« PreviousContinue »
persecuted him. A small sixpenny pamphlet of bis (the Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance) contains more proofs of prescience, than all the predictions of ail the vaunted prophets of both Jews and Gentiles. In this town, we are learning to appreciate the paper system at its proper value; but the lesson has not yet been accompanied with the severity which we have to feel. Tradesmen and manufacturers are falling around us and multitudes are involved in the distress, which is yet expected to spread more widely and generally in a month or six weeks. The immense number and value of the bills in circulation, will, in that time, have mostly become due and bave been returned, and the genius of a Paine only can find data for a proper estimation of the misery which has ; et to be endured. Wentworth and Co. had a Branch Bank here, and as they transacted business on a system much more liberal than the Quaker bankers (Peckover, Harris and Co.) they had engrossed a very large part of the manufacturing, trading, and mercantile transactions so far as the negociation of bills, and the issue of their own notes were concerned, so that, by-and-by, the crash will be dreadful. · The Wool Combers and Weavers strike, was a mere flea-bite to what the Banking Business will be.
Be so good as acknowledge the receipt of the £5. by the first post. Any intelligence respecting your “ Joint Stock Company," will be acceptable.
I am, Dear Sir,
Yours, sincerely, As we cannot, in fact, form a property in books, until the first book be ready for sale, subscriptions for the first quarter's interest in the Company will be received until it be ready, which will be duly announced. At any rate, we shall get nothing ready within the first fortnight. And with the exception of Account Books, not a farthing expence as to the management of the Company's business will be incurred, until the first book is ready for sale.
The following very applicable remarks and authorities for the whole question between Mr. Beard and me, I find condensed in the Reverend Robert Taylor's 44th Oration at “ The Christian Evidence Society,"lately published in refutation of Mr. Belshan's Evidences of Revealed Religion.
R. C. First." That Christianity had its origin in Judea, in the reign of Tiberius Cæsar.”
Now that Christianity did not originate in Judea, nor in the reign of Tiberius Cæsar will be demonstrated: if we can shew first, that there is no evidence that it did originate then and there ;---and secondly, That there is evidence that it did not.
THAT THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT CHRISTIANITY DID ORIGINATE IN JUDEA, &c. results from the invalidity, or the detected interpolation, forgery and falsehood, of all the evidence that has ever been pretended to make it appear that it did; that is, the testimony of Josephus, in the 8th book of his Jewish Antiquities; the third section of the third chapter of that book ;—the celebrated passage in the Annals of Tacitus, in the fourty-fourth chapter of the fifteenth book of those Annals; and the ninety-seventh Letter of the tenth book of the Epistles of Pliny.
This latter testimony which is unquestionably genuine, will be found to prove nothing ;-as the testimonies of Josephus and Tacitus, which would go to prove something, are not genuine.
The PASSAGE IN JOSEPUTUS Runs thus : (here the Secretary repeated the Greck text, which for want of type, is omitted). In English thus :
“ About that time appeared Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a performer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure, and he led many Jews, and many even of the Greeks. This was the Christ. And when Pontius Pilate, and the great men among us, had punished him on the cross ; those at least, who from the first had loved him, did not cease, for he appeared to them the third day again alive; the holy prophets having spoken these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the stock of Christians named from him still exists."
The arguments against the authenticity of this passage are 1. That it is not quoted by any one before Eusebius. A. D. 315. 2. It interrupts the narrative. 3. The language is quite Christian.
4. There is no allusion to Christ in any other part of Josephus's writings.
5. It is not quoted by Chrysostom though he often refers to Josephus, and could not have omitted quoting it, had it been then in the text.
6. It is not quoted by Photius, though he has three articles concerning Josephus, and under the article Sustus of Tiberias, mentions that this author being a Jew, has not taken the least notice of Christ.
7. It is rejected by Ittigius, Blondell, Le Clerq, Lardner, Gibbon, Vandale, Warburton, and Tanaquil Faber.
8. This latter author suspects that Eusebius himself was the author of this interpolation.
THE PASSAGE OF TACITUS Has acquired a higher respectability than it merits, from the ironical concession of Gibbon to its pretensions, thus it runs :
“ Ergo abolendo rumori Nero subdidit reos, et quæsitissimis poenis affecit, quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Christianos appellabat. Auctor nominis ejus Christus, Tiberio imperitante, per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat. Repressaque in præsens exitiabilis superstitio rursus erumpebat non modo per Judæum originem ejus mali, sed per urbem etiam, quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque.
