The Irrationalism of Infidelity: Section c.

Being a reply to "Phases of Faith"*

J. N. Darby.

{*London: 1853.}

<06001-129E> File Section c.


I now turn to some details. For, while the pride of man's heart would have no God (at least, not one who should interfere with him or reveal Himself), he is very anxious really to get rid of One which besets him, which exposes his lusts and his pride, closes in his conscience on every side, and bars his will, and tells him that God does concern Himself in his thoughts, words, and actions, yea, though He do it in love. I turn, then, now to Mr. N.'s objections to scripture. In treating of objections made to the word of God, it is well to consider what is objected to.


I cannot here, of course, write a book on the positive evidences of Christianity. But no one is ignorant that there are such, and that the positive proofs of it — proofs such as no event, no system, no person on earth has for itself — have been detailed in the language of every civilized people. Now particular objections leave this all out of sight; yet, where anything has been largely, positively proved, the dwelling on the objections that may be raised, without estimating the positive proofs of the whole system, is a totally unsound mental process. It is a way of judging of the truth of anything which would be admitted in no other case whatever. I do not object to the examination of every difficulty in detail.

In the case of scripture, the positive proof is that of the divinity of the system as a whole. If the system at large is positively proved, a difficulty attached to it which I cannot solve is a demonstration, not of the falseness of the system, but of my incompetence to deal with the difficulty. In such a case, a sound minded man is content to say, "I do not know." The historical facts and documents of Christianity are proved, with an evidence such as no other universally believed event or acknowledged book has any evidence to be compared with, and if proved shew that it is divine. It has met with an opposition which made every document and fact to be scrutinized with a closeness which left only what was incontestable uncontested. This was to be expected, because it presented the claims of a holy God, to which the antagonist will of man never would submit. Hostile heathens, philosophical adversaries, heretical corrupters, foolish advocates, elaborate historians, voluminous commentators, every kind of author and character has been occupied with it from the time of its promulgation, and authenticated its history and its doctrines even when opposing them; and this in the presence of the hostility of religions divinely established or nationally and deeply enracinated on the one side, and sceptical scorn on the other. The books on which the smallest doubt could be cast, doubts were cast upon; and their authenticity made a subject of question as they are by objectors now.

73 The internal difficulties by which Mr. N. seeks to invalidate the inspiration of the New Testament, or at any rate the greater part of them, were noticed already in the second century and answered. The Jews were as desirous to prove Jesus was not the Messiah as Mr. N. could be now. In a word, we are on ground travelled over for eighteen centuries. Old infidelity dressed up in a new form, to be met by increasing light and increasing proofs, which God in His goodness affords, both internal and external.

The history of Christianity no one attempted to deny when any denial of it would have been of the smallest value. They hated it, opposed it, sought to destroy it by force, and to subvert it by argument and ridicule; but it was there to be hated. No man thought of denying that. The documents were reasoned against, and objections made to them; but they, and they only, were received, by friends and foes, as the authentic documents of the religion professed by Christians. This is beyond all question. The Jews exist to this day the living witnesses of the truth of this history. They possess the books of the Old Testament, which we do. Their state confirms the Christianity they deny. It is well known that the Talmudists* confirm the history of Christ's death, His flight into Egypt, and His miracles (though attributing them to sorcery He had learned when there, or, as some say, He wrought them by the means of God's ineffable name, which He stole).

{*These testimonies are of comparatively late date. They are in the Gemaras, not the Mishna; but this rather confirms the truth. If we receive the christian records, the Jews were forced to own notable undeniable miracles done before the eyes of the multitude. Comparatively speaking, contemporary hostile accounts are silent on the subject (I speak of Jewish doctors), and later ones do not dream of denying them, admit the facts, and attribute them to magic. Celsus (a heathen author, who lived some fifty years after St. John, as quoted by Origen) does not deny the miracles, but ascribes them also to magic. The Talmudists speak of instantaneous cures wrought by the name of Jesus. The passages are quoted by all the authors and commentators who have treated this subject at any length. Lightfoot is the usual book of reference for the English reader.}

If we turn to the internal testimony, there is no book in existence to be compared to the New Testament scriptures. Nothing in the least degree approaches its simplicity, power, moral depth and moral purity, profound knowledge of God, adaptation of His love to the heart of man; none that displays God so much, brings Him forward so constantly, without ever committing itself by anything unworthy of Him; brings Him down so near man, and yet only more fully to shew Him always to be God; reveals Him in person, in doctrine, in precept, in His ways, in prophecy; and by Mr. N.'s own testimony, it alone has produced the sense of the sympathy of a pure and perfect God with the sincere worshipper. It has done more; it has manifested Him as the Friend of publicans and sinners — a way of which Mr. N. has no idea. For them (and how many are there!) he has no God; and yet He is never more evidently God than when we see Him thus.

74 If, with a God of law, the unclean leper must stand off from man as well as God, Jesus will touch the defiled one with a holy power that dispels the evil by which it cannot be contaminated, while perfect suited love is revealed in the act.

But, further, take in general the account given of this manifestation of God in flesh. There is a divine infinitude in the relationships revealed and developed. We can feel, if indeed we can discern God, that we are occupied with what is infinite. Yet he who speaks is so at home in what is infinite, that the expression of it is simple, as God is to Himself — as everything is to Him. There is no bombastic effort to elevate expressions to what one's heart does not reach; no enlarged and laboured periods to unfold what remains secret and unknown after all, if indeed all be not in expression. What produces the inexpressible feeling is stated; but the statement has the simplicity of known and perfect truth. When Paul would sometimes express his feelings as to it, you may see him labouring beyond the bounds of human language, to give vent to the thoughts of a heart which possesses what is too great for it to contain. Yet this is only feeling produced by it.

Take the revelation of the facts, and all is simple. Read the scene with the shepherds, when that great event is announced which brought in reconciliation and the bringing together of a fallen world and God by the incarnation. Can anything exceed its simplicity? Yet what thoughts are unfolded in a few words: "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will towards men!" Luke 2:14 What accomplishment of promises — what revelation of grace — what an untold and ineffable mystery — what a God is revealed in love! Men, angels, Israel, the world, are all concerned. Where is there a word that is not characteristic of simple divine revelation? where is there an epithet seeking to elevate what such working of the human mind can only lower? Read all through the New Testament: never will you find an epithet attached to the name of Jesus. He carries His own beauty: others may talk about it, express their feelings about it; it is very right; it has its just and holy place. But Jesus is to be the thing revealed, if it be a revelation, not the expression of man's feelings about Him. What a testimony is this, that the Holy Ghost, and not Luke, or John, or Mark, or Matthew, was the real writer of these histories of Jesus! There is a divine stamp on the whole history, the not discerning of which proves, not the failure of the evidence, but the incompetence of him who is insensible to it to perceive that which is of God.

75 Again, take the whole body of scripture, a collection of books written by various persons during a period of fifteen hundred years — of about eight hundred, by Mr. N.'s admission. All these develop an immense system. The sacrifices of the old are far the fullest development of every moral truth contained in the great historical fact and doctrine of the new, yet comparatively without meaning, till that fact appeared and that doctrine developed its bearing — circumstances and histories, full of instruction for our present walk, which in themselves are simple histories of patriarchs or of Israel (the application of them being totally unknown to those who wrote) — a unity of design, a completeness of structure (yet written when the connection of the subsequent part with the former was impossible to be known to man), which proves the unity of the mind of the Being whose revealing power and controlling thought and knowledge run through it all from beginning to end.

It may be said that this is natural, where one people has been the scene of the development. But the fact is not so. This people rejected, and has been totally set aside by this development. The law in its own proper nature does not admit the gospel; and the gospel sets aside as a system in toto the law, and yet confirms it all as divine, as the law and the prophets all prove the gospel when it arrives.

The doctrine of the Church is brought out, of which there is no mention in the Old Testament whatever, yet it alone fills up the gap, and satisfies what these prophecies have revealed. Without it the world would have remained without any direct revealed association with God. This the revelation of the Church affords, for it is heavenly, which the world and Jewish government cannot be; yet these were to be set aside for a long while, and nothing earthly could fill up the gap.

It is revealed when the time is come and not before, because it sets aside the whole previous system of Jew and Gentile, a revelation which, if made before, would have destroyed all the authority of what existed. Yet it is necessary, when it does come, to the whole order of God's ways, as revealed in the system it sets aside. Now it is alleged, there are difficulties in detail as to this vast and wonderful system, externally authenticated as nothing else in the world is, which has internally the impress of its divine authorship in its whole character, morals, doctrine, and structure. If I lose the effect of the positive evidence, I prove my incapacity of estimating the value of the revelation of God, instead of simply my incompetence to solve the objection, as is the case if I accept the whole thus proved, and avow I cannot explain the difficulty, supposing such to be the case; as a man who reasoned what the sun was from an eclipse, and could not see when it shone. Suppose some phenomenon in nature which I cannot explain. That there are such, and even monsters, every one knows. I find around me (Mr. N. will not deny it) proofs of divine operation, and of a constant law (which is the strongest proof of divine operation) and power — a vast universe bearing (as a whole and in the minutest part) the proof of the power of God as having created and as sustaining it. If it be indeed God, nothing can be hid from this power; the very proof it is His is its universality, infallibility, and constancy, and that what grasps the whole cannot let the minutest part escape its attentions. It is not an outward show. That man could produce in his little measure. Go search within: see the springs, the details. Man's work is but the scene of a theatre, a fair show by dim light, and it is moved by what may fail at any moment. Follow God's into detail. See all His works in scrutinizing light. Does He fail anywhere? Has anything escaped Him? Nothing. How came the monster there then? Is there some Arimanes, some evil Demiurge, that has had at least his share in the work? One failure proves that God is not there! Such is logic — at least the logic of objections. I find some inexplicable phenomenon, some lusus naturae as it is called, some monstrous birth. It is a proof that there is no God, no perfect Creator and Sustainer of the universe! Is this sound reasoning with the proofs I have of it? No, the wise man, sure of the former by irrefragable proofs, says, I do not know why this is. He knows indeed, if taught of God, that evil is come in, and that sorrow and confusion is the fruit of it — evil which he does not attribute to God, save as permitting it externally for correction.

