« ПредишнаНапред »
ever held out any hope of future life but what arose from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The doctrine of an immortal soul and its existence in a disembodied state, we have shown to be of heathen origin. We look in vain into the Bible for it, but find it frequently taught among heathens, and also by Christians since it came to be incorporated with the Christian religion. If I am mistaken in this I shall take it kind in you to show on what Scripture grounds you hold such opinions. But, it what I have stated be correct, there cannot be a doubt that this heathen doctrine has formed the basis of all the superstitions and impositions practised in the Catholic church. And we think it is impossible for you to show, from Scripture, that saving immortal souls before death can be done, yet say that the Catholics cannot save them after it. I seriously urge it on every Protestant either to give up this immortal soul saving business before death, or cease from his abuse of the Catholics for carrying on the business after it. Or shall I rather hope that the day is not very distant when this soul saving trade, like the slave trade, will be abandoned by all, and Catholics and Protestants both be ashamed of it?
2d. To Jews. Children of Abraham your nation has rejected Jesus of Nazareth, as the true Messiah. For nearly eighteen hundred years the twelve tribes have been scattered among all nations, and the evils you have suffered from those calling themselves Christians, makes me almost ashamed to call your attention to the subject of Christianity. But Christianity is no more to be despised on this account, than Judaism ought to have been when your fathers put Jesus to death, and persecuted his disciples. Should you say, Christians have hated Jews without a cause, 1 allow it: but so did your fathers to
Jesus, for what evil had he done? Pilate declared he found no fault in him, but that for envy your fathers delivered him. This being the case, I am emboldened to urge on your consideration a few facts, hoping they may lead you to examine whether your fathers were not mistaken in rejecting Jesus of Nazareth, as the true Messiah.
1st. It is a fact no reasonable man can dispute, that about the time Jesus of Nazareth appeared, a general expectation prevailed in the Jewish nation, and throughout the east, that a great prince, your Messiah, was about to appear. Tacitus and Suetonius both bear testimony to this general expectation which prevailed. Josephus, your own historian, declares it prevailed so extensively among the Jews, that it was ihe cause of the war which ended in the ruin of your commonwealth, and dispersion among all nations. How then do you account for this universal expectation about the time Jesus of Nazareth appeared ? It is certain that no such general expectation ever prevailed before or since.
2d. It is also a fact, attested by the history of those times, is stated in the New Testament, and will be admitted by yourselves, that about the same time Jesus of Nazareth appeared, many persons arose, pretending to be the Messiah. But before this period, we never hear of any false Messiahs, who arose and deceived the people, and we read of but very few since. For many years not one has arisen in your nation, pretending to be the Messiah. Who in our day hears of such a thing among the Jews in any part of the world? Does not this fact also claim your candid consideration ?
3d. But it also deserves your serious regard that it was toward the close of Daniel's seventy weeks, Jesus of Nazareth and those other pretenders to the Messiahship appeared. This was the period when
your fathers looked for the Messiah, and it was such predictions of the prophets, which laid the foundation of the general expectation which prevailed. As Daniel's seventy weeks drew towards a close, the expectation became general, and false Messiahs
It seems then undeniable, that if Jesus Christ was an impostor, like all the others who pretended to be the Messiah, the period of their appearance precisely answered to that predicted by your own prophets. And you must admit, that the time has gone by, nearly two thousand years, for the appearance of
your Messiah, if Jesus Christ nor none of those other persons was the true Messiah. You will not allow, that the word of the God of Israel has failed, or that he is even slack concerning his promise. How then do you account for these things; and relieve yourselves from the difficulties which this view of the subject presents ?
4th. But if Jesus of Nazareth was an impostor like all the others who arose at the close of Daniel's seventy weeks, how do you account for it, that he is the only one that succeeded in gaining innumerable followers, in establishing a kingdom in the earth, and whose reign bids fair to become universal in the world? It is well known that all the other pretenders to the Messiahship appealed to arms to establish their claims, but “all as many as obeyed them were scattered and brought to naught." But you must allow that Jesus has succeeded, not only without worldly power and influence, but in opposition to them. How then do you account for his success, for multitudes of the Jews even in Jerusalem became his followers? And why did none of the others succeed as well as him if the whole were impostors ?
5th. Permit me also to urge it on your candid consideration, that the nature and extent of Jesus' kingdom seems to agree to the testimony of your own prophets respecting your Messiah. By them he is emphatically called “the prince of peace.” He was to govern the world with truth and righteousness; be a light unto the Gentiles, and in his name the Gentiles should trust. All the families of the earth were to be blessed in him. Hitherto, the nature and progress of Jesus' kingdom bears a strong resemblance to this, as a fulfilment of these and some other predictions. It is true, some have attempted to propagate his religion by the sword, but you know that his religion condemns all fraud or force in its propagation. It is a well attested, historical fact, that his religion never prospered more than in the three first centuries, when opposed in every possible way, and those who preached it suffered most unheard of cruelties without resistance. How then do you rationally account for it that Jesus, an impostor, crucified at Jerusalem, should in so many things agree to the character of the Messiah, described by your prophets, if indeed he was an impostor? Does it not at present appear that his doctrine and laws shall become universal in the earth ? How all this should originate from an impostor, crucified by your fathers, is certainly an astonishing event in the annals of the world.
6th. But if Jesus Christ was really an impostor, how came it to pass, that he wrought miracles and predicted events, some of which deeply concerned your nation? Your fathers could account for his miracles in no other way, but by ascribing them to the power of Beelzebub, which you will allow was not very rational or satisfactory. They did not pretend to deny, but admitted, that notable miracles were wrought by the apostles. Jesus predicted his own death, and the manner of it from the hands of your fathers. He also predicted bis resurrection on ihe third day, and the very precautions your fathers
used, of guarding the sepulchre, and sealing the stone, proclaim their belief in his prediction. But he also predicted the destruction of your city and temple, and your dispersion among all nations, forty years before those events happened. But what false prophet ever arose in your nation, foretelling such future events? If you allow that God thus bore testimony to such an impostor, by what rule do you judge a true from a false prophet?
7th. Permit me to urge you to a candid consideration whether the mode your fathers adopted of getting rid of the fact of Christ's resurrection can be satisfactory to any candid man. If they indeed be. lieved that Christ's disciples stole the body from the tomb, why did they not confront them in open court with the evidence of their guilt, and thus forever silence their testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus ? But they gave no credit to their own story; for in all their after opposition to the apostles, it is never once urged to invalidate their testimony. Your fathers were fully aware, that if Jesus rose from the dead, his claim to the Messiahship was established; hence they took every precaution to guard against imposition. But on the supposition that the disciples did steal the body, is it not strange such a fraud was never detected ? Judas had no secret plot to divulge, but confessed he had betrayed innocent blood, nor could persecution or death extort from a single disciple that there was any
fraud in the case. I can hardly persuade myself that any well informed Jew now believes this story, for it carries its own refutation in its face. But supposing it true, how do you account for so many Jews in Jerusalem, and other places, believing the apostles' testimony, notwithstanding this story, and taking joyfully the spoiling of their goods rather than renounce it? Myriads of Jews believed