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less interested in the glory of the master they had followed during the course of his mission. Their interests were confounded with those of a man who enabled them to subsist without toil. Several among them expected to be recompensed for their attachment to him, by the favours which he promised to bestow on them in the kingdom he was about to establish. Finding these hopes destroyed by the death, real or supposed, of their chief, most of the apostles, persuaded that all was over, lost courage; but others, less daunted, conceived that it was not necessary to throw the handle after the hatchet ; that they might profit still by the impressions which the preaching of Christ and his wonders had made on the people. They be. lieved that their master might again return, or, if they supposed him dead, they could feign that he had foretold he would rise again. They therefore agreed that it was proper to circulate the report of his resurrection; to say that they had seen him; and to assert that Jesus had triumphantly come out of the tomb : which would appear very credible in the case of a personage who had evinced himself capable of raising others from the dead. Knowing the imbecility of those they had to deal with, they presumed that the people were prepared long before hand to believe the marvellous wonder which they intended to announce. They conceived, that, in order to subsist, it was necessary to continue preaching the doctrine of a man who would not have attracted an audience, if it had not been taken for granted that he was risen again. They felt that it was necessary to preach the resurrection of Christ, or consent to perish with hunger. They foresaw, moreover, that it was necessary to brave
chastisement and even death, rather than renounce an opinion or doctrine on which their daily subsistence and welfare absolutely depended. Hence unbelievers conclude, that the witnesses of the resurrection of Christ were äny thing but disinterested, and were spurred on by the principle, that he who risks nothing, gains nothing.
In the third place, are the witnesses of the resurrection of Christ unanimous in their evidence? Much more, are they consistent with themselves in the narratives they give? We find neither the one nor the other Though Jesus, according to some of the evangelists, had foretold in the most positive manner, that he would rise again*, St. John makes no mention of this prediction, but expressly declares, that the disciples of Jesus knew not that he must rise again from the dead. +. This denotes in them a total ignorance of that great event, said, however, to have been announced by their master; and creates a suspicion that these predictions of Christ were piously invented afterwards, and inserted in process of time into the text of St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke. Yet nothing can be more positive than the manner in which St. Matthew speaks of the prediction; he supposes it so well known by the public, that he affirms, the priests and Pharisees went to Pilate, and told him, We remember this deceiver said while he was yet alive, that after three days he would rise agains. We do not, however, find in any of the evangelists a passage where this resurrection is foretold in so public and decided a man
* St. Matt. xxvi. 32. St. Mark, xvi. 28. + St. Jobn, xx. 9.
St. Matt. xxvii. 63.
ner. St. Matthew himself relates only the answer of Je. sus to those who demanded of him a sign; it consisted, as we have elsewhere said, in referring them to “Jonas, who was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale ; so," said he, “ shall the Son of man be three days and three nights ii the heart of the earth*." Now Jesus, having died on Friday, at the ninth hour, or mid-day, and risen again the second day early in the morning, was not, as we have already remarked, " three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Besides, the obscure manner in which Christ expres. sed himself in this pretended prediction, could not enable the priests and Pharisees to conclude that Jesus must die and rise again, or to excite their alarm, unless it is pretended, that, on this occasion, these enemies of Christ received by a particular revelation the interpretation of the mysterious prediction.
St. John tells us, that when Jesus was taken down from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, in order to embalm him, brought a mixture of aloes and myrrh, weighing about a hundred pounds, and that he afterwards took the body, wrapped it in clean linen cloth, furnished spices according to the custom practised by the Jews in their funeral cere. monies, and laid it in the tombt. Thus was Jesus embalmed, carried away, and buried. On the other hand, St. Matthew and St. Luke tell us that this sepul, ture and embalming were performed in presence of Mary Magdalane. and Mary the mother of Jesust, who, consequently must have known what Nicodemus
* St. Matt. xii. 38, &c. + St. John, xix, 39–40.
St. Matt. xxvii, 61. St. Mark, 17. 47. St. Luke, xxii. 5a.
had done; yet St. Mark, forgetting all this, tells us, that these same women brought sweet spices (aroma. tics) in order to embalm his body, and came for that purpose early in the morning of the day subsequent to the Sabbath*. St. Luke has no better memory, and informs us, that these ladies came also to embalm a dead body, which, according to St. John, had already. received a hundred pounds weight of aromatics, and was inclosed in a sepulchre, the entrance of which was blocked up by a massy stone, which embarrassed the women as much at finding it as the incredulous are with these contradictions of our evangelistst.
These ladies, however, who dreaded the obstacle of the stone, did not dread the obstacle of the guard which St. Matthew placed at the entrance of the tomb. But if these women knew that Christ was to rise again at the end of three days, why were they so careful in embalming his body ?-unless indeed we suppose
that Jesus made a secret to his mother and the tender Magdalane of an event which it is asserted was publicly predicted, and which was perfectly well known not only by his disciples, but also by the priests and Phari, sees, of whose extraordinary precautions we are in. formed by St. Matthew. According to this evangelist, these precautions were founded on the fear the priests were under, that the disciples of Jesus “ should come and carry away his body, and afterwards say unto the people, that he is risen from the dead; an error, which, in their opinion, would be more dangerous than the first." Nevertheless we find some women and disciples continually roaming about the tomb, going
* St. Mark, xvi. 1.
+ St Luke, xxiv. 1.
and coming freely, and offering to embalm the same dead body twice. It must be acknowledged, that all this surpasses human understanding *.
It is not more easy to conceive the conduct of the guards placed near the tomb at the solicitation of the priests, or that of the priests themselves. According to St. Matthew, these guards, terrified at the resurrection of Christ, ran to Jerusalem to tell the priests, " that the angel of the Lord had descended from heaven, and taken away the stone which blocked up the tomb; and that at the sight of him they had nearly expired through fear.” On this the priests, not at all doubting the truth of the relation of the guards, enjoined them to say publicly that the disciples of Jesus had carried away his body Juring the night, and while they were asleep. They also gave the soldiers money to speak in this manner, and promised to pacify the governor, if he wished to punish them for their negligence*.
As to this narrative, it is proper to observe, that the guards did not say they had seen Jesus rise from the dead; they pretended merely to have seen "the angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, and rolling away the stone which was at the entrance of the tomb." Thus this history announces an apparition only, and not a resurrection. We might explain it in a manner natural enough by supposing that during the night, while the guards were buried in sleep, the adherents of Jesus came by the light of flambeaus, with an armed force, to open the tomb and intimidate the soldiers taken unawares, who in the alarm they ex
St. Matt. xxvii. 62--66.
+ St. Matt. xxvjii.