The Grounds of Christianity Examined

By Comparing The New Testament with the Old

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Comparing The New Testament with the Old, by George Bethune English

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Title: The Grounds of Christianity Examined by Comparing The New Testament with the Old

Author: George Bethune English

Release Date: June 1, 2005 [EBook #15968]

Language: English


Produced by Charles Klingman

The Grounds of Christianity
Examined by Comparing
The New Testament with the Old

by George Bethune English, A.M.

“First understand, then judge.”
“Bring forth the people blind, although they have eyes;
And deaf, although they have ears.
Let them produce their witnesses, that they may be justified;
Or let them hear their turn, and say, THIS IS TRUE.”

Boston 1813

To the Intelligent and the Candid
Who are
Willing to Listen to Every Opinion
That is Supported by Reason;
Not Averse to Bringing their Own Opinions
To the Test of Examination;
Is Respectfully Dedicated
The Author


Chapter I.
Introductory,--Showing that the Apostles and Authors of the
New Testament endeavour to prove Christianity from the Old.

Chapter II.
Statement of the Question in Dispute.

Chapter III.
The Characteristics of the Messiah, as given by the Hebrew

Chapter IV.
The character of Jesus tested by those characteristic marks of the
messiah, given by the Prophets of the Old Testament.

Chapter V.
Examination of the arguments from the Old Testament adduced in
the New, to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.

Chapter VI.
Examination of the meaning of the phrase “this was done that it
might be fulfilled.”

Chapter VII.
Examination of the arguments alledged from the Hebrew Prophets,
to prove that Jesus was the Messiah.

Chapter VIII.
Statement of Arguments which prove that Jesus was not the
Messiah of the Old Testament.

Chapter IX.
On the character of Jesus of Nazareth, and the weight to be
allowed to the argument of martyrdom, as a test of truth, in this

Chapter X.

Chapter XI.
Whether the Mosaic Law be represented in the Old Testament as a
temporary, or a perpetual institution.

Chapter XII.
On the character of Paul, and his manner of reasoning.

Chapter XIII.
Examination of some doctrines in the New testament, derived from
the Cabbala, the Oriental philosophy, and the tenets of Zoroaster.

Chapter XIV.
A consideration of the “gift of tongues,” and other miraculous
powers, ascribed to the Primitive Christians; and whether recorded
miracles are infallible proofs of the Divine Authority of doctrines
said to have been confirmed by them.

Chapter XV.
Application of the two tests, said in Deuteronomy to have been
given by God as discriminating a true prophet from a false one, to
the character and actions of Jesus.

Chapter XVI.
Examination of the evidence, external and internal, in favour of the
credibility of the Gospel history.

Chapter XVII.
On the peculiar morality of the New Testament, as it affects
nations and political societies.

Chapter XIX.
A consideration of some supposed advantages attributed to the
New, over the Old, testament; and whether the doctrine of a
Resurrection and a Life to Come, is not taught by the Old
testament, in contradiction the assertion, that “life and immorality
were brought to light by the Gospel.”





The celebrated Dr. Price, in his valuable “Observation on
the Importance of the American Revolution,” addressed to the
people of the United States, observes that, “It is a common
opinion, that there are some doctrines so sacred, and others of so
bad a tendency, that no public discussion of them ought to be
allowed. Were this a right opinion, all the persecution that has
ever been practised would be justified; for if it is a part of the duty
of civil magistrates to prevent the discussion of such doctrines,
they must, in doing this, act on their own judgments of the nature
and tendency of doctrines; and, consequently, they must have a
right to prevent the discussion of all doctrines which they think to
be too sacred for discussion, or too dangerous in their tendency;
and this right they must exercise in the only way in which civil
power is capable of exercising it--'by inflicting penalties upon all
who oppose sacred doctrines, or who maintain pernicious
opinions.' In Mahometan, countries, therefore, magistrates would
have a right to silence and punish all who oppose the divine
mission of Mahomet, a doctrine there reckoned of the most sacred
nature. The like is true of the doctrines of transubstantiation,
worship of the Virgin Mary, &c. &c., in Popish countries; and of
the doctrines of the Trinity, satisfaction, &c., in Protestant
countries. All such laws are right, if the opinion I have mentioned
is right. But, in reality, civil power has nothing to do in such
matters, and civil governors go miserably out of their proper
province, whenever they take upon them the care of truth, or the
support of any doctrinal points. They are not judges of truth, and if
they pretend to decide about it, they will decide wrong. This all
the countries under heaven think of the application of civil power
to doctrinal points in every country, but their own. It is indeed
superstition, idolatry, and nonsense, that civil power at present
supports almost every where under the idea of supporting sacred
truth, and opposing dangerous error. Would not, therefore, its
perfect neutrality be the greatest blessing? Would not the interest
of truth gain unspeakably, were all the rulers of states to aim at
nothing but keeping the peace; or did they consider themselves
bound to take care, not of the future, but the present, interest of
man; not of their souls and of their faith, but of their person and
property; not of any ecclesiastical, but secular, matters only?”

“All the experience of past time proves, that the consequence of
allowing civil power to judge of the nature and tendency of
doctrines, must be making it a hindrance to the progress of truth,
and an enemy to the improvement of the world.”

“I would extend these observations to all points of faith, however
sacred they may: be deemed. Nothing reasonable--can suffer by
discussion. All doctrines, really sacred, must be clear, and
incapable of being opposed with success.”

“That immoral tendency of doctrines, which has been urged as a
reason against allowing the public discussion of them, may be
either avowed and direct? or only a consequence with which they
are charged. If it is avowed and direct, such doctrines certainly will
not spread; the principles rooted, in human nature will resist them,
and the advocates of them will be soon disgraced. If, on the
contrary, it is only a consequence with which a doctrine is charged,
it should be considered how apt all parties are to charge the
doctrines they oppose with bad tendencies. It is well known that
Calvinists and Arminians, Trinitarians and Socinians, Fatalists and
Free-Willers, are continually exclaiming against one another's
opinions, as dangerous and licentious. Even Christianity itself
could not, at its first introduction, escape this accusation. The
professors of it were considered as atheists, because they opposed
pagan idolatry; and their religion was, on this account, reckoned a
destructive and pernicious enthusiasm. If, therefore, the rulers of a
state are to prohibit the propagation of all doctrines, in which they
apprehend immoral tendencies, an opening will be made, as I have
before observed, for every species of persecution. There will be no
doctrine, however true or important, the avowal of which will not,
in, some country or other, be subjected to civil penalties.”

These observations bear the stamp of good sense, and their truth
has been abundantly confirmed by experience; and it is the peculiar
honour of the United States, that in conformity with the principles
of these observations, perfect freedom, of opinion and of speech,
are here established by law, and are the birthright of every citizen
thereof. Our country* is the only one which has not been guilty of
the folly of establishing the ascendancy of one set of religious
opinions, and persecuting or tolerating all others, and which does
not permit any man to harass his neighbour, because he thinks
differently from himself. In consequence of these excellent
institutions, difference of religious sentiment; makes here no
breach in private friendship, and works no danger to the public
security. This is as it should be; for, in matters of opinion,
especially with regard to so important a thing as religion, it is
every man's natural right and duty to think for himself, and to
judge upon such evidence as he can procure, after he has used his
best endeavours to get information. Human decisions are of no
weight in this matter, for another man has no more right to.
determine what his opinions shall be, than I have to determine
what another man’s opinions shall be. It is amazing that one man
can dare to presume he has such a right over another; and that any
man can be so weak and credulous, as to imagine, that another has
such right over him.

As it is every man's natural right and duty to think and judge for
himself in matters of opinion; so he should be allowed freely to
bring forward and defend his opinions, and to endeavour, when be
judges proper, to convince others also of their truth.

For unless all men are allowed freely to profess their opinions, the
means of information, with respect to opinions, must, in a great
measure, be wanting; and just inquiries into their truth be almost
impracticable; and, by consequence, our natural right and duty to
think and judge for ourselves, must be rendered almost nugatory,
or be subverted, for want of materials whereon to employ our
minds. A man by himself, without communication with other
minds, can make no great progress in knowledge; and besides, an
individual is indisposed to use his own strength, when an
undisturbed laziness, ignorance, and prejudice give him full
satisfaction as to the truth of his opinions. But if there be a free
profession, or communication of sentiment, every man will have
an opportunity of acquainting himself with all that can be known
from others; and many for their own satisfaction will make
inquiries, and, in order to ascertain the truth of opinions, will desire
to know all that can be said on any question.

If such liberty of professing and teaching be not allowed, error, if
authorized, will keep its ground; and truth, if dormant, will never
be brought to light; or, if authorized, will be supported on a false
and absurd foundation, and such as would equally support error;
and, if received on the ground of authority, will not be in the least
meritorious to its professors.

Besides, not to encourage capable and honest men to profess and
defend their opinions when different from ours, is to distrust the
truth of our own opinion, and to fear the light. Such conduct must,
in a country of sense and learning, increase the number of
unbelievers already so greatly complained of; who, if they see
matters of opinion not allowed to be professed, and impartially
debated, think, justly perhaps, that they have foul play, and,
therefore, reject many things as false and ill grounded, which
otherwise they might perhaps receive as truths.

The grand principle of men considered as having relation to the
Deity, and under an obligation to be religious, is, that they ought to
consult their reason, and seek every where for the best instruction;
and of Christians and Protestants the duty, and professed principle
is, to consult reason and the Scripture, as the rule of their faith and

But how can these, which are practical principles, be duly put in
practice, unless all be at liberty, at all times, and in all points,
consider and debate with others, (as well as with themselves,) what
reason and Scripture says; and to profess, and act openly,
according to what they are convinced they say? How can we
become better informed with regard to religion, than by using the
best means of information? which consist in consulting reason and
scripture, and calling in the aid of others. And of what use is it to
consult reason, and Scripture at all, as any means of information.,
if we are not, upon conviction, to follow their dictates?

No man has any reason to apprehend any ill consequences to truth,
(for which alone he ought to have any concern,) from free inquiry
and debate.--For truth is not a thing to dread examination, but
when fairly proposed to an unbiased understanding, is like light to
the eye; it must distinguish itself from error, as light does
distinguish does distinguish itself from darkness. For, while free
debate is allowed, truth is in no danger, for it will never want a
professor thereof, nor an advocate to offer some plea in its behalf.
And it can never be wholly banished, but when human decisions,
backed by human power, carry all before them.

We ought to examine foundations of opinions, not only, that we
may attain the discovery of truth, but we ought to do so, on this
account, because that it is our duty; and the way to recommend
ourselves to the favour of God. For opinions, how true soever,
when the effect of education or tradition, or interest, or passion,
can never recommend a man to God. For those ways have no merit
in them, and are the worst a man can possibly take to obtain truth;
and therefore, though they may be objects of forgiveness, they can
never be of reward from Him.

Having promised these observations in order to persuade, and
dispose the reader to be candid, I will now declare the motives,
which induced me to submit to the consideration of the intelligent,
the contents of this volume. The Author has spared, he thinks, no
pains to arrive at certain Truth in matters of religion; the; sense of
which is what distinguishes man from the brute. And in this most
important subject that can employ the human understanding, he
has been particularly desirous to become acquainted with the
Grounds, and Doctrines of the Christian Religion; and nothing but
the difficulties, which he in this volume lays before the public,
staggers his faith in it.

It may perhaps add to the interest the Reader may take in this work
to inform him, that the Author was a believer in the religion of the
New Testament, after what he conceived to be a sufficient
examination of its evidence for a divine origin. He had terminated
an examination of the controversy with the Deists to his own
satisfaction, i.e. he felt convinced that their objections were not
insurmountable, when he turned his attention to the consideration
of the ancient, and obscure controversy between the Christians and
the Jews. His curiosity was deeply interested to examine a subject
in truth so little known, and to ascertain the causes, and the
reasons, which had prevented a people more interested in the truth
of Christianity than any other from believing it: and he set down to
the subject without any suspicion, that the examination would not
terminate in convincing him still more in favour of what were then
his opinions. After a long, thorough, and startling examination of
their Books, together with all the answers to them he could obtain
from a Library amply furnished in this respect, he was finally very
reluctantly compelled to feel persuaded, by proofs he could neither
refute, nor evade, that how easily soever Christians might answer
the Deists, so called, the Jews were clearly too hard for them.
Because they set the Old and New Testament in opposition, and
reduce Christians to this fatal dilemma.--Either the Old Testament
contains a Revelation from God; or it does sot. If it does, then the
New Testament cannot be from God, because it is palpably, and
importantly repugnant to the Old Testament in doctrine, and some
other things. Now Jews, and Christians, each of them admit the
Old Testament as containing a divine Revelation; consequently the
Jews cannot, and Christians ought not to receive and allow any
thing as a Revelation from God which flatly contradicts a former
by them acknowledged Revelation: because it cannot be supposed
that God will contradict himself. On the other hand--if the Old
Testament be not from God, still the New Testament must go
down, because it asserts that the Old Testament is a revelation
from God, and builds upon it as a foundation. And if the
foundation fails, how can the house, stand? The Author pledges
himself to the Reader, to prove, that they establish this dilemma
completely. And he cannot help thinking, that there is reason to
believe, that if both sides of this strangely neglected controversy
had been made public in times past, and become known, that the
consequences would have been long ago fatal at least to the New

The Author has been earnestly dissuaded from making public the
contents of this volume on account of apprehended mischievous
consequences. He thought, however, that the age of pious frauds
ought to be past, and their principle discarded, at least in Protestant
countries. Deception and error are always, sooner or later,
discovered; and truth in, the long run, both in politics, and religion,
will never be ultimately harmful. If what the Book states is true, it
ought to be known, if it is erroneous; it can, and will, be refuted.

The Author therefore makes it public, for these reasons,--because
he thinks, that the matter contained in the book, is true, and
important,--because he wished, and found it necessary to justify
himself from contemptible misrepresentations uttered behind his
back; and to give to those who know him, good and sufficient
reasons for past conduct, of which those to whom he is known,
cannot be ignorant; and finally, he thought it right, and proper, and
humane, to give to the world a work which contained the reasons
for the unbelief of the countrymen of Jesus; who for almost
eighteen hundred years have been made the unresisting victims of,
as the reader will find, groundless misrepresentation, and the most
amazing cruelty; because they refused to believe what it was
impossible that they should believe, on account of reasons their
persecutors did not know, and refused to be informed of.

If the arguments and statements contained in this volume should be
found to be correct, he believes that every honest and candid man,
after his first surprise that they should not have been made known
before, will feel for the victims of a mistake so singular and so
ancient as the one which is the subject of the following pages; and
will think with the author, that it is time, high time, that the truth
should be known, and justice be done to them.*

There is not in existence a more singular instance of the
mischievous mistakes arising from taking things for granted which
require proof, than the case before the reader. The world has all
along been in total error with regard to the reasons and the motives
which have prevented the Hebrew nation from receiving the
system of the New Testament. They have been successfully
accused of incorrigible blindness and obstinacy; and while
volumes upon volumes have been written against them, and the
arguments therein contained, supported and enforced by the power
of the Inquisition, and the oppressions of all Christendom, these
unfortunate people have not been willingly suffered to offer to the
world one word in their own defence. They have not been
allowed, after hearing with patience both arguments, and “railing
accusations” in abundance, to answer in their turn; but have been
compelled, through the fear of confiscation, persecution, and death,
to leave misapprehensions unexplained, and misrepresentations

Is it then to be wondered at, that mankind have considered their
adversaries as in the right, and that deserted by reason, and even
their own Scriptures, they were supported in their opinion only by
a blind and pertinacious obstinacy, more worthy of wonder than
curiosity? Alas! the world did not consider, that nothing was more
easy than to confute people whose tongues were frozen by the
terror of the Inquisition!! But, thanks to the good sense of this
enlightened age, those times are past and gone. There is now one
happy country where freedom of speech is allowed, where every
harmless religious opinion is protected by law, and where every
opinion is listened to that is supported by reason. The time, I trust,
is now come when the substantial arguments of this oppressed,
and, in this respect, certainly calumniated, people, may be
produced and their reasons set forth, without the fear of harm, and
with, and with the hope of hearing from the intelligent and the
candid. They, we believe, will be fully convinced, that their
adversaries have for so long a time triumphed over them without
measure, only because they have been suffered to do so without

The reader is assured, that, notwithstanding the subject, he will
find nothing in this volume but what is considered by the author to
be fair and liberal argument; and such no honest man ought to
decline looking in the face. He has endeavoured to discuss the
important subject of the book in the most inoffensive manner; for
he has no wish, and claims no right, to wound the feelings of those
who differ from him in opinion. There is not, nor ought there to be,
a word of reproach in it, against the moral character of Jesus, or the
twelve Apostles; and the utmost the author attempts to prove is,
that their system was founded, not upon fraud and imposture, but
upon a mistake. After the deaths of Christ and his Apostles, it was
indeed aided and supported by very bad means; but its first
founders, the author believes, were guilty of no other crime than
that of being mistaken; a very common one indeed.

He hopes, therefore, that such a discussion as the one now laid
before the public, will be fairly met, and fairly answered, if
answered at all, and that recourse will not be had to dishonest and
ungentlemanly misrepresentations, and calling names, in order to
prevent people from examining things they have a right to know,
and in order to blind and frighten the public, the jury to which he
appeals. It is infallibly true, that the knowledge of truth is, and
must be beneficial to mankind; and that, in the long run, it never
was, and never can be, harmful. It is equally certain, that God
would never give a Revelation so slightly founded as to be
endangered by any sophistry of man. If the Christian system be
from God, it will certainly stand, no human power can overthrow
it; and, therefore, no sincere Christian who believes the New
Testament, ought to be afraid to meet half way the objections of
any one who offers them with fairness, and expresses them in
decent language; and no sensible Christian ought to shut his ears
against his neighbour, who respectfully asks “a reason for the faith
that is in him.”

The author has been told, indeed, that, “supposing the Christian
system to be unfounded, yet that it is reasonable to believe, that the
Supreme Being would view any attempts to disturb it, with
displeasure, on account of its moral effects.” But is not this
something like absurdity? Can God have made it necessary, that
morals should be founded on delusion, in order that they might be
supported? Can the God of TRUTH be displeased to have men
convinced that they have been mistaken, or imposed upon, by
Revelations pretended to be from Him, which if in fact not from
him, must be the offspring either of error or falsehood? And if the
Christian system be, in truth, not from God, can we suppose, that
in his eyes its doctrines with regard to Him are atoned for, by a few
good moral precepts? Can we suppose, that that Supreme and
awful Being can feel Himself honoured, in having his creatures
made to believe, that He was once nine months in the womb of a
woman; that God, the Great and Holy, went through all the
nastiness of infancy; that be lived a mendicant in a corner of the
earth, and was finally scourged, and hanged on a gibbet by his own
creatures? If these things be, in truth, all mistakes, can we
suppose, that God is pleased in having them believed of Him? On
the contrary, can they, together with the doctrine of the Trinity, I
would respectfully ask, be possibly looked upon by Him (if they
are not true), otherwise, than as so many--what I forbear to
mention. But this is not all. The reader is requested to consider,
that the Christian system is built upon the prostrate necks of the
whole Hebrew nation. It is a tree which flourished in a soil watered
by their tears; its leaves grew green in an atmosphere filled with
their cries and groans; and its roots have been moistened and
fattened with their blood. The ruin, reproach, and sufferings of that
people, are considered, by its advocates, as the most striking proof
of the Divine authority of the New Testament; and for almost
eighteen hundred years the system contained in that book has been
the cause of miseries and afflictions to that nation, the most
horrible and unparalleled in the history of man.

Now, if that system be indeed Divine, all this may be very well,
and as it should be. But if, perchance, it should turn out to be a
mistake if it be, in truth, not from God; will not, then, that system
be justly chargeable with all those shocking cruelties which, on
account of it, have been inflicted on that people?

If that system be verily and indeed founded on a mistake, no
language, no indignation, can do justice to its guilt in this respect.
All its good moral effects are a mere drop of pure water in that
ocean of Jewish and Gentile blood it has caused to be shed by
embittering men's minds with groundless prejudices. And if it be
not divine; if it be plainly and demonstrably proved to have
originated in error; who is the man, that, after considering what has
been suggested, will have the heart to come forward, and coolly
say, “that it is better that a whole nation of men should continue, as
heretofore, to be unjustly hated, reproached, cursed, and plundered,
and massacred, on account of it, rather than that the received
religious system should be demonstrated to be founded on
mistake?" No! If it be, in fact, founded on mistake, every man of
honour, honesty, and humanity, will say, without hesitation, "Let
the delusion (if it is one) be done away, which must be supported
at the expense of truth, of justice, and the happiness and
respectability of a whole nation, who are men like ourselves, and
more unfortunate than any others, in having already suffered but
too much affliction and misery on account of it." No! though the
moral effects ascribed to this system of religion were as good, as
great, and ten times greater than they ever have been, or can be,
yet, if it is a delusion, it would be absolutely wicked to support it,
since it is erected upon the sufferings, wretchedness, and
oppression of a people who compose millions of the great family
of mankind.

It is remarkable, that the ablest modern advocates for the truth and
divine authority of the gospel, as if they knew of no certain,
demonstrative proof which could be adduced in a case of so much
importance, seem to content themselves, and expect their readers
should be satisfied, with an accumulation of probable arguments in
its favour; and it has been even said, that the case admits of no
other kind of proof. If it be so, the author requests all so persuaded
to consider, for a moment, whether it could be reconciled to any
ideas of wisdom in an earthly potentate, if he should send an
ambassador to a foreign state to mediate a negotiation of the
greatest importance, without furnishing him with certain,
indubitable credentials of the truth and authenticity of his mission?
And to consider further, whether it be just or seemly, to attribute to
the Omniscient, Omnipotent Deity, a degree of weakness and folly,
which was never yet imputed to any of his creatures? for unless
men are hardy enough to pass so gross an affront upon the
tremendous Majesty of Heaven, the improbability that God should
delegate the Mediator of a most important covenant to be proposed
to all mankind, without enabling him to give them clear and, in
reason, indisputable proof of the divine authority of his mission,
must ever infinitely outweigh the aggregate sum of all the
probabilities which can be accumulated in the opposite scale of the
balance. And to conclude, I presume it will not be denied, that the
authenticity and celestial origin of any thing pretending to be a
Divine Revelation, before it has any claims upon our faith, ought to
be made clear beyond all reasonable doubt; otherwise, it can have no
just claims to a right to influence our conduct.

And as for the opinions and the arguments contained in this
volume, I have but trembling hopes that they will meet with
favour, merely because the author is sincere, and wishes to do
right. Conscious that I make a perilous attempt, in daring to
defend myself by attacking ancient error supported by multitudes,
with no other seconds besides Truth and Reason, it would be
bootless for me to ask indulgence for them on account of my good
intentions; and as they can derive no credit from the authority of
the writer, I am sensible they must fall by their own weakness, or
stand by their own strength. I must leave them, therefore, to their
fate; and I can cheerfully do it, without fear for the issue, if the
reader will only be candid, and will comply with my earnest
request--“first to understand, and then judge.”

Before I conclude these prefatory remarks, I would observe, that as
the contents of this volume will be perfectly novel to nine hundred
and ninety-nine out of a thousand, it is but justice to the public, and
to myself, to avow, that I do not claim to have originated all the
arguments advanced in this book. A very considerable proportion
of them were selected, and derived, from ancient and curious
Jewish Tracts, translated from Chaldee into Latin, very little
known even in Europe, and not at all known there to any but the
curious and inquisitive. And I reasonably hope, that discerning
men will be much more disposed to weigh with candour the
arguments herein offered, when they consider that they are, in
many instances, the reasonings of learned, ancient and venerable
men, who, in times when the inquisition was in vigour, suffered
under the most bloody oppression, and whose writings were
cautiously preserved, and secretly handed down to the seventeenth
century in manuscript, as the printing of them would assuredly
have brought all concerned to the stake. Some few other arguments
were derived from other authors, and were taken from works not so
much known as I hope they will be.

Finally, I commit my work to the discretion of the good sense of
the reader, believing that if he is not convinced, he will at least be
interested; and hoping that he will discover from the complexion of
the book (what my own heart bears witness to) that the author is a
sincere inquirer after truth, and perfectly willing to be convinced
that he is in error by any one who can remove the difficulties, and
refute the arguments, now laid by him before the public, with
deference and respect.

September 28, 1813.



Examined by Comparing the



Introductory,--showing that the Apostles and the authors of the
New Testament, endeavour to prove Christianity from the Old.

Christianity is founded on Judaism, and the New Testament upon
the Old; and Jesus of Nazareth is the person said in the New
Testament to be Promised in the Old, under the character and name
of the Messiah of the Jews, and who as such only claims the
obedience, and submission of the World. Accordingly, it is the
design of the authors of the New, to prove Christianity from the
Old, Testament; which is said Jo. 5:39, to contain the words of
eternal life: and it represents Jesus and his Apostles, as fulfilling by
their mission, doctrines and works, the predictions of the Prophets
and the Law: which last is said to prophecy of, or to typify

Matthew, for example, proves several parts of Christianity from
the Old Testament, either by asserting them to be things foretold
therein as to come to pass under the gospel dispensation; or to be
founded on the notions of the Old Testament.

Thus he proves Mary’s being with child by the Holy Spirit, and the
Angel’s telling her she “shall bring forth a son, and call his name
Jesus;” and the other circumstances attending his miraculous birth;
Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem; his flight into Egypt; the slaughter of the
infants; Jesus Dwelling at Nazareth, and at Capernaum, in the
borders of Zabulon, and Naphtali; his casting out devils, and
healing the sick; his eating with Publicans and sinners; his
speaking in parables that the Jews might not understand him; his
sending his disciples to fetch an ass, and a colt; the children’s
crying in the Temple; the resurrection of Jesus from the dead;
Jesus’ being betrayed by Judas, and Judas’ returning back the
thirty pieces of Silver, and the Priest’s buying the Potter’s Field
with them; and his hanging Himself; &c. &c. All these events, and
many more, are said to be fulfillments of the Prophecies of the Old
Testament, see Mat. 1, 2: and 4 chapters, and ch. 8: v. 16,17, and
ch. 9: 11,13, and ch. 13: 13, ch. 21: 2--7. 15,16, ch. 22: 31, 32, ch.
26: 54, 56, ch. 27: 5--10.

Jesus himself is represented as proving the truth of Christianity
thus. He, joining himself to two of his Disciples, (Luke 28: 15--
22,) after his resurrection, who knew him not, and complaining of
their mistake about his person, whom they now took not to be the
Messiah, because he had been condemned to death, and crucified;
he, observing their disbelief of his resurrection, which had been
reported to them by “certain women of their acquaintance,” upon
the credit of the affirmation of angels, said unto them, “O Fools,
and slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have spoken.
Ought not Christ (i.e. the Messiah) to have suffered these things,
and to enter into his Glory? and beginning at Moses, and all the
Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things
concerning himself.”

Again he discoursed to all his Disciples, putting them in mind, that,
before his Death, he told them (Luke 24: 44, 46, 47,) that “all
things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses,
and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning him;” adding,
“thus it is written, and thus it behoveth Christ (1. e. the Messiah) to
suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance,
and remission of sins should be preached in his name, beginning at

When the people of several nations, Acts 2:12, were amazed at the
Apostles speaking in their several tongues, and when many
mocked the Apostles, saying they were full of new wine, Peter
makes a speech in public, wherein, after saying they were not
drunk, because it was but the third hour of the day, he endeavours
to show them, that this was spoken of by the Prophet Joel, and he
concludes with proving the resurrection of Jesus from the book of

Peter, and John, tell the people assembled at the Temple, “that
God had showed by the mouth of all his Prophets, that Christ
should suffer,” Acts 3:18.

Peter to justify his preaching to the Gentiles, concludes his
discourse with saying, Acts 10: 43--“To Jesus gave all the
Prophets witness, that through his name whosoever (i.e. Jew, or
Gentile) believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins.”

Paul also endeavours to prove to the Jews in the Synagogue of
Antioch, (Ib. v. 13) that the history of Jesus was contained in the
Old Testament, and that he, and Barnabas were commanded in the
Old Testament, to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.

On the occasion of a dispute among the Christians whether the
Gentile converts were to be circumcised after the Law of Moses,
and to observe the Law, we find, that after much disputing, the
point was settled by James by quotation from Amos.

The Bereans are highly extolled (Acts 17: 11,) for searching the
Scriptures, i.e. the Old Testament, daily, in order to find out
whether the things preached to them by the Apostles were so, or no:
who if they had not proved these things, i.e. Christianity from the
Old Testament, ought, according to their own principles, to have
been rejected by the Bereans, as teachers of false doctrine.

Paul, when accused before Agrippa by the Jews, said (Acts 26; 6,)
“I stand, and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God
unto our fathers,” i.e. for teaching Christianity, or the true doctrine
of the Old Testament, and to this accusation he pleads guilty, by
declaring in the fullest manner, that he taught nothing but the
Doctrines of the Old Testament. “Having therefore (says he)
obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to
small, and great, saying now other things than those which the
Prophets, and Moses did say should come, that the Christ should
suffer, and that he should be the first who should rise from the
Dead, and should show light unto the People, and unto the

The Author of the first Epistle to the Cor. says, 15 ch. v. 4, that
“Jesus rose again from the dead the third day, according to the
Scriptures,” that is, according to the Old Testament, and he is
supposed to ground this on the history of the prophet Jonas, who
was three days and three nights in the fish's belly: though the cases
do not seem to be parallel, for Jesus being buried on Friday
evening, and rising on Sunday morning, was in the tomb but one
day and two nights.

But most singular is the argument of the Apostle Paul (in his
Epistle to the Galatians) to prove Christianity from the Old
Testament. “Tell me (says he, Gal. 4: 21,) ye that desire to be
under the Law, do ye not hear the Law? For it is written, that
Abraham had two Sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free
woman. But he who was of the bond woman, was born after the
flesh; but he who was of the free woman was by promise. Which
things are an Allegory. For these are the two covenants, the one
from Mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. But
this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem
that now is, and is in bondage with her Children. But Jerusalem
which is above is free, which is the Mother of us all. For it is
written (Isaiah 54: 1,) “Rejoice thou Barren that bearest not, break
forth, and cry thou that travailest not, for the desolate hath
many more children than she which hath an husband.” Now, we
Brethren, as Isaac was, are children of the Promise. But as then he
that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the
spirit, even so it is now. But what saith the Scripture (Gen. 21: 10,
12,) Cast out the bond woman, and her son, for the son of the bond
woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then,
Brethren, we are not the children of the bond woman, but of the
free. Stand fast, therefore, in the Liberty wherewith Christ hath
made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of

In fine, the Author of these Epistles reasons in the same singular
manner from the Old Testament throughout; which is, according to
him, (2 Tim. iii: 15,) “able to make men wise unto Salvation:”
asserting himself and others to be ministers of the New Testament,
as being ministers, not of “the letter but of “the Spirit,” (2Cor. iii:
6.) That is. Of the Old Testament, spiritually understood; and
endeavouring to prove, especially in the Epistle to the Hebrews,
that Christianity was veiled and contained in the Old Testament,
and was implied in the Jewish history, and Law, both which he
considers as types and shadows of Christianity.



How Christianity depends on the Old Testament, or what proofs
are to be met with therein in behalf of Christianity, are the subjects
of almost all the numerous books written by divines, and other
apologists for Christianity, but the chief and principal of these
proofs may be justly supposed to be urged in the New Testament
itself, by the authors thereof; who relate the history of the first
preaching of the Gospel, and profess themselves to be apostles of
Jesus, or companions of the Apostles.

Some of these proofs, as a specimen, have been already adduced.
And if they are valid proofs, then is Christianity strongly and
invincibly established: on its true foundations.

It is established upon its true foundations, because Jesus and his
Apostles did, as we have seen, ground Christianity on those proofs;
and it is strongly and invincibly established on those foundations,
because a proof drawn from an inspired book is perfectly
conclusive. And prophecies delivered in an inspired book
are, when fulfilled, such as may be justly deemed sure, and
demonstrative proof; and which Peter (2 Peter 1: 19) prefers as an
argument for the truth of Christianity, to that miraculous
attestation (whereof he, and two other Apostles are said to have
been witnesses,) given by God himself to the mission of Jesus of
Nazareth. His argument appears to be as follows. “Laying this
foundation, that Prophecy proceeds from the Holy Spirit, it is a
stronger argument than a miracle, which depends upon eternal
evidence, and testimony.” And this opinion of Peter’s is
corroborated by the words of Jesus himself, who, in Mat. xxiv: 23,
24, Mark xiii: 21, 22, affirms, that miracles wrought in
confirmation of a pretender’s being the Messiah, are not to be
considered as proof of his being so--“though they show great
signs and wonders, believe it not,” is his command to his disciples.

Besides, prophecies fulfilled, seem the most proper of all
arguments to evince the truth of a new revelation which is
designed to be universally promulgated to men. For a man who has
the Old Testament put into his hands, which contain prophecies,
and the New Testament afterward, which is said to contain their
completions, and is once satisfied, as he may be with the greatest
ease, that the Old Testament existed before the New, may have a
complete, internal, divine, demonstration of the truth of
Christianity, without long, and laborious enquiries. Whereas,
arguments of another nature, such, for instance, as relate to the
authority and genuineness of the books, and the persons, and
characters of authors, and witnesses, require more application, and
understanding, than falls to the share of the bulk of mankind; or
else are very precarious in themselves, since we know that in the
first centuries there were numberless forged Gospels, and
Apocryphal writings imposed upon the credulous as apostolic and
authentic; and there were in the Apostles times, as many, and as
great heresies and schisms as perhaps have been since in any age
of the Church. So that, setting aside the before mentioned internal
proofs from prophecy, (which were the Apostle's proofs and in
their nature sufficient of themselves) we should have no certain
proof at all for the Religion of the New Testament.

On the other hand, if the proofs for Christianity from the Old
Testament, are not valid, if the arguments founded on that Book be
not conclusive, and the Prophecies cited from thence be not
fulfilled, then has Christianity no just foundation; for the
foundation on which Jesus and his Apostles built it is then invalid,
and false. Nor can miracles, said to have been wrought by Jesus,
and his Apostles in behalf of Christianity, avail anything in the
case. For miracles can never render a foundation valid, which is in
itself invalid; can never make a false inference true; can never
make a prophecy fulfilled, which is not fulfilled; and can never
designate a Messiah, or Jesus for the Messiah, if both are not
marked out in the Old Testament; no more than they could prove
the earth to be the sun, or a mouse a lion.

Besides, miracles said to have been wrought, may be often justly
decided false reports, when attributed to persons who claim an
authority from the Old Testament, which they impertinently
alledge to support their pretentions. God can never be supposed
often to permit miracles to be done for the confirmation of a false,
or pretended mission. And if at any time he does permit miracles to
be done in confirmation of a pretended mission, we have express
directions from the Old Testament (acknowledged by Christians to
be of divine authority) Deut. xiii. 1, 2, not to regard such miracles;
but to continue firm to the antecedent revelation given by Himself,
and contained in the Old Testament, notwithstanding any “signs or
wonders;” which, under the circumstance of attesting something
contrary to an antecedent revelation, we are forewarned of as being
no test of truth. No new revelation, however supported by
miracles, ought ever to be received as coming from God, unless it
confirms, or at least does not contradict, the preceding standing
revelation, acknowledged to be from God.

Accordingly, we find from the New Testament, that all the
recorded miracles of Jesus could not make the Jews believe him to
be the Messiah when they thought that he did not answer the
description of that character given by the Prophets; on the
contrary, they procured him to be crucified for pretending to be
what to them he appeared plainly not to be.

Nor had his miracles alone any effect on his own brethren, and
kindred, who seem (Mark vi. 4; Jo. vii. 6,) to have been more
incredulous in him than other Jews. Nor had they the effect, they
are supposed to have been fitted to produce, among his immediate
followers, and Disciples; some of whom did not believe in him, but
deserted him, and particularly had no faith in him when he spake
of his sufferings; and thought that he could not be their Messiah
when they saw him suffer, notwithstanding his miracles, and his
declaration to them that he was the Messiah. And so rooted were
the Jews in the notion of the Messiah's being a temporal Prince, a
conquering Pacificator, and Deliverer, even after the death of
Jesus, and the progress of Christianity grounded on the belief of his
being the Messiah, that they have in all times of distress,
particularly in the apostolic sera, in great numbers followed
impostors giving themselves out as the Messiah, with force, and
arms, as the way to restore the kingdom of Israel. So that the Jews,
who it seems mistook in this most important matter, and after the
most egregious manner, the meaning of their own Books, might,
till they were set right in their interpretation of the Old Testament,
and were convinced from thence that Jesus was the Messiah, might
I say, as justly reject Jesus asserting his mission, and Doctrines
with miracles, as they might reject any other person, who in virtue
of miracles would lead them into idolatry, or any other breach of
their law.

In fine, the miracles said to have been wrought by Jesus, are,
according to the Old Testament, the gospel scheme, and the words
of Jesus himself, no absolute proof of his being the Messiah, or of
the truth of Christianity; and Jesus laid no great stress upon them
as proving doctrines, for he forewarned his disciples, that “signs
and wonders” would be performed, so great and stupendous, as to
deceive, if possible, the very elect, and bids them not to give any
heed to them.*



Having shewn from the New Testament, and proved from the
nature of the case, that the whole credit and authority of the
Christian religion, rests and depends upon Jesus' being the Messiah
of the Jews; and, having stated the principles which ought to
govern the decision of this question, and established the fact, that
the pretensions of any claiming to be considered as this Messiah,
must be tested solely by the coincidence of the character, and
circumstances of the pretender with the descriptions given by the
prophets as the means by which he may be known to be so--it is
proper, in order that we may be enabled to form a correct opinion,
to lay before the reader those passages of the Old Testament
which contain the promise of the appearing, and express the
characteristics of this “hope of Israel,” this beneficent saviour, and
august monarch, in whose time a suffering world, was, according
to the Hebrew prophets, to become the abode of happy beings.

Leaving out for the present the consideration of the Shiloh
mentioned in Gen. xlix., the first prophecy we meet with, supposed
to relate to this great character, is contained in Num. xxiv. 17,19,
“There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out
of Israel, shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy the children
of Seth.” Geddes interprets the latter clause--“shall destroy the
sons of esdition;” but it probably means, according to the common
interpretation, that this monarch was to govern the whole race of
men, i. e. the children of Seth; for Noah, according to the Old
Testament, was descended from him; and of the posterity of Noah,
was the whole earth overspread. And in verse 19, it is added “out
of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion.”*

God says to David, 2 Sam. vii. 12, “And when thy days shall be
fulfilled, and thou shall sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed
after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels; and I will
establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I
will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his
Father, and he shall be my Son--if he commit iniquity, I will
chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the
children of men. But my mercy shall not depart from him, as I took
it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thy house, and thy
kingdom shall be established before me, and thy throne shall be
established for ever.” Mention is made of this promise in several of
the Psalms, but it certainly suggests no idea of such a person as
Jesus of Nazareth, but only that of a temporal prince of the
posterity of David. It implies, that his family would never entirely
fail for though it might be severely punished, it would recover its
lustre again. And connecting this promise with that of the glory of
the nation in general, foretold in the books of Moses, it might be
inferred by the Hebrews, who believed them to be of Divine
authority, that after long and great calamities (the consequences of
their sins,) the people of Israel would be restored to their country,
and attain the most distinguished felicity under a prince of the
family of David. This is the subject of numberless prophecies
throughout the Old Testament.

Passing over all those prophecies in which the national glory is
spoken of without any mention of a prince or head; I shall recite,
and remark upon the most eminent of those in which mention is
made of any particular person, under whom, or by means of
whom, the Israelitish nation, it is said, would enjoy the
transcendent prosperity elsewhere foretold.

The second Psalm is no doubt well known to my readers, and
supposing it to refer to the Messiah, it is evident, that it describes
him enthroned upon mount Zion, the favorite of God, and the
resistless conqueror of his enemies.

The next prophecy of this distinguished individual is recorded in
Isaiah ix. 6--“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and
the government shall be upon his shoulder; and the Wonderful, the
Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father shall call his
name* the Prince of Peace.” [For thus it is pointed to be read in the
original Hebrew, and this is the meaning of the passage, and not as
in the absurd translation of this verse in the English version.] “Of
the increase of his government there shall be no end upon the
throne of David, and his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it
with judgment, and with justice from henceforth and for ever: the
zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this.” Here again we have a
mighty monarch, sitting upon the throne of David, upon earth; and
not a spiritual king placed in heaven, upon the throne of “the
mighty God, the everlasting Father.”

The next passage which comes under notice, is in the eleventh
chapter of Isaiah, in which a person is mentioned, under whom
Israel, and the whole earth was to enjoy great prosperity and
felicity. He is described as an upright prince, endued with the spirit
of God, under whose reign there would be universal peace, which
was to take place after the return of the Israelites from their
dispersed state, when the whole nation would be united and happy.

“There shall spring forth a rod from the trunk of Jesse, and a scion
from his roots shall become fruitful. And the spirit of the Lord
shall rest upon him; the spirit of wisdom, and understanding; the
spirit of counsel, and strength; the spirit of knowledge, and the fear
of the Lord. And he shall be quick of discernment in the fear of the
Lord; so that not according to the sight of his eyes shall he judge,
nor according to the hearing of the ears shall he reprove. With
righteousness shall he judge the poor, and with equity shall he
work conviction# on the meek of the earth. And he shall smite the
earth with the blast of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips
shall he slay the wicked one. And righteousness shall be the girdle
of his lions, and faithfulness the cincture of his reins. Then shall
the wolf take up his abode with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie
down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling
shall come together, and a little child shall lead them. And the
heifer, and the she bear shall feed together, and the lion shall eat
straw like the ox. And the suckling shall play upon the hole of the
asp; and upon the den of the basilisk shall the new weaned child
lay his hand. They shall not hurt, nor destroy in my holy mountain,
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the
waters cover the sea. And it shall come to pass in that day, the root
of Jesse which standeth for an ensign to the people, unto him shall
the nations repair, and his resting place shall be glorious.”

As the scion here spoken of is said to spring from the root of Jesse,
it looks as if it were intended to intimate, that the tree itself would
be cut down, or that the power of David's Family would be for
some time extinct; but that it would revive in “the latter days.”

The same Prince is again mentioned, chap xxxiii. 1, 3, where the
people are described to be both virtuous, and flourishing, and to
continue to be so. (v. 15--17.)

“Behold a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule
with equity. And the man shall be a covert from the storm, as a
refuge from the flood, as canals of waters in a dry place, as the
shadow of a great rock in a land of fainting with heat. And him the
eyes of those that see shall regard, and the ears of them that hear
shall harken, * * * * till the spirit from on high be poured out upon
us, and the wilderness become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field
be esteemed a forest. And judgment shall dwell in the wilderness,
and in the fruitful field shall reside righteousness. And the work of
righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness
perpetual quiet, and security. And my people shall dwell in a
peaceful mansion, and in habitations secure, and in resting places

The same Prophet, chap. lxii 1, speaks of a person under the title of
“God’s Servant,” of a meek disposition, raised up by God to
enlighten the world, even the Gentile part of it; to bring prisoners
out of their confinement, and to open their eyes; alluding,
probably, to the custom too common in the East; of sealing up the
eyes, by sewing or fastening together the eyelids of persons, and
then imprisoning thorn for life. It is doubted, however, whether the
Prophet meant, or had in view, in this passage, the Messiah, or his
own nation.

