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The Robbins of the Jews had decided, by vote,
upon the books of the Bible before.

As the object of the church, as is the case in all national
establishments of churches, was power and revenue, and terror the
means it used, it is consistent to suppose that the most miraculous and
wonderful of the writings they had collected stood the best chance of
being voted. And as to the authenticity of the books, the vote stands in
the place of it; for it can be traced no higher.

Disputes, however, ran high among the people then calling themselves
Christians, not only as to points of doctrine, but as to the
authenticity of the books. In the contest between the person called St.
Augustine, and Fauste, about the year 400, the latter says, "The books
called the Evangelists have been composed long after the times of the
apostles, by some obscure men, who, fearing that the world would not
give credit to their relation of matters of which they could not be
informed, have published them under the names of the apostles; and
which are so full of sottishness and discordant relations, that there is
neither agreement nor connection between them."

And in another place, addressing himself to the advocates of those
books, as being the word of God, he says, "It is thus that your
predecessors have inserted in the scriptures of our Lord many things
which, though they carry his name, agree not with his doctrine." This is
not surprising, since that we have often proved that these things have
not been written by himself, nor by his apostles, but that for the
greatest part they are founded upon tales, upon vague reports, and put
together by I know not what half-Jews, with but little agreement between
them; and which they have nevertheless published under the name of the
apostles of our Lord, and have thus attributed to them their own errors
and their lies. [I have taken these two extracts from Boulanger's Life
of Paul, written in French; Boulanger has quoted them from the writings
of Augustine against Fauste, to which he refers.--Author.]

This Bishop Faustus is usually styled "The Manichaeum," Augustine having
entitled his book, Contra Frustum Manichaeum Libri xxxiii., in which
nearly the whole of Faustus' very able work is quoted.--Editor.]

The reader will see by those extracts that the authenticity of the
books of the New Testament was denied, and the books treated as tales,
forgeries, and lies, at the time they were voted to be the word of God.
But the interest of the church, with the assistance of the faggot, bore
down the opposition, and at last suppressed all investigation. Miracles
followed upon miracles, if we will believe them, and men were taught to
say they believed whether they believed or not. But (by way of throwing
in a thought) the French Revolution has excommunicated the church
from the power of working miracles; she has not been able, with the
assistance of all her saints, to work one miracle since the revolution
began; and as she never stood in greater need than now, we may, without
the aid of divination, conclude that all her former miracles are
tricks and lies. [Boulanger in his life of Paul, has collected from the
ecclesiastical histories, and the writings of the fathers as they are
called, several matters which show the opinions that prevailed among the
different sects of Christians, at the time the Testament, as we now see
it, was voted to be the word of God. The following extracts are from the
second chapter of that work:

[The Marcionists (a Christian sect) asserted that the evangelists were
filled with falsities. The Manichaeans, who formed a very numerous
sect at the commencement of Christianity, rejected as false all the New
Testament, and showed other writings quite different that they gave for
authentic. The Corinthians, like the Marcionists, admitted not the Acts
of the Apostles. The Encratites and the Sevenians adopted neither the
Acts, nor the Epistles of Paul. Chrysostom, in a homily which he made
upon the Acts of the Apostles, says that in his time, about the year
400, many people knew nothing either of the author or of the book. St.
Irene, who lived before that time, reports that the Valentinians, like
several other sects of the Christians, accused the scriptures of being
filled with imperfections, errors, and contradictions. The Ebionites, or
Nazarenes, who were the first Christians, rejected all the Epistles of
Paul, and regarded him as an impostor. They report, among other things,
that he was originally a Pagan; that he came to Jerusalem, where he
lived some time; and that having a mind to marry the daughter of the
high priest, he had himself been circumcised; but that not being able to
obtain her, he quarrelled with the Jews and wrote against circumcision,
and against the observation of the Sabbath, and against all the legal
ordinances.--Author.] [Much abridged from the Exam. Crit. de la Vie de
St. Paul, by N.A. Boulanger, 1770.--Editor.]

