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In the eighth chapter, v. 12, the author, un. able to reconcile his mind to what the pretended Matthew has said of the sign of the prophet Jonas, though he was actually copying from him, has thought proper flatly to contradict both him and Luke, and to make our Saviour declare, that no sign at all should be given to that generation.
At the twenty-third verse, this writer again represents our Saviour, in a very unbecoming manner, applying his spittle to the eyes of a blind man, in order to give him sight; and, as if one interposition of Almighty power were not sufficient to accomplish a perfect cure, the man's sight is not completely acquired, till he has applied his hands a second time to his eyes. It is worth observing also, that if this blind man had ever seen before, as seems to be insinuated in the word restored, it is inconceivable how, with even an indistinct vision, he could find the least resemblance between men and trees walking; and, if he had never enjoyed the blessing of sight till then, it was not possible for him to have had any idea of the ocular appearance of either, men or trees.
To convince us, how improbable it is, that either our Saviour, or the Apostles whom he delegated, should, in curing diseases, havo used any such external applications as are recorded in this and the preceding chapter; and how displeasing such a conduct would have been to the Deity; it is only necessary to advert to the history of Moses striking the rock,* which tended to make the people believe that his stroke alone gave vent to the imprisoned waters, and made them flow. For it is recorded, as being immediately condemned by the Deity himself; and in punishment for his not clearly manifesting the miraculous interposition of the Almighty, by merely speaking to the rock, as he was commanded, he was doomed, like all the other rebellious Israelites, to die in the wilderness, and not to enter into the promised land. And had Jesus of Nazareth been guilty of the practices ascribed to him in this Gospel, and in that attributed to John, he must have been equally criminal in the sight of God.
The only prophecies that I have observed peculiar to this Gospel, attributed to Mark, aré, first, c. 4. v. 30, where he makes our Lord predict, that whosoever hath forsaken houses, lands, or friends, for his sake and the
Gospeľs, shall receive not only eternal life in the world to come, but now in this time, the very same articles multiplied an hundred fold, with persecution. As persecution can be exerted only upon a person's property, liberty, or life, it seems inconceivable how possessions of any kind should be so greatly multiplied in a state of persecution; and the very terms of the prediction appear to imply in them a manifest contradiction: but, howsoever they may be interpreted, the whole history of religious persecution, from the illustrious messenger of the New Covenant to the present hour, proves the prophecy to be absolutely false, and the writer of it altogether unworthy of credit.
The second is the prediction respecting Peter's denying his Master, c. xiv. v. 30, where, in direct contradiction to both the writings he had before him, he makes our Lord tell him, that before the cock should crow twice he would thrice deny him. Accordingly, v. 68-72, he says, the cock crew as soon as Peter had once denied him; and, after he had repeated his denial twice more, with oaths and curses very unbecoming a chosen disciple of Jesus Christ, the cock crew a second time. This relation is so absolutely irreconcilable with what is given us in the Gosa pel according to Matthew, and that with the circumstances of the same event recorded by Luke, that two of the three must inevitably be false ; and which those are, the judicious reader will decide as he thinks fit.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN.
E come now to the fourth of the ge
nerally received Evangelical histories, which, by the tradition of the orthodox Church, is attributed to the Apostle John, the avowed author of the prophetic book of the Apocalypse. And as in our examination of the internal evidence of the authenticity of the other three, we have begun with taking notice of their style, it is impossible not to observe the striking difference there is between the language of the Apocalypse, and that in which this Gospel is written. To remove so obvious a difficulty in the way of attributing these two works to the same writer, commentators are accustomed to insinuate, (but without any proof of the fact) that, as John wrote his Gospel many years after he had written the Apocalypse, he had acquired,