Page images

cles, if God be with him; but God may be with a man, and render him assistance, without miracles. I will here quote the language of a very rational and learned man, a Syrian, (and Christ spoke Syriac,) the great philosopher, physician, and historian, Gregory Bar Hebræus, Primate of the Syrian church, who was incontestably the most learned man of his day, in the thirteenth century. He said upon his deathbed to his scholars, “If ye continue in love I will be amongst you.” This sensible man did not contemplate any bodily presence; and still less that his philosophical and medical students should perform miracles through his influence; he merely had in view a sentiment of good and common feeling, and the natural harmony of virtuous minds. An explanation has been given to this passage, in which I can as little join ; namely, that “the end of the world” signifies “ the end of the Mosaic period.” That the Greek word should ever convey this sense, and imply the rites and laws of Moses, has been adopted solely upon conjecture, and is unsupported by admissible authority : I would rather say, that Jesus, 'according to this mode of interpreting his declaration, was to be with his disciples, not merely to the end of the Mosaic

away the

period, but beyond it; for many of them survived the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place thirty-seven years afterwards, and John the Evangelist was decidedly of that number. It is an ingenious conjecture to do supposition, that under this promise was conveyed a pledge to perform miracles to the end of the world; although there is not one word said about miracles, and the question here is not at all applicable.

Amen.”] The common appendix of transcribers of Biblical books; but which the oldest and most important manuscripts omit, and which may therefore not be considered as genuine. Amen, amongst the Hebrews, was not affixed to the termination of books, the same as it is in our sermons ; but to the end of

prayer and holy aspirations. Modern transcribers, accustomed to hear Amen in the church, have introduced it into almost all Biblical books, naturally concluding, that the reader would say Amen at the end of the book.


MARK XVI, 19, 20.

LUKE XXIV. 50_53.

Two of the evangelists, Matthew and John, do not relate this history, an omission, of which the adversaries of Christianity have not failed to avail themselves. The most important part, they say, is wanting, so that those who read only these two evangelists, would suppose Jesus to be still upon earth with his disciples, in conformity with what he has said : (Matt. xxviii. 21 :) “I am with you always to the end of the world.” I could be almost tempted to add strength to this doubt, and to say, that the third evangelist Mark omits it; for the last part of his sixteenth chapter appears to me, as I have several times said, the work of a foreign hand. But now, what arises from this omis.. sion ? Precisely, that the evangelists did not think it necessary, in a history which belongs to this world, and which narrates the life of Christ, to record the ascension which the apostles afterwards so openly preached, and which they assumed as a notorious fact, in

But a

their communication with the world. word or two about this omission. John omits it, in the same way as he omits the birth of Jesus; from which however no one would conclude that Jesus was not born, and that the circumstance of his birth was a mere fabrication, an imposture. He conforms here to his usual custom of omitting that which others have accurately related, and which therefore he assumes, from their writings, to be known. His silence is rather confirmation. Nay, more, we may infer from his gospel, that he assumes the ascension of Christ as known, although he does not relate it, when Jesus speaks as he does, vi. 62 ; and again, where on the very day of his resurrection, xx. 17, he says, “I ascend to my Father, and to your Father; and to my God, , and to your God.” I will not enter more into detail, such as his speaking (xxi. 22) of his coming, and which some have concluded from the twenty-third verse, to predict his coming to the day of judgment. I might easily accu

Mark omits it, from his having been interrupted in the progress of his gospel, at the eighth verse of the sixteenth chapter. Matthew omits it, as he probably omitted in the Hebrew gospel, (see my Intro

mulate passages.

duction to the New Testament, ch. 901,) an account of the birth of Jesus ; but

every shadow of contradiction vanishes, when we turn to the language of Jesus, as recorded by Matthew (xxvi. 64) previous to his crucifixion : “ Hereafter, ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

MARK XVI. 19, 20.

19. “So then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

20. “ And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

19. “ So then after the Lord had spoken with them."] I do not conceive this to refer immediately to the words Jesus had just spoken, but to the frequent conversations he held with his disciples, and in which he enjoined them to act up to the commandments he had given. I do not doubt the fact, as recorded in Mark; but if we had not the assistance of Luke, we should conclude that Jesus ascended to heaven immediately after the words he had spoken with them. It is not for me to discuss the merits of

« PreviousContinue »