When we consider the lapse of more than three hundred years intervening
between the time that Christ is said to have lived and the time the
New Testament was formed into a book, we must see, even without the
assistance of historical evidence, the exceeding uncertainty there is
of its authenticity. The authenticity of the book of Homer, so far as
regards the authorship, is much better established than that of the New
Testament, though Homer is a thousand years the most ancient. It was
only an exceeding good poet that could have written the book of Homer,
and, therefore, few men only could have attempted it; and a man capable
of doing it would not have thrown away his own fame by giving it to
another. In like manner, there were but few that could have composed
Euclid's Elements, because none but an exceeding good geometrician could
have been the author of that work.

But with respect to the books of the New Testament, particularly such
parts as tell us of the resurrection and ascension of Christ, any person
who could tell a story of an apparition, or of a man's walking, could
have made such books; for the story is most wretchedly told. The chance,
therefore, of forgery in the Testament is millions to one greater than
in the case of Homer or Euclid. Of the numerous priests or parsons of
the present day, bishops and all, every one of them can make a sermon,
or translate a scrap of Latin, especially if it has been translated
a thousand times before; but is there any amongst them that can write
poetry like Homer, or science like Euclid? The sum total of a parson's
learning, with very few exceptions, is a, b, ab, and hic, haec, hoc;
and their knowledge of science is, three times one is three; and this is
more than sufficient to have enabled them, had they lived at the time,
to have written all the books of the New Testament.

As the opportunities of forgery were greater, so also was the
inducement. A man could gain no advantage by writing under the name of
Homer or Euclid; if he could write equal to them, it would be better
that he wrote under his own name; if inferior, he could not succeed.
Pride would prevent the former, and impossibility the latter. But with
respect to such books as compose the New Testament, all the inducements
were on the side of forgery. The best imagined history that could have
been made, at the distance of two or three hundred years after the time,
could not have passed for an original under the name of the real
writer; the only chance of success lay in forgery; for the church wanted
pretence for its new doctrine, and truth and talents were out of the
question.

But as it is not uncommon (as before observed) to relate stories of
persons walking after they are dead, and of ghosts and apparitions of
such as have fallen by some violent or extraordinary means; and as the
people of that day were in the habit of believing such things, and of
the appearance of angels, and also of devils, and of their getting into
people's insides, and shaking them like a fit of an ague, and of their
being cast out again as if by an emetic--(Mary Magdalene, the book of
Mark tells us had brought up, or been brought to bed of seven devils;)
it was nothing extraordinary that some story of this kind should get
abroad of the person called Jesus Christ, and become afterwards the
foundation of the four books ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Each writer told a tale as he heard it, or thereabouts, and gave to his
book the name of the saint or the apostle whom tradition had given as
the eye-witness. It is only upon this ground that the contradictions in
those books can be accounted for; and if this be not the case, they are
downright impositions, lies, and forgeries, without even the apology of
credulity.

That they have been written by a sort of half Jews, as the foregoing
quotations mention, is discernible enough. The frequent references
made to that chief assassin and impostor Moses, and to the men called
prophets, establishes this point; and, on the other hand, the church
has complimented the fraud, by admitting the Bible and the Testament
to reply to each other. Between the Christian-Jew and the
Christian-Gentile, the thing called a prophecy, and the thing prophesied
of, the type and the thing typified, the sign and the thing signified,
have been industriously rummaged up, and fitted together like old locks
and pick-lock keys. The story foolishly enough told of Eve and the
serpent, and naturally enough as to the enmity between men and serpents
(for the serpent always bites about the heel, because it cannot reach
higher, and the man always knocks the serpent about the head, as the
most effectual way to prevent its biting;) ["It shall bruise thy head,
and thou shalt bruise his heel." Gen. iii. 15.--Author.] this foolish
story, I say, has been made into a prophecy, a type, and a promise to
begin with; and the lying imposition of Isaiah to Ahaz, 'That a virgin
shall conceive and bear a son,' as a sign that Ahaz should conquer,
when the event was that he was defeated (as already noticed in the
observations on the book of Isaiah), has been perverted, and made to
serve as a winder up.

Jonah and the whale are also made into a sign and type.



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