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Certainly she would
not. Why then are we to believe the same thing of another girl whom we
never saw, told by nobody knows who, nor when, nor where? How strange
and inconsistent is it, that the same circumstance that would weaken
the belief even of a probable story, should be given as a motive for
believing this one, that has upon the face of it every token of absolute
impossibility and imposture.

The story of Herod destroying all the children under two years old,
belongs altogether to the book of Matthew; not one of the rest mentions
anything about it. Had such a circumstance been true, the universality
of it must have made it known to all the writers, and the thing would
have been too striking to have been omitted by any. This writer tell us,
that Jesus escaped this slaughter, because Joseph and Mary were warned
by an angel to flee with him into Egypt; but he forgot to make provision
for John [the Baptist], who was then under two years of age. John,
however, who staid behind, fared as well as Jesus, who fled; and
therefore the story circumstantially belies itself.

Not any two of these writers agree in reciting, exactly in the same
words, the written inscription, short as it is, which they tell us was
put over Christ when he was crucified; and besides this, Mark says, He
was crucified at the third hour, (nine in the morning;) and John says it
was the sixth hour, (twelve at noon.) [According to John, (xix. 14)
the sentence was not passed till about the sixth hour (noon,) and
consequently the execution could not be till the afternoon; but Mark
(xv. 25) Says expressly that he was crucified at the third hour, (nine
in the morning,)--Author.]

The inscription is thus stated in those books:

Matthew--This is Jesus the king of the Jews. Mark--The king of the Jews.
Luke--This is the king of the Jews. John--Jesus of Nazareth the king of
the Jews.

We may infer from these circumstances, trivial as they are, that those
writers, whoever they were, and in whatever time they lived, were
not present at the scene. The only one of the men called apostles who
appears to have been near to the spot was Peter, and when he was accused
of being one of Jesus's followers, it is said, (Matthew xxvi. 74,) "Then
Peter began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man:" yet
we are now called to believe the same Peter, convicted, by their own
account, of perjury. For what reason, or on what authority, should we do
this?

The accounts that are given of the circumstances, that they tell us
attended the crucifixion, are differently related in those four books.

The book ascribed to Matthew says 'there was darkness over all the land
from the sixth hour unto the ninth hour--that the veil of the temple
was rent in twain from the top to the bottom--that there was an
earthquake--that the rocks rent--that the graves opened, that the bodies
of many of the saints that slept arose and came out of their graves
after the resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared unto
many.' Such is the account which this dashing writer of the book of
Matthew gives, but in which he is not supported by the writers of the
other books.

The writer of the book ascribed to Mark, in detailing the circumstances
of the crucifixion, makes no mention of any earthquake, nor of the rocks
rending, nor of the graves opening, nor of the dead men walking out. The
writer of the book of Luke is silent also upon the same points. And
as to the writer of the book of John, though he details all the
circumstances of the crucifixion down to the burial of Christ, he
says nothing about either the darkness--the veil of the temple--the
earthquake--the rocks--the graves--nor the dead men.

Now if it had been true that these things had happened, and if the
writers of these books had lived at the time they did happen, and
had been the persons they are said to be--namely, the four men called
apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,--it was not possible for them,
as true historians, even without the aid of inspiration, not to have
recorded them. The things, supposing them to have been facts, were of
too much notoriety not to have been known, and of too much importance
not to have been told. All these supposed apostles must have been
witnesses of the earthquake, if there had been any, for it was not
possible for them to have been absent from it: the opening of the graves
and resurrection of the dead men, and their walking about the city, is
of still greater importance than the earthquake. An earthquake is always
possible, and natural, and proves nothing; but this opening of the
graves is supernatural, and directly in point to their doctrine, their
cause, and their apostleship. Had it been true, it would have filled
up whole chapters of those books, and been the chosen theme and general
chorus of all the writers; but instead of this, little and trivial
things, and mere prattling conversation of 'he said this and she said
that' are often tediously detailed, while this most important of all,
had it been true, is passed off in a slovenly manner by a single dash
of the pen, and that by one writer only, and not so much as hinted at by
the rest.

