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you, at p. 200, where he says: It is most reasonable, there
fore, to understand the expression as metaphorical, and ' that he refers to the tumult raised by Denietrius.' But turn over the leaf, and look to p. 199, there you may see him saying, “ After the affair of Demetrius, be immediately • left the city, and went into Macedonia. This decides the point. The epistle was written before the tumult, not after it; and therefore cannot refer to it.
I understand the expression, " fighting with beasts," literally; I do not love to depart from the proper meaning of a word, unless there be a necessity for so doing.
Nevertheless I do not suppose that St. Paul ever fought with beasts. St. Luke is entirely silent about it: nor is it mentioned by bimself in the catalogue of his dangers and sufferings, 2 Cor. xi. 23–33. • Moreover,' as Dr. Ward well observes, ' bad St. Paul been thus engaged, it is difficult • to apprehend how he could have escaped, without a • miracle.'
To proceed. I am of opinion that St. Paul refers not here to any particular event, or occurrence of bis life; it is only a supposition made, an affecting case put by him, to enforce bis arguments in behalf of a resurrection, and a life to come.
Let us observe the context. Ver. 19, “ If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable." Ver. 20, “ But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept,” Ver, 30, “ And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?” Ver. 31, “ I protest by our rejoicing, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” • I exert myself to the utmost, and am
continually exposed to the greatest dangers; all which I * acquiesce in, and even am joyful; hoping for a resurrec• tion, and to be for ever with Christ. Without that ex* pectation, all such laborious and hazardous services would • be unreasonable, and unprofitable. Ver. 32,
Ver. 32, If, according to a crucl custom which obtains among men, I had, for the sake of the gospel, been condemned in this city to • fight with beasts, and bad been miserably torn to pieces, • and destroyed by them; would it bave been of any advan' tage to me? None at all. All such fortitude and alacrity • in serving the interests of religion, and with a view to pro
mote the general good of men, would have been quite lost, * and fruitless. “ If the dead rise pot," if there be no life . after this, we might be disposed to adopt that profane • saying, “ Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” But, my brethren, far be it that any of us should embrace
* such sentiments, or act upon them, ver. 33, “ be not deceived," &c.'
I allow of your pointing. My version is little different from yours, and agrees also with that of Dr. Gerdes, professor of divinity at Groningen, who bas lately published a critical commentary upon this whole chapter. It is thus : • Quod si secundum hominem etiam cum bestiis decertassein • Ephesi, quid inde ad me lucri ? Si mortui non resurgent, • edamus et bibamus. Cras enim morieinur.'
AN INQUIRY INTO THE TRUTH OF THE
HISTORY OF THE SEVEN BROTHERS,
SAID TO HAVE SUFFERED MARTYRDOM IN THE TIME OF
ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES, 2 Macc. viia
I. THE truth of this history depends entirely upon
the second book of the Maccabecs. · Dr. Prideaux has given a large and judicious account of both those books. Conn. year before Christ 166, p. 185, &c.
• The first,' he says, - which is a very accurate and excellent history, and comes • the nearest to the style and manner of the sacred historical
writings of any extant, was written originally in the Chal• dee language, of the Jerusalem dialect, which was the • language spoken in Judea from the return of the Jew's • thither from the Babylonish captivity. The second book of the Maccabees, he says, was written by an Egyptian Jew, probably of Alexandria. But he says, it does by no means
equal the accurateness and excellence of the first.' And he observes, that it consists of several pieces compiled to'gether, by what author is uncertain. It begins with two
epistles sent from the Jews of Jerusalem, to the Jews of • Alexandria and Egypt. Both these epistles seem to be
spurious, wherever the compiler of this book picked
After these two epistles, which end at the eighteenth verse of the second chapter, the author proposes to write of things, • as declared by Jason of Cyrene, in five books, which be
* First published in the LIBRARY for February 1762.
• them up.'
• will assay to abridge in one volume.' •But,' says Du Pin, • the author of this abridgment does not inake an exact • abridgment of Jason. Sometimes be copies, sometimes he • abridges, and oftentimes he passes from one narration to • another, and does not relate facts in their true order.'
II. The sufferings of these seven brothers, and likewise of Eleazar, related in the sixth chapter of this second book of Maccabees, and said to be “ one of the principal scribes, and fourscore years old and ten," are entirely omitted in the first book of the Maccabees: though the author of it there writes of the Jewish affairs, and their sufferings in the time of Antiochus. It appears to be probable, that he would not have omitted the sufferings of these persons, if he had been acquainted with them. But so far from relating them particularly, be does not give any the least hint of them.
III. There is not any notice taken of this Eleazar, or these seven brethren, or their mother, by Josephus, in any of his authentic writings. He had twice a fair occasion to mention them; first in bis History of the Jewish War, written not many years after the destruction of Jerusalem, in the first book of which he relates the encroachments of Antiochus Epiphanes; and secondly in his Antiquities, written many years afterwards, where he again recounts the sufferings of the Jewish people under the same prince, Ant. L. xii. cap.
