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himself. He should take a good dose of arsenic, and if he please, I will send him a rattle-snake from America! As for myself, as I believe in God and not at all in Jesus Christ, nor in the books called the Scriptures, the experiment does not concern me.
I pass on to the book of Luke.
THE BOOK OF LUKE.
THERE are no passages in Luke called prophecies, excepting those which relate to the passages I have already exainined.
Luke speaks of Mary being espoused to Joseph, but he makes no references to the passage in Isaiah, as Matthew does. He speaks also of Jesus riding into Jerusalem upon a colt, but he says nothing about a prophecy. He speaks of John the Baptist, and refers to the passage in Isaiah of which I have already spoken.
At the 13th chapter, ver. 31, he says, "The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him (Jesus) get thee out and depart hence, for Herod will kill theeand he said unto them, go ye and tell that Fox, behold I cast out devils and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected."
Matthew makes Herod to die whilst Christ was a child in Egypt, and makes Joseph to return with the child on the news of Herod's death, who had sought to kill him. Luke makes Herod to be living and to seek the life of Jesus after Jesus was thirty years of age; for he says, chap. iii. ver. 23," And Jesus began to be about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph.'
The obscurity in which the historical part of the New Testament is involved with respect to Herod, may afford to priests and commentators a plea, which to some may appear plausible, but to none satisfactory, that the Herod of which Matthew speaks, and the Herod of which Luke speaks, were different persons. Matthew calls Herod a king; and Luke, chap. iii. ver. 1, calls Herod, tetrarch, (that is, Governor) of Galilee. But there could be no such person as a king Herod, because the Jews and their country were then under the dominion of the Roman Emperors who governed then by Tetrarchs or Governors.
Luke, chap. ii. makes Jesus to be born when Cyrenius was Govenor of Syria, to which government Judea was annexed; and according to this, Jesus was not born in the time of Herod. Luke says nothing about Herod seeking the life of Jesus when he was born; nor of his destroying the children under two years old; nor of Joseph fleeing with Jesus into Egypt; nor of his returning from
I pass on to the last passage in these fables of the Evangelists, called a prophecy of Jesus Christ.
John having spoken of Jesus expiring on the cross be tween two thieves, says, chap. xix. ver. 32, "Then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first (meaning one of the thieves) and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs-ver. 36, for these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken."
The passage here referred to is in Exodus, and has no more to do with Jesus than with the ass he rode upon to
thousand pounds; and it would take about thirty cart loads of clay (one horse carts) to make one brick.
But his account of the stones used in the building of Solomon's temple (volume 2d, page 211,) far exceeds his bricks of ten feet square in the walls of Babylon; these are but brick-bats compared to them.
The stones, says he, employed in the foundation, were in magnitude forty cubits, that is, above sixty feet, a cubit, says he, being somewhat more than one foot and a half, (a cubit is one foot nine inches) and the superstructure, says this Bishop, was worthy of such foundatious. There were some stones, says he, of the whitest marble forty-five cubits long, five cubits high, and six cubits broad. These are the dimensions this Bishop has given, which in measure of twelve inches to a foot, is 78 feet 9 inches long, 10 feet 6 inches broad, and 8 feet 3 inches thick, and contains 7,234 cubic feet. I now go to demonstrate the imposition of this Bishop.
A cubic foot of water weighs sixty-two pounds and a halfthe specific gravity of marble to water is as 2 1-2 is to one. The weight therefore of a cubic foot of marble is 156 pounds, which, multiplied by 7,234, the number of cubic feet in one of those stones, makes the weight of it to be 1,128,504 pounds, which is 503 tons. Allowing then a horse to draw about half a ton, it will require a thousand horses to draw one such stone on the ground; how then were they to be lifted into the building by human hands!
The Bishop may talk of faith removing mountains, but all the faith of all the Bishops that ever lived could not remove one of those stones and their bodily strength given in.
This Bishop also tells of great guns used by the Turks at the taking of Constantinople, one of which, he says, was drawn by seventy yoke of oxen, and by two thousand men. Volume 3d, page 117.
The weight of a cannon that carries a ball of 48 pounds, which is the largest cannon that are cast, weighs 8,000 pounds, about three tons and a half, and may be drawn by three yoke of oxen. Any body may now calculate what the weight of the Bishop's great gun must be, that required seventy yoke of oxen to draw it. This Bishop beats Gulliver.
When men give up the use of the divine gift of reason in writing on any subject, be it religion or any thing else, there are no bounds to their extravagance, no limit to their absurdities.
The three volumes which this Bishop has written on what he calls the prophecies, contain above 1,200 pages, and he says in vol. 3, page 117, "I have studied brevity." This is as marvellous as the Bishop's great gun.
Jerusalem; nor yet so much, if a roasted jack-ass, like a roasted he-goat, might be eaten at a Jewish passover. It might be some consolation to an ass to know, that though his bones might be picked, they would not be broken. I go to state the case.
The book of Exodus, in instituting the Jewish passover, in which they were to eat a he-lamb or a he-goat, says, chap. xii. ver. 5, "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; ye shall take it from the sheep or from the goats."
