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of the Holy Ghost, the Apostles did not even suspect the divinity of their dear master. He asks them what the people think of him; and they answer, that some take him for Elias, others for Jeremiah, or some other prophet. A particular revelation is necessary to make known to St. Peter, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God.
The Jews, revolting against the divinity of Christ, have resorted to all sorts of expedients to destroy this great mystery; they distort the meaning of their own oracles, or do not apply them to the Messiah; they assert that the name of God, 'Eloi,' is not peculiar to the Divinity, but is given, even by sacred writers, to judges, to magistrates, and in general to such as are high in authority; they do indeed cite a great many passages of the holy scriptures that justify this observation, but which do not in the least affect the
express terms of the ancient oracles concerning the Messiah.
Lastly, they assert, that if the Saviour, and after him the evangelists, the apostles, and the first christians, call Jesus the Son of God, this august term did not in the evangelical times signify anything but the opposite of son of Belial—that is, a good man, a servant of God, in opposition to a wicked man, one without the fear of God.
If the Jews have disputed with Jesus Christ his quality of Messiah and his divinity, they have also used every endeavour to bring him into contempt, by casting on his birth, his life, and his death, all the ridicule and opprobium that their criminal malevolence could imagine.
Of all the works which the blindness of the Jews has produced, there is none more odious and more extravagant than the ancient book entitled “ Sepher Toldos Jeschu," brought to light by Wagenseil, in the second volume of his work entitled “ Tela Ignea,” &c.
In this Sepher Toldos Jeschu we find a monstrous history of the life of our Saviour, forged with the utmost passion and disingenuousness. For instance, they have dared to write, that one Panther, or Pandera, an inhabitant of Bethlehem, fell in love with a young woman married to Jokanam. By this impure commerce he
had a son called Jesua or Jesu. The father of this child was obliged to fly, and retired to Babylon. As for young Jesu, he was not sent to the schools; but (adds our author) he had the insolence to raise his head and uncover himself before the sacrificers, instead of appearing before them with his head bent down and his face covered, as was the custom-a piece of effrontery which was warmly rebuked; this caused his birth to be enquired into, which was found to be impure, and soon exposed him to ignominy.
This detestable book, Sepher Toldos Jeschu, was known in the second century: Celsus confidently cites it, and Origen refutes it in his ninth chapter.
There is another book also entitled “ Toldos Jeschu," published by Huldric in 1703, which more closely follows the Gospel of the Infancy, but which is full of the grossest anachronisms. It places both the birth and death of Jesus Christ in the reign of Herod the Gre stating that complaints were made of the adultery of Panther and Mary the mother of Jesus, to that prince.
The author, who takes the name of Jonathan, and calls himself a contemporary of Jesus Christ, living at Jerusalem, pretends that Herod consulted, in the affair of Jesus Christ, the senators of a city in the land of Cæsarea. We will not follow so absurd an author through all his contradictions.
Yet it is under cover of all these calumnies that the Jews keep up their implacable hatred against the christians and the gospel. They have done their utmost to alter the chronology of the Old Testament, and to raise doubts and difficulties respecting the time of our Saviour's coming.
Ahmed-ben-Cassum-la-Andacousy, a Moor of Grenada, who lived about the close of the sixteenth century, cites an ancient Arabian manuscript, which was found, together with sixteen plates of lead engraven with Arabian characters, in a grotto near Grenada. Don Pedro y Quinones, archbishop of Grenada, has himself borne testimony to this fact. These leaden plates, called those of Grenada, were afterwards carried to Rome, where, after several years investigation, they were at last condemned as apocryphal, in the pontificate of Alexander VII.; they contain only fabulous stories relating to the lives of Mary and her Son.
The name of Messiah, coupled with the epithet false, is still given to those impostors, who, at various times, have sought to abuse the credulity of the Jewish nation. There were some of these false Messiahs even before the coming of the true Anointed of God. The wise Gamaliel mentions one Theodas,* whose history we read in Josephus's Jewish Antiquities, book xx. chap. 2. He boasted of crossing the Jordan without wetting his feet; he drew many people after him; but the Romans, having fallen upon his little troop, dispersed them, cut off the head of their unfortunate chief, and exposed it in Jerusalem.
