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nation, of the female. Thus, for example, David is justly accounted the seed of Abraham, and as true an Israelite as any other descendant from Jacob, though he and his father Jesse were the offspring of Obed, the son of a Moabitish woman.
Were it true, therefore, that the Almighty, in the single instance of Mary's conception, had miraculously created seed, like that of the human species, to become an embryo in her womb, to be matured and brought forth like other children, after the usual period of gestation; yet such a child would no more be the seed of Abraham, nor the fruit of David's loins, than Adam himself. He would be the seed of no man; but, like the first created of our species, the immediate production of the plastic power of God. For this reason, either this very extraordinary history of Mary's miraculous conception of her son Jesus, must be false and fabulous, or else Jesus is not the Messiah promised to the Jews.
Ever since these two chapters annexed to Luke's history, and the Gospel according to Matthew, have been acknowledged by the Fathers of the orthodox Church to be the genuine writings of Matthew and Luke, that is, ever since the latter half of the second cen
cury of the Christian æra, the miraculous conception of Jesus by a virgin has been taught, referred to, and commented upon, by every apologist for the orthodox religion, and every expositor of those four Gospels, which the Church of Constantine, some ages later, formally decreed in council to be the only true, apostolic histories of the Gospel ; has been a fundamental article of the orthodox faith, and, as such, expressly recited in every creed or formulary of belief which has ever been in use. It is evident, indeed, that this must necessarily have been the case. And, for the same reasons, if this story of the preternatural origin of our Lord Jesus, had been known and credited by the apostles and first preachers of Christianity, they also must have mentioned it in their discourses and letters of instruction to their converts, and instead of dwelling upon prophecies concerning the descent of the Messiah, absolutely incompatible with so extraordinary a circumstance, without once alluding to it, they must have enumerated it amongst the necessary articles of a Christian's belief. Yet in no one apostolic Epistle, in no one discourse recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, is the miraculous conçeption, or in any one circumstance of the history of Jesus, previous to John's Baptism, hinted at even in the most distant manner: on the contrary, that Baptism is repeatedly* referred to and mentioned as the
proper commencement of evangelical instruction; and when the eleven Apostles proceeded to elect a twelfth, to supply the place of Judas, the only qualification made essentially requisite in the candidates was, their having been eye-witnesses of our Lord's ministry, from the Baptism of John to his Ascension. Now, to lay no stress upon the dissimilarity of style observable between these two first chapters and the rest of Luke's histories, and the af-, fected, but sometimes unsuccessful imitation of his common phraseology, nor upon the inconsistency of the stories they contain, of the prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anņa, with the well known historic truth, that there never was a prophet amongst the Jews, from the time of their return from their captivity to the preaching of John the Baptist, it appears impossible that any writer, though of
* Acts i. 22.-X. 37,--xii. 23, 24. # For example, this interpolated fable begins with the same word EYEVETO, with which Luke begins most of his paragraphs; but in Luke it always means, it came to pass, or he was made or became, and never, there was, which is its only meaning here, and for which Lukt always ustanove
a degree of respectability much inferior to what Luke is, on many accounts, justly entitled to, should so grossly, so absurdly contradict himself in the same history, without so much as attempting to reconcile, or even noticing, such palpable inconsistencies; and, had we no other grounds to proceed upon, we need not hesitate to pronounce, that the writer of the twenty-six last chapters, and of the Acts of the Apostles, could not be the author of the wonderful two first chapters of the Gospel according to Luke.
Happily, however, for the cause of truth and rational religion, we have. Luke's own testimony to convince us, that this is the case; and do not depend upon any man's inference's or opinion. He has addressed both his histories to the same Theophilus; and in the address, which is introductory to his second book, he gives an accurate description of the .contents of the first. “ The former treatise, says he, “ I have made of all that Jesus began “ to do and to teach, until the day in which “ he was taken up." That is, my former book is a history of the acts and doctrine of Jesus, from their first commencement to his ascension. Luke himself, therefore, assures us, (and a writer's word may surely be taken for
the contents of his own work) that his first history went no higher than the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, and ended with his ascension into heaven. Now, if we turn to the third chapter of what is called the Gospel according to Luke, we find the proper, regular commencement of an accurate history, specifying, with precision, in what year of the reigning Emperor, and under what subordinate Magistrates of the several divisions of Palestine, the Baptism of John, which immediately preceded the public ministry of Jesus, took place ; and ending in the twenty: fourth chapter, as Luke himself describes it, with a brief account of his ascension. And this history, so accurately described by the author of it, comprises only a period of two years; whilst the two first chapters, of which Luke takes not the least notice, comprehend a history of near fourteen years, beginning, according to the generally received opinion, full thirty years before John's Baptism and the commencement of our Lord's ministry; which Luke himself mentions to Theophilus, for whose information both his books were written, as the beginning of his first treatisé. Nay, even in his introduction to his Evangelical history itself, he in reality asserts the