“Behold my servant whom I will uphold, mine elect in whom my
soul delighteth; I will make my spirit rest upon him, and he shall
publish judgment to the nations. He shall not cry aloud, nor raise a
clamour, nor cause his voice to be heard in the public places. The
bruised reed shall he not break, and the dimly burning flax he shall
not quench, he shall publish judgment so as to establish it
perfectly. His force shall not be abated, nor broken, until he has
firmly seated judgment in the earth, and the distant nations shall
earnestly wait for his Law.”

“Thus saith the Lord, even, the Eternal, who created the heavens,
and stretched them out; who spread abroad the earth, and the
produce thereof, who giveth breath to the people upon it, and spirit
to them that tread thereon. I the Lord have called thee for a
righteous purpose,* and I will take hold of thy hand, and I will
preserve thee; and I will give thee for a covenant to the people, for
a light to the nations; to open the eyes of the blind, to bring the
captive out of confinement, and from the dungeon those that dwell
in darkness. I am the Eternal, that is my name, and my glory will I
not give to another, nor my praise to the graven images. The
former predictions, lo! they are to come to pass, and now events I
now declare; before they spring forth, behold I make them known
unto you.” See also chap. xlix. 1,12, and chap. liv. 3, 5.

In the 3d chapter of Hosea, verses 4 and 5, it is said by the Prophet,
that “the sons of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and
without a prince, and without sacrifice, and without a statue, and
without an ephod, and without Teraphim. Afterward shall the sons
of Israel return, and shall seek the Lord their God, and DAVID
their King, and shall fear the Lord, and his goodness in the latter

Micah chap. v. speaks of the Messiah thus, “And thou Bethlehem
Ephratah, art thou too little to be among the leaders of Judah? Out
of thee shall come forth unto me, him who is to be ruler in Israel;
and his goings forth have been from old, from the days of hidden
ages. Therefore will He (God) deliver them up, until the time when
she that bringeth forth, hath brought forth, and until the residue of
his brethren shall return together with the sons of Israel. And. he
shall stand and feed his flock, in the strength of the Lord, in the
majesty of the name of the Lord his God, and they shall abide, for
now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth, and he shall be
Peace.” Jeremiah also speaks of the restoration of the Israelites
under a Prince of the family of David, chap. xxiii. 5, 8.

“Behold the days are coming, saith the Lord, that I will raise up
unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign, and act
wisely, and shall execute justice, and judgment in the earth. In his
days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell in security, and
this is the name by which the Eternal shall call him, OUR
RIGHTEOUSNESS.”# [Heb.] The same is mentioned in chap. xxx.
8, 9. “And it shall be in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts, I will
break his yoke from off his neck, and his bands will I burst
asunder, and strangers shall no more exact service of him. But they
shall serve the Lord their God, and DAVID their King, whom I
will raise up for (or to) them. * * * The voice of joy, and the voice
of mirth, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride,
the voice of them that say. Praise ye the Lord of Hosts, for the
Lord is gracious, for his mercy endureth for ever, of them that
bring praise to the house of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts,
yet again shall there be in this place that is desolate (Jerusalem and
Palestine,) without man and beast, and in all the cities thereof, an
habitation of shepherds folding sheep, in the cities of the hill
country, and in the cities of the plain, and in the cities of the south,
and in the land of Benjamin, and in the environs of Jerusalem. * *
* Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform the
good thing which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel,
and concerning the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time,
[he that readeth, let him observe] I will came to grow up of the line
of David a branch of righteousness, and he shall execute judgment
and justice in the earth. In those days Judah shall be saved, and
Jerusalem, shall dwell securely, and this is he whom the Lord shall
call--‘OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ [Heb.] Surely, thus saith the
Lord, there shall not be a failure in the line of David, one to sit
upon the throne of the house of Israel, neither shall there be a
failure in the line of the Priests, the Levites, of one to offer before
me burnt offerings, and to perform sacrifice continually." See ch.
xxxiiii. 14. In this place, the perpetuity of the tribe of Levi, as well
as that of the house of David, is foretold. See also Jer. ch. xxx. 9.

Contemporary with Jeremiah was Ezekiel. He likewise describes
this happy state of the Israelites under a king of the name of David,
chap. xxxiv. 22.

“Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey:
and I will judge between cattle, and cattle. And I will set up one
Shepherd over them, and be shall feed them, even my servant
DAVID: he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd, and I
the Lord will be their God, and my servant DAVID a Prince
among them. I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them
a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of
the land; and they shall dwell safely in' the wilderness, and sleep in
the woods. And I will make them, and the places round about my
hill, a blessing, and I will cause the shower to come down in the
season: there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field
shall yield her fruit; and the earth shall yield her increase; and they
shall be safe in their land; and shall know that I am the Lord, &c.”

In another passage this prophet says, that the two nations, Israel
and Judah, shall have one king, and that this king shall be named
DAVID, who shall reign for ever, chap. xxxvii. 21--28. “Say unto
them, thus saith the Lord God, behold I will take the children of
Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will
gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. And
I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of
Israel, and one king shall be king to them all, and they shall be no
more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms
any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with
their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their
transgressions; but I will save them out of all their dwelling places
wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them, so shall they be
my people, and I will be their God. And DAVID my servant shall
be king over them, and there shall be one shepherd. They shall
also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes and do them.
And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my
servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt, and they shall dwell
therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children
for ever, and my servant DAVID shall be their prince forever.
Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them: it shall be an
everlasting covenant with them, and I will place them, and
multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them, for
evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them, and I will be
their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall
know, that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall,
be in the midst of them for evermore.”

The natural construction of this seems to be this, “that a descendant
of David, called by that name, should reign over the Israelites for

In the very circumstantial description which Ezekiel gives of the
state of the Israelites in their own country, yet expected by the
Jews, he speaks of the prince, and the portion assigned him, chap.
xlv. 78. And in his description of the temple service, he moreover
speaks of the gate, by which the prince is to enter into it. See chap.
xlvi. 1, 2.

The next, and last, passage I shall quote, is from the book of
Daniel, who, in the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, had a
vision of four beasts, representing the four great Empires. At the
close of his account of which, he speaks of “one like the son of
man” being brought into the presence of God, and receiving from
the Eternal an everlasting kingdom (chap. vii. 13)--“I saw in the
night visions, and behold one like the son of man came with the
clouds of heaven, and come to the ancient of days; and they
brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion,
and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages,
should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which
shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be

I have now gone through the prophecies which are allowed both by
Jews and Christians to relate to one person whom they call the
Messiah. It must be evident from all these passages, that the
characteristics of this, to both parties, highly interesting personage,
as described by the Hebrew prophets, are these:--

1. That he was to be a just, beneficent, wise, and mighty monarch,
raised up and upheld, and established by God, to be the means of
promoting universal peace, and happiness. That Israel should be
gathered to him, and established in their own land; which was to
be the seat of dominion, and the centre of union, and of worship to
all the people, and nations of the earth; who were to live under the
government, and receive, and obey the law of this beneficent
prince; and enjoy unspeakable felicities on the earth, then changed
to a universal paradise. And for all this happiness, they were to
worship, and glorify the true God only, and glorify the Eternal, and
give thanks to Him “because He is good, and his mercy endureth

2. That this prince was to be of the line of David, and as it should
seem, called by that name, and was to reign on his throne in

3. That according to Micah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, (see the

his manifestation, and (and the restoration of Israel) were to be
contemporaneous. See Hosea, chap. iii. 4, 5. And from Jeremiah
xxxiii. 15, and from Micah v. 2, it should seem also, that he was
not to be born, till the time of that restoration should be nearly

The prophecies concerning the Messiah of the Jews being now laid
before the reader, we have only to apply these descriptions to know
whether an individual be their Messiah, or not. For, (according to
the principles laid down, and established in the preceding chapter)
where the foregoing characteristics given by the prophets do centre
and agree, that person is the Messiah foretold; but where they are
not found in any one claiming that character, miracles are nothing
to the purpose, and nothing is more certain, than that he has no
right to be considered as such; and could he with a word turn the
sun black in the face, in proof of his being the Messiah, he is,
nevertheless, not to be regarded; for, whether such a person has yet
appeared, can certainly only be known by considering, whether the
world has ever yet seen such a person as this Messiah of the
Hebrew prophets.



Had Jesus of Nazareth come into the world merely as a person sent
with a revelation from God, he would have had a right to be
attended to, and tried upon that ground. And if his doctrines and
precepts were consistent with reason, consistent with one another,
and with prior revelations, really such, and all tending to the
honour of God, and the good of men; his miracles, with these
circumstances, ought to have determined men to believe in him.

But since he claimed to be the Messiah of the Jews, foretold by
their prophets, it is requisite, that that claim should be made out;
and it is reasonable in itself, and just to him, and necessary to all
those who will not take their religion upon trust, that ho should be
tried, by examining whether this claim can be made out, or not.
The argument from prophecy becomes necessary to establish the
claim of the Gospel: and as truth is consistent with itself, so this
claim must be true, or, it destroys all others.

Besides, what notions of common morality must he have, who
pretends to come from God, and declares (Jo. v. 37,) “that the
Scriptures testify of him,” if, in fact, the Scriptures do not testify of
him? What honesty, or sincerity could he have, who could “begin
at Moses, and all the prophets, and expound unto his disciples in
all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” if neither Moses
nor the prophets ever spake a word about him? The prophets,
therefore, must decide this question, and the foundation of
Christianity must be laid upon them; or else, to avoid one
difficulty, Christians will be forced into such absurdities, as no
man can palliate, much less can extricate himself out of.

Furthermore, this claim must be made out to the satisfaction of the
Gentile, as well as the Jew. For since the fundamental article of
Christianity is, that Jesus is the Christ; (Jo. xx. 31) that is to say,
that he is the Messiah prophecied of in the Old Testament;
whoever comes into the world as such, must come as the Messiah
of the Jews, because no other nation did expect, or pretend to, the
promise of a Messiah. Moreover, whoever comes as this Messiah
of the Jews, must at least pretend to answer the character of their
Messiah plainly delivered in the writings of their prophets. And the
Jews themselves receiving those writings as divine, were not
bound to, neither could they consistently with their duty, receive,
any, who did not answer in all points to the description therein

Let us now test the character of Jesus of Nazareth by the
description of the Messiah given by the Hebrew prophets. If his
character corresponds in all respects with that given by those
prophets, he is undoubtedly to be acknowledged as the king of
Israel foretold; but if they do not exactly correspond, if there be the
slightest incongruity, he certainly was not this Messiah. For it is
evident, that some of the characteristic marks given may belong to.
many illustrious individuals, but the whole can belong to, and be
found in, only one person.

The first characteristic of the Messiah, the reader will recollect,
was, according to the prophets, that he was to be “the Prince of
Peace,” in whose times righteousness was to flourish, and
mankind be made happy. That he was to sit upon the throne of
David judging right; and that to him, and their own land, was Israel
to be gathered, and all nations serve and obey him; and worship
one God, even Jehovah.

But of Jesus we read, that he asserted, that his kingdom was “not
of this world.” Instead of effecting peace among the nations, he
said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth, I have
come to send a sword, I have come to put division between a son,
and his father; the mother, and the daughter; the daughter-in-law,
and her mother-in-law.” “Think ye, (said he to his disciples) that I
have come to put peace on earth, I tell you nay, but rather
division.” Again, “I have come to put fire on the earth.” These are
not the characteristics of the Messiah of the prophets of the Old
Testament. For of him Zechariah (ch. ix.) says, that “He shall
speak peace to the nations;” and of him Isaiah says, “Nation shall
not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war
anymore.” And so far from being the author of division, sword, and
fire; according to Malachi, in the times of the Messiah, “the heart
of the parents was to be converted to the children, and the heart of
the children to their parents.”

In the times of the Messiah, wars were to cease, righteousness was
to flourish, and mankind be happy. Whether this has yet taken
place, the experience of almost nineteen centuries, and the present
state of the world, can enable every one to determine for himself.

In the times of the Messiah, Israel was to be gathered, and planted
in their own land, in honour, and prosperity. But not many years
after the death of Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish nation underwent
the most dreadful calamities; and to this day, so far are they from
being gathered, they are scattered to the four quarters of the globe.
Instead of being in honour and prosperity, their history, since his
time, is one dreadful record of unparalleled sufferings, written in
letters of blood by the hands of murder, rapine, and cruelty.

Again; the true Messiah was, it seems, to be called DAVID, and
was to reign at Jerusalem, on the throne of David; but the name
“Jesus” is not the same as “David,” and Christians have assigned
him a spiritual kingdom, and a throne in heaven! But was the
throne of David in heaven? No! it was in Jerusalem, and no more
in Heaven, than that of the Caesars.

Lastly, it appears from the prophecies of Hosea, Micah, and
Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, quoted in the last chapter, that the
manifestation of their Messiah was to be contemporaneous with
the restoration of Israel, and from the quotations adduced from the
three first mentioned prophets, it should seem that his birth was not
to take place many years before that glorious event. But Jesus of
Nazareth was born almost two thousand years ago; and the
children of Israel yet expect a deliverer. And to conclude, it was
foretold by Malachi, and believed by the Jews then, and ever since,
that Elias the prophet, who did not die, but was removed from the
earth, should precede the coming of the Messiah, and prepare them
for his reception. But the prophet Elias certainly has not yet

Indeed, nothing appears to be more dissimilar than the character of
the Messiah, as given by the Hebrew prophets, and that of Jesus of
Nazareth. It seems scarcely credible, that a man who, though
amiable and virtuous, yet lived in a low state, was poor, living
upon alms, without wealth, and without power; and who (though
by misfortune) died the death of a malefactor, crucified between
two robbers, (a death exactly parallel with being hanged at the
public gallows in the present day) should ever be taken for that
mighty prince, that universal potentate, and benefactor of the
human race, foretold in the splendid language of the prophets of
the Old Testament.



But since one would esteem it almost incredible, that the apostles
could persuade men to believe Jesus to be this Messiah, unless they
had at least some proof to offer to their conviction, let us next
consider, and examine, the proofs adduced by the apostles and
their followers, from the Old Testament for that purpose.

Of the strength or weakness of the proofs for Christianity out of the
Old Testament, we are well qualified to judge, as we have the Old
and New Testament in our hands; the first containing what are
offered as proofs of Christianity, and the latter the application of
those proofs, and we should seem to have nothing more to do, but
to compare the Old and New Testament together.

But these proofs taken out of the Old Testament, and urged in the
New, being sometimes not to be found in the Old, nor urged in the
New, according to the literal and obvious sense, which they appear
to bear in their supposed places in the Old, and, therefore, not
proofs according to the rules of interpretation established by
reason, and acted upon in interpreting every other ancient book--
almost all Christian commentators on the Bible, and advocates for
the religion of the New Testament, both ancient and modern, have
judged them to be applied in a secondary, or typical, or mystical,
or allegorical, or enigmatical sense; that is, in a sense different
from the obvious and literal sense which they bear in the Old

Thus, for example, Matthew, after having given an account of the
conception of Mary, and the birth of Jesus, says (ch. i.,) “All this
was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the
prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring
forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” But the words
as they stand in Isaiah ch. vii. 14, from whence they are taken, do,
in their obvious and literal sense, relate to a young woman in the
days of Ahaz, King of Judah, as will appear, considering the

When Rezin, King of Syria, and Pekah, King of Israel, were
confederates in arms together, against Ahaz, King of Judah, Isaiah
the prophet was sent by God, first to comfort Ahaz and the nation,
and then to assure them by a sign, that his enemies should in a little
time be confounded.--But Ahaz refusing a sign at the prophet’s
hand, the prophet said (see the chapter,) “The Lord shall give you
a sign. Behold a virgin, or ‘young woman’ (for the Hebrew word
means both as was truly and justly asserted by the Jews in the
primitive ages against the Christians, and is now acknowledged,
and established beyond dispute by the best Hebrew scholars of
this age,) shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name
Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to
refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child shall
know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land which thou
abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.” And this sign is
accordingly given Ahaz by the prophet, who, ch. viii. v. 2, 18, took
two witnesses and went to the said young woman, who in due time
conceived, and bare a son, after whose birth the projects of Rezin
and Pekah were, it appears, soon confounded, according to the
prophecy and sign given by the prophet.

And the prophet himself, puts it beyond dispute, that this is the
proper interpretation of the prophecy, by express words, as well as
by his whole narration; for he says, “Behold I, and the children
whom the Lord hath given me, are for signs, and for wonders in
Israel from the Lord of Hosts, that dwelleth in mount Zion.” Isaiah
viii. 19.

This is the plain drift and design of the prophet, literally,
obviously, and primarily understood; and thus he is understood by
one of the most judicious of interpreters, the great Grotius. Indeed,
to understand the prophet as having the conception of Mary, and
the birth of her son Jesus from a virgin mother literally, and
primarily in view, is a very great absurdity, and contrary to the
very intent and design of the sign given by the prophet.

For the sign being given by Isaiah to convince Ahaz that he
brought a message from God to him, to assure him that the two
kings should not succeed in their attempt against him, how could a
virgin’s conception, and bearing a son seven hundred years
afterwards, be a sign to Ahaz, that the prophet came to him, with
the said message from God? And how useless was it to Ahaz, as
well as absurd in itself for the prophet, to say, “Before the child,
born seven hundred years hence, shall distinguish between good
and evil, the land which thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both
her kings,” which would be a banter, instead of a sign.

But a prophecy of the certain birth of a male child, by a particular
female within a short time, seems a proper sign, as being not only
what could not with certainty, be foretold, except by a person
inspired, but considered as soon coming to pass, it, consequently,
evidences itself to be a divine sign, and answers all the purposes of
a sign. And such a sign is agreeable to God’s conduct on like
occasions; witness his conduct to Gideon and Hezekiah. Jud. vi.; 2
Kings xx.

This prophecy, therefore, not being fulfilled in Jesus, according to
the literal and obvious sense of the words as they stand in Isaiah, it
is supposed that this, like the other prophecies cited in the New
Testament, is fulfilled in a secondary, or typical, or mystical sense;
that is, the said prophecy, which was literally fulfilled by the birth
of the son foretold by the prophet, was again fulfilled by the birth
of Jesus, as being an event of the same kind, and intended to be
secretly and mystically signified either by the prophet or by God,
who directed the prophet’s speech. If the reader desires further
satisfaction that the literal and obvious sense of this prophecy
relates to a son to be born in Isaiah's time, and not to Jesus, he is
referred to the commentator Grotius, and to Huetius’ Demonstrat.
Evang. in loc., to the ancient fathers, and to the most respectable of
the modern Christian. commentators, who all allow and show, that
the words of Isaiah are not applicable to the birth of Jesus in their
literal sense, but only in a mystical, or figurative, or allegorical

Again, 	Matthew gives us another prophecy, which he says was
fulfilled. He tells us, that Jesus was carried into Egypt; from
whence he returned after the death of Herod, (Mat. ii.) “that it
might be fulfilled, which was of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
‘out of Egypt have I called my son.’” Which, being word for word
in Hosea, (ch. xi. 1) and no where else to be found in the Old
Testament, are supposed to be taken from thence; where according
to their obvious sense they are no prophecy at all! but relate and
refer to a past action, viz., to the calling of the children of Israel
out of Egypt, which will, I think, be denied by few. This passage,
therefore, or as it is styled, prophecy, of Hosea, is said by learned
men among Christians to be mystically, or allegorically, applied,
in order to render Matthew’s application of it, just; and they say all
other methods of some learned men to solve the difficulty arising
from Matthew's citation of this passage, have proved unsuccessful.

Again, Matthew says, (ch. ii.) “Jesus came, and dwelt at Nazareth,
that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
‘he shall be called a Nazarene;’” but as this passage does not
occur in the Old Testament at all, we are precluded from
ascertaining whether it be literal, mystical, or allegorical.

Jesus says of John the Baptist, (Mat. xi. 14) “This is Elias that was
for to come,” wherein he is supposed to refer to these words of
Malachi, (ch. iv. 4) “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet,
before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord,” which,
according to their literal, and obvious sense, are a prophecy, that
Elijah or Elias was to come in person (which we know from the
New Testament, as well as elsewhere, was the constant expectation
of the Jews.) Besides, this Elijah was to come “before the great and
terrible day of the Lord,” which has not yet arrived; and, therefore,
this prophecy of Malachi, referred to by the evangelist, was
certainly not literally, but only mystically, fulfilled in John the

Again, Jesus (Mat. xiii.) cites the prophecy of Isaiah (Is. vi. 9,) “By
hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand;” and he assures us,
that it was fulfilled in his time in those to whom he spake in
parables, (which, by the way, he did, it is said, in order to fulfil a
passage of the Psalms) though it is manifest that the prophecy of
Isaiah quoted, according to its literal sense, undoubtedly relates to
the obstinate Jews who lived in the time of Isaiah.

In fine, these, and the many other passages cited as prophecies
from the Old Testament by the authors of the New, do so plainly
relate, in their obvious and primary sense to other matters than
those which they are adduced to prove, that it is allowed by the
most learned defenders of Christianity, that to pretend that they
prove in a literal sense what they are adduced to prove, is to give
up with both hands the cause of Christianity to the enemies thereof,
who can so easily show in so many undoubted instances, the Old
and New Testament to have no manner of connection in that
respect, but to be in an irreconcilable state.

These proofs from the prophets being so different from what we
should expect, it behoves us to enquire what could induce Jesus
and his apostles to quote the Old Testament in such a manner?

The Jews shortly answer this question, by saying, that they did so,
because they did not understand the meaning of the books they
quoted. But it has been answered by some learned Christians, that
Jesus and the apostles did not quote in the manner they did through
caprice or ignorance bat according to certain methods of
interpretation, which were in their times of established authority
among the Jews.

The rules of interpretation, which were supposed to be
irrecoverably lost afterwards recovered to the world by the learned
Surenhusius, professor of the Hebrew language in the illustrious
school of Amsterdam. He made an ample discovery to the world of
the rules by which the apostles cited the Old Testament, and
argued from thence, wherein the whole mystery of the apostles
applying scripture in a secondary, or typical, or allegorical sense,
seems to be unfolded. I shall, therefore, state this matter from

He (Surenhusius) says, “that when he considered the various
opinions Of the learned about the passages of the Old Testament
quoted in the New, He was filled with grief, not knowing where to
set his foot; and was much concerned, that what had been done
with good success upon profane authors, could not be so happily
performed upon the sacred.”

He tells us, “that having had frequent occasions to converse with
the Jews (on account of his application to Hebrew literature from
his youth) who insolently reflected upon the New Testament,
affirming it to be plainly corrupted, because it seldom or never
agreed with the Old Testament, some of whom were so confident
in this opinion, as to say, they would profess the Christian religion,
if any one could reconcile the New Testament with the Old. “I was
the more grieved, because, (says this honest and well meaning
man) I knew not how to apply a remedy to this evil.” But the
matter being of great importance, he discoursed with several
learned men about it, and read the books of others, being
persuaded that the authors of the books of the New Testament had
written nothing but what was suited to the time wherein they lived,
and that Christ and his apostles had constantly followed the
method of their ancestors. After he had long revolved this
hypothesis in his mind, at last he met with a Rabbi well skilled in
the Talmud, the Cabbala, and the allegorical books of the Jews.
This Rabbi had once embraced the Christian religion, but was
again relapsed to Judaism on account of the idolatry of the Papists,
yet not perfectly disbelieving the integrity of the New Testament.
Surenhusius asked him, what he thought of the passages of the Old
Testament quoted in the New, whether they were rightly quoted or
not, and whether the Jews had any just reason to cavil at them, and
at the same time proposed to him two or three passages, which had
very much exercised the most learned Christian commentators.

The Rabbi having admirably explained those passages, to the great
surprise of Surenhusius, and confirming his explications by
several places of the Talmud, and other writings of the Jewish
commentators, and allegorical writers, Surenhusius asked him
what would be the best method to write a treatise in order to
vindicate the passages of the Old Testament quoted in the New?
The Rabbi answered, that he “thought the best way of succeeding
in such an undertaking would be to peruse a great part of the
Talmud, and the allegorical and literal commentators; to observe
their several ways of quoting and interpreting scripture, and to
collect as many materials of that kind, as would be sufficient for
that purpose.”

Surenhusius took the hint immediately: he read such books as were
recommended, observed every thing that might be subservient to
his design, and made a book upon the subject. And in the third part
of that book he gives us the rules so long sought after, viz., the ten
ways# used, he says, by the Jewish doctors in citing scripture. And
here they are:--

1. The first rule is--“reading the words of the Hebrew bible, not
according to the points placed under them, but according to other
points substituted in their stead,” as is done by Peter, Acts iii. 3; by
Stephen, Acts vii. 43, and by Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 54; 2 Cor. viii. 16,
and Heb. iii. 10; ix. 21; xii. 6.

2. The second rule is--“changing the letters, whether those letters
be of the same organ (as the Hebrew grammarians speak,) or not,”
as is done by Paul, Rom. ix. 33; 1 Cor. xi. 9; Heb. viii. 9, and x. 6;
and by Stephen, Acts vii. 43.

3. The third is--“changing both letters and points,” as is done by
Paul, Acts xiii. 41, and 2 Cor. viii. 15.

4. The fourth is--“adding some letters, and taking away others.”

5. The fifth is--“transposing words and letters.”

6. The sixth is--“dividing one word into two.”

7. The seventh is--“adding other words to those in the text, in
order to make the sense more clear, and to accommodate it to the
subject they we upon.”

8. The eighth is--“changing the order of words.”

9. The ninth is--“changing the order of words, and adding other

10. The tenth is--“changing the order of words, adding words,
and retrenching words,” which, (says he) is a method often used
by Paul. Of the application of all these rules, he gives examples
taken from the New Testament.

It is not necessary to make many observations upon these rules,
they speak for themselves most significantly; for what is there that
cannot be proved from the Old Testament, or any other book, yea,
from Euclid’s Elements! or even an old almanac! by the help of
“altering words and sentences; adding; retrenching; and
transposing, and cutting words in two,” as is stated above by a
learned and good man, and sincere Christian who found out, and
brought forward, these rules, as the best means of getting the
authors of the New Testament out of a difficulty, which had long
shocked and grieved their best friends.



It may be objected from divers learned authors, who have been
very sensible of the difficulties stated in the preceding chapters,
and have, sensible of the difficulties stated in the preceding
chapters, therefore, taken other ground than their predecessors, in
order to defend themselves the better; I say, it may be objected to
what I have advanced, that Christianity is not in fact grounded on
the prophetical, or other, quotations made from the Old, in the
New, Testament; but that those quotations being allegorically
applied by the authors of the New Testament, are merely
arguments ad hominem, to convince the Jews of the truth of
Christianity, who allowed such a method of arguing to be valid,
and are not arguments to the rest of mankind.

To which I answer--That this distinction is the pure invention of
those who make the objection, and not only has no foundation in
the New Testament, but is utterly subverted by its express
declarations; for the authors of the books of the New Testament
always argue absolutely from the quotations they cite as
prophecies out of the books of the Old Testament. Moses and the
prophets are every where represented to be a just foundation for
Christianity; and the author of the Epistle to the Romans expressly
says, ch. xvi. 26, 26, “The gospel, which was kept secret since the
world began, was now made manifest by the scriptures of the
prophets (wherein that gospel was secretly contained) to all
nations,” by the means of the preachers of the gospel who gave
the secret or spiritual sense of those scriptures; for to the ancient
Jews, according to them, the gospel was preached by the types of
their law, and, therefore, must have been considered as truly
contained in it.

Besides, the authors of the books of the New Testament were
convinced long before the publication of them, that the gospel was
to be preached to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, to both of
whom, therefore, they reasoned allegorically in their books, as
Peter and others did in their sermons, though with greater success
on Gentiles than on Jews; and as Paul did before Felix, when he
said he took his heresy, or Christianity, from the law, and the
prophets. Acts xxiv., as also he did before Agrippa. It would,
therefore, seem strange, that books written to all the world by men
equally concerned to convert Gentiles as well as Jews, and that
discourses made expressly to Gentiles as well as to Jews, should be
designed to be pertinent only to Jews, much less to a very few
Jews! Indeed, I am ashamed at being thus long engaged in showing
what must be self evident; and did I not fear being further tedious
to my readers, I would undertake to bring together passages from
the New Testament, where the meaning and intention of the writers
is obvious, in such abundance, as would immediately and entirely
put the hypothesis of our opponents out of countenance.

These quotations from the. Old Testament are certainly urged, and
spoken of as direct proofs, as absolute proofs in themselves, and
not as mere proofs ad hominem to the Jews; for if these prophecies
are only urged by the apostles as proofs to the Jews, and intended
only as proofs founded on the mistaken meanings of the Old
Testament of some Jews of their time, what sense is there in
appealing upon all occasions to the prophets, and recommending
the reading and search of the Old Testament for the trial and proof
of what was preached? for that was to proceed on weakness itself,
knowing it to be so. Certainly nothing, but a real persuasion, that
the prophecies of the Old Testament were really fulfilled in Jesus,
could make them every where inculcate and appeal to the fulfilling
of prophecy. In order to support their hypothesis, Christians have
been forced to seek evidence to prove, that the phrase--“this was
done that it might be fulfilled,” so frequent in the New Testament,
meant no such thing, but was only a habit the Jews had got of
introducing by such phrases a handsome quotation, or allusion,
from the Old Testament. But this evasion must be given up, upon
two accounts. 1. Because most of the European biblical critics of
the present day (the learned annotator on Michaelis’ Introduction
to the New Testament, Dr. Marsh, among others) frankly
acknowledge it not to be tenable; and 2. Because it can be proved
not to be so from the New Testament itself. For example, when
John represents (Jo. xix. 28,) Jesus upon the cross saying, “’I
thirst’ that the scripture might be fulfilled,” doth he not plainly
represent Jesus as fulfilling a prophecy which foretold that the
Messiah should thirst, or say, “I thirst,” upon the cross? Nay, does
he not suppose him to say so, in order to fulfil, or that he might
fulfil, a prophecy? Is it not also suitable to the character of Jesus,
who founded his Messiahship on the prophecies in the Old
Testament, and could not but have the accomplishment of those
prophecies constantly in view to fulfil, and to intend to fulfil them?
And is it not unsuitable in John, in describing his master dying
upon the cross, to represent him as saying things, whereby he only
gave occasion to observe, that he fulfilled, i. e., accommodated a
phrase! not a prophecy!!

Besides, they who set up this accommodating principle of
accommodation, do, in some cases, take the term fulfilled in its
proper sense, and do allow it, (when convenient) to relate to a
prophecy really fulfilled. But I would ask them, what rule they
have to know when the apostles mean a prophecy fulfilled, and
when a phrase accommodated, since they are acknowledged to use
the strong expression of fulfilling in the latter case no less than in
the former?

In a word, unless it be granted, that the citations were intended by
the authors of the New Testament, to be adduced, and applied, as
prophecies fulfilled; if you do suppose them not intended to be
adduced, and applied, as prophecies; then, the whole affair of Jesus
being foretold as the Messiah, is reduced to an accommodation of
phrases! and it will, assuredly, follow, that the citations of Jesus
and his apostles out of the Old Testament, are like and no better
than the work of, the Empress Eudoxia, who wrote the History of
Jesus in verses put together, and borrowed out of--HOMER! or
that of Proba Palconia, who did the same, in verses, and words
taken out of--Virgil!

In fine, one of two things must be allowed, either (which is most
probable) the authors of the New Testament conceived their
citations to be indeed prophecies concerning Jesus, and then they
were ignorant and blundered, and, therefore; were not inspired; or,
they knowingly used them as means to deceive the simple and
credulous into a belief of their being testimonies sufficient to prove
what they themselves knew they had no relation to;--and then
they were deceivers: there is no other alternative, and each horn of
the dilemma, must prove as fatal as the other.

Perhaps it may be said, “It is to no purpose for you to object to the
quotations or the arguments of Jesus and his apostles, for God was
with them confirming their doctrine by signs following, they had
from God the power of working miracles, and, consequently, their
interpretations of Scripture, however strange they may appear to
your minds, must be infallible, they being men inspired.”

To this argument it can be justly answered, first, that the question
whether Jesus be the Messiah, entirely depends, as proved before,
upon his answering the characteristics given of that personage by
the Jewish prophets; and all the miracles in the world could never,
from the nature of the case, prove him to be so, unless his character
does entirely agree with the archetype laid down by them, as had
been already abundantly proved.

Secondly,--That whether these miracles were really performed, or
not, depends entirely upon the credibility of the authors themselves
who have thus quoted! which, as shall be shown hereafter, may be
disputed; and, thirdly, it could be retorted upon Protestants, that
this same argument is the same in principle with the often refuted
popish argumentation. The Papists pretend to derive all their new
invented and absurd doctrines and practices from the scriptures by
their interpretations of them; but yet, when their interpretations are
attacked from scripture, they immediately fly from thence to the
miracles wrought in their church, and to the visions of their holy
men and saints, for the establishment of their interpretations, by
which they support those very doctrines and practices. And
particularly they endeavour to prove thus the doctrine of
transubstantiation, from the numerous miracles affirmed to have
been wrought in its behalf, which reasoning Protestant Christians
assert to be an argument absurd and inconclusive, therefore, they
should not use it themselves.

We allow, that if these interpretations of the sense of the Old
Testament had been in existence before the Christian era, it might
be something. But we beg leave to remind them, that it is certain,
that these interpretations were not published till after the events to
which they are referred took place, which is a circumstance of
obvious significancy.

In fine, to this argument I would answer, as in Cicero (de Natura
Deor. Ed. Dav. p. 209) Cotta did to Balbus--“rumoribus mecum
pugnas, ego autem a te roitones requiro.”



But it may be asked, how it was possible, that wise and good men
could have been led to embrace the religion of the New Testament,
if there were not in the Old Testament some prophecies which
might be conceived by them to supply, at least, plausible
arguments to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah? Are
there no other passages in the prophets besides those quoted in the
New Testament, and are there not a few passages quoted in the
New Testament, which appear more to the purpose than those we
have been considering? To this I candidly answer that there are,
and this chapter will be devoted to the consideration of them.

Two of these prophecies, one from Genesis, and the other from
Daniel, are thought by the advocates of Christianity, (because they
conceive them to point out and to limit the time of the coming of
the Messiah,) to be stronger in their favour than any of those
quoted in die New Testament. If so, it is a very singular
circumstance, that the inspired authors of the New Testament did
not make use of them, instead of others not so much to the purpose.
This circumstance of itself should teach us to examine the
prophecies in question with caution, and also with candour, since
many worthy and religious men have thought them sufficient to
prove that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. These prophecies I shall
reserve last for consideration, and shall now begin with the others
usually adduced, taking them up pretty much in the order in which
they stand in the Old Testament.

The first passage is taken from Deut. xviii. 15, “The Lord thy God
will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, like unto
me, unto him ye shall hearken. According to all that thou desiredst
of the Lord thy God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly, saying.
Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me
see his great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto
me, they have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will
raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee,
and I will put my words into his mouth, and he shall speak unto
them all that I command him. And it shall come to pass, that
whosoever will not hearken unto my, words which he shall speak
in my name, I will require it of him.”

This passage is pertinaciously and solely applied to Jesus, by many
Christian writers, because it is so applied by Peter in the 2 chap. of
Acts, in his sermon to the Jews, just after he had received the full
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and of course must be considered as
infallible. Nevertheless, these words of Moses are supposed by
many learned men, both Jews and Christians, to be spoken of
Joshua, whom Moses himself afterwards, at the command and
appointment of God, declared to be his successor, and who was
endowed with the spirit which was upon Moses, (see Deut. xxxi.
33, xxxiv. 17,) and to whom the Jews then promised to hearken,
and pay obedience to, as they had done before to Moses. But others
understand them to be a promise of a succession of prophets, to
whom the Jews might upon all occasions have recourse; and one or
the other of these seems to be the certain meaning of the place.
From this consideration, that from the context it appears Moses
was giving the Jews directions of immediate use; and, therefore, in
promising a prophet to them, to whom they should hearken, he
seems to intend an immediate prophet who might be of use to the
Jews, and answer their common exigencies, and not a prophet two
thousand years to come.

But I take the words to promise a succession of prophets, and for
that sense wherein Grotius and Le Clerc, and most of the Jews,
take them. I shall give my reasons, for this, and show that they do
not necessarily refer to Jesus Christ.

Moses, in the verses preceding this prophecy in the same chapter,
(Deut. xviii. 9--14) tells the Israelites from God, that “when they
came into Canaan, they should not learn to do after, the
abominations of the people thereof; and, particularly, that there
should not be found among them any one that useth divination, or
an observer of times, &c., or a consulter with familiar spirits, &c.
For all, says he, “that do these things are an abomination to the
Lord; and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth
drive these people out from before thee. For these nations which
thou shalt possess hearkened unto observers of times, and unto
diviners. But as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee to
do so.” Then follow the words about the prophet, “The Lord thy
God will raise unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee of thy
brethren like unto me, unto him ye shall hearken.” All which is as
much as to say, “When you come into Canaan, do not hearten to a
diviner, &c., as the Canaanites do, for the Lord will give you a
prophet of your own brethren inspired like me, to guide any
instruct you, to whom ye shall hearken.” Or rather, “Do not
hearken to diviners, &c., but to prophets, who shall be raised up
among you.”

Now that the words cited must relate to a succession of prophets to
begin upon the Israelites taking possession of the land of Canaan,
is manifest; because, the raising up of a prophet, to whom they
were to hearken, is the reason given why they should not hearken
to a diviner, &c., when they came to that land; which reason could
have no force unless they were to have, 1st,--an immediate
prophet in Canaan; for what sense is there, or would there be, in
saying, “Don’t hearken to such diviners as are in Canaan, when
you come there, for you shall have a prophet of your own, to
whom ye shall hearken two thousand years after you come there!”

Secondly,--As the context shows that the prophet to be raised up,
was an immediate prophet, so it also shows, that the singular
number here stands for the plural, according to the frequent
custom of the Hebrew language, as is shown by Le Clerc and
Stillingfleet, in loco; for one single prophet to be raised up
immediately, who might soon die, could not be a reason why Jews
of succeeding generations should not harken to diviners in Canaan.

Finally,--The words of God by Moses, which follow the promise
of a prophet, evidently show that by that promise prophets were
intended, in laying-down a rule for the test or trial of the prophets
before mentioned, in such a manner as implies, that that rule was to
be applied to all prophets pretending to come from him. See the
words in Deut. xviii., 19--22.

I shall conclude this explication, by adducing, in confirmation of it,
the paraphrase of the words given in the Targum of Jonathan. “The
nations you are about to possess, (says the Jewish paraphrast)
hearken to jugglers and diviners; but you shall not be like them;
for your priests shall enquire by Urim and Thummim, and the Lord
your God shall give you a true prophet.” And this explication is
the one adopted by Origen,--[Contra Celsum, p. 28.]

As to the difficulty that is raised against this explication from the
words at the end of Deuteronomy--“that there arose not a prophet
since in Israel like unto Moses whom the Lord knew face to face.
In all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do,” &c.--
it is nothing at all. For every one perceives, that the word “like”
may be, and frequently is, used in scripture, and in common
language, to signify, similarity in some, though not in every,
particular; and every prophet, who speaks by God’s direction, is a
prophet “like unto Moses,” who did the same, though he be not
like, or equal to, him “in doing signs and wonders,” which is all
that is affirmed in the last chapter of Deuteronomy.

And, finally, there is nothing to limit this prophecy to Jesus of
Nazareth, if we allowed (what we reject) the Christian
interpretation; since God might to-morrow, if such were his will,
raise up a prophet like unto Moses in every respect, which Jesus
certainly was not; therefore, it cannot be applied and restrained to
the purpose for which it is quoted by Peter.

There is in the same sermon, in the 2 chap. of Acts, another
passage quoted by Peter from the Psalms, and applied by him to
prove the resurrection of Jesus, and on which he lays very great
stress, which after all seems to be nothing to the purpose. Peter
says, “Him (i. e., Jesus) God hath raised up, having loosed the
pains [or bands] of death, because it was not possible that he
should be holden of it.” And why? “For [because] David speaketh
concerning him, ‘ I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for
he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore did
my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh
shall rest in hope. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades,
[the place of departed Spirits] nor suffer thy holy one to see
corruption, thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou
shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.’ Men and
brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that
he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this
day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn
with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins according to the
flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit upon his throne. He, seeing
this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was
not left in Hades, neither did his flesh see corruption.”

How imposing is this argument! How plausible it appears! And yet
it is irrelevant, as Dr. Priestly frankly confesses, who tries to save
the credit of the apostle by the convenient principle of
accommodation! The whole force of Peter’s reasoning depends
upon the word “corruption.” David did see corruption; therefore,
he could not mean himself, but “being a prophet,” &c., he meant
Jesus Christ. Now, the whole of Peter’s argument is grounded
upon two mistakes; for, 1st, the Hebrew word translated
“corruption,” here signifies “destruction, perdition;” and in the
next place, instead of being “thy holy One,” in the singular, it is in
the Hebrew “thy saints,” in general. The passage is quoted from
the 16th Psalm; and I will give a literal translation of it from the
original, which will make the propriety or impropriety of Peter’s
quotation perfectly obvious. The contents and import of the Psalm,
according to the English version, are as follow; “David, in distrust
of his merits, and hatred of idolatry, fleeth to God for preservation,
He showeth the hope of his calling, of the resurrection, and of life
everlasting.” And the passage in question, according to the
original, reads thus:--“I have set the Lord always before me:
Because he is on my right hand, I shall not be moved: Therefore
my heart is glad, and my glory [i. e., tongue] rejoiceth: My flesh
also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades,
neither wilt thou suffer thy saints to see destruction. Thou wilt
show me the path of life: In thy presence is fullness of joy, and at
thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” That is--“Because I
have ever trusted in thee, and experienced thy constant protection,
therefore I will not fear death; because thou wilt not for over leave
my soul in the place of departed spirits, nor suffer thy saints to
perish from existence. Thou wilt raise me from the dead, and make
me happy for ever in thy presence.”#

In the 4th chap. of the Acts, the apostles are represented as praying
to God, and referring in their prayer to the 2d Psalm “why did the
heathen rage," &c., as being a prophecy of the opposition of the
Jews to Jesus; with how much justice may be seen from these

1. That “the nations,” as it is in the original, did not assemble
together to crucify Jesus, as this was done by a few soldiers. 2. The
“kings of the earth” had no hand in it, for they knew nothing
about it. And 3rdly, Those who were concerned did by no means
“form vain designs,” since they effected their cruel purposes. And
lastly, From that time to the present, God has not set Jesus as his
king upon the “holy hill of Sion,” as the Psalm imports, nor given
him “the nations for his inheritance, nor the uttermost parts of the
earth for a possession.”