77 It is in vain to say, I can shew by the order of physical laws how it must have happened. Who made physical laws necessarily producing monstrosities? The sense that it is a monstrosity, moreover, is proof of the conscience of a universal order. Why then is a particular inexplicable difficulty adduced as an objection to revelation, and urged as a proof that the whole is false? There is but one reason. Revelation controls the passions, which creation does not. A judgment to come, sin, having to answer to God — these are what revelation treats of; and they are what man does not like. A God of providence he will have and reason about, because he wants Him, and he prides himself on having to say to the Almighty as he (man) likes to have to say to Him. But to be judged by Him, or even to own himself a sinner, and to be in so humble a condition as to be loved by Him and to need it — ah! that is another matter. The principle then on which the reasoning drawn from objections goes is a false and hollow one. Still, as they trouble the mind, I shall refer to them, without pretending to solve every difficulty that can be raised. That is merely a question of my competency, not of the truth of scripture. To judge of these we must advert to another principle which affects directly the whole force of any objection to any writing whatever, and that is the object of the writer. If my object is to shew the spirit and bearing of a course of action in which many isolated facts have the same moral force, I may neglect chronological order without anything being changed by it. If I were shewing the progress of an individual mind in them, chronological order would be everything. Again, if I am shewing that a person's public life had a given aim or object, I select the facts proving it, and neglect a multitude of others, without which, as a personal history, it would be necessarily imperfect and disconnected; but it is not incomplete in the view in which I have written it. If I were shewing the filial piety of the same person, and the way he kept up the ties of family to the end, only such parts of his public life would be related as might shew, that, in spite of its importance and activity, this tie was always felt and acted on. And so on.

78 Take again, as an example, the Code Napoleon. Did I speak of it as a monument of his genius, I might select particular parts in which the bearing of law on society, an intuitive perception of just results in details, and the vast scope of design were manifest, and shew that these originated in his mind Did another history seek to shew his power in employing instruments, it might shew the very same parts drawn up by men able in their vocation; and a caviller might find difficulty to reconcile the drawing up of all by these instruments with the originating mind which had set all agoing and directed it throughout. Were I shewing the progress of legislation in the world, I might allege these very same parts as the necessary consequence of the progress of society, and that they flowed as the evident consequences from the preceding steps in this process, as one idea leads on to another; and, in appearance, Napoleon's originality would disappear. All these histories might be true — nay, we may suppose, absolutely true — yet impossible for one who had only these to reconcile them in everything, because he has not the additional elements and a knowledge, which would be really divine, of the whole order of man's mind and history, which would be absolutely necessary to put them together. Is God's history of His Son in the world less vast in conception, less multifarious in the relationships it speaks of, than Napoleon and a code of laws?

Take, again, a scriptural example: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him." Matt. 17:5 If I quote this desiring to rest His claim to be heard on His being Son, in contrast, say, with Moses or Elias, I may quote it: "This is my beloved Son, hear him." If I were shewing the delight of God in Him, I might quote the former part, leaving out "hear him." If I refer to His Father's perfect approbation of Him as a reason why He should be the expression of His mind, I should quote the whole passage. These different citations, instead of being contradictions or mistakes, are proofs of the intention with which the statement is quoted.

Now, if God gives us a history, He must have an object. He cannot write a history even of His blessed Son merely to amuse man with a history of true facts. Hence He will, in a revelation, give what may be quite disconnected as a history. Thus, if God be unfolding the character of Christ as Son of man, He will select what does reveal Him in that character, not what presents Him simply as Messiah come on earth among the Jews. Consequently, in selecting the facts, large gaps may be found in the history. The connection will be the character of Son of man and facts really connected together historically in moral consequence, which are not in mere chronological order.

So of other great principles developed in the history of Christ. Many facts may be common to different features of His character, or necessary to the whole history. Thus grace in every case will shine forth; but not perhaps in the same application. No one can, in fact, read the gospels, without seeing that Jesus is presented in different characters in them. Matthew gives us His connection with Israel in His coming; that is, with the promises made to Israel: hence the constant quotation of prophecy. In John He is God Himself come down from heaven. In the beginning He was with God, and was God. Then the Word was made flesh. There is no manger of Bethlehem here. His genealogy is divine, so far as there is any. The Abrahams, the Davids, and the Adams have no place here, save so far as Christ takes one among their posterity by being a man. The Jews are treated as rejecting Him in this character from the first. Luke has his point. The Son of Adam is at once on the scene, though His connection with the Jewish people be historically given. Mark gives us the gospel-service of Christ, and we have nothing before John Baptist's ministry.

79 Now I say not that God has given a revelation, however truly I believe it; but that if God does give a revelation, He must have an object, and hence that the revelation must have a character suited to that object, or it would be imperfect and inefficient; the work would be that of an incompetent workman. The objection must lie, if valid, against such a work as pursues thus its object; for God must surely accomplish His purpose in this manner, if He does give revelation: and hence, to prove He has not, the objection must shew that the passage objected to is contrary to a purpose so pursued. God's revelation will not seek the satisfaction of man's curiosity in another way, nor to satisfy man at all (save so far as, in grace, not to turn him aside), but to instruct him. Did it do so, it would prove it was not God who wrote it.



I turn to the particular objections.

The first is, that Matthew was under manifest mistake in inserting fourteen names instead of eighteen, and in saying that there were only fourteen generations. This is a poor objection in presence of the moral power of the gospels; it shews a mind descended on low ground: but we will consider it. That Matthew has omitted three kings, none disputes; but this does not prove he made a mistake in doing so. The point he is shewing is Christ's legal connection with the throne of David: this, the omission of the three names did not in the smallest degree affect. The descent and the proof of it remain identically the same. Matthew and every one else knew of these three kings. What was his motive in omitting them may or may not be discoverable; but it does not affect the descent. What he gives is perfectly right. Mr. N. says, "I was struck with observing that the corruption of the two names, Ahaziah and Uzziah, into the same sound (Oziah), has been the cause of merging four generations into one." (Phases, p. 107.) Now this is a mere assertion* without the smallest foundation whatever. In the genealogy in 1 Chronicles, where the names are found together, there is no similarity in sound or anything else. Uzziah is not used, but Azarias, which does not resemble Ozias in sound or in any way. In the general history there are long chapters Or details which absolutely preclude all confusion. Where did this corruption of both names into the same sound exist? Not in the LXX: there, where brought together, we have Ὀχοζίυς and Ἀζαμίας. Nor is there any confusion between these names. Uzziah is called Ozias by the LXX in 2 Chronicles. But there is not the smallest ground whatever for saying there is any confusion with Ahaziah. Azariah and Uzziah are much more alike in Hebrew, and even interchanged; but it is Ozias in Greek where it is read Uzziah, and Azarias where it is read Azariah.** But with Ahaziah there is never any confusion whatever.

{*The remark seems borrowed from Wetstein.

{**It is Azarias in 2 Kings 15:13, 30, where the Hebrew reads Uzziah. In the rest of the chapter the Hebrew reads Azariah, which the Greek preserves here in verses 13, 30.

80 This argument is merely one which plays in the ear of the English reader.*

{* Ὀχοζίας and Ὀζίας are not only different, but are never used together.}

If Matthew used the Septuagint, and it is there Ozias is found, the Septuagint gives no occasion to any confusion. If the Hebrew, Ahaziah and Uzziah could lead to none; they are in different parts of the history, and the letters are so different they could not mislead.

If Matthew, indeed, looked at the genealogies, it could not be mistake — he would have copied the genealogy as he found it; if at the history, then there is no possible ground for confusion. Nor did the circumstances of the history afford any occasion thereto. It is a perfectly gratuitous supposition, without any foundation in fact. Matthew has left them out intentionally, or what he was led of God to copy did; and there is no mistake: he has counted the generations he has given, and he has counted them correctly.* Had he put them in and said there were fourteen, mistake might have been alleged. He has omitted the first three descendants of Athaliah — Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah. It is easily to be believed that the Spirit of God led Matthew to take the Jewish registers, for such would be the authentic means of proving a genealogy where the public fact was to be proved. To men it would have been even more suited to his purpose than any other, for they could not reject it. To the believer the revelation of the fact was sufficient; but an appeal to what men acknowledge is a means the Holy Ghost uses continually in grace. No one who has paid the least attention to Hebrew genealogies can have any difficulty whatever. Whole families are given under a name, nay, whole peoples, or even under the name of a district, if they were known by it; they are recommenced again, if any one had the character of a new stock. Many links are often left out, provided the family relationship is established; little else is generally aimed at. This is evident, on comparing them.

