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himself: and soon after on the same day he appeared to Peter also.

There are other ways of reconciling the apparent disagreement between the evangelists, in respect of this transaction : yet none can certainly say, that things occurred exactly in this or the other

It suffices to shew that things might thus happen, and that the evangelists do not contradict each other.

* If the writers of these books,' says Mr. P. ‘had gone into any court of justice to prove an alibi..., and had given their evidence in the same contradictory manner, as it is here given, they would have been in danger of having their ears cropt ' for perjury, and would have justly deserved it.' The contrary conclusion, however, is far more rational. Their brevity occasions the difficulty: a few questions proposed to each of them would have removed it: they did prove the alibi, beyond all doubt: they proved that they saw Jesus, as risen, on the day when the body was gone; that they were sure it was he himself; and that, on subsequent occasions he had shewed them his hands and his feet with the print of the nails in them, and the hole which the spear had made in his side: no other account, in the least plausible, was ever given of what had become of the body: and ancient enemies, whose credit, interest, authority, and even the lives of some of them, were at stake; who desired exceedingly to put the apostles to death; and who certainly possessed more advantages for detecting the imposture, if there had been any, than a modern unbeliever can pretend to after

seventeen hundred years ; yet never attempted to disprove the testimony of the apostles respecting the resurrection, or to shew that they contradicted each other.

The variations in the narratives of the evangelists are, in fact, no more than what arose from the occasion. Four men relating the outlines of such an event, with great conciseness, as circumstances impressed their minds, without trying to coincide in their several accounts, will always seem to disagree to the superficial observer. The reconciliation of such abstracts must appear in some measure difficult to strangers, and especially in future ages : but, if fuller investigation remove the difficulties, they rather confirm than invalidate the leading facts which they concur to establish. man consult Rapin, Hume, Burnet, and Macauley, upon some parts of the English history which they have all written; and he will find, even where prejudices have not misled them, that circumstantial variations are discoverable, which it requires pains to reconcile, and to form into one consistent narrative, without omitting the most minute particular.

We do not pretend that the inspired historians were changed into elegant and methodical writers: but that they were preserved from error, misrepresentation, or material omission. Should their narratives, therefore, not stand the ordeal of criticism, as to the arrangement and manner of composition, it would not at all affect the argument."

Let any

' In the edition of 1820, this part relative to the resurrection was presented in an abridged form, but with some additional Some detached remarks must be added on Mr: P.'s misrepresentations of the subject. The different accounts, given by the evangelists of the time when the women arrived at the sepulchre, may be reconciled by considering that they did not all come together. In general none reached the spot before day-break, none after sun-rise and minute exactness in such things is not at all requisite to historical truth.

Matthew alone mentions the angel's rolling away the stone, but all the other evangelists say it was “ rolled away:" so that in fact they confirm his testimony. Matthew says the angel sat on the


observations, particularly on the great outlines in which the evangelists do agree, which may make it worth insertion. The quotation from Bishop Watson was appended as a note.-J. S.

The several accounts have been, by different writers, shewn to be capable of being formed into one harmonious narrative : but this is a subject that requires great exactness to explain, and much attention well to understand. Four men, deeply interested, record transactions, as to the first and principal part of this variation, occupying only a few hours; yet replete with most affecting circumstances. Their accounts, though in some respects circumstantial, are very compendious. They evidently did not aim to record precisely the same circumstances, or to write in concert. But as to the grand outline they all agree : women, of whom several names are mentioned, went to the sepulchre,--after the dawning of the day, and before sun-rise, on the first day of the week,—with spices, to anoint the body of their deceased Lord.—Matthew relates, that an angel had“ rolled “ back the stone from the door :" the others

it was

66 rolled away.—They all saw an angel or angels, who informed them that Jesus was risen :-they none of them saw any of the Roman guard :—they all were satisfied that the body was not in the sepulchre : and Jesus himself appeared to some of them, and they reported it to the apostles and disciples. But, whether some of them did not go twice to the sepulchre; whether they were all 1 P. ii. p. 74, 75.

stone: Mr. P. says, that, ' according to the others,

there was no angel sitting on it.” According to Matthew, the angel sat on the stone when he appeared to the keepers, or Roman soldiers ; “and “ for fear of him they became as dead men !" But they had so far recovered themselves as to flee from the place, before any of the women arrived : and the angel or angels then appeared, not on the stone, but in the sepulchre. As no intimation is given that any of the women saw the soldiers, on their arrival at the sepulchre, it is almost certain that they had previously left the place. Matthew indeed seems to state the report made by some of them to the chief priests, as subsequent to the wo.. men's departure from the sepulchre; but the whole

there at the same time; or all went in company, or all by the same road; or all saw the angel or angels, at the same time, or in the same manner, does not appear; nor are these things asserted by any of the historians. Each narrative may be strictly, and circumstantially correct, considered apart: and yet variations, as to circumstances will occur, as in other histories, or in examining the most faithful witnesses on any trial. And if, after so many ages, we should be incapable of forming these distinct statements into one harmonious narrative, the cause must be sought in our want of full information, and not in the want of correctness in the history.

Mr. P. says, ' Mary Magdalene, was a woman of large acquaintance, and it was not an ill conjecture that she was upon a stroll.?-On this Bishop Watson remarks: • To your sinuation, that Mary Magdelene was a common woman, I • wish it to be considered whether there be any scriptural au*thority for that imputation. The conjecture, which you adopt • concerning her, is nothing less than an illiberal, indecent, and unfounded calumny, not excusable in the mouth of a libertine, and intolerable in your's.'

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time required for all these transactions would be very short: and probably the soldiers retired in confusion to their quarters, and did not at first resume their confidence, or come to any determination what to do; till after a while some of them went to inform the chief priests, and others dispersed rumours among their acquaintance concerning what had happened.—There is not, however, the least ground for Mr. P.'s confident assertion that they were present during the conversation of the women with the angel.'

Mr. P. introduces the angel as saying of Christ, according to Matthew's account, ‘behold he is

gone into Galilee;' though the same evangelist just after mentions his meeting the women! But the words are, “ He goeth,” or perhaps more exactly, “ He is going into Galilee :” as we say, “ He is 'going to London.' No writer would directly contradict himself in the manner which Mr. P.'s misquotation imputes to St. Matthew. Matthew indeed says, " Then the eleven disciples went away “ into Galilee :”but he does not say that they went on the day when Christ arose. How then does he contradict the account of John 2

It appears from John, that the apostles staid at Jerusalem at least eight days after our Lord's resurrection : for it was so long before Thomas was convinced, and owned Christ as “his Lord and his “ God ;" and this does not at all disagree with Matthew's compendious narrative. But Mr. P. boldly says, It appears from the evangelists, that the ' whole space of time, from the crucifixion to what

Matt. xxviii. 16.

2 John xx. 19–29.

· P. ii. p. 8.

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