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dict itself in any instances ; therefore the next thing we are to consider, is the reproach cast upon it by those who would bring all divine revelation into contempt, as though it contradicted itself in several instances, and contained various absurdities; which, were they able to make appear, would enervate the force of the argument we are maintaining, to prove the scripture to be the word of God from the consent of the parts thereof: therefore we shall consider some of those contradictions, which many, who pretend to criticise on the words of scripture, charge it with, as so many objections against the harmonious consent, and consequently the divine authority thereof, together with the answers, which may be given to each of them.
Object. 1. If we compare our Saviour's genealogy, as related in the first of Matthew and the third of Luke, they allege that there is a very great inconsistency between them, for one mentions different persons, as his progenitors, from what the other does; as, for instance, in Matth. i. he is said to be the son of Joseph, and Joseph the son of Jacob, and he the son of Matthan; but the other evangelist, viz. Luke, says that he was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, which was the son of Matthat: and so we find the names of each genealogy very differ ing, till we come to David ; therefore they suppose both those genealogies cannot be true, inasmuch as the one contradicts the other.
Answ. It evidently appears, that there is no contradiction between these two genealogies, since Matthew gives an account of Joseph's ancestors, and Luke of Mary's, and so, both together, prove that he was the son of David, by his reputed father's, as well as his mother's side.
And if it be replied, that Luke, as well as Matthew, gives an account of Joseph's genealogy, and therefore this answer is not sufficient: we may observe, that it is said, Luke iii. 23, 24. that Jesus was, as it is supposed, the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, &c. the meaning is, he was, indeed, the supposed son of Joseph, but he really descended from Heli, the father of the virgin Mary; and nothing is more common in scripture than for grandsons to be called sons; and if we observe the meaning of the Greek words, which we render, which was the son, &c. it may better be rendered, who descended from Heli, and then there is not the least absurdity in it, supposing Heli to be his grandfather, and therefore there is no appearance of contradiction between these two scriptures.
Object. 2. It is pretended, that there is a plain contradiction between these two places, 2 Sam, xxiv. 24. and i Chron. xxi. 25. in the former whereof it is said, that David bought the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite, to build an altar on, and the oxen for burnt-offerings, that the plague might be stay
ed, for fifty shekels of silver ; but in the other, viz. in Chroni. cles, it is said, that he gave him for the place six hundred shekels of gold; therefore they pretend that one of these places must be wrong, inasmuch as they plainly contradict one another.
Answ. The answer that may be given to this objection, is, that David paid Araunah (who is otherwise called Ornan) for his threshing-floor, where he built an altar, and for the oxen, which he bought for sacrifice, fifty shekels of silver, as it is expressed in Samuel. But, beside this threshing-floor, he bought the whole place, as it is said in Chronicles, i. e. the whole tract of ground, or mountain, on which it stood, whereon he designed that the temple should be built; and therefore he saith concerning it, 1 Chron. xxii. 1. This is the house of the Lord God, i. e. this place, or tract of land, which I have bought round aabout the threshing-floor, is the place where the house of God shall stands and this is the altar of burnt-offering for Israel, which was to be built in that particular place, where the threshing-floor was : now, though he gave for the threshing-floor but fifty shekels of silver, (which probably was as much as it was worth) yet the whole place, containing ground enough for the temple, with all its courts, and the places leading to it, was worth a great deal more; or, if there were any houses in the place, these were also purchased to be pulled down, to make * room for the building of the temple; and, for all this, he
gate six hundred shekels of gold, and we can hardly suppose it to be worth less ; so that there is no real contradiction between these two places.
Object. 3. It is pretended, that there is a contradiction be. tween 2 Sam. xxiv. 13. and 1 Chron. xxi, 12. in the former of which Gad came to David, being sent to reprove him for his numbering the people, and said, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? But, in Chronicles, he speaks of but three years of famine
.. Answ. To reconcile this seeming contradiction.
1. Some think, that in some ancient copies, it is not seven, but three, (a) years of famine, in Samuel, as it is in Chronicles ; the reason of this conjecture is, because the Lyx, or Greek translation, have it so; and they think that these translators would hardly have made so bold with scripture, as to put three for seven, if they had not found it so in the copies that they made use of, when they compiled this translation : but probably this answer will not give satisfaction to the objectors ; therefore,
2. The best way to account for this seeming contradiction, is this : in Chronicles, Gad bids him chuse if he would have three years of famine, viz. from that time ; but in Samuel he (a) D'Ivy9.75 are wanting only in 85 and 112 of Kenn.cott.
saith, shall seven years of famine come unto thee, that is, as though he should say there hath been three years of famine already, for Saul and his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites, 2 Sam. xxi. 1. Now, that famine ceased but the year before, and the ground being so chaped and hard for want of rain this
year, which was the fourth, it was little better than a year of famine. Now, said Gad, wilt thou have this famine continued three years more (which, in all, makes up seven years) unto thee in the land ? And, if we take it in this sense, there is no contradiction between these two scriptures, though one speaks of three years, and the other of seven.
Object. 4. They pretend to find an inconsistency, or absurdity, little better than a contradiction, by comparing 1 Sam. xvi. 21, 22. and chap. xvii. 55. In the former it is said, David came to Saul, and stood before him, and he loved him greatly ; and he sent to Jesse, with the intent that he might give him leave to stand before him, inasmuch us he had found favour in his sight. Now, say they, how can this be consistent with the other scripture ; where Saul seeing David going forth against Goliah the Philistine, asked Abner, Whose son is this youth? And Abner replied, He could not tell; and, in the next verse, he is ordered to enquire who he was. Now how could this be, when he had been his armour-bearer, stood before him, and found favour in his sight; and he had sent to Jesse, to desire that he might live with him?