{*Jerome, in loco, notices the omission, and says they were left out as being children to the third generation of Athaliah, who was of Ahab and Jezebel's family. Matthew intending to have fourteen in each class. It is very possible the Jews had left them out from this motive. writing and giving the genealogy, it is evident that Matthew, for the purpose he had, should copy the genealogy, not make one. One he had made would have been of no possible value, and his introduction of the three omitted kings wholly out of place or ill-timed.}

81 The taking this from the registers, and to take it as it was there, would be the natural way, I may say the right way, to authenticate it to the Jews. Faith has no difficulty in it. It believes on other grounds that Christ was the Son of David, as the gospels also set it on other grounds of proof. To have departed from the registers would have hindered the testimony, nay, destroyed the effect of this testimony.

Was it anything unworthy of God to use it in grace?

To use it is really of no avail, and evidently unascertainable, and hence, I may add, a good field for an objection when we wish to find one. That Matthew was familiar with scripture is evident, unless he is admitted to have quoted it by inspiration; if he did, we need not reason about the genealogy. If he was familiar with it, all this argument about a mistake is perfectly absurd, because there is no ground for it in reading the Old Testament. The histories of Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah are as largely related, or more so, than those of the greatest number of the kings.

82 The term "begat" is constantly employed in Hebrew for a descendant. But whatever the motive of Matthew, there is no mistake. He has left out three kings, the children of an apostate woman, recommencing with him in whose reign the prophecies of Messiah dawned brightly on Israel, and he has counted his genealogies aright. It is very possible that the words "Jehoiakim" and "Jehoiakin" are blended in Jechonias, because this happens in other authors,* that is, the two names are written the same. But Mr. N. does not see that this makes no difficulty. Jehoiakim, or Eliakim, was older than Jehoahaz, and is named with his brethren, Jehoahaz being omitted,** and Jechonias, or Jehoiachin, is spoken of only in Babylon, whither he was carried. Or Josias, being the last independent king of David's family, and Jechonias, being the one actually carried away, is put forward as marking the epoch, and Josias named as being the last king who had any free place in Israel, for Jehoahaz was carried, after three months' reign, into Egypt, and Judah never after raised its head; hence the whole family is thrown together as the children of Josias, Jechonias being singled out as the person led captive and the fresh royal stock in Babylon. In either case, the descent of David's family remains alike made good.

{*Thus Josephus calls Jehoiakim  Ἰωαχιμου, saying Nebuchadnezzar killed him, and made Ἰωαχιμου, his son, king. And Clement of Alexandria expressly says, After  Ἰωακεὶμ ὁ ὁμωνυμος αὐτοῦ Ἰωακεὶμ reigned three months. Irenaeus says (lib. 13, 30, end of 21 Bened. edit.), "Joseph, Joacim et Jechonia filius ostenditur."

St. Jerome insists largely on this (in Dan. 1), saying, "Ob hanc causam in Evangelio secundum Matthaeum una videtur deesse generatio quia secunda —  τεσσαρακαιδεκάς — in Joachim desinit filio Josiae, et tertia incipit a Joachin filio Joacim. Quod ignorans Porpheytrius calunian struit ecclesiae, suam ostendens imperitiam, dum Evangelistaeo Matthaei arguere institur falsitatem." Jehoiachin is called Ἰωακειμ twice in Jeremiah 52:31. In 4 (i.e., 2) Kings 24:6 it is said, Ἰωακὲιμ, (or κὲιμ) slept with his fathers, and Ἰωακιμ his son reigned in his stead, and so on in the chapter, and at the end of 2 Kings 25. I may add, that considering the two Jechonias as distinct makes the fourteen more easily reckoned; otherwise David is reckoned twice, as closing the first fourteen and beginning the second. The only apparent difficulty (which Epiphamius settles by inserting ἐγέννησε Ἰεχονίας but he cannot be trusted) is, that it is not said Jechonias begat Jechonias; but this is easily understood, because the captivity intervenes and breaks the thread of the genealogy entirely. The whole history of Israel ceased, and the kingdom. If the reader prefer this solution, I have no objection. It appears that it was rather after the captivity of Jechonias (he was then only eighteen) that his son was born. The reader may see that these objections are as old as Porphyry, and how early, as I stated, everything was minutely examined.}

{**The English reader must not consider the expression, "they were carried away captive," as of any consequence; it is literally "of her carrying away."}

83 The reader will remark that the three epochs are characteristic of the state of Israel or Judah, beginning, of course, with Abraham. These objections, then, have not the least weight. No one is called to believe that fourteen is eighteen. Matthew counts the generations he has given in the Jewish style of twice seven.

The Spirit meant to shew the legal descent of Christ, so as to inherit the royal title; and this He has done perfectly by that which was the legal proof of it, and inspired Matthew to do it, and to do it in this way, which was the only right and valid one. It was the proof that Joseph, of whom Christ was heir legally, was descended from David, and so from Abraham.

How was this to be legally done? Not by inspiring a genealogy, but by shewing it by the admitted tables. This is what is done. That it is the legal descent or title is evident; for the evangelist does not for a moment leave a cloud on the fact that Jesus was not Joseph's son. He says, "The husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." He publishes carefully what he is doing — that he is not giving the natural descent. Christ's miraculous birth follows, to make this dear. It is His legal title which is deduced here, and in the legal, right, and valid way. The designation of Joseph, by the angel, as son of David, confirms the truth of what I say as to the design of this part of Matthew.

Even if the chapter were spurious, this would encourage Mr. N. (so he says) to apply similar criticisms to other passages. Would he be glad to be thus encouraged in a classical author?

The very ancient objection of the difference of the two genealogies is then brought forward — a difficulty, amongst others, as old as Celsus and Origen. Mr. N. settles for his readers (assuming, I suppose, their ignorance) that "neither gives the genealogy of Mary, which alone is wanted." (Ib. p. 108.)

No one could object to his seeking to prove this, if he wished it; but to state it as an uncontested fact is merely trading on the credulity of the English public. It is, he says, an undeniable mistake, in spite of the "flagrant dishonesty with which divines seek to deny" it. (Ib.) Thus the subject is dismissed. Who can dare answer in face of such a judgment? Modesty might say, "I cannot disentangle a difficulty which depends on registers we have not got;" but this would not be the Βασιλιχὴ ἀτμαπὴ, the royal road to certainty needed to gain credit as a sceptic. I have no great respect for theology, nor can I pretend to be learned. Still I can say, that this is not quite so clear a matter as Mr. N. thinks. There is enough to "encourage criticism" on such a decision.

84 As regards the genealogy of Matthew, it is undoubtedly the genealogy of Joseph, and given as such.

Mr. N. says, this is not what we want. Now I apprehend Matthew must have known much better than Mr. N. (for I do not assume his inspiration here) what was required in his days, either from the expression of it by others, or the habits of his own mind formed by the same circumstances. The truth is, this was of great importance. If Jesus presented Himself to claim the throne of David, and Joseph had at that time a separate and hostile title in the direct line from Solomon, Jesus's title would have been void legally; and it was material to shew Him rightful heir by this title. And we find, in fact, that Joseph never once appears after Christ makes the claim, though we have mother (and, remark, confided to another at the cross), brothers, sisters — never Joseph. Jesus had succeeded him in his title, in a Jewish way, to the crown of David and throne of Israel. Matthew, then, gives what was needed in this respect; and gives it suitably. Jesus was the legal heir of Solomon.

Mr. N. ought to know, if he writes on such a subject, that many learned men think that the genealogy in Luke is that of Mary pursued in the order of nature up to Nathan. I am well aware others have thought it that of Joseph also; and as Salathiel was son of Jechonias, and Zerubbabel his grandson through Pedaiah* — so also he may have been collaterally, or by his mother or grandmother, descended from Nathan. If there were no brothers of such mother, he would rank as such. They have applied the same reasoning to Eli as regards Joseph.** The truth is, in these Jewish genealogies, where grandsons are called sons — nephews and cousins, brothers — and children raised up to a man by a brother taking his widow, whose seed is called then after her dead husband, with the registers we have defective as a mere human testimony — no objection is of much weight, and answers can only be suppositions. But these last are quite sufficient; because, when a contradiction has to be proved, a case possible by supposition shews absolutely there is no contradiction.

{*See 1 Chronicles 3:17, which may give the reader an idea how, while very carefully shewing of what family a person was, the Jewish records left the rest obscure. No one can tell in what exact relationship those of chapter 5:18 stood; only they were certainly of Jechonias' or David's family: by any of them a descent could have been traced. The leaving out of women, so that a man was called son of his maternal grandfather, increased the difficulty.}

{**Wetstein, for instance, considers the genealogy of Luke as the natural or direct genealogy of Joseph, and Matthew, the derivation of the royal title which was in the collateral line. This is a question really of the construction of the Greek phrase; for as we have not the registers to settle which it is, it may be of course, as to the names, either. It does not affect the substantial question as to our blessed Lord in the least. The inspiration of the gospels, and His mission as Son of David, rest on other proofs altogether; and that once proved, and His claim authenticated by His miracles and all other evidence, He is certainly Son of David, and the particular object of the genealogies is an independent question. Mr. N. has assumed that it was to prove Him really and naturally the son of David; but this is merely his assumption.