The book, after stating some ceremonies to be used in killing and dressing it (for it was to be roasted, not boiled) says, ver. 43," And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, this is the ordinance of the passover: there shall no stranger eat thereof; but every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. A foreigner shall not eat thereof. In one house shall it be eaten thou shalt not carry forth aught of the flesh thereof abroad out of the house; neither shalt thou break a bone thereof."
We here see that the case as it stands in Exodus is a ceremony and not a prophecy, and totally unconnected with Jesus's bones, or any part of him.
John having thus filled up the measure of apostolic fable, concludes his book with something that beats all fable; for he says at the last verse, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."
This is what in vulgar life is called a thumper; that is, not only a lie, but a lie beyond the line of possibility; besides which it is an absurdity, for if they should be written in the world, the world would contain them. Here ends the examination of the passages called the prophecies.
I HAVE now, reader, gone through and examined all the passages which the four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, quote from the Old Testament, and call them prophecies of Jesus Christ. When I first set down to this examination, I expected to find cause for some censure, but little did I expect to find them so utterly destitute of truth, and of all pretensions to it, as I have shewn
them to be.
The practice which the writers of those books employ is not more false than it is absurd. They state some trifling case of the person they call Jesus Christ, and then cut out
a sentence from some passage of the Old Testament and call it a prophecy of that case. But when the words thus cut out are restored to the place they are taken from, and read with the words before and after them they give the lie to the New Testament. A short instance or two of this will suffice for the whole.
They make Joseph to dream of an angel, who informs him that Herod is dead, and tells him to come with the child out of Egypt. They then cut out a sentence from the book of Hosea. "Out of Egypt have I called my Son," and apply it as a prophecy in that case.
The words "And called my Son out of Egypt." are in the Bible; but what of that? They are only part of a pas sage, and not a whole passage, and stand immediately connected with other words, which shew they refer to the children of Israel coming out of Egypt in the time of Pharoah, and to the idolatry they committed afterwards.
Again, they tell us that when the soldiers came to break the legs of the crucified persons, they found Jesus was already dead, and therefore did not break his. They then, with some alteration of the original, cut out a sentence from Exodus, "A bone of him shall not be broken," and apply it as a prophecy of that case.
The words "Neither shall ye brake a bone thereof," (for they have altered the text) are in the Bible; but what of that? They are, as in the former case, only part of a passage, and not a whole passage, and when read with the words they are immediately joined to, shew it is the bones of a he-lamb or a he-goat of which the passage speaks.
Those repeated forgeries and falsifications create a well founded suspicion, that all the cases spoken of concerning the person called Jesus Christ are made cases, on purpose to lug in, and that very clumsily, some broken sentences from the Old Testament, and apply them as prophecies of those cases; and that so far from his being the Son of God, he did not exist even as a man-that he is merely an imaginary or allegorical character, as Apollo, Hercules, Jupiter, and all the deities of antiquity were. There is no history written at the time Jesus Christ is said to have lived that speaks of the existence of such a person
even as a man.
Did we find in any other book pretending to give a sys tem of religion, the falsehoods, falsifications, contradictions, and absurdities, which are to be met with in almost every page of the Old and New Testament, all the priests of the present day, who supposed themselves capable, would triumphantly shew their skill in criticism, and cry it down as a most glaring imposition. But since the books in question belong to their own trade and profession, they, or at least many of them, seek to stifle every enquiry into
them, and abuse those who have the honesty and the courage to do it.
When a book, as is the case with the Old and New Testament, is ushered into the world under the title of being the WORD OF GOD, it ought to be examined with the ut most strictness, in order to know if it has a well-founded claim to that title or not, and whether we are, or are not, imposed upon for as no poison is so dangerous as that which poisons the physic, so no falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith.
This examination becomes the more necessary, because when the New Testament was written, I might say invented, the art of printing was not known, and there were no other copies of the Old Testament than written copies. A written copy of that book would cost about as much as six hundred common printed Bibles now cost. Consequently the book was in the hands but of very few persons, and these chiefly of the church. This gave an opportunity to the writers of the New Testament to make quotations, from the Old Testament as they pleased, and call them. prophecies, with very little danger of being detected. Besides which, the terrors and inquisitorial fury of the church, like what they tell us of the flaming sword that turned every way, stood sentry over the New Testament; and time, which brings every thing else to light, has served to thicken the darkness that guards it from detection.
Were the New Testament now to appear for the first time, every priest of the present day would examine it line by line, and compare the detached sentences it calls prophecies with the whole passages in the Old Testament from whence they are taken. Why then do they not make the same examination at this time, as they would make had the New Testament never appeared before? If it be proper and right to make it in one case, it is equally proper and right to do it in the other case. Length of time can make no difference in the right to do it at any time. But instead of doing this, they go on as their predecessors went on before them, to tell the people there are prophecies of Jesus Christ, when the truth is there are none.
They tell us that Jesus rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. It is very easy to say so; a great lie is as easily told as a little one. But if he had done so, those would have been the only circumstances respecting him that would have differed from the common lot of man; and consequently the only case that would apply exclusively to him, as prophecy, would be some passage in the Old Testament that foretold such things of him. But there is not a passage in the Old Testament that speaks of a person