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Matthew is generally allowed to have written before the other evangelists : had they not therefore credited his account of the miracles attending Christ's death, they would have contradicted it: for the circumstances which he related were of so extraordinary and public a nature, that they could not have escaped detection if they had been false.
It would have degraded the sacred history, to have noticed such subjects as Mr. P. proposes in his questions, concerning the saints that arose and came out of the graves after Christ's resurrection. Our Lord's reply to the frivolous objection of the Sadducees
suffice to answer them all : Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of “ God.” We may indeed add, that there is no reasonable doubt but these risen saints accompanied their ascending Lord, to grace his triumphs, as the first-fruits of his resurrection. Mr. P.
says, · Had it been Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua, and Samuel, and David,' (supposing them to have appeared to the people,) ‘not an unconverted Jew
had remained in all Jerusalem.' None of the persons he rementioned, except David, were buried at Jerusalem : and it might also be asked, how the Jews could have known these risen saints, except by their own testimony, or by immediate revelation? But waving this, the reader has his option, whether he will credit this assertion of Mr. P. or the words of Christ, “ If they believe not Moses “and the prophets, neither would they be per“ suaded though one rose from the dead.” 2
Matthew alone gives the account of the Roman
· P. ii. p. 72.
? Luke xvi. 31.
soldiers who guarded the sepulchre: but does this prove,' that according to the other evangelists
there were none?' Will not common sense determine, that their silence perfectly consists with, or even sanctions, the truth of his narrativei By publishing his gospel, and relating the base conduct of the priests and rulers, Matthew had openly challenged them to disprove it if they could : but this they never attempted; and surely they would not have silently endured so disgraceful an imputation, if they had not had substantial reasons for their conduct.
The absurdity of the story which the rulers put into the mouth of the soldiers is sufficiently evident: but, if men act absurdly, historians who record their actions are not answerable for it. The evangelist appealed to the whole nation that the story was notorious ; that it had been propagated immediately after the body of Christ was missing ; and that it had continued current till the time when he published his narrative. It is most evident that some of the soldiers had affirmed that they were paid for circulating it: none of them were called to account, that we know of, for this or any other part of their conduct: and no man stepped forth to say that such a story had not been propagated, or was not current; that the priests had not bribed the soldiers to spread it; or that they could give a more satisfactory aceount of the manner in which the body of Jesus had been removed. How could men have been persuaded that such a report had long been current, if they
! Matt. xxviii. 11-15.
had never before heard of it? or that it was still current, if every one knew it was not so ? Or how could an anonymous writer, or rather one who assumed another man's name, have thus appealed to facts, as well known when his work was published, and for some time before, if such facts had been mere forgeries ?-Mr. P. indeed argues from the expression, “ until this day,” that Matthew did not write the gospel, and that it was manufactured long afterwards. But seven or eight years would suffice in this case, and warrant a man to use such words. We have abundant proof of the antiquity and genuineness of Matthew's gospel : but, could it be shewn to have been published long afterwards, it would still further establish the fact in question ; for an appeal to contemporaries some ages after, that the report concerning the soldiers was commonly circulated till that day, must be an additional evidence of its truth.
· The tale of the resurrection,' says Mr. P., ' follows that of the crucifixion.” The circumstances of our Lord's resurrection, as recorded by the four evangelists, have been long known to involve some difficulty, and to have the appearance of inconsistency; insomuch, that Celsus, in the second century, brings this as an objection to the Christian religion. But Mr. P. by confounding things evidently distinct, and by using, with great confidence, various delusive methods of embarrassing the subject, has given the whole an air of self-contradiction, well suited to impose on the incautious reader: and, as this subject is more likely to embarrass even a serious inquirer, than any other in “The
Age of Reason,' I shall endeavour to give a compendious statement of the narrative, as it may be collected by carefully comparing the four evangelists.
Mary Magdalene, “the other Mary,” or Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, and Joanna, are the women named in the history : but Luke, having mentioned all the others except Salome, says,
“there were other women with “ them.” This company, on the evening of our Lord's crucifixion, concerted the plan, and bought the spices, for the anointing of his body: and then retiring, probably to separate lodgings, they “rested the sabbath-day, according to the com“ mandment.” But early on the morning after they proceeded, according to appointment, to meet at the sepulchre ; for there is no mention of their previous meeting at any other place; and thus they reached that spot at different times. Mary Magdalene seems to have set out with the other Mary and Salome from one place ; Joanna and the other women with her, from another. But Mary Magdalene, being peculiarly fervent in spirit, appears to have out-gone her companions, and to have arrived first at the sepulchre, “while it was “yet dark,” or day-break ; and, seeing the stone removed, she ran back to inform Peter. In the mean time the other Mary and Salome reached the sepulchre; and, finding it open, they went in and saw the angel or angels. Luke says, “two” angels : Matthew and Mark mention only one ; because only one spake to the women: but they do not say there were no more than one. Thus Matthew
" John xx. 1, 2. (Compare 2 Kings vii. 5, 12.)
mentions two demoniacs, where Mark and Luke speak of but one; doubtless because that one was most remarkable, both before and after his dispossession. Possibly, however, Luke spake of Joanna and her company.—While these women returned into the city, Peter and John seem to have passed them by another road : and coming to the sepulchre they saw no angels." But Mary Magdalene, who had followed them, and staid at the sepulchre when they returned, saw two angels, and afterwards Christ himself: who directly after appeared to the other Mary and Salome, as they returned to the city. In the mean time Joanna, and her company arrived at the sepulchre “bring“ing the spices :" for, though the other women are said to have “bought the spices,” yet it is probable that Joanna, and those accompanying her, carried them to the place. When therefore they first entered the sepulchre, they only observed that the body was gone; but afterwards two angels appeared and accosted them. Then they returned into the city in haste, and, meeting with the apostles before the other woman had seen them, they informed them of what they had observed ; upon which Peter went again to the sepulchre. About this time the two disciples set out for Emmaus, having heard only the report of these women ; and neither that of Mary Magdalene nor that of the other Mary and Salome. These at length arriving informed the apostles that they had seen Jesus
2 Matt. xxviii. 9-1l.
Luke xxiv. 12-34,