The next prophecy usually adduced to prove that Jesus is the
Messiah, is The passage quoted from Micah v. 2, in the 2d chapter
of Mat.--“But from Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little
among the chiefs of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto
me, that is, to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from
old, from the days of hidden ages.” This passage probably refers to
the Messiah, but by no means signifies that this Messiah was to be
born in Bethlehem, as asserted by Matthew; but only, that he was
to be derived from Bethlehem, the city of Jesse, the father of David
of famous memory, whose family was venerable for its antiquity, “
being of the days of hidden ages.” And this interpretation is
known, and acknowledged, by Hebrew scholars. But in order to cut
short the dispute, w will permit the passage to be interpreted as
signifying that Bethlehem was to be the birth place of the Messiah.
What then? Will a man’s being born in Bethlehem be sufficient to
make him to be the Messiah foretold by the Hebrew prophets?
Surely it has been made plain in the beginning of this work, that
many more characteristic marks than this must meet in one person
in order to constitute him the Messiah described by them!

In Zechariah ix. 9, it is written, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of
Sion, Shout, O Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold thy king cometh
unto thee, the righteous one, and saved, or preserved [according to
the Hebrew] lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the
foal of an ass.” This has been applied by the evangelists to Jesus,
who rode upon an ass into Jerusalem.

But in the first place, it is to be observed, that there seems to have
been a blunder in this transaction; for according to the Hebrew
idiom of the passage quoted above, the personage there spoken of,
was to ride upon “an ass’ colt;” whereas, the apostles, in order to
be sure of fulfilling the prophecy, represent Jesus as riding upon an
ass, and the colt, too! "They spread their garments upon them,
and set him upon them."[See the evangelists in loc.] In the next
place, a man may ride into Jerusalem upon an ass, without being
thus necessarily demonstrated to be the Messiah. And unless, as
said before, every tittle of the marks given by the prophets to
designate their Messiah, be found in Jesus, and in any other
claiming to be that Messiah his being born in Bethlehem, and
riding upon an ass into Jerusalem, will by no means prove him to
be so. Besides, those who will take the trouble to look at the
context in Zechariah, will find, that the event spoken of in the
quotation, is spoken of as contemporaneous with the restoration
Israel, and the establishment of peace and happiness, which seems
to cut up by the roots the interpretation of the evangelists. And to
conclude the argument,--Jesus being born in Bethlehem, and
riding into Jerusalem, allowing it to be true, would not, we think,
frustrate these prophecies of a future fulfillment--for no one can
disprove, that if so be the will of God, such a person as
the Messiah is described to be, might be born in Bethlehem
to-morrow, and ride in triumph into Jerusalem, twenty years

The next passage which has been offered, as a prophecy of Jesus,
is to be found in the 12th chap. of Zech. v. 10, and part of it has
been misquoted by John. “And I will pour upon the house of
David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace
and supplications, and they shall look on me whom they have
pierced.” So it stands in the English version; but, before I state
what it ought to be, I would observe, that before the evangelist,
(who in his account of the crucifixion applies this passage as
referring to Jesus’ being pierced with a spear) could make this
passage fit his purpose, he had to substitute the word “him” for
“me,” as it is in the Hebrew; confirmed by, I believe, all the
versions, ancient and modern, without exception. Yet, with this
change, it will by no means answer his purpose; for the Hebrew
word here translated “pierced,” in this place signifies
“blasphemed,” or “insulted,” as it is understood by Grotius, who
confirms this rendering from the Hebrew of Levit. xxiv. 11, where
in this passage “the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name
of the Lord.” The Hebrew word translated “blasphemed” is from
the same root with the Hebrew word translated “pierced” in the
passage in Zechariah quoted above. So that the passage ought to be
translated thus:--“I will pour upon the house of David, and upon
the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications,
and they shall look towards me whom they have blasphemed.”
[To “look towards God” is a phrase frequently met with, and well
understood.] Now, to enable us to understand more perfectly this
passage, let us consider the context, where we shall find that it
states, that there was to be a war in Judea, and a siege of
Jerusalem, and then a deliverance of the Jews, by the destruction of
all the nations, that should come up at that time, against Jerusalem.
Immediately after which matters, follows the prophecy under
consideration--“I will pour upon the house of David,” &c. Now,
from these things thus laid together, I crave leave to argue in the
words of Dr. Sykes [Essay, &c., p. 268]--“Did any one
circumstance of all this happen to the Jews about the time of the
death of Jesus? Or rather, was not every thing the reverse of what
Zechariah says; and instead of all nations being destroyed that
came about Jerusalem, Jerusalem itself was destroyed: instead of a
spirit of grace and supplications, the Jews have had their hearts
hardened against the Christ; instead of mourning for him whom
they have pierced, they condemn him and his followers even until
this day.”

But it is tiresome thus to waste time in proving that parts and ends
of verses, disjointed from their connexion, and even the words
quoted, some of them changed and some transposed, (though even
done according to the rules given by the venerable Surenhusius)
prove nothing. We must, therefore, devote the remainder of this
long chapter to the consideration of the three famous prophecies,
on which Christians have not hesitated, with triumphing
confidence, to rest the issue of their cause. These are the prophecy
of Shiloh, Gen. 49; the 53d ch. of Isaiah; and Daniel’s prophecy of
the “seventy weeks.” I will consider them in order, and thus wind
up the chapter.

I have some where read in a catechism, the following question and
answer:--Q. “How can you confound the Jews, and prove, from
prophecy, that the Messiah is already come?” A. “From these two
prophecies--‘The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,’ &c.--Gen.
xlix.; and this--‘Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people,’”
&c.--Dan. ix. 24.

But, notwithstanding these overwhelming proofs, the stubborn
Jews refuse to be confounded! on the contrary, they in fact laugh at
Christians for being so easily imposed upon.

The prophecy concerning Shiloh, the Jews acknowledge, refers to
their Messiah. But they do not allow that it defines or limits the
time of his coming.

And that it in fact does not, will be perfectly, evident to all who
will look at the place in the Hebrew bible, which they will find
pointed to read not--“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
and a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come,” &c.; but
thus--“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver
from between his feet, for ever; for Shiloh shall come, and to him
shall the gathering of the people be.” So that the prophecy does
not intimate that the Messiah should come before the sceptre be
departed from Judah; but that it should not depart for ever, but
shall be restored when Shiloh comes. This is the plain and obvious
sense of the prophecy; and, moreover, is the only one that is
consistent with historical fact. For, in truth, the sceptre had
departed from Judah several hundred years before Jesus of
Nazareth was born. For from the time of the Babylonish captivity
“Judah” has never been free, but in subjection to the Persians, the
Syrians, the Romans, and all the world.

If my readers desire further satisfaction with regard to this
interpretation of this famous prophecy, I refer them to the dispute
upon this subject between the celebrated Rittangelius, and a
learned Jew, (preserved in Wagenseils’ “Tela Ignea,”) where he
will find Rittangelius first amicably inviting the Hebrew to discuss
the point, who does so most ably and respectfully toward his
Christian antagonist, and unanswerably establishes the
interpretation above stated, by the laws of the Hebrew language, by
the ancient interpretation of the Targum, by venerable tradition,
and by appealing to history. Rittangelius begins his defence by
shuffling, an ends by getting into a passion, and calling names;
which his opponent, who is cool, because confident of being able
to establish his argument, answers by notifying to Rittangelius his
compassion and contempt.

The next prophecy proposed to be considered, is the celebrated
prophecy of Isaiah, consisting of part of the 52nd, and the whole of
the 53rd, chapter. It is the only prophecy which Paley thinks worth
bringing forward in his elaborate defence; and it must be
confessed, that if this prophecy relates to the Messiah, it is by far
the most plausible of any that are brought forward in favour of
Jesus Christ. It merits, therefore, a thorough discussion, and I shall
endeavour that it shall be a candid one. This prophecy is quoted by
Jesus himself in Luke xxii. 39, and by Philip, when he converted
the Eunuch, (Acts 8,) for “beginning at this prophecy, he preached
unto him Jesus.”

It will not be necessary to cite the passage at length, it being one
perfectly familiar to every Christian. I will, then, before I consider
it, first premise, that since it has been heretofore abundantly made
evident, that the Messiah of the Old Testament was not to suffer,
and die, but to live and reign, it is according to the rules of sound
criticism, and I think sound theology too, to interpret this solitary
passage, so that it may not contradict very many others of a
directly contrary import. Now, if this passage can relate only to the
Messiah, it will throw into utter confusion the whole scheme of the
prophetical scriptures. But if it can be made to appear, that it does
not necessarily relate to him; if it can, consistently with the
context, be otherwise applied, the whole difficulty vanishes. Now,
the authors of the New Testament have applied this prophecy to
the Messiah, and to Jesus as the Messiah; and for doing so, they
have been accused of misapplication of it-from the earliest times;
since we know from Origen, that the Jews of his time derided the
Christians for relying upon this prophecy; alleging that it related to
their own nation, and was a prophecy of their suffering and
persecuted state, and of their ultimate emancipation and happiness.
And this interpretation of the prophecy the learned Vitringa, in his
commentary upon Is. in loc., allows to be the most respectable he
had met with among the Jews, and, according to him, “to be by no
means dispised.”

In order that the fitness or unfitness of this application of the
prophecy may be made apparent, and evident, we will new lay
before the reader this famous prophecy, part by part, each part
accompanied by the Jewish interpretation.

Isaiah lii. 13, “Behold, my servant shall prosper, he shall be
exalted, and extolled, and be very high.” Interpretation--My
servant Israel, though he be in great affliction for a time, yet
hereafter shall be released from captivity, and be honoured and
raised to elevation very high among the nations of the earth. [That
the Jewish nation is spoken of, in the singular number and under
the title of God’s servant frequently in the Old Testament, is well
known, and will be here made certain by a few examples. Isaiah
xli. (the chapter preceding the prophecy,) “But thou Israel my
servant, thou, Jacob, whom I have chosen,” presently afterwards,
“saying to thee, thou art my servant.” Again, chapter xliv.--
“Now, therefore, hear Jacob my servant,” and so frequently in the
same chapter. See also ch. xlv., and Jer. ch. xxx., and Ps. cxxxvi.,
and Isaiah throughout, for similar examples.]

“And many were astonished at thee (his visage was so marred
more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.)”
That is--And many were astonished at thee, on account of thy
abject state, and miserable condition, being squalid with misery,
and suffering more than any men.

“So shall he sprinkle many nations, the kings shall shut their
mouths at him; for that which had not been told them, shall they
see, and that which they had not heard, shall they consider.”

Interpretation--As the Gentiles wondered at their abject state, so
as to make them a proverb of reproach, so shall they admire at their
wonderful change of circumstances, from the depth of degradation
to the height of prosperity and honour. So that they shall lay their
hands upon their mouths, which had beforetime reproached them,
when they shall see their felicity to be so far beyond what had been
told them, and they shall attentively consider it, and they shall say
to each other--

“Who hath believed our report, and the arm of the Lord to whom
was it revealed? For he grew up [Hebrew, not “he shall grow up,”
as in the English version] before him as a tender plant, and as a
root out of a dry soil; he had no form nor comeliness; and when
we saw him, there was no beauty that we should desire him.”

The sense is--The Gentiles shall say to each other in wonder,
“Who believed what we heard concerning them? And to whom
was the interest the Lord took in them made known? For it was a
dispised people, feeble, and wretched, like a tender plant springing
up out of a thirsty soil. Their appearance was abject, and there was
nothing attractive in their manners.”

“He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and
acquainted with grief: and we hid, as it were, our faces from him;
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

That is--They were despised, and held in abhorrence: they were
men of sorrow, and familiar with suffering. We looked upon them
with dislike: we hid our faces from them, and esteemed them not.

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”

Interpretation--Surely their sufferings are as great as if they had
borne the sins of the whole world; or, they are, nevertheless, the
means appointed to remove the sufferings of an afflicted world, for
God hath connected universal happiness with their prosperity; and
the end of their sufferings, is the beginning of our joys.

“Yet did we esteem him smitten of God, and afflicted.”

Interpretation--Nevertheless, we considered them as a God-
abandoned race, and devoted to wretchedness by him, for having
crucified their king.

“But he was wounded for [or by] our transgressions, he was
bruised [for or by] our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was
upon him; and through his stripes we are healed.”

That is--But, instead of being the victims of God’s wrath, they
were wounded through our cruelty, they were bruised by our
iniquitous treatment, we being suffered to do so, to chastise them
for their sins, and to prove their obedience; and this chastisement is
that by which our peace is to be effected; for their chastisement
and probation being finished. God will by them impart and diffuse
peace and happiness.

“All we like sheep have gone astray, we, have turned every one to
his own way, and the Lord hath caused to meet upon him the
iniquity of us all.”

But it is we who have sinned more than they: we have all gone
astray in our ignorance, being without the knowledge of God, or of
his law. Yet the Lord hath permitted us to make them the subjects
of our oppressive iniquity.

“He was oppressed, [or “exposed to pecuniary exactions”] and he
was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he was brought as a
lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he opened, not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from
judgment, and who shall declare his generation, [“into his manner
of life, who stoopeth to look?” according to the Hebrew] for he
was cut off out of the land of the living; for, [or by] the
transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave
with the wicked; but with the rich were his deaths, [or tomb]
because he had done no violence, neither was deceit in his mouth.”

Interpretation--How passive and unresisting were they, when
oppressed!--They were afflicted, and they complained not; when
through false accusations, and mistaken cruelty they were
plundered, and condemned to die, they went like a Iamb to the
slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so they
opened not their mouth. They were taken from the dungeon to be
slain, they were wantonly massacred, and every man was their foe;
and the cause of the sufferers who condescended to examine; for
by the thoughtless crimes of my people, they suffered. Yet
notwithstanding their graves were appointed with the wicked; yet
they were rich in their deaths. This did God grant them, because
they had not done iniquity.

Rabbi Isaac, author of the famous Munimen Fidei#, renders the
original--“on account of impieties was he given to his sepulchre,
and on account of his riches was his death, because he did no
violence, neither was deceit in his mouth”--which he interprets
thus:--We (the former speakers) raised against them false
accusations of impiety, on account of their religion, and refusing to
worship our idols; but their riches was the real cause why we put
them to death. Nevertheless, they used no violence in opposition
to our oppressions, neither would they forsake their religion, and
deceitfully assent to ours in hypocrisy.*

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him: he hath put him to grief.
When thou shalt make his soul a propitiation for sin, he shall see
his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord
shall prosper in his hands.” [This proves that this prophecy cannot
refer to any individual, but may refer to the Jewish nation, because
one individual cannot be put to death, and yet “see his seed,” and
“prolong his days.”] “After [or on account of] the travail of his
soul, seeing he shall be satisfied, by his knowledge shall
my righteous servant make many righteous [or show them
righteousness,] and he shall bear the burden of their iniquities.”

That is--After and for their sufferings, they shall be abundantly
rewarded; by their superior knowledge of religious truth, shall they
make many wise, “for many nations shall go, and say, come ye,
and let us ascend to the mount of the Lord, and to the house of the
God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways”--Mic. iv. ch.

“Wherefore, I will give him a portion with the great, and with the
mighty shall he divide the spoil, because he poured out his life
unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors, and himself
bear the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”

Interpretation--Therefore, their reward shall be exceeding great,
because for the sake of their duty, they willingly exposed
themselves to death, and were accounted as transgressors, and bore
the cruel afflictions inflicted by many, and made intercession for
them who afflicted them.

Such is the explication given by the Jews of this prophecy. I have
made no important alterations of the common English translation;
except, that in some passages, I have made it more conformable to
the original by substituting a verb in the past tense, instead of
leaving it in the future, as in the English version. Those translators
have taken certain liberties in this respect to make this prophecy
(and several others) more accordant to their own views, which are
not supported by the Hebrew: many of these expressions, however,
we have left unaltered, as they are quite harmless. But if any of our
readers desire further information with regard to the propriety of
this interpretation of this prophecy of Isaiah, we refer him to the
“Munimen Fidei,” contained in Wagenseil's “Tela Ignea,” where
he will find it amply illustrated, and defended. Here, in this work,
we shall content ourselves with proving, that this prophecy can by
no means relate to Jesus, from these circumstances:--1. Jesus
certainly was not exalted and magnified, and made very great upon
earth, which, as has been shown, was to be the scene of the
exaltation of the Old Testament Messiah; but was put to a cruel
and disgraceful death. 2. He was not oppressed by pecuniary
exactions, as is said of the subject of this prophecy. 3. He was
never taken from prison to die, for he was never in one. 4. He did
not “see his seed,” nor “prolong his days,” since he died childless;
and we will not permit the word “seed” to be spiritualized on this
occasion, for the word “seed” in the Old Testament, means
nothing else, than literally “children,” which it is not pretended he
ever had; and how could he “prolong his days,” when he was cut
off in his 33d year. 5. Besides, who were “the strong and mighty,”
with whom he divided the spoil? Were they the twelve fishermen
of Galilee? and what was the spoil divided? In a word, the literal
application of this prophecy to Jesus is now given up by the most
learned Hebrew scholars, who allow, that the literal sense of the
original can never be understood of him. [See Priestley’s notes on
the scriptures, in loco; and the context before and after.]

We have now come to the last subject proposed to be considered in
this chapter, viz., Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks, the
“instar omnium” of the prophetical proofs of Christianity, and
which was for ages held up to the view of “the unbelieving race,”
as cutting off beyond doubt their “hope of Israel” from ever
appearing, since the time so distinctly foretold had elapsed. But
such is the instability of human opinions, that it was at length
suspected, and at last ascertained-by the learned, that “the stubborn
Israelites” had some reason for denying that prophecy, any voice in
the affair.

During many years, one learned man after another, had amused
himself with destroying the system of his predecessor, and
replacing it with his own, not a whit better, but tending to the same
end, viz., to make the prophecy of the seventy weeks tally and fit
with the event of the crucifixion. At length Marsham, a learned
Englishman, declared, and demonstrated, that his predecessors, in
this enquiry, had been grossly mistaken, for that the prophecy in
all its parts was totally irrelevant and irreconcileable with the time
of the crucifixion. The appearance of his book put all the
theologians of that age in an uproar! But many learned Christians
in the last, and present, century, now freely acknowledge, that
Daniel is not on their side, but as much a Jew as his brethren.

This celebrated prophecy, literally translated from the original, is
as follows:--Dan. ix. 24, &c.--“Seventy weeks are determined
upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression,
and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity,
and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and
prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy, [i. e., the sanctum
sanctorum, or Holy of Holies.] Know, therefore, and understand,
that from the going forth of the word to restore and build
Jerusalem, unto the anointed prince, shall be seven weeks; and (in)
threescore and two weeks, the street shall be built again, and the
wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks
shall the anointed (one) be cut off, and be without a successor;
(Heb. “and not, or none to him”) and the city and the sanctuary
shall be destroyed# by the people of the prince that shall come;
and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the
war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant
with many for one week, and half the week (i. e., in the midst of
the week) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and
for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate,
even until the consummation and that (is) determined, be poured
upon the desolate?”

This is the prophecy on which such stress has been laid, as
pointing out the precise time of the coming of the Messiah; and I
shall fully demonstrate that it hath not the most distant reference to
that event. And for the better explanation of the prophecy, it is
proper that we attend a little to the context.

*In the preceding chapter of Daniel it is said, that when Daniel was
informed of the vision of the two thousand and three hundred days,
he sought for the meaning; but not rightly understanding it, he
judged, that that great number was a contradiction to the word of
God as delivered by Jeremiah, concerning the redemption at the
end of seventy years; (Jer. xxv. 11, 12, and ch. xxix. 10) and from
thence he concluded that the captivity was prolonged on account of
the sins of the nation. This doubt arose from his not understanding
the prophecy, and, therefore, the angel said unto him,--“I am now
come forth to give thee skill and understanding.” And he proceeds
to inform him, that as soon as he began to pray, and God saw, his
perplexity, the royal command went forth from him, that he should
come to Daniel to make him understand the truth of those matters,
that were to come to pass in future time. And as the angel Gabriel
had explained to him the vision from whence his doubt arose, it
was incumbent on him to perfect the explanation; and that is what
is meant by the expression “to show,” i. e., as I began the
explanation, the commandment was, that I should finish it.

Before I proceed to give the Jewish explanation of the prophecy, it
is proper to show in what manner the answer of the angel in it,
agreed to Daniel’s question, and also the reason of his using the
term weeks, and not years, or times, as in the other visions.

It appears, that Daniel, from the words of Jeremiah, perceived that
God. would visit all the nations, and punish them for their sins, as
may be observed from the following words:--“Thus saith the
Lord God of Israel unto me, Take the wine cup of this fury at my
hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send thee, to drink it”--
Jer, xxv. 15. He then mentions first Jerusalem, afterwards the king
of Egypt, Tyre, Sidon, and all the Isles beyond the sea, and many
others; and at last the king of Sheshak, or Babylon.

He also further perceived, that the visitation of each nation would
be at the end of seventy years, as Isaiah observes of Tyre: “And it
shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy
years.” Isaiah xxiii. 15, the same of Babylon: “And it shall come to
pass, when seventy years are accomplished, I will punish the King
of Babylon.” Jer. xxv. 12, And as it is observed in the next verse:
“All that is written in this book which Jeremiah hath prophecied,
against all the nations.” From whence it appears, that as the
visitation of Babylon was to be seventy years, so was that of the
other nations to be; for so had the wisdom of God decreed to wait
according to this number. For which reason, and because the
prophets say that the restoration of Israel is to be contemporaneous
with the destruction of their enemies, Daniel appears to have.
judged, that the sins of his nation would be done away by the
seventy years of the captivity of Babylon; and, therefore, the angel
informed him of his error, by telling him, that this was not to be the
case with his nation, for that their wickedness was come up before
God, and their sin was very grievous; and that, therefore, their sins
would not be atoned for by seventy years, as in the case of the rest
of the nations, to whom he allowed seventy years to see if they
would repent; and, if not, then he would punish them. But as for
Israel, he would not only wait seventy years, but seven times
seventy years; (for thus it is literally, in the Hebrew, the words
translated “seventy weeks,” are, literally, “seventy sevens”) after
which, if they had not repented and reformed, their kingdom
should be cut off, and they return into captivity, to finish an
atonement for their transgressions. Hence the cause of Daniel's
question is evident; and the propriety of the angel’s answer to the
question, is manifest; as also the expression of weeks or sevens.

These seventy weeks are, without doubt, four hundred and ninety
years, the time elapsed from the destruction of the first temple, till
the destruction of the second.

This, it seems, was the more necessary for the angel to inform him
of; because Daniel judged, that after their return from Babylon, by
means of that visitation only, all their sins would be done away.
For which reason the angel showed him that it would not be so,
[for the return from Babylon was not a perfect redemption,
because there was not a general collection of all that were in
captivity, even all the tribes, save only a few of Judah and
Benjamin, and those not the most respectable. And after their
return, they were not free, but were under the dominion of the
Persians, Greeks and Romans. And although they, at one time,
threw off their yoke, and had kings of the Asmonean and Herodean
families, yet was there no king among them of the seed of David,
neither had they the Shechinah, nor the Urim and Thummim, all
which is a manifestation that it was not a perfect redemption, but
only a visitation, with which God was pleased to visit them; so that
they were allowed to build a temple to the Lord, by the permission
of Cyrus, and according to the measure given by him. This was
that they might be the better enabled to do the works of repentance
during the time allowed, and thus “make atonement, and thus
finish the transgression, and make an end of sins, and make
reconciliation for iniquity;” and thus, at the end of the time
assigned, even “seventy weeks,” they would bring in “everlasting
righteousness,” i.e., universal virtue and felicity, throughout the
world, when the Eternal should be known, worshipped, and obeyed
by all mankind. But if they did not repent, and amend, if they did
evil, as their fathers, then their kingdom was to be cut off at the
expiration of the seventy weeks; which, in fact, took place.]

After the angel had thus expressed himself in general terms, he
descended to particulars; and laid down three propositions (if I
may be allowed the term,) or periods.

First. “Know, therefore, and understand, (that) from the going
forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem, unto the anointed
prince, (shall be) seven weeks.”

That is, it shall be seven weeks or forty nine years from the
destruction of the first temple, to Cyrus, “the anointed prince,”
who shall give leave to build the second. [With regard to the
import of the phrase “the going forth of the word,” I refer the
reader to Levi's Letters to Priestley, and shall here only concern
myself with settling the meaning of the expression of “the
anointed prince.”] Many Christians have objected to the term
Messiah, or anointed, being applied, as in our interpretation to
Cyrus a heathen prince; and they apply it themselves to Jesus of
Nazareth. But that the term, or appellation, Messiah, can be applied
to Cyrus, is evident; since we find it so applied by God himself in
the xlv. ch. of Isaiah. “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to
Cyrus. 2. It is a singular fact, that the appellation “Messiah” is
never applied to the expected deliverer of the Israelites in the
whole bible, except, perhaps, in ii. Psalm. It is an appellation
indifferently applied to kings, and priests, and prophets; to all who
were anointed, as an induction into their office, and has nothing in
it peculiar and exclusive; but the application of it to the expected
deliverer of Israel, originated in and from the Targums. 3. In order
to make this prophecy, and this phrase, “Messiah the prince,” or
“the anointed prince,” apply to Jesus of Nazareth, Christians
connect, and join together, this first member of the prophecy with
the second, in open defiance of the original Hebrew; and after all,
they can reap no benefit from this manoeuvre; for the term
“Messiah Nagid,” or “the anointed prince,” can never apply to
Jesus, in this place, at any rate; because he certainly was no prince
or “Nagid,” a word which in the Hebrew bible always, without
exception, denotes a prince, or ruler, one invested with temporal
authority, or supreme command. Now, as it is allowed on all
hands, that Jesus had no such temporal power, as a prince, or ruler;
it, consequently, follows, that he can by no means be the
“anointed prince” mentioned in the prophecy.

Second Period. “And (in) threescore and two weeks, the street
shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times,”

Here the angel gave him to understand, that after the seven weeks
before mentioned, there would come a time in which the building
would be hindered, (and which was on account of the letter written
by Rheum and Shimshai to Artaxerxes, who, in consequence
thereof, made the building to cease-See Ezra and Nehemiah) till
the second year of Darius, who gave leave to finish the building:
which continued till the destruction by the Romans, sixty-two
weeks, beside the last week, at the beginning of which, the Romans
came, and warred against them, and at length entirely destroyed the
cities of Judah, Jerusalem, and the temple. For, from the time that
Cyrus first gave leave to build the temple, till its completion, was
twenty-one years; and its duration, four hundred and twenty; in the
whole, sixty-three weeks, or four hundred and forty one years. But
the angel made his division at sixty-two weeks, as he afterwards
described what was to come to pass in the last week (and with
reason, for the horrible Jewish war lasted seven years!) And by the
words, “in troublous times,” he informed Daniel, that during the
building of the temple, they would have continual trouble and
alarms from their enemies, as is mentioned in Ezra and Nehemiah,
where we find, that while some worked, the others held the shield
and spear. And even after finishing it, they were almost continually
in trouble, and persecuted, as is evident from the books of
Maccabees, and from Josephus.

Third Period. “And after threescore and two weeks shall the
anointed be cut off, and have no successor--[Heb. “and not, or,
none, to him”]--and the city and the sanctuary shall be destroyed
by the people of the prince that shall come; and the end thereof
shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are

That is, and after that period, shall the High Priest (or “the
anointed one”) be cut off--[The High Priest is called “Messiah,”
witness Lev. iv. 3--“If the Messiah Priest, (or anointed priest)
doth sin,” &c.]--and have no successor; and the city and the
temple shall be destroyed by Titus and the Romans, and until the
end of the war, your country shall be swept with the besom of

The angel finishes the prophecy with these words:--“And he (the
prince that shall come) shall strengthen the covenant with many,
for one week. And in the midst of the week (i. e., the seventieth
and last week,) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to

This prediction was fully accomplished; for 1. Titus, “the prince
that should come,” was continually offering peace to the Jews, and
tried to “strengthen the covenant”--i. e., their old treaties made
with the Romans, and in fact did bring over many. 2. On account
of the distress of the siege, the daily sacrifice did in fact cease to be
offered in the temple some time before its destruction; and the
angel further observes, that all this was to come upon them for
their sins, “for the overspreading of abominations, it should be
made desolate.”

This is what appears to be a plain and fair explication of this
prophecy; but since Christians, seeing mention made in it of a
Messiah to be cut off, have eagerly endeavoured to press it into
their service, it remains for me to show, that it is impossible to
make this prophecy refer to “the cutting off” of Jesus.

The difficulty that learned Christians have met with, in their
attempts to do this, will be easily conceived by any person, when
he knows, that more than a dozen different hypotheses have been
framed by them for that purpose; but that they have lost their
labour, will be obvious from this single observation, that “the
anointed one, or Messiah,” who, the prophet says, was to be “cut
off,” was to be cut off “AFTER the threescore and two weeks,” i.
e., at the destruction of Jerusalem, or within the seven years
preceding that event! Now, we know from the Evangelists, and;
from profane history, that Jesus was crucified more than forty
years before the destruction of Jerusalem. In addition to this,
nothing need be said, for this circumstance lays flat their
interpretation at one stroke.

Those who desire to see a more elaborate discussion of this
prophecy, and an ample defence of this interpretation, are referred
to “Levi’s Letters, to Priestly;” and those who are desirous of
seeing an account of the various, contradictory, perplexed and
multitudinous contrivances, by which it has been endeavoured to
apply this prophecy to Jesus, are referred to Prideaux, Michaelis,
and Blayney.

We have now gone through an examination of the evidence
adduced from the prophets of the Old Testament, to prove that
Jesus is the Messiah of the Old Testament; and those of our readers
who love truth, are, we trust, now made sensible that the religion
of the New Testament, if built upon such proofs as these, is,
evidently, founded on--a mistake.



Most of our readers have, no doubt, heard from the pulpit, many
exclamations and declamations against the “blindness of the Jews,”
in not recognizing their Messiah in Jesus of Nazareth. The reasons
of this “blindness” are made, I think, by this time pretty

Nevertheless, for the further satisfaction of the reader, I will here
set down the principal reasons given by Rabbi Isaac, in his
“Munimen Fidei,” which cause the Jews to deny the Messiahship
of Jesus.

“At a certain time, (says he,) a certain learned man of the wise men
of the Christians said unto me:--‘Wherefore are you Jews
unwilling to believe Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah, when yet
your veritable prophets testified of him, whose words you profess
to have faith in.’

“I gave him this answer. ‘How, I require, could we believe him to
be the Messiah, when you can produce no genuine proof from the
prophets in his favour, since all those things adduced by the
evangelists from them, to prove Jesus the Messiah, are nothing to
the purpose? And we have many and evident reasons to prove that
he was not the Messiah. And of these, I will bring forward a few,
arising, 1, From his genealogy. 2. From his works. 3. From the time
of his appearing. 4. From the prophecies of the things to take place
in the time of the Messiah not having seen fulfilled in his age. And
in these things are contained the genuine marks characteristic of
our Messiah.’

“1. As to what concerns his genealogy; it does not prove this
necessary thing, that Jesus was the son of David, because he was
not begotten by Joseph, as the Gospel of Matthew testifies; for in
the first chapter of it, it is written, that Jesus was born of Mary
when she was yet a virgin, and had not been known by Joseph;
which things being so, the genealogy of Joseph has nothing to do
with Jesus. The descent and origin of Mary, is still less known, but
it seems from Luke’s calling Elizabeth, who was of Levi, her
cousin, that Mary was of the tribe of Levi, and not of Judah, and,
consequently, not of David; and, if she were, still Jesus is not the
more the son of David; descents being reckoned from the males
only. Neither is the genealogy of Joseph rightly deduced from
David, but labours under great difficulties. Matthew, and Luke
also, not only disagree, but irreconcilably and flatly contradict
each other, in their genealogies of Joseph. Now, it cannot be that
the testimony of two witnesses, who directly contradict each other
in the matter to be proved by them, can be received as true. But the
prophets have directed us to expect no Messiah but one born of the
seed of David.

“2. As to the works of Jesus, we object to what he said concerning
himself:--‘Do not consider me as come to establish peace on
earth, for I have come to send a sword, and to separate the son
from the father, and the daughter from her mother, and the
daughter-in-law from her mother-in-law,’ which words are written
in Mat. ch. x. But we find the prophecies concerning the Messiah
to attribute to him very different works from these; nay, the very
opposite. For, whereas Jesus testifies concerning himself, that he
did not come to establish peace in the earth, but ‘division,’ ‘fire’
and ‘sword,’ Zechariah says, concerning the expected Messiah, ch.
ix.:--‘He shall speak peace to the nations.’ Jesus says he came to
send ‘fire and sword’ upon the earth, but Micah says, ch. ii., that in
the times of the true Messiah they shall beat their swords into
ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not
lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.’
Jesus says that he came ‘to put division between the father and the
son,’ &c. But in the time of the true Messiah, Elias, the prophet,
shall come, of whom Malachi prophecied ‘that he shall convert the
heart of the fathers unto the children, and the heart of the children
to the fathers.’ Jesus says ‘that he came to serve others, not to be
served by them’ – Mat. xx. 29. But of the true Messiah it is said,
Psalm lxxii.:--‘All kings shall bow themselves before him, all
nations shall serve him.’ The same also is said by Zechariah, ch. ix.:--
‘His dominion shall be, from one sea to the other, and from the
river unto the ends of the earth;’ and so Dan., ch. vii.:--‘All
dominions shall serve and obey him.’

“3. As to the time, we object to the Christians, that Jesus did not
come at the time designated by the prophets; for the prophets
testify, that the coming of the Messiah should be ‘in the end of
days’ or, in the latter days, (which, surely, have not yet arrived) as
it is in Isaiah ch. ii.:--‘It shall come to pass in the latter days, that
the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of
the mountains, and all nations shall flow unto it;’ and it
immediately follows, concerning the king Messiah, ‘that he shall
judge among the nations, and rebuke many peoples, and they shall
beat their words into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning
hooks.’ See also Hosea, ch. iii, and also Dan., ch. ii., where it is
written:--‘God hath made known unto king Nebuchadnezzar
what shall come to pass in the latter days,’ (or, in the end of days.)
And this pertains to what follows, viz., to this:--‘In the days of
those kings, (i. e., of the kingdoms that arose out of the ruins of the
Roman Empire) the God of heaven will raise up a kingdom, which
shall never be destroyed.’ Thus you see, that the prophets
predicted, that the kingdom of the Messiah should be after the
destruction of the Roman Empire, not while it was in its vigour;
when Jesus came; in ‘the latter days,’ and not before.*

“4. Besides all these difficulties, neither were the promises made
to us by the prophets, concerning the things to come to pass at the
coming of the Messiah, fulfilled in the time of Jesus. For examples,
take the following:--‘1. In the time of the king Messiah, there was
to be one kingdom only, and one only king upon earth, viz., the
king Messiah--see Daniel, ch. ii.; but behold, we see with our
eyes, many independent kingdoms, distinct, and distinguished by
different laws and customs, religious and political, which things
being so, it follows, that the Messiah is not yet come.

“2. In the time of the king Messiah, there was to be only one
religion and one law throughout the world; for, it is written in
Isaiah, ch. lii. and lxvi., that all nations shall come at stated times
to worship the Eternal at Jerusalem. See also Zechariah, ch. xiv.
and ch. viii., and indeed throughout the writings of the prophets.

“3. In the time of the king Messiah, idols were to be cut off, and
utterly to perish from the earth; as it is said in Zechariah, ch. xiii.,
and so in Isaiah, ch. ii., it is written, ‘And the glory of idols shall
utterly pass away;’ and so in Zephaniah, ch. ii., ‘The Lord shall be
terrible among them, when he shall make lean (i. e., bring to
nothing) all the gods of the earth; and all the countries of the
nations shall bow themselves to Him, each out of his place.’

“4. In the times of the Messiah, there shall obtain no more sins and
crimes in the earth, especially among the children of Israel, as is
affirmed in Deut. xxx., Zephaniah, ch. iii and in Jeremiah, ch. iii.
And l., and so in Ezekiel, ch. xxxvi. and xxxvii.

“5. In the times of the Messiah, there shall be peace between man
and beast, and between the tiger and the tame beast; and the little
child shall stroke, with impunity, the variegated skin of the serpent,
and,--as one of our own poets has beautifully said,--‘and with
his forked tongue shall innocently play.’ See in Isaiah, ch. xi. and
lxv., the original from whence he derived his beautiful poem.

“6. In the time of the king Messiah, there are to be no calamities,
no afflictions, no lamentations throughout the world. But the
inhabitants thereof are to lead joyful lives in gratitude to the good
God, and in the enjoyment of his bounties. See Isaiah lxv.

“Lastly. In the time of the king Messiah, the glory of God was
again to return to Israel, and the spirit of the most High God was to
be liberally poured out upon them, and they were to be endowed
with the spirit of prophecy, and with wisdom, and knowledge, and
understanding, and virtue; and God will no more hide his face from
them; but will bless them, and give them a ready heart and a
willing mind to obey his laws, and enjoy the felicities consequent
thereupon. And the Shechinah shall inhabit the temple for ever,
and the glory of God shall never depart from Israel; but they shall
walk amid the splendours of the glory of the Eternal, and all the
earth shall resound with his praise, as is written in Ezekiel, ch.
xxxvii., and xxxix., and xliii.; and in Joel, ch. ii., and in Zech., ch.
ii., and Isaiah, ch. xi., and throughout the latter part of his
prophecies, and in Jer. xxxi.”

And now, reader, let me ask you this question, has any one of the
foregoing prophecies been yet fulfilled, either in the days of Jesus,
or ever since? Thou canst not say it! Now, then, hear the
conclusion, which, in sincerity, and with the hand upon the heart, I
am compelled to draw from these precedents. “Since these
distinctive characteristics predicted by the Hebrew prophets, as to
be found in their Messiah, were certainly, and evidently, never
found in Jesus; and since these conditions and circumstances, and
many others beside, which, to avoid prolixity, have been omitted,
most assuredly did not take place in the time of Jesus, nor ever
since, and since they were according to those prophets, certainly to
be expected in the time of their Messiah; therefore, from all this, it
seems to be demonstrable (allowing the prophets to be true,) that
Jesus of Nazareth was not this true Messiah.” And I would ask the
candid Christian, in which link of this chain of proofs he can find a
flaw? And I would ask him, too, as a moral and honest man,
whether any Jew, in his right mind, could, without setting at
nought what he conceived to be the word of God, receive him as
the Messiah? The honest and upright answer, I believe, will be,
that he could net. And, accordingly, it is very well known, that the
Jewish nation have never done so. And this their obstinacy, as it is
called, will not by this time, I think, appear unreasonable to any
sensible man; and he will now be able to appreciate the justice of
that idle cant about “the carnal Jews,” and their “worldly-minded”
expectation of a temporal prince, as their Messiah. Certainly, the
Jews had very good reason, from their prophecies, to expect no
Messiah but a Messiah who should sit on the throne of David, and
confer liberty and happiness upon them, and spread peace and
happiness throughout the earth, and communicate the knowledge
of God, and virtue, and the love of their fellow-men to every
people. Whether this (carnal or not,) would have been better than a
spiritual kingdom, and a throne in heaven; together with the ample
list of councils, dogmas, excommunications, proscriptions,
theological quarrels, and frauds, and an endless detail of blood and
murder, I leave to the judgment of those capable of deciding for

Neither, in fact, is it true, that the Jews were so “carnally minded”
as to refuse Jesus as their Messiah, because he was poor and in a
low estate. On the contrary, did they not ask him not to evade, but
to speak plainly? “How long (said they) dost thou mean to keep us
in suspense? If thou be the Messiah, tell us plainly.” These very
men were willing to hazard, in his favour, their fortunes, their
families, and their lives, in his cause, against the whole power of
the Roman empire. Nay, so urgent were they, that they were going
to make him their king by force, and he concealed himself from the
honour. The evasions he used to avoid their pressing questions
upon the subject, are known to all who have read the evangelists;
and so timed was he in acknowledging himself as the Messiah, that
he did not do so, till Simon Peter told him that he was. And can
any candid man, after all this, wonder at, or condemn, “the
blindness,” as it is called, of the Jews? or can he refrain from
smiling at the frothy declamations in which divines load that nation
with so much unmerited reproach? These Jews had just reason, we
think, to doubt his Messiahship; and they had a right to satisfactory
and unambiguous proof of his being so: even the proofs laid down,
by their prophets. And this, it must be now acknowledged, they
wanted; and, certainly, the wise and learned of the Jewish nation,
might be allowed to have understood their sacred books upon the
subject, as well, at least, if not better, than the illiterate apostles,
who manifestly put new interpretations upon them, and those,
confessedly, not agreeable to the obvious and literal meaning of
those books; but contrary to the sense of the Jewish nation. And
for this scepticism they might plead the example of the apostles
themselves, who, at first, like other unbelieving Jews, expected a
temporal prince; and did disbelieve Jesus to be the Messiah on
account of his death, notwithstanding his miracles. And they
continued in these thoughts, till it seems they come to understand
the spiritual sense of the scriptures; which spiritual sense, it is said,
they obtained by “the traditionary rules of interpretation in use
among the Jews.” Yet, it is rather inconsistent and singular, that
they should place so much dependence upon these traditionary
rules, and yet pay so little regard to the traditionary explication of
the scriptures, with respect to the temporal kingdom of the
Messiah--inconsistent and singular is it, that they should "cry
aloud" for that which would support their peculiar views, but reject
it when militating against these views.*



I am now about to consider a subject, to which, notwithstanding
the harsh ness of my language in some of the preceding chapters, I
approach with feelings of great respect. Far be it from me to
reproach the meek, the compassionate, the amiable Jesus; or to
attribute to him, the mischiefs occasioned by his followers*. No, I
look upon his character with the respect which every man should
pay to purity of morals: though mingled with something like the
sentiments which we naturally feel for the mistaken enthusiast.
Jesus of Nazareth appears to have been a man of irreproachable
purity, of great piety, and of great mildness of disposition. Though
the world has never beheld a character exactly parallel with his, yet
it has seen many, greatly similar. Contemplative, and melancholy,
it is said of him by his followers, “he was often seen to weep, but
never to laugh.” He retired to solitary places, and there prayed: he
went into the wilderness to sustain and to vanquish the assaults of
the devil: In a word, he appears by such means to have persuaded
himself, as hundreds have done since, that he was the chosen
servant of God, raised up to preach righteousness to the hypocrites,
and sinners of his day. It is remarkable, that he never claimed to be
the Messiah, till encouraged to assume that character by Peter’s
declaration. And it is observable, that in assuming that name, he
could not assume the characteristics of the august personage to
whom it belongs; but infused into the character all that softness,
meekness, humility, and passive fortitude, which were so
eminently his own. The natural disposition, and character of Jesus,
could not permit him to attempt the character of a princely
Messiah, a mighty monarch, the saviour of an oppressed people,
and the benefactor of the human race. He could not do this, but he
could act as much of the character as was consistent with his own.
He could not indeed bring himself to attempt to be the saviour of
his countrymen from the Romans, their fleshly foes; but he
undertook to save them from the tyranny of their spiritual enemies.
He could not undertake to set up his kingdom upon earth; but he
told them that he had a kingdom in another world. He could not
pretend to give unto his followers the splendid rewards of an
earthly monarch: but he promised them instead thereof,
forgiveness of sins, and spiritual remuneration.

