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through the suggestions of an adversary given way to this evil disposition, he could not well look to God for help, and therefore wished to know whether the thousands of Israel and Judah might be deemed equal to the conquest which he meditated. His design was, to force all the Israelites to perform military service, and engage in the contests which his ambition had in view; and, as the people might resist this census, soldiers were employed to make it, who might not only put down resistance, but also suppress any disturbances that might arise. Concerning the difference of numbers in this census, see Sect. VIII. 6. p. 594. infra.

39. In 2 Kings xvi. 9. it is said, that the king of Assyria hearkened unto Ahaz, but in 2 Chron. xxviii. 20. we read that he distressed him, but strengthened him not.

Both statements are true. He did help him against the king of Syria, took Damascus, and delivered Ahaz from the power of the Syrians. But this service was of little value; for the Assyrian monarch did not assist Ahaz against the Philistines; and he distressed him by taking the royal treasures and the treasures of the temple, and rendered him but little service for so great a sacrifice.

The preceding are the chief passages in the Old Testament, in which differences have been imagined to exist: but with how little propriety the reader will be enabled to judge from a careful examination of the various passages themselves. It remains only that we notice a few passages in the New Testament which have also been the subject of cavil.

40. Matthew xxvii. 9, 10. disagrees with Zechariah xi. 13.

Both may be reconciled by supposing the name of the prophet to have been originally omitted by the evangelist, and that the name of Jeremiah was inserted by some subsequent copyist. Jeremiah is omitted in two manuscripts of the twelfth century, in the Syriac, the later Persian, and modern Greek versions, and in some later copies. What renders it likely that the original reading was dia rov zpoonrov by the prophet, is, that Saint Matthew frequently omits the name of the prophet in his quotations.

41. Mark ii. 26. is at variance with 1 Sam. xxi. 1.

Abiathar was not high priest at that time: but the expression may easily signify, in the days of Abiathar, who was afterwards high priest. Or, probably, both Ahimelech and Abiathar might officiate in the high priesthood, and the name of the office be indifferently applied to either.

42. The different manner in which the four evangelists have mentioned the superscription which was written over Jesus Christ when on the cross, was objected as a want of accuracy and truth by Dr. Middleton; and his objection has been copied by late writers.

But it is not improbable that it varied in each of the languages in which that accusation or superscription was written; for both Luke (xxiii. 38.) and John xix. 20.) say that it was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. We may then reasonably suppose Matthew to have recited the Hebrew;

And John the Greek :




If it should be asked, Why the Nazarene was omitted in the Hebrew, and we must assign a reason for Pilate's humour; perhaps we may thus account for it. He might be informed, that Jesus in Hebrew denoted a Saviour, and as it carried more appearance of such an appellative or general term by standing alone, he might choose by dropping the epithet the Nazarene, to leave the sense so ambiguous, that it might be thus understood:

1 Pearson on the Creed, art. ii. at the beginning.



Pilate, as little satisfied with the Jews as with himself on that day, meant the inscription, which was his own, as a dishonour to the nation; and thus set a momentous verity before them, with as much design of declaring it as Caiaphas had of prophesying, That Jesus should die for the people. The ambiguity not holding in Greek, the Nazarene might be there inserted in scorn again of the Jews, by denominating their king from a city which they held in the utmost contempt.2

Let us now view the Latin. It is not assuming much to suppose, that Pilate would not concern himself with Hebrew names, nor risk an impropriety in speaking or writing them. It was thought essential to the dignity of a Roman magistrate in the times of the republic not to speak but in Latin on public occasions.3 Of which spirit Tiberius the emperor retained so much, that in an oration to the senate he apologised for using a Greek word; and once, when they were drawing up a decree, advised them to erase another that had been inserted in it.4 And though the magistrates in general were then become more condescending to the Greeks, they retained this point of state with regard to other nations, whose languages they esteemed barbarous, and would give themselves no trouble of acquiring. Pilate, indeed, according to Matthew, asked at our Lord's trial, Whom will ye that I release unto you, Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? And again, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? But we judge this to be related, as the interpreter by whom he spake delivered it in Hebrew.5 For if the other Evangelists have given his exact words, he never pronounced the name of Jesus, but spake of him all along by a periphrasis: Will ye that I release unto you The King of the Jews? What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call The King of the Jews? Thus he acted in conference with the rulers, and then ordered a Latin inscription without mixture of foreign words, just as Mark repeats it: THE KING OF THE JEWS:

