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Evangelists, when rightly understood LET. and explained, really contradicted each XVII. other. His words, as cited by themselves, are, “ Les faiblesses les plus “ APPARENTES font de forces, &c. This is a piece of coin from the mint of Ferney, and bears strongly imprest upon it the image and superscription of the coiner.
P. 35. “ When Christ was baptized “ by John, the heavens were opened, " and a voice was heard, declaring “ his divine origin : such a prodigy "must have awakened the attention “ of all Judea ; yet we find the histo" rians totally silent."
What historians? A pagan historian would not concern himself with the report of a Jewish prodigy; nor would a Jewish historian have related a circumstance favourable to Christianity,
Let. unless he had himself become a ChrifXVII. tian. But would any writer of com
mon sense have hazarded the relation of such a fact, as having happened in the presence of a multitude of wit. nesses, if it never had so happened?
P. 35. “It is strange that the hor"rid massacre of the children by the « command of Herod, should be to56 tally unnoticed by Josephus.”
It was too nearly related to the birth of the wonderful child which occasioned it, and concerning which Josephus thought that questions might be asked. For otherwise, is it not equally strange, that he should be totally silent concerning the life and death of Christ, and the appearance of a new religion which had extended itself to Rome, and attracted the no. tice of the historians there? Yet, if
the celebrated passage be an interpo. LET. lation, (as these gentlemen deem it XVII. to be) of such events has Josephus said nothing, though falling within a period, the transactions of which are by him minutely and exactly related. But though Josephus was fic lent, and had good reasons for being so, it evidently appears from the often cited passage of Macrobius, that Herod's Naughter of the infants in Judea was a thing well known in his time, and was not contested by heathens.* We may add, as in the case above, that St. Matthew must have been out of his senses to have told
* — " Inter pueros, quos in Syria Herodes “ Rex Judæorum intra bimatum juffit occidi”Macrob. Saturnal. Lib. 11. Cap. 4. See at large on this subject, Lardner's Credibility, Part. 1, B. 11. Ch. 11, and Findlay against Voltaire, P. 541.
LET. such a story as this, had it been other. XVII. wise than true; nor is there any thing
in the character of Herod that renders it improbable.- Quite the contrary.
As to the sneers upon interpolations and pious frauds, in P. 36, I am sorry occasion has ever been given for them. We want no such aids. Magna est veritas, et prævalebit. I only wish that our adversaries, in their representations of the Scriptures and Christianity, were never guilty of frauds which are not quite so pious.
The purport, in few words, of all the parade and flourish, P. 37, is this. “ Our Lord and St. Paul foretold the “ end of the world, as an event that “ should happen in their time. It did “ not so happen; therefore they were «t under a mistake and delusion." Our Lord, Luke xxi, in that figu
rative and majestic style well under- LET. stood by those who understand the XVII. language of scripture, describes the destruction of the Jewish polity and system. The terms may and do apply to the end of the world, for this obvious reason, that the two events are in many instances parallel and analogous. His own declaration shews plainly of which he was primarily and immediately speaking—" This gene“ration shall not pass away, till all 5 these things are fulfilled:” And the figures are those usually employed, in like case, by the prophets of old.
The charge against St. Paul is founded solely on his use of the first perfon; 1 Theff. iv. 16. “We, who are « alive and remain, shall be caught “ up to meet the Lord in the air.” But how common is it for us, when