In a word, he was not a king fit for the, then, ‘carnal Jews,’ but he
was, from his mildness, and compassionate temper, worthy of their
esteem, at least, of their forbearance. The only actions of his life
which betray any marks of character deserving of serious
reprehension, are his treatment of the woman taken in adultery;
and his application of the prophecy of Malachi concerning Elias, to
John the Baptist.

As to his conduct to the woman, it was the conduct of a mild, and
merciful man, but not that of one who declared, “that he came to
fulfil the law.” For God commanded concerning such, “that they
should surely be put to death.” Now though Jesus was not her
judge, and had no right to pronounce her sentence; yet the
contrivance by which he deterred the witness from testifying
against her, was a contrivence directly calculated totally to
frustrate the ends of justice; and which, if acted upon at this day, in
Christian countries, would infallibly prevent the execution of the
criminal law: For what testimony would be sufficient to prove a
fact, if the witnesses were required to be “without sin?” Instead,
therefore, of saying unto them, “whosoever of you is without sin,
let him cast the first stone at her;” he should have said, ‘Men! who
made me a judge, or a ruler over you? carry the accused to the
proper tribunal.’

As to his conduct about the matter of Elias, it was as follows. It is
said, in the 17th chapter of Matthew, that at his transfiguration, as
it is called, Moses, and Elias appeared to his disciples on the
mount, talking with Jesus. Upon coming down from the mount, the
disciples asked Jesus, “how say the scribes that Elias must come
first, (that is, before the Messiah.) Jesus answered, Elias truly
cometh first, and restoreth all things; but I say unto you, that Elias
has come already and they have done unto him what they would;”
meaning John the Baptist, who was beheaded by Herod. (See the
parallel place in Mark.) And he says concerning John, (Mat. vi.
14,) “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to

Now certainly no one will pretend that John was the Elias
prophecied of by Malachi, as to come before “the great, and
terrible day of the Lord,” which has not yet taken place. And
besides, that he was not Elias is testified of, and confirmed by,
John himself, who in the gospel of John, chapter 1, to the question
of the Scribes, asking him, “if he was Elias?” answers “I am
not.” It is pretty clear that Jesus was embarrassed by the question
of the Apostles, “how say the Scribes, that Elias must come first?”
for his answer is confused; for he allows the truth of the
observation of the Scribes, and then refers them to John, and
insinuates that he was “the Elias to come.” However, it must be
acknowledged, that he does it with an air of hesitation, “If you
will receive it,” &c.

But are these all the accusations you have to bring against him?
may be said by some of my readers. Do you account as nothing,
his claiming to forgive sins? his speeches wherein ho claims to be
considered as an object of religious homage, if not to be God
himself? Do you consider these impieties as nothing? I answer by
asking--the following questions: What would you think of a man
who, in our times, should set up those extraordinary claims? and
who should assert, that “eating his flesh, and drinking his blood”
were necessary to secure eternal life? Who should say, that “he
and God were one?” and should affirm (as Jesus does in the last
chapters of John) that “God was inside of him, and dwelt in him;
and that “he who had seen him, had seen God?” What should we
think of this? Should we consider such a man an object of wrath, or
of pity? Should we not directly, and without hesitation, attribute
such extravagancies to hallucination of mind? Yes, certainly! and
therefore the Jews were to blame for crucifying Jesus. If Christians
had put to death every unfortunate, who after being frenzied by
religious fasting and contemplation, became wild enough to assert,
that he was Christ, or God the Father, or the Virgin Mary, or even
the Holy Trinity, they would have been guilty of more than fifty
murders; for I have read of at least as many instances of this
nature; and believe that more than two hundred such might be
reckoned up from the hospital records of Europe alone. And that
the founder of the Christian religion was not always in one
coherent consistent mind, I think will appear plain to every
intelligent physician who reads his discourses; especially those in
the gospel of John. They are a mixture of something that looks like
sublimity, strangely disfigured by wild, and incoherent words. So
unintelligible indeed, that even the profoundest of Christian
divines have never been able to fathom all their mysteries. To
prove that I do not say these things rashly, wickedly, or out of any
malignity towards the character of Jesus, which I really respect and
venerate, I will establish my assertions by examples. For

--Many instances might be adduced of conduct directly
subversive of the very design, to promote which, he said that he
was sent into the world. For example, he said that he came to
preach glad tidings to the poor, and uninformed; and yet he
declares to his disciples, that ho spake to this very multitude of
poor and ignorant people in parables, lest they might understand
him, and be converted from their sins, and God should heal, or
pardon them. In the 26th chapter of Matthew, Jesus says to his
disciples, in the garden at Gethsemane, these strange words, “
Sleep on now, and take your rest--Arise! let us be going,” The
commentators endeavour to get rid of the strange contradictoriness
of these words, by turning the command into the future; and
rendering the Greek word translated “now” thus--“for the rest of
your time,” or “for the future.” And that he asked them “whether
they slept for the future”? which appears to be just as rational as
to have asked, “how they do to-morrow”?!!

Jo. viii. 51, “Verily, verily.(said Jesus) I say unto you, if a man
keep my saying, he shall never see death “Reader, what dost thou
think of this saying? Has believing in the Christian religion, at all
prevented men from dying as in afore time? And should we be at
all astonished at what the Jews said to him, when they heard this
assertion--“Then said the Jews unto him. Now we know that thou
hast a demon [i. e. art mad.] Abraham is dead, and the Prophets,
and thou sayest if a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of
death?” So said the Jews, and if in our times, a man was to make a
similar assertion, should we not say the same?

Many instances might also be given of strange and inconsequent
reasoning; but I shall only adduce the following. He reproaches the
Pharisees, Luke xi. 47, 48, for building and adorning the
sepulchres of the Prophets, whom their wicked fathers slew; and
says to them, “Your fathers slew them, and ye build their
sepulchres,” and he adds, “that thus they showed that they
approved the deeds of their fathers!” Surely this is absurd! Did
the Athenians by setting up a statue to Socrates after his unjust
death, show to the world that they “approved” the deed of them
who slew him? did it not show the direct contrary? and was it not
intended as a testimony of their regret, and repentance?

Again, “Upon you (says Jesus to the Jews) shall come all the
righteous blood that has been shed upon the earth, from the blood
of Abel the righteous, to the blood of Zechariah,” &c. Now, herein
is a marvellous thing! how could a man really sent from God,
assert to the Jews, that of them should be required the blood of
Abel, and of all the righteous slain upon the earth? Did the Jews
kill Abel? or did their fathers kill him? No! he was slain by Cain,
whose posterity all perished in the deluge; how then could God
require of the Jews who lived four thousand years after the murder,
the guilt of it; nay more, “of all the righteous blood that had been
shed upon the earth,” were they guilty of all that too? If such
assertions, and such reasonings do not prove what I asserted, what

It is said, that Jesus, by giving himself up to suffer death, proved
the truth of his mission and doctrines, by his readiness to die for
them. But this is an argument which will recoil upon those who
advance it. Are there no instances upon record of mild, zealous,
and amiable men who preached to the savages of America that
they ought to worship the Virgin Mary? and did they not
cheerfully die by the most excruciating torments to prove it? Yes
certainly! and let any Protestant Christian read the accounts of the
preaching, sufferings, deaths, aye! and miracles too, of the Roman
Catholic missionaries in Asia, and America; and then let him
candidly answer whether he is willing to rest the issue of his
controversy with the Papists upon the argument of martyrdom? We
all know the power of enthusiasm upon a susceptible mind; and we
have read of, and perhaps sees, its effects in producing martyrdoms
among people of all religions, in all parts of the world. Nay, more,
such is the power of this principle, that even now, women in India
burn themselves alive on the funeral piles of their husbands, to
prove, as they say, their love for them, and their determination to
accompany them to the other world; when it is well known, that
they burn themselves from the impulse of vanity, and the fear of
disgrace, if they should not do so. Nay, more still, so little support
does martyrdom yield to truth, that there are more martyrdoms in
honour of the false, ridiculous, and abominable idols of Hindostan,
than any where else. You may see men hooked through the ribs,
and supported, and whirled round in the air in honour of their gods,
clapping their hands, and testifying pleasure, instead of crying out
with pain. You may see in that country, the misguided enthusiastic
worshippers of misshapen idols prostrate their bodied before the
enormous wheels of the car of Seeva, and piously suffering
themselves to be crushed in pieces by the rolling mass. And any
man who has been upon the banks of the Ganges, can tell you of
the Yoguis, and of their self-inflicted torments, compared to which,
even the cross is almost a bed of roses. Indeed the argument of
martyrdom will support any religion; and it has, in fact, been
cheerfully undergone by enthusiasts and zealots of all religions, in
testimony of the firm belief of the sufferers not only in the
absurdities of Popery, and Brachinanism, but of every, even
the most monstrous system that ever disgraced the human
understanding. There have been martyrs for Atheism itself.

This argument of martyrdom has been more particularly applied to
the Apostles and first Christians. “How can it be imagined, (say
Christian Divines,) that simple men like the Apostles could be
induced to leave their employment, and wander up and down, to
teach the doctrines, and testify to the facts of the New Testament,
and expose themselves to persecution, imprisonment, scourging,
and untimely and violent death: unless they certainly knew, that
both the doctrines, and the facts were true? Besides, what honours,
what riches, could they expect to get by supporting false doctrine,
and false testimony?”

To this argument 1 might reply as in the preceding pages, for I
would ask, have we not seen simple and honest men quit their
employments, and wander up and down to preach doctrines which
they not only had no means of certainly knowing to be true, but
which they did not even understand? Have we not seen such
men submit to deprivations of every kind, and exposed to
imprisonment, and the whipping post? And do we not certainly
know that some such have cheerfully suffered a most cruel death?

Is it possible that any sensible man, after reading the History of the
Roman Catholic Missionaries, the Baptists, the Quakers, and the
Methodists, can be convinced of the certain truth of the Christian
religion, or seriously endeavour to convince another of it, by such
an argument as the above?

But, much more than this can be said upon this topic; for it can be
shown, that the Apostles in preaching Christianity, did not suffer
near so much as some well meaning enthusiasts in modern times
have suffered, to propagate religious tenets, notoriously false and
absurd. And that the Apostles could expect to get neither fame, nor
honour, nor riches by their preaching is doubtful. This is certain
that they could not lose much. For they were confessedly men of
the lowest rank in society, and of great poverty--poor fishermen,
who could not feel a very great regard for their own dignity, or
respectability. And it was by no means a small thing for such men
to be considered as divine Apostles, and “in exchange for
heavenly things,” to have the earthly possessions of their converts
laid at their feet. Peter left his nets, his boat, and boorish
companions, and after persuading his disciples to receive his words
for oracles, go where he would, he found ample hospitality from
them. This, at least, was an advantageous change, and though they
did not acquire fame, or respect from the higher ranks of society,
they were at least had in great respect by their followers. Neither
George Fox, nor Whitfield, nor Westley were honoured by the
nobility, or gentry, or scholars of England; nor Ann Lee, by the
most respectable citizens of the United States. Yet among their
disciples, the Quakers, the Methodists, and the Shakers they were
held by the most implicit veneration and can any man believe that
they did not think themselves thus well payed for the trouble of
making converts?

It is true that the Apostles did not acquire riches, for they were
conversant only with the poor. But neither had they any to lose, by
taking up the profession of Apostles, and Preachers. At least by
preaching the gospel, they obtained food, and clothing, and
contributions; as is evident from many places in the Epistles,
where they write to their converts, “It is written, ‘thou shalt not
muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn;’” and Paul tells them,
that they must not think from this place, that God takes care for
oxen, “for, (says he,) it was undoubtedly written for our sakes.”
Thus we see that the gospel was by no means altogether
unprofitable, and many men daily risk their lives for less gain than
the Apostles did.

As to the dangers to which it is said they exposed themselves, they
had none to fear, except in Judea, which they quickly quitted,
finding the Jews too stubborn, and went to the Greeks. From the
Greeks, and likewise from the Romans, they had not much to fear,
who were not very difficult or scrupulous in admitting new gods,
and new modes of worship. Besides this, the Romans for a great
while seem to have considered the Christians merely as a Jewish
sect who differed from the rest of the Jews in matters not worth
notice; as is to be gathered from Tacitus and Suetonius. And if the
Apostles did speak against the Pagan gods, it was no more than
what the Roman poets and philosophers did; and the magistrates
were not then very severe about it. And it is evident from the Acts
of the Apostles, that the Roman praetors considered the
accusations against Paul and his companions, as mere trifles. But
in Judea, where the danger was evident, it was otherwise. When
Paul was in peril there, on account of his transgressions against the
law, after being delivered from the Jews by the Roman garrison at
Jerusalem, he pleaded before Festus and Agrippa, that he was
falsely accused by the Jews; and he asserted that he had taught
nothing against the Law of Moses, and his country, but that he only
preached about the resurrection of the dead; and that it was for this
that the Jews persecuted him; and ended by appealing to Caesar.
When yet he knew that this was not the reason of the hatred of the
Jew against him; but that it was because he taught that
circumcision, and the Law of Moses were abolished, and no longer
binding: which is evident to any one who will read the Acts, and
the Epistle to the Galatians. So you see by what manoeuvre he got
out of the difficulty: first, by at least equivocating, and then by
refusing to be tried by his own countrymen, and appealing to
Caesar; thus securing himself a safe conduct out of Judea, which
was too dangerous for him. Among the Gentiles, their doctrine had
a better chance of success, for they taught them marvellous
doctrines, such as they had been accustomed to listen to, viz. how
the Son of God was born of a virgin, and was cruelly put to death;
and that his Divine Father raised him from the dead. The idea of
God’s having a son of a woman did not shock them, for all their
demigods they believed had been so begotten; and a great part of
their poems are filled with the exploits and the sufferings of these
heroes, who are at length rewarded by being raised from earth to
heaven, as Jesus is said to have been. These doctrines were not
disrelished by the common people, but were rejected by the wise
and learned. Accordingly we see that Paul could make nothing of
the philosophers of Athens, who derided him, and considered him
as telling them a story similar to those of their own mythology,
when he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And in
revenge, we see Paul railing against both the stubborn Jews, and
the incorrigible philosophers, as being unworthy of knowing “the
hidden wisdom,” which was to the one “a stumbling block,” and
to the other, “foolishness,” and which he thought fit only for “the
babes,” and “the devout women,” with whom he principally dealt.

That the New Testament inculcates an excellent morality, cannot
be denied; for its best moral precepts were taken from the Old
Testament. And if the Apostles had not preached good morals, how
could they have expected to be considered by the Gentiles
as messengers from God? For if they had inculcated any
immoralities, such as rebellion, murder, adultery, robbery, revenge,
their mission would not only have been disbelieved, but they
would have undergone capital punishment by the sentence of the
judge, which it was their business to avoid. Mahomet, throughout
the Koran, inculcates all the virtues, and pointedly reprobates vice
of all kinds. His morality is merely the precepts of the Old and
New Testaments, modified a little, and expressed in Arabic. They
are good precepts, and always to be listened to with respect,
wherever, and by whomsoever, inculcated. But surely that will not
prove Islamism to be from God, nor that Mahomet was his

That the Apostles suffered death on account of their preaching the
gospel, if allowed to be fact, as said before, proves nothing. Many
have suffered death for false and absurd doctrines. “But whether
any of the Apostles, (besides James who was slain by Herod,) died
a natural, or a violent death, the learned Christians do not certainly
know. For there is extant no authentic history of the Apostles,
besides the Acts. There are indeed many fabulous narrations
published by the Papists, called Martyrologies, stuffed with the
most extravagant lies, which no learned man now regards; and who
therefore will credit what such books say of the Apostles? Peter is
said in them to have been put to death at Rome by Nero,
nevertheless most of the learned men of the Protestants assert, that
Peter never was in Rome, and as for Paul, no one certainly knows
where, when, or how ho finished his days. So that if we were even
to allow the feeble argument of Martyrdom, all the influence and
weight given to it, it would not apply to the Apostles, who, we are
sure, derived some benefit, by preaching the gospel, and are not
sure that they came to any harm by it.

I will conclude this long chapter, by laying before my reader some
extracts from the book written by Celsus, a heathen philosopher,
against Christianity, preserved by Origen in his work against
Celsus. That the entire work of Celsus is lost, is to be regretted; as
he appears to have been a man of observation, though too sarcastic
to please a fair inquirer; and from the picture given by him of the
first Christians, their maxims, and their modes of teaching, and the
subjects they chose for converts, it appears, that they were the
exact prototypes of the Methodists and Shakers of the present day,
both sects which contain excellent people, with hardly any fault
but credulity.

“If they (i. e. the teachers of Christianity,) say ‘do not examine,’
and the like: it is however incumbent on them to teach what those
things are which they assert, and whence they are derived.”

“Wisdom in life is a bad thing, but folly is good.”

“Why should Jesus, when an infant, be carried into Egypt, lest he
should be murdered? God should not fear being put to death.”

“You say that God was sent to sinners: but why not to those who
are free from sin? What harm is it not to have sinned?

“You encourage sinners, because you are not able to persuade any
really good men: therefore you open the doors to the most wicked
and abandoned.”

“Some of them say ‘do not examine, but believe, and thy faith
shall gave thee.’”

“These are our institutions, say they, let not any man of learning
come here, nor any wise man, nor any man of prudence: for these
things are reckoned evil by us. But whoever is unlearned, ignorant,
and silly, let him come without fear! Thus they own that they can
gain only the foolish, the vulgar, the stupid slaves, women, and

“At first, when they were but few, they agreed. But when they
became a multitude, they were rent, again and again, and each will
have their own factions: for factious spirits they had from the

“All wise men are excluded from the doctrine of their faith; they
call to it only fools, and men of a servile spirit.”

“The preachers of their divine word only attempt to persuade silly,
mean, senseless persons, slaves, women, and children. What harm
is there in being well-informed; and both in being, and appearing a
man of knowledge? What obstacle can this be to the knowledge of
God? Must it not be an advantage?”

“We see these Itinerants shewing readily their tricks to the vulgar,
but not approaching the assemblies of wise men, nor daring there
to show themselves. But wherever they see boys, a crowd of
slaves, and ignorant men, there they thrust in themselves, and show
off their doctrine.”

“You may see weavers, tailors, and fullers, illiterate and rustic
men, not daring to utter a word before persons of age, experience,
and respectability; but when they get hold of boys privately, and
silly women, they recount wonderful things; that they must not
mind their fathers, or their tutors, but obey them; as their fathers,
or guardians are quite ignorant, and in the dark; but themselves
alone have the true wisdom. And if the children obey them, they
pronounce them happy, and direct them to leave their fathers, and
tutors, and go with the women, and their play-fellows, into the
chambers of the females, or into a tailor’s, or fuller’s shop, that
they may learn perfection.”

Celsus compares a Christian teacher to a quack--“who promises
to heal the sick, on condition that they keep from intelligent
practitioners, lest his ignorance be detected.”

“If one sort of them introduces one doctrine, another another, and
all join in saying, ‘Believe if you would be saved, or depart:’ what
are they to do, who desire really to be saved? Are they to
determine by the throw of a die, where they are to turn themselves,
or which of these demanders of implicit faith they are to believe.”

Omitting what Celsus says reproachfully of the moral characters of
the Apostles, and the first teachers of Christianity, for which we
certainly shall not take his word; it is easy to perceive from the
above quotations, that they had more success among simple, and
credulous people, than among the intelligent, and well-informed.
Their introductory lesson to their pupils, was, “Believe, but do not
examine;” and their succeeding instructions seem to have been a
continued repetition, and practice of the dogma of implicit faith*.



In Matthew, ch. v. Jesus says, “ye have heard that it was said, that
shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy.'” But this is no
where said in the Law, or the Prophets; but, on the contrary, we
read directly the reverse. For it is written, Ex. xxiii. “If thou find
the ox of thine enemy or his ass going astray, thou shalt certainly
bring him back to him.” “If thou meet the ass of him that hateth
thee, lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him,
thou shalt surely help him.” Again, Levit. xix. “Thou shalt not
hate thy brother in thine heart; rebuke thy neighbour, nor suffer sin
upon him. Thou shalt not revenge, nor keep anger, (or bear any
grudge,) against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself; I am the Lord.” So also in Prov. xxxiv. “
When thine enemy falleth, do not triumph, and when he stumbleth,
let not thine heart exult.” So also in ch. xxv. “If thy enemy hunger,
give him food; if he thirst, give him to drink.” These precepts are
to the purpose, and are practicable; but this command of Jesus, “
Love your enemies,” if by loving he means, “do them good,” it is
commanded in the above passages in the Hebrew Law. But if by “
love,” he means to look upon them with the same affection that we
feel for those who love us, and with whom we are connected by the
tenderest ties of mature, and friendship, the command is
impracticable; and the fulfillment of it contrary to nature, and
those very instincts given us by our Creator. And therefore,
whoever thinks he fulfills, really fulfills this command, does in fact
play the hypocrite unknown to himself; for though we can, and
ought to do good to our enemy, yet to love him is as unnatural as to
hate our friends.

In Mark ch. ii. 25, Jesus says to the Pharisees, “Have ye not read
what David did when he hungered, and those that were with him.
How that he entered into the house of the Lord, in the time of
Abiathar the High Priest, and did eat of the shew-bread, &c.” See
the same also in Matthew, ch. xii. 3. Luke vi. 3. Now here is a
great blunder; for this thing happened in the time of Achimelech,
not in the time of Abiathar; for so it is written, 1 Sam. xxi. “And
David came to Nob, to Achimelech the Priest, &c.” And in the 22d
chapter it is said that Abiathar was his son.

In Luke ch. i. 26, The angel Gabriel is said to have come from God
to Mary, when she was yet a virgin, espoused to Joseph, who was
of the house of David, and announced to her that she should
conceive, and bear a son, and should call his name Jesus; that her
holy offspring should be called the Son of God, and that God
should give unto him “the throne of David his father, and that he
should rule the house of Jacob for ever, and that to his kingdom
there should be no end.” Now this story is encumbered with many
difficulties, which I shall not consider; but confine myself to
asking wherefore, if these things were true, did not the Mother of
Jesus? and his brethren, knowing these extraordinary things, obey
his teachings. For it is certain, that they did not at first believe him,
but, as appears from the 7th chap. of John, derided him. Besides,
neither did his mother nor his brethren, when they came to the
house where he was preaching to simple and credulous men, come
for the purpose of being edified, but “to lay hold of him,” to carry
him home, for said they he is mad, or “beside himself [Mark iii.
24] which certainly they would not have dared to do, if this story
of Luke’s were true. For their mother would have taught them of
his miraculous conception, and extraordinary character. Moreover,
how was it that God did not give him the throne of David, as was
promised by the Angel to his Mother? For he did not sit upon the
throne of David, nor exercise any authority in Israel. Moreover,
how comes it that David is called the Father of Jesus, since Jesus
was not the son of Joseph, who, according to the Evangelists drew
his origin from that king. Finally, the saying “that to his kingdom
there should be no end,” is directly contradicted by Paul in the 1st
Epis. to the Cor. ch. xv: for he says therein, that “Jesus shall
render up his kingdom unto the Father, and be himself subject unto
him.” Here you see, that the kingdom of Jesus is to have an end;
for when he renders up his kingdom to the Father, he certainly
must divest himself of his authority. How then can it be said, that “
to his kingdom there shall be no end?

Jesus says, John v. 39, “And the Father himself which hath sent
me, hath borne witness of me; ye have neither heard his voice at
any time,” &c. But how does this agree with Moses, who says,
Deut. iv. 33, “Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out
of the midst of fire, as thou hast heard?”--“And we heard his
voice out of the midst of the fire; we have seen this day, that God
doth talk with man, and he liveth.” Deut. v. 24.

Luke, ch. 4, 17, “And they gave to Jesus the Book of Isaiah the
Prophet, and he opened the Book, and found this place, where it
was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, therefore hath he
anointed me to preach the Gospel; to the poor hath he sent me, that
I should bind up the broken in heart, proclaim liberty to the
captives, and sight to the blind; that I should preach the acceptable
year of the Lord.’ And shutting the Book, he gave it to the
minister, and afterwards addressed them, saying ‘This day is this
Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Here you see the words which
gave offence; and by turning to Is. in loco. ch. lxi. you may see the
reason why the inhabitants of Nazareth arose up in wrath against
him. For these words alledged in Luke, are somewhat perverted
from the original in Isaiah; for these words, “and sight to the
blind,” are not in Isaiah, but are inserted in Luke for purposes very
obvious. And 2. he neglects the words following, “and the day of
vengeance of our God, and of consolation to all who mourn. To
give consolation to the mourners of Zion; to give them beauty
instead of ashes, and the oil of joy instead of grief; a garment of
praise instead of a broken heart,” &c. to the end of the chapter.
From this it is very clear, that this prophecy has no reference to
Jesus: but Isaiah speaks these things of himself; and the words “
the Lord hath anointed me,” signify, “God hath chosen,
established me to declare”--what follows. This exposition of
anointing is confirmed from these passages;--1 Kings, xix ch.

“Anoint a prophet in thy stead,” where the sense is, “constitute a
prophet in thy place.” Again, “touch not mine anointed ones, and
do my prophets no harm,” i. e. “Touch not my chosen servants”;
and so in several other places. The meaning, therefore, of Isaiah is,
that God had appointed, and constituted him a prophet to announce
these consolations to the Israelites, who were to be in captivity, in
order that they should not dispair of liberation; and that they
should have hope, when they read those comfortable words spoken
by the mouth of Isaiah, at the command of God. For he calls the
subjects of his message “the broken in heart,” “the captives,” “
the mourners of Zion,” &c. all which terms are applicable only to
the Israelites. That this is the true interpretation, will be made
further evident to any impartial person, by reading the context
preceding, and following.

Jo. ch. ii. v. 18. “The Jews said to Jesus, what sign showest thou to
us, that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto
them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The
Jews answered, saying, forty and six years was this temple in
building, and wilt thou build it in three days?” The Jews could
never have spoken these words, here related; for the temple then
standing was built by Herod, who reigned but thirty-seven years,
and built it in eight years. This, therefore, must be a blunder of the

Jo. xiii. v. 21. Jesus says to his Disciples, “a new commandment I
give unto you, that ye love one another.” This is not true, for the
love of man towards his neighbour, was not a new precept, but at
least as ancient as Moses, who gives it, Levit. xix. as the command
of God, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Acts vii. v. 4. “When he (Abraham) went out of the land of the
Chaldees, he dwelt in Charran; from thence after his father was
dead, he led him into this land in which ye dwell.” This directly
contradicts the chapter in Genesis where the story of Abraham's
leaving Haran is related; for it is certain from thence, that Abraham
left his father Terah in Haran alive, when he departed thence. And
he did not die till many years afterwards. This chronological
contradiction has given much trouble to Christian Commentators,
as may be seen in Whitby, Hammond, &c. &c.

V. 14, Stephen says, “Jacob therefore descended into Egypt, and
our Fathers, and there died. And they were carried to Sichem, and
buried in the sepulchre which Abraham bought from the Sons of
Hemor the Father of Sichem.” Here is another blunder; for this
piece of land was not purchased by Abraham, but by Jacob. Gen.
xlix. 29; so also see the end of Joshua. But it is evident, that
Stephen has confounded the story of the purchase of the field of
Machpelah, recorded in Gen. xxiii. with the circumstances related
concerning the purchase by Jacob.

In v. 43 of the same chapter, there is another disagreement between
Stephen's quotation from Amos, and the original. [In the Acts the
quotation is,--“Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and
the Star of your God. Remphan, figures which ye made to worship
them, and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.” In Amos, ch. v.
26--“But ye have borne the tabernacle of Moloch and Chinn your
images, the Star of your God which ye made,” &c.]

So also there is in the speech of James, Acts xv. a quotation from
Amos, in which to make it fit the subject, (which after all it does
not fit,) is the substitution of the words, “the remnant of men,” for
the words, “remnant of Edom,” as it is in the original.

All these mistakes, besides others to be met with in almost--I was
going to say in every page, of these Histories of Jesus and his
Apostles, sufficiently show how superficial was the acquaintance
of these men with the Old Testament, and how grossly, either
through design or ignorance, they have perverted it. Indeed from
these mistakes alone, I should be led strongly to suspect, that the
Books of the New Testament were written by Gentiles, as I can
hardly conceive that any Jew could have quoted his Bible in such a
blundering manner.



A very great part of Dogmatic Theology among Christians is
founded upon the notion that the Jewish Law was a temporary
dispensation, only to exist till the coming of Jesus, when it was to
be superseded by a more perfect dispensation.

On the contrary, the Jews are persuaded that their Law is of
perpetual obligation, and the Doctrine of the Trinity itself is hardly
more offensive to them, and, as they think, more contradictory to
the Scriptures, than the notion of the abrogation of it. Now, that the
Jews are on the right side of this question, i. e., arguing from the
Old Testament, I shall endeavour to prove by several arguments.
They are all comprised in these positions, 1. That the Mosaic
Institutions are most solemnly, and repeatedly declared to be
perpetual; and we have no account of their being abrogated, or to
be abrogated in the Old Testament. 2. They are declared to be
perpetual by Jesus himself, and were adhered to by the twelve

1. Nothing can be more expressly asserted in the Old Testament
than the perpetual obligation of those rites which were to
distinguish the Jews from other nations. It appears, for instance,
(from the 17th ch. of Genesis,) in the tenor of the covenant made
with Abraham, that circumcision was to distinguish his posterity,
to the end of time. It is called “an everlasting covenant” to be kept
by his posterity through all their generations. See the ch. where the
condition of the covenant is, that God would give to Abraham and
his posterity, the perpetual inheritance of the promised land with
whatever privileges were implied in his being their God, on
condition that their male children were circumcised in testimony of
putting themselves under that covenant. There is no limitation with
respect to time; nay it is expressly said that the covenant should be

The ordinance of the Passover is also said to be perpetual, Ex. xii.
14, &c. “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and you
shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations.
You shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.” This is repeated
afterwards, and the observance of this rite is confined to Israelites,
Proselytes, and slaves who should be circumcised, v. 48.

The observance of the Sabbath was never to be discontinued, Ex.
xxxi. 16. “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath
throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign
between me and the children of Israel for ever.”

The appointment of the Family of Aaron to be Priests, was to
continue as long as the Israelites should be a nation. See Lev. vii.

The Feast of Tabernacles was to be forever. Lev. xxiii. 41. “It
shall be a statute for ever, in your generations.” The observance of
this Festival is particularly mentioned in the prophecies, which
foretell a future settlement of the Jews in their own land, as
obligatory on all the world; as if an union of worship at Jerusalem
was to be, according to them, effected among all nations by the
united observance of this Festival there, see Zech. 14; what he
there says is confirmed by what Isaiah prophecied concerning the
same period. Is. 2. “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the
mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the
mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations
shall flow unto it. And many people shall go, and say, Come ye,
and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the
God of Jacob, and He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk
in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the word
of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations,
and rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into
ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation. shall not
lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any

With respect to all the Laws of Moses, it is evident from the
manner in which they were promulgated, that they were intended
to be of perpetual obligation upon the Hebrew nation, and that by
the observance of them they were to be distinguished from the
other nations, see Deut. xxvi. 16.

The observance of their peculiar Laws was the express condition
on which the Israelites were to continue in possession of the
promised land; and though on account of their disobedience they
were to be driven out of it, they had the strongest assurances given
them that they should never be utterly destroyed, like many other
nations who should oppress them; but that on their repentance God
would gather them from the remote parts of the world, and bring
them to their own country again. And both Moses, and the later
Prophets assure them, that in consequence of their becoming
obedient to God in all things, which it is asserted they will, (and
which may be the natural consequence of the discipline they will
have gone through,) they shall be continued in the peaceable
enjoyment of the land of promise, in its greatest extent to the end
of time. See to this purpose Deut. iv. 25, &c.; also. Deut. 30,
where it is thus written.

“And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon
thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and
shalt call them to mind among all the nations whither the Lord thy
God hath driven thee; and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and
shall obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day,
thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul; that,
then, the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have
compassion upon thee, and will return, and gather thee from all the
nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of
thine be driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven, from thence
will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch
thee. And the Lord thy God will bring thee unto the Land which
thy Fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it, and He will do
thee good, and multiply thee above thy Fathers. And the Lord thy
God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the
Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou
mayest live; and the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon
thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
And thou shalt return, and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all
his commandments which I command thee this day." &c.

“What an extent of prophecy, and how firm a faith in the whole of
it do we see here! (says Dr. Priestly.) The Israelites were not then
in the land of Canaan. It was occupied by nations far more
numerous, and powerful than they; and yet it is distinctly foretold
in the 4th ch. that they would soon take possession of it, and
multiply in it: and that afterwards they would offend God by their
idolatry, and wickedness, and would in con-sequence of it be
driven out of their country; and without being exterminated or
lost, be scattered among the nations of the world; that by this
dispersion, and their calamities, they would at length be reformed,
and restored to the divine favour, and that then (as in the quotation)
in the latter days they would be gathered from all nations, and
restored to their own country, when they would observe all the
laws which were then prescribed to them. Past history, and present
appearances, correspond with such wonderful exactness to what
has been fulfilled of this prophecy, that we can have no doubt with
respect to the complete accomplishment of what remains to be
fulfilled of it.”

What was first announced by Moses, is repeated by Isaiah and
other prophets, assuring them of their certain return wherever
dispersed, to their own land in the latter days; and that they should
have the undisturbed possession of it to the end of time.

It has been objected, that the term "for ever" is not always to be
understood in its greatest extant, but is to be interpreted according
to circumstances. This for the sake of saving time I will
acknowledge. But the circumstances in which this phrase is used in
the passages already adduced, and in a number of others of similar
import which might be adduced, clearly indicate, that it is to be
understood in those passages to mean a period as long as the
duration of the Israelitish nation, which elsewhere is said to
continue to the end of the world.

For this reason, among others, this final return of the Jews from
their present dispersed state, cannot at any rate be said to have
been accomplished at their return from the Babylonish captivity.

For that captivity was not by any means such a total dispersion of
the people among all nations, as Moses, and the later prophets
have foretold. Nor does their possession of the country subsequent
to it, at all correspond to that state of peace, and prosperity, which
was promised to succeed this final return.

Figures of speech must, no doubt, be allowed for. But if the whole
of the Jewish polity was to terminate at the destruction of
Jerusalem by Titus, (as is maintained by Christians,) while the
world is still to continue, the magnificent promises made to
Abraham, and his posterity, and to the nation, in general,
afterwards, have never had any proper accomplishment of all.
Because with respect to external prosperity, which is contained in
the promises, many nations have hitherto been more distinguished
by God, than the Jews. Hitherto the posterity of Ishmael has had a
much happier lot than that of Isaac. To say, as Christians do, that
these prophecies have had a spiritual accomplishment in the spread
of the Gospel, when there is nothing in the phraseology in which
the promises are expressed, that could possibly suggest any such
ideas, nay, when the promise itself in the most definite language
expresses the contrary, is so arbitrary a construction as nothing
can warrant. By this mode of interpretation, any event may be said
to be the fulfillment of any prophecy whatever.

Besides, it is perfectly evident, that these prophecies, whether they
will be fulfilled, or not, cannot yet have been fulfilled. For all the
calamity that was ever to befall the Jewish nation is expressly said
to bear no sensible proportion to their subsequent prosperity:
whereas, their prosperity has hitherto borne a small proportion to
their calamity; so that had Abraham really foreseen the fate of his
posterity, he would on this idea, have had little reason to rejoice in
the prospect.

It may be said, that the prosperity of the descendants of Abraham,
was to depend on a condition, viz., their obedience, and that this
condition was not fulfilled. But, besides that the Divine Being must
have foreseen this circumstance, and therefore must have known
that he was only tantalizing Abraham with a promise which would
never be accomplished; this disobedience, and the consequences of
it are expressly mentioned by Moses, and the other Prophets, only
as a temporary thing, and what was to be succeeded by an effectual
repentance, and perpetual obedience, and prosperity.

Among others, let the following prophecy of Isaiah (in which the
future security of Israel is compared to the security of the world
from a second deluge) be considered, and let any impartial person
say, whether the language does not necessarily lead those who
believe the Old Testament, to the expectation of a much more
durable state of Glory, and Happiness, than has, as yet, fallen to the
lot of the posterity of Abraham.

Is. 54, 7. “For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great
mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee
for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on
thee, saith the Lord, thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of
Noah unto me. For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should
no more go over the earth, go have I sworn, that I would not be
wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall [or
“may”] depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not
depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be
removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.--All thy
children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of
thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established. Thou shalt
be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for
it shall not come nigh thee. No weapon formed against thee, shall
prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment,
thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the
Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”

Here, as also in Moses, and other Prophets, an establishment in
righteousness is promised to the Israelites, such as shall secure
their future prosperity; and this promise has not yet been fulfilled.
The promise of future virtue as connected with their future
happiness, is also clearly expressed in Jer. ch. iii. 18.

Had the Jewish nation become extinct, or likely to become so, it
might, with some plausibility, have been said by Christians, that
the purposes of God concerning them were actually fulfilled, and,
therefore, that the words of the promise must have had some other
signification than that which was most obvious. But the Jews are as
much a distinct people as they ever were, and therefore seem
reserved for some future strange destination.

On the whole, it must be allowed, that the settlement of Israel in
the land of Canaan, foretold with such emphasis by the Prophets, is
a settlement which has not yet taken place, but may take place in
that period so frequently, and so emphatically, distinguished by the
title of “the latter days;” and therefore that whatever is said of
Jewish customs, or modes of worship in “the latter days?” is a
proof of the meant restoration of their ancient religious rites.

That the institutions of the Mosaic Law are to be continued on the
restoration of the Jews to their own land after their utter dispersion,
is asserted by Moses himself in one of the passages already quoted;
but is more clearly expressed by the subsequent Prophets. In some
of their prophecies, particular mention is made of the observance
of Jewish festivals, and of sacrifices; and in Ezechiel we find a
description of a magnificent Temple, which being closely
connected with his prophecy of the future happy state of the
Israelites in their own land, cannot be understood of any other than
a Temple which is then, according to the Hebrew Prophets, to be
reared with greater magnificence than ever. Mention is also made
of “the Glory of the Lord,” or that effulgent Shechinah which was
the symbol of the divine presence, filling this Temple, as it did that
of Solomon.

Ezech. xliii. 1, &c. “Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the
gate that looketh toward the East; and behold the glory of the Lord
came from the way of the East, and his voice was like the noise of
many waters, and the Earth shined with his Glory.--And the Glory
of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate, whose
prospect is toward the East. So the Spirit took me up, and brought
me into the inner court, and behold the Glory of the Lord filled the
house.--And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my
Throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in
the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name shall
the house of Israel no more defile,” &c.

Towards the end of the same chapter we read an account of the
dedication of this new Temple by sacrifices; and particular
directions are given in the succeeding chapters for the Priests, and
for the Prince. If, therefore, there be any truth in these prophecies,
the Jews are not only to return to their own country, and to be
distinguished among the nations, but are to rebuild the Temple, and
to restore the ancient worship.

Having proved that the Old Testament declares the perpetuity of
the Mosaic Law, I proceed, 2dly, to prove that it is declared to be
perpetual by Jesus himself.

But before I adduce my proofs, I beg leave to premise, that when
any Law is solemnly enacted, we expect that the abrogation of it
should be equally solemn, and express, in order that no room for
dispute may remain upon the subject. Accordingly, it is the
custom, I believe, in all countries, not to make any new Law,
contradictory to another before subsisting, without a previous
express abrogation of the old one. And certainly it appears to me a
strange notion to suppose, that the elaborate and noble Law given
from mount Sinai amidst circumstances unexampled, awful, and
tremendously magnificent, and believed to have been declared by
the voice of God to be a perpetual and everlasting Code, should
vanish, perish, and be annihilated by the mere dictum of twelve

But the fact is otherwise, for Jesus was so far from teaching the
abrogation of that law, that he expressly says--” Think not that I
am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets, I am not come to
destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and
earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law,
till all be fulfilled.” This is a most explicit declaration that not the
smallest punctilio in the law of Moses was intended to be set aside
by the Gospel. Nay more, he expressly commanded his disciples to
the same purpose--“The Scribes and Pharisees (says he,) sit in
Moses’ seat; all therefore whatsoever they command you, that
observe, and do.”

It is said in answer to this by Christian Divines, that his discourse
relates to things of a moral nature, and that he only meant, that no
part of the Moral Law was to be abolished. But besides that the
expression is general, there could be no occasion to make so
solemn a declaration against what he could not have been
suspected of intending, viz. of abolishing the moral law. He seems
in his discourse to have had in view the additions that had been
made to the law. These he sets aside, but no part of the original law

It has also been urged that by fulfilling, may be meant such an
accomplishment of it as would imply the superseding of it when
the purposes for which it was instituted should be answered. To
silence this explication it will be sufficient to produce a few out of
many passages of the New Testament where the term fulfil occurs
in connexion with the term law. Thus Paul says, Gal. v. 14, “All
the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself,” and again. Rom. xiii. 8, “He that loveth
another, hath fulfilled the law.” But certainly, notwithstanding this
fulfilment of the moral law, it remains in as full force as ever.

The Apostles understood Jesus to mean as we have asserted. For it
is evident from the Acts, that the Christians at Jerusalem were
zealous in attachment to the law of Moses; this is evident from
their surprise at Peter's conduct with regard to Cornelius; and in
the dispute about imposing circumcision upon the Gentiles;
observe there was no dispute about its being obligatory upon Jews.

Paul was indeed vehemently accused of teaching a contrary
doctrine, as we find in the history of the transactions respecting
him in his last journey to Jerusalem. Acts xxi. 21,” They (i. e. the
Christians) are informed of thee (says James to Paul) that thou
teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles, to forsake
Moses, saying that they ought not to circumscise their children,
neither to walk after the custom.” Here James gives Paul to
understand that he considered the report as a calumny, and
accordingly, to convince the Jewish Christians that it was a false
report, he advises Paul to be at charges with some Jewish
Christians, who were under a vow of Nazaritism, (which is an
instance in point to prove that the first Christians kept the law,) and
thus publicly manifest that he himself “walked orderly, and kept
the law.” Paul complies with this advice, and purified himself in
the temple, and did what was done in like cases by the strictest
Jews. He also circumcised Timothy, who was a convert to
Christianity, because he was the son of a Jewish Mother. And he
solemnly declared in open court. Acts xxv. 8, “Against the law of
the Jews, neither against the Temple, have I offended any thing at
all,” and again, to the Jews at Rome, Acts xxviii., 7, he assures
them that “he had done nothing against the people, or the customs
of the fathers.”

But some men will say,” did not Paul expressly teach the
abrogation of the law, in his Epistles, especially in that to the
Galatians?” I answer, he undoubtedly did; and in so doing he
contradicted the Old Testament, his master Jesus, the twelve
Apostles, and himself too. But how can this be? I answer, it is
none of my concern to reconcile the conduct of Paul; or to defend
his equivocations. It is pretty clear, that he did not dare to preach
this doctrine at Jerusalem. He confined this “hidden wisdom,” to
the Gentiles. To the Jews he became as a Jew; and to the
uncircumcised as one uncircumcised, he was “all things to all
men!” and for this conduct he gives you his reason, viz. “that he
was determined at any rate to gain some.” If this be double
dealing, dissimulation, and equivocation, I cannot help it; it is none
of my concern, I leave it to the Commentators, and the
reconciliators, the disciples of Surenhusius; let them look to it;
perhaps they can hunt up some “traditionary rules of interpretation
among the Jews,” that will help them to explain the matter.