Which is followed by Luke; only that he has brought down This is from above, as having a common reference to what stood under it :



Thus, it is evident that there were variations in the inscription, and that the Latin was the shortest: but it is equally evident that these variations are not discrepancies or contradictions in the narratives of the evangelists.6

43. The alleged discrepancies in the genealogies recorded by Matthew (i.) and Luke (iii.) have already been considered in pp. 533, 534. supra. In addition to the observations there adduced, the following remarks by the late Bishop Horne are highly deserving of attention.

In the first place, genealogies in general, and those of the Jews in particular, with their method of deriving them, and the confusion often arising from the circumstance of the same person being called by different names, or different persons by the same name, are in their nature and must be to us, at this distance of time, matters of very complicated consideration, and it is no wonder they should be attended with difficulties and perplexities. Secondly, The evangelists, in an affair of so much importance, and so open then to detection, had there been any thing wrong to be detected, would most assuredly be careful to give Christ's pedigree as it was found in the authentic tables, which, according to the custom of the nation, were preserved in the family, as is evident from Josephus, who says, "I give you this succession of our family, as I find it written in the public tables." Thirdly, As it was well known the Messiah must descend from David, the genealogical tables of that family would be kept with more than ordinary diligence and precision. Fourthly,

1 John xi. 49-51.

3 Valerius Maximus, b. ii. c. ii. § 2.

2 John i. 46.

4 Sueton. in Tiberio, c. 71. The two words were Monopoly and Emblem. 5 See Wolfius on Matt. xxvii. 2.

6 Dr. Townson's Works, vol. i. pp. 200,210.

Whatever cavils the modern Jews and others now make against the genealogies recorded by the Evangelists, the Jews their contemporaries never offered to find fault with or to invalidate the accounts given in the Gospels. As they wanted neither opportunity, materials, skill, nor malice to have done it, and it would have offered them so great an advantage against the Christians, this circumstance alone, as Dr. South well remarks, were we not now able to clear the point, ought with every sober and judicious person to have the force of a moral demonstration.1

44. Heb. ix. 4. is apparently contradictory to 1 Kings viii. 9.

From the text of the former book, it appears that the ark contained the several things therein specified: whereas, we learn from the latter, that it contained only the two tables of stone. The words Ev ǹ, in which (wherein in the authorised translation,) therefore, refer to the tabernacle, and not to the ark; and thus the difference is removed.

Lastly, some of the differences between the Old and New Testaments arise from numbers and dates, and may be explained on the principles already laid down in pp. 532. 539, 540–542. supra: and others arise from the variances occurring in the quotations from the Old in the New Testament. But as these require a distinct consideration, the reader will find them fully discussed in Vol. II. Part. I Chap. IX.




IT is not to be denied that the sacred Scriptures contain facts

which appear to be contradictory to the relations of the same facts by profane historians. But the objections which some would derive from these seeming inconsistencies, lose all their force, when the uncertainty and want of credibility in heathen historians are considered, as well as their want of authentic records of the times.2 It may further be added, that the silence of the latter, concerning facts related by the inspired writers, cannot be regarded as contradicting them: because many of these facts are either too antient to come within the limits of profane histories, or are of such a description that they could not take notice of them.3 The silence or omission even of many historians ought not to overturn the testimony of any one author, who positively relates a matter of fact.

