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a history of cruelty and blood! The abominable cruelty of Herod is not passed in silence by Josephus. He informs us that Herod slew Hyrcanus, his wife's grandfather, at the advanced age of eighty years! and who had saved his life on a former occasion! That he publicly executed his amiable wife, Mariamne, and privately slaughtered three of his own children, to gratify a disposition of unmanly revenge and detestable jealousy! And if he would not spare his own children, is it reasonable to suppose that he would spare the children of others-especially when he was led to fear a rival in the throne? He was doubtless led to fear such a rival, by the inquiry of the wise men, who demanded to know where he was, "that was born king of the Jews :" and he readily concluded that by slaying all the children of Bethlehem, from two years old, and under, he should be no longer under the dread and suspense of a rival in the throne of Judea. His whole character was such as to justify and confirm the story of this infant slaughter; and even the very last act of his abominable life, stamps his memory with perpetual infamy and disgrace. In his last sickness, just before his death, and when all hopes of recovery had fled, he caused all the principal men in Judea to be convened and shut up in the Circus; and then called his family together, and said to them, "I know that the Jews will rejoice at my death. You have these men in your custody. So soon as I am dead, and before it can be known publicly, let in the soldiers upon them, and kill them! All Judea, and every family, will then, although unwillingly, mourn my death." And the historian adds, "he conjured them by their love to him, and their fidelity to God, not to fail to obey his orders!" For the honor of human nature, however, we ought to record, that they neglected to obey this inhuman and bloody edict.
After the recital of these historical facts, who can reflect upon this unnatural monster's disposition, and for a moment discredit the cruelty ascribed to him by Matthew? If a solitary voice dare rise in his defence, let them read Macrobius, an heathen author of the fourth century, and near its close, who declares this cruelty to be well known, and a fact of such notoriety as to be indisputable.
Many circumstances which are related by Matthew and Luke, and which were connected with his birth, must be omitted, as they are not absolutely necessary to establish the history of the Saviour's life and doctrine :—such as the message of the Angel to the shepherds; the prophecies of Simeon and Anna; the journey to Egypt and return to Judea, and his reasoning with the Jewish Doctors in the temple. Passing over these events, I beg leave to remark, as preparatory to the introduction of the plain and pointed testimony of some of the most conspicuous unbelievers of the gospel, while it was in its infancy, that you are doubtless too well acquainted with the plain, simple, unstudied and unvarnished narrative of the life, doctrines and miracles of Christ, recorded in the gospel history, to render their recital necessary, or even expedient in this stage of our labors. I shall therefore call your attention to the testimony of Josephus, who was a Jew by birth and education, a Priest of the Jewish church, a Pharisee in principle, a commander in Judea, afterwards a prisoner to the Romans, and present at the taking of Jerusalem, by the army of Titus. His works evince his ability, as a scholar, and an accurate and faithful historian. He was born a short time (about four years) after the crucifixion of Christ, and therefore had an opportunity of being acquainted with the evidences of the christian religion, and the principal facts which were recorded in the history of Christ. To the leading facts in that history, he bears the following testimony, when writing of what transpired in the days of Pontius Pilate :
"Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold." And he adds, "and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day." See Antiquities, Book 18.
Of this quotation, I shall doubtless be told, that it is an interpolation, and therefore of no authority in confirmation of the facts which it is alleged to support.
I am aware that the opposers of the gospel history have affirmed with much apparent confidence, that the passage recited from Josephus is an interpolation: But it is an affirmation, for the support of which, no solid evidence can be adduced. On the other hand, we beg leave to remind our opposers, that Origen, a man of uncommon learning, and critical knowledge, who flourished in the latter part of the second, and to the middle of the third century, alludes directly to this testimony, in his first book against Celsus. Here let me ask the question; would any writer who valued his reputation, dare to make such a reference, at a period so near the time in which Josephus lived; and in a controversy with the enemies of christianity, if no such passage were contained in the history of Josephus ? Again, would not the watchful and malignant opposers of christianity, instantly have detected the fraud of such an interpolation, if such fraud had been committed, and gladly have employed it to brand with infamy the christian cause? They certainly would, since they must have known that the detection of such a fraud would have been of more service to the cause of infidelity than all other facts and arguments to which they could appeal. This objection, therefore of our opposers, only weakens their own cause, and strengthens that which it was intended to destroy. Other evidences in confirmation of the gospel history, will be reserved as the subject of our next lecture.
HEBREWS i. 1, 2.
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things."
In the closing part of my last Lecture, I had occasion to quote the testimony of Josephus, concerning the character and ministry of Christ, as well as his condemnation, crucifixion, and resurrection from the dead, in the days, and under the administration of Pontius Pilate, who was at that time procurator of Judea. I also anticipated and answered the objection which has been alleged to the genuineness of that testimony, by referring to the writings of Origen, one of the most celebrated authors of the early part of the third century.
I shall now present you with the same kind of evidence, from several authors of great respectability, who have appealed to Josephus for the confirmation of the principal events recorded in the history of the Saviour.
Justin Martyr, who had been a heathen philosopher in Samaria, but afterwards became an able and zealous advocate for the gospel; and who, in the time of a most bloody persecution, appeared before the Emperor Antoninus, and successfully pleaded the cause of the oppressed and persecuted christians; in his dialogue with Trypho, says to the Jews, "You knew that Jesus was risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven, as the prophecies did foretel was to happen." This author suffered martyrdom in the year 162
Origen, in his commentary on Matthew, quotes verbatim the language of Josephus, as recorded in his twentieth Book of Antiquities, concerning the death of James the Just, where the historian calls him "the brother of Jesus, who is called Christ." Again-the passage which we
have before quoted from Josephus, concerning the life, condemnation and crucifixion of the Saviour, under Pontius Pilate, is quoted by Eusebius, a native of Palestine, Bishop of Cesarea, who died in the early part of the fourth century, both in his commentary on Matthew, and in his ecclesiastical history. Ambrose, who wrote about the year 360-Hieronym, who wrote about the year 400 -Isidore, a disciple and pupil of Chrysostom, who wrote about the year 410 - Sozomen, an ecclesiastical historian, who wrote in the early part of the fifth century—all quote the same testimony of Josephus, with the utmost confidence of its truth, as well as many others who followed them, down to the sixteenth century: If this passage were an interpolation, as some have pretended, how should it happen that all the early writers should appear so totally ignorant of the fact? Would not some of the early enemies of Christianity have alleged the charge of deception against these christian writers, who appealed to this passage in Josephus? And is it not an unavoidable conclusion that a controversy upon the merits of this famous passage would have come down to us, provided the genuineness of its character had been challenged in the early ages of the christian church? Such appears to be the only conclusion to which we are directed by impartial reason.
There are a few other facts to which I will now invite your attention. The same emperors, kings, governors, procurators, civil magistrates, and ecclesiastical functionaries, which are mentioned in the New Testament history, are likewise mentioned by Josephus, and the same periods assigned by both for their lives and public acts It also appears that all the books of the New Testament, except the Apocalypse of St. John, were written and extensively circulated previous to the death of Josephus: So that had they been susceptible of the charge of forgery, that historian would have detected the imposture and exploded the deception. But on the contrary, he bears his testimony to so many of the important facts which the gospel history contains, as fairly to establish their entire credibility.
I will here notice a few of them which have escaped the charge of forgery and the suspicion of interpolation ;