Lastly, it has been said that there was no occasion for Jesus, or his
Apostles to be very explicit with respect to the abolition of the
laws of Moses, since the Temple was to be soon destroyed, when
the Jewish worship would cease of course.

This argument, flimsy as it is, is nevertheless the instar omnium of
the Christian Divines to prove the abolishment of this Law: (for the
other arguments adduced by them as prophecies of it from the 1
ch. of Isaiah, and some of the Psalms, are nothing, to the purpose;
they being merely declarations of God, that he preferred obedience
in the weightier matters of the Law; Justice, Mercy, and Holiness,
to ceremonial observances; and that repentance was of more avail
with him than offering thousands of rams, and fed beasts,) and this
argument like so many others, when weighed in the balance, will
be “found wanting.”

For, as the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar certainly
did not abolish the Law, so neither did the destruction by Titus, do
it. And as it would be notoriously absurd to maintain the first, so it
is equally so to maintain the last, position. Besides, a very
considerable part of that Law can be, and for these seventeen
hundred years, has been kept without the Temple. As for example,
circumcision, distinction of meats, and many others. And when, if
ever, they shall return to their own land, and rebuild the Temple,
they will then, according to the Old Testament, observe the whole,
and with greater splendour than ever.



As Christians lay great stress upon their argument for the truth of
their Religion, derived from the supposed miraculous conversion
of Paul; and since almost the whole of Systematic Christianity is
built upon the foundation of the Epistles ascribed to him, we shall
pay a little more attention to his character and writings.

Paul was evidently a man of no small capacity, a fiery temper,
great subtilty, and considerably well versed in Jewish Traditionary,
and Cabbalistic Learning, and not unacquainted with the principles
of the Philosophy called the “Oriental.” He is said by Luke to have
been converted to Christianity by a splendid apparition of Jesus,
who struck him to the ground by the glory of his appearance. But
by the Jews and the Nazarene Christians, he is represented as
having been converted to Christianity from a different cause. They
say that being a man of tried abilities and of some note, he
demanded the High Priest’s daughter in marriage, and being
refused, his rash and rageful temper, and a desire of revenge, drove
him to join the “sect of the Nazarenes,” at that time beginning to
become troublesome to the Sanhedrim. However this may be,
whether he became a Christian from conviction, or from ambition;
it is certain from the Acts that he always was considered by the
Jewish Christians, as a suspected character; and it is evident that he
taught a different doctrine from that promulgated by the twelve
apostles. And this was the true cause of the great difficulty he was
evidently under of keeping steady to him, his Gentile converts. For
it is evident from the Epistles to the Galatians, and the Corinthians,
that the Jewish Christians represented Paul to them as not “sound
in the Faith,” but as teaching a different doctrine from that of the
Twelve, and so influential were these representations, that Paul had
the greatest difficulty in keeping them to his System.

That there were two Parties, or Schools in the first Christian
church, viz. the adherents of the Apostles, and the Disciples of
Paul, is evident from the New Testament, and has been fully, and
unanswerably proved by the learned Semler, the greatest scholar
certainly in Christian Antiquities, that ever lived. The knowledge
of this secret, accounts for the different conduct of Paul when
among his Gentile converts, from that which he pursued when with
the apostles at Jerusalem. He had a difficult part to act, and he
managed admirably. He was indeed, as he says, himself, “all
things to all men,” a Jew with the Jews, and as one uncircumcised
among the uncircumcised. To the Jews, he asserted, that he “
taught nothing contrary to the Law, and the Prophets,” and when
brought before the Sanhedrim for teaching otherwise than he said,
he dexterously got himself out of tribulation, by throwing a bone of
contention among the Council, and setting his Judges together by
the ears. “And when Paul perceived that the one part (of the
Council) were Sadducees, and the other, Pharisees, he cried out in
the Council: Brethren, I am a Pharisee, and the son of a Pharisee;
concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead, I am now
judged. And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the
Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the multitude was divided. For
the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit;
but the Pharisees confess both. And there was a great cry, and the
Scribes that were on the part of the Pharisees, arose and strove,
saying, “We find no evil in this man” &c. This, indeed, was a
masterly manoeuvre, and produced the desired effect; and Paul by
this shows his knowledge of the human heart, in trusting to make
his Judges forget what he was accused of, by making an appeal to
their sectarian passions. For, in truth, he was not accused
concerning his opinion about “the hope, and the resurrection of the
dead,” but for the following cause, as his accusers vociferated (in
the xxi. ch.) when they seized him in the Temple, “Men of Israel,
Help! This is the man, who teacheth all men every where against,
the people, and the Law, and this place.”

These strokes of character enable us to understand the man; and I
shall now go into the consideration of some of the arguments he
has deduced from passages in the Old Testament in support of his
opinions; after premising, that the truth of the story of the manner
of his conversion depends entirely upon his own assertion; and
whether his credibility be absolutely unimpeachable, can be easily
determined by an impartial consideration of the history of his
conduct already mentioned. I will only add upon this subject, that
in telling the story of his conversion, he ought to have had a better
memory; for in telling it once in xxvi. ch. of Acts, he says, in
describing his miraculous vision, that “those that were with me,
saw indeed the light, and were afraid, but heard not the words of
him that spake to me;” and thus he directly contradicts the story of
it recorded in Acts ix., where it is said, “that the men who
journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing
no one.”

In the 9th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, v. 24, he thus
proves; that the Old Testament prophecied of the conversion of the
Gentiles, to the Gospel--“Even us whom he hath called, not of the
Jews only, but also of the Gentiles, as he saith also in Hosea “I
will call them my people, which were not my people; and her
beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in
the place where it was said unto them, you are not my people, there
shall they be called the sons of the living God.”--Is not this to the
purpose? yet, in applying this passage to the Gentiles, Paul has
wilfully, (yes wilfully, for Paul was a learned man, and knew better)
perverted the original from its proper reference, and has passed
upon his simple converts., who did not know so much of the
Jewish Scriptures, as he did, a prophecy relating entirely to the
Jews, as referring to the Gentiles!! By turning to Hosea, Reader,
you will find this to be verily the case; here is the passage, “Then
said God, call his name (Hosea’s son) Loammi, for ye (the
Israelites) are not my people, and I will not be your God, yet the
number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea,
which cannot be measured, nor numbered. And it shall come to
pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, ye are not my
people, there shall it be said unto them, ye are the sons of the living
God.” Hosea chapter i

“Again v. 33. “As it is written, Behold I lay in Zion a stone of
stumbling, and a rock of offence, and every one who believeth in
him shall not be ashamed.” Here Paul has pieced two passages
together, which in the originals are disconnected. For in the 8th
chapter of Isaiah it is written, “Sanctify the Lord of Hosts
himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And
he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling, and for a
rock of offence, to both the houses of Israel; for a gin, and for a
snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” And in the 28th chapter it is
written, “therefore, thus saith the Lord God, behold I lay in Zion
for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a
sure foundation, he that believeth shall not be ashamed,” (or
disappointed) Here “you see, reader, that he jams two distant
passages together no ways related; and alters some words, and
applies them to Jesus, with whom, it appears from the context of
Isaiah, they have no concern.

Ch. x. v. 6. “The scripture saith, ‘say not in thine heart, who shall
ascend into Heaven? (that is, that he may bring down Jesus from
above.) Again, ‘who shall descend into the abyss?’ (that is, that he
may bring up Jesus from the dead.) But what saith it? ‘ The word
is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart.’ (that is the
word of Faith which we speak.) For if thou confess Jesus with thy
mouth, and believe in thine heart that God raised him from the
dead, thou shalt be saved.” Here you will see another instance of
misapplication of Scripture by Paul, in order to dazzle the eyes of
his simple and credulous converts, for let any one took at the place
in the Scripture whence the quotation is taken, arid he will
immediately see the inapplicability of the words, and the
adulteration of those of the original, in order to make them apply.
For the Scripture quoted speaks of, and refers to penitence, and.
not at all about believing on, or bringing down Jesus from Heaven,
or up from the dead; for here are the words, Deut. 30.--“If thou
be converted to the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all
thy mind.”--Immediately is subjoined--“For this Law which I
command you this day is not far from thee; neither is it afar off. It
is not in Heaven, that thou shouldst say, who shall ascend for us
into Heaven, that he may bring it unto us, and declare it to us that
we might do it,” &c. The sense of the whole is, that God wills us to
repent of sin; and that you may know when you have sinned, you
have only to look at his Law, which is not in Heaven, nor afar off,
but is put in your own hands, and is perfectly familiar with your
heart, and lips.

1 Cor, ch. v. 1. Paul accuses one of the Christians of the church of
Corinth of the crime of incest, because he had married his
step-mother, and orders them to excommunicate him. But Paul, in all
his Epistles and teachings to the Gentiles, pronounced them free
from the Law of Moses. Wherefore then for the violation of one of
those Laws interdicting such a marriage, does he so vehemently,
blame them? Such a marriage is not forbidden in the Gospel: it was
forbidden to them no where in the Scriptures but in the Mosaic
Code. Therefore, Paul must have founded his judgment against the
criminal upon the dictum of that law in such cases. Paul puts the
man under a curse; and it is the Mosaic Law which says, Deut. 27,
“Cursed is he who lieth with his father’s wife.” It seems,
therefore, that Jesus did not deliver his followers from “the curse
of the law,” as Paul taught them it did in Gal. iii. 13.

1 Cor. ch. x.:--“And let us not pollute ourselves with fornication,
as some of them were polluted, and fell in one day to the number
of twenty-three thousand.” Here is a blunder, for it is written “
twenty-four thousand.”--Num. 25.

Gal. iii., 13, Paul says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of
the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, cursed is every
one that hangeth on a tree.” What he says of the Christ, or the
Messiah redeeming from the curses written in the law, that by no
means agrees with truth; for no Jew can be freed from the curses of
the law, but by repenting of his sins, and becoming obedient to it.
And in alledging the words “cursed is every one that hangeth on a
tree,” from Deut. xxi., he, as usual, applies them irrelevantly.

Paul says, Gal. iii, 10:--“For as many as are of the works of the
law, are under the curse; for it is written, Deut. xxvii. 26, ‘ Cursed
is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of
the law to do them.’” And he interprets this to mean that all
mankind, Jews and Gentile, are liable to damnation, (except those
who are saved by faith) because no man ever did continue in all
things written in the law. Now, in the first place I would observe,
that Paul has inserted the word “all” in the passage he quotes from
Deuteronomy, (in the original of which it is not) in order to make it
support his system; for the whole of his argument is built upon this
one surreptitiously inserted word. 2. The words according to the
original are simply these:--“Cursed is he that continueth not the
words of this law to do them;” i. e.,--He who disobeys, or neglects
to fulfil the commands of the law, shall be under the curse
denounced upon the disobedient. But who would conclude from
this that repentance would not remove the curse? Does not God
expressly declare in the xxx. ch. of Deut., that if they repent, the
curses written shall be removed from them? And have we not
innumerable instances recorded in the Old Testament, of sinners,
and transgressors of this very law, received to pardon and favour,
upon repentance and amendment? So that this argument founded
upon an unwarrantable undeniable interpolation, and supported by
bad logic, is every way bad, and insulting to God and his (by Paul
acknowledged) word.

Gal ch. iii. 16:--“To Abraham, and his seed were the promises
made, He saith not ‘ and to seeds,’ (as of roomy) but as of one, ‘
and to thy seed,’ which is Christ.” Here is an argument which one
would think too far-fetched, even for Paul; and it is built on a
perversion of a passage from Genesis, which Paul, bold as he was
in these matters, certainly would not have ventured, if he had not
the most assured confidence in the blinking credulity of his
Galatian converts. His argument in this place is drawn from the
use of the word “seed” in the singular number, in the passage of
Genesis, from whence he quotes. And because the word seed is in
the singular number, fag tells the “foolish Galatians,” as he justly
calls them, that this “seed” must mean one individual (and not
many,) “which,” says he, “is Christ.” Now, let us look at the xv.
ch. of Gen., from whence he quotes, and we shall see the force of
this singular argument, derived from the use of the singular
number. “And He (God) brought him (Abraham) forth abroad, and
said. Look now towards heaven, and tell the stars if thou be able to
number them, and He said unto him, so shall thy seed be.--And He
said, know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that
is not theirs, and they shall afflict them, &c., afterwards they shall
come out with great substance.--In that same day the Lord made a
covenant with Abraham, saying, unto thy seed have I given this
land,” &c. Again, ch. xxii., God said to Abraham by his Angel, “I
will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which
is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his (or
its) enemies, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be
blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice! Reader, what do you
think now of Paul’s argument from the use of the singular number?
Which is most to be admired? His offering such an argument to
the Galatians; (for being a learned man, he certainly knew that the
argument was nought,) or their credulity in receiving such
reasoning as Divine? Really, I fear there is some reason for
admitting as true what Celsus maliciously says of the simplicity of
the Primitive Christians, if Paul could with impunity feed his
“spiritual babes” with such pap as this!

I intended to have concluded this subject, by bringing under
examination some of the arguments and quotations in the Epistle
to the Hebrews; but upon looking over that Epistle, and
contemplating my task, I confess I shrink from it. That Epistle is so
replete with daring, ridiculous, and impious applications of the
words of the Old Testament, that I am glad to omit it; and I think
after the specimens which have been already brought forward, that
my reader is quite as much satiated as myself. I will, therefore,
bring forward only one quotation, which is alledged in that Epistle
to prove the abolition of the law of Moses; and as for the rest, I
content myself with referring those who want to know more of it,
to the pieces written by the celebrated Dr. Priestley upon Paul’s
arguments in general, and those in that Epistle in particular,
preserved in his Theological Repository, where he will see
absurdity in reasoning, and, something worse, in quotation,
exposed in a masterly manner. Indeed, some learned Christians are
so sensible of the insuperable difficulties attending every attempt
to reconcile that Epistle to the Doctrine of inspiration, or even to
common sense, that they avoid the trouble, by denying that Paul
could have been the author of such a work, and attribute it to the
same, or a similar, hand, with that which forged the marvellous
Epistle ascribed to Barnabas.

The quotation brought forward in the Epistle to the Hebrews, to
prove the abrogation of the Mosaic Law, and the substitution of a
new one, is taken from Jer. xxxi. 31, &c.--“Behold the days
come saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the
house of Judah. Not according to the covenant which I made with
they fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them
out of the land of Egypt, (which my covenant they brake, although
I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord.) But this shall be the
covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days
saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it
in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people;
and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, saying
know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least of them
unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord, for I will forgive their
iniquity, and will remember their sins no more.” Upon this passage
the author of the Epistle observes “in that he saith ‘a new
covenant,’ he hath made the first old;” and he sagely concludes “
now that which decayeth, and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away!!”
and takes the quotation to be a prophecy of the abolition of the
old law, and the introduction of the Gospel Dispensation.

Now, I would observe on his reasoning, in the first place, that,
allowing for a moment his interpretation of the prophecy to be
correct, (i. e., that it signifies the abolishment of the old, and an
introduction of a new law) the prophecy, at any rate, cannot refer to
Jesus, or the Gospel; for so far from having been fulfilled in the
time of Jesus, or his Apostles, it has not been fulfilled to this day;
for certainly God has not yet made a new covenant with the Jews,
to whom the prophecy refers, nor has he yet “put his law in their
hearts;” nor “caused them to walk in it;” neither has he yet “
forgiven their sins, or forgotten their iniquities,” since they are
even now suffering, the consequences of them.

I will now retract what I granted, and assert that the prophet did not
mean an abolition of the Mosaic, and the introduction of a new,
law; for though the prophet speaks of a new covenant, he says
nothing of a new law; but on the contrary, asserts that this new
covenant would be effectual to make them obey the law. God
promised to put his law within their hearts (not out of
remembrance, as the catechisms say;) and in this alone this
covenant differs from the one entered into at Mount Sinai. For,
then, though the law was given them, it was not “put within their
hearts,” but they were apt, to their own controul, to obey it, or not,
being assured, however, that happiness should be the reward of
obedience, and death and excision the punishment for revolt
and disobedience. And you will moreover observe, that,
notwithstanding what is here called a new covenant, nothing is
here said of the abrogation of any former covenant, or constitution,
or of any new terms, that would be required by God on the part of
the Israelites. The prophet, by expanding his idea, sufficiently
explains his whole meaning, which is evidently this, viz.: That God
would make a new, and solemn promise to the Israelites, that they
should be no more out of favor with him; that their hearts would be
hereafter so right with God, that in consequence of it, they would
continue in the quiet possession of their country to the end of time;
and all this is intimated by Moses, in the quotation from
Deuteronomy, quoted in the last chapter.

Thus is the passage perfectly consistent with those in the Old
Testament, which affirm, (whether right or wrong is not my
concern) the perfection and perpetuity of the Mosaic Law. “
Remember,” are the last words of the last of the prophets,
Malachi,--“Remember the Law of Moses, my servant which I
commanded unto him in Horeb, with the Statutes, and Judgments.”
Also in the Psalms:--“The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting
the soul. The Testimony of the Lord is faithful, bringing wisdom
to the simple. The Precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the
heart, and enlightening the eyes.” “The works of his hands are
Truth, and Judgment. All his Precepts are sure. They stand fast for
ever and ever: being done in Truth and Uprightness.”



I have said in the preceding chapter, that Paul was well versed in
Cabbalistic Learning, and not unacquainted with the principles of
the Philosophy styled “the Oriental;” and to prove and exemplify
this assertion, is the subject and intention of this chapter. None but
the learned know, how much of Systematic Christianity is derived
from the Cabbalism of the Jews; the Religion of the Magi of
Persia; and the Philosophy of the Bramins of Indostan. I shall
attempt to lay open these Theological Arcana, and make them
known to those who ought to know what they have been kept in
ignorance of.

Many of my readers have, no doubt, frequently puzzled themselves
over these words of Paul’s, Eph. v. 30:--“For we are members of
his (Christ’s) body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Because of this,
a man shall leave his father, and mother, and shall cleave to his
wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This mystery is great,
but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” This passage
exemplifies the connexion between Christ and the Church, by that
which subsists between a man and his wife; and this Paul calls “a
great mystery;” and it no doubt must be a very mysterious passage
to all those who are unacquainted with the cabbalistic notion to
which it alludes, and refers. To illustrate the passage, and to prove
that Paul raised his Cabbalism with his religion, I shall set down
here the note of Dr. Whitby, the Christian Commentator, upon the
text of Paul.

“The learned Dr. Allix saith, The first match between Adam and
Eve, was a type of that between Christ and his Church; and in this,
saith he, the Apostle follows the Jewish notions. The Jews say, the
mystery of Adam, is the mystery of the Messiah, who is the
Bridegroom of the Church. These two persons, therefore, confirm
the observation of Munster, that the creation of the woman from
the rib of the man, was made by the Jews to signify the marriage of
the celestial man who is blessed, or of the Messiah, with the
Church; whence the Apostle applies the very words which Adam
said concerning Eve his spouse, to the Church, who is the spouse
of Christ; saying, “for we are members of his body, of his flesh,
and of his bones.” For the explanation of these words, take what
follows:--“The profoundest of the Jewish Divines, whom they
now call Cabbalists, having such a notion as this among them, that
sensible things are but an imitation of things above, conceived
from thence, that there was an original pattern of love and union,
which is between a man and his wife in this world. This being
expressed by the kindness of Tipheret and Malchut, which are the
names they give to the invisible Bridegroom and Bride in the upper
world. And this Tiphiret, or the celestial Adam, is so called in
opposition to the terrestrial Adam; as Malchut also (i. e., the
kingdom) they call by the name of Chinnereth Israel the
Congregation of Israel, who is, they say, united to the celestial
Adam as Eve was to the terrestrial.” So that in sum, they seem to
say the same that Paul doth, when he tells us, that “marriage is a
great mystery, but he speaks concerning Christ and his Church.”
For the marriage of Tipheret and Malchuth, is the marriage of
Christ, “the Lord from Heaven,” (“the first man was of the Earth
earthly, the second man is the Lord from Heaven,” says Paul I Cor.
xv.,) with his spouse the Church, which is the conjunction of Adam
and Eve, and of all other men and women descended from them.
Origen also seems to have had some notion of the relation of this
passage to Adam and Eve, when he speaks thus:--“If any man
deride us for using the example of Adam and Eve in these words,
‘and Adam knew his wife,’ when we treat of the knowledge of
God, let him consider these words--‘This is a great mystery.’”
Tertullian frequently alludes to the same thing, saying--“This is a
great sacrament, carnally in Adam, spiritually in Christ, because of
the spiritual marriage between Christ and the Church.”

Thus far Dr. Whitby, and the intelligent reader, who is acquainted
with the dogmas and philosophy of Indostan, will not fail to see
through this cloud, of words the origin of this analogy of Paul. The
fact is, that in India and in Egypt, the Divine creative power which
produced all things and energizes in everything, was symbolized
by the Phallus; and to this day, in Hindostan, the operation of
Diety upon matter is symbolized by images of the same; and in the
darkest recesses of their Temples, which none but the initiated
were permitted to enter: the Phallus of stone is the solitary idol,
before which the illuminated bowed. This symbol, though
shameful and abominable, is yet looked upon in India with the
profoundest veneration, and is not with them the occasion of
shame or reproach. It is, however, a blasphemous abomination; and
the marriage between Christ and the Church ought not to have
been thus illustrated by Paul, who reproached the heathen
mysteries as “works of darkness,” which mysteries, in fact,
consisted principally in exhibiting these symbols, and similar

But, it may be asked, what is the meaning of the other clause of the
verse--what could Paul mean by the strong language, “We are
members of his body? of his flesh, and of his bones?” Why, my
reader, he meant, that Christians were really part of the body of
Christ and if you desire to know How he imagined this union to be
effected, I request you to see the 10th ch. of the 1st Epistle to the
Corinthians, where at the 16th verse he thus writes to them:--”The
cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation of the blood
of Christ? The loaf (according to the Greek original) which we
break, is it not a participation of the body of Christ? for, Because
the loaf is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake
of that one loaf.” Again, ch. xi. 19, “For he that eateth, and
drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not
distinguishing (or discovering) the Lord’s body;” and in ch. xii.
27, he says to them, “Ye are the body of Christ, and his members
severally.” (See the original of these passages in Griesbach’s
Greek Testament.) Thus you see, reader, that Paul considered
Christians “as members of his (Christ’s) body, of his flesh, and of
his bones,” because they partook of one loaf, which was the body
of Christ. The Papists are in the right, and have been much
slandered by the Protestants, for the doctrine of Transubstantiation,
or at least the Real Presence, is as plainly taught in the New
Testament, as the doctrine of the Atonement. You have seen what
Paul believed upon this subject, and I shall corroborate the sense I
put upon his words, by the words of Jesus, his master, and by
quotations from the earliest Fathers.

Jesus says, John vi.--“I am the living bread which came down
from Heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever,
and the bread which I will give is my flesh, which I will give for
the life of the world.” The Jews, therefore, contended among
themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus, therefore, said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you,
unless ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye
have not life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my
blood, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is verily food, and my blood is verily drink. He that
eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in
him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father,
(here is an oath) so he likewise that eateth me shall live by me.”

This strange doctrine was the faith of the Primitive Christians, as is
well known to the learned Protestants, though they do not like to
say so to their “weaker brethren.”

Ignatius says, “There is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and
one cup in the unity of his blood;” and of certain heretics he says,
“they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus

Justin Martyr, in his Apology, asserts that the consecrated bread
“is, some how or other, the flesh of Christ.”

In the dispute with Latimer about Transubstantiation, it is
acknowledged by the most candid writers, that the Roman
Catholics had much the advantage. It must have been so, where
quotations from the Fathers were allowed as arguments. For what
answer can be made to the following extracts?--” What a miracle
is this! He who sits above with the Father, at the same instant, is
handled by the hands of men.” [Chrysostom.] Again, from the
same, “That which is in the cup, is the same which flowed from
the side of Christ.” Again, “Because we abhor the eating of raw
flesh; therefore, it appeareth bread, though it be flesh.”
[Theophylact.] Or to this?--“Christ was carried in his own hands,
when he said ‘this is my body.’” [Austin,] Or to this?--“We are
taught, that when this nourishing food is consecrated, it becomes
the body and blood of our Saviour.” [Justin Martyr.] Or, lastly, to
this? [from Ambrose]--” It is bread before consecration, but after
that ceremony, it becomes the flesh of Christ.”

Another doctrine which Paul derived from the Oriental Philosophy,
and Which makes a great figure in his writings, is the notion, that
moral corruption originates in the influxes of the body upon the

“It was one of the principal tenets of the Oriental Philosophy, that
all evil resulted from matter, and its first founder appears to have
argued in the following manner:--“There are many evils in the
world, and men seem impelled of a natural instinct to the practice
of those things which reason condemns. But that eternal mind,
from which all spirits derive their existence, must be inaccessible
to all kinds of evil, and also of a most perfect and beneficent
nature; therefore, the origin of these evils with which the world
abounds, must be sought somewhere else, than in the Deity. It
cannot abide in him who is all perfection, and, therefore, it must be
without him. Now, there is nothing without or beyond the Deity but
matter; therefore, matter is the centre and source of all evil, of all

One of the consequences they drew from this hypothesis was, that
since All evil resulted from matter, the depravity of mankind arose
from the pollution derived to the human soul, from its connexion
with the material body which it inhabits; and, therefore, the only
means by which the mind could purify itself from the defilement,
and liberate itself from the bondage imposed upon it by the body,
was to emaciate and humble the body by frequent fasting, and to
invigorate the mind to overcome and subdue it by retirement and

The New Testament, though it does not recognise this principle of
the Oriental Philosophy, “that evil originates from matter,” yet
coincides with it in strenuously asserting that the corruption of the
human mind is derived from its connexion with the human body.

To prove this proposition, I shall show that Paul calls all crimes the
works of the flesh.” “Now, the works of the flesh are manifest,
(says he, Gal. v. 19,) which are these: adultery, fornication,
uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions,
rivalries, wrath, disputes, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders,
drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” He also describes the
conflict between the flesh and the spirit, or mind, in these terms:--
“For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good, for
to will is present with me, but to perform that which is good, I find
not, but the evil which I would not, that I do. For I delight in the
law of God according to the inner man, but I see another law in my
members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me
into captivity to the law of my sin in my members. O wretched
man that I am! who will deliver me from the body of this death?”
(or this body of death.) And he goes on to observe, “That I, the
same man, with my mind serve the law of God, but with my flesh
the law of sin.”--Rom. vii. “For the flesh desireth against (or in
opposition to) the spirit, and the spirit against “the flesh, and these
are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things
that ye would.”

“Those that are Christ’s (says Paul, Gal. v. 24) have crucified the
flesh, with its passions and desires.” And they are commanded
(Rom. vi. 12 and viii. 13) “to mortify,” or, according to the
original, “put to death or “kill their members;” and Paul himself
uses language upon this subject exceeding strong. He represents (1
Cor. ix. 27) his mind and body as engaged in combat, and says, “I
buffet my body, and subject it.” The word here translated “
subject,” in the original, means “to carry into servitude,” and is a
term taken from the language of the olympic games where the
boxers dragged off the arena, their conquered, disabled, and
helpless antagonists like slaves, in which humbled condition the
Apostle represents his body to be with respect to his mind.

From this notion of the sinfulness of “the flesh,” we are enabled to
apprehend Paul’s reasonings about the sufferings of Jesus “in the
flesh.” “Since the children are partakers of flesh and blood, Christ
himself also in like manner partook of them”--Heb. ii. 14. “For
(says Paul) what the law could not do in that it was weak through
the flesh, God hath done, who by having sent his own son in the
likeness of sinful flesh, and on account of sin, hath condemned sin
in the flesh.”--Rom. viii. 3. “But now, through Christ Jesus, ye
who formerly were far off, are brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he is our Peace who hath made both one, and hath broken
down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished by
his flesh the cause of enmity.”--Ephes. ii. 16. “You that were
formerly aliens, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet he
hath now reconciled by his fleshly body, through his death.”--Col.
i. 20.

Though these notions are sufficiently strange, yet they are not so
very remarkable as the one I am about to consider. It is a singular,
and a demonstrable fact, that the fundamental scheme of
Christianity was derived from the religion of the ancient Persians,
The whole of the New Testament scheme is built upon the
hypothesis, that there is a powerful and malignant being, called the
Devil and Satan, the chief of unknown myriads of other evil spirits;
that he is, by the sufferance of God, the Prince of this world, and is
the Author of sin, woe and death; the Tempter, the Tormentor of
men, and the Tyrant of the Earth; that the Son of God, to deliver
mankind from the vassalage of this monster, descended from
heaven, and purchased their ransom of the Tyrant, at the price of
his blood; for observe, my reader, that the idea of the death of
Jesus being an atonement to God for the sins of men, is a modern
notion; for the Primitive Christians, all of them, considered the
death of Jesus as a ransom paid to the Devil, as may be proved
from Origen and other Fathers. That the New Testament represents
this character as the sovereign of this world, may be proved by the
following passages:--“All this power will I give thee, and the
glory of them, (said the Tempter to Jesus, when he showed him all
the kingdoms of the earth,) for it is delivered unto me, and to
whomsoever I will, I give it.” Luke iv., Jesus calls him “the Prince
of this world;” John xii., and elsewhere. In his commission to Paul,
he calls embracing his religion, “turning from darkness unto light,
and from the power of Satan to God.”--. Acts xxvi. 18.
Accordingly we find, that to become a Christian was considered as
being freed from the tyranny of Satan. “God hath given life to
you, (says Paul) who were dead in offences, and sins; in which ye
formerly walked, according to the course (or constitution) of this
world, according to the Prince of the Power of the air.”--
Ephesians ii., 1. And again:--“If our gospel be covered, (or hid)
it is covered among those that are lost, among those unbelievers,
whose minds the God of this world hath blinded, to the end that the
glorious gospel of Christ should not enlighten them.”--2 Cor. iv.
4. John says in his Epistle, that “the whole world lieth in the
power of the wicked one;” and Jesus in the gospels compares him
to “a strong man armed, keeping his goods;” and himself to one
stronger than he, who strippeth him of the arms in which he
trusted, and spoileth his goods. “For this purpose was the Son of
God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil.”--1
John iii. 8. And it is said, “that he came to send forth the captive
into liberty, and to heal those who were oppressed of the Devil.”
Men are also said to have been “taken captive of the Devil, to
fulfil his will.”--2 Timothy ii. 26. And we find that the Christians
attributed all their sufferings to the opposition of this Being. “Put
on (says Paul) the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to
stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we struggle not against
flesh and blood only; but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked
spirits in high places.”--Ephesians vi. 12. Christians are also said
to be delivered by God from the power of darkness, and to be
translated into the kingdom of his dear son. That is, as Christians
were considered as being the subjects of Jesus, and the rest of the
world as being of the kingdom of Satan, when a man became a
Christian he was translated from the kingdom of one, to the
kingdom of the other. Jesus accused the Devil as being the author
of all evil, as a liar, and the father of lies, and a murderer of men,
and of women, too, as appears in the Gospel, from the account of
that one, whose back the Devil had bowed down for eighteen
years--Luke xiii. 10--(on what account it does not appear.) In
short, the New Testament represents to him as being the source of
all evil and mischief, and the promoter of it; and the whole world
as being his subjects, and combined with him against all good.

But how does all this prove that these notions were derived from
the religion of the ancient Persians? I answer by requesting you,
my reader, to peruse, attentively, the following account of the
fundamental principles of the religion of Zoroaster, the prophet of
the Persians.

The doctrine of Zoroaster was, that there was one Supreme Being,
independent, and self-existing from all eternity; that inferior to
him, there were two Angels, one the Angel of Light, who is the
Author and Director of all Good; and the other, the Angel of
Darkness, who is the Author and Director of all Evil; that these
two are in a perpetual struggle with each other; and that where the
Angel of Light prevails, there the most is good; awl where the
Angel of Darkness prevails, there the most is evil. That this
struggle shall continue to the end of the world; that then there shall
be a general resurrection, and a day of judgment, wherein just
retribution shall be rendered to all according to their works; after
which, the Angel of Darkness, and his followers, shall go into a
world of their own, where they shall suffer in darkness, the
punishment of their evil deeds. And the Angel of Light, and his
followers, shall also go into a world of their own, where they shall
receive, in everlasting light, the reward due to their good deeds.

It is impossible but that the reader must see the agreement of the
doctrines of the New Testament with all this; and since it is
undoubted, that these tenets of Zoroaster are far more ancient than
the New Testament, and since, as we have seen, that that book is
much indebted to oriental notions for many of its dogmas, there is
no way of accounting for this coincidence (that I know of), besides
supposing the Devil of the New Testament to be of Persian origin.
It is, however, in my power to make this coincidence still more
striking from the words of Jesus himself, who says, (Matthew xiii.
24), “The kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed
in his field, but while men slept, his enemy (mark the expression)
his enemy came, and sowed tares among the wheat; but when the
blade sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares
also. So the servants of the householder came near, and said unto
him, ‘ Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence,
then, hath it tares?’ And he saith unto them, an enemy hath done
this.” You know the rest of the parable. The explanation of it is as
follows:--“He who soweth the good seed is the Son of Man, and
the field is the world; and the good seed are the sons of the
kingdom, and the tares are the sons of the Evil One, and the enemy
who sowed them is the Devil.” Here you see, as far as it goes, a
precise agreement with the doctrine of Zoroaster; and to complete
the resemblance, you need but to recollect, that at the day of
Judgment, according to the words of Jesus, the wicked go into the
fire prepared for the Devil and his angels; and the righteous go into
life eternal with the Son of God.

But is there not a Satan mentioned in the Old Testament, and is he
not there represented as an evil and malevolent angel? I think not.
This notion probably arises from the habit of interpreting the Old
Testament by the New. The Satan mentioned in the Old Testament,
is represented as God’s minister of punishment, and as much his
faithful servant as any of his angels. The prologue to the book of
Job certainly supposes that this angel of punishment, by office,
appeared in the court of Heaven, nay, he is ranked among “the
Sons of God.” This Satan is merely the supposed chief of those
ministers of God’s will, whose office is to execute his ordered
commands upon the guilty, and who may be sometimes, as in the
case of Job, the minister of probation only, rather than of
punishment; and there is no reason why he should be ashamed of
his office more than the General of an army, or the Judges of the
criminal courts, who, though they are not unfrequently ministers of
punishment are not, therefore, excluded the royal presence; but on
the contrary, their office is considered as honourable;--i. e.,
punishment without malevolence, does not pollute the inflictor.
Consider the story of the destruction of Sodom, Genesis xix.; of
Egypt; Exodus xxii.; of Sennacherib, 1 Kings xxix. 35; also Joshua
v. 13. The term Satan signifies an adversary, and is applied to any
angel sent upon an errand of punishment For example, Numbers
xxii. 23, “The Angel of the Lord stood in the way, for an adversary
(literally, for a Satan) against Balaam, with his sword drawn in his
hand.” “Curse ye Meroz, saith the Angel of the Lord,” whose
office is to punish. So also Psalms xxxv. 5, “Let the Angel (of
punishment) of the Lord chase them, (i. e., drive them before him
in a military manner; pursue them:) let their way be dark and
slippery, and the Angel of the Lord following them.”

2 Samuel xxiv. 16:--“The Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel--the
angel (of punishment) stretched forth his hand and smote the
people.”--1 Chronicles xxi. 16:--“David saw the angel (of
punishment) having a drawn sword in his hand.”

This notion is referred to, in the Apocryphal History of Susannah,
verse 69. “The Angel of the Lord waiteth with his sword that he
may cut thee in two.”

Thus we see, that the term Satan is in the Old Testament applied to
any Angel of the Lord sent upon an errand of punishment. And the
term itself is so far from being reproachful (for David is said, 1
Samuel xxix. 4, to have been “a Satan to the Philistines,”) that I
am not sure, that if I had by me a Hebrew concordance, but I could
point out places, where God himself is represented as saying, that
he would be an adversary or a Satan to bad men and wicked
nations. And though there is in the Old Testament a particular
angel styled, by way of eminence, “The Satan,” it is so far from
being evident that he is an evil being, that I would undertake to
give good reasons to prove that this distinguished angel is the real
prototype, from whence the impostor Mahomet took the idea of his
“Azrael,” the “Angel of Death;” who, in the Koran, is certainly
represented as being as much the faithful servant of God, as any of
the Angelic Hosts.

In fine, the doctrine of the Old Testament upon this matter may be
thus expressed:--“These be spirits created for vengeance, which
in their fury lay on sore strokes; in the time of destruction, they
pour out their force, sad appease the wrath of him that made them.
They shall rejoice in his (God’s) commandment, and they shall be
ready upon earth, when need is: and when their time is come, they
shall not transgress his word.” Ecclesiasticus xxxix. 28.



Paul, in his 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, speaks to them as
possessing several spiritual gifts, conferred on them by his
ministration; such as the gift of prophecy, discerning of spirits, and
speaking in unknown tongues. He gives them directions about the
proper use of their gifts, and speaks to them as absolutely
possessing those gifts, with the utmost confidence. Dr. Paley, in his
Defence of Christianity, lays great stress upon the manner in which
Paul addresses the Corinthians upon these miraculous powers; and
he considers it as an absolute proof of the truth of Christianity--
because, he says, it is not conceivable that Paul could have had the
boldness and presumption to speak to these men concerning the
use and abuse of these gifts, if they really had them not.

I am ready to confess, that this argument of Dr. Paley puzzled me;
for though I was satisfied that Paul had imposed upon their
credulity many irrelevant passages from the Scriptures as proofs of
Christianity, yet I could not imagine that he could presume so
much upon their stupidity, as to give them directions about the
management of their miraculous powers, which being matters of
fact known to themselves, therefore, if false, I conceived must
place Paul in their minds in the light of a banterer, when he told
them of gifts, which their own consciousness, I thought, must
make them sensible they had not. I say I was puzzled with this
argument, until I happened to meet with some extracts from
Brown’s “History of the Shakers,” which convinced me at once,
from the obvious likeness between these Shakers and the primitive
Christians, that Paul might have written to the Corinthians “
concerning their spiritual gifts,” with perfect impunity.

This Brown had been a Shaker himself, and while with them, he
was as great a believer in his own and their gifts, as the Corinthians
could be; and since it must be obvious, that the gifts of these
Shakers are mere self-delusions, there is, then, in our own times an
example of the gifts of the primitive Christians, which enables us
to comprehend their nature and character perfectly well.

“Many of them,” (the Shakers) says Mr. Brown, “professed to have
visions, and to see numbers of spirits, as plain as they saw their
brethren and sisters, and to look into the invisible world, and to
converse with many of the departed spirits, who had lived in the
different ages of the world, and to learn and to see their different
states in the world of spirits. Some they saw, they said, were
happy, and others miserable. Several declared, that they often were
in dark nights surrounded with a light, sometimes in their rooms,
but more often when walking the road, so strong, that they could
see to pick up a pin, which light would continue a considerable
time, and enlighten them on their way. Many had gifts to speak
languages, and many miracles were said to be wrought, and
strange signs and great wonders shown, by the believers.

And these poor creatures believed, and at this day do believe, all
this. They are not, you will observe, artful impostors, for the
Shakers are, certainly, a harmless and a moral people, and yet they
confidently asserted (and continue to assert), that they had these
miraculous powers of “discerning spirits, speaking with tongues,
and doing great signs and wonders” Nevertheless, it must be
evident, that these powers were conferred upon them only by their
enthusiasm and heated imaginations.

I have heard of the Shakers before, and have been informed, that
those in New England are so convinced of their miraculous
capabilities, that they have been known, in order to save their
neighbours the trouble of applying to the tinman, charitably to
offer to join the gaping seams of their worn-out tin coffee-pots, and
other vessels, “without the carnal aid of solder,” merely by a
touch of their wonder-working fingers.

Mr. Brown, in describing their mode of conduct, in their religious
assemblies, unwittingly gives a striking exposition of the 1st
Epistle to the Corinthians. He describes “the brethren and sisters”
praying, singing, dancing, and preaching in known and unknown
tongues, and sticking out their arms, and extatically following their
noses round the church.

He says, respecting such as speak in unknown tongues, “they have
a strong faith in this gift, and think a person greatly favoured who
has the gift of tongues; and at certain times, when the mind is
overloaded with a fiery, strong zeal, it must have vent some way or
other; their faith, or belief, at the time being in this, gift, and a will
strikes the mind according to their faith, and then such break out in
a fiery, energetic manner, and speak they know not what, as I have
done several times. Part of what I spake at one time was--

“Liero devo jerankemango, ad sileambano, durem subramo,
deviranto diacerimango, jasse vah pe cri evanigalio; de vom grom
seb crinom, os vare cremo domo.”

“When a person runs on in this manner for any length of time, I
now thought it probable that he would strike into different
languages, and give some words in each their right pronounciation,
as I have heard some men of learning, who were present, say a few
words, were Hebrew, three or four Greek, and a few Latin.”

In another place he gives an account of his maiden speech in an
unknown tongue; and it is easy to conjecture how he came by his
gift, by attending to what passed before he broke out. Here it is:--
“We danced for near an hour, several turned round like tops, and,
to crown all, I had a gift to speak in some other language; but the
greatest misfortune was, that neither I, nor any other, understood
what I said.”

My reader will not be surprized after this, at hearing them say, that
the spectators of “these signs and wonders,” instead of being
properly affected, considered the performers as “out of their wits.”

Let us, now, compare this account with what Paul says upon
similar subjects, in the 14th chapter of the 1st Epistle to the
Corinthians. He advises them, in exercising their gifts, to a discreet
use of them, as follows:--“He who speaketh in an unknown
tongue, speaketh not to men, but to God, for no man understandeth
him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” Again: “For if
the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to
battle? So, likewise, unless ye utter by the tongue words to be
understood, how shall it be known what is spoken, for ye will
speak to the air?” And as others did not understand the
Corinthians speaking in unknown tongues, so it seems, too, that the
Corinthians themselves were in the same unfortunate predicament
with the Shakers, in not knowing the meaning of what they
themselves said on these occasions. This is clear from this
argument of Paul:--“Wherefore, let him that speaketh in an
unknown tongue, pray that he may interpret.” Why, pray that he
may interpret, if he understood himself? Does a man who speaks
with understanding a foreign language, need to pray that he may be
enabled to interpret what he says in his mother tongue? Surely
every man who understands himself, can naturally do this? After
more to the same purpose, Paul wisely concludes his argument by
declaring, “that he would rather speak in the church five words
with understanding, (i. e., knowing what he said) that he might
instruct others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown
tongue.” And he fortifies his reasoning by this sensible remark, “If,
therefore, the whole church come together into one place, and all
speak in unknown tongues, and those that are unlearned, or
unbelievers, come in, will they not say, that ye are mad?” as the
spectators said of the Shakers.

He advises them, therefore, to conduct their assemblies with less
uproar than formerly, and exhorts them as follows:--“How is it,
then, brethren, when you come together, hath each of you a psalm,
hath he a doctrine, hath he an unknown tongue, hath he a
revelation? Let all things be done to edifying. Now, if any man
speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at most by three,
and that in succession, and let one interpret; but if there be no
interpreter, let such keep silence in the church, and let him speak to
himself and to God. And let two or three prophets speak, and let
the others discern. But if any thing be revealed to another who
sitteth by, let the first keep silence. For ye may all prophecy, one
by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted.”

