St. Matthew, or the genuineness of the paragraph in the works of Josephus.

If, my Lord, as Dr. Lardner says, the expression, subsists to this time, imports a considerable space of time since the crucifixion of Jesus, does not also the expression, until this day, import the same space of time ? If the one imports more than sixty years, surely the other ought to import more than eight years. And if the former expression does very reasonably lead us to think, that the composer of the paragraph which contains it, lived later than Josephus, does not also the latter expression very reasonably lead us to think, THAT THE COMPOSER OF THE GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW, LIVED LATER THAN MATTHEW? What, my Lord, is to be done in this case ? Do you dispute the correctness of Dr. Lardner's reasoning? Will you say that the expression, subsists to this day, was quite proper and becoming, and that it does not import a considerable space of time? And will you say also, that the expression, this saying is commonly

reported among the Jews until this day, in the case of St. Matthew, was quite proper and becoming, although only eight years had elapsed ?

We have here a principle recognized by one of the highest authorities of the Christian Church, which impugns the genuineness of the Gospel of St. Matthew ; which declares that that Gospel, or at least a portion of it, was written after the time of St. Matthew, and consequently must be spurious. Is this, my Lord, not of some consequence ? Either

your lordship must admit the correctness of Dr.

Lardner's reasoning, or you must reject it. If you reject it, you detract from, and lesson the authority, of one of your highest authorities; and if you admit it, you recognise the same principle that he does, which declares St. Matthew's Gospel to be a forgery. I leave your lordship to get out of your difficulties, as well as you

can.

I shall now return more immediately to the paragraph of Josephus, and proceed with the testimony of Dr. Lardner, in relation to it. Some may suppose that I am weakening my own cause, by showing the inconsistency of Dr. Lardner, because it is by his testimony that I am enabled to expose the forgeries committed by priests. But I beg to say, that my cause is the advocacy of truth, and wherever truth leads me, there will I follow her, whatever may be the consequences, and I apprehend none to my disadvantage. My cause (if it be my cause) is not much weakened, while the most eminent of Christian authorities is convicted of gross inconsistency, and while he is shown to recognise a principle, which declares the Gospel of St. Matthew to be spurious.

Dr. Lardner proceeds with his testimony as follows:

• These considerations, as seems to me, are sufficient to determine the point in question, and to satisfy all men, that Josephus was not the author of this paragraph.

Did I live in a country sufficiently far removed from barbarism, as to allow every man freely to express his sentiments, on all subjects concerning human happiness, I would apply this argument of Dr. Lardner's to the Gospel of St. Matthew, and say, This consideration (that is to say, the consideration of the expression, until this day, which is applied to a period only of eight years,) is sufficient to determine the point in question, and to satisfy all men, that St. Matthew was not the author of that Gospel, or at least of that portion of it; and that of course it is spurious. But the fear of your lordship again calling upon the Government to prosecute the booksellers for blasphemy, induces me not to assert this positively, which I do not, but merely to imagine it. Perhaps your lordship will allow the latter privilege, to a “free-born Englishman.”

Dr. Lardner having disposed of the question, as to the forgery of the paragraph in the works of Josephus, relative to Jesus Christ, he proceeds to account for the silence of Josephus, on this subject, in the following manner. No doubt it will appear strange to many, that Josephus, who lived so near to the time of Christ, should not even mention his name in the whole of his writings. Dr. Lardner accounts for it as follows :

“Supposing Josephus not to have said any thing of Jesus Christ, some may ask : What could be the reason of it? And how can it be accounted for ?

“ To which I might answer, that such a question is rather mere curious, than judicious and important. And it may be difficult to propose a solution, that shall be generally approved of. However I shall hazard a few observations

the point. “It is easy to believe, that all Jews who were contemporary with Christ, or his Apostles, and did not receive Jesus as the Christ, must have been filled with much enmity against him and his followers. We are assured by early Christian writers, of good credit, such as Justin Martyr, and Tertullian, and others, that the ruling part of the Jewish nation industriously spread abroad false and injurious reports among the nations, concerning the followers of Jesus. But the polite and learned writers, such as Justus of Tiberias, and Josephus, might think it expedient to be silent. They had nothing to say against Jesus, or the Christians, with any appearance of truth and credibility. They therefore thought it better to he silent, and thereby, if possible, bury them in utter oblivion.'

upon

Such are the speculations of Dr. Lardner, relative to the silence of Josephus on the subject of Jesus Christ and his miracles. Strange that Josephus should not condescend to notice the proceedings of the Son of God. Strange that he should think the Son of God beneath his notice. Dr. Lardner proceeds to a great length with these speculations, but I decline quoting any further. Du Pin, as your lordship will recollect, in his eulogium upon Josephus, (Letter IX. page 102,) says, that he was a complete Historian. A complete Historian, my Lord, and never noticed the entrance of the Son of God into the world, nor any of his proceedings ! How he could be a complete Historian, and never noticed the most important transaction that ever happened in the world, is a mystery to me. What jaring sentiments seem to occupy the minds of great men!

The preceding reasoning of Dr. Lardner may be very correct, and it may account satisfactorily for the silence of Josephus on a subject so important. I do not dispute it. But, my Lord, I beg to “hazard a few observations

upon the point,” as well as Dr. Lardner. I have a notion that I can account for the silence of Josephus, in a much shorter way than he does, for he seems to have given himself a deal of trouble, and wasted a deal of time and mental energy, on a question, to my mind, exceedingly simple. If, my Lord, it was possible, for priests to introduce a passage into the works of Josephus, was it impossible for them to strike a passage out ? Solve this problem, my Lord, and then we have accounted for, the silence of Josephus on the subject of Jesus Christ. How plain and simple this is, to the laboured and roundabout speculations of Dr. Lardner! And is my explication not as likely as his ? In my opinion, it is more likely; but I leave every man to judge for himself. Had Josephus said any thing of Jesus Christ, he would have given him his real character: he would have said perhaps, that he was a man illiterate, and excessively fanatical; that he had worked himself up to such a pitch of religious frenzy, that he lost the use of his proper senses, and believed that he was actually something supernatural; he gained a number of followers, (as beings of that description generally do,) but as to the miracles that were attributed to him, and his resurrection, they are mere tales, believed in by none but the most ignorant and besotted. If Josephus had said this of Jesus Christ, and I have no doubt but that he would say something similar to it, he being a Jew, it would not have done for priests to have allowed this to remain in his works, after they introduced their own forgery. Their own forgery declared, that Jesus performed many wonderful works, and that at the end of three days after his resurrection, he rose from the dead, and appeared alive again to his disciples. The two passages would have been in direct opposition to each other. They therefore carefully removed the former passage, and, in as suitable a place as possible, introduced their own. This is my way of accounting for the silence of Josephus, relative to Jesus Christ and his proceedings.

I shall now give your lordship the testimony of Dr. Warburton, in relation to this same paragraph about Jesus Christ. I am indebted to Dr. Lardner for the quotation, which will be found in his work before referred to, vol. 1. page 163. Dr. Warburton says:

“If a Jew owned the truth of Christianity, he must needs embrace it. We, therefore, certainly conclude, that the paragraph, where Josephus, who was as much a Jew as the religion of Moses could make him, is made to acknowledge, Jesus as the Christ, in as strong terms as words could do it, is a rank forgery, and a very stupid one too."

A rank forgery, my Lord, and a very stupid one too. So that the priest who forged this paragraph, must have been a stupid priest. Stupid however as the forgery was, it served to gull, and impose upon the people, for

« ForrigeFortsæt »