Matthew certainly deduces his legal title, not his natural descent. What Luke's is is a question interesting in its place, but only so for its own merits. The total want of force in Mr. N.'s argument is shewn in this, that supposing Luke had given an unexceptionable genealogy of Mary — that is, one to which no objection could be raised — and given it avowedly as Mary's genealogy, what possible proof should we have now that it is exact, but faith in his inspiration, and the absence of proof to the contrary, or his general fidelity as an historian? That is, its correctness must rest on the general proofs of Luke's fidelity or inspiration, which are to be looked for elsewhere. And in fact, in the gospels the testimony that He was Son of David is always rested on other grounds; while it does not appear, on the other hand, that the genealogy was ever contested. It is a mere delusion to advance the difference between the two genealogies as an objection, because Matthew's is avowedly the royal legal tide in Joseph. Now if the natural genealogy were given in Luke, there would be no kind of necessity that they should be the same. If it be counted from Mary, for the greater part it could not be.}

85 If we consider it as the Lord's genealogy through Mary, it would stand thus: But Jesus Himself was beginning to be about thirty years of age (being, as was supposed, son of Joseph); and τοῦ Ηλι may be directly in connection with Jesus' Ιούδας Ιαχώβου, or, still more exactly,  Ἐμμὸρ τοῦ Ευχέμ. This abruptness would result from its being an extract of genealogical tables. Υἱὸς may be understood in these cases as  ἀδελφος is in the case of Jude in Luke, and πατὴρ in Acts 7 (if we adopt the ordinary reading), and Herodotus 6:98, quoted by Wetstein on Matthew 1:17. As to abruptness, 1 Chronicles begins with far greater in an analogous case. The τοῦ refers entirely to the person of Heli, and marks its case as dependent on υἱὸς understood. The use of the article with names is habitual in genealogies, and constant in the gospel. Mark has τὸν τοῦ Ζεβεδαίον … Ἰάχωβου τὸν τοῦ  Ἀλφαίου, and in the whole genealogy of Matthew. So John 19:25: so that the absence of υἱὸς, and the presence of τοῦ, is nothing extraordinary. The form of it here is more abrupt. Were I to say, ὁ  Ἰησοῦς ὁ τοῦ Ηλί τοῦ Ματθάτ , it would be an easy and the correct form of speech; but to begin the extract of genealogy with ὁ τοῦ Ηλὶ, after the long interruption, would be extremely unnatural; the rather as He had been said to be supposed the son of Joseph, so that υἱὸς as naturally suggests itself to the thought as it is commonly left out. But the example of many* Greek genealogies would lead, as Luke generally writes correct Greek, to the supposition, that the connection of the series is with Joseph. The reader who possesses Wetstein's Greek Testament may see such examples in the notes.

{*Herodotus, however, uses it with simply τοῦ after the first name.}

86 If taken as Joseph's natural descent, this would prove that the object of the genealogies was, not to give Christ's descent according to the flesh by Mary, but, first, the natural descent of Joseph from David, and, secondly, His being that one of such descendants to whom the crown belonged; Matthew giving the latter, Luke the former. The descent from David, which was only necessary to the accomplishment of Jewish promises, was rested, to the Jews, on their known authentic records and acknowledged principles.

The fact of actual descent, if to be taken in the material and not in the legal sense, would rest on the uniform testimony of the gospels that He was Son of David, such as the angel's to Mary, a testimony resting on the general proofs of their authenticity. There is no mistake, for Luke is as careful to say, "being (as was supposed [or reckoned]) son of Joseph" as Matthew; so that, if it be Joseph's descent, he well knew and meant to express what he was thus proving. It remains to be proved whether, in any accomplishment of such a promise among the Jews, and made to the Jews, any other relationship was needed, and whether such relationship is not to be taken according to Jewish (scripturally Jewish) relationship, and not English. For instance, it is well known the widow's child by the brother was reckoned the son of the dead. This is foreign, we know, to all our thoughts; but, as a divine national law (for it was merely a national law connected with the inheritance of the land), every Jew did and was bound to count him so. The brother was guilty and despised who did not do it.

87 Now scriptural language is to be taken as it is given to us in scripture. It is quite evident, that this legal title was judged important, whatever fancies Mr. N. may have as to it as an Englishman — important where alone this promise had its proper and peculiar importance as to its effect, for Matthew, who especially occupies himself with the accomplishment of such promises, gives this only.

It is certain that in general the evangelists rest the Jewish part of the question on Joseph's position. (See Luke 2:4.) But, instead of being irreconcilable, these genealogies are open to so many explanations that the difficulty arises thence. Thus, if Mary had no brother and was the daughter of Eli, the Lord was descended from Eli; and Joseph would be called τοῦ Ηλὶ as heir and representative of Eli. If Matthat and Eli were brothers and one died without children, then Joseph would be counted the seed of one, though really child of the other, and might be heir of both.

Now these shew that there is no contradiction, supposing both the genealogies Joseph's; their credit will then rest on that of the writer. Hence different persons,* as Africanus (whom Augustine follows), who pretends to give it from relations of Jesus's family, and others, have adopted different ones. None can be proved: all prove there is no contradiction. If the genealogy be Mary's, there is clearly none. It may be however given as Joseph's, who through Mary would be τοῦ Ηλὶ, representative of Eli in the family. In this case Luke would give the union of the legal and natural title, and the structure of the phrase would be, according to Greek genealogies, ὢν (ὡς ἐν.) υἱὸς  Ἰωσὲφ, τοῦ Ηλὶ, &c., and yet Eli would be the father of Mary, and the genealogy really hers. Its being thus the natural descent by Mary, though legally passing through Joseph, would meet another point in the genealogy of great importance in Luke's gospel, its being traced up to Adam, so that Jesus is Son of man, to which His natural genealogy has more reference. It would make Him also naturally son of David. Thus the natural genealogy would be traced and brought through Joseph, its legal representative; and this I rather apprehend to be the case, but I attach no kind of importance to it. I would add, "according to the flesh" has a broader meaning than mere natural descent,** though founded no doubt on fleshly descent.

{*The reader may consult, if he will, Eus. Hist. 1:7, and Quaestiones et Responsiones ad Orth., 131 - 133, conf. 66, which seem to adopt Africanus's system.}

{**Compare the following phrases: "No confidence in the flesh," which is the descendible privilege (Phil. 3.), "and knowing Christ after the flesh," "of whom as concerning the flesh," "our father according to the flesh."}

88 On the whole, I am satisfied that the descent itself is Mary's. I may add here, that the apocryphal vision of Isaiah, which is probably of the year 68, declares Mary to be of the lineage of David, as Joseph also. This I refer to merely as shewing the popular general apprehension of that day. In Kaye's Tertullian, it is stated, that Tertullian uniformly appeals to the census as establishing the descent of Christ from David through Mary. It is the more likely that it may be so, as the Jewish Talmudists speak of Mary as the daughter of Eli, saying she is tormented in the other world.

On the whole, then, there are two questions. First, Do the generations contradict each other? This, it is clearly demonstrated, that there is not the slightest possible ground for asserting. With this all objection really falls to the ground. Secondly, Is Luke's genealogy that of Joseph or Mary? It may be legally Joseph's and naturally Mary's. But this is a question for theologians, not for infidels; for, whichever the Lord may have thought proper to have given, an infidel has nothing to say in the matter.

The question of inexactitude no human being can settle by any subsisting registers, for there are none.* To impute it, therefore, is mere wantonness. To the question of inspiration it has nothing to say. The proofs of this rest on totally other ground. Were the genealogy as accurate as law could make it, it would not prove it inspired. Were it inspired, I should have no proof of its accuracy from other sources; I must rest it on inspiration proved in another way.

{*The omission of the three kings by Matthew I have already discussed. It does not depend merely on registers, but on an elaborate and detailed history; so that the question goes beyond registers. I refer here to Luke, adduced as contradicting Matthew.}

The fact of Christ's being in every sense Son of David, is rested, in the gospels, on proofs of quite a different character. On the other hand, His legal title to sit on the throne of David is given in a way which was conclusive to the Jews. The fact of His natural birth of Mary would not have proved it, Joseph being alive; nor if there were other relations of Joseph, unless He was his legal heir. Even if there were not, the legal title through Eli by Mary might be important to give also, as it was allowed He was not naturally Joseph's son. Thus every way He was heir, and the two genealogies had their just place.


The next objection (Phases, p. 108) is Acts 7:16: "And were carried over, and placed in the sepulchre which Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Hamor, the father of Sychem." That there is a difficulty in this passage is beyond a doubt; and some mistake difficult for us now to solve. There is a name which is inexactly connected with an historical fact in the Old Testament. It is also one of those difficulties long since discussed. But to call in question inspiration because of it, is to put what an error in copying would produce, in competition with all the moral and spiritual evidence of divine power, manifest in the whole contents of the book itself, and in its effects in the world for ages. It is so falsely measuring the intrinsic importance of evidence, and the character of proof, that the person rejecting the scriptures because of it would prove nothing but his own incompetence to measure evidence. A book two thousand years old has a mistake in a sentence, which the omission of a word entirely rectifies, without changing anything — a word very likely to creep in. And this is used to discredit what bears the largest, fullest, strongest, positive proofs of every kind, of being the testimony of God, and has produced, and does produce, effects which nothing but the testimony of God could do.

The objection is this: Abraham is said, as the passage stands, have bought the place of the sepulchre of the sons of Emmor, It was Jacob, if the sons of Emmor be rightly here, not Abraham, who did so. The solution of it is, in one sense, exceedingly easy. The only question is, Is it really the true one? The word "Abraham" being left out, all difficulty disappears. "Jacob died, as did also our fathers, and were carried over to Sychem, and placed in the sepulchre which he bought," &c. Now Joseph was buried there; and Jerome states, that Paula saw the sepulchres of the rest; and Wetstein quotes Syncellus and two Jewish writers to the same purpose.* The omission of Abraham is given credit to by this — that one uncial MS,** ancient and of good authority, has an addition here which gives strong ground to suppose Abraham to be an interpolation.

