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tree a far off, baving leaves, he came, if
haply he might find any thing, (that is, any
fruit) thereon ; and when he came to it, he
found nothing but leaves, for the time of figs
was not yet. And Jesus answered, and said
unto it, no man eat fruit of thee hereafter
forever. Verse 20. And in the morning, as
they passed by, they saw the fig-tree dried up
from the roots. Or, as in Mat, xxi.

19.

Let no fruit grow on thee bence forward forever ; and presently the fig-tree withered away. If what is here recorded was really the case in fact, then it seems at least to have been a prostitution or misapplication of miraculous power. For either the fig-tree would, (according to the natural course of things) have been fruitful in time to come, or it

If the latter would have been the case, then Christ's curse must needs have been vain and useless ; because the tree would have been fruitless, whether Christ had cursed it, or not. If the former would have been the case, that is, if the fig-tree would have been fruitful, had not Christ interposed to prevent it; then, it seems to have been greatly unkind and ill-natured in him to lay his curse upon it. To be angry with, and thew great resentment to a tree,

for

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for it's being what it was, viz. fruitless, when that tree had neither power, nor will to be what it was, nor to be otherwise ; is such a ridiculous perversion of the human passions, as a man who pays any regard to the propriety of his conduct would not be guilty of ; and to do this at the expence of a miracle, was, surely, an unworthy application of miraculous power. It is, indeed, too common among us, for some men to curse the inanimate parts of the creation ; but then, this is done, perhaps, to give vent to an angry passion, or out of mere wantonness, without a dehgn or expectation of any evil following upon it ; and therefore, seems rather lefs blameable. Besides, for Christ to expect to find fruit on a tree, when it was out of season for the tree to bear fruit, (the time of figs was not yet ;) bespeaks such a deficiency of knowledge in the common and most obvious things of life, as scarce any thing short of idiotism will account for, it being almost as low, in point of understanding, as among us not to know when it is Summer, and when it is Winter. If it should be said, that, in order to come at the true meaning of this branch of history, some of the parts must be transposed, a supplement

must

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must be added, and be read a's followeth. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry, and seeing a fig-tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find fruit on it, for the time of gathering the fig's was not yet come ; but when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves. And Jesus said unto, it, no man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. Answer: if this emendation be admitted, it clears Christ of that gross ignorance of the seasons of the year, which otherwise he is chargeable with ; and that is all which is gained by it. From these premises, this conclusion seems to follow, viz. that the branch of history referred to is a most gross imposition ; because, otherwise it will appear that Jesus Chris was not that most excellent person he has been represented to be. If an historian brings such relations into his history, as break 1.2 very much upon that character which the history itself was designed to establish; such inconsistencies as these seem, to me, to weaken the credit of the whole. If it should be said, that this thews the impartiality of the historian ; and therefore, strengtheneth the credit of that history. Answer: when the purpose of an history is to establish a cha

racter,

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racter, which is the present case ; if things are recorded in it greatly contrary to that character, which is likewise the present case ; then, another opposite character is substituted thereby, which makes the very end of that history become abortive ; and consequently, the whole must be confufon, and a contradiction to itself. · Again,

The gospel historians give a relation of things, which took place many years before those histories were written ; things they could have no personal knowledge of, but must have taken them upon trust from others, no one knows who; things, that, for any thing which appears, answered no good end, that were wonderful in their kind, and the knowledge of which mankind do not appear to be interested in. Thus, it is said, that the Holy Ghost, (otherwise a DemiGod, or the supreme God, * or part of the

supreme

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* What the Holy Ghost is, is a point that is far from being settled among Christians. Some will have it, that the Holy Ghost is a divine person, who is highly exalted amongst the several orders of invisible beings, and who is appointed to minister, under Jesus Christ, for the benefit and comfort of the church. Others will have it, that the Holy Ghost is the supreme God; for as the power of God, is God, so the Spirit of God (which they apprehend the Holy Ghost to be) is God also. And others will have it, that the Holy Ghost is a third person

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fupreme God) should come upon, overpadow, and beget a son of the body of Mary, the espoused wife of Joseph, like as men come upon, over-thadow, and beget children of the bodies of other women; that a child should leap in the womb of it's mother, to express it's joy, and that a far should appear in the east, on account of the birth of Christ; these are things, which, when confidered abstractedly from that great veneration that has been paid to those histories in which they are related, do, in their own na. ture, look more like Jewish fables, or pos etick fictions, or popisa legends, than real facts; and, as such, I think, they weaken the credit of those histories. For if those historians could relate things as real facts, that, from their nature, have the marks of incredibility upon them, and could do this upon very Night grounds, which seems to be the case here; then they may have related other things upon very weak and sender grounds also and this seems at least to weaken their credit. To this I may add, the history of Christ's temptation, as it is

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in the Godhead; and as fuch the Holy Ghost is one third of the Deity; as there are, according to these men's opinion, three such persons in the Godhead,

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