If, therefore a fact related in the Scripture be contradicted by an historian who lived many centuries after the time when it took place, such contradiction ought to have no weight.

1. Justin, the abbreviator of Trogus Pompeius, who wrote at least eighteen hundred years after the time of Moses, relates that the Israelites were expelled from Egypt, because they had communicated the itch and leprosy to the Egyptians, who were apprehensive lest the contagion should spread; and that the Israelites, having clandestinely carried

1 Bishop Horne's Works, vol. vi. p. 513.

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Bishop Stillingfleet has largely proved this point in the first book of his Origines pp. 1-65. (edit. 1709. folio.)

is subject, see pp. 210-216. of the present volume.

away the sacred mysteries of the Egyptians, were pursued by the lat ter who were compelled to return home by tempests.1

It is scarcely necessary to remark, how contrary this statement of the Roman historian is to that of the Jewish legislator; and when his credulity and want of information are properly weighed, the contradiction falls entirely to the ground. The same remark is applicable to the accounts of the Jewish nation given by the prejudiced historian Tacitus: which evidently betray the injurious representations of their avowed enemies. Dr. Gray, who has given these accounts (for which we have not room) has observed that many of them had been distinctly refuted in the time of Tacitus by Josephus and other historians. They contain in themselves sufficient to show how full of errors they are and while they exhibit much truth blended with falsehood, they tend to establish the former, without conferring any shadow of probability on the latter.2

2. It has been thought impossible to raise so vast an empire as that of Assyria is described to have been by Herodotus and Ctesias (whose accounts contradict the relation of Moses), so early as within one hundred and fifty years after Noah.

But their accounts are, probably, exaggerated, and in many instances fictitious: and, according to the chronology of the LXX. as well as of the Samaritan Pentateuch, the origin of the Assyrian empire is carried to a much greater distance from the flood.3

3. Joseph's division of the land of Egypt, which is recorded by Moses (Gen. xlvii.) has been represented as contradictory to the account of that country by Diodorus Siculus.

But on comparing the two narratives together, it will be found that the latter fully supports the sacred historian. Diodorus4 expressly affirms that the lands were divided between the king, the priests, and the soldiery; and Moses as expressly says, that they were divided between the king, the priests, and the people, "Moses tells us that before the famine, all the lands of Egypt were in the hands of the king, the priests, and the people; but that this national calamity made a great revolution in property, and brought the whole possessions of the people into the kings hands; which must needs make a prodigious accession of power to the crown. But Joseph, in whom the office of high priest and patriot supported each other, and jointly concurred to the public service, prevented for some time the ill effects of this accession by his farming out the new domain to the old proprietors on very easy conditions. We may well suppose this wise disposition to have continued, till that new king arose that knew not Joseph (Exod. i. 8.); that is, would obliterate his memory, as averse to his system of policy. He, as it appears from Scripture, greatly affected a despotic government; to support which he first established a standing militia, and endowed it with the lands formerly belonging to the people, who now became a kind of villeins to this order, and were obliged to personal service: this and the priesthood being the orders of nobility in this powerful empire; and so considerable were they, that out of them, indifferently their kings were taken and elected. Thus the property of Egypt became divided in the manner the Sicilian relates; and it is remarkable that from this time and not till now, we hear in Scripture of a standing militia, and of the king's six hundred chosen chariots, &c."5

4. The destruction of Sennacherib's army which is ascribed to divine agency by the sacred historian, (2 Kings xix. 35.2 Chron. xxxii. 21. and

1 Justin. Hist. Philipp. lib. xxxvi. c. 2. p. 308. ed. Bipont.

2 See Dr. Gray's Connection between Sacred and Profane Literature, vol. i. pp. 435 -443.

3 Doddridge's Lectures, vol. ii. Lect. 146. § x. (Works, vol. v. Dr. Hale's Analysis of Chronology, vol. ii. pp. 48-52.

4 Bib. Historic. 1. 1. c. 73.

p. 127.) See also

5 Bishop Warburton's Divine Legation, book iv. § 3. in fine (Works, vol. iv. pp 115, 116.)



Isaiah xxvii. 36.) was probably the blast or hot pestilential south wind called the simoom, so well described by Mr. Bruce.1