{*Josephus says they were buried in Hebron. The Old Testament says nothing of it; and it is contrary to Jewish tradition, which says, "Hebron is called Kirjath-arba, because Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are buried there".}

{**I say one, because, though Laud, and Ven. Bede are quoted in the critical editions of the Greek Testament, the MS marked E in the Acts is Laud, or the Latin translation; and it appears that seventy-four readings of Bede are found in this MS, so that these are really scarcely more than one authority.}

90 I would lead the attention of my reader to another point here. Let him read Stephen's speech, and he will find a very brief but most perfect and complete summary, for application to the consciences of the Jews, of the history of the patriarchs from Abraham to the end of Joseph's history — a summary which supposes the most perfect and accurate knowledge possible of the details of the history; a man thoroughly master of the whole account given in Genesis, and carrying it in his mind, as all perfectly well known, so as to give in few words the whole moral bearing of all its parts. It would have been impossible for any one, leaving aside inspiration (and if inspired, the question is at an end), for any one not perfectly familiar with every part of it to have given such an abridgment of the history. But it would have been equally impossible for a person so informed, and master of his subject, to have made such a mistake; because the facts were connected with most interesting points in Jewish history, which made the deepest impression on their memory, and connected themselves with their earliest and strongest associations, and are in the history itself too entirely distinct, and accompanied with far too great a detail of different circumstances to allow of the supposition of any confusion of mind between the two. The supposition, therefore, that Stephen confounded the two, is, in every point of view, the most improbable solution of any one that can be made. This, it is true, is nothing for a sceptic, because he gains his point by it, or at least raises a doubt. That his reasoning is very absurd is no matter to him; because, if he can produce a doubt, faith is at an end. Hence he uses arguments which would be absolutely unreasonable in any human enquiry, and at once rejected.

Now I am bold to say, that nothing can be more unreasonable than that an author who could have produced such a summary of the patriarchal history as Acts 7 should make the blunder supposed to be made in Acts 7:16. The mere literal authority would lead to correct it by leaving out Abraham; but the internal evidence would lead me, I confess, to believe "the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem" interpolated; and it would run thus: "in the sepulchre which Abraham bought for a sum of money." I would add, that the Peschito Syriac reads the verbs in the singular: "Jacob died, as also our fathers, and was carried over to Sychem, and laid in the tomb which Abraham bought for a sum of money." The point seems to be, that he had it when Israel was not in possession of the land, Sychem being mentioned as shewing God's title over the whole land: for it was now the seat of Samaritanism, a point in Stephen's speech of moment, as was his shewing that the best and most blessed of their ancestors had nothing there at all but what they bought — were still pilgrims and strangers, as the saints now were becoming through the Jews' rejection of Messiah and the Holy Ghost's testimony in Stephen's own person. It is the whole tenor and bearing of Stephen's speech — the rejection of the lawgiver whom God sent as a deliverer, and the delivering to the Gentiles Him who was their preserver of life, and hence the stranger's place for the true-hearted, Solomon's temple itself being rejected by the testimony of their own prophets. Some one, seeing "Sychem, where Jacob was carried over," added the "Emmor father of Sychem,"* and left "Abraham" in the text.

{*The Vatican reads, "in Sychem," not "father of Sychem." The Syriac omits all after Emmor.}

91 In result, it is fully confessed that a difficulty exists in the text as it stands.

The reason assigned for it by the infidel is the most improbable of any, humanly speaking.

We are not in possession of means to correct with certainty the mistake that exists.

There is a very probable way of accounting for it, without doing any violence whatever to the text as it stands, when one word is omitted, or if the last words naming the persons are omitted; for the account of the transaction, if either be, is perfectly exact: the mistake is in the name only.

This last remark is material; namely, that it is a mistake which a transcriber might make, or a marginal reference to a name introduce: no moral error, no mistake, even in the facts, setting aside the name, exists. The teaching of the Holy Ghost in the passage is in no way in question, otherwise than in the insertion of a name.


The next difficulty presented is in the discourse of Gamaliel, Acts 5. (Phases, p. 108.) Theudas, it is said, was after Gamaliel's time, instead of before Judas's; and appeal is made to Josephus, whose testimony is considered infallible and complete, because it is not inspired. Valuable and important as the information afforded by Josephus is, the accuracy of this servile worshipper of Vespasian* as the Messiah of an apostate heart is not so absolute as the author would lead people to suppose. But I do not see reason to call in question his account of Theudas. It happened (according to his account), as we learn by comparing the dates, in his childhood; and he mentions Cuspius Fadus as the governor under whom it happened; so that there is no reason to suppose that he was not well informed. But Luke is also an historian of extreme and undoubted accuracy. Few give such proofs of it by reference or allusions to a multiplicity of historical and geographical details or customs,** in which a stranger would betray himself.

{*Interesting as the information furnished by an eye-witness on such a subject as the history of the Jewish war, and of one almost a contemporary with other still more important periods, must be, it would be difficult, I judge, to find an example of a baser human spirit than that exemplified in the History of Josephus.}

{**The reader who knows German may consult Tholuck's Die Glaubwurdigkeit der evangelische Geschichte; or, if only French, an abridged translation of it by the Abbé Valroger, entitled, Essai sur la Credibilite de l'Histoire Evangelique. It is an answer to Strauss's Das Leben Jesus, u.s.w.}

Now Josephus mentions a Theudas who rose up after Gamaliel's time; Luke, one who rose up before it.

Mr. N. assumes that they are the same, and that it is Luke's mistake. He says, "Of both the insurgents we have a clear and unimpeached historical account in Josephus." (Ib. pp. 108, 109.) The reader might suppose that there were two insurgents only in those days. The fact is, they hardly ever ceased for forty or fifty years. There were a multitude of them.

It has been shewn that, between the death of the first Herod and the destruction of Jerusalem, there were three Judases and five Simons. Lardner makes, I think, four Simons in forty years, and three Judases in ten; one of whom, Usher is decidedly of opinion, is the Theudas mentioned by Luke, as to which I do not pretend to offer an opinion. Usher thinks the name the same. At any rate the name of Theudas was so very common, as well as the change and assumption of names, that an insurgent Theudas is the most easy thing to credit that possibly can be. A statement of "both the insurgents," as if there were only two, and the two Theudases the same, is, to say the very least, as unfounded a one as possibly can be made.

93 Remark further, that Luke, in his account of Judas, is thoroughly accurate. Though generally called Judas Gaulonitis, he was a Galilean; for so Josephus also calls him. It is supposed, that having the means of being thus accurate as to one, he is wholly inaccurate as to another fact, drawn from the same sources. When the whole difficulty is this, which is really none, that in a multitude of abortive efforts of the Jews against Roman power, Josephus has omitted one which Gamaliel mentions, we knowing that he omits many others, the name being a very common one indeed, as Wetstein has shewn, and the fact being ascertained that there were five such efforts of persons having or assuming the same name of Simon, and three more assuming another within ten years; so that a second of the same name, and that a very common one, in fifty years, has not the smallest improbability whatever.

Further, the only circumstance to prove them the same is the death of the leader, and the dispersion of his followers; an event which probably occurred in every case in these vain and desultory efforts of partial rebellion. One point in which detail is given may be noticed, to shew they are not the same; for Luke gives the number of Theudas's adherents as about four hundred; whereas Josephus says they were "a great multitude," τὸν πλεῖστον ὄχλον. Indeed, though much cannot be rested upon the word, the result was somewhat different; for in Luke they were "scattered," διελύθησαν, and brought to nought. Of those under the Theudas against whom Cuspius Fadus sent a troop of horse, many were slain and many taken prisoners, among whom was Theudas, who was beheaded. Now, though, as a general result, dispersion and coming to nothing might be stated, on the whole, the impression is different. And remark, that Luke has evidently accurate information here, for he is able to tell the number of his Theudas's followers as about four hundred. Yet he is an historian who is remarkably exempt from all appearance of pretension or exaggeration.

94 And here note, that I am not called upon to prove that Luke is right, but that the objection is an unfounded one. And I judge that what we have seen proves it not only to be unfounded, but unreasonable; and that the expression, "both the insurgents," is an unwarrantable assertion, to say the least.

The truth of the history rests on the general credibility of the historian; for I am not to suppose inspiration here, though the abundant independent proofs of that preclude all these questions altogether. The effort to shew it improbable entirely fails. Perhaps the reader may suppose that this is an answer invented now to meet the case. Alas! all these objections have been made centuries ago. This one in particular by Celsus, some sixteen hundred years ago or more; and the Christianity these philosophical heathens tried to subvert then, as the philosophical deists, boasting of their greater spirituality, do now (borrowing their objections from the heathens, and their spirituality from the Christianity they seek to subvert) — this Christianity, I say, has subsisted after all their efforts, and saved millions of souls taught by it, as Mr. N. has admitted, the sympathy of the pure and perfect God with the sincere worshipper, in spite of the opposition, and in spite of the still more dangerous corruptions which have for the most part disfigured it. It has subsisted and produced an energy of love which "philosophical faith" never thinks of, not only because it is the truth of God, but because the God of truth Himself is in and with it, and has proved it in revealing Himself to the hearts of poor sinners saved and made happy by it. What has Mr. N. that he has not borrowed from it? He must not be surprised that we claim the feathers he has decked himself in. He may be assured that my heart would earnestly wish them to be livingly his own. Nor would I, if stripping him of what is borrowed, peck at himself. I would not spare his work, seeking as it does to deprive souls of what alone is blessing and life. I feel my feebleness in commenting on it. What I can I will do to shew it groundless and unreasonable. But I add the proof how ancient this account of Theudas which I have given is.

