Imatges de pÓgina
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miost abusive Blasphemy! If, Philologus, you are very hard to believe any Thing in Scripture-History; and yec every malicious Lie, though ever so billy, out of Julian or Celsus, can go

down with

you. You think, you are wondrous happy in your parison, between the Birth of Christ, and that of some of the old Heroes ; but there is a very wide Difference in all the Circumstances of these, if what you say, as to the Birth of those Persons, be true. But it is not to be. allowed you, that all those famous Men in early Times, who attributed their Original to a Deity, were of a spurious Birth. For the Reason why they claimed such a Parentage was, not to hide the Shame of their Mother, ( as you would have it) but to give themselves a greater Character to their Subjects or Enemies, and to make People fall in more readily with their ambitious Designs, as is clear in the Expeditions of Bacchus and Hercules. And, after them, other Princes, who had a Mind to make an extraordinary Figure among their Neighbours, pretended to the like divine Birth, though their Mothers were ever fo chaft; as is evident, in the History of Alexander the Great. But what fignify these oid idle poctical Stories, to a plain Matter of Fact in a learned and knowing Age of the World? The Stories of Hercules, and Bacchus, Æneas, &c. are all assigned to dark Ages, very little of the History of which is known'; and those Things, in the Mythological Account of those Tines, which we suppose to be true, may, for ought we know, bę only the Figments of poetical Brains, and the Poets might coin those celebrated Amours of the Gods, only as fine Stories, to entertain their Rcaders, without any Foundation' at all in History for it. But the History of Christ's Birth is laid in a Time, when Things might be better examined, and fuch tham Stories could not be made to pass upon the World. The Reigns of Cecrops, or Ajamemnon, were proper Times to deify Strumpets, and to take any Father out of Heaven, which a Man pleased; but no Body could be so filly, as to go about to practise thiefe Tricks, under the Empire of Angustus. Belides, it was

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not a Fashion; among the Jews, to pretend to this celestia Pedigree; all this simple Usage was owing to the Pothytheism, or Idolatry, of the Gentiles, and their gross Notions of the divine Nature. Any one might very well pretend to be Son to a God, when 'twas generally thought, that Gods got Children like Men: And a Man might reasonably fuppofe, he might cover the Infamy of an illegitimate Birth, by Fathering himself upon a God, when the very Theology of their Religion informed Men, how frequently their Gods lay with their Worshiper's Wives. But the Jews had such just and rational Ideas of God Almighty, and so very true Notions of his Goodness and Purity, that it could enter into no Man's Head, who was educated in their Principles, to borrow the Name of God Almighty, to be an Umbrage to such Wickedness ; nay, such a Pretence would have been abhorred, and abominated, by all that Nation, as soon as they should have heard of it. The Reason, why these ancient Heroes arrogated to themselves a divine Original

, was, to gain a remarkable Honour and Glory to themselves, which was the Idol of their Affections; but our blessed Saviour de spised all those Things, He forbad Men to say or do any Thing, which might redound to his Fame, and made his whole Life a most wonderful Example of Mortification and Humility. Therefore this odious Comparison of Christ, with these proud aspiring Heathens, is altogether

as impertinent, as it is malicious and blafphemous. The Blaf

As for that diabolical Story of Panthera, which Celfus phemy of, tells ; it is only a Jumble of some Truth, with a great Julian con- Deal of malicious Falsehood, which was heretofore the futedo usual Heathen Way of contriving their Calumnies, against

the Christians. Thus they had a filly Story of the Ass's Head in Tacitus, or had heard something of our Saviour's riding upon an Ass; and this gave Occasion for them, to coin their scandalous Story of the Christians worshiping the Image of Christ, with an Ass's Head and Feet, under the Name of Oronychites. They had some imper. fea Notion, of the mystical Eating of Christ's Body and Blood, in the Sacrament; upon which they forged that


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wicked Calumny of the Thyeste« Dapes, and their eating young Children, at their Meetings. And so their having got in their Heads something of the Name of Panther, or Panthera, gave Occasion to the Blasphemy which you just now related. It is most manifest from ancient Writers, that Panther was a Sir-name in the Family of Jesus Christ. Epiphanius says expressly *, Thar Joseph was the Son of Jacob, Sir-named Panther, and that both Father and son were called Panther. And Damascen, treating of the Genealogy of Christ, speaks thus : From the Line of Nathan, the Son of David, Levi begat Melchi and Panther, and Panther begar him, who was fir-named Bar-Panther, and Bar-Panther begar Joachim, who begat the holy Mother of God t. Whence these two Authors had these Genealogies, cannot be ascertained, but 'cis probable they had them from the Books of the Jews. For they oftentimes very seriously, and without any Reflection, call our Saviour Ben-Panther, meaning no more than the Son of 70seph by it.