The destruction of the same army before Pelusium, in the reign of Sethos king of Egypt, is attributed by Herodotus? to an immense number of mice, that infested the Assyrian camp by night, so that their quivers and bows, together with what secured their shields to their arms, were gnawed in pieces. It is par ticularly to be remarked that Herodotus calls the Assyrian king Sennacherib, as the Scriptures do: and that the time referred to in both, is perfectly accordant. Hence it appears that it is the same fact to which Herodotus alludes, although much disguised in the relation; and thus the seeming contradiction between the sacred and profane historians is easily removed. The difference between them may be readily explained, when it is considered that Herodotus derived his information from the Egyptian priests, who cherished the greatest aversion both from the nation and religion of the Jews, and therefore would relate nothing in such a manner as would give reputation to either.3

5. There are many, apparently considerable, contradictions of the Scriptures in the writings of Josephus.

But these, as well as his omissions may be accounted for by his peculiar situation. His country was now in great distress; its constitution was overturned, and his countrymen in danger of extirpation, from the circumstance of their being confounded with the Christians, who were reputed to be a sect of the Jews, and at that time were suffering persecution. Josephus's deviations from Scripture, therefore, were made in order to accommodate his work to the taste of the Greeks and Romans.5

6. In consequence of this Jewish historian having omitted to notice the massacre of the infants at Bethlehem, which is related in Matt. ii. 16., the evangelical narrative has been pronounced a 'fabrication,' and 'a tale that carries its own refutation with it.'

This assertion was first made, we believe by Voltaire, whose disregard of truth, especially in matters connected with the sacred history, is sufficiently notorious. But the evidence for the reality of the fact, and consequently for the veracity of Matthew, is too strong to be subverted by any bold and unsupported assertions. For, in the first place, the whole character which Josephus ascribes to Herod, is the most evident confirmation of the barbarous deed mentioned by the evangelist. Secondly, the Gospel of Matthew was published about the year of our Lord 38., at which time there doubtless were persons living, who could, and (from the hostility then manifested against the Christian faith who would have contradicted his assertion if it had been false or erroneous: their silence is a tacit proof that the evangelist has stated the fact correctly.— But, thirdly, the reality of the fact itself (though mentioned in his usual scoffing manner) was not denied by the philosopher Celsus, one of the bitterest enemies of Christianity, who lived towards the close of the second century; and who would most unquestionably have denied it if he could-Fourthly, Matthew's narrative is confirmed by Macrobius, a heathen author, who lived about the

1 Travels, vol. v. pp. 80. 295. 322. 323. 350-353.

2 Book ii. c. 141.

3 Prideaux's Connection, book i. sub anno 710. (part. i. p. 25. edit. 1720.) It is remarkable that the blast, which destroyed the Assyrians, happened at night; whereas the Simoom, usually blows in the day-time, and mostly about noon, being raised by the intense heat of the sun. Dr. Hales's Analysis of Chronology, vol. ii. p. 467.

4 Ottius has compiled a curious treatise, entitled Prætermissa à Josepho: it is a collection of sixty-eight articles, of which, in all probability, the Jewish historian could not be ignorant; but which he chose to omit for the reason above assigned. This treatise is appended to Ottius's very valuable Spicilegium sive Excerpta ex Flavio Josepho pp. 527-612.

5 Divine Legation of Moses, book v. sect. 4. (Warburton's Works vol. v. pp. 126128.) The bishop has given several instances at length, which we have not room to insert, see pp. 130–132.

5 See the passages in Lardner's Works, vol. viii. p. 21. 8vo. or vol. iv. p. 122. 4to.

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