Gamaliel also speaks of Judas the Galilean, who is doubtless the same of whom Josephus makes mention in the second chapter of the second book of the Jewish War. He says that this false prophet had gathered together nearly thirty thousand men; but hyperbole is the Jewish historian's characteristic.
In the apostolical times there was Simon, surnamed the magician, who contrived to bewitch the people of Samaria, so that they considered him as the great power of God.'•
In the following century, in the years 178 and 179 of the christian era, in the reign of Adrian, appeared the false Messiah Barcochebas, at the head of an army. The emperor sent against them Julius Severus, who, after several encounters, enclosed them in the town of Bither: after an obstinate defence it was carried, and Barcochebas taken and put to death. Adrian thought he could not better prevent the continual revolts of the Jews than by issuing an edict, forbidding them to go to Jerusalem; he also had guards stationed at the gates of the city, to prevent the rest of the people of Israel from entering it.
* Acts of the Apostles, v. 34, 35, 36. + Acts, viii. 9, 10,
We read in Socrates, an ecclesiastical historian, that in the year 434, there appeared in the island of Candia a false Messiah calling himself Moses. He said he was the ancient deliverer of the Hebrews, raised from the dead to deliver them again.*
A century afterwards, in 530, there was in Palestine a false Messiah named Julian; he announced himself as a great conqueror, who, at the head of his na tion, should destroy by arms the whole christian people. Seduced by his promises, the armed Jews butchered many of the christians. The
Justinian sent troops against him ; battle was given to the false Christ; he was taken, and condemned to the most ignominious death.
At the beginning of the eighth century, Serenus, a Spanish Jew, gave himself out as a Messiah, preached, had some disciples, and, like them, died in misery.
Several false Messiahs arose in the twelfth century. One appeared in France, in the reign of Louis the Young; he and all his adherents were hanged, without its ever being known what was the name of the master or of the disciples.
The thirteenth century was fruitful in false Messiahs; there appeared seven or eight in Arabia, Persia, Spain, and Moravia; one of them, calling himself David el Roy, passed for a very great magician; he reduced the Jews, and was at the head of a considerable party; but this Messiah was assassinated.
James Zeigler of Moravia, who lived in the middle of the sixteenth century, announced the approaching manifestation of the Messiah, born, as he declared, fourteen years before; he had seen him (he said) at Strasburg, and he kept by him with great care a sword and a sceptre, to place them in his hands so soon as he should be old enough to teach.
In the year 1624, another Zeigler confirmed the prediction of the former.
* Socrates, Hist. Eccl. lib. ii. cap. 38.
In the year 1666, Sabatei Sevi, born at Aleppo, called himself the Messiah foretold by the Zeiglers. He began with preaching on the highways and in the fields, the Turks laughing at him, while his disciples admired him. It appears that he did not gain over the mass of the Jewish nation at first; for the chiefs of the synagogue of Smyrna passed sentence of death against him; but he escaped with the fear only, and with banishment.
He contracted three marriages, of which it is asserted he did not consummate one, saying that it was beneath him so to do. He took into partnership one Nathan Levi, the latter personated the prophet Elias, who was to go before the Messiah. They repaired to Jerusalem, and Nathan there announced Sabatei Sevi as the deliverer of nations. The Jewish populace declared for them, but such as had anything to lose anathematized them.
To avoid the storm, Sevi fled to Constantinople, and from thence to Smyrna, whither Nathan Levi sent to him four ambassadors, who acknowledged and publicly saluted him as the Messiah. This embassy imposed on the people, and also on some of the doctors, who declared Sabetei Sevi to be the Messiah, and king of the Hebrews. But the synagogue of Smyrna condemned its king to be impaled.
Sabatei put himself under the protection of the cadi of Smyrna, and soon had the whole Jewish people on his side; he had two thrones prepared, one for himself, the other for his favourite wife; he took the title of king of kings, and gave to his brother, Joseph Sevi, that of king of Judah. He promised the Jews the certain conquest of the Ottoman empire; and even carried his insolence so far as to have the emperor's name struck out of the Jewish liturgy, and his own substituted.
He was thrown into prison at the Dardanelles; and the Jews gave out that his life was spared only because the Turks well knew he was immortal.
The governor of the Dardanelles grew rich by the presents which the Jews lavished, in order to visit their