Origen, who had read Josephus, and gives him the character of truthfulness of research, says, in reply to Celsus, "We say that there was a certain Theudas among the Jews, before the birth of Jesus, alleging himself to be some great one;" and again, "Judas the Galilean, as Luke has written in the Acts of the Apostles, chose to say he was some great one, and before him, Theudas." Acts 5:36 Elsewhere he says the same thing. Hence learned men have remarked, that the fathers here constantly refer to these two as the thieves and robbers who came-before Christ, shewing that they supposed Theudas did so. This merely shews that they accepted Luke's account as certain, in spite of Celsus's objection already cited.

95 Eusebius, overlooking all difficulty of date, takes for granted Josephus's Theudas and Luke's to be the same; he places him in the reign of Claudius, that is, seven or ten years after Gamaliel's speech, which must have been before the death of Tiberius, or in the beginning of Caligula's reign.


Under the general head of "undeniable mistakes" (for infidels must not be expected to fail in hardihood of assertion) we have, "The slaughter of the infants by Herod, if true, must, I thought, [how easy to think a doubt and find the thing doubted an undeniable mistake!] needs have been recorded by the same historian." (Ib. p. 139.) Why? Is it so very likely that a Jewish infidel historian should have recorded a particular act of local cruelty, which would have been the strongest testimony possible that Jesus was the Messiah? He must have given some reason for such a very peculiar and specific act of cruelty out of Herod's family, where he was cruel enough, and for which no conceivable reason could have existed, but some extraordinary testimony that the Christ was born in David's city. This would have been too much for Josephus's history and his heart. Indeed the omission of one local cruelty in a village is nothing extraordinary in an historian. The killing a few children was nothing to the hard-heartedness of Josephus and Herod, if there was no particular reason. If there was, it was the last thing Josephus would mention. It was not his affair to give proofs that the Christ was come. But that the cruelties of Herod at this time referred to some pretensions of the coming Messiah, though the slaughter of the infants would have been inconveniently precise, is plain, from a passage of Josephus, which, though as obscure as a man avoiding the whole truth could make it, yet very distinctly shews these cruelties to refer to the hope of a miraculous king.*

{*The reader may, if he pleases, consult Lardner on this point. Book 2, chap. 2, vol. 1, p. 346. 8vo. 1838.}

96 Further, the story in Matthew falls in perfectly with Herod's general character, both as to its cruelty and the jealousy of anything which affected his title and government, which habitually gave rise to this cruelty. The saying of Augustus is well known — that it was better to be Herod's hog than his children.

Further, this story of the slaughter of the infants, though confounded with other incidents, was believed by the heathen as a recognized fact in subsequent ages, as well as owned as such by those called fathers. Macrobius among the former, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and others, among the latter, are witnesses of this. It is the merest unfounded assumption that there is any mistake whatever here, and only proves the disposition of the one who makes, or rather renews, this old objection.


Zacharias, son of Barachias, is the next. As to mistakes as to names, no Christian would attach any great importance to them, from the fact of their easy introduction in copying from the margin when written there by some one who supposed it to be such a one. Suppose, for instance, "from Abel to Zacharias" were in the text, some one adding "son of Barachias" in the margin as a remark, it is soon inserted as part of the text. Evidently it is not like a part of the sentence, affecting the sense. I say this as a general remark, for it is not necessary to have recourse to such a supposition here. Supposing the name to have been simply Zacharias, nothing could have been more natural than the Lord so speaking. 2 Chronicles being the last book in the Hebrew Bible, it would have amounted to this: — The blood of all the martyrs in your history, from Genesis to 2 Chronicles (as we should say from Genesis to Revelation, without ascertaining the date even of the latter book), will be required of this generation. It imputes no error whatever to the blessed Lord. The martyrs from Genesis to Chronicles were all the martyrs whom Jewish hatred of truth had sacrificed. The Lord does not chronologize their martyrdom, saying, the last of the martyrs. Those who take this view would drop the words "son of Barachias." This is confirmed by the fact that they are not found in St. Luke; and St. Jerome informs us, that in the gospel of the Nazarenes (an impure and corrupted gospel according to Matthew, as it seems adopted by Judaizing Christians) the reading was "Zacharias, son of Jehoiada." Now I do not adopt this reading; I refer to it as tending to confirm the absence of "son of Barachias."* Evangelaria and scholiasts give Jehoiada, and the latter affirm that Barachias had also the latter name, such a change being the commonest thing possible amongst the Jews, as is well known; and from Jerome downward this has been the thought of different learned men, the names having nearly the same signification, as in the case of Eliakim and Jehoiakim. But I see no need to rest on these details, which, though sufficient to explain it, may be thought to savour of effort. It is not proved that Zacharias, the son of Jehoiada, was slain between the temple and the altar, which is noticed as aggravating the sin in both Luke and Matthew. It is very possible, as he was addressing the people in the court: and he may have fled into the inner court when attacked, and been slain there. The people had no business there; but if it was a violent and riotous murder commanded by the king, breaking through the consecrated limits and profaning the inner court** would not be very astonishing. The Jews attached extraordinary importance to this murder; they say that his blood bubbled up till avenged by Nebuzaradan, who slew ninety-four thousand of rabbins, of their scholars, and of the people.*** Their fables are not important, but as shewing how it had impressed itself on the Jewish mind; and the Lord refers to what was notorious amongst themselves. The presence of the addition "son of Barachias" would, then, be easily accounted for, and the reference of the Lord to the case of the other Zechariah the most natural possible. The change of names, according to the notion of Jerome and the old Greek scholiasts, would, in Jewish nomenclature, take away all difficulty too.

{*Hilary and some others omit all after Abel. Irenaeus reads as in our Bibles, but we have only the Latin translation here, which probably inserted the reading of the Vulgate, which has these words.}

{**Such was the statement of the Rabbins. Rabbi Judah asks Rabbi Achan, whether he was killed in the court of the women or of Israel: he replies, In neither, but in that of the priests, &c.; and then the story of the blood ever after springing up, instead of being absorbed as that of victims, is related.}

{***The reader may see the particulars in Wetstein.}

97 But there is a circumstance which would tend to make me judge otherwise of this question, besides the all but uniform testimony of MSS and versions, of which the earliest have "son of Berachiah," such as the ante-Hieronymean Latin ones. It is this. The Jewish traditions state, that Zechariah, the son of Iddo, a prophet and priest, was slain. Zechariah, the son of Berachiah, of whom the test, as it stands, speaks, was grandson of Iddo, and is called twice "son of Iddo." (Ezra 5:1; Ezra 6:14.) Further, Iddo was a priest, who came up from Babylon with Zerubbabel. (Neh. 12:4.) And in verse 16 of that chapter, we have, Of Iddo, Zechariah. So that we have these facts.

98 The prophet Zechariah, son of Berachiah, was grandson of Iddo, and is called son of Iddo twice in Ezra. We have a priest Iddo, whose son or descendant is called Zechariah precisely at this epoch; for Zechariah, the son of Iddo, was a chief priest in the days of the son of Jeshua the priest. The Jewish Targum states, that Zechariah, the son of Iddo, a prophet and priest, was slain in the sanctuary. Further, the name of Iddo in Zechariah and Ezra is the same (the latter adding a silent aleph), and so is the priest in Nehemiah 12. (See Keri, and 5. 4.) I am aware some have referred the Targum on Jeremiah to Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, taking Iddo for this latter name; but there is no relationship between the two names whatever. Not only this, but the way Ezra speaks of Haggai and Zechariah is remarkable: he calls Haggai, in both the passages, Haggai the prophet. But Zechariah has, as his title, Zechariah the son of Iddo, not Zechariah the prophet, though shewn to be such. The reason seems evident. This was Haggai's only distinction. Whereas, Zechariah, the son of Iddo, was a well-known personage, Iddo being a chief priest over his brethren; that is, Zechariah, though a prophet, had a distinct and well known title by which he would be designated: he was a priest, and Iddo was a well known chief priest, so that he was called his son, though really his grandson. Hence, as the Targum declares that a prophet and priest of the name of Zechariah, the son of Iddo, was slain in the sanctuary — a Zechariah, the son of Iddo, being certainly son of Berachiah, and a priest and a prophet, why should I be surprised if the Lord should say, that Zechariah, the son of Berachiah, was slain in the sanctuary?

Has the infidel any proof that Zechariah, the son of Berachiah, the son of Iddo, was not slain, so as to confute the statement of Matthew? Absolutely none. It is not stated in scripture that Zechariah the prophet was so killed. How could it be? There is no subsequent historical book. Is it stated of any other prophet? Of none.* Yet the Lord — and so does Stephen — charges them with treating all the prophets in general in this manner, so as to add, "It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." Jeremiah, and Baruch his scribe, had their lives given them as a prey by a special deliverance on God's part. Why, then, must the Lord be wrong? Because the infidel thinks He ought to be so. There is really no other reason whatever.