For there is a Story in the Talmud of Jerusalem, of a Son of Rabbi Jose, who being poisoned, was cured by the Name of Jesus Ben-Pantheira.

And there is a like Story in the Midrash upon the Book Ecclefiaftes of one Damah, the Son of Rabbi Eleazar, who being bit with a Serpent, his father would not let him be cured by one Jacob a Christian, by the Name of Jesus Ben-Pantheirall. And the Sanedrin, a Talmudical Book, allows, that Pandera was the Husband of Mary. From all which it is very plain, that Panther, or Pandeira, was the Sir-name of Foseph, as it had been before of several of his Predecessors. Now the Heathens finding, that the supposed Father of Christ, in Scripture, was called Joseph; and they finding in the Jewish Books another Name of Pandeira, who was said to be Christ's Father too; they were willing presently, to take up with the most malicious Reconciliation of this Difference, and so to make

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* Epiph. Hær. 78. + Damaf. dc Fid. Orthod. lib. 4. cap. 15. # Raim. Pug. Fid. p. 289.



Foseph the supposed Father, and one Pandeira the true, though the adulterous one. And now you see, that this blafphemous Reflection, which you Infidels glory so much in, has no other Ground but Malice and Blunder. Besides, it is a very silly Imputation, which no one, that confiders' Things, can believe. How can any one think that Joseph could be imposed upon, in a Matter of that Nature He had Apprehension enough, 'tis plain, to resent it at-furft; and, unless he had been very well satisfied of the Truth of that Child's Original, he would never have put the Buisiness up at laft. Adultery, after Matrimonial Contract, was no lefs than Death by the Jewish

Law, and therefore how can we suppose, that Joseph -{hould not only sufferlier to live, after having committed suchi a Crime, but that he should take to Wife fuch an impure Creature. This is impossible to be thought by

any one, who understands what an Abhorrence the Feavs . had to this Crime. If this malicious Reflection was true, how came the Mother of Christ to live, in any tolerable Reputation amongst her Kindred? Or how was it fafe for fuch a Delinquent to converse, as she did, among the Scribes and Pharisees, and other zealous Persons for the

Jewish Law? If Jesus Christ had come of such an impure Birth, he would never have been suffered to have entred the Temple, whereas he frequently prayed and taught there; it being contrary to the Mosaick Law, for such an one to come into the Congregation, Deut.xxii. 2. If there had been any Ground for this Imputation, he had by his Preaching down the Doctrines of the Pharisees, provoked Enemies enough to have upbraided him with it ; and if they had fuipected any Thing of this kind, thcy would never have spared him. Indeed they object to him the Meanness of his Extract, and call him Joseph the Carpeiter's Son; but they would have made use of a - harder Reflection, if there had been any Pretence for your Suggestion. Therefore I request of you, Philologus, no more to make use of this Objection ; which, you sce, carries fo‘much Wickedness and Silliness with it.

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Phil. But by your Lcaves Good Sir, for my Life, I cannot see any Thing, in the Actions of that perfon you bear this great Esteem for, that is any Ways considerable ; but only, by the Prejudice of Education, you sce every, Thing, as through a Magnifying-glass; and, when you have given the Pallages of his Life an imaginary Greatness; you then stand staring, and admiring, at the Idol of your own Brain. The most, which he did, was Curing a few lame and blind Folks ; and so does many a Mountebank, now-a-days, without being Deified for it*, We have had in the World many more confiderable Men, which People never made fuch a Bustle with. What Comparison is there between the great Romulus, or Numa, and him? The one laid the Foundation of the greatest Monarchy in the World, by the Force of his Arms, and the other eflablished it, by the best and wifest Laws. These were great and noble Genius's, and their brave Actions were worthy to be admired by all Futurity. But what worthy of Admiration can you see in one, who was remarkable for nothing but Curing of some few fick People, and Preaching about, to the Rabble, a little plain Morality.

Cred. This Argument is grounded, Philologus, upon Chriftmore so weak a Bottom, that it is not answerable to your Cha- Glorises racter, and your usual Vein of Reasoning to make use and direct of it. For this carries with it all the Jewish Fondness in mulus,&c. their Expectation of a temporal Messis, who must needs have him to be some fine gearish Thing, who was to come into the World, only to make a Blaze in it. You defpife our Saviour, because he appeared in mean Circumstances, and did not make so great a Figure as Romulus or Numa. What an Argument is here! And how are Men often imposed upon, by false Notions of worldly Greatness ! Pray, Sir, consider that God Almighty sent our Saviour into the World to do Good, and not to please People's Fancies. The Station in which he appear'd, was altogether as glorious in God's Sight, as that of the most pom

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