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I wish to consult with honest and good moral men among them, at some proper place of interview, on the subject of projecting an eligible plan for their restoration to their own land. I therefore hold myself prepared to meet any man of a fair character among you, who shall be pleased to honor me with a line post-paid, addrest to the Author of a Call to the Jews, at Mr. Johnson's, Bookseller, St. Paul's Church-Yard; fignifying his heart-felt conviction that Jesus was the Messiah, expresfing a wish of an interview with the author, and figned with his real name and residence.
May God bless you all, take you under his holy protection, and, in his due appointed time, influence your minds by a train of his second causes, to acknowledge this grand truth, that the Jesus crucified by your unthinking ancestors was your promised Messiah.
I meant to close my postscript here, but . cannot dispense with relating to you the illustration of an obscure passage in Jeremiah, given me by a friend, who first suggested to me the idea, that Jesus, your Messiah, was the real son of Jofeph. It occurs in Jeremiah xxxi. 22. and at the first blush seems to favor the hypothesis of the miraculous birth, and merely maternal origin of Jesus. The words are, “The * Lord hath created a new thing in • the earth, a woman shall compass a man.' And his arguinent on them was to this effect, that, if the expression, "a woman • shall compass a man,' referred to a future miraculous birth of Christ, the Meffiah would have been expressly named in that prophecy, as he is under the title of • A prophet like unto Moses,' in Deuteronomy. He therefore thinks, that, as there is not a word mentioned of this great prophet in this text of Jeremiah, or in the context, it may perhaps point to the event cf queen Esther obtaining her important suit from king Ahasuerus, in consequence whereof her countrymen, the Jews, were delivered from that general exterminating
massacre, throughout the twenty-seven provinces of the extensive Persian empire, which the wicked Haman had devised against them.
A woman surely may well be said to compass a man, when she had interest sufficient to procure from her royal confort the grant of this interesting national petition, whereon depended, not merely the welfare, but the very existence of the Jewish people. It might be called the creation of a new thing in the earth, because it was unusual for women to interfere in public affairs.
But, whatever be the genuine meaning of this prophecy, it does not appear to me sufficiently explicit to authorize an application of it to the supposed supernatural birth of Christ from a virgin, without her previous carnal knowledge of a man. I scorn, my Jewith friends, to take the honor of the preceding judicious criticism to myself, when I am conscious it origi"nates in another man. I also candidly
confess, that to the discernment of my faid friend, I partly owe my suspicions of the authenticity of the first and second chapters of Matthew's Gospel, and my strictures on some of the most exceptionable passages in them.
Lastly, the dark secrecy and clandestine management of the supposed miraculous virgin-conception of Mary, in violation too, of an express Mosaic institution, God's law of betrothment, as my friend justly observed to me, (for at the time Mary was betrothed to Joseph) and the permisfion to the friends and neighbours of the affianced parties to believe a fallhood, that he was the son of Joseph, when in this case he was not; these improbable circumstances apparently so derogatory from the God of truth, when powerfully aided by the arguments deduced in this work from Reason, and from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, in support of the parental relationship of Joseph to Jesus, throw such an air of palpable incredibility over
the whole of this mysterious transaction, that not the shadow of an argument can now be wanting to disprove it.
The vision of Zacharias in the temple, respecting the conception of his aged barren wife, Elizabeth, was indeed conducted without eye-witnesses; but notwithstanding there was full evidence of the fact, for he entered the temple with the faculty of speech, and left it speechless. Accordingly we read in Luke i. 22. When he,' Zacharias, 'came out unto them, the people,
he could not speak unto them, and they hereby • perceived that he had seen a vision ' in the temple. But, as I before remarked, of the supposed wonderful conception of Mary, independent on the previous instrumentality of masculine generation, there is not the colour of any evidence whatever, nor do we read of any charge either to Joseph or to Mary, to relate it to their neighbours at Nazareth. Therefore the circumitance alone of its absolute deficiency in point of evidence, is sufficient