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that she made this journey to shelter herself from the pursuit of ber spouse, who, in spite of the nocturnal visions which had been employed to pacify him, might have delivered her up to the rigour of the laws, We know that the Hebrew's did not understand jesting on this subject,
We also find in the Talmud* the name of Panther, surnamed Bar-Panther, whom they reckon in the num, ber of the gallants, or husbands of the Virgin. From thence it would appear, that Mary, repudiated by Joseph, or after her flight, espoused Panther, an Egyptian soldier, her favourite lover, and the real father of Jesus. St. John Damascene thought to repair the injury which this anecdote might do to Mary's repu. tation, by saying that the name of Bar-Panther was hereditary in the family of Mary, and consequently, in that of Joseph. But, Ist, either Mary was not the kinswoman of Joseph, or she was not the cousin of Elizabeth, who was married to a priest, and therefore of the tribe of Levi.—2dly, We no where find in the Bible the name of Panther among the descendants of David. If this had been an hereditary surname in that family, it would be found somewhere, unless we suppose that John Damascene has learned it by a particular revelation. 3dly, The name of Panther is by no means Hebrew.
* In a work, published during the present year, by. Soloman Bennet, a Polish Jew, entitled “ The Constancy of Israel,”' we find the following account of the Talmud :--This extensive work is a cominentary on the Bible and the Mishnah ; the conteniş thereof include all the juridical, criminal, ritual, conjugal, and agricultural laws at large. It was produced by means of correspondence among the different colleges, established in places where the Jews were dispersed, by way of polemical: questions; controversies, and debates. It contains also moral philosophy, ethics, and various allegorical phrases. All these doctrines were collected into one work, which bears the title of the Talmudi' which was concluded by Rabinan Saboroy, who succeeded Rabina, and Rabbi Ashah, the chief doctors in Assyria, and the first promoters of the Talmud. They produced also some branches of the sciences, as mathematics, astronomy, and chronology; all of which were concluded in the year of the Creation 4260, and according to the Christian era 500 years,
It will perhaps be said, that these rumours, so inju. rious. to Jesus and his mother, are calumnies invented by the enemies of the Christian religion. But why decide, if the pleas of both parties are not investigated ? The imputations are very ancient; they have been advanced against Christians ever since the origin of their religion ; and they have never satisfactorily refuted them. In the time of Jesus, we find that his contemporaries regarded his wonders as the effects of magic, the delusions of the devil, the consequences of the power of Beelzebub, or slight of hand tricks.* In particular, the relations of Jesus were of that opinion, and regarded him as an impostor-a circumstance stated in the Gospel itself, where we shall afterwards find that they wanted to arrest him. On the other hand, Jesus never speaks of his in fancy, nor of the time that had preceded bis preaching. There is every reason to believe, he did not love to recur to circumstances dishonourable to his mother; towards whom indeed we shall very soon find him sailing in filial res. pect.
* We can oppose to the miracles of Moses and Christ, those performed by Mahomet, in presence of all Mecca and Arabia assembled !, The effect of the prophet's miracles was at least to çonyince the Arabians, that he was a divine person. The miracles of Jesus convinced nobody of his mission. St. Paul himself, who afterwards became the most ardent of his disciples, was not convinced by the miracles, of which, in his time, there existed so many witnesses ; a new one was necessary for his conversion. By what right then do they, at this day, demand belief of iniracles, which could not convince even in the time of the apostles, only a short time after they were wrought?
The evangelists, in like manner, pass very slightly over the first years of their hero's life. St. Matthew makes him return from Egypt on the death of Herod, without mentioning in what year that happened. He thus leaves his commentators in an embarrassment, as to whether Jesus was then two or ten years old. We find indeed, that the term of ten years is, through complaisance, invented on account of the dispute between him and the doctors of Jerusalem, which St. Luke places at his twelfth year. This excepted, Jesus disappeared from the scene, not to shew himself again till 'thirty years of age.*
It is difficult to discover what he did until that age. If we credit St. Luke, he remained at Nazareth. Yet there is reason to believe that he was somewhere else, for the purpose of learning the part which he was af. terwards to play. If he had always resided at Nazareth, the inhabitants of that small town would have known him perfectly. Very far from this ;--they are surprised at seeing him, when thirty years of age. They only conjecture that they knew him ; and ask cach other," Is not this the son of Joseph?”-a question very
• Jesus perhaps passed a considerable part of his life among the contemplative Essenians or Therapeutes, who were a kind of very enthusiastic Jewish monks, living in the vicinity of Alexandria in Egypt, where it appears he drew up his severe and truly monastic doctrine. See chap. xvii. of this work.
ridiculous in the mouth of persons who must have been in the constant habit of seeing Jesus in the narrow.com pass of their town. This does not hinder St. Justin from telling us, that he became a carpenter in the workshop of his pretended father, and that he wrought at buildings or instruments of husbandry.* But such a profession could not long agree with a man in whoin we find an ambitious and restless mind.
It will be better, therefore, here to quit St. Luke, in order to follow St. Matthew, who places the baptism of John after the return from Egypt, and makes Jesus forth with commence his mission. It is also, to speak properly, at this epoch we ought to begin the life of Christ. Yet, to let nothing be lost to the reader of the evangelical memoirs, the subject of our literary labours, we thought it our duty not to pass over in silence the circumstances which have been noticed, as these preliminaries are calculated to throw much light on the person and actions of Jesus. Besides, the interval between the birth and preaching of Christ has not been the part of his bistory least exposed to the shafts of criticism. St. Matthew, as we have seen, to account for his master's absence during the thirty years, makes him go into Egypt, and return in an unlimited time. St. Luke, who digested his memoirs after Matthew, perceiving that the abode in Egypt cast à suspicion of magic on the miracles of Jesus, makes him remain in Galilee, going and coming every year to Jerusalem; and fixes his abode in the country, by making him appear, at the age of twelve, in the capital, in the midst of the doctors, and debating with them. But St. Mark and St. John, profiting by the criticism which these different arrangements had experienced, make the Messiah 'drop from the clouds, and put him instantly to labour at the great work of the salvation of man kind.
* St. Justin Martyr contra Tryphon. The gospel of the infancy informs us, that Jesus, when young, an
ed himself with forming small birds of clay, which he afterwards animated, and then they flew into the air. The same book says, that he knew more than his schoolinaster, whom he killed for having struck him, because Jesus refused to read the letters of the alphabet. We find also, that Jesus assisted Joseph in his labours, and by a miracle lengthened the picces of wood, when cut too short or too narrow. All these extravagancies are not more difficult to believe than many other wonders related in the acknowledged gospels. Codex. Apocryph. N. T. tome i, p. 193, &c. and III. p. 424-441.