« PoprzedniaDalej »
Mr. Sam. Jesus promised to bring all things to the remembrance of his disciples. Did the Spirit of God dictate every word and phrase in which they composed the history of their master ?
Mr. Levi. Not in such a way as to set aside the exercise of their thinking powers, or the peculiarities of their style.
Mr. Sam. You believe that they were preserved from Aagrant errors ?
Mr. Levi. I certainly do.
Mr. Sam. Then tell me ingenuously what you think of the two first chapters of Matthew. Do not the guidance of the wise men by a star, and Herod's command that the young children at Bethlehem should be slain, appear like legendary tales? If Josephus had heard of these things, would he not have related them ? Besides, you are a better philosopher than not to know the impossibility of a person's being directed to a house by the appearance of a star over it.
Mr. Levi. When God is about to perform wonderful things, he often uses extraordinary methods for the accomplishment of his purpose. Witness the wonders performed in the land of Egypt, which, I doubt not, are ranked by unbelievers with legendary tales, notwithstanding there were many hundred thousand spectators. In the two chapters you speak of, nothing unworthy of God is recorded.
The Messiah was to be the Saviour of the Gentiles, as well as of the Jews. Why then should the early exhibition of him to the Gentiles excite our astonishment ? The star I suppose to have been an appearance at no very great height in the atmosphere: the same word is used by Greek writers to express what we call a shooting star. Now if some such meteor was seen by the Magi, was it impossible for God to inform them of its import ? -As to the murder of the young children, I grant that Josephus might be acquainted with it, as well as with Herod's other cruelties. But it is very unsafe to infer from the silence of any author, that a fact recorded by another cannot be true.
The facts related by every historian are very far from be. ing all that occurred in the times of which he writes: Many things are related by every historian which are omitted by cotemporary writers. The fact in question is omitted by three out of four of the evangelists. Add to this, Josephus, like the rest of his countrymen, was preju. diced against Jesus ; and therefore it is not surprising if he should have carefully avoided the recording of those things which related to him. If the paragraph in his history which relates to him be authentic, yet it is extremely imperfect, and avoids entering into particulars; and if it be spurious, which is very probable, it will follow, that, notwithstanding the notoriety of the life and death of Je* sus, he has preserved a determined and stubborn silence concerning him, either from hatred to the Christians, whom he would not deign to mention, or rather perhaps out of regard to Vespasian, whom he had flattered by calling him the Messiah.
Mr. Sam. How can such an ignorant application of prophecy be accounted for, as is to be found in those chapters? In Hosea, where it is said, “I called my son out of Egypt," a past event is referred to, and not a future one predicted.
Mr. Levi. I grant that those words refer to the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan. But our sacred hooks contain prophetic histories, as well as express predictions. And although the connexion between those histories and the future events to which they referred may not have been always pointed out by the holy Spirit, as it has been in this instance, and in the lamentation of the mothers for their children at the time of the Babylonish captivity, yet there is such a striking resemblance between many of them and the history of Jesus, that I cannot but think that this resemblance was intended to be one among the numerous proofs of his divine mission. In the histotory of Joseph, in particular, Rollin has pointed out this resemblance in a great number of instances.
Mr. Sam. Why was the resurrection of Lazarus men.
tioned only by John? The three other historians could not forget so wonderful a fact.
Mr. Levi. As they wrote their histories many years before John wrote his, it is probable that Lazarus was then alive, and that the relation of it by them might have exposed him to the malice of the Jews.
After Mr. Samuel was gone, many remarks were made by Mrs. Levi and myself on the different things which had been said during the conversation. Miss Levi also asked many questions, as she frequently does, very much to the purpose. My love for this amiable young lady daily increases. She copies after her excellent mother, who is a model of affability, and of Christian politeness. What an asylum my good Gud has provided for me! The kindness of my dear friends to me is inexpressible. Their parciality toward me is so great, that they are pleased with every thing I say, and with every thing I do. Much of my time is occupied in instructing my pupils, and in needle-work. I scarcely ever go from home; so that were I to attempt to describe the city wherein I reside, its inhabi. tants, and the surrounding country, it would be doing that imperfectly which has been already well done by others.