I presume it will be needless to point out more particularly, the
perfect correspondence between “the spiritual gifts” of the
Corinthians, and those of the Shakers. And I would ask the
venerable Paley, if it were now possible, whether an apostolical
epistle of Ann Lee, William Lee, or Whitaker, (the spiritual
mother and. fathers of the Shakers,) addressed to them, and
seriously giving directions about the use of “their gifts of working
miracles, and speaking with tongues,” would be sufficient to prove
that they really had those gifts? And, moreover, (to make the cases
more analogous) suppose that the Shakers from this time become
the dominant sect throughout the religious world, and kept the
upper hand during a series of a thousand or two thousand years,
taking especial care to collect and burn up every writing of their
enemies and opposers. How should we, (supposing ourselves all
the while invisible spectators of the thing), how should we pity our
posterity, who, at the end of that period, should be gravely told by
the learned and mitred advocates of Shakerism, that the miracles of
the founders, and first followers of their religion were certainly
true, for that they were honest and good men, with no motive to
deceive, and had addressed letters to their first converts, wherein
they make express mention of their possessing these gifts; and give
in the simplest and most unassuming manner, directions for using
them. Suppose, then, that our posterity, having been deprived by
the prudential care of the old fathers of the then established church,
of the means of detecting the fallacy which we possess; suppose
that they should believe all this, and devoutly praise God every day
for confirming the doctrines of his servants Lee and Whitaker, “
with signs following”--how should we pity their delusion, and.
what should we think of the unlucky authors of it.

From all this, I think my reader must be sensible how extremely
fallacious are all proofs of doctrines, pretended to be from God,
derived from Miracles said to have been wrought in proof of their
Divine authority.

Miracles are related to have been performed in support of all
religions without exception; even the followers of Mahomet,
though he did not claim the power of working miracles, have said
that he did. And they will tell you, that in proof of his mission, he,
in the presence of hundreds, divided the moon with his finger, and
put half of it in his pocket!*

Speaking of the gift of healing diseases, which the Primitive
Christians claimed. Dr. Middleton, in his Free Inquiry, observes--
“But be that as it will the pretence of curing diseases, by a
miraculous power, was so suc-cessfully maintained in the heathen
world by fraud, and craft, that when it came to be challenged by
the Christians, it was not capable of exciting any attention to it
among those who themselves pretended to the same power; which,
although the certain effect of imposture, was yet managed with so
much art, that the Christians could neither deny nor detect it; but
insisted always that it was performed by demons, or evil spirits,
deluding mankind to their ruin; and from the supposed reality of
the fact, they inferred the reasonableness of believing what was
more credibly affirmed by the Christians, to be performed by the
power of the true God. “We do not deny says Athenagoras, “that,
in different places, cities, and countries, there are some
extraordinary works performed in the name of idols, from which
some have received benefit, others harm.” And then he goes on to
prove that they were not performed by God, but by demons.
Doctor Middleton then proceeds, (p. 77.) “whatever proof, then,
the primitive Church had among themselves, yet it could have but
little effect towards making proselytes among those who pretended
to the same gift; possessed more largely, and exerted more openly,
than in the private assemblies of the Christians. For in the Temple
of Esculapius, all kinds of diseases were believed to be publicly
cured by the pretended help of that deity: in proof of which, there
were erected in each temple columns, or tables of brass, and
marble, on which a distinct narrative of each particular cure was
inscribed.” He also observes that--“Pausanias writes, ‘ that in the
temple at Epidauras there were many columns anciently of this
kind, and six of them remaining in his time inscribed with the
names of men and women cured by the god, with “an account of
their several cases, and the method of their cure; and that there was
an old pillar besides, which stood apart, dedicated to the memory
of Hippolytus, who had been raised from the dead!’ Strabo, also,
another grave writer, informs us, that these temples were
constantly filled with the sick, imploring the help of the god: and
that they had tables hanging around them, in which all the
miraculous cures were described.” Dr. Middleton then proceeds
thus--“There is a remarkable fragment of one of these tables still
extant, and exhibited by Gruter, in his collection, as it was found in
the ruins of Esculapius’ Temple, in the island of the Tyber, at
Rome, which gives an account of two blind men restored to sight,
by Esculapius, in the open view, and with loud declamations of the
people, acknowledging the manifest power of the god!!” Upon
which he remarks, that “the learned Montfaucon makes this
reflection, ‘ that in this, are seen either the wiles of the Devil, or
the tricks of Pagan priests, suborning men to counterfeit diseases,
and miraculous cures.’” He then proceeds, (p.79)--“Now, though
nothing can support the belief, or credit of miracles more
authentically than public monuments erected in proof, and memory
of them at the time they were performed, yet, in defiance of that
authority, it is certain all these Heathen miracles were pure
forgeries, contrived to delude the multitude; and, in truth, this
particular claim of curing diseases miraculously, affords great
room for such a delusion, and a wide field for the exercise of

I need not observe, that by far the greater part of the miracles
recorded in the New Testament, are casting out devils, and healing
diseases, powers claimed by the heathens as well as these
Christians: and these miracles, (undoubtedly false) are as well, if
not far better authenticated than those of the New Testament: for
books may be forged, but public monuments of brass and marble
are not so capable of being so: and these are always con-sidered
as better evidence for facts than books. What then will the
Christian say to this? for since these miracles, recorded on brass
and marble, inscribed with the narratives of them almost
immediately after the occurrence of them, are unquestionably Lies;
what can he pretend to say of those recorded in books certainly
written many years after the events they record, and, as will be
proved hereafter, more than suspected to be apocryphal?
And what would become of truth? and who would be able to
distinguish truth from falsehood, in matters of religion, if attested
miracles, such as these, are sufficient to establish the divine
authority of doctrines said to be confirmed by them? Miracles are
as numerous, and better authenticated on the part of Jupiter,
Apollo, and Esculapius, than on the part of Christianity. They are
strong on the part of Popery against Protestantism: for the Roman
Catholic Churches in Europe are full of monumental records of
miracles wrought by the Virgin Mary and the Saints, in favour of
their worshippers. Nay, there never were miracles better proved, as
far as human testimony could prove them, than the famous miracle
mentioned by Gibbon in his History of the Roman Empire, where
he relates the story of the Arian Vandals cutting out the tongues of
a great number of orthodox Athanasians, who, strange to tell,
preached as much to the purpose, in favour of the Trinity, without
their tongues, as they did with them! Never was there a miracle
better authenticated by testimony than this. It is mentioned
by all the Christian writers of that age. It is mentioned
by two contemporary Roman historians, one of whom lived in
Constantinople, and who says he looked into the mouths of some
of these confessors, who had in fact their tongues cut out entirely
by the roots; and it is recorded in the archives of the Eastern

Is not this testimony enough; and yet, is it sufficient to prove the
doctrine of the Trinity? Is it adequate to prove, that “the ancient of
days” became a little child; was born of a woman, suckled,
*******, &c., &c.; and that “He who liveth for ever and ever,”
was whipped, was hanged, and died upon the cross, and was buried?
Can this miracle, well attested as it is, prove for truths, such
strange, such shocking things as these?

The miracles of the Abbe Paris, too, are proved to be true, as far as
testimony can prove any thing of the kind. For they happened
within a hundred years, were seen by many, and were sworn to
before the magistrates; by some of the most respectable inhabitants
of the city of Paris. How can men, who pretend to believe the
miracles of the New Testament upon such meagre evidence as they
have in their favour, consistently reject the miracles of the Abbe
Paris? attested by evidence recent, respectable, and so strong, that
to this day, the juggle, and the means by which so many
respectable people were imposed upon, have never yet been
thoroughly developed, and explained.



In the 18th chapter of Deuteronomy God says,--“The Prophet
which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not
commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other
gods, even that Prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart,
how shall we know (or distinguish,) the word which the Lord hath
not spoken?” Here is the criterion. “When a Prophet speaketh in
the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass; that
is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken. That Prophet hath
spoken presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

Again, Deuteronomy 13, “If there arise among you a Prophet, or a
dreamer of dreams, and give you a sign or a wonder (i. e. a
miracle,) and the sign or wonder come to pass, whereof he spake
unto thee saying, let us go after other gods, which thou hast not
known, and let us serve them: thou shalt not hearken unto the
words of that Prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord
your God proveth (or tryeth) you, to know whether ye love the
Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul.”

And now Christian reader, I ask you what you think of miracles, or
“signs and wonders,” as proof of a divine mission, to teach
doctrines novel and innovating, after such clear and unequivocal
language as this, from such high authority? I am sure, that if you
are a sincere lover of truth, you must certainly abandon that ground
as untenable. For, from these direc-tions, the Jews were
commanded these things#. 1. That the Prophet who presumes to
speak a word, as from God, which God hath not commanded him
to speak, must be put to death. 2. That the test, or criterion by
which they are to discern a false prophet from a true one, is this:
not his miracles, but the fulfillment of his words. If what he says
comes to pass, he is a true prophet; if the event foretold does not
take place, he has spoken presump-tuously, and must die the
death. 3. “If any man arise in Israel,” and advise, or teach them to
worship any other besides the Eternal; and in proof of the divinity
of his mission promise a sign, or a wonder, and in fact does bring
to pass the sign or wonder promised, he is nevertheless, not to be
hearkened to; but to be put to death. And these criteria given by
God, or Moses, as the means whereby they might know a true
Prophet from a false one, most exquisitely prove his wisdom and
foresight. For if he had not expressly excluded miracles, or “signs
and wonders,” from being proof of the divinity of doctrines, the
barriers which divided his religion from those of idolaters, must
have been broken down; since, as we have seen, well attested
miracles (meaning always by miracles, “signs and wonders,”
brought to pass by human agency,) are related to have been
performed in proof of the divinity of every religion under Heaven.
But veritable prophecy is, and can he a proof proper only to a true
Revelation, because none can know what is to come but God, and
those sent by him. Accordingly, we find that the Jewish Prophets
were not acknowledged as such, but on account of their foretelling
the truth, or being supposed to do so.

Thus, it is said, 1 Samuel iii. 20, “And all Israel, from Dan even
to Beersheba, knew, that Samuel was established to be a Prophet
of the Lord.” Why? Because he performed miracles? No! he
performed none. But he was known as a Prophet because “the
Lord was with him, and let none of his words fall to the ground,” i.
e. fail of their accomplishment. The same, may be said of all the
Hebrew Prophets, from Nathan to Malachi. For though Elijah and
Elisha performed miracles, yet it was not in proof of their mission,
for that was established before; but these miracles were occasional
acts of beneficence, or protection, but were never considered, or
offered by them as proofs of their being sent from God.

These things being by this time, it is hoped, made plain and
evident, let us now test the character of Jesus as a true Prophet, by
the criteria, by Christians, and by the Jews, believed to be given by
God. If his prophecies were fulfilled, and if he taught the worship
of no other being besides the Eternal, he was, according to the Old
Testament, a true Prophet. But if any of his prophecies were not
fulfilled, or, if he taught the worship of any other Being besides the
Eternal, he was not a true Prophet.

And here it must be recollected, that those prophecies of Jesus
only, can be brought forward in this question, which were
committed to writing, before the event foretold came to pass; and
therefore all Jesus’ prophecies concerning the manner and
circumstances of his death, &c., must be set aside, as all those
events are allowed to have taken place before any of the Gospels
were written; and of course it is not certain that Jesus did actually
foretell them. This is acknowledged by Christians; and accordingly
they confine themselves to bringing forward as conclusive
evidence in their favour, his Prophecy of the Destruction of
Jerusalem, and the events following. Here it is. Luke xxi. 21.
“When ye shall see Jerusalem com-passed with armies, then
know, that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are
in Judea flee to the mountains, and let them which are in the midst
of it, depart out, and let not them which are in the counter, enter
thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which
are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child,
and to them which give suck in those days. For there shall be great
distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall
by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all
nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until
the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be signs in
the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the earth
distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and waves roaring,
man’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those
things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of the
heavens shall be shaken. And then, shall they see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud, with power, and great glory. And when these
things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads;
for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable,
Behold the fig tree and all the trees. When they now shoot forth, ye
see, and know of your own selves, that summer is now nigh at
hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know
ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you,
this generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled. Heaven and
earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

Such is the prophecy, and on it I would remark, first, that what
Jesus here foretells concerning Jerusalem did in fact come to pass.
But that was not a fulfillment of his prophecy, but of Daniel’s, who
did, as is set down in the 7th chapter of this work, expressly
foretell the utter destruction of the city and the temple. And it was
from Daniel that Jesus obtained his know-ledge of the approach of
that event. For he expressly cites Daniel, Matthew xxiv. 15; Mark
xiii. 14; and you will please to observe reader, that he refers to him
in this quotation from Luke, in the words, “these be the days of
vengeance that all things which are written, may be fulfilled. So
that in foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem he did no more than
any Jew of that age, who attentively read their Scriptures, could
have done, and. been no prophet either.

2. It would have been better for his reputation as a Prophet, if he
had stopped short where Daniel stopped. For what he goes on to
foretell has not been fulfilled. For he proceeds to say, that “there
shall be signs in the sun, and the moon, and the stars,” &c. All this
is taken from the 2nd chapter of Joel, who says that such things
shall take place; not, however, at the destruction of Jerusalem, but
in “the latter days,” at the time of the restoration of Israel. So that
here Jesus has been rather unlucky. For, in truth, there were no
signs in the sun, and the moon, and the stars, at that time; neither
was there upon earth any “great distress of nations,” except in
Judea. Nor were “the powers of heaven” shaken. Certainly, they
did not see Jesus “coming in the clouds of heaven, with power,
and great glory;” and most assuredly, that generation did pass
away, and many others since, and “all these things” have not been

I know very well, and have very often smiled over the contrivances
by which learned Christians have endeavoured to save the credit of
this prophecy. They say that--it is a figurative prophecy relating
entirely to the destruction of Jerusalem, which did in fact take
place in that generation; that the expressions about the “distress of
nations,” and “the sea and waves roaring,” the “signs in heaven,”
&c., are merely poetical; and that the shaking of the powers of
heaven was merely the shaking and pulling-down the stones of the
temple, figuratively called heaven; and that the glorious coming of
Jesus “in the clouds of heaven, with power, and great glory,”
meant merely, that he sent Titus, and the Romans to destroy,
Jerusalem, or perhaps might have been an invisible spectator

The reader will easily see, that all this is nonsense. And the
Commentator Grotius, after meddling a great while in this
troublesome business, at length ventures to insinuate, that God
might have suffered Jesus to be in a mistake about the time of his
second coming, and to tell the Apostles what he did, for the sake of
keeping up their spirits!

But to annihilate the figurative hypothesis of these well-meaning
Commentators at once, it will be only necessary to bring forward
the testimony following. 1. The other Evangelists make an express
distinction between the destruction of Jerusalem and the coming of
Jesus; and not only so, but represent him as saying, that after that
event, (i. e., the destruction of Jerusalem, “in those days,” i. e., in
the same era in which that event took place,) “the son of man shall
come,” &c. Witness for me, Mark, chapter xiii. 24:--“But in those
days, after that tribulation, (i. e., the destruction of Jerusalem)
shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven
shall be shaken. And then shall they see the son of man coming in
the clouds, with power and glory; and-then shall he send his
angels, and shall gather his elect from the four winds, from the
uttermost part of the earth, to the uttermost part of heaven Verily, I
say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things
be accomplished.” This is decisive, and cannot be evaded.

2. The Apostles and Primitive Christians believed that Jesus would
come in that generation, as is evident from many passages of the
New Testament. Paul’s Epistles to the Thessalonians prove this,
and contain an argument to them, intended to allay their terrors, or
their impatience. John says in his first Epistle, chapter ii. 18,
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as ye have heard that
Antichrist should come, even now (or already) there are many
Antichrists, whereby know that it is the last hour.” Many passages
of similar import might be brought forward. The meaning of it is
this--It appears from Paul’s 2nd Epistle to the Thessalonians, that
just before the second coming of Jesus, there was a personage to
appear who was to be called Antichrist, i. e., an enemy to the
Messiah. (This notion they got from the interpretation given by the
angel of the vision of the “little horn” in Daniel.) John, therefore,
seeing many Antichrists, i. e., opposers of the pretensions of Jesus,
considered the sign, and thus knew that it was ‘‘the last hour,” and
that his master was soon to appear.

It appears from the 2nd Epistle of Peter, chapter iii., that there
were many in his days who scoffed at his master, saying,
contemptuously, “where is the promise of his coming?” And Peter
replies by telling them that their contempt is misplaced, for that
“one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand
years as one day.” John, in the 1st chapter of Revelations, says,
concerning the coming of Jesus, “Behold he cometh with clouds,
and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him, and
all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” And in the last
chapter of Revelations he represents Jesus, as saying, “Surely I
come quickly”!

In short, the Apostles, when they wanted to encourage their
desponding proselytes, they usually did it with such words as
these,--”Be anxious for nothing, the Lord is at hand.”--”Behold!
the Judge standeth before the day.”--“Be patient, therefore,
brethren, (says James) for the coming of the Lord cometh nigh.”
And this persuasion did not end, as might be expected, with that
century; for we find that the heathens frequently laughed at the
expec-tations of the Primitive Christians, who, till the fourth
century, never gave up the expectation of the impending advent of
their master. Nay, so rooted was the idea in their minds, that,
understanding the words of Jesus concerning John, “if I will that
he tarry till I come, what is that to thee,” to mean that that disciple
should not die, but survive till the glorious appearance of his lord,
so far were they from being convinced of the vanity of their
expectations by that Apostle’s actual decease, that they insisted,
that, though he was buried, he was not dead, but only slept, and
that the earth over his body rose and fell with the action of his

It is now hardly necessary to add, that Jesus did not at all answer
the character of a true prophet, when tested by the criterion laid
down in Deuteronomy for ascertaining the truth of the claims of a
prophet to a divine mission.

Let us now see, whether he taught the worship of other beings
beside the Eternal, for if he did, the other test laid down in
Deuteronomy will also decide against him. Now, did he not
command the worship of himself in these words, “All men should
honour the Son, even as they honour the Father?” This, certainly,
commands to render to Jesus the same homage which is rendered
to God. I might prove that his disciples did worship him, by
referring to many passages in the New Testament, especially in the
Revelations, in the latter part of which, Jesus is represented as
saying, “I am the Alpha, and the Omega, the beginning, and the
end, the first, and, the last,” terms applied to the Eternal in Isaiah,
where God says, (as if in express opposition to such doctrine) that
“there is no God with him: He knows not any; there was none
before him, neither shall there be any after him.” I could also
adduce many passages relating to the Eternal of Hosts, quoted
from the Old Testament, and applied in the New to Jesus. Witness
“the following:--John xii. 41, alludes to Isaiah vi. 5; Revelations
i. 8,.11, 17, and ii. 8, to Isaiah xli. 4, xliii. 11, and xliv. 6; John
xxi. 16, 17, and Revelations ii. 23, to 1st Kings viii. 39; John vii.
9, Jeremiah xi. 20, and xvii. 20, Revelations xx. 12,. to Isaiah xl.
10; and, to crown all, Jesus, in Revelations i. 13, 14,15, 16, 17, is
described in almost the same words as is the Supreme God; “the
Ancient of Days” in Daniel, 7th chapter; and were there not other
proofs in abundance to this purpose, this resemblance alone would
decide me.

I now leave it to the cool judgment of the reader, whether Jesus
prophecied truly, or did, or did not, teach the duty of paying
religious homage to other beings besides God? and, if so, it is
consequent, according to the tests by Christians acknowledged to
be given by God himself in Deuteronomy, that if Jesus was not
sent by, or from, him; for if he was--God’s own words would be
contradicted by God’s own deeds.



In the preceding chapters, I have taken the New Testament as I
found it, and have argued upon the supposition that Jesus and the
apostles really said, and reasoned, as has been stated. I will now
endeavour to show, by an examination of the authenticity of the
four gospels, that it is not certain that they were really guilty of
such mistakes as are related of them in those books.

*The life and doctrines of Jesus, and his followers, are contained in
the pieces composing the volume called the New Testament. The
genuineness of the books, i. e., whether they were written by those
to whom they are ascribed, must be judged of, from the external
testimony concerning them, and from internal marks in the books
themselves; for the miraculous acts therein, and therein only,
contained and related, cannot prove the truth and authenticity of
the books, because the authority and credibility of the books
themselves must be firmly established, before the miracles related
in them can reasonably be admitted as real facts.

Now, the external evidence in favour of these books, is the
testimony of those men called “the fathers;” and as the value of
testimony depends upon the character of the witnesses, it would be
proper, first, to state as much as, can be learned of these men. As
time will not permit me to adduce all that might be said upon this
subject, I shall here only take upon me to assert, that they were
most credulous, superstitious, and weak men, and, what is worse,
made no scruple of falsifying, to support and favour what they
called “the cause of truth;” for they were writers of apocryphal
books, attributing them to the apostles, and, moreover, great
miracle-mongers, who vamped up stories of prodigies to delude
their followers, and which they themselves knew to be false. I say,
I take upon me to assert this; and to confirm and establish this
accusation, I refer the reader to Dr. Middleton’s “Free Enquiry,” a
learned Christian, who, therefore, had no interest to misrepresent
this matter; and he will there find these accusations amply verified,
and traits of character proved upon them. By no means favourable
to the credibility of their testimony.

The first of these Fathers whose testimony is usually adduced to
prove the authenticity of the Gospels, is Papias, a Disciple of John.
The character given of him by Eusebius is, that “he was a
superstitious, and credulous man.” And this is easily proved by
recording some of the stories, concerning Jesus, and his followers,
written by this Papias in a book extant in the time of Eusebius. One
of these stories is mentioned by Irenoeus, who says, that Papias
had it from John; who, according to Papias, said, that Jesus said,
that--” The days shall come, in which there shall be vines, which
shall severally have ten thousand branches; and every one of these
branches shall have ten thousand lesser branches; and every one of
these branches shall have ten thousand twigs; and every one of
these twigs shall have ten thousand clusters of grapes; and every
one of these grapes being pressed shall yield two hundred and
seventy-five gallons of wine. And when a man shall take hold of
any of these sacred bunches, another bunch shall cry out “I am a
better bunch, take me, and bless the Lord by me!” There’s a
Munchausen for you, reader! Well! this Papias is the first witness
who lived after Matthew, who has spoken of his Gospel. He lived
about the year 116 after Jesus. And what does he say of it? Why
this. “Matthew composed a writing of the Oracles (meaning
without doubt the Doctrines of the Gospel,) in the Hebrew
Language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.” So far
as this Testimony goes it is positive evidence, that the only Gospel
of Matthew extant in 116, was extant in Hebrew; and there was
then no translation, of it, for “every one interpreted as he was
able.” The present gospel called of Matthew was then not written
by him, for it is in Greek. And that it has not at all the air of being
a translation is asserted by most of the learned. As it stands then, it
was not written by Matthew: and that it cannot be a translation of
Matthew’s Hebrew, is not only plain from the circumstance of its
style, and other marks understood by Biblical Critics, but can also
be proved by another story related by this same Papias concerning
the manner of the death of Judas. “His body, and head (says
Papias) became so swollen, that at length he could not get through
a street in Jerusalem, where two chariots might pass abreast, and
having fallen to the ground, he--burst asunder.

Now though this ridiculous story is undoubtedly false, yet it is not
credible that Papias, who had so great a reverence for the Apostles
as to collect and gather all “their sayings,” would so flatly by his
story of the death of Judas contradict the story of Matthew, if the
Hebrew Gospel of Matthew contained that part of the Greek
Gospel of Matthew which relates the manner of Judas’ Death.

Justin Martyr lived after Papias, in the middle of the second
century; and though he relates many circumstances agreeing in the
main with those recorded in the Gospels, and appears to quote
sayings of Jesus from some book or books; yet it is substantially
acknowledged by Dr. Marsh, the learned annotator on Michaelis’s
Introduction, that these quotations are so unlike the words, and
circumstances in the received Evangelists to which they appear to
correspond, that one of two things must be true; either, that Justin,
who lived 140 years after Jesus, had never seen any of the present
Gospels; or else, that they were in his time in a very different state
from what they now are.

The next Christian father who mentions the Gospel of Matthew is
Irenoeus, who says also that “Matthew wrote his gospel in the
Hebrew Language.” The character of Irenoeus is discoverable
from his work against the Heresies of his time, to that I refer the
Reader, who will find him to have been a zealous, though a very
credulous, and ignorant man; for he believed the story of Papias
just quoted, and many others equally absurd. He however furnishes
this important intelligence, that in the second century, the Christian
world was overrun with heresy, and a swarm of apocryphal, and
spurious Books were received by many as genuine.

The next witness in favour of the Gospel is Tertullian, who lived in
the latter end of the second century. And the soundness of his
Judgment, and his capability to distinguish the genuine Gospels
from among a hundred apocryphal ones, and above all his regard
for truth, may be judged of from these proofs given by himself. He
asserts upon his own knowledge, “I know it,” says he--“that the
corpse of a dead Christian, at the first breath of the prayer made by
the priest, on occasion of its own funeral, removed its hands from
its sides, into the usual posture of a supplicant; and when the
service was ended, restored them again to their former situation.”
(Tertul. de anima c. 51.) And he relates as a fact, which he, and all
the orthodox of his time credited, that--“the body of another
Christian already interred moved itself to one side of the grave to
make room for another corpse which was going to be laid by it.”
And it is on the testimony of such men as these, that the
authenticity of the gospels entirely depends as to external
evidence; for these are all the witnesses that can be produced as
speaking of them, who lived within two hundred years after Jesus:
Three men, (for Justin cannot be reckoned as a witness in favour of
the gospels.) Three men, who are all of them evidently credulous,
and two of whom are certainly *****.

To convince a thinking man that histories recording such very
extraordinary, ill supported, improbable facts as are contained in
the gospels are divine, or even really written by the men to whom
they are ascribed, and are not either some of the many spurious
productions with which (as we learn from Irenoeus) that early age
abounded, calculated to astonish the credulous, and superstitious,
or else writings of authors who were themselves infected with the
grossest superstitious credulity; of what use can it be to adduce the
testimony of the very few writers, of the same, or next succeeding
age, when the very reading of their works shews him that they
themselves were tainted with that same superstitious credulity, of
which are accused the real authors of the New Testament?

It is an obvious rule in the admission of evidence in any cause
whatsoever, that the more important the matter to be determined
by it is, the more unsullied and unexceptionable ought the
characters of the witnesses to be. And when no court of Justice, in
determining a question of fraud to the amount of six pence, will
admit the’ testimony of witnesses who are themselves notoriously
convicted of the same offence of which the defendant is accused;
how can it be expected, that any reasonable, unprejudiced person,
should admit similar evidence to be of weight, in a case of the
greatest importance possible, not to himself only; but to the whole
human race?

But there is still a greater defect in the testimony of those early
writers, than their superstitious credulity, I mean their disregard of
honour, and veracity, in whatever concerned the cause of their
particular system.

Though Luke asserts, that many (even before he wrote his histories
for the use of Theophilus,) had written upon the same subject:
(who of course must have been of the Jewish nation,) and many
more must have been written afterwards, whose writings must have
been particularly valuable yet so singularly industrious have the
fathers, and succeeding sons of the orthodox church been, in
destroying every writing upon the subject of Christianity, which
they could not by some means, or other, apply to the support of
their own unholy superstition, that no work of importance of any
Christian writer, within the three first centuries, hath been
permitted to come down to us, except those books which they have
thought fit to adopt, and transmit to us as the canon of apostolic
scripture; and the works of a few other writers, who were all of
them, not only converts from Paganism, but men who had been
educated and well instructed in the Philosophic Schools of the
latter Platonists, and Pythagoreans.

The established maxim of these schools was, that it was not lawful
only, but commendable to deceive, and assert falsehoods for the
sake of promoting what they considered as the cause of truth and
piety, and the effects of this maxim, which was fully acted upon by
both orthodox Christians, and heretics, produced a multiplicity of
false, and spurious writings wherewith the second century

Nay, they did not spare from the operation of this maxim, the
scriptures themselves. For they stuffed their copies of the
Septuagint with a number of interpolated pretended prophecies
concerning Jesus, and his death upon the cross; forgeries as weak,
and contemptible, and clumsy in themselves, as they were impious
and wicked. Whoever desires to see a number of them; may find
them in the dispute, or dialogue of Justin with Trypho the Jew;
where he will see the simple Justin bringing them out passage after
passage against the stubborn Israelite, who contents himself with
coolly answering, that these marvellous prophecies were not to be
found in his Hebrew bible!

There is also another well known, incontrovertible proof of the
deceit and falsehood of the leading Christians of early times, of
which every person in the least conversant with the ecclesiastical
history of those times must be convinced--their pretended power
of working miracles! On this subject I shall say nothing, but refer
the reader to the work of Dr. Middleton already mentioned, for an
ample account of their lying wonders, which they imposed as
miraculous upon the simple people.

With regard to the internal evidence for the authenticity of the
writings; composing the New Testament, it is still less satisfactory
than the external evidence. And this may be well believed, when
the reader is informed that the great Semler, after spending his life
in the study of ecclesiastical history; and antiquities, which he is
allowed to have understood better than any before him, affirmed to
his astonished coreligionists, that, except the Gospel of John, and
the Apocalypse, the whole New Testament was a collection of
forgeries written by the partizans of the Jewish and Gentile parties
in the Christian church, and entitled apostolic, in order the better to
answer their purpose. This opinion has been in part adopted in
England, by a learned and shrewd clergyman named Evanson, who
has almost demonstrated, that the Greek Gospel of Matthew was
written in the second century after the birth of Jesus by a Gentile.
For he proves that it could not be written by a Jew, on account of
geographical mistakes, and manifest ignorance of Jewish customs.
He also gives good reasons for rejecting the authenticity of some
of the epistles. In short, he has poured such a flood of light upon
the eyes of his terrified brethren, as will, ere long, no doubt enable
them to see a little clearer than heretofore.

He gives several instances of geographical blunders in Matthew. I
shall mention only one. Matthew says, in the 2nd chapter, that
when Joseph, the husband of Mary, returned from Egypt, “hearing
that Archelaus reigned in Judea, he was afraid to go thither, and
therefore turned aside, into the parts of Galilee.” Now this, as will
appear from a map of Palestine, is just like saying, “a man at
Philadelphia, intending to go to the State of New York, on his route
heard something which made him afraid to go thither, and
therefore he turned aside--into Boston!”

That the author of that Gospel was ignorant of Jewish customs will
be evident from the following circumstances. He says Jesus told
Peter, that before the cock crew he would deny him thrice; and that
afterwards, when Peter was cursing and swearing, saying “I know
not the man! immediately the cock crew.” Now it is unfortunate
for the credit of this story, that it is well known, that in conformity
with Jewish customs, at that time subsisting, no cocks were
allowed to be in Jerusalem, where Jesus was apprehended. This is
known, and acknowledged by learned Christians, who have
extricated themselves from this difficulty, by proving that the
crowing of the cock, here mentioned, does not mean, as it appears
to mean, absolutely the crowing of a cock, but that it means--what
dost thou think reader? why it means---the sound of a trumpet!!*

According to Luke, as soon as Jesus was dead, Joseph of
Arimathea went to Pilate, and begged his body, and hasted to bury
it, because the Sabbath (which began at sunset,) drew on; that his
female disciples attended the burial; observed how the body was
placed in the sepulchre, and returned and prepared spices and
ointments to embalm it with, before the Sabbath commenced; and
then rested the Sabbath day, according to the commandment.

The pretended Matthew, however, tells us, that “when the even
was come (i. e., when the Sabbath day was actually begun,) Joseph
went to beg the body--took it down, wrapped it in linen, and
buried it; and that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, were
sitting over against the sepulchre. From the time that this writer has
thought fit to allot for the burial of Jesus, it is evident, that he was
not only no Jew, but so ignorant of the customs of the Jews, that
he did not know that their day always began with the evening, or
he would never have employed, Joseph in doing what no Jew
would, nor dared to have done, after the commencement of the
Sabbath. He takes no notice at all of the preparation made by the
women, mentioned by Luke; for that would not have agreed with
the sequel of his story. But to make up for that omission, he
informs us of a circumstance not mentioned at all by the other
Evangelists. For he tells us that “on the next day which followeth
the day of preparation, the Chief Priests, and Pharisees came
together unto Pilate,” &c. “The next day which followeth the day
of preparation!!”--such is the periphrasis that he uses for the
Sabbath day! It is well known that among the Jews it was, and is,
customary to prepare, and set out, in the afternoon of the Friday,
all the food and necessaries for every family during the Sabbath
day. Because they were forbidden to light a fire, or do any servile
work, on that day; and therefore Friday was very properly called
“the day of preparation.” But it appears to me next to impossible,
that any Jew would call the sabbath “the day that followeth the day
of the preparation.” Yet this singular historian so denominates it,
and moreover, goes on to inform us, that the chief priests, and
Pharisees went to Pilate to ask for a guard to place round the
sepulchre, till the third day, to prevent his disciples from stealing
away his body, and then saying, that he was risen from the dead;
and that after obtaining the governor’s permission, “they, went,
and secured the sepulchre by sealing the stone that was rolled
against it; and setting a watch.” Though there appears nothing very
strange in this account to a Christian, yet, I assure my reader, that
to the Jews, it ever did, and must appear utterly incredible. For it is
wonderful! that the Jewish rulers, and the rigorous Pharisees
should in so public a manner thus violate the precept for observing
the Sabbath day; for the penalty of this action of theirs was no less
than death! More wonderful still is it that they should have so
much better attended to, and comprehended the meaning of the
prediction of Jesus to his disciples, than his own disciples did; and
most wonderful of all, that a Roman Proconsul should consent to
let his troops keep watch round a tomb, for fear it should be
thought that a dead man was come to life again.

But though our author’s history of these extraordinary facts is
neither consistent with reason, and probability, nor with the other
histories of the same event; it proceeds in pretty strict conformity
to the manner in which it sets out. For to convince us still more
fully that the author was totally ignorant of the mode of computing
time in use among the Jews, and habituated to that in use among
the Greeks and Romans? He reckons the Sabbath to last till day
light on Sunday morn, and says, (chapter xxviii.), “that in the end
of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn, towards the first day of the
week,” the two Marys before mentioned, came, (not as in Luke, to
embalm the body, for, with a guard round the sepulchre, that would
have been impracticable, but) to see the sepulchre. “Whilst they
were there, the author tells us, there was another great earthquake,
and an angel descended, rolled away the stone, and sat upon it, at
whose sight, the soldiers trembled, and were frighted to death. But
to prevent the like effect of his appearance upon the women, he
said unto them, fear not ye, for I know that ye seek Jesus who was
crucified. That the women as well as the soldiers were present at
the descent of this angel, appears not only from there being nobody
else, by whom these uncommon circumstances could have been
related, but also by the pronoun personal ye, inserted in the original
Greek, which in that language is never done, unless it be
emphatically to mark such a distinction, or antithesis, as there was
on this occasion, between them and the Roman guard. Here,
however, the author is inadvertently inconsistent with himself, as
well as with the other evangelists; and forgetting that the sole
intent of rolling away the stone, was to open a passage, absolutely
necessary to the body of Jesus to come forth out of the sepulchre;
and that if he had risen and come forth after the angel had rolled it
away, both the women and the soldiers must have seen him rise, he
makes the angel bid them look into the sepulchre, to see--that he
was not there! and tell them that he was already risen; and that he
was gone before them into Galilee, where they should see him! In
their way, the author adds, Jesus himself met the women, and said,
“be not afraid, go tell my brethren to go into Galilee, and there
shall they see me.” He says that the eleven apostles went
into Galilee, to an appointed mountain, and saw him there;
notwithstanding that some of them were so incredulous, as not
to believe even the testimony of their own senses.

In the interim, whilst the women were going to the apostles, the
author tells us, “some of the watch;” some strictly disciplined
Roman soldiers left their station to bring an account of what had
passed, not to the Governor their General, nor to any of their own
officers--but to the chief priests of the Jews! that they assembled a
council of the elders upon the occasion, and after deliberating what
was to be done, induced the soldiers, by large bribes, to run the risk
of being put to death themselves, upon the highly improbable
chance of the Jewish rulers having influence sufficient with the
Roman Proconsul to prevail on him to submit to the indelible
infamy of neglecting the discipline of the army under his
command, to such a degree, as to suffer an entire guard of soldiers
avowedly to sleep upon their station, without any notice being
taken of it! and to say “his disciples came and stole him away
whilst we slept.” This incredible story is another instance how
necessary it is, that those who do not adhere closely to the truth,
should have extraordinary good memories to enable them to keep
clear of absurdities, or palpable contradictions in their narrations.
For, consider the circumstances. How were the tongues of these
soldiers to be restrained among the inquisitive inhabitants of a
large city, (at that time too, greatly crowded on account of the
paschal feast,) not only in their way to the chief priests; but also
during the whole time while the priests assembled the Sanhedrim,
and were deliberating what was to be done? And if that part of the
watch, who, the author says, came to inform the chief priests, were
poltroons enough for the sake of a bribe to undergo so shameful a
disgrace to themselves, as well as to hazard the resentment of their
General, how could they undertake that all their comrades who
remained at the sepulchre would do the same? and to what
purpose could the Jewish council bribe some, without a possibility
of some one knowing how the rest of the corps would act? And
even supposing all these difficulties surmounted, and that the
whole guard had agreed, and persisted in saying, “his disciples
stole him away while we slept,” of what service could that be to
the Jewish rulers? For if the guards were asleep, they could be no
evidence to prove that the body was taken away; and it might be
just as probable that he might rise to life again while the watch was
asleep, as it was if no watch had been set.

In a word, it appears from the numbers of Latin words in Greek
characters, which this book contains; from the numerous
geographical blunders; and the author’s evident ignorance of the
customs of the Jews: from the form of Baptism enjoined at the
conclusion, which was not in use in the first century, as appears
from the form mentioned as then used in the Acts; from the Roman
Centurion’s being made to call Jesus “a Son of a God,” which
words in the mouth of a Pagan could only mean that he must be a
Demigod, like Bacchus, Hercules, or Esculapius: it is clear that this
Gospel is the patched work composition of some convert from the
Pagan schools. At any rate, his gospel flatly contradicts the others
in several important particulars in the history of the Resurrection.
For he represents the apostles as being commanded by the Angel
and by Jesus, to go to Galilee, in order to see him; and that they
went there, and saw him on a mountain. Yet it is said by the other
Evangelists, see Luke, ch. 24, and Acts 1, that he appeared on the
saw day of the resurrection to Peter at Jerusalem; to two other
disciples as they went to Emmaus; and on the succeeding night to
this whole congregation of the Disciples, not in Galilee, but in
Jerusalem, and that by his express command the apostles did not
go into Galilee, but remained at Jerusalem till the feast of

But as this author differs from the other Evangelists, so they also
differ among themselves. And the latter part of the last chapter of
Mark is so irreconcilable to the other historians of the resurrection,
that in many Manuscripts it is found omitted. And that gospel ends
in them, at the eighth Terse of the last chapter. And Mr. West, in
his attempted reconciliation of their accounts of the resurrection, is
obliged to make a number of postulates, to take a number of things
for granted, which might be denied: and after elaborately arranging
the stage for the performance, he sets the women, and the disciples
a driving backwards, and forwards, from the city to the sepulchre,
and from the sepulchre to the city, and so agitated that they
forgot to know each other when they cross in their journeys.
Notwithstanding his great ingenuity in reconciling contradictions,
in which he beats Surenhusius himself, he makes but a sorry piece
of work of it after all. He had much letter have let it alone; for his
work upon the resurrection which he calls “the main fact of
Christianity,” displays these contradictions in so glaring a light,
that the very laboured ingenuity of his methods of reconciliation,
inevitably, suggests “confirmation strong” to the keen-eyed
reader, of that irreconcilability which the author endeavors to
refute. What rational man therefore can reasonably be required to
believe the story of a resurrection pretended to have been seen and
known, only by the party interested in making it believed! when in
their testimony even, they do not agree but contradict each other?

There is really an immense number of discrepancies and
contradiction in the New Testament which the acumen of learned
Christians has of late discovered, and pointed out to the world.
And Mr. Evanson, in his work on “the Dissonance of the four
Evangelists,” has collected a mass enough, I should think, to terrify
the most determined Reconciliator that ever lived. It is a little
remarkable, that Mr. Evanson has asserted, and has proved, the
spuriosness of the Gospel ascribed to John, which Semler spared,
in the general wreck which he made of the authenticity of the
other books of the New Testament. Mr. Evanson says, in his
examination of it, what has been said before, that the speeches
ascribed to Jesus in it, are most incoherent, contradictory, and
falsified by well known facts. And indeed the author of the book
itself, sterns to be sensible of this; for he very naturally represents
the Jews repeatedly accusing Jesus of being mad. “He hath a
devil, and is mad, (say they to the multitude) why hear ye him?”
and so in other places. Mr. Evanson considers this work as the
composition of a converted Platonist or of a” Platonizing Jew; the
latter we think to be the most correct opinion; since it is evident
that the author of that gospel had the works of Philo at his fingers’
ends, which is more than can be supposed of John. As Semler
excepted the Gospel of John only, so Mr. Evanson excepts the
Gospel of Luke only from the charge of spuriousness: though he
says that it is grossly corrupted, and interpolated. From these
corruptions and interpolations, he endeavours to purify it; in which
attempt wo think he has had very indifferent success. In short, his
work has proved, (what he did not himself contemplate) that the
providence of the God of truth has taken care, that so many
absurdities and contradictions, should be contained in these books
of the New Testament which were written to establish a mistake, as
must I conceive, satisfy any man, who has them once pointed out
to him, that the doctrine of those books is not, and cannot be from

But it may be still asked, “how did this notion of the resurrection
of Jesus become current?” “How can you account for the apostles
believing such a thing?” We answer sincerely--we cannot
absolutely ascertain. The Jews of that age have left no documents
upon this business. The origin of the Christian religion is so
extremely obscure, that Josephus takes no notice of it at all, (for
the passage relating to Christian affairs now found in Josephus are
notorious interpolations.) And it is evident from the Chronological,
and other mistakes about Jesus, in the Talmud, that the curiosity of
the learned Jews had never been interested by Christianity, till so
long after Jesus, that the memory of him, and his, was almost
entirely lost among that nation. And it appears from the last
chapter of the Acts, that when Paul was received by the Jews at
Rome, he had not been considered by the Jews of Jerusalem as of
sufficient importance, as to cause them to warn their brethren of
the Dispersion concerning him; for these Jews tell Paul, on his
enquiring, that they had not received any letters concerning him
from Jerusalem. So that we can offer nothing but conjecture, to
solve the difficulty.

