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philosophy' of the Hellenistic Christians, on purpose that we should take the pains to search the prophecies of the Old Testament, which went before concerning Christ, one of the two external divine testimonies, miracles being the other, which Christians enjoy of the Mesiiahsliip of Jesus, and which, if consulted, will rectify every misapprehension of the nature, person, substance, or essence of Christ, arifing from their metaphysical inventions. They are highly worthy of censure for acting in direct opposition to the practice of Paul, who
* said none other things,' concerning Christ,
* than Moses and the prophets did say should comeand an indisputable instance, or two, of their unjustifiable presumption and ingenious dexterity, in religious forgery and interpolation, I mall immediately produce.
The two first chapters of the Gospel by Matthew are acknowledged to be of doubtful authority by many of the learned; and I shrewdly suspect, that the 34th and 35th verses of the first chapter of Luke's Gospel*
* Then said Mary unto the Angel, "how ihall this be, seeing I know not a man?" 'and the angel answered, and said unto her,*
D 4 •* The ** The Holy Ghost (hall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall over-! shadow thee: Therefore also that holy thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God," are an interpolated forgery, calculated to establish an agreement with Matthew i. 25. 'Joseph knew her,' Mary, * not, till she had brought forth her first born son, Jesus.' If indeed the 34th and 35th verses were necessary to preserve a connexion between the 33d and 36th, my suspicions would be but ill-r founded. But this is so far from being the case, that, on the contrary, the speech of the angel to Mary, suffers an interruption from Mary's question, and the angel's an-* fwer, contained in these two verses. In short therefore, the correspondent passages, Luke i. 34, 35. and Matthew i. 20, 25, I utterly reject, as being unauthenticated by all the prophetic writings of the old covenant, which respect the Messiah, and as being.grossly inconsistent with, and flatly contradictory to, Luke iii, 23. iv, 22. and John i. 45. and vi. 42. Here Jesus is expressly stiled 'the Son of Joseph,' without the appearance os an intimation, that he, w^s not reajly, but merely reputedly, begotten
b7 by Joseph, on the body of his wife, Mary, Luke, iii. 23, excepted, where the parenthesis, '« mpfrTo as was supposed,' I regard as a corruption foisted in, to subserve the cause of the fanciful metaphysical hypotheses of the different sects of Christian Platonists, in the School of Alexandria. The remaining three passages are intirely exempt from this, or a similar parenthesis. Moreover, in Matthew xiii. 55, Jesus is called * the carpenter's son,' by whom I suppose is- meant Joseph, as also Jesus himself is ftiled 'the carpenter,' in Mark vi. 3. But as the compiler of the Gospel denominated Matthew's, palpably misapplies the prophecies of the Old Testament, and Mark's Gospel is manifestly an Abridgement, and indifferent abridgement, of Matthew's, I do not implicitly confide in the veracity of their narration even of these unimportant facts.
That I may not seem to question the veracity of the compiler of Matthew's Gospel without sufficient grounds, I judge it proper to exhibit to you one instance, wherein I have detected him in an untruth.
Luke,in his valuable history of Jesus.speaks of Nazareth as the native city of Joseph and Mary, expressly calling it, 'their own city} Luke ii. 39. He represents the angel Gabriel as sent to Nazareth, where Mary dwelled, Luke i. 26. and describes Joseph and Mary as coming up from Nazareth, Luke ii. 4. to Bethlehem, for the purpose of complying with the edict, which Augustus had issued for a general census throughout th6 Roman empire. * And so it was, while they were there,* at Bethelem, 'the days were accomplished, that she should be delivered.' Accordingly, agreeably to prophecy, Christ was born at Bethlehem, the city of David; but, as soon after this event as possible, * when they,' Joseph and Mary, 'had performed all things according to the Law of the Lord,' in respect to the circumcision of Jesus, and the purification of Mary, '- they returned', without farther delay, * into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth,' Luke, ii. 39.
* No, No, Matthew is in effect made to fay, 'Good Christians, ye are mistaken. They did not return thither. I tell you, they went down from Bethlehem into Egypt, in consequence of a dream of Joseph, seph, staid there till the death of Herod, and in their return from thence, the effect of another dream of Joseph, which, by the bye was his third dream, "turned aside into the parts of Galilee, and dwelled in a city called Nazareth," not their own city, but a city they had never seen before, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, he shall be called a Nazarene." See Matthew ii. 23.
If these be not contradictory accounts, I profess myself absolutely ignorant of the essential characteristics of a contradiction. But to me it is a plain cafe, that Luke was awake and knew what he said, and that Master Matthew dreamed and talked at random in his sleep, otherwise, he could never have attempted to prove the truth of his narration by considering Hosea xi. 1. 'When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt,' a passage simply narrative of the past exodus •f the Israelites from Egypt, as prophetical, and appropriating the fancied prophecy, (see Matthew ii. 15.) to that imaginary event, the return of the child Jesus from that country.