I am, dear Madam,
From Mise Eusebia Neville to Mrs. Worthington.
DEAR MADAM, WE arrived at New-York on Friday last. We had a long passage, in consequence of contrary winds; and our water was very indifferent as well as short.
I suppose that before this time you have heard from me, We met the Friendship, bound for London, from which
our captain procured a cask of water. I embraced the opportunity of writing a short letter, just to let you know that I was well.
A very extraordinary occurrence has happened since our arrival. As I was walking with my two pupils on the wharf, and enjoying the sight of Long-Island, of the sea, and of the shipping, which form a delightful view, a gen. tleman, looking at me very steadfastly, said, Madam, if my eyes do not deceive me, I know your name. You can be no other than the sister of Mr. William Neville, a young gentleman that I was acquainted with in France, and whom I loved like one of my own children.-Sir, replied I, is not your name de Bethune?-Indeed it is, answered he. My acquaintance with your brother commenced at Cassel. I wrote to him at St. Omer's, but have received no answer. Pray what has brought you to this part of the world? Your father and brother, I suppose, are with you.
Here I related what had befallen me, from the time that my father discovered me to be a protestant to the present period. M. de Bethune was affected at the narration. He said that business had brought him to New-York, but that he and his family resided near New-London, in Connecticut; that if it were in my power to accompany him thither, his house and his purse should be at my service; and that I should find a family who knew how to value the sister of Mr. William Neville. I returned him my sincere thanks. Miss Levi and I invited him to accompany us to our lodgings. Mi. and Mrs. Levi received him in the kindest manner, and intreated him to dine with them, to which he readily consented.
It gives me great pleasure, my dear Sir, said M. de Bethune to Mr. Levi, to learn froin Miss Neville, that you are one of the spiritual descendants of your great ancestor, and that you have embraced the religion of that Messiah, whose day he saw afar off, and rejoiced, and was glad.
It is my unspeakable mercy, answered Mr. Levi ; and I desire to bless God on this account.
After some conversation about America, M. de Bethune
sạid, You are come, Sir, to a country, where men of diffe rent religions live in greater harmony than perhaps in any other. The reason is, that no one is established by law as the favourite of the state ; and that no person is deprived of any civil right on account of his religious sentiments.
Mr. Levi. This, Sir, is right. Persecution cannot produce a change of sentiments. Besides, the prejudices, connexions, and capacities of men, their means of information, and their modes of expressing themselves, are so various, that uniformity of sentiment is not to be expected.
M. de Bethune. No greater injury can be sustained by a sect of Christians, than to be more highly favoured by the state than their brethren. This undue preference gives birth to pride and arrogance. Conformity to the divine image is not so much sought after, as a continuance of the partiality of government in their favour. Avarice, and all the selfish passions, have full scope. However pure the sect might be before it was connected with the state, this union must render it corrupt; for in all struggles for wealth and power, the worst men generally gain the ascen. dency. The humble minister of Jesus Christ will prefer poverty and a good conscience to flattering the vices of the great, and other nefarious arts, by which ecclesiastical preferment is too frequently acquired. By this unnatural coalition, also, the malignant passions have been begotten and cherished. By it the lamb has been transformed into the lion ; and the most pure and benevolent religion that ever blessed mankind, has been made an instrument of avarice and oppression. Those Christians who had no other pretensions to the divine favour, than because they were favoured by the state, have shed the blood of millions; and although providence has diminished their power, they are still
very unfriendly to dissenters. In the United States it is very different. The general and equal protection afforded to all, tends to cut up envy, and to unite them together as far as the nature of things will admit.
Mr. Levi. An antichristian spirit began to display itself in the apostolic days. Diotrephes opposed Christ under