But in neither of those works has he said any thing of Eleazar, or these seven brothers; whose story is so remarkable, that it could not have been omitted by him, if it bad been matter of fact,
It is true, there is a work, sometimes ascribed to Josephus, entitled, . Of the Empire of Reason, or a Discourse • of the Maccabees. But, as Cave says, it is denied to be his by many learned men. Josephi tamen esse negant ex • eruditis, quam plurimi.' And the late Mr. Wbiston, who translated into English all the genuine writings of Josephus, omitted this, and would not join it with the rest. And in an advertiscment at the end of his version, he says, ' I have • omitted what is in the other editions of Josephus; I mean • the discourse about the Maccabees, that is, about the tor* ments of the mother, and her seven children, under Antiochus Epiphanes. It is commended by Eusebius, and • Jerom themselves, as an elegant performance, and as the
genuine work of Josephus. It seems to me not to deserve • that character. Nor can it, I think, with the least proba• bility, be ascribed to Josephus, unless as a declamation * when he was a school-boy! And he observes, that the history is taken from the second book of the Maccabees,
• which it evidently appears Josephus never made use of in • his other writings. "So Mr. W biston. To me it appears to be the work of some christian.
IV. This account is defective in what we generally call internal characters of credibility.
1. The thing is in itself very extraordinary ; that so many persons, of one and the same family, should be all at one and the same time called out to suffer, and be all steady and valiaut. It is very improbable, and alınost incredible.
2. The whole story has the appearance of a contrived fiction. First there is an account of Eleazar, who suffers at the age of fourscore years and ten, that he might leave a notable example to such as are young, to die willingly and courageously for the honourable and boly laws.' Then follow the sufferings and death of these young men, who too are exactly seven, a number much respected among the Jews.
3. The sufferers are not described so particularly as they ought to be, and generally are, in credible relations. The names of the seven brothers are all omitted. Nor is it said, what was their tribe, or family, or what was the usual place of their abode. Nor are we told, who was their father. In some modern accounts the fore-inentioned Eleazar may be said to be their father. But there is no ground for it in this varrative. Nor are we told the name of the mother of these brothers, though she is so often mentioned. Nor is it said how she died. All that is said, is this: “ Last of all after the sons, the mother died.” In the discourse of the Maccabees, ascribed to Josephus, it is said, “the mother, that no man might touch her body, threw herself upon the pile.” Και να μη ψαυσειε τα σωματος αυτης εαυτην ερριψε κατα ans Tupas, chap. 17.' Upon which the note of Cambesis might
This is one of those passages, which makes me thiuk that work to have been composed by a christian. Josippon, or Josephus Ben Gorion, a Jewish writer of the ninth or tenth century, or later, says, that after she had offered up her prayer to God, her spirit departed from her, and she fell upon ihe heaps of her son's dead bodies, and lay upon the earth. But these things are additional to the original account. Postquam desiit ita orare, et effundere orationem coram Jehova, egressa est anima ejus, dum adbuc Joqueretur, et exiit spiritus ejus, ct corruit super acervos corporum filiorum ejus et jacuit ctiam cum eis projecta super terram,' p. 115, Oxon. 1706.
4. These seven brothers are here represented to have been examined, tortured, and slain, one after another, in the
presence of the king, or Autiochus. Which is very improbable. For such examinations and executions are generally delegated to officers. Aud in the first book of the Maccabees, upon which we can depend, we are assured, that Antiochus liad officers for this purpose in the several parts of Judea. So 1 Macc. i. 51, “In the self-same manner wrote he to his whole kingdom, and appointed overseers over all the people, commanding the cities of Judah to sacrifice, city by city.” And afterwards it is particularly said, 1 Macc. ii. 35, " that Mattathias slew the king's commissioner at Modin, who compelled men to sacrifice."
5. It is not said, or hinted, where these persons suffered. Here is a very extraordinary transaction, seven inen, all brothers, the sons of one mother, tried, tortured, put to death, one after another, in the presence of a great king. But where is not said, whether at Jerusalem, or in some other city of Judea.
As it is not said where all this happened, we may not unreasonably infer, it never happened, or was done any where.
For these reasons this history appears so much like a fiction, that I do not see bow it can be relied upon as true. Many acts of christian martyrs, which had been received for a wbile, have since been examined by learned men, jected, some as spurious, others as very much interpolated : why then should we be afraid to examine a like narrative in a Jewish apocrypbal book, of little credit?
Obj. It will be said : does not the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews refer to this history, and thereby assure us of the truth of it ? Heb. xi. 35, “ And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.' To wbich I answer. It is not clear, or certain, that there is a reference to this history in that text. And I sball add a part of what Mr. Hallet says upon this place, in his paraphrase and notes upon the three last chapters of the epistle to the Hebrews. All the commentators agree in supposing, that the apostle bere refers to the history of the
martyrdom of Eleazar, and the mother, and her seven sons, "mentioned in the second book of the Maccabees. And I
was once carried away with the stream; but I am now • persuaded, that the apostle, in this whole chapter, does not • refer to any examples that are recommended by any other • book, beside the holy scripture. Estius goes upon this same general principle: and therefore concludes from the
common application of this passage, that it affords more * than a probable argument for the sacred authority of the • second book of the Maccabees. For,' says he, . all the