Answ. I can see no appearance of absurdity, or defect of harmony, between these two scriptures ; for supposing Saul's memory had failed him, and he had forgot that David had stood before him as a servant, shall the scripture, that gives an account of this, be reflected on, as containing an inconsistency? It is true, David had stood before Saul, as his armour-bearer; yet he had, for some time, been sent home and dismissed from his service, during which time he kept his father's sheep; and probably he lived not long in Saul's family; therefore it is no wonder if Saul had now forgot him. There is no master of a family but may forget what servants have formerly lived with him, and much more a king, who hardly knows the names of the greatest part of the servants that are about him : besides, at this time, David appeared in the habit of a shepherd, and therefore Saul might well say, whose son is this youth? This sufficiently accounts for the difficulty, and vindicates this scripture from the charge of inconsistency ; though some account for it thus, by supposing that Saul knew David, (as having been his armour-bearer) but did not know his father, and therefore asks, whose son is this? or who is be that hath so bold and daring a son, as this youth appears to be? If these things be considered, there appears not the least absurdity in this scripture. Object. 5. Another contradiction, which some charge the scripture with, is, that when Israel, pursuant to the advice of Balaam, committed idolatry, and went a-whoring after the daughters of Moab, and God consumed them for it by the plague, it is said, Numb. xxv. 9. Those that died in the plague were twenty-four thousand; but the apostle Paul, referring to the same thing, says, 1 Cor. x. 8. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of ihem committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
Answ. 1. The answer that may be given to this objection, that the apostle Paul, when he says, three and twenty thousand died, or feil, in one day, speaks of those who died by the immediate hand of God, by the pestilential distemper that was sent among them ; but, besides these, there were many more that died by the hand of public justice for this sin ; for in that chapter in Numbers, verse 4 and 5. we read of the heads of the people being hanged up before, the Lord, and the judges being ordered to slay every every man his men that were joined unto Baal-peor. These died by the sword of justice, and it is no great impropriety to say, that such died in a mediate way, by the plague, or sword of God; the sword is one of his plagues, as well as pestilential diseases, and is frequently so styled in scripture : now we cannot suppose that fewer died of this latter plague, if that be the import of the word, than a thousand ; so that Moses gives the number of all that died, whether by God's immediate hand, or by the sword of the magistrate, pursuant to his command: but if it be reckoned too great a strain upon the sense of the word plague, to admit of this solution, let it be farther observed, that, in the 9th verse, where Moses gives the sum total of those that died, it is not said that they were such who died of the plague, but in the plague ; that is, those that died in or soon after the time that the plague raged among them, whose death was occasioned by this sin, were
four and twenty thousand; so that these two places of scripture are so far from contradicting, that they rather illustrate one another.
Object. 6. Another contradiction is pretended to be between Gal. i. 8. where the apostle says, Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed; 2 Cor. xi. 4. If he that cometh, preacheth another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, of another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. In one place he speaks against those who preach another gospel ; in the other he says, they may be borne with; which seems to be a contradiction.
Answ. For the reconciling and accounting for the sense of these two scriptures, let us consider, that in the former of them
the apostle pronounces them that preached another gospel aca" eursed, and therefore, doubtless, they were not to be borne with, or allowed of; therefore it must be enquired what he means when he says, in the other scripture, that such may be well borne with ; now this scripture will, without the least strain or force
upon the words, admit of one of these two senses. 1. It may be considered as containing a sarcasm, by which the apostle reproves their being too much inclined to adhere to false teachers : if, says he, these bring you tidings of a better Spirit, a better gospel, then bear with them; but this they cannot do, therefore reject them ; or,
2. The words may be rendered, instead of ye might well bear tvith him, ye might well bear with me, as is observed in the marginal reference; the word him being in an Italic character, as will be elsewhere observed,* is not in the original, and therefore me may as well be supplied as him, and so the mean-ing is this; ye bear with false preachers, are very favourable to them, and seem a little cold to us the apostles ; so that I am afraid, as is observed in the foregoing verse, lest your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ; you can bear with these false teachers, and will you not bear with me? as he says, ver. 1. Would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly, and indeed bear with me. It is a sign religion is at a low ebb, when it is with some difficulty that professors are persuaded to bear with those that preach the pure gospel of Christ, who are too prone to turn aside to another gospel. Take the words in either of these senses, and they exactly harmonize with that text in Galatians, and not, as the objectors pretend, contradict it,
Object. 76 Another charge of contradiction, which is brought against scripture, is, that our Saviour saith, Matth. X. 34. Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword: this is contrary to Christ's general character, as a prince of peace, Isa. ix. 6. and to the advice he gives his disciples, not to use the sword, because such shalt perish by it, Mat. xxvi. 52. and what he saith else, My kingdom is not of this world, John xviii. 36. and therefore not to be propagated by might or power, by force or civil policy, or those other carnal methods, by which the kingdoms of this world are advanced and promoted.
Answ. For the reconciling this seeming contradiction, let it Se considered, that Christ did not come to put a sword into his followers hands, or to put them upon making war with the pow ers among whom they dwell, for the propagating the Christiant religion; his gospel was to be advanced by spiritual methods : in this sense, the design of his coming was not to send a sword,
. See Ques. 154