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alone. I do not mean that they have used the exclusive word alone; but that all the instances which they have recorded of his appearance, are instances of appearance to his disciples; that their reasonings upon it, and allusions to it, are confined to this supposition; and that, by one of them, Peter is made to say, "Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead *" The most common understanding must have perceived, that the history of the resurrection would have come with more advantage, if they had related that Jesus appeared, after he was risen, to his foes as well as his friends, to the scribes and Pharisees, the Jewish council, and the Roman governor or even if they had asserted the public appearance of Christ in general unqualified terms, without noticing, as they have done, the presence of his disciples on each occasion, and noticing it in such a manner as to lead their readers to

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suppose that none but disciples were present. They could have represented in one way as well as the other. And if their point had been, to have the religion believed, whether true or false; if they had fabricated the story ab initio; or if they had been disposed either to have delivered their testimony as witnesses, or to have worked up their materials and information as historians, in such a manner as to render their narrative as specious and unobjectionable as they could; in a word, if they had thought of any thing but of the truth of the case, as they understood and believed it; they would, in their account of Christ's several appearances after his resurrection, at least have omitted this restriction. At this distance of time, the account as we have it, is perhaps more credible than it would have been the other way; because this manifestation of the historians' candour, is of more advantage to their testimony, than the difference in the circumstances of the account would have been to the nature of the evidence. this is an effect which the evangelists would

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not foresee; and I think that it was by no

means the case at the time when the books were composed.


Mr. Gibbon has argued for the genuineness of the Koran, from the confessions which it contains, to the apparent disadvantage of the Mahometan cause The same defence vindicates the genuineness of our Gospels, and without prejudice to the cause at all.

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There are some other instances in which the evangelists honestly relate what, they must have perceived, would make against them.

Of this kind is John the Baptist's message, preserved by Saint Matthew (xi. 2.), and Saint Luke (vii. 18.): "Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?" To confess, still more to state, that John the Baptist had his doubts concerning the character of

* Vol. ix. c. 50, note 96.

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Jesus, could not but afford a handle to cavil and objection. But truth, like honesty, neglects appearances. The same observation, perhaps, holds concerning the apostasy of Judas*.

John vi. 66. "From that time, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." Was it the part of a writer, who dealt in suppression and disguise, to put down this anecdote?

* I had once placed amongst these examples of fair concession the remarkable words of Saint Matthew, in his account of Christ's appearance upon the Galilean mountain : "And when they saw him, they worshipped him ; but some doubted*." I have since, however, been convinced by what is observed concerning this passage in Dr. Townshend's discourse upon the resurrection, that the transaction, as related by Saint Matthew, was really this; "Christ appeared first at a distance: the greater part of the company, the moment they saw him, worshipped, but some, as yet, i. e. upon this first distant view of his person, doubted; whereupon Christ came up to them, and spake to them," &c.: that the doubt, therefore, was a doubt only at first, for a moment, and upon his being seen at a distance, and was afterwards dispelled by his nearer approach, and by his entering into conversation with them.

* Chap. xxviii. 17.

+ Page 177.

f Saint Matthew's words are, Και προσελθων δ Ιησους, ελάλησεν αυτοις. This intimates, that, when he first appeared, it was at a distance, at least from many of the spectators. Ib. p. 197.

Or this, which Matthew has preserved (xiii. 58.)? "He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief."

Again, in the same evangelist (v. 17, 18): "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil: for, verily, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle, shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." At the time the Gospels were written, the apparent tendency of Christ's mission was to diminish the authority of the Mosaic code, and it was so considered by the Jews themselves. It is very improbable, therefore, that, without the constraint of truth, Matthew should have ascribed a saying to Christ, which, primo intuitu, militated with the judgement of the age in which his Gospel was written. Marcion thought this text so objectionable, that he altered the words, so as to invert the sense *

Once more (Acts xxv. 18.): "They brought none accusation against him of

* Lardner, Cred. vol. xv. p. 422.

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