It has been said by some, (and it is by no means an hypothesis
destitute of plausibility) that Jesus was indeed crucified, but did
not actually die on the cross. It is evident that Pilate was extremely
desirous to save his life; and is it impossible that the Roman
soldiers, who crucified him, had secret orders? Consider the
ciscumstances. He was crucified at our nine in the morning, and
was taken from the cross at about three in the afternoon. Now,
crucifixion is not a death which kills men in six hours, and men
have been known to have lived fastened to the cross for more than
two days. Consider, besides, that when the soldiers gave the coup
de grace to the two robbers, that they did not break the legs of
Jews. This, the author of the Gospel according to John says, they
did, in order to fulfill a prophecy; but I leave it to my reader,
whether it is not more likely that they did so in order to fulfill
secret orders? But to make up for that omission, the author adds,
that they pierced Jesus with a spear. Now, besides that this is not
mentioned by the other Evangelists, the very manner in which this
circumstance is mentioned, and eagerly affirmed by him, looks as
if the author was aware of the likelihood of a suspicion of the fact
we are trying to prove probable, and that he wrote this in order to
obviate it. And after all, the gospel according to John was certainly
not written by him, and, therefore, what the author of it observes,
may be true, or not. You will observe also, reader, that the body of
Jesus was given by Pilate to his friends immediately; a favour
never vouchsafed by the Romans in such a case, except “speciali
gratia.” You will observe also, that the body was taken down by
his friends, no doubt with great care; probably was washed from
the blood, and rubbed perfectly dry; and was deposited in the cave
or sepulchre, with a large quantity of spices, and aromatics. Now
suppose that Jesus only swooned on the cross, and that his naked
body, after being cleansed as aforesaid, was laid in the new
sepulchre where the air was cool and fresh, wrapped in a
considerable quantity of dry linen, together with many spices, and
aromatics, what could be more opportune, or proper, to stimulate
his drowsed senses, and recall the unfortunate sufferer to life?
Suppose then, that on awaking from his trance, he disengaged
himself, and took himself away as secretly as possible, might not
all this have happened? Is it impossible? And does it not look
plausible? It is not improbable that he might after this have
shewed himself privately to his particular disciples; for you will
recollect, reader, that the appearances of Jesus to his disciples after
his crucifixion were to them, only, and for the most part in the
night. And it is by no means impossible, that the twelve apostles,
who were, I doubt not, well meaning men, though extremely
simple and credulous; I say it is thus by no means impossible, that
they might have believed sincerely, that their master had risen
from the dead. This hypothesis must not be considered only as the
brain work of an unbelieving sceptic; for it has been (in its main
principle) advanced, and elaborately defended by Dr. Paulus the
professor of divinity in the principal University in Bavaria.

It is true, that it may be said, that this is all hypothesis, and mere
conjecture. We allow it; it is true; and we assert that the account
given by the Evangelists is no better, nay, worse than conjecture,
as it is a mere forgery of the second century! For no man, we think,
who knows all that has been made known by biblical critics, in
later years, will now seriously contend for the literal truth of that
account. [See Appendix A.]

If all this will not satisfy the man that “believeth all things,” our
last resource is to demy the act of this resurrection. And this we
can do with perfect sang froid, as we know very well that it cannot
be proved; for the only testimony in favour of it, are the four
evangelists; four witnesses, the like of whose written testimony,
with reference thereto, (being as contradic-tory as that is,) to say
no more, certainly would not, we believe, be received in a modern
court of justice, to settle the fact about a debt of five dollars. And if
it be still urged, that such a story is unparalleled, and therefore
respectable; we say that it is not unparalleled; as we have an
account of a false Messiah, who applied the prophecies to himself,
had a forerunner, and more than two hundred thousand followers,
who publicly acknowledged him for the Messiah, raised
contributions, and supported him magnificently. He too, quoted the
prophets as speaking concerning him, and was said to have worked
divers miracles, and was ultimately put to death by the order of the
Grand Seignor at Constantinople; yet nevertheless was said to have
been, seen again by certain of his followers, who wrote books in
favour of that fact, and of his Messiahship. Many learned Rabbins
enrolled themselves as his disciples, and wrote controversial works
in his cause, as Paul did. And to conclude, his party was not
entirely extinct within a very few years. Yet, notwithstanding all
this, he was an impostor; and no man now believes the stories of
his miracles, or his resurrection; notwithstanding that both are
affirmed by more recent, more learned, and more respectable
testimony than is, or can be, offered, in favour of the Messiahship
of Jesus. The name of this famous impostor was Shabathai Tzevi,
and his history is given by Basnage, in his history of the Jews, [and
by other writers of Jewish history. See on this subject the Sepher
Torath Hakenaoth, page 2. The learned Mr. Zedner has extracted
the life of Shabetai Tsebi from tins book, and published it, with a
German translation, in his Auswahl historischer Stucke aus
Hebraischen Schriftstellern, Berlin, 1840.--D.]

I wish the Christian reader to peruse carefully, and cooly, that
account; and if he then persists in believing the history given by
the evangelists; with such faith as his, he certainly ought to be able
to move mountains; and I have no doubt at all, that with such a
good natured understanding as his, if he had found in his New
Testament the story of Jonah misquoted, and and by a small
transposition a la mode de Surenhusius, representing that “Jonah
swallowed the whale!” this sturdy “confidence in things not seen,”
would, I doubt not have enabled him without difficulty to swallow
the prophet with the whale in his belly.



I have already expressed my respect for the character of Jesus. And
I again declare, that I request it may be distinctly understood, that
by nothing that I have said do I intend to impeach, or to deprecate
his moral character. Whatever may have been his defects, or
whatever were his foibles, they must have been the faults of his
mind, not of his heart. For, though he may hare been a mistaken
enthusiast; yet I do firmly believe, That, with such a character as
he is represented to have possessed, he could not have been either
a hypocrite, or a wilful impostor. And if it be replied, that I have,
by some observations on his conduct, indirectly impeached the
perfection of his moral character; I answer, that if so, it is certainly
my misfortune, but it may not be his fault. To explain this
observation, I request the reader to recall to mind, that Jesus wrote
nothing himself! that the only accounts we have of him, are
contained in books, probably apocryphal, certainly not generally
known till after the middle of the second-century from his birth.
The gospels now extant do not appear to have been known to
Justin Martyr; and the earliest fathers, in their writings, generally
quote traditions concernng Jesus, instead of histories. Since these
things are so, who knows, but that the authors of the histories of
him now extant, have attributed to him words and actions of which
he was guiltless. We know how prone mankind are to invent
falsehoods concerning eminent men; for instance, Mahomet
expressly disclaimed the power of working miracles, and yet the
writings of his early followers ascribe hundreds to him. Why may
it not be possible then, since Jesus wrote nothing himself, that
these books ascribe to him words and actions he neither spake nor
performed? God grant that this may one day be proved! For I
should rejoice to find the meek, gentle, and amiable man of
Nazareth proved guiltless of the follies and impieties attributed to
him in the New Testament as I find it, and to reason concerning the
works and words of Jesus, as I find them there expressed, yet I
would earnestly request the reader to consider me willing and
desirous to exempt the author, or rather the cause of the Christian
religion, from the reproach of the sentiments I am bound by my
regard for one God, and his attributes, to express for the system
itself. Yes! I can in my own mind separate Jesus from his religion
and his followers. I read with admiration many of his beautiful
parables. I shall ever contemplate his mildness, and benevolence
with respect; and I peruse, with pity, the recital of his sufferings,
and cruel death. All this I have done, and I believe I shall ever do;
but I cannot! I cannot, in effect, deny the one living and true God,
and renounce my reason, and common sense, by believing all the
contradictory and strange doctrines contained in the New

Having unburthened my mind upon this subject, and frankly
expressed my sentiments and feelings with regard to the character
of Jesus; I hope I may now be allowed (without incurring the
charge of maliciously exposing him, or the twelve apostles, to
reproach) to state my opinions with regard to the merit of the
moral maxims, ascribed to him and them, in the New Testament.
And I again caution the reader, that he is not obliged to lay to his,
or their, charge, the mischievous consequences that originated
from acting upon these maxims and principles, since it is by no
means impossible that they may have been falsely ascribed to him
and to them.

Now then, let us attend to the subject of the chapter, viz., the moral
maxims ascribed to Jesus. These moral maxims consist of 1st,
Those which were adopted by him from the Old Testament. 2d,
Those of which he himself is described as the author. With the
consideration of those of the first class I shall not trouble the
reader, but shall devote this chapter to the examination of those
which are supposed to have originated from him. These are, 1st, ‘
Do to others what you would that others should do to you.’ 2d, ‘
Resist not the injurious person; but if a man smite thee on one
cheek, turn to him the other also.’ 3d, If a man ask thy cloak, give
him thy coat also.’ 4th, ‘ If thou wouldest be perfect, sell all that
thou hast, and give to the poor; and come follow me.’ 5th, ‘ Unless
a man hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and
possessions, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.’
6th, ‘ Take no thought for the morrow.’

With regard to the first of these maxims, it does not belong to
Jesus, as the author. It is found in the book of Tobit, chapter iv.
15, and it was a maxim well known to the Rabbins. It is found in
the Talmud verbatim. “What thou wouldest not have done to thee,
do not thou to another.” (Tal. Bab. Schabbat. fol. 31.) So also
Hillel addressed a proselyte thus, “What is hateful to thee, do not
thou to thy neighbour.” Several other expressions of Jesus were, it
appears from the Talmud, proverbial expressions in use among the
Jews. For instance, the original of that saying recorded Matthew
vii. 2. “With whatsoever measure ye mete,” &c., is found in the
Talmud of Babylon (Sanhedrim fol. 100, Sotah, chapter 4, 7, 8,9.)
“With whatsoever measure any one metes it shall be measured to
him. So also the original of that expression of “Cast out the beam
out of thine own eye, and then thou shalt see clearly to cast the
mote out of thy brother’s eye is to be found in the Talmud*.

What is called by Christians “the Lord’s Prayer,” is merely a few
clauses taken from Jewish prayers, and put together. Very many
instances of a similar nature to these might be produced; but, as I
must be brief, the reader is referred for further satisfaction to the
works of Lightfoot, where he will learn, by extracts from Jewish
writings, the source, and meaning of many more of the sayings of

I now proceed to the most disagreeable part of the subject, viz.:
The consideration of the other maxims mentioned, which, it must
be allowed, do belong to Jesus, or at least to the New Testament,
since they are the peculiar moral principles of Christianity, and the
honour of them can be challenged by, I believe, no other religion.

These precepts are so extremely hyperbolical, that they are not,
and cannot be perfectly observed by any Christian, who does not
detach himself completely from the business of society; and these
maxims, (which, as I said before, are the only parts of the morality
of the New Testament, which are not borrowed,) never have been
obeyed by any but the primitive Christians; and by the Monks, and
Anchorets; for even the Quakers and Shakers, eminent as they are
in Christian morality, have never been able to come quite up to the
self denial required by the New Testament.

Indeed, the moral maxims peculiar to Christianity are
impracticable, except by one who confines his wealth to the
possession of a suit of clothes, sad wooden platter, and who lives
in a cave, or a monastery. They bear the stamp of enthusiasm upon
their very front, and we have always seen, and ever shall see, that
they are not fit for man: that they lift him out of the sphere in
which God designed him to move; that they are useless to society,
and frequently produce the most dangerous consequences to it. In a
word, in these maxims we find commands, the fulfillment of
which, is impossible by any man who is a husband, a father, or a

It is an outrage to human nature, and to common sense, to order a
virtuous man, in order to reach perfection, to strip himself of his
property; to offer the other cheek to receive a new outrage; not to
resist the most unjust violence, injury, and insult; not to defend
himself, or his property, when “sued at the law;” to quit his house
and goods, and to hate his parents, and brethren, and wife, and
children, for the sake of Jesus; to refuse and reject innocent
pleasures; to deny himself lawful enjoyments, appointed by the
Creator to make the existence of man a blessing to himself and

Who does not see in these commands the language of enthusiasm
of hyperbole? These maxims! are they not directly fitted to
discourage, and debase a man? to degrade him in his own eyes, and
those of others? to plunge him into despair? And would not the
literal fulfillment of them prove destructive to society? What shall
we say of that morality which orders the heart to detach itself from
objects, which God, and reason, and nature order it to love? To
refuse to enjoy innocent and lawful happiness,--what is it but to
despise the benefits of God? What real good can result for society
from these melancholy virtues, which Christianity regards as
perfections? Will a man become more useful to society when his
mind is perpetually inquieted by imaginary terrors, by mournful
thoughts, which prevent him from fulfilling the duties he owes to
his family, his country and those with whom he is connected?

It may be safely said, that enthusiasm is the base of the morality of
Christianity; I say, the morality of Christianity, meaning thereby,
not the morality of those called Christians, but the morality
expressed, and required in the New Testament. The virtues it
recommends, are the virtues caricatured, and rendered extravagant;
virtues which divide a man from his neighbour, and plunge him in
melancholy, and render him useless, and unhappy In this world we
want human virtues, not those which make a man a misanthrope.
Society desires, and wants virtues that help to maintain it, which
gives it energy and activity. It wants virtues which render families
industrious, and united; and which incite, and enable every one to
obtain lawful pleasures, and to augment the general felicity. But
the peculiar virtues of the New Testament, either debase the mind
by overwhelming fears, or intoxicate it with visionary hopes, both
which, are equally fitted to turn away men from their proper duties.

In truth, what advantages can society derive from those virtues
styled by Christians, Evangelical? which they prefer to the social
virtues, the real and the useful, and without which, they assert, a
man cannot please God, Let us examine these vaunted perfections,
and let us see of what utility they can be to society, and whether
they really merit the preference which is given them by their

The first of these Christian virtues, which serves as a base for all
the others, is faith. It consists in believing the truth of dogmas, of
absurd fables, which Christianity (according to the catechisms)
orders its disciples to believe--dogmas, as absurd and impossible
as a square circle, or a round triangle--from which we see, that
this virtue exacts an entire renunciation of common sense; an
assent to incredible facts, and a blind credulity in absurd dogmas,
which, yet, every Christian is required to believe, under pain of

This virtue, too, though necessary to all men, is, nevertheless, the
gift of heaven! the effect of special grace. It forbids doubt and
examination; it “forbids a man the right to exercise his reason; it
deprives him of the liberty of thinking, and degrades him into a
bearded baby.

This faith vanishes when a man reasons; this virtue cannot sustain
a tranquil scrutiny. And this is the reason why all thorough going
Christians are naturally, and, consequently, the enemies of science.
This miraculous faith, which “believeth all things,” is not given to
persons enlightened by science and reflection, and accustomed to
think. It is not given but to those who are afraid to think, lest they
should offend God.

The next Christian virtue which flows from the first, is hope,
founded upon the promises which the New Testament makes to
those who render themselves miserable in this life. It nourishes
their enthusiasm, it makes them “forget the things that are on earth,
and reach forward unto the things” which are in another world. It
renders them useless here below, and makes them firmly believe
that God will recompense in heaven, the pains they have taken to
make themselves miserable on earth. How can a man, occupied
with such expectations of heavenly happiness, concern himself at
all with, or for, the actual and present happiness of those around
him, while he is indifferent as to his own? And how can he help
this, when he believes that “friendship with the world is enmity
with God?”

The third virtue is charity. We have elsewhere said, that if
universal love or charity means only general benevolence, and a
desire to makes others happy, and to do them good, all this is
commanded by reason and the ancient revelation; but if by this
precept it is commanded to love those who hate, oppress or insult
us, we do not at all scruple to assert, that the thing is impossible,
and unnatural. For, though we can abstain from hurting our
enemy; or even can do him good, we cannot really love him. Love
is a movement of the heart, which is governed and directed by the
laws of our nature, to those whom we think worthy of it, and to
those only.

Charity, considered as general benevolence of disposition, is
virtuous and necessary. It is nothing more than a feeling which
interests us in favour of our fellow beings. But how is this feeling
consistent with the peculiar doctrines of the gospel? According to
its maxims, it is a crime to offer God a heart, whoso affections are
shared by terrestrial objects. And besides, does not experience
show, that devotees obliged by principle to hate themselves, are
little disposed to give better treatment to others?

We should not be surprised that maxims, originating with
enthusiasm, should aim at, and have the effect of, driving man out
of himself. In the delirium of its enthusiasm, this religion forbids a
man to love himself. It commands him to hate all pleasures but
those of religion, and to cherish a long face. It attributes to him as
meritorious, all the voluntary evils he inflicts upon himself. From
thence originate those austerites, those penances, destructive to
health; those cruel privations by which the inhabitants of the
monastic cell kill themselves by inches, in order to merit the joys
of heaven. Now, how can good sense admit that God delights in
seeing his creatures torment themselves?

It may be said to all this, perhaps, that this is mere declamation, for
Christians now a days do not torment themselves, but live as
comfortable as others. To this I answer that Christianity is to be
judged not by what Christians do, but by what it commands them
to do. Now, I presume it will not be denied that the New Testament
commands its professors to renounce the world, to be dead to the
world, to “crucify the flesh with its passions, and desires.”
Certainly these directions were literally complied with by the
primitive Christians; and, in doing so, they acted consistently. In
those times, the deserts, the mountains, the forests were peopled
with perfect Christians; who withdrew from the world, deprived
their families of support, and their country of citizens, in order to
lead unmolested “the divine life.” It was the New Testament
morality that spawned those legions of monks and cenobites, who
thought to secure the favour of heaven, by burying their talents in
the deserts, and devoting themselves to inaction and celibacy.

And at this very day we see these very same things in those
Christian countries, which are truly faithful to the principles of
their religion.

In fine, Christianity seems from the first, to have taken pains to set
itself in point blanc opposition to nature, and reason. If it admits
and includes some virtues ordered and appointed by God, good
sense, and universal experience; it drives them beyond their
bounds into extravagance. It preserves no just medium, which is
the point of perfection. Voluptuousness, adultery and debauchery
are forbidden by the laws of God and reason. But Christianity not
content with commanding, and encouraging marriage, as did the
Old Testament, must forsooth go beyond it, and therefore
encourages celibacy, as the state of perfection God says, in
Genesis, “it is not good that man should be alone. I will make a
companion for him.” And he blessed all his creatures, saying, “
increase and multiply.” But the gospel annuls this law, and
represents a single life to be most pleasing, to the very being,
whose very first command was, “increase and multiply”! It advises
a man to die without posterity, to refuse citizens to the state, and to
himself, a support for his old age.

“It is to no purpose to deny that Christianity recommends all this; I
say, it substantially does! and I boldly appeal,--not to a few
Protestant Divines,--but to the New Testament; to the Homilies
of the Fathers of the Church; to the History, and Practice of the
Primitive Christians; to the innumerable Monasteries of Europe,
and Asia; to the immense multitudes who have lived, and died
hermits; and, finally, (because I know very well, the Protestant
divines attribute these follies to the influence of Platonism,
Pythagoranism, and several other isms upon pure Christianity) I
appeal to living evidence now in the world, to the only
thoroughgoing Christians in it, viz., to the Society of the Shakers,
who I maintain, and can prove, to be true, genuine imitators of the
Primitive Christians, and a perfect exemplification of their
manners, and modes of thinking. I adduce them the more
confidently, because, being simple, and unlearned, their character
has been formed by the spirit of the New Testament, and perfectly
represents the effects of its principles fully carried out, and acted
upon. They never heard of Platonism, or of Pythagoras in their
lives, and, consequently, the polemic tricks, and evasions, which
have been, as hinted just now, resorted to by Protestant divines, to
shift from the shoulders of Christianity to those of Plato or
Pythagoras, the obnoxious principles we have been considering,
are of no use in this case, as, whatever the characters of these
Shakers may be, they were formed by the New Testament, and by
nothing else; and I believe, that every scholar in ecclesiastical
history, who reads Brown’s history of the Shakers, will be
immediately and powerfully struck with the resemblance
subsisting between them, and the Christians of the two first

As examples of the effects of those precepts of Christian morality,
which command us to hate father, and mother, and sister, and
brother, for the Bake of Jesus, take the following extracts from the
history referred to.

“According to their faith, natural affection must be eradicated; and
they say they must love all equally alike, as brothers, and sisters in
the gospel. It would exceed the limits of this work to give a
particular account of the various schemes that have been contrived,
to destroy all natural affection and social attachment between man
and wife, parent and child, brothers and sisters; especially towards
such as have left the society. Two instances that occurred about
this time, as specimens of others, may suffice. A mother, who had
renounced the faith, (i. e. left the society,) come to Niskeuna to
see, her daughter. Eldress Hannah Matterson told the daughter to
go into the room to her carnal mother, and say, ‘ What do you
come here for? I don’t want you to come and see me with your
carnal affections!’ ‘The mother being grieved, replied, ‘I did not
expect that a daughter of mine would ever address me in that

‘The daughter, in obedience to what she was taught, replied again,
‘You have come here with your carnal fleshly desires, and I don't
want to see you,’ and left her mother.”

“Some time after, one Duncan Shapley, who had belonged to the
society, called to see Abigail, his sister, at Niskeuna, whom he had
not seen for six or seven years; but he was not admitted: he waited
some time, being loath to go away without seeing her. At last she
was ordered to go to the window and address him in the language
of abuse and scurrility. The words she made use of, it would be
indecent to mention. For this she was applauded, and that in the
author’s hearing, when he belonged to the society.”

This man gives a very curious account how the elders treated “
their babes,” in their spiritual nursery; but I shall notice only one or
two examples, which illustrate what I have advanced concerning
the natural hostility of the spirit of the New Testament towards
science. “I know of several, who, soon after they joined the
Church, have been counselled by the Elders to dispose of their
books; and have accordingly done it. Elder Ebenezer being at my
house one day, on seeing a number of books, he said--‘Ah!
Thomas must put away his books if he intends to become a good

As an instance of its effects upon the human understanding, take
the following:--“A short time after, being at a believer’s house,
at eleven o’clock at night, they all having retired to rest, and I
laying awake in a dry well finished room, in which was a stove and
fire, there fell a large drop of water on my temples; on
examination, I could not discover where the water came from. I
told the believers of it in the morning.”

“One said, ‘ Ah! it is a warning to you respecting your unbelief.’

“I then assigned some inconclusive reason, how the drop might
have become formed in the room, and its falling.”

“One replied, ‘Ah! that is the way you render a natural reason for
the cause of every thing, and so reason away your faith and
yourself out of the gospel.’”

As another proof, that genuine Christianity discourages marriage,
and considers celibacy as the only state of perfection, the Shakers
allow of no marriages at all.

Thus you see that, among these people, to become a “good
believer,” you must insult your parents, revile your brother, depise
learning, and never render a “natural reason” for any thing, lest
you should “reason away your faith, and yourself out of the



After having seen the uselessness, and even the danger, to
individuals, of the perfections, the virtues, and the duties, which
Christianity peculiarly commands; let us now see whether it has a
more happy influence upon politics; or whether it produces real
happiness among the nations with whom this religion is
established, and the spirit of it faithfully observed. Let us do so,
and we shall find, that wherever Christianity is established and
obeyed, it establishes a set of laws directly opposed to those of a
well ordered national society; and it soon makes this disagreement
and incompatibility distinctly to be felt.

Politics are intended to maintain union and concord among the
citizens. Christianity, though it preaches universal love, and
commands its followers to live in peace; yet, by a strange
inconsistency, consequentially annihilates the effect of these
excellent precepts, by the inevitable divisions it causes among its
followers, who necessarily understand differently the Old and New
Testaments, because the latter is not only irreconcilably
contradictory to the former, but it is even inconsistent with itself.
From the very commencement of Christianity, we perceive very
violent disputes among its founders and teachers; and through
every succeeding century, we find, in the history of the Church,
nothing but schism and heresy. These are followed by persecutions
and quarrels, exceedingly well adapted to destroy this vaunted
spirit of concord, said by its defenders to be peculiar to Christianity;
and the existence of which is, in fact, impossible in a religion
which is one entire chaos of obscure doctrines and impracticable
precepts. In every religious dispute, both parties thought that God
was on their side, and, consequently, they were obstinate and
irreconcilable. And how should it have been otherwise, since they
confounded the cause of God with the miserable interests of their
own vanity? Thus, being little disposed to give way on one part or
the other, they cut one another’s throats; they tormented, they burnt
each other: they tore one another to pieces; and having
exterminated or put down the obnoxious sects, they sung Te Deum.

It is not my intention to pursue, in this place, the horrid detail of
ecclesiastical history, as connected with that of the Roman empire.
Mr. Gibbon has exhibited in such colours this dreadful record of
follies, and of crimes, that it is difficult to see how the maxim of
judging the tree by its fruit, will not fatally affect the cause of the
Christian religion. I refer to Mr. Gibbon’s history as a cool and
impartial narrative; for I am well satisfied that, so far from having
reason to complain of him, the advocates of Christianity have very
great reason, indeed, to thank him for his forbearance, since, with
his eloquence, he might have drawn a picture that would have
made humanity shudder. For, throughout the whole history, if a
man had wished to know what was then the orthodox faith, the best
method of ascertaining it, would have been, undoubtedly, to ask, “
What is the catechism of this public executioner.”

The Christian religion was, it is evident from his history, the
principal, though by no means the only cause of the decline and
fall of the Roman empire. Because it degraded the spirit of the
people, and because it produced monks and hermits in abundance,
but yielded no soldiers. The heathen adversaries of Christianity
were in the right when they said, that “if it prevailed, Rome was no
more!” The Christians would not serve in the armies of the
emperor, if they could possibly avoid it. They justly considered the
profession of a soldier, and that of a Christian, as incompatible.
Celsus accuses them of abandoning the empire, under whose laws
they lived, to its enemies. And what is the answer of Origen to this
accusation? Look: at his pitiful reply! He endeavours to palliate
this undutiful refusal by representing that--“the Christians had
their peculiar camps, in which they incessantly combatted for the
safety of the emperor and empire, by lifting up their right hands--
IN PRAYER!!” (See Origen contra Celsum, Lib. 8, p. 437.) This is
a sneaking piece of business truly! But Origen could have given
another answer, if he had dared to avow it, which is, that his
co-religionists, in his time, had not ceased to expect their master
momentarily to appear; and, of course, it little mattered what
became of the emperor, or the empire. This notion was the
principal engine for making proselytes; and it was by this
expectation that many were frightened into baptism.

That Christianity was considered incompatible with the military
profession, is evident from many passages of the fathers. And one
of them, I believe, Tertullian, ventures to insinuate to the
Christians in the legions, the expediency of deserting, to rid
themselves of “their carnal employment.” Nay, to such a height did
this spirit prevail, that it never stopped till it taught the Roman
youth in Italy the expedient of cutting off the thumbs of their right
hands in order to avoid the conscription, and that they might be
allowed to count their beads at home in quiet.

If we examine, in detail, the precepts of this religion, as they affect
nations, we shall see, that it interdicts every thing which can make
a nation flourishing. We have seen already the notion of
imperfection which Christianity attaches to marriage, and the
esteem and preference it holds out to celibacy. These ideas
certainly do not favour population, which is, without contradiction,
the first source of power to every state.

Commerce is not less obnoxious to the principles of a religion
whose founder is represented as denouncing an anathema against
the rich, and as excluding them from the kingdom of heaven. All
industry is equally interdicted to perfect Christians, who are to
spend their lives “as strangers, and pilgrims upon earth,” and who
are “not to take care of the morrow.”

Chrysostom says, that “a merchant cannot please God, and that
such a one ought to be chased out of the church.”

No Christian, also, without being inconsistent, can serve in the
army. For a man, who is never sure of being in a state of grace, is
the most extravagant of men, if, by the hazard of battle, he exposes
himself to eternal perdition. And a Christian who ought to love his
enemies, is he not guilty of the greatest of crimes, when he inflicts
death upon a hostile soldier, of whose disposition he knows
nothing: and whom he may, at a single stroke, precipitate into hell?
A Christian soldier is a monster! a non-descript! and Lactantius
affirms, that “a Christian cannot be either a soldier, or an accuser
to a criminal cause.” And, at this day, the Quakers, and
Mennonites refuse to carry arms, and, in so doing, they are
consistent Christians.

Christianity declares war against the sciences; they are regarded as
an obstacle to salvation. “Science puffeth up.” says Paul. And the
fathers of the church, St. Gregory, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine
denounce vehemently astronomy, and geometry. And Jerome
declares, that he was whipped by an angel only for reading that
Pagan Cicero.

It has been often remarked, that the most enlightened men are
commonly bad Christians. For independent of its effects on faith,
which science is exceedingly apt to subvert, it diverts the Christian
from the work of his salvation, which is the only thing needful. In
a word, the peculiar principles of Christianity literally obeyed,
would entirely subvert from its foundations every political society
now existing. If this assertion is doubted, let the doubter read the
works of the early Fathers, and he will see that their morality is
totally incompatible with the preservation and prosperity of a state.
He will see according to Lactantius, and others, that “no Christian
can lawfully be a soldier.” That according to Justin, “no Christian
can be a magistrate.” That according to Chrysostom, “no Christian
ought to be a merchant” And that according to several, “no
Christian ought t study.” In fine, joining these maxims together
with those of the New Testament, it will follow, that a Christian,
who as he is commanded, aims at perfection, is a useless member
of the community, useless to his family, and to all around him. He
is an idle dreamer, who thinks of nothing but futurity; who has
nothing in common with the interests of the world, and according
to Tertullian “has no other business but to get out of it as quietly as

Let us hearken to Esebius of Caesarea, and we shall abundantly
discover the truth of what has been said.

“The manner of life, (says he,) of the Christian church, surpasses
our present nature, and the common life of men. It seeks neither
marriage, nor children, nor riches. In fine, it is entirely a stranger
to human modes of living. It is entirely absorbed in an insatiable
love of heavenly things. Those who follow this course of life, have
only their bodies upon earth, their whole souls are in heaven, and
they already dwell among pure and celestial intelligences, and they
despise the manner of life of other men” Demonstrat. Evang. vol.
ii. p.29.

Indeed a man firmly persuaded of the truth of; Christianity cannot
attach himself to any thing here below. Every thing here is “an
occasion of stumbling, a rock of offence.” Every thing here, diverts
him from thinking of his salvation. If Christians in general,
happily, for society, were not inconsistent, and did not neglect the
peculiar precepts of their religion, no large society of them could
exist; and the nations enlightened by the gospel would turn
hermits, and nuns. All business, but fasting and prayer, would be at
an end. There would be nothing but groaning in “this vale” of
tears;” and they would make themselves, and others, as miserable
as possible, from the best of motives, viz; the desire to fulfill what
they mistakenly conceived to be the will of God.

Is this a picture taken from the life, or is it a fanciful representation
of something different from the peculiar morality of the New
Testament? This serious question demands a serious answer. If it
be such as it is represented above and such it really appears to me,
and such I have unfortunately experienced its operation to be on
my own mind--I would respectfully ask--can such a religion,
whose peculiar principles tend to render men hateful, and hating
one another: which has often rendered sovereigns, persecutors, and
subjects, either rebels, or slaves: a religion, whose peculiar moral
principles and maxims, teach the mind to grovel, and humble, and
break down the energies of man; and which divert him from
thinking of his true interests, and the true happiness of himself and
his fellow men. Can such a religion, I would respectfully ask, be
from God, since where fully obeyed, it would prove utterly
destructive to society?



From the preceding chapters, you may judge, reader, of the justice
and truth of the opinion, that “the yoke of Christian morality is
easy, and its “burthen light;” and also of the veracity and fairness
of that constant assertion of divines, “that Jesus came to remove
the heavy yoke of the Mosaic Law, and to substitute in its room
one of easier observance.”--Whether this, their assertion, be not
rash, and ill founded, I will cheerfully leave to be decided by
any cool and thinking man, who knows human nature, and is
acquainted with the human heart. I say, I would cheerfully leave it
to such a man, “whether the Mosaic Law, with all its numerous
rites, and ceremonial observances, nay, with all “the (ridiculous)
traditions of the Elders,” superadded, would not be much more
bearable to human nature, and much easier to be observed and
obeyed, than such precepts as these, “Sell all thou hast, and give it
to the poor.” “If a man ask thy cloak, give him thy coat also.”
“Resist not the injurious person, but if a man smite thee on one
cheek, turn to him the other also.” “Extirpate and destroy all carnal
affection, and love nothing, but religion.” “Take no thought for
to-morrow;”--I am confident that the decision would be given in
my favour; and have no doubt, that with thinking men, the contrary
opinion would be instantly rejected with the contempt it merits.

Whether the Mosaic Code be the best possible, or really divine, is
of no consequence in this inquiry, and is with me another question
from that of its inferiority to that of the New Testament. I do by no
means assert the former; but have no hesitation to give my opinion,
after a pretty thorough examination of the subject, that the
reflections of Paul, and those usually thrown out against the
Mosaic Code by Theologians, when comparing it with that of the
New Testament, in order to deprecate the former, appear to me
extremely partial and unjust; and so far from true, that I think, that
the ancient law has the advantage over the precepts of the New
Testament, in being, at least, practicable and consistent.*

Another unfounded reproach which Theologians, in order to
magnify the importance of the New Testament, cast upon the Old,
is this: They say, that the Old Testament represents God only as
the tutelary Deity of the Israelites, and as not so much concerned
for the rest of mankind. To show that this is a very mistaken
notion, and to manifest that the Eternal of the Old Testament is
represented therein, not as the God of the Jews only, but also of the
Gentiles, I refer to these words:--“The Lord thy God is God of
gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty and a terrible; who
regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward. He doth execute the
judgment of the fatherless, and widow, and loveth the stranger, in
giving him food and raiment. Love ye, therefore, the stranger.
Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him, for ye know the
heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously
between a man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.
One law shall be to him that is home born, and to the stranger that
sojourneth among you. The stranger that dwelleth with you shall
be as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself. I am
the Lord your God.”

Indeed, so little truth is there in the notion, that the law and
religion of the Old Testament were established with the intention
of confining them to one people, exclusive of all others, that the
Old Testament certainly represents them in such manner, as
shows, that they were intended to be as unconfined as the
Christian, or Mahometan; its religion, in fact, admitted every one
who would receive it. And what is more, it can be proved that the
Old Testament dispensation claims, as appears from itself, to have
been given for the common advantage of all mankind. And it is
asserted in it, (whether truly or not, is not the question; it is
sufficient for my purpose, that it asserts it), that the religion
contained in it, will one day be the religion of all mankind. For it
declares that Jerusalem will be the centre of worship for all
nations, and the temple there, be “the house of prayer for all
nations;” that the Eternal will be the only God worshipped; and his
laws the only laws obeyed. It represents Abraham and his posterity
as merely the instruments of the Eternal to bring about these ends;
it is repeatedly declared therein, that the reason of God’s
dispensations towards them was, “that all the earth might know that
the Eternal is God, and that there is no other but Him.” According
to its history, when God threatened to destroy the Israelites for
their perverseness in the wilderness, and offers Moses, interceding
for them, to raise, up his seed to fulfil the purposes for which he
designed the posterity of Abraham; he tells Moses that his purpose
should not be frustrated through the perverseness of the chosen
instruments; “but, (saith He), as surely as I live, all the earth shall
be filled with the glory of the Lord,” Numbers xiv. 21. Many
passages of similar import are contained in the Psalms, and the
Prophets. In fact, there is no truth at all in the statement of the
Catechisms, that the Old Testament was merely preparatory, and
intended merely to prepare the way for “a better covenant,” as
Paul says; even for another religion, (the Christian) which was to
convert all nations; for, (if the Old Testament be suffered to tell its
own story,) we shall find, that it claims, and challenges the honour
of beginning, and completing, this magnificent design solely to
itself. I was going to overwhelm the patience of the reader with
quotations from it, to this purpose; but being willing to spare him
and myself, I will only produce one, which, as it is direct and
peremptory to this effect, is as good as a hundred, to demonstrate
that the Old Testament at least claims what I have said. Zech. viii.
20, “Thus saith the Eternal of Hosts: It shall yet come to pass, that
there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities; and the
inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying: “Let us go
speedily to pray before the Eternal, and to seek the Eternal of
Hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people, and strong nations shall
come to seek the Eternal of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before
the Eternal. Thus saith the Eternal of Hosts: In those days it shall
come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all the languages
of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew,
saying, we will go with you.”

Be it so, it may be said;--“Still, it is to Christianity the world
owes the consoling doctrine of a life to come. Life and immortality
were brought to light by the Gospel,” say the Christian divines; and
they assert, that the doctrine of a resurrection was not known to
Jew or Gentile, till they learned it from Jesus’ followers. The Old
Testament, (say they,) taught the Jews nothing of the glorious
truths concerning “the resurrection of the body, and the life
everlasting,” their “beggarly elements” confined their views to
temporal happiness, only.” These assertions I shall prove from the
Old Testament itself, to be contrary to fact; for the Jews both knew,
and were taught by their Bibles to expect a resurrection, and
believed it as firmly as any Christian can, or ever did. For proof
hereof, I shall, in the first place, quote the 37th chapter of Ezekiel,
and which is as follows, “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and
carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the
midst of the valley, which was full of bones. And caused me to
pass by them round about, and behold there were very many in the
open valley, and behold they were dry.--And he said unto me.
Son of man, can these bones live? and I answered, O Lord God,
thou knowest. Again he said unto me. Prophecy upon these bones,
and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones, behold I will cause
breath to enter into you, and ye shall live, and I will lay sinews
upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you; and cover you with
skin, and put breath into you; and ye shall live, and know that I am
the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded, and, as I
prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a shaking, and the bones
came together, bone to his bone. And “when I beheld, lo, the
sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered
them above; but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto
me. Prophecy son of man, and say unto the wind, thus saith the
Lord God, come from the four winds, O breath! and breathe upon
these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded
me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up
again upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”

A plainer resurrection than this is, I think never was preached
either by Jesus or his followers. Again, Daniel the prophet says,
“Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some
to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt,”
Daniel xii. 2. Now Ezekiel lived almost six hundred years before
Jesus, and Daniel was contemporary with the former; and is it not a
little surprising, that the Jews should learn, for the first time, the
doctrine of a resurrection of the followers of Jesus Christ, when
they knew of the resurrection almost six hundred years before he
was born? Isaiah also, (who lived before either Ezekiel or Daniel),
in the 26th chapter of his prophesies, (exciting the Jews to have
confidence in God, and not to despair on account of their captivity,
and the troubles and afflictions which they should suffer therein),
foretells to them that death would not deprive them of the reward
of their piety and virtue; for God would raise them from the dead,
and make them happy. “Thy dead men shall live, my dead bodies#
(i. e., the bodies of God’s servants) they shall arise. Awake! and
sing! ye that dwell in the dust, for thy dew is as the dew of herbs,”
The meaning of the last clause is--that, as the grass, which in
Oriental countries becomes brown and shrivelled by the heat of the
sun; from the effects of the dew it changes and springs up, as it
were, in a moment, green and fresh and beautiful; so, by the
instantaneous influence of the word of God, the dry and decayed
remains of mortality shall become blooming with immortal
freshness and beauty. See also Hosea xiii. 14. I might easily
multiply passages from the Old Testament, to prove that the
doctrine of a resurrection was familiar to the ancient Israelites, but
I suppose that what I have already produced, is sufficient. Those,
however, who wish to see the subject more thoroughly examined,
are referred to “Greave’s Lectures on the Pentateuch,” a work
lately published in Europe, highly honourable to the author. See
also a Tract upon this subject, published by Dr. Priestley, in 1801.

I shall only add one observation more on this subject, viz., that it is
very singular that Christian divines should assert, that “life and
immortality were first brought to light by the Gospel,” when the
New Testament itself represents the resurrection of the dead as
being perfectly well known to the Jews, and describes Jesus
himself as proving it to the Sadducees out of the Old Testament!!!


I have now finished my work, which I have written in order to
exculpate myself, and to do justice to others; and having
re-examined every link of the chain of my argument, I think it amply
strong to support the conclusions attached to it. Though there
might have been drawn from the Old and New Testaments, many
additional arguments corroborative of what has been said, yet, at
present, I shall add no more; as I think that what has been brought
forward has just claims to be considered by the impartial as quite
sufficient to prove these two points--that the New Testament can
neither subsist with the Old Testament, nor without it; and that the
New Testament system was built first upon a mistake, and
afterwards buttressed up with forged and apocryphal documents.

Let the candid now judge, whether the author, knowing these
things, or, at least persuaded of their truth, could have persisted in
affirming, (in a place where sincerity is expected), in the name of
the Almighty, that the claims of the New Testament were valid,
without being a hypocrite, and an impostor.

Let them also consider, whether, after being unable to obtain a
satisfactory refutation of the objections contained in this volume,
his resigning a profession whose duties obliged him to say what he
was convinced was false, was conduct to be reprehended. And
lastly, he appeals to the good sense of the public, for a decision,
whether, with such objections and difficulties weighing upon his
mind, as he has now exposed, his conduct in that respect can
reasonably be attributed to the unmanly influence of caprice and
fickle-ness, (as has been circulated by some who had an interest in
making it believed;) or to the just influence of motives deserving a
better name.

With regard to the unfortunate people whose arguments have been
brought forward in this volume, we have, reader, now gone over,
and distinctly felt, the whole ground of the controversy between
them and their persecutors, mentioned in the Preface. And as they
make use of the Old Testament as a foundation, admitted, and
necessarily admitted by Christians, to be of divine authority, and
are surrounded by the bulwarks they have raised out of the
demolished entrenchments of their adversaries, I do not see but
that “their castle’s strength may laugh a siege to scorn.” And after
reviewing, and revolving, over and over in my own mind the
arguments on both sides, I am obliged to believe, that the stoutest
Polemical Goliath who may venture to attack it, especially their
strong hold--their arguments about the Messiahship, will find to
his cost, that when his weak point is but known, the mightiest
Achilles must fall before the feeblest Paris, whose arrow is--aimed
at his heel.

The author hopes, and thinks he has a right to expect, that whoever
may attempt to answer his book, will do it fairly, like a man of
candour; without trying to evade the main question--that of the
Messiahship of Jesus. He fears, that he shall see an answer
precisely resembling the many others he has seen upon that
subject. Except two--those of Sukes, and Jeffries. (who
acknowledge that miracles have nothing to do with the question of
the Messiahship, which can be decided by the Old Testament only;)--
all that he has ever met with, evade this question, and slide
over to the ground of miracles. Such conduct in an answerer of this
book would be very unfair, and also very absurd. For the case is
precisely resembling the following--A father informs by letter his
son in a foreign country, that he is about to send him a Tutor,
whom he will know by the following marks; “He is learned in the
mathematics, and the physical sciences; acquainted with the
learned languages, and an excellent physician; of a dark
complexion; six feet high, and with a voice loud, and
commanding.” By and by, a man comes to the young man,
professing to be this tutor sent to him by his father. On examining
the man, and comparing him with the description in his father’s
letter, he finds him totally unlike the person he had been taught to
expect. Instead of being acquainted with the sciences, therein
mentioned, he knows nothing about them; instead of being “six
feet high, of a dark complexion, and with a voice loud and
commanding,” he is a diminutive creature of five feet, of a light
complexion, with a voice like a woman’s.