{*But this only confirms the authenticity of the gospel, for we have a statement which seems error, but which, on a careful comparison of circumstances, turns out to be just exactly what proves the statement to be that of a person living when the circumstances were well known, or that he knew them well himself, so as not to need care as to apparent probability. Zechariah, son of Iddo, priest and prophet, was, according to the Targum, slain in the temple (and I suppose, as Targums are not inspired, we may credit them historically); and Zechariah, son of Iddo, priest and prophet, was son of Berachiah, — son of Iddo, as we know from the record itself, meaning grandson. Zechariah, son of Berachiah, is said, in the New Testament, to have been slain between the temple and the altar — as the Targum says of Zechariah, son of Iddo, whom Nehemiah proves to be son of Berachiah.}

99 The Lord makes a statement which there is nothing to confute. Say Matthew does; because he does, it is not to be believed, though, from the general conduct of the Jews, nothing can be more probable. Most generally, persons who do not accept the statement as it is, turn to the history of the son of Jehoiada in the Chronicles, which, from its similarity, they suppose to be here referred to. This is a question of criticism which humble inquirers into scripture may listen to, however it may be decided. We are certain, I think I may say, that both Zechariahs were priests as well as prophets; so that the place of their death is not a surprising one. But Mr. N. rejects all this and the Chronicles with it; yet he uses these books now to prove the inexactitude of Matthew. Now his rejection of them takes away his title to the use of them for this purpose. At any rate, he will not have this history to be the one referred to, so that he has no right to infer inexactitude from it. However, as men have doubted who it was, he will have the New Testament wrong somehow. And he chooses the most improbable, nay, I think I shall shew, impossible supposition, for such only it is, to prove that Matthew, if Matthew it be, has made an undeniable mistake.

Josephus has mentioned a Zacharias, son of Baruchus, killed in the temple, and it is to be he; at least Mr. N. cannot "shake off the suspicion" (Phases, p. 109) that it is. On what ground, we are left to divine.

In the first place, Baruch and Berachiah are not the same name. Both are used; and neither in Hebrew nor in the Septuagint are they confounded.

100 In the next place, the Lord addresses the Jews as guilty already, referring to their previous acts, and saying, "Fill ye up the measure of your fathers, that this blood may come upon you." Matt. 23:32 This would have no force at all, if it were not a past act of which they were not personally guilty. They would commit similar ones wilfully and complete the dreadful series, so that the time of vengeance should arrive, and all the accumulated guilt of past ages, as to which God had exercised forbearance (if peradventure they would repent), would bring its accumulated consequences on their head. But this supposes that the Lord refers to the past acts committed by this people, but not by this generation, and to acts of which their consciences were fully aware. If it be said, But the question is, Did the Lord say it? If it were He, of course then all objection would be set aside, for it would be a prophecy if He referred to the son of Baruchus; while Matthew saying so leaves the argument just as strong, for it arises from the internal force of the words, which he could not have put into the Lord's mouth. Their meaning, be they whose they may, cannot apply to Baruchus.

Moreover, Baruchus was no prophet; nor, for aught we know, a righteous man. Josephus says he was very rich, and a hater of evil men. But Luke, in the parallel passage, makes the Lord speak only of prophets.

Further, Zacharias, the son of Baruchus, was killed by the zealots just before the temple was besieged. Now, according to all historical evidence, Matthew was written before that — many think, long before it. The siege of Jerusalem, at which time Zacharias the son of Baruchus was killed, took place in the year 70. Some think Matthew wrote his gospel in the year 41, a date borrowed from Eusebius, that is thirty years before the siege of Jerusalem, and the death of the son of Baruchus; and the common account given in the immediately succeeding period, the first centuries, was, that he left it for the use of the Hebrews, when he went forth to preach the gospel elsewhere. Others, founding themselves on a passage in Irenaeus, think he wrote it so late as 61 or 62, and even as 64.* But this is the latest date assigned by any who have examined the subject. That is, if historical evidence be of any weight at all, the latest period at which Matthew can be supposed to have written his gospel, was six years before the death of the son of Baruchus; so that if he put it in, he was inspired, which after all is absurd, for he could not by inspiration attribute to Christ what He did not say.

{*I have no doubt, with many learned men, that there was a Hebrew copy of Matthew's Gospel made for the use of the Jews. It is very possible, too, he left some account in writing, when he left Judaea, in the vulgar tongue of the Jews; while the Greek Gospel we have is that given by the Spirit of God for the permanent blessing of the Church. The Gospel of the Nazarenes or Hebrews seems to have been some such Hebrew document corrupted and interpolated.}

101 To pretend that Matthew is not the real author is to deny all historical evidence whatever.

Further, we have Matthew quoted in the Epistle of Barnabas, and quoted as scripture. The author of this latter book, it is not material to my purpose to know. Its early date cannot, I believe, be questioned.* The epistle is considered to have been written in 71 or 72, that is a year or two after the death of Zacharias, the son of Baruchus, and in his epistle Matthew's Gospel is already quoted.

{*He refers to the ruin of Jerusalem as just happened. He is himself quoted by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, &c.}

Clement of Rome, the companion of apostles, quotes Matthew about the same period. His words may be taken as Luke's, as the passage is nearly the same in both evangelists. Thus we have additional proof of the extreme improbability (I may, indeed, say impossibility), historically speaking, of Matthew's Gospel referring to the son of Baruchus, or of its having been written afterwards; for it is quoted as scripture within a year or two of his death. The consideration of the testimony of St. Luke confirms this more than improbability.

If Matthew refers to the son of Baruchus, so of course must Luke. It is the same person who is alluded to, as no one, I suppose, doubts. Now Luke, in the Acts, refers to his gospel as a previous treatise which he had written: but in the Acts he closes with St. Paul's imprisonment in Rome; that is to say, the year 65. So that his gospel was already written in that year, that is, five years and more before the death of the Zachariah of whom Josephus speaks. That is, it is impossible that he can refer to him, for he speaks of an act already committed; indeed, were it sot so, it would be inspired prophecy as in Matthew. But this is evidently not so; it refers to a past act.

In a word, the supposition or suspicion of Mr. N. is the most improbable possible, and really impossible to be true; and there is no pretension to any evidence which contradicts the statement of St. Matthew's Gospel as it stands (that is, no proofs of any kind that Zacharias, the son of Barachias, was not slain). We have no scriptural evidence anywhere to look for, to confirm the fact that he was, no more than in the case of the other prophets. There is no subsequent scriptural history, nor any complete authentic history, of the times to relate it. But we have a statement of a Jewish doctor of high repute, that a Zechariah, son of Iddo, prophet and priest, which is the prophet's exact description, was killed in the sanctuary.

102 That is, the objection has no foundation whatever, unless the will to object, because of the divine claim on the conscience, be one. Further, if Zechariah the prophet was martyred, he was the last so martyred, as far as we have any testimony of those who shine in the authentic scriptural history of the Jewish people; for we know nothing of the sort concerning Malachi, nor indeed is he mentioned in the historical books of the Old Testament.


It is natural for Mr. N., when seeking to justify an infidelity which has not been convinced by the divine power of the word — has not bowed to it as morally evidencing itself to be of God — it is natural for one who has proved his mind to be insensible to the grace and truth contained in it (a grace and truth which bears the stamp of God upon it) to accumulate all the difficulties which the reader, willing to be an infidel, may accept without enquiry as insurmountable, and the unwilling be troubled or perplexed by. There is, he tells us, an "impossibility of settling the names of the twelve apostles." (Phases, p. 109.) Supposing we could not do so, what then? We should be ignorant how some one came to have two names, the very commonest thing of all common things among the Jews. What could that prove? Just nothing at all, except this — that the gospels are genuine, and not a forgery; for had they been, the forger would not have created a useless apparent inconsistency. Now there is this proof of independence. But the real truth is, though it be perfectly immaterial "settling" them, yet there is no kind of difficulty in it. Levi had also the name of Matthew, as Saul had that of Paul, Simon that of Peter, as numberless others in scripture. So that if we had even but the two names, no kind of difficulty would arise — Levi would have the name of Matthew also. But we have the particulars of his call given by two of the evangelists, the one of whom calls him Levi, the other Matthew; so that the proof that he is the same is really incontestible by any sober-minded person, and there is nothing to "settle." One Gnostic heretic, Heradeon, has the names Levi and Matthew in speaking of the same apostles who, he says, had not suffered martyrdom. But it is supposed he refers to Lebbaeus, that is, Thaddaeus: if not, it is of very little consequence, as we have the account of his call under the two names.

103 Grotius alone, that I am aware of, fancied Levi and Matthew different persons, founding his opinion on a questionable passage of Origen, who in another clear place treats them as the same, and on the statement of Heradeon before mentioned. The whole fact is, that some confusion has arisen in one or two minds from Thaddaeus having the name of Lebbaeus; but at the most only in one or two instances, and those uncertain: just as his being called son of Alphaeus in one gospel has made one or two transcribers confound him with James; and some fancy him his brother — of which it suffices to say, perhaps he was, perhaps he was not.

But there is no real uncertainty whatever about it, unless a mistake of some careless or ignorant person outside scripture is to make uncertain what is perfectly dear in it, and accepted as certain historically by all well known authorities who have spoken of it. For there is no doubt they were received as the same in the early Church. Jerome says, Matthaeum cognomento Levi, "Matthew surnamed Levi," as an acknowledged unquestioned fact. How different the spirit of Eusebius! He notices, taking for granted they are the same person, that Matthew out of abundant modesty calls himself, when sitting at the receipt of custom, by the name he was known by as an apostle. Luke and Mark give him his apostolic name in the list of apostles, and his previous popular name when sitting as a publican. It is, at least, refreshing to meet with something of the spirit of grace in the midst of such criticism. And how true it is, too! how much it discerns of what mere miserable criticism never did and never will! We may remark that Luke says, "Levi made him a great feast in his house;" Matthew only, "as he sat at meat in the house."

There is no other question as to the apostles' names but Thaddaeus and Judas, names confessedly interchanged, or rather, as learned men have urged, the very same. Simon, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, James, Simon, Judas Iscariot, are the same in all.


