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Now when a language is ambiguous, or capable of being understood in two ways, namely, in a literal and in a metaphorical sense, the former, if i assert something absurd in itself or contrary to universal experience, must have been derived from, or a perversion of, the latter. For this reason the introductory chapters in Matthew and Luke refer their derivation to the Gospel of the Infancy; and two instances of error or oversight in the forgers who transferred it, I will here point out, as betraying in a very remarkable and satisfactory manner, the base origin of the whole
First, the authors of the story traced the genealogy of Jesus in the line of Joseph. This shews that they considered Joseph as his father in a literal sense, and supposed him conceived of the holy Spirit in a metaphorical. Otherwise how could he have been the son of David, if he was not the son of Joseph through whom he came from David?
Secondly, "All the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the going away to Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the going away to Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations." Mat. i. 17. But if we reckon these generations, we shall find the last series to consist only of thirteen. Take then the coming of Christ, what at first sight it signifies to mean, the literal birth of Christ, and we have a deficiency of one generation. On the other hand, understand the coming of Christ to mean the metaphorical birth of Christ of
the baptism of Christ, which was the sense of those who first invented the story, and we have (allowing thirty years to each) the number of generations complete, namely, four
THE INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS IN LUKE,
IF we narrowly compare this cunningly deviseď fable, as it is related in Matthew and Luke, various striking differences will present themselves between these supposed accounts of the two Evangelists, not only in the facts which compose it, but in the style of its composition. As it stands in Luke, its language and ideas can be traced to no other people but Jews. Not one of those extraordinary events which took place at Rome, and which compose the fable in Matthew, is here mentioned. To none of those events is there even an allusion. On the contrary, the whole is made up of Jewish incidents; is filled with the names of persons and places, with opinions, customs, and ceremonies, which could only be understood by the people of Judea, and interesting to them, or to such of them as were dispersed among the Gentiles. It is also crowded with prophecies, merely calculated to flatter Jewish pride, and with peculiarities which characterize the Jewish language. Now, these are precisely the characteristics of the Gospel of
Mary. From Fabricius and Jeremiah Jones, the reader will learn that this Gospel, and the Protevangelion of James, were originally the same, and of course the composition of the same author; that the author of it was some Helenistic Jew; and that the Gospel of the Infancy, and that of the birth of Mary, have always been joined together from the beginning as forming the same book. This circumstance implies that the writers of them, though one a Jew, the other a Gentile, were associates, and acted in concert with each other. But we find from Josephus, that the wicked Jew associated with the priests of Isis at Rome, and we find also in Philo, that multitudes of the Egyptians united with the Jews in their monasteries, after the reception of the Gospel, bearing in common the name of Esseans or Therapeuta. We have the emphatic testimony of this eloquent writer, that the Esseans, in general, exceeded all others in knowledge, virtue, and the love of truth. Nevertheless, it is not to be supposed, but that some bad men, Jews and Egyptians, from sinister views entered among them. These introduced with them the follies and prejudices which they had cherished as heathens, and their real objects must have been to defeat the moral influence, by destroying the simplicity of the Gospel. The following passage of Philo on this occasion is particularly worthy of notice.
"In the festivals of these holy men join the women, the greater part of whom are aged virgins, who have preserved their purity not by compulsion, as is the case with some of the hea
then vestals, but by their own free choice." Philo, p. 889.
The practice of preserving men and women unmarried for the purposes of religion, and of bringing up virgins for the service of the temple, was altogether unknown among the Jews, and therefore introduced into the Christian church from the Pagan rites in Egypt, in Greece, and in Rome. And however unexceptionable the custom may have been in the instance above related by Philo, it soon opened the door to superstitious abuses. Here in fact the monkish institutions of the Romish church originated, the baleful effects of which overspread the far greater part of Christendom to this day.
In the Gospel of Mary's birth she is represented to have been a perpetual virgin; and Joseph is said to have espoused her, not that he might make her his wife, but be the guardian of her virginity, "And the High Priest said, Thou art the person, chosen to take the virgin of the Lord, to keep her for him *.”
Now, if we attentively examine the account ascribed to Luke, we shall find that it insinuates the very fact which is directly asserted in the spurious Gospel. Mary is said to have been only espoused to Joseph who, though her husband, yet preserved her a virgin. And in the ninth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph." Again, in the second chapter it is said, "Joseph also went up from Galilee with
*Gospel of Mary, chap. vii. 8,