In English thus :
“ Therefore to extinguish the rumour, Nero subdued the accused and put to the most exquisite punishments those who being hateful for their criines were by the common people called Christians. Christ, the author of that name, had by the procurator Pontius Pilate been capitally punished in the reign of Tiberius, and the fatal superstition for awhile suppressed, again broke out, not only through: Judea, the origin of that evil, bu: in the city itself, whither all things that are atrocious or shameful, flow together and become famous.”
Were this passage received as genuine, yet it does not pledge the separate testimony of its author, to the origination of Christianity, but only to thie account which Christians of the very worst of characters, gave of it,
and, even in that account, the resurrection of Christ, without which there can be no truth in Christianity, was not so much as pretended.
But, against the genuineness of the passage, stands,
1. Its parenthetical character: the words “ Auctor nominis ejus Christus, &c.” bearing evidently the characrer of a marginal note, that had crept into the text, and might with advantage to its construction be thrown out again.
2. The Christian fathers who would have raosacked beaven and earth to find the remotest allusion to their religion, and who made no scruple even of forging whole books for the purpose, never stumbled upon this; among these, Tertullian, wlio quotes Tacitus by name, with regard to his account of the Jews, and favours him with the polite epithet, Mendaciorum ille loquacissimus," the greatest of all liurs ! when in his apology (ch. 5.) he would enumerate all the facts, true or false, which might seem to recognise the origin of Christianity, makes no mention of the testimony of Tacitus. The only reason, that this Christian father could give for believing in the resurrection of Christ, is after all the best that Mr. Belsham or inis followers can pretend to. Credo quia impossibile est ! I believe it, because it is impossible !
3. The world had never heard of this famous passage till the 16th century, all the Codices Manuscripui of the annals and bistories of Tacitus being derived from the single copy which was written in the seventh or eighth century according to Oberlia, and in the tenth or eleventh according to Ernesti, and which was brought out of a Westphalian Monastery and presented to Pope Leo the-Tenth, whose learning enabled him well to bave imitated the style of Tacitus, as his statii n and opportunities enabled him to have been himself the author of the passage. Religious or conscien. tious scruples, would never have stood in the way of this Father in God, who told his clergy, that“ the fable of Jesus Christ brought grist to their mill, and it was but fair play to keep up that! that kept up them.”
THE LETTER OF PLINY, The only undoubted document of the existence of Christianity in bis time, written according to Lardner about A.D. 107, a little too late.
1. Does not imply the origination of Christianity in Judea, or in the time of Tiberius.
2. This accurate historian and excellent man could on his most diligent and careful inquiry find nothing among the professors of Christianity but a vile and excessive superstition, -not a precept, not a doctrine, not a circumstance, not an iota of Christianity. “Nihil aliud invevi quam superstitionem pravam et immodicam.”—I find nothing but a vile and excessive superstition.
3. Its professors were so exceedingly abandoned and wicked, that they could not trust each other : and when they met to sing hymns to Christ, as to a God; it was necessary to swear that there should be no throat-cutting, adultery nor theft, uill the farce was over, The anxious benevolence of Pliny, led him to speak from bis fears rather than his knowledge of the extensive prevalence of so great an evil ; and he recommends the exercise of forbearance and pardon towards the offenders as the surest means of recovering them from their in-anity, and reclaiming them to the purer worship of the pagan mythology.
There is then absolutely no evidence thai Christianity originated in Judea, or in the reign of the emperor Tiberius. I shall now shew you .
Tuat THERE IS EVIDENCE THAT IT DID NOT.
through its general scope and in the greatest number of clear and positive texts, treats of Christianity as already established in the world and of great antiquity when that book was written.
Secondly. From the consentaneous and consistent admissions of the earliest fathers, who how early so ever they be dated, still disclaim any thing like novelty and recentness in their religion, and jealously challenge for it the honour of a very remote and distant origination.
“ Res ipsa quæ nunc Christiana Religio nuncupatur erat et apud antiquos nec defuit ab initio generis humani."— Basil Edit. vol. i. p. 12.