The young man, with his father’s letter in his hand, tells the
pretended tutor, that he certainly cannot be the person he has been
told to expect. The man persists, and appeals to certain “wonderful
works” he performs in order to convince the young man, that he is
acquainted with the sciences aforesaid, and that he is also six feet
high; of a dark complexion; and talks like an Emperor! The young
man replies. “Friend, you are either an enthusiast, a mad man, or
something worse. As to your ‘ signs and wonders,’ I have been
warned in my father’s letter to pay no regard to any such things in
this case. Besides, you ought to be sensible, that your identity with
the person I am taught by my father’s letter to expect, can be only
determined by comparing you with the description of him given
therein. Whether your ‘wonderful works’ are real miracles or not, I
neither know, nor care. At any rate, they cannot, in the nature of
things, be any thing to the purpose in; this case. For you to pretend,
that they prove what you offer them to prove, is quite absurd; you
might as well, and as reasonably, pretend, that they could prove
Aristotle to have been Alexander; or the Methodist George
Whitfield to be the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte!”

To conclude, if any person should feel inclined to attempt to refute
this book, let him do it like a man; without evading the question, or
equivocating, or caviling about little things. Let him consider the
principal question, and the main arguments on which he perceives
that the author relies, and not pass over these silently, and hold up
a few petty mistakes and subsidiary arguments as specimens of the
whole book. Such a mode of defence would be very disengenuous,
and with a discerning reader, perfectly futile and insufficient. It
would be as if a man prostrate, and bleeding under a lion whose
teeth and claws were infixed in his throat, should tear a handful of
hairs out of the animal’s mane, and hold them up as proofs of

In fine, let him, before his undertaking, carefully consider these
pungent words of Bishop Beveridge, “Opposite answers, and
downright arguments advantage a cause; but when a disputant
leaves many things untouched, as if they were too hot for his
fingers; and declines the weight of other things, and alters the true
state of the question: it is a shrewd sign, either that he has not
weighed things maturely, or else (which is more probable,) that he
maintains a desperate cause.”



As reasons for this assertion, (that “the account of the resurrection
given by the evangelists is no better, nay, worse, than conjecture,
as it is a mere forgery of the second century.--Vide page 86) take
the following facts, which are now ascertained, and can be
proved:--1. Several sects of Christians in the first century, in the
apostolic era, denied that Jesus was crucified, as the Basildeans,
&c. The author of the epistle ascribed to Barnabas, I think, denied
it, and the author of the gospel of Thomas certainly did. 2. The
Jewish Christians, the disciples of the twelve apostles, never
received, but rejected every individual book of the present New
Testament. They held in especial abomination the writings of Paul,
whom they called “an apostate;” and there is extant, in “
Cotelerius’ Patres Apostolici,” a letter ascribed to Peter, written to
James at Jerusalem wherein he complains bitterly of Paul, styling
him “a lawless man,” and a crafty misrepresenter of him (Peter,)
and his doctrine, in that Paul represented, every where, Peter as
being secretly of the same opinions with himself; against this he
enters his protest, and declares that he reprobates the doctrine of
Paul. (See Appendix B.) 3. It is certain, that from the beginning,
the Christians were never agreed as to points of faith; and that the
apostles themselves, so far from being considered as inspired, and
infallible, were frequently contradicted, thwarted, and set at naught
by their own converts: and there were as many sects, heresies, and
quarrels, in the first century, as in the second or third. 4. Jesus and
his apostles were no sooner off the stage, than forgeries of all kinds
broke in with irresistible force: Gospels, Epistles, Acts,
Revelations without number, published in the names, and under the
feigned authority, of Jesus and his apostles, abounded in the
Christian church; and as some of these were as early in time as any
of the writings in the present canon of the New Testament, so they
were received promiscuously with them, and held in equal credit
and veneration, and read in the public assemblies as of equal
authority with those now received. 5. The very learned and pious
Dodwell, in his Dissertations on Iraeneus avows, that he cannot
find in ecclesiastical antiquities, (which he understood better than
any man of his age,) any evidence at all, that the four Gospels were
known or heard of, before the time of Trajan, and Adrian, i.e.
before the middle of the second century, i. e. nearly a hundred
years after the apostles were dead. (See Appendix C.) Long before
this time, we know that there were extant numbers of spurious
gospels, forged, and ascribed to the apostles; and we have not the
least evidence to be depended on, that those now received were not
also apocryphal. For they were written nobody certainly knows by
whom, or where, or when. They first appeared in an age of
credulity, when forgeries of this kind abounded and were received
with avidity by those whose opinions they favoured, while they
were rejected as spurious by many sects of Christians, who
asserted that they were possessed of the genuine apostles, which,
however, those who received “the four,” denied. 6. All the
different sects of Christians, without a known exception, altered,
interpolated, and without scruple garbled, their different copies of
their various and discordant gospels, in order to adapt them to their
jarring and whimsical philosophical notions, Celsus accuses them
of this, and they accuse each other. And that they were continually
tampering with their copies of the books of the New Testament, is
evident from the immense number of various readings, and from
some whole phrases, and even verses, which for knavish purposes
were foisted into the text, but have been detected, and exposed by
Griesbach, and others. They also forged certain rhapsodies under
the name of “Sybbiline Oracles,” and then adduce them as
prophetic proofs of the truth of their religion. They also
interpolated certain clumsy forgeries as prophecies of Jesus into
their copies of their Greek version of the Old Testament. 7. The
present canon of the New Testament has never been sanctioned by
the general consent of Christians. The Syrian church rejects some
of its books;--some of its books were not admitted until after long
opposition, and not until several hundred years after Jesus. The
lists of what were considered as canonical books, differ in different
ages, and some books now acknowledged by all Christians to be
forgeries, were in the second and third centuries considered as
equally apostolic as those now received, and as such, were publicly
read in the churches. 8. The reason why we have not now extant
gospels, different and contradictory to those now received, is,
because that the sect or party which finally got the better of its
adversaries, and styled itself Catholic, or orthodox, took care to
burn and destroy the heretics, and their gospels with them. They
likewise took care to hunt up and burn the books of the pagan
adversaries of Christianity, “because they were shockingly
offensive to pious ears.” 9. Semler considered the New Testament
as a collection of pious frauds, written for pious purposes, in the
latter part of the second century, (the very time assigned for their
first appearance by Dodwell.) Evanson adopts, and gives good
reasons for a similar opinion with regard to most of the books
which go to compose it. Lastly. The reason why the New
Testament canon has been so long respected, seems to have been
purely owing to the credulity of the ignorant, and the laziness,
indifference, or fears of the learned.

Douglas, in his famous “Criterion,” gives us, as infallible tests, by
which we may distinguish when written accounts of miracles are
fabulous, the following marks:--

1. “We have reason to suspect (he says) the accounts to be false,
when they are not published to the world till after the time when
they are said to have been performed.”

2. “We have reason to suspect them to be false, when they are not
published in the place where it is pretended the facts were
wrought, but are propagated only at a great distance from the
supposed scene of action.”

3. “Supposing the accounts to have the two fore-mentioned
qualifications, we still have reason to suspect them to be false, if in
the time when, and at the place where, they took their rise, they
might be suffered to pass without examination.”

These are the marks he gives us as infallible tests by which we
may distinguish the accounts of miracles in the New Testament to
be true; and accounts of miracles in other books (though supported
by more testimony than the former,) to be false; with how much
justice, may be evident from the following observations:--

1. If “we have reason to suspect the accounts to be false, when
they are not published to the world till long after the time when
they are said to have been performed,” then we have reasons to
suspect the accounts given in the four gospels; for we have no
proof in the world, that any of them were written till nearly one
hundred years after the supposed writers of them were all dead.

2. If “we have reason to suspect them to be false, when they are
not published in the place where it is pretended the facts were
wrought, but are propagated only at a great distance from the
supposed scene of action,” then it is still further evident that the
accounts in question are not true. For they were apparently none of
them published in Judea, the scene of the events recorded in them.
But it is pretty clear that they were written in countries at a
distance from Palestine. And the facts recorded in them were-no
where so little believed as in Judea, among the people in whose
sight they are said to have been wrought, where they ought, if true,
to have met with most credit. It is, however, evident from the
histories themselves, that these stories were laughed at, by the
learned and intelligent of the Jewish nation, and disbelieved by the
great body of the people. In truth the first Christians were merely
one hundred and twenty Galilaeans, who asserted to their
co-religionists, that Jesus of Nazareth was the ejected Messiah. It
was a mere national quarrel between the great body of the Jews, and a
few schismatics. This is evident from the Acts, where we find that
for several years they confined their preaching to Jews only. Till
the conversion of Cornelius, they do not appear to have thought the
Gentiles any way interested in their dispute with their countrymen.
So that it is not improbable, (as the Jewish Christians dwindled
very rapidly,) that had it not been for the Gentile proselytes to
Judaism, Christianity would have perished in its cradle. These
people were very numerous, and formed the connecting link
between the Jews and the Gentiles. And it was through the medium
of these people, that Christianity became known to the heathens.
For we find that after the apostles could make nothing of the
stubborn Jews “they shook their garments, and told them that from
henceforth we go to the Gentiles.”--Accordingly, when the
apostles preached in the synagogues, and the Jews contradicted,
and blasphemed,” and made fun of their mode of proving from the
prophets, “that Jesus was the Christ; yet the “proselytes and devout
women” listened, and believed.

3. If “supposing the accounts to have the two foregoing
qualifications, we still may suspect them to be false; if, in the time
when, and in the place where, they took their rise, they might be
suffered to pass without examination,” we have still less reason to
believe the gospels. For one reason why they might be suffered to
pass without examination is, where the miracles proposed
coincided with the notions and superstitious prejudices of those
whom they were reported, and who, on that account, might be
prone to receive them unexamined. Now, we have documents in
plenty, which abundantly prove, along with the virtues, the
extreme credulity and simplicity of the Primitive Christians, whose
maxim was, “believe, but do not examine, and thy faith shall save
thee.” Another very good reason why they might be suffered to
pass without, examination is, that the miracles of the gospels were
entirely unknown to, or at least acknowledged by, any heathen or
Jew of the age in which they are recorded to have happened.
Nobody seems to have known a syllable about them but the
apostles and their converts. Even the books of the New Testament
were not generally known to the heathens until some hundred years
after the birth of Jesus; and it seems from the few fragments of
their works come down to us, that the only notice they did take of
them, was to accuse them of telling lies and old wives fables. And
as for the Jews, the origin and early propagation of Christianity
was so very obscure, that those who lived nearest the times of the
apostles, do not seem to have known any thing about them, or their

Though a little out of place, yet I will here adduce a fact which
illustrates and exemplifies the power of enthusiasm, to make
people believe they saw what they did not see. Lucian gives an
account of one Peregrinus, a philosophist very famous in his time,
who had a great number of disciples. He ended his life by throwing
himself, in the presence of assembled thousands, into a burning
pile. Yet such was the enthusiastic veneration of his followers,
that some of his disciples did solemnly aver, that they had seen
him after his death, clothed in white, and crowned; and they were
believed, insomuch that altars and statues were erected to
Peregrinus as to a demi-god. See Lucian’s account.


See Cotelerius “Patres Apostolic,” Tom. 1, p. 602.
Extract of a letter from Peter to James, prefixed to the

“For, if this be not done, (says Peter, after entreating James not to
communicate his preachings to any Gentile without previous
examination,) our speech of truth will be divided into many
opinions, nor do I know this thing as being a prophet, but as seeing
even now the beginning of this evil. For some from among the
Gentiles have rejected my legal preaching, embracing the trifling,
and lawless doctrine of a man who is an enemy; and these
things, some have endeavoured to do now in my own lifetime,
transforming my words by various interpretations, to the
destruction of the Laws: as if I had been of the same mind, but
dared not openly profess it, (see Galatians ii. 11, 12, &c.,) which
be far from me! For this were to act against the law of God, spoken
by Moses, and which has the testimony of our Lord for its
perpetual duration; since he thus has said, “Heaven and earth shall
pass away, yet one jot, or one tittle, shall not pass from the law.”
But these, I know not how, promising to deliver my opinion, (see
Galatians as above) take upon them to explain the words they
heard from me, better than I that spoke them; telling their disciples,
my sense was that of which I had not so much as thought. Now, if
in my own life time, they dare feign such things, how much more
will those that come after, do the same.”


Extract from Dodwell’s Dissertations on Irenaeus, Diss. 1, p.p. 38,

“The Canonical writings (i. e. of the New Testament), lay
concealed in the coffers of private churches, or persons, till the
latter times of Trajan, or rather perhaps of Adrian; so that they
could not come to the knowledge of the church. For if they had
been published, they would have been overwhelmed under such a
multitude as were then of apocryphal and suppositious books, that
a new examination and a new testimony would be necessary to
distinguish them from these false ones. And it is from this new
testimony (whereby the genuine writings of the apostles were
distinguished from the spurious pieces which went under their
names,) that depends all the authority which the truly apostolic
writings have formerly obtained, or which they have at present in
the Catholic Church. But this fresh attestation of the canon is
subject to the same inconveniences with those traditions of the
ancient persons that I defend, and whom Irenaeus both heard and
saw; for it is equally distant from the original, and could not be
made except by such only as had reached those remote times. But
it is very certain that before the period I mentioned of Trajan’s
time, the canon of the sacred books, was not yet fixed, nor any
certain number of books received in the Catholic Church, whose
authority must ever after serve to determine matters of faith;
neither were the spurious pieces of heretics yet rejected, nor were
the faithful admonished to beware of them for the future. Likewise,
the true writings of the apostles used to be so bound up in one
volume with the apocryphal, that it was not manifest by any mark
of public censure which of them should be preferred to the other.
We have at this day, certain authentic writings of ecclesiastical
authors of those times, as Clemens Romanus, Barnabas, Hermas,
Ignatius, and Polycarp, who wrote in the same order wherein I
have named them, and after all the other writers of the New
Testament, except Jude, and the two Johns. But in Hermas you
shall not meet with one passage, or any mention of the New
Testament; nor in all the rest is any one of the evangelists called by
his own name. And if sometimes they cite any passages like those
we read in our gospels; yet, you will find them so much changed,
and for the most part so interpolated, that it cannot be known,
whether they produced them out of ours, or some apocryphal
gospels; nay, they sometimes cite passages which it is most certain
are not in the present gospels. From hence, therefore, it is evident
that no difference was yet put between the apocryphal and
canonical books of the New Testament, especially if it be
considered, that they pass no censure on the apocryphal, nor leave
any mark whereby the reader might discern whether they attributed
less authority to the spurious than to the genuine gospels; from
whence it may reasonably be suspected, that if they cite sometimes
any passages conformable to ours, it was not done through any
certain design, as if dubious things were to be confirmed only by
the canonical books, so as it is very possible that both those and the
like passages may have been borrowed from other gospels besides
these we now have. But what need I mention books that are not
canonical, when indeed it does not appear from those of our
canonical books which were last written, that the church knew any
thing of the gospels, or that the clergy made a common use of
them. The writers of these times do not chequer their works with
texts of the New Testament, which yet is the custom of the
moderns, and was also theirs in such books as they acknowledge
for scripture; for they most frequently cite the books of the Old
Testament, and would, doubtless, have done so by those of the
New, if they had then been received as canonical.”

So far Mr. Dodwell, and (excepting the genuineness of the writings
of Barnabas and the rest, for they are incontestably ancient,) it is
certain that the matters of fact with regard to the New Testament
are all true. Whoever has an inclination to write on this subject, is
furnished from this passage with a great many curious disquisitions
wherein to show his penetration and his judgment, as--how the
immediate successors and disciples of the apostles could so grossly
confound the genuine writings of their masters with such as were
falsely attributed to them; or since they were in the dark about
these matters so early, how come such as followed them, by a
better light; why all those books which are cited by the earliest
fathers with the same respect as those now received, should not be
accounted equally authentic by them; and what stress should be
laid on the testimony of those fathers, who not only contradict one
another, but are often inconsistent with themselves, in relating the
very same facts; with a great many other difficulties, which
deserve a clear solution from any capable person.

I have said the ancient heretics asserted that the present gospels
were forgeries. As an example of this, take the following, from the
works of Faustus, quoted by Augustine, contra Faustum Lib. 32, c.
2. “You think, (says Faustus to his adversaries,) that of all the
books in the world the Testament of the Son only, could not be
corrupted; that it alone contains nothing which ought to be
disallowed; especially when it appears, that it was not written by
the apostles, but a long time after them, by certain obscure persons,
who, lest no credit should be given to the stories they told of what
they could not know, did prefix, to their writings, the names of the
apostles, and partly of those who succeeded the apostles, affirming,
that what they wrote themselves, was written by these. Wherein
they seem to me to have been the more heinously injurious to the
disciples of Christ, by attributing to them what they wrote
themselves so dissonant and repugnant; and that they pretended to
write those gospels under their names, which are so full of
mistakes, of contradictory relations and opinions, that they are
neither coherent with themselves, nor consistent with one another.
What is this, therefore, but to throw a calumny on good men, and
to fix the accusation of discord on the unanimous society of
Christ’s disciples.”

There is, in the Gospel ascribed to John, a passage, quoted as a
prophecy, which, as it has been looked on as a proof text, ought to have
been mentioned in the 7th chapter. It is this. The evangelist (John xix.
23) says, “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his
garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his
coat--now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They
said, therefore, among themselves, ‘ Let us not rend it, but cast lots
for it’; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, ‘They
parted my raiment among them and for my vesture they did cast lots.’
“Now, however plausible this prophesy may appear, it is one of the most
impudent applications of passages from the Old Testament that occurs in
the New. It is taken from the 18th verse of the 22d Psalm, which Psalm
was probably made by David, in reference to his humiliating and wretched
expulsion from Jerusalem by his son Absalom, and what was done in
consequence, viz., that he was hunted by ferocious enemies, whom he
compares to furious bulls, and roaring lions, gaping upon him to devour
him; that his palace was plundered, and that they divided his treasured
garments, (in the East, where the fashions never change, every great man
has constantly presses full of hundreds and thousands of garments, many
of them very costly: they are considered as a valuable part of his
riches), and cast lots for his robes. This is the real meaning of this
passage quoted as a prophecy. In the same Psalm, there is another verse,
which has been from time immemorial quoted as a prophecy of the
crucifixion, (v. 16,) “They pierced my hands and my feet.” In the
original, there seems to have been a word dropped importing “they
tear,” or something like it, for it is literally, “Like a lion--my hands
and my feet,” and there is there no word answering to “pierced.” The
meaning, however, of the verse is not difficult to be discerned, “dogs
have compassed me; the assembly of wicked men have enclosed me; like a
lion--(they tear) my hands and my feet.” The meaning may be discovered
from the context, where David represents himself as in the utmost
distress, helpless, and abandoned amidst his enemies, raging like wild
beasts around him; then, by a strong, but striking Oriental figure, he
represents himself like a carcass surrounded by dogs, who are busied in
tearing the flesh from his bones; their teeth fixed in his hands and
feet, and pulling him asunder. This is the import of the place, and this
interpretation is at last adopted, for the first time, I believe, by
Christians, in the new version of the Psalms used by the Unitarian
Church in London.

There is not a more palpable instance of the facility with which good
natured and voracious piety is made to swallow the most flimsy
arguments, if only agreeable to its wishes and wants, than the case
under consideration. This Psalm, containing these passages, “they
parted my raiment among them;” and “they pierced my hands and my feet,”
is read, and for ages has been read, in the name of God, to the good
people of the Church of England, on every Good Friday, as undoubtedly a
prophesy of the Crucifixion; when yet the learned divines of the Church
of England (and of these it can boast a noble Catalogue indeed)
certainly know, and are conscious that the Psalm, which contains these
passages, has no more relation to Jesus, than it has to Nebuchadnezzar.

A reference ought to have been subjoined at the end of the 10th chapter
to the dialogue, called “Philopatris” in Lucian’s Works, for an account
of the customs, habits, and personal appearance of the early Christians,
corroborative of what is said in the 17th and 18th chapters of this
work. Lest, however, Lucian’s testimony in this matter should be
objected to, because he was a satirist, and, of course, may have been
guilty of giving an overcharged picture of the subjects of his ridicule,
I request the reader to peruse, if he can obtain it, “Lami’s Account of
the domestic habits and personal appearance and practices of the
primitive Christians.” Lami was a very learned and sincere Christian,
and of course his testimony cannot be objected to, and the reader will
find, on a perusal of his work, that what I have asserted in the 17th
and 18th chapters is altogether true, and not the whole truth neither.
Indeed, that the statements in those chapters, as to the effects of the
peculiar maxims of the New Testament upon the heart and understanding,
are substantially correct, will, I believe, be discovered by asking any
honest individual among the Methodists, who is an enthusiast, i. e
sincere, and thorough-going in his religion. I have no doubt that he or
she will avow, without hesitation, to the enquirer, and glory in it,
that chastity is more honourable than marriage; that faith is every
thing; that doubt is damnable, and a proof of “an unregenerated mind;”
that all the goods and pleasures of this world are “trash;” that human
institutions are mere “carnal ordinances;” and that human science and
learning is a snare to faith and an abomination to a true disciple of
the cross.

Published 1785.

* In the present day, various-attempts, insidious and powerful, have
been made, even here, to coerce in matters of conscience, and to
overthrow those wise barriers to the destructive effects of sectarian
fanaticism and intolerance, which the great founders of the Republic, to
their everlasting glory, erected.--D.

* Do you know (says Rousseau) of many Christians who have taken the
pains to examine, with care, what the Jews have to say against them? If
some persons have seen any thing of the kind, it is in the books of
Christians, A fine way, truly, to get instructed in the arguments of
their adversaries! But what can they do? If any one should dare to
publish among us, books, in which be openly favours their opinions, we
punish the author, the editor, the bookseller. This policy is
convenient, and sure always to be in the right. There is a pleasure in
refuting people who dare not open their lips"--(Emilius.) In the same
work he says that “he will never be convinced that the Jews have not
something strong to say, till they shall be permitted to speak for
themselves without fear, and without restraint." It was this hint of
Rousseau which first excited the author's curiosity with regard to the
subject of this book.--E.

* There are a great many persons who conceive that Christianity is
sufficiently proved to be true, if the miracles of Jesus are true, even
without any regard to the prophecies, so often appealed to by him. But
supposing the miracles to be true; yet no miracles can prove that which
is false in itself to be true. If therefore Jesus be not foretold as the
Messiah in the Old Testament, no miracles can prove Jesus to be the
Messiah foretold. Nay, it would be a stronger argument to prove Jesus to
be a false pretender, that he appealed to prophecies as relating to him,
when in fact they had no relation whatever to him; and by that means
imposed upon the ignorant people; than it would be that he came from
God, merely because he worked miracles; for “False Christs and false
prophets may arise, and may show such great signs and wonders as to
deceive, if it were possible, the very elect.” Matt. xxiv. 24. Yet no
Christian would allow it to be argued from thence, that those false
Christs were true ones: nor would any one conclude; that a man came from
God, (notwithstanding any miracle he might do) if he appealed to
Scripture for that which is no where in it. In fine, if miracles would
prove the Messiahship of Jesus, so also they would prove the Messiahship
of the false Christs, and false prophets spoken of above. Nay more, they
would demonstrate the Divine mission of Antichrist himself; who,
according to the epistle to the Thessalonians, (2 Thes. ch. ii. 8, 9,10)
and the Revelations, ch. xiii. 13, 14, was to perform "great signs and
wonders," equal to any wrought by Jesus, for the same Greek words are
used to express the wonderful works or “great signs and wonders” of
Antichrist, which are elsewhere used to express the miracles, or “great
signs and wonders” of Jesus himself.

It is a striking circumstance, that the earliest apologists for
Christianity laid little stress upon the miracles of its founder.

Justin Martyr, in his Apology, is very shy of appealing to the miracles
of Jesus in confirmation of his pretentions; he lays no stress upon
them, but relies entirely upon the prophecies he quotes as in his favor.
Jerome, in his comment on the eighty-first Psalm, assures us, “that the
performance of miracles was no extraordinary thing: and that it was no
more than what Appollonius, and Apulias, and innumerable impostors had
done before.”

Lactantius saw so little force in the miracles of Christ, exclusive of
the prophecies, that he does not hesitate to affirm their utter
inability to support the Christian religion by themselves. [Lactan. Div.
Inst. L. v. c. 3.]

Celsus, observing upon the words of Jesus, that “false prophets and
false Christs shall arise, and show grant signs and wonders," sneeringly
observes, "A fine thing truly! that miracles done by him should prove
him to be a God, and when done by others should demonstrate them to be
false prophets and impostors.”

Tertullian, on the words of Jesus, here referred to by Celsus, says as

“Christ, foretelling that many imposters should come and perform many
wonders, shews, that our faith cannot without great temerity be founded
on miracles, since they were so early wrought, by false Christians
themselves.” [Tertul. in Marc. L. ii. c. 3.]

Indeed, miracles in the two first centuries were allowed very little
weight in proving doctrines. Since the Christians did not deny, that the
heathens performed miracles in behalf of their gods, and that the
heretics performed them as will as the orthodox. This accounts for the
perfect indifference of the heathens to the miracles said to have been
performed by the founders of Christianity. Hierocles speaks with great
contempt of what he calls "the little tricks of Jesus," And Origen, in
his reply to Celsus, waves the consideration of the Christian miracles:
“for (says he) the very mention of these things sets you heathens upon
the. broad grin.” Indeed, that they laughed very heartily at what in
the eighteenth century is read with a grave face, is evident from the
few fragments of their works written against Christianity which has
escaped the burning zeal of the fathers, and the Christian emperors; who
piously sought for, and burned up, these mischievous volumes to prevent
their doing mischief to posterity. This conduct of theirs is very
suspicious. Why burn writing they could so triumphantly refute, if they
were refutable? They should have remembered the just reflection of
Arnobius, their own apologist, against the heathens, who were for
abolishing at once such writings as promoted Christianity.--"Intercipere
scripta et publicatam velle submergere lectionem, non est Deos
defendere, sed veritatis testificationem timere."[Arnob. contra
Gentes. Liber ni.]--E.

* Before going into the consideration of the following prophecies, the
author would warn the reader to bear in mind, that whether these
prophecies ever will be fulfilled, is a question of no import in the
world to the question under consideration, which is--whether they have
been fulfilled eighteen hundred years ago, in the person of Jesus
Christ, who is asserted by Christians to be the person foretold in these
prophecies, and to have fulfilled their predictions. This question can
be easily decided, and only, we think, by appealing to past history, and
to the scenes passing around us, and comparing them with these

* The word in the original being Vayikra, in the Kal or Active form of
the verb, and not Vayikare the Niphal or Passive form.--D.

# reprove or argue.--D.

* Or, in righteousness.--D.

# Mr. English very properly takes notice of the disjunctive accent
(Pasek) occurring here in the text.--D.

# For a more correct enumeration of the thirteen cabalistic rules of
exposition, the English reader is referred to vol. 1, page 209, of the
“Conciliator” of B. Menasseh ben Israel, translated by E, H. Lindo,

# Mr. E. was, doubtless, aware that this is an exposition given by
Jewish Commentators.--D.

# There exists an English translation of this work by Abraham de Sola.

* The person here spoken of by Isaiah is said to make his grave with the
wicked, and be with the rich in his death. Whereas Jesus did exactly the
contrary. He was with the wicked (i. e., the two thieves) in his death,
and with the rich (i.e., Joseph of Arimathea) in his grave, or tomb. In
the original, the words may be translated that “he shall avenge, or
recompence upon the wicked his grave, and his death upon the rich.” Thus
does the Targum and the Arabic version interpret the place, and Ezekiel
ix. 10, uses the verb in the verse in Isaiah under consideration
translated (in The English version)--“He made,” &c--in the same sense,
given to this place in Isaiah, by the Targum, and the Arabic, as said
above. See the place in Ezekiel, where it is translated--“I will
recompence their way upon their head.” See also Deut. xxi. 8, in the
original. The Syriac has it--“The wicked contributed to his burial, and
the rich to his death.” The Arabic--“I will punish the wicked for his
burial, and the rich for his death.” The Targum--“He shall send the
wicked into hell, and the rich who put him to a cruel death.”--E.

# Or, shall destroy.--D.

* The remainder of this chapter is taken from Levi and Wagenseil.--E.

* The reader is requested to consider the reasoning in the last
paragraph. The prophecy in the second chapter of Daniel, is commonly
supposed to relate to the four Great Empires, the Babylonian, Persian,
Grecian and Roman. This last, it is (according to this interpretation,)
foretold, should be divided into many kingdoms, and that ‘in the latter
days of these kingdoms,’ (which are now subsisting) God would set up a
kingdom which would never be destroyed,--that of the Messiah. Of course,
according to this interpretation, the kingdom of the Messiah was not to
be not only sustain after the destruction of the Roman Empire, but not
till the latter days of the kingdoms which grew up out of its ruins;
whereas, Jesus was born in the time of Augustus, i. e., precisely when
the Roman Empire itself was in the highest of its splendour and vigour.
This is a remarkable, and very striking, repugnance, to the claims of
the New Testament, and, if substantiated, must overset them entirely.--E.

* The sum of our argument may be expressed thus. God is represented in
the prophecies of the Old Testament as designing to send into the world
an eminent deliverer, descended from David, the peace and prosperity of
whose reign should far exceed all that went before him, in whom all the
glorious things foretold by the prophets should receive their entire
completion; and who should be distinguished by the character of the
Messiah or Christ. This is an article of faith common to Christians and
Jews. But that Jesus of Nazareth should be esteemed this Messiah, and
that Christians can support that opinion, by alledging the prophecies of
the Hebrew scriptures as belonging to, and fulfilled in, him, is what we
can by no means allow, and that especially on account of these

1. Because, these prophecies, acknowledged on both sides to point out
the Messiah, could not otherwise answer the end of inspiring them than
by an accomplishment so plain and sensible as might sufficiently
distinguish the person meant by them to be that Messiah. But no such
accomplishment, we contend, can possibly be discerned in Jesus, and,
consequently, he cannot be the person meant by them.

2. Because, several predictions which Christians apply to Jesus, are
wrested to a meaning which quite destroys the historical sense of
scripture, and breaks the connexion of the passages from whence they are
taken. Thus many shreds and loose sentences are culled out for this
purpose, which do not appear to have any relation to Jesus, or to the
Messiah either; but to have received their proper and intended
completion in some other person, whom the prophet, as is manifest, had
then only in view.

3. Because, in their forced applications of the prophecies, Christians,
finding themselves hard pressed by the simple and natural construction,
forsake the literal, and take shelter in spiritual and mystical senses;
fly to hyperboles and strained metaphors, and thus expound the true
meaning and importance of the prophecies quite away; the intent whereof
being to instruct men in so necessary a point of faith as that relating
to the Messiah, it is reasonable to think they would be delivered in the
most perspicuous and intelligible terms. Since ambiguous expressions
(capable of such strange meanings as they pretend,) would be too
slippery a foundation to build such a point of faith upon; would be of
no use, or worse than none; would be unable to teach the clear truth,
and apt to ensnare men into dangerous errors, by leaving too great a
latitude for fanciful interpretations, and introducing darkness and
confusion, and contradiction inexplicable.

4. Because, admitting (as indeed it never was, or can be denied) that
many passages of scripture, and of prophetical scripture especially,
must be figuratively taken; yet, we must always put a wide difference
between a sense not just as the words in their first signification
import, and a sense directly the contrary of what they import. And yet
we complain that this latter is the sense which Christians labour to
obtrude upon the gainsayers. We say, that a kingdom of this world, and
not of this world; contempt and adoration; poverty and magnificence;
persecution and peace; sufferings and triumph; a cross and a throne;
the scandalous death of a private man upon a gibbet, and the everlasting
dominion of a universal monarch, must be reconciled, and mean the self
same thing, before the prophecies appealed to, can do their cause any
service. Granting, then, the goodness of God (according to them,) to
have been better than his word, by giving spiritual blessings, instead
of temporal; yet, what will become of the truth of God, if He act
contrary to his word, even when it would be for our advantage, if He
misleads people by expressions, which, if they mean any thing at all,
must mean what the Jews understand by them?

In short, it seems to me, that if Providence has, in truth, any concern
with the predictions of the Old Testament, it could not have taken more
effectual care to justify the unbelief and obstinacy of the Jews, than
by ordering matters so, that the life and death of Jesus should be so
exactly, and so entirely, the very reverse of all those ideas under
which their prophets had constantly described, and the Hebrew nation as
constantly expected of their Messiah, and his coming; and to suppose
that the Supreme Being meant to describe and point out such a person as
Jesus by such descriptions of the Messiah as are contained in the Old
Testament, is certainly substantially to accuse him of the moat
unjustifiable prevarication, and mockery of his creatures.

In order that the subject we are examining, and the arguments we make
use of, may be clearly understood by the reader, he is requested to bear
in mind, that the author reasons all along upon the supposed Divine
authority of the Old Testament; which is admitted by both Jews and
Christians. Whether the supernatural claims of the Old Testament be
just, or not, is of no consequence in the world to the controversy we
are considering. For the dispute of the Jew with the Christian is one
thing, and his dispute with the sceptic is another, totally different.
For whether such a personage as the Messiah is described to be, has
appeared eighteen hundred years ago, is quite a different thing from the
question, whether such a personage will appear at all. The Christian
says, that he has appeared in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. This the
Jew denies, but looks forward to the future fulfilment of the promises
of his Bible, while the Sceptic denies that the Messiah has come, or
ever will.

But the subject at present under consideration is the dispute of the Jew
with the Christian, who acknowledges the Old Testament to be a
Revelation, upon which a new Revelation, that of the New Testament, is
founded and erected. To him the Jew argues, that if the Old Testament be
a Divine Revelation, then the New Testament cannot be a Revelation,
because it contradicts, and is repugnant to, the Old Testament, the more
ancient, and acknowledged Revelation. Now God cannot be the author of
two Revelations, one of which is repugnant to the other. One of them is
certainly false. And if the Christian, conscious of the difficulty of
reconciling the New, with the Old, Testament, attempts to support the
New, at the expense of the Old, Testament, upon which the former is, and
was, built by the founders of Christianity; then the Jew would tell
him, that he acts as absurdly as would the man who should expect to make
his house the firmer, by undermining, and weakening its foundation.

So that whether the Christian affirms, or denies, he is ruined either
way. For he is reduced to this fatal dilemma. If the Old Testament
contains a Revelation from God, then the New Testament is not from God,
for God cannot contradict himself: and it can be proved abundantly, that
the New Testament is contradictory, and repugnant to the Old and to
itself too. If, on the other hand, the Old Testament contains no
Revelation from God, then the New Testament must go down at any rate
because it asserts that the Old Testament does contain a Revelation from
God, and builds upon it, as a foundation.--E.

* There was nothing which gave the author, in writing this Book, so much
uneasiness, at the apprehension of being supposed to entertain
disrespectful sentiments of the Founder of the Christian Religion. I
would most earnestly entreat the reader to believe my solemn assurances,
that by nothing that I have said, or shall be under the necessity of
saying, do I think, or mean to intimate the slightest disparagement to
the moral character of one, whose purity of morals, and good intentions,
deserve any thing else but reproach. That he was an enthusiast, I do not
doubt, that he was a wilful impostor I never will believe. And I protest
before God, that from the apprehensions above-mentioned alone, I would
have confined the contents of this volume to myself, did I not feel
compelled to justify myself for having quitted a profession: and did I
not, above all, think it my duty, to make a well meant attempt, which I
hope will be seconded, to vindicate the unbelief of an unfortunate
nation, who, on that account, have for almost eighteen hundred years,
been made the victim of rancorous prejudice, the most infernal
cruelties, and the most atrocious wickedness. If the Christian religion
be, in truth, not well founded, surely it is the duty of every honest
and every humane, man, to endeavour to dispel an illusion, which
certainly has been, notwithstanding any thing that can be said to the
contrary, the bona fide, and real cause of unspeakable misery, and of
repeated, and remorseless plunderings, and massacres, to an unhappy
people; the journal of whose sufferings, on account of it, forms the
blackest page in the history of the human race, and the most detestable
one in the history of human superstition.--E.

* Jerome, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, says, that
“The Church of Christ was not gathered from the Academy, or the Lyceum,
but from the lowest of the people.” [Vili Plebecula.] And Coecilius, in
Minutius Felix, says, that the Christian assemblies were made up “de
ultima faece collectis, imperitioribus, et mulieribus credulis sexus
suae facilitate labentibus,” i. e. “that they consisted of the lowest
of the mob, simple and unlearned, men, and credulous women.”

The president of a province is introduced, by Prudentius as thus
addressing a martyr:--“Tu qui Doctor, ait, seris novellum Commenti
genus, ut Leves Puellae, Lucos destituunt, Jovem relinquant; Damnes, si
sapias, ANILE DOGMA.”

The Christian Fathers confess, and glory in it, that the greater part of
their congregations consisted of women and children, slaves, beggars,
and vagabonds.

The Jewish Christians were, as appears evidently from the New Testament,
exceedingly poor, and therefore there is frequent mention made of
contributions for “the poor Saints at Jerusalem.” From thence it was
that the Jewish Christians got the name of Ebionites, i. e. Poor. The
Jewish Christian Church consisted of the dregs of the Jewish people,
simple and ignorant men, Samaritans, &c. No person in Judea of eminence,
or learning, appears to have joined the sect of the Nazarenes, except
Paul; after the destruction of Jerusalem they gradually dwindled in
number, and became extinct.--E.

* I will here lay before the reader the arguments advanced by the
Mahometans in behalf of the miracles of their prophet, extracted from
the learned Reland’s account of Mehometanism. They say that--“the
miracles of Mahomet and his followers have been recorded in innumerable
volumes of the most famous, learned, pious, and subtle Doctors of the
Mahometan Faith, who let nothing pass without the strictest and severest
examination, and whose tradition, therefore, is unexceptionable among
them; that they were known throughout all the regions of Arabia, and
transmitted by common and universal tradition from father to son, from
generation to generation. That the books of Interpreters and
Commentators on the Koran, the books of Historians, especially such as
give an account of Mahomet’s life and actions, the books of annalists
and lawyers, the books of mathematicians and philosophers, and, last of
all, the books of both Jews and Christians concerning Mahomet, are full
of his miracles. That if the authority of so many great and wise doctors
be denied, then, for their part, they cannot see but that a universal
scepticism as to all other accounts of miracles must obtain among people
of all persuasions. For authority being the only proof of facts done out
of our time, or out of our sight, if that be denied, there is no way to
come to the certainty of any such, without immediate inspiration; and
all accounts of matters recorded in history, must be doubtful and

“And these witnesses would not have dared to assert these miracles
unless they were true; for such as forged any miracles for his, which he
really did not, lay under a hearty curse from the prophet. For it was a
received tradition among the faithful, that Mahomet denounced hell and
damnation to all those who should tell any lies of him. So that none who
believed in Mahomet, durst attribute miracles to him which he was not
concerned in; and those who believed not in him, would certainly never
have given him the honour of working any, unless he had done so.”
Christian reader, thou seest how much can be said, and how many
respectable witnesses and authorities can be adduced to prove that
Mahomet wrought miracles. Canst thou adduce more, or better, authorities
in behalf of the miracles of the New Testament? Art thou not rather
satisfied how fallacious the evidence of testimony is in all such cases?

This is not all that the Mahometan might urge in behalf of his prophet,
for he might tell the Christian, boasting that Jesus and his Apostles
converted the Roman world from idolatry, that they overthrew one system
of idolatry, only to build up another, since the worship of Jesus, the
Virgin Mary, and the Saints, and their images was established in a few
hundred years after Jesus, and continues to this day; an idolatry as
rank, and much more inexcusable than the worship of the ancient Greeks
and Romans. Whereas, Mahomet cut “up root and branch, both Christian and
Pagan idolatry, and proclaimed one only God as the object of adoration;
and if the Christian should urge the rapid propagation of Christianity,
the Mahometan might reply, that Mahomet was a poor camel-driver, but
that Islamism made more progress in one hundred years, than Christianity
did in a thousand; that it was embraced by the noble, the great, the
wise, and the learned, almost as soon as it appeared; whereas,
Christianity was skulking and creeping among the mob of the Roman Empire
for some hundred years before it dared to raise its head in public view.
If the Christian should reply to this, by ascribing the success of
Mahometanism to the sword, the Mahometan might reply, with truth, that
it was a vulgar error; for that vastly more nations embraced Islamism
voluntarily, than there were who freely received Christianity; and he
might remind him, how much Christianity owed to the accession of
Constantine; to Charlemagne; and the Teutonic Knights; and bid him
recollect that the monks were assisted by soldiers to convert to
Christianity almost every nation in Modern Europe.--E.

# Compare the above with Maimonides, Hilchot Yessode Hattorah, from
chapter 7.--D.

* The reader is requested by the author to understand, and bear in mind,
that it is not at all intended by any of the observations contained in
this chapter on the histories of the four evangelists, to reflect upon,
or to disparage, the characters of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, under
whose names they go; because he believes, and thinks it is proved in
this chapter, that the real authors of these histories were very
different persons from the Apostles of Jesus; and that, in fact, the
accounts were not written till the middle of the second century, about a
hundred year’s after the supposed authors of them were dead. Of course,
none of the observations contained in the chapter relative to these
histories, ware considered, or intended, to apply to any of the twelve
apostles, who were not men who could make such mistakes as will be
pointed out. These mistakes belong entirely to the authors who have
assumed their names.--E.

* That the pretended Gospel of Matthew was not written by Matthew, or by
an, inhabitant of Palestine, may also be inferred, I think, from the
blundering attempts of the author of it to give the meaning of some
expressions uttered by Jesus, and used by the Jews, in the language of
the country, which was the Syro Chaldaic; and which the real Matthew
could hardly be ignorant of. For instance, he says that Golgotha
signifies--”the place of a skull.” Matthew xxvii. 33. Now, this is not
true, for Golgotha, or as it should have been written, Golgoltha, does
not signify “the place of a skull,” but simply “a skull.” The Gospels
according to Mark, and John, are guilty of the same mistake, and thus
betray the same marks of Gentilism. Again, the pretended Matthew says,
that Jesus cried on the cross, “Eli Eli lama, sabackthani,” which he
says meant, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew
xxvii. 46.) If the reader will look at what Michaelis, in his
introduction to the New Testament, says upon this subject, he will find
the real Syro Chaldaic expression which must have been used by Jesus, to
be so different from the one given by the supposed Matthew, that he
will, (and the observation is not meant as a disparagement to the real
Matthew, who certainly had no hand in the imposition of the Gospel
covered with his name) I suspect be inclined to believe, that this
pretended Matthew’s knowledge of the vulgar language of the Jews, used
in Christ’s time, must have been about upon a par with the honest
sailor’s knowledge of French; who assured his countrymen, on his return
home, that the French called a horse a shovel and a hat a chopper!--E.

* See Addenda, No. 2.

* The author had prepared, in order to subjoin in this place, an
examination of the Mosaic Code, and a development of its principles,
which he thinks would have satisfied the reader of the truth of what he
has said in the last paragraph. But as it would have too much increased
the bulk of the volume, it has been omitted. It is an institution
however curious enough to be the subject of an interesting discussion,
which he should be happy to see from the hands of one able to do it

# Mr. English, it will be perceived, differs in his translation of the
Hebrew word ‘nebelati,’ which is, certainly, in the singular number, and
not plural. The correct rendering is, doubtless, “with my dead body
they,” &c.; but this weakens not at all his argument, which is
essentially a Jewish one. See the Commentators, Chizoook Emunah, &c.

# This was, originally, a note; but, in order not to divert too much the
reader’s attention, it has been thought advisable to insert it here.--D.

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by Comparing The New Testament with the Old, by George Bethune English


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