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Moreover, this same Matthe'w is not less a blundering geographer, than an unfaithful historian; for he relates, Matthew ii. 22. * when he,' Joseph, 'had 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.' Now any man, conversant with ancient geography, could have informed him, that incoming out of Egypt, a man cannot turn aside, into Galilee, but must traverse the whole length of Palestine, from south to north, and consequently pass through Judea, before he can arrive at Galilee. This therefore is an additional instance of the ingenuity of the compiler of this part, at least, of Matthew's Gospel, in turning ajide his readers from the truth.
Lastly, to complete my conviction of him as an impostor, I assert, that in Matthew, ii. 23. 'he,' Joseph, 'came and dwelled in a city, called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, he,' Jesus, * shall be called a Nazarene,' the supposed Matthew represents Nazareth as a city, which Joseph came
to, to, and dwelled in, par accident, in consequence of his turning aside into the parts of Galilee, and thereby contradicts Luke, who, (Luke ii. 39.) describes Joseph and Mary as returning, with their child Jesus, from Bethlehem, without the intervention of a journey to and from Egypt, into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth,' that is, their fixed residence, if not native place.
Here it will not be amiss to remark, that profane history, so far down as the fifth century, observes a profound silence, with respect to Herod's massacre of the infants, at Bethlehem; from which impending danger to rescue the young child, is the reason afiigned for Joseph's fabulous flight, with him and his mother, in consequence of a dream, into Egypt. In the fifth century indeed, Macrobius mentions it in his Saturnalia, lib. 2, cap. 4; but it is probable he drew his account from the suspicious second chapter of Matthew's Gospel. This almost profound silence then affords, surely, a strong presumptive argument, that the massacre of the infants is equally fabulous, which is corroborated by a positive proof,
that that the prophecy cited in Matthew iii 18. from Jeremiah, xxxi. 15. in sapport of the massacre, relates to a very different event, as any one may be satisfied, who will take the pains to examine the prophecy. It introduces, in a beautiful metaphor, * Rachel,' the great progenitrix, of two of the tribes of Israel, 'weeping for her children,' &c. 'because they were not,' that is, not in their own land, but taken captive and dispersed. Herod, it is admitted, was a monster in cruelty, as his murther of his beloved wife, Mariamne, of his sons by her, and of his uncle Joseph, &c. Sec. abundantly testifies: But, according to the trite proverb, we must 'give;' that non-entity, the devil, his due,' and not make even Herod more black, than his own enormous crimes make him.
Moreover, in affirming, that 'he,' Joseph, 'came and dwelled in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophets, 'He,' Jesus, 'shall be called a Nazarenc,' the pretended Matthew dreams of the fulfilment of a prophecy, which never existed but in his own creative fancy. Search the prophecies from
the the first of Isaiah to the last of Malachi, both inclusive, and you will sind, that I assert a matter of fact. In short, the first and second chapters of Matthew's Gospel,'seem to consist of little more, (the genealogy and this forged prophecy excepted) than a list of dreams, and a string of misapplied promises. Disgraceful then, is it for thinking and pains-taking Christians, to level themselves with inconsiderate, indolent, and implicit believers, and to retain that stupid, blind reverence for every word contained, in what are stiled the canonical books of the New Testament, which excites them to attempt to reconcile passages palpably contradictory.
What is it but operam perdere, to labor to establish an harmony between truth and falshood, which can never be brought into contact with each other? Being opposite in their natures, they must ever, like two parallel lines, keep the same distance, and can never meet. . I therefore earnestly intreat the former honorable class of Christians, or rather, in the genuine apostolic stile, * beseech them by the mercies of God, in Christ Jesus,' to employ those excellent , ... talents, talents, with which God has intrusted them for the investigation of the truth, in a manner truly beneficial to mankind, and satisfactory to themselves, by exposing anti-evangelic imposture, and vindicating Gospel truth. If it be aslccd by what criterion shall I distinguish the one from the other? I answer, by repeatedly referring them to your prophecies; which, representing the suture Messiah as * the glorious branch from the root of Jesse,' and as the son, or a lineal descendent from the loins of David, favor not the nonsensical hypotheses of Athanasians, Arians, and Socinians. The word preached by Paul was, that * Jesus crucified and risen again' corresponded to the predicted Messiah. Accordingly, the consequence of an examination of the prophecies is a conviction, that Paul truly 'reasoned out os the Scriptures,' the books of Moses, the prophecies, and the psalms, 'opening, and alledging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus,' adds he, * whom I preach unto you, is Christ,' Acts xvii. 2, 3. Luke, therefore, in his two treatises, which contin an account of the Gospel, and of