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had embraced. But what appears more surprising, is, that they offer for acceptance, (and have themselves accepted,) as inspired and infallible, a Greek version, and which most people mistake for the original of St. Matthew's Gospel, without any person's comparing this version with the original, or indeed without knowing any thing either of the original or the author of the version itself. Should they not in an affair of such moment, of such importance, of so sacred an interest, before they should pretend to fix on it the stamp of infallibility, be certain that it was at least a true version? but nothing of this kind is done. This appears to me such a proceeding as nothing can justify.
They are not wanting, however, in giving it all the authority that possibly can be given it; and for this purpose, with this intention, some ascribe the version to St. Matthew himself; others ascribe it to St. James, bishop of Jerusalem; others to St. John; others to St. Peter; others to St. Luke; others to St. Barnabas; and others again ascribe the translation to the joint labour of all the Apostles; so that the ascription to some one or other, or all, proves their ignorance jn this important matter; and their uncertainty and disagreement shows how little dependence ought to be placed on it, and their manifest intention of imposing on the weak and credulous.
But can people be so serious in persuading others to admit as infallible the version of a book, without any knowledge of the original, or without knowing whether it is a true version, or without any knowledge of the person who made this version? for should it be admitted that St. Matthew did write a Gospel, how are we to know, or how can it be ascertained, that the version we now have, is from the original, or that it is a true and faithful one? This we know, that in the last century an Armenian translation was discovered, which a Doctor of the Sorbonne thought to be of great antiquity, and was of opinion might be very useful in correcting the Greek text. This shows that they do not think it infallible, for if it was, it would require no human correction.*
Of as little authority, or rather less, (if possible,) is that Gospel which goes under the name of Mark. Some take this Evangelist to be the disciple of Peter, and his interpreter; others take him to be the same as Jolm Mark, mentioued in the Acts; some think. him to have been a priest, while others say he was Peter's nephew. And as regards the Gospel, some take him to be the author of it, while others ascribe it to Peter: others have it that he wrote what he heard from Peter by word of mouth in his lifetime. Some say that Peter dictated it to him; while others affirm that it was wrote after Peter's death.
* See all the particulars in Calraet's Dictionary on the word Matthew.
The same difference of opinion we find in respect to the place where it was wrote: for ■ while some affirm it to have been wrote at Rome, others affirm it to have been wrote in Egypt. "All their "different sentiments," says our author, " are enough to prove "that the circumstance of time and place are uncertain, when "and where St. Mark composed his Gospel. Men are so much di*; vided as to the language it was wrote in; some saying it was "composed in Greek, and others in Latin ;"* and, I add, that these different sentiments evidently prove that they know nothing concerning its infallibility, or the inspiration of its author. And it rather appears much more probable, (and indeed generally believed,) that this Gospel is no more than an abridgment made from Matthew; and then it will signify but little who the author was; when, where, or in what manner it was written: "for," says the afore-cited author, " as far as may be judged by com"paring the Gospel of St. Mark with St. Matthew's, the first is "an abridgment of the second. St. Mark very often uses the "same terms, relates the same facts, and takes notice of the same li circumstances." So that let it be an original or an abridgment, its infallibility cannot be proved, and, therefore, can be of no authority.
The third Evangelist is Luke, who, as he declares in his Preface or Introduction to his Gospel, wrote only by hearsay, and according to information given him by others, and makes not the least pretension to supernatural illumination or information; neither does he pretend to be an original evidence of the facts which be relates: so that how infallibility came to be ascribed to his writings will be hard to say; for it was even impossible for him ever to vouch for the truth of the facts which he relates; neither rp;ild his evidence be admitted in any court of law or justice. I
Cnlmet on the wonl Mark.
cannot here forbear noticing how little known must the Gospels which are supposed to have heen published, have been, when the writer or author of one knew nothing of the publication or writings of the others, as is plainly demonstrable from the following facts :—St. Matthew is said to have wrote and published his Gospel many years before St. Luke; yet when St. Luke published his, he takes no notice of St. Matthew's; for it is certain he thought none authentic when he wrote; for if he had, he would not have been under the necessity of collecting his materials from others, having an infallible guide in St. Matthew; so that either he knew not that St. Matthew wrote an infallible relation of those facts, or he confounds the Gospel of St. Matthew amongst the spurious ones that were abroad in those days; none of which did he admit as true or authentic.
Now, how a person of St. Luke's character should be ignorant of the infallibility of St. Matthew's Gospel; or how, if he was not ignorant of it, he should not make use of it, or send it to his friend Theophilus rather than his own, is what I confess I cannot comprehend.
"The Gospel," says a famous author, " continued so concealed "in those corners of the world where they were written, that the "latter Evangelists knew nothing of what the preceding wrote, "otherwise there could not have been so many apparent contra"dictions, which, almost since the first constitution of the canon, "have exercised the wits of learned men. Surely if St. Luke "had seen that genealogy of our Lord which is in St. Matthew, "he would not himself have produced one wholly different from "the other, without giving the least reason for the diversity. And '* when in the Preface to his Gospel he tells the occasion of his "writing, that he undertook it from being furnished with the re"lation of such as were eye-witnesses of what he writes, he plainly "intimates that the authors of those Gospels which he had seen "were destitute of that help; so that neither having themselves "seen what they relate, nor consulted with diligence and care "such as had seen them, their credit was, therefore, dubious and "suspected; whence it must necessarily follow, that the writers of "those Gospels which Luke had seen, were not at all the same an "our present Evangelists."*
* DoJwell Dissert, in Iron,
To the foregoing observations I shall only add, that there are the same doubts as to his person and character, profession and writings, as the others; for it is not' certainly known whether he „ was a Jew or a Heathen, a physician or a painter; and as to his Gospel, some think it properly St. Paul's, whilst others, that Luke only digested what St. Paul preached to the Gentiles; others say, that he wrote with the help of St. Paul.*
The last is St. John;—and this Gospel is apparently written with the intention of establishing the divinity of Jesus, which particular not being contained in the Gospels then extant, he, for this reason, goes on a very different plan from the other Evangelists. "His principal care in this undertaking," says Calmet, "was to relate such things as might be of use in confirming the "divinity of the son; and to this purpose says many things which "the others are silent in, and omits such other matters in which "the others are very particular, and which are reckoned very "principal and necessary in the history. Thus, considering his "very great care and tenderness for Mary, the mother of Jesus, he "does but little honour to her memory, in not relating those most "remarkable and wonderful transactions mentioned by Matthew "and Luke, (though with a wide difference,) concerning the mira"culous conception of Mary and the birth of Jesus. And as Mary "continued to live with him from the time of Jesus' death, surely "he must have had many opportunities of informing himself of "those extraordinary affairs from her own mouth with much more "certainty than the others; for it must be thought very extraor"dinary that the Evangelist, under the circumstances aforemen"tioned, should make no mention at all of such an essential ar"tide as the most wonderful conception of a virgin, and birth of "the person who was the subject of his history. How far his "neglect of relating so important a matter, and likewise those ex"traordinary dreams and visions which the others mention, "weakens the authority of their relation, or of his own, I shall not "detertmine; but certain it is, that his Gospel met not with that "reception which one would think was due to a person of his au"thority;for many rejected his Gospel. The Alogians in parti"cular, though they admitted the three others, yet rejected this; "and others believed an Heretic was its author, one Cerenthius; "and no doubt but the difference in the point of doctrine might be "the occasion of it; or the want of sufficient evidence of his bein g "the author."
__* For particulars, see Calmet on the word Luke.
The difficulties which must arise from the aforesaid considerations, are such, in respect to the proof of the inspiration or infallibility of the Gospels, as cannot be got over ; and yet this is not all, for whoever is any ways acquainted with the history of the ancients, and observations of the moderns, must be convinced of the many additions, alterations, and interpolations, which the writings of the New Testament have undergone, of which I shall collect some for your information.
(To be continued.)
For the JEW.
Matthew, chap. 2. v. 13, 44, 15.—" And when they were departed, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, arise, and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt; and be thou there until I bring thee word, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
"When he arose, and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt;
"And was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son."
How particularly'unfortunate is this St. Matthew in his quotations; insomuch, that no one can tell what he would be at, or who he quotes from. The quotation here is in these words: "Out of Egypt have I called my son." And these, says the writer of St. Matthew, are the words of the prophet, "Which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet." Now the first question that occurs is :—By what prophet? By the editors of the family bible published by M. Carey, I am refered to Numbers xxiv. 8. and to Hosea xi. 1., other editions refer us to Hosea xi. 1. only. We will consider both references, to find whether cither of the prophets in passages refered to, spoke of Jesus of Nazareth. 1. Num xxiv. 8. " God brought him forth out of Egypt :"these are the words of Balaam in his third parable to Balak, the son of Zipor. "God brought him out of Egypt: he hath as it were, the strength of a Unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break