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thing that passed among the Christians before they were incorporated by the Emperor Constantine, and the Christian religion superseded the Pagan, as the religion of the Roman empire. Every document that we have on the subject is either fabricated, interpolated, or altered. All works that bore a direct opposition to the Christian religion have been destroyed, and we have no other guide but that of the party whose pretentions we are bound in common honesty to doubt.
I shall now make such observations as arrest my attention in the book of Mark, and those will be rather humourous than serious.
Mark says nothing about Jesus fasting in the wilderness, but that he was forty days with wild beasts and angels.
In the third chapter we are told that Jesus surnamed two of his disciples Boanerges, or Sons of Thunder: a whimsical epithet to proceed from the son of God, most assuredly!
In the fifth chapter we are told that a legion of devils possessed one man who dwelt among the tombs, and that this man could not be bound with fetters and chains, for, that by the aid of this legion of devils, he tore them asunder. This legion is somewhat like the Trinity in Unity, for Jesus is made to address the legion, which in the same place is, described to be many, as an unclean spirit, and to bring him out of the man: when Mr. Legion requests permission that he and all his subdivisions might be allowed to enter the herd of swine! It is not my intention to point out the contradictions of the four books called the Gospels, I have too much contempt for the whole to attempt any thing of the kind; but being on this subject of the devils and the swine, I would observe, that Matthew said they were two men who possessed devils and dwelt among the tombs, and that these two devils entered the herd of swine and drove them into the sea, but Mark speaks of one man possessing a legion of devils, and says that the number of swine were two thousand: from this we are left to infer, that the man possessed had two thousand devils in him! In another place we shall find Jesus talking about a legion of angels at his command if he should want their assistance, it will be sufficient to observe on this head, that the word legion is borrowed from the Roman army, which was divided into legions, just as the English army is divided into regiments: only that the legions were more in number, comprising many thousands.
I have asserted that there were a variety of accounts afloat in the several early Christian Churches as to who or what was Jesus; that the Book of Matthew is believed to have been the first written document of the kind, and that every one told his story in his own way, so much so, that the Christians soon found it necessary to hold general councils to affix the stamp of their authority on what was authentic as the word of God, and what was spurious. I have also mentioned that Mark, whose name is fixed to the foregoing book, has been said to have been the immediate disciple of Peter, but that we have no proof of any thing of the kind, nor at what particular period any of these books were written. That there were a multitude of those books afloat when Luke wrote his, he tells us at the beginning in the following words:
"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us. Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed."
The above extract forms a sufficient proof that it was written at a distant period from the time in which the things are said to have happened, which the book speaks of: it also proves that there were various writings of the same kind without charging any of them as being spurious, and it further evidently appears to have been Luke's object to condense the various tales or writings into one, for by a close examination it will be found that he embraces all that we find in the books of Matthew and Mark, with some variations and additions of his own, or copies from other books not now extant. Luke introduces Jesus in a very different manner from either of the other Gospel writers, for he has a name for the angel that caused Elizabeth and Mary to conceive. Matthew has done it all by dreams, and Mark and John say nothing of this mysterious and miraculous conception *. The difference between
* Peter Annett, a Clergyman, who became sceptical on this subject in the course of the last century, asserted that the angel Gabriel was some brisk and gallant young fellow who practised the trick successfully on Elizabeth and Mary. Celsus, the Roman, who opposed the Christian
VOL. IV. No. 9.
Luke's genealogy of Jesus and that of Matthew has been a fatal objection to either of their books being a Gospel. They both make Joseph the father of Jesus, and yet they would in the same breath fain make a cuckold of him to keep up the story of divinity and miraculous conception in their ManGod. This difference in the genealogy must be also a fatal objection to all the pretended genealogies of the Jews. It is said that Herod destroyed all the genealogies that were kept in the Temple as public records, that his low birth might not be discovered, hence we might infer that the two genealogies we have in the New Testament are both fabrications, and the difference in the 'names must support that inference. The case is, the Jews had their holy books, and they, as a matter of course, connected all the public characters with the names in these books in just the same manner as Mahomet traces his lineage back to Abraham, through Ishmael.
It is an utter impossibility to record the genealogies of a whole nation, even if the real fathers of the children could be relied upon; the business would be too intricate, and as to its importance, it is ridiculous in the extreme. For instance, Jesus is made to descend through all the rogues and whores that are mentioned in the Old Testament. The first instance is the incest of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar; the next is that of Ruth, and her mother-in-law Naomi, seducing Boaz; the next the fruit of those murderers and adulterers, David and Bathsheba; and we are not told whether the issue of Solomon be from one of his three hundred wives or seven hundred concubines, but even in the last instance he is suggested to be the offspring of adultery. A noble descent! Luke has also given us that true specimen of the Christian Religion, and for my part I have not a doubt but the sentence was written after the new sect had made some progress, and its effect began to be visible. If any thing can entitle the book to the
religion, says that Jesus was the fruit of an intrigue between Mary and a Roman soldier named Pantheras; and St. Ambrose asserted that the Holy Ghost got Mary with child through the ear to preserve her virginity. Other saints have contended for other methods, but I disbelieve all such nonsense, as well as the original or authorized tales. It forms a proof that a commentary on such idle tales must be as ridiculous as the tales themselves. The reader might find a variety of nonseuse and amusement on this head in a work lately published entitled the Apocryphal New Testament.
epithet of Gospel it is the following quotation from the twelfth chapter:
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division; for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
This is a true picture of the Christian Religion; it is what it ever has been and ever will be, whilst it continues to disgrace mankind.
Luke has several stories in his book which are not to be found in the others, particularly that of the good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and the rich man and Lazarus; this latter tale I insert.
"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
From this tale it would appear that the Christian Heaven and Hell, were as contiguous as the Elysian fields and the infernal regions of the Pagan Mythology, so that a person situa
ted in one place could converse with another in the other place. It would be well if we could get a more precise account where this heaven and hell are situated. Those who talk so confidently about it, ought certainly to be more explicit, and point out its geographical position in space. Shew me where heaven is, and I will soon become a candidate for it. To be sure the Son of God is made to tell this tale, or one might wonder how it was brought upon earth. The whole of this denunciation against rich men and persons of property, was a mere trick with the early preaching Christians to get hold of the property among themselves, that they and their followers might live in idleness. The possession of property can never affect the moral character of any man, provided he does not make it an instrument of power and oppression. There is one truth in what is called Scripture, that to whom much is given much is expected in the shape of example and moral assistance to their fellows, but poverty is the handmaid of crime and theft; it is poverty which degrades the man by debasing the mind, and fills it with an apathy to all that is good and desirable in life. Let man once enjoy the whole fruit of his labour in a country free from taxes, and we shall find crime abate as well as wretchedness. Under those considerations I don't think there is any thing worthy notice in the moral of the above tale. It was the position of Hell and Heaven that drew my attention to it.
I find nothing that is further deserving of notice in the book of Luke, it is a repetition of the former books with some variations and additions. There is nothing like harmony now in the four books called Gospels if they were submitted to a fair criticism, but even in their present state they have gone through repeated corrections for that purpose. Dr. Mills tells us that there is a public record of their having been reconciled and corrected in the sixth century during the consulship of Messalla, at the order of the Emperor Anastasius. The same learned Doctor has amused himself in searching after the va-* rious readings in the various editions, and has enumerated thirty thousand and upwards! So that they may now be compared to Lord Chancellor Eldon's silk stocking that has been darned all over with worsted until no silk be left.
Luke is supposed to have been the physician of Antioch who followed Paul, but this is all guess work now-a-day, and the less we trouble ourselves on this head, the less error we shall fall into. The rise and progress of the Christian religion