“ The thing itself which we now call the Christian Religion, existed also among the ancients, nor was ever wanting from the beginning of the human race ;” says the great Austin. And to like effect speak all the fathers of the Holy Church, and the Holy Church itselt tl roughout all the world. The glory which she ascribes “ to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," not being a glory which originated in the paltry province of Judea and under the contemptible reign of Tiberius Cæsar, but that “ which was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, amen,"
Thirdly. From the manifest want of originality or novelty in the story, doctrines or precepts of Christianity; there not being so much as a single sentence in the New Testament conveying a distinct and definite idea, but that idea may be dovetailed baok again into its original position in the niches of the pagan idolatry, or distincıly traced to the prior dictation of the pagan philosophers, whose precepts were quite as good, and whose practice was infinitely better than any that the Christian world has ever exhibited: and, God knows I am paying those philosophers no compliment.
Fourthly. From the undeniable fact, that the name of Chrishna or Christ (which I take to be identical)“ and the general outline of his story, were long anterior to the birth of our Saviour, and probably to the time of Honer, which we know very certainly.”
I give the words of the pious Sir William Jones whom no man will charge with infidelity,—from the first volume of the Asiatic Researches, pp. 259, 260. 267. 272, 273. “ In the sanscrit dictionary compiled more than two thousand years ago," on the shewing of this author himself, we have the whole story of the incarnate Deity born of a virgin and miraculously escaping in his infancy from the reigning tyrant of his country, who “ sought the young child's life," and put to death all the children of the place of his nativity, - from two years old and under," in an impious hope to have extinguished the baby-God. There too will be found the stories of his miracles, his preachings, and his actions; even to the minuteness of bis washing the feet of his disciples.
Is not Tuis, then, proof demonstrative that Christianity vid rot originate in Judæa, nor in the time of Tiberius; even because it did exist many bundred of years before that time, and many hundreds of miles apart from that place. No alibi in a Court of Justice was ever established on clearer proof than this !
W. W. R. To R. C.
I HAD intended going to London to-day, but, being here, I think that I may as well write down a few observations about Mr. Beard's letter. It is a good letter-the best perhaps you ever received from an opponent: but the writer shews his Christian manners, despite of his detestation of intolerance; and the word “ falsehood" three times occurring in the first page, is but a bad sample of argumentative politeness. Yet his argument is generally good : at any rate, I think so; for you may recollect, that I have long argued with you, that there must have been Christians before the end of what is called the first century; and you may also recollect, that, when I had read the letter which Mr. Beard has answered, I told you, exactly what Mr. B. has told you, about the words Jesus, Joseph, &c. As to the Grecian names of Jesus' disciples, I should recommend you to reply, that after the fabulous or evangelical part of the origin of Christianism is through, it may perhaps be difficult to point out a single Jew who embraced Christianity,
The name of “ Hegesippus," although Greek, naturally presents itself in contradiction to what I here observe: but there is, I think, some obscurity in the passage of Eusebius, which appears to be the only authority for Hegesippus's being called “ originally a Jew" by Dr. Lardner, and, I suppose, by all other commentators. Indeed, in this place (Euseb. H. E. b. iv. c. xxi. p. 105. edit. Cologne, 1612.) the words 'feßparwy seem only to mean “out of Hebrew Scriptures," although, in Paul of Tarsus's Letter to the Philippians, (ch. iii. v. 5.) these words have a different meaning, as it appears, for instance, from Schleusner. The Latin translator of the only edition of Eusebius which I possess, and which is a very bad one, does indeed translate the words by “ Hebræorum Stirpe ortus;" but, if this translator be, as I suppose, Bishop Christophorson, it is said of him by Lemprière, that
as a translator, he is neither faithful nor elegant."
I dare say you think I have said enough upon this part of the subject, but
there is a passage of Gibbon I must allude to, (vol. ii. p. 277.) “ The first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all circumcised Jews,” says the historian; but we may remark, that these amphibious Christians probably made few or no converts, and that they appear to have abandoned all, or the greater part of, their Judaism in the reign of Hadrianus.
I do not suppose Papias or Justin Martyr were ever Jews. There was probably never such a person as Ebion; and Simon Magus seems a fabulous character. Cerinthus may perhaps have been a Jew; but he is considered as having flourished within the first century. The Christianism of Aquila, Theodotion, and Sym