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is again ordered in a dream to go to the land of Israel, and, after his journey thither, a fifth dream directs him to dwell in Naza. reth, that a prophecy might be fulfilled, which said, “He shall be called a Nazarene” Matthew, chap. ii., verse 23. This prediction, however, is not to be found in any part of the Old Testament.
Surely all these angelic visits, visions, and dreams, seem a very trifling and bungling apparatus to be used by omnipotence, and differ in no way from a vast number of tales and legends universally acknowledged to be the offspring of ignorance and imagination.
It is utterly impossible to reconcile the narrative of Matthew with that of Luke, who describes the visit of Joseph and Mary to. Bethlehem to be taxed, the birth there of Jesus, his presentation and circumcision in the temple at Jerusalem, and their return to Nazareth, from whence he says they went to Jerusalem every year at the Passover. Not a word of the wise men from the East, of Herod's alarm, of the flight into Egypt, and massacre of the innocents-all which dramatic touches of Matthew form direct contradictions to the calm, quiet incidents of Luke's history, and his statement of the annual visit to Jerusalem.
Why Luke and Matthew should both give genealogies of Joseph, who is said not to have been the father of Jesus, it has always been difficult for Christians to explain; but it has been found still more difficult, and I think impossible, to reconcile these two conflicting lines of descent. The best attempt that has been made to solve this difficulty supposes that Matthew, who at every step makes use of the word “begat,” traces the descent of Joseph from David in the natural succession, from son to son—and that Luke, who does not use such a plain expression as Matthew, traces it by succession of birthrights, or from heir to heir.* This ingenious hypothesis is destroyed by the fact that Matthew derives Joseph's descent from David through Solomon, ties perpetrated by Herod, does not make the slightest allusion to any report of his having ordered a massacre of infants.
* Hartley on Man, sect. XXV., quoted by Dr. Olinthus Gregory in his “ Letters, &c."
THE TWO GENEALOGIES.
his favourite son, who succeeded to his father's throne and power, and most certainly was his heir ; while Luke makes Nathan, an elder son of David, but who certainly was not his heir, to be the ancestor of Joseph.
It is stated at the end of Matthew's genealogy of Christ that each of the epochs-from Abraham to vid, from David to the captivity, and from the captivity to Christ-consisted of fourteen generations. The last series only contains thirteen, unless Jechonias, who terminates the second, be counted again at the commencement of the third. In order to establish his fanciful arrangement of fourteen, or a double series of seven, generations to each period, the writer has left out the names of three kings after Joram (Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziab), and says“ Joram begat Ozias," although we find in the 2nd book of Chronicles, chap. xxvi., that Ozias or Uzziah, king of Judah and father of Jotham, was the son of Amaziah. Again, Matthew leaves out the name of Jehoiaki after that of Josias for the same reason, and with a similar contradiction to the Old Testament history. Some commentators have suggested that Luke gives a genealogy of Mary, her husband's name being substituted in her place, while Matthew gives the natural descent of Joseph himself. This scheme, being so obviously desperate and without foundation, requires no notice. It may, however, be observed that Matthew reckons twenty-six generations from David to Christ, while Luke raises the number to forty-two. It is highly improbable (we believe experienced persons would say impossible) that two individuals, descended from a common ancestor, should be removed, the one by forty-two, and the other by only twenty-six, generations. The length of generations does not in the long run vary to such a striking extent.
The three first evangelists relate the baptism and temptation by the Devil. John makes no allusion to either occurrence, but agrees with the others in his account of John the Baptist's acknowledgment of Christ's superiority, and of the approbation of his divine Father conferred on Jesus by the descent on his head of the Holy Ghost in the “bodily shape” of a dove, but does not appear to have heard of the voice from heaven, which
NAMES SELDOM HAZARDED,
they all three state to have accompanied the flight of this ornithological incarnation.
The evangelists do not give us the names of any who, besides the apostles, were witnesses of the miracles; and, with a very few exceptions, they never give us the names of those vho were miraculously relieved. In the whole list of distinctiy different cases of miraculous cure related in the four Gospels (about three dozen in number), only six names of the cured and their relations are to be found. One of these names is that of Simon Peter the Apostle, whose mother-in-law is said to have been miraculously cured of a fever. With this one exception, Matthew does not give another hint of a name of any one recipient of miraculous relief, or of any one of their relations or friends. Mark mentions Bartimæus, the son of Timæus, whose sight was restored; and Mark and Luke both state that seven devils went out of Mary Magdalene, and both of them mention the name of Jairus, as the father of a girl who was raised from the dead. Luke and Mark also relate the cure of Peter's wife's mother. We obtain the name of Malchus, whose ear was cut off and miraculously restored, from John, who takes no notice of the miracle; and we hear of the miracle from Luke, who takes no notice of the name. The raising from the dead of Lazarus-a most striking miracle, which could scarcely have been forgotten-is found in John's narrative only, generally supposed to have been the latest of the four in its appearance. Not a single name is given of any one of the five thousand men, besides women and children, who were miraculously fed with five loaves and two small fishes, nor of the four thousand who were similarly regaled with a few fishes and seven loaves of bread.