It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the
lie after it is told. The writer of the book of Matthew should have told
us who the saints were that came to life again, and went into the city,
and what became of them afterwards, and who it was that saw them; for he
is not hardy enough to say that he saw them himself;--whether they came
out naked, and all in natural buff, he-saints and she-saints, or whether
they came full dressed, and where they got their dresses; whether they
went to their former habitations, and reclaimed their wives, their
husbands, and their property, and how they were received; whether they
entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions, or brought
actions of crim. con. against the rival interlopers; whether they
remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or
working; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive,
and buried themselves.

Strange indeed, that an army of saints should retum to life, and nobody
know who they were, nor who it was that saw them, and that not a word
more should be said upon the subject, nor these saints have any thing
to tell us! Had it been the prophets who (as we are told) had formerly
prophesied of these things, they must have had a great deal to say.
They could have told us everything, and we should have had posthumous
prophecies, with notes and commentaries upon the first, a little better
at least than we have now. Had it been Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua, and
Samuel, and David, not an unconverted Jew had remained in all Jerusalem.
Had it been John the Baptist, and the saints of the times then present,
everybody would have known them, and they would have out-preached and
out-famed all the other apostles. But, instead of this, these saints are
made to pop up, like Jonah's gourd in the night, for no purpose at all
but to wither in the morning.--Thus much for this part of the story.

The tale of the resurrection follows that of the crucifixion; and in
this as well as in that, the writers, whoever they were, disagree so
much as to make it evident that none of them were there.

The book of Matthew states, that when Christ was put in the sepulchre
the Jews applied to Pilate for a watch or a guard to be placed over the
septilchre, to prevent the body being stolen by the disciples; and that
in consequence of this request the sepulchre was made sure, sealing the
stone that covered the mouth, and setting a watch. But the other books
say nothing about this application, nor about the sealing, nor the
guard, nor the watch; and according to their accounts, there were none.
Matthew, however, follows up this part of the story of the guard or the
watch with a second part, that I shall notice in the conclusion, as it
serves to detect the fallacy of those books.

The book of Matthew continues its account, and says, (xxviii. 1,) that
at the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn, towards the first day of
the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.
Mark says it was sun-rising, and John says it was dark. Luke says it
was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other
women, that came to the sepulchre; and John states that Mary Magdalene
came alone. So well do they agree about their first evidence! They all,
however, appear to have known most about Mary Magdalene; she was a woman
of large acquaintance, and it was not an ill conjecture that she might
be upon the stroll. [The Bishop of Llandaff, in his famous "Apology,"
censured Paine severely for this insinuation against Mary Magdalene, but
the censure really falls on our English version, which, by a
chapter-heading (Luke vii.), has unwarrantably identified her as the
sinful woman who anointed Jesus, and irrevocably branded her.--Editor.]

The book of Matthew goes on to say (ver. 2): "And behold there was a
great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and
came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it" But
the other books say nothing about any earthquake, nor about the angel
rolling back the stone, and sitting upon it and, according to their
account, there was no angel sitting there. Mark says the angel [Mark
says "a young man," and Luke "two men."--Editor.] was within the
sepulchre, sitting on the right side. Luke says there were two, and they
were both standing up; and John says they were both sitting down, one at
the head and the other at the feet.

Matthew says, that the angel that was sitting upon the stone on the
outside of the sepulchre told the two Marys that Christ was risen, and
that the women went away quickly. Mark says, that the women, upon seeing
the stone rolled away, and wondering at it, went into the sepulchre, and
that it was the angel that was sitting within on the right side, that
told them so. Luke says, it was the two angels that were Standing
up; and John says, it was Jesus Christ himself that told it to Mary
Magdalene; and that she did not go into the sepulchre, but only stooped
down and looked in.

Now, if the writers of these four books had gone into a court of justice
to prove an alibi, (for it is of the nature of an alibi that is
here attempted to be proved, namely, the absence of a dead body by
supernatural means,) and had they 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.



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