As to harmonizing the gospels, it is a great mistake in principle. The Spirit of God has (as I have said, and as is evident to an attentive reader) given in each gospel what referred to a particular character and particular instructions of Christ; and facts referring to this subject are recorded, and such parts of discourses as apply to them; the connection of the facts being in many cases the object,* and not the historical order — many being related without any date at all, the Spirit of God not attaching any the least importance to the time when, but to what was said, in what circumstances. In some respects, there is a progress in the development of certain subjects which is chronological, such as the growing spirit of rejection of Jesus among the Jews, and the substitution of a new order of things. Yet in giving this general chronology (which is seen, for instance, in Matthew** very evidently, and all relating to the subject fully developed), the details which point out certain parts and moral elements of unbelief may be classed according to the subject, in order that we may understand their bearing. The same fact may be confirmed by another evangelist and put in historical order exactly, or in some other moral connection. We dislocate the whole purposed contexture of the gospels in trying to put them into common continuous order. It may be in some respects interesting to search it out, but quite subordinate to the general purpose for which they are written. I have tried so to arrange them, and I have not found the thing impossible; but I have found it takes the passages quite out of the order in which they were meant to stand.

{*I may remark here, in passing, that the expression used by Luke, "to set forth in order," applies far more often in Greek to order of subjects (i.e., a regular account, not mere notes) than to order of time. The former is its regular meaning, only ἐφεξῆς is more commonly used than κατεζῆς in classical Greek.}

{**The most chronological gospel as a whole is, I think, Mark. Luke follows the same order very closely where he is chronological, which in the middle part of his gospel he is not; but the chronological development of Christ's rejection is found as stated in Matthew, only he introduces here and there particular facts out of their historical place, which make the unfolding of Christ's service in relationship with the Jews and His rejection clearer.}

Besides, we have a very limited portion indeed of the facts of the history, which enormously increases the difficulty of putting it together; because the links which connect the facts historically are often wholly wanting. There may be six months between two facts mentioned in one verse, in the same sentence, if these two facts refer to one subject; and these two facts may be dispersed amongst a number of others in quite different connection elsewhere, and if one be morally important on a particular subject, it may be put after one chronologically subsequent, without a note of time. This is actually the case; because the object of the Holy Ghost is to give us certain moral pictures of Christ as Son of David, Son of man, and as Son of God, a divine Person, and of God's ways with men in Him — not to make out a full biography. Such alone, I am bold to say, could have been God's way of dealing.

105 I put a case, to shew how easily the omission of a fact seems to produce contradiction, if the fact be not known. A person, desirous of shewing my kindness and condescension, states that I accompanied him from Reading to Oxford on foot, though it was almost more than my strength permitted, and unfolded my mind to him, all the way, enlarging on what I said. Another has a point to prove, namely, that it was on a certain day (which is this selfsame day) he was with me, and that I had informed him of a certain event; and he states that he overtook me on the Oxford mad going to Reading. This was just half an hour before the other spoke of walking with me. A third states positively that I only arrived in Oxford that day, and never left it afterwards. Now there seems contradiction here; for how could I have been overtaken on the Oxford road to Reading, and never have left Oxford that day, and have, on the contrary, gone from Reading to Oxford, not having even strength to go more than one way? Yet one fact makes all easy, which was immaterial to all the parties who had spoken of it. I had forgotten my pocket-book, and had turned back again after two miles' walk, and was overtaken a few minutes afterwards going to Reading, and then set out again. And, so far from being a contradiction, I never should have met the person I walked to Oxford with had I not been back to Reading. Now, this is a simple and obvious case; I refer to it to illustrate the danger of reasoning from such apparent difficulties.

Judas is called of Galilee in the Acts; Josephus calls him a Gaulonite. Geographers have difficulty how Gaulonitis can be Galilee. Here is a difficulty almost insuperable — "an undeniable mistake" — nothing to impeach Josephus's statement. Luke is an incorrect historian, not an inspired writer. How can we correct it? Simply thus: Josephus has, as the title of his chapter, "Of Judas the Galilean." If it had not been there, what a triumph for critics! Yet they would have been all wrong, on the now united testimony of two accurate and exact historians. Have the geographers explained it? Not that I know of; but Josephus, not being a Christian, is to be believed, and hence Luke may be. This is not the only such case.


The next difficulty is the geography of the rivers in Paradise. It is "inexplicable." (Phases, p. 110.) This is very possible. But I apprehend that the inexplicable thing is the text which speaks of geography, not the geography of the text. If so, which certainly is the case, I should think Mr. N. had better wait till he can explain or rather translate it before he raises an objection from it. The interpretation of this exceedingly brief statement is not easy. If it were explicable, perhaps Mr. N. might find no objection arising out of it. A river went from Eden to water the garden; from thence it was separated, and it became four heads. Now, that there were four rivers is pretty clear, for of four heads we have two well known named ones which are rivers — Tigris and Euphrates. The other two are not clearly ascertained. Two systems have been maintained: one that Gihon and Pison were the two rivers which form or formed the mouths of Tigris and Euphrates, which, after uniting, separated again. But this presents many difficulties. Others, who have placed the garden in Armenia, near the sources of Tigris and Euphrates, seek Gihon and Pison in rivers in that country. No opinion has been clearly proved, because the text itself presents serious difficulties as to its meaning.

The first words, "a river going out from Eden," present a difficulty. The general idea, that the garden of Eden was not without this refreshment, is clear; and Tigris and Euphrates give a general idea of the country it was in. Eden supplied this water; that general idea is given. Eden may have contained the general source of waters, hence called Nahar generically; but the waters of this common springhead separated, and four principal streams were formed from them.*

{*It was the Wasserscheide, strangely become in (at any rate, American-) English, "Water-shed," a singular example of the difficulties of etymology. I quote from Bryant a description given by Moses Chaeronensis of the district in Armenia to which the passage we are speaking of is supposed to relate: "Armenia alta inter omnes regiones revera altissima est; quippe quae ad quatuor coeli partes fluvios emittit." (Vol 3, p. 7, of the 4to edition.) "Upper (High) Armenia is really of all regions the highest; for it sends out rivers to the four quarters of the heavens;" and then he goes on to speak of its advantages.}

107 No rivers had yet been mentioned, though seas and dry land had. The source of these was the territory from which God had ordered that blessing should flow. Thus Nahar would be used generically (as I might say land in contrast with sea). Nahar, river-streams, took their source in Eden. The garden was thus watered. Their freshness all was there. From thence the waters flowed here and there, and surrounded and characterized by their course other countries. Thus the sense would be — "And a river-source was in Eden to water the garden; and from thence [Eden] it was distributed, and became four principal streams." Of these we know two, and two are uncertain — a circumstance not very astonishing; while there are such, and which answer accurately enough to such description. This sense has its perfect place in the general moral bearing of this part of scripture. There were the streams of refreshment found. The primary object was the garden; but thence they flowed around the world which needed it. The context of the passage speaks of the different things that characterized the garden; and this account of the river which refreshed it then comes in. Every reader knows the place which a river holds in every description of what God has established. There is "a river which makes glad the city of God." "God is in the midst of her." This last could not be said of the garden.

Here what follows is — "Jehovah Elohim took the man and placed him in the garden;" and then goes on to shew the responsibility under which he was placed — a contrast with the security flowing from God being in the midst of her. It was not the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High; but the place of all those blessings and testimonies of goodness by which He had surrounded man when He had placed him under the responsibilities, which He must have done if all the wondrous scene which we know, and which infidelity is ignorant of and incapable of discerning, was to unfold itself before the angels and the universe of God — responsibilities of which we know the consequences, and (if we believe in the Second Adam) the glorious remedy.

Of these analogies, and developments, and proofs of truth flowing from the link which God's ways and hand in it afford between all the parts of this wonderful book, infidelity, of course, is ignorant; cannot pretend to the knowledge of. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant." With Mr. N. it is a question of geography; as if God, in unfolding the first steps in that wondrous scene which angels desire to look into, were giving us some additional elements to settle a point in Rennel's Geography. I admit scripture ought to be accurate in everything, without going beyond the forms of knowledge of those to whom it was addressed at the time, or it would not have been suited to them, as God does condescend to suit His instruction to us; as, if we know His grace, we might expect He would. And where is the book which — addressed, in ages earlier than otherwise known history, to a despised people — has stood the test of increasing light as the Bible has on every point? Take the Koran, and see the nonsense that is found in it: yet this was in the seventh century. Take the Fathers. Take any book pretending to give an account of what are called fabulous ages, and see how the marvellous prevails; the little grains of fact to be picked out of these large stories; the prodigality of marvellous nonsense, from which we must in a mythical way conjecture some historical idea (if there is any). The only effect of which is, when we have discovered it, to shew that what we have as plain history in scripture is the true origin of the distorted fables we meet with in profane accounts and ceremonies — ceremonies of which the vulgar know nothing but the outside, as the religion of their fathers; but which shew, when investigated, that what we have in scripture is really the world's history — is that which, however distorted, has formed everywhere the basis of the whole system which knit portions together as one people, and separated them as different peoples too; which acted on their fears and conscience, and impressed their imagination — had been the origin of their different religions, which were but the conscience of having had to say to God in these gradually forgotten wonders, of which Satan had possessed himself to acquire the veneration and govern the lusts of those who had utterly departed from, and forgotten, the true God who had wrought them.

108 This leads me, in connection with the next objection, to the exceeding little-mindedness of infidelity.