The change of water into wine, which John so empbatically mentions as the beginning of Christ's miracles, and the first cause of his disciples' believing in his power, is not noticed in the other three Gospels. It does not appear a very dignified feat, and as, according to the speech of the master of the house (John, chap. ii., verse 10), the guests had already " well drunk,” seems hardly calculated to advance the cause of temperance or morality. The Roman Catholics consider this miracle to be the first instance
MISCHIEF AND TRIFLING.
and prototype of transubstantiation; but all the Christian glosses and glorifications cannot divest it of its strong resemblance to juggling at a jovial party.
In the following case, Matthew says that two demoniacs were cured; Mark and Luke distinctly say that only one man was relieved, and was afterwards seen by Christ and the disciples, and conversed with them in a sane and quiet state. Jesus, having ordered a number of devils to leave a man or two men, whose person or persons they had long possessed, was desired by the devils to permit them to enter into a herd of swine ; and their request baving been granted, they at once proceed to play the devil among the pigs to such a degree, that they rushed violently down a steep place and perished in the sea (Matthew, chap. viii.; Mark, chap. v.; Luke, chap, viii.) The anxious inquirer, puzzled to find so many stories of men bewitched or tortured by devils in a book of superhunlan pretension, must be still more puzzled to account for this act of wanton cruelty to a number of harmless domestic animals, and for this mischievous destruction of property belonging to another, permitted and virtually perpetrated by him whom Christians believe to have been inspired with infinite wisdom, justice, and benevolence.
One of the most absurd, indefensible, and trifling miraculous stories related of Christ is that of the fig-tree, which he is said to have cursed for not bearing fruit for his eating out of season,
“ for the time of figs was not yet” Mark, chap. xi., Verse 13.
Mark says that the disciples did not perceive that the tree had withered until the day following the malediction. Matthew says that the tree withered away immediately to the disciples' great astonishment; and the translators, with a judicious regard to the discrepancy, have rendered the Greek word which signifies “immediately” by“ presently.” Now what can we think of this story? Can any pious Christian justify or explain it ? Can any pious Christian do more than pronounce it to be a holy mystery, abandoning carnal reason, and prostrating himself in humble bibliolatry and uninquiring submission ? Can a tree become a proper object for miraculous vengeance for not spontaneously producing miraculous fruit ? Would a being inspired
MIRACULOUS POWER AND ITS CONDITIONS.
with infinite wisdom and goodness secretly destroy the valuable property of another? Was this a dignified or benevolent action, or a good example for bis disciples ? In short, does it look like the act of a supernaturally endowed being, or does it look like a coarse and vulgar legend ?
The writers of the New Testament of course do not pay much attention to the supernatural powers of any one except their Lord, but in strict conformity with the vulgar superstitions of the time they occasionally allude to miracles worked by other persons. “If I by Beelzebub cast out devils,” says Jesus to the Pharisees, “by whom do your sons cast them out ? therefore they shall be your judges.” And Christ is represented to have warned his dis. ciples against false prophets, who “ shall show great signs and wonders” Matt. chap. xxiv., verse 24. In the Acts two sorcerers, Simon and Elymas, are mentioned, the former of whom performed such wonders, that the people said, “This man is the great power of God” Acts, chap. viii., verse 10. According to the Gospel Jesus was not the only person who in those days possessed the power of detecting and drawing out evil spirits. On one occasion “ John said, We saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us, is for us” Luke, chap. ix., verses 49-50. This saying is not recorded by any one of the other Evangelists, but in direct contradiction to it Matthew relates that Christ said to the Pharisees " He that is not with me, is against me” Matthew, chap. xii., Verse 30.
It is said by Matthew (chap. X., verse 1) that Jesus “having called his twelve disciples, gave them power agains evil spirits to cast them out.” When their master was absent during the Transfiguration, they attempted to drive the devil out of a lunatic boy, and failed signally (Matthew, chap. xvii., verse 16). This is attributed by Jesus to their want of faith, and he adds, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by fasting and prayer.” So that some devils were more difficult to overcome than others. The unbelief of his spectators and auditors had a prejudicial effect on Christ's miraculous power, as we learn from the following pagsage:~" And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid