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meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief, because they believed not them that had seen him after he was risen."
Probably the same observation, concerning the particular design which guided the historian, may be of use in comparing many other passages of the Gospels.
Erroneous opinions imputed to the apostles.
A SPECIES of candour which is shown towards every other book, is sometimes refused to the Scriptures; and that is, the placing of a distinction between judgement and testimony. We do not usually question the credit of a writer, by reason of an opinion he may have delivered upon subjects unconnected with his evidence; and even upon subjects connected with his account, or mixed with it in the same discourse or writing, we naturally separate facts from opinions, testimony from observation, narrative from argument.
To apply this equitable consideration to the Christian records, much controversy and much objection has been raised concerning the quotations of the Old Testa
ment found in the New; some of which quotations, it is said, are applied in a sense, and to events, apparently different from that which they bear, and from those to which they belong, in the original. It is probable to my apprehension, that many of those quotations were intended by the writers of the New Testament as nothing more than accommodations. They quoted passages of their Scripture, which suited, and fell in with, the occasion before them, without always undertaking to assert, that the occasion was in the view of the author of the words. Such accommodations of passages from old authors, from books especially which are in every one's hands, are common with writers of all countries; but in none, perhaps, were more to be expected, than in the writings of the Jews, whose literature was almost entirely confined to their Scriptures. Those prophecies which are alleged with more solemnity, and which are accompanied with a precise declaration, that they originally respected the event then related, are, I think, truly alleged. But were it otherwise; is the judge ment of the writers of the New Testament,
in interpreting passages of the Old, or sometimes, perhaps, in receiving established interpretations, so connected either with their veracity, or with their means of information concerning what was passing in their own times, as that a critical mistake, even were it clearly made out, should overthrow their historical credit? Does it diminish it? Has it any thing to do with it?
Another error imputed to the first Christians, was the expected approach of the day of judgement. I would introduce this objection by a remark upon what appears to me a somewhat similar example. Our Saviour, speaking to Peter of John, said, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee*?" These words, we find, had been so misconstrued, as that a report from thence "went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die." Suppose that this had come down to us amongst the prevailing opinions of the early Christians, and that the particular circumstance, from which the mistake sprang, had
*John xxi. 22.
been lost (which, humanly speaking, was most likely to have been the case); some, at this day, would have been ready to regard and quote the error, as an impeachment of the whole Christian system. Yet with how little justice such a conclusion would have been drawn, or rather such a presumption taken up, the information which we happen to possess enables us now! to perceive. To those who think that the Scriptures lead us to believe, that the early Christians, and even the apostles, expected the approach of the day of judgement in their own times, the same reflection will occur, as that which we have made with re-› spect to the more partial, perhaps, and temporary, but still no less ancient, error concerning the duration of Saint John's life. It was an error, it may be likewise said, which would effectually hinder those who entertained it from acting the part of impostors.
The difficulty which attends the subject of the present chapter, is contained in this question; If we once admit the fallibility of the apostolic judgement, where are we