Mr. ROBERTS: You will have observed that Mr. Bradlaugh has not attempted to discuss the case of Moses from its internal peculiarities, upon which hangs a very powerful argument. I will not follow him in his remarks on what are called the Apostolic Fathers, because I do not attach any particular importance to them. I cited them merely because Mr. Bradlaugh took the unreasonable position of denying that there was evidence of the existence of the New Testament prior to A.D. 150. And now I have produced the evidence, he tries to make light of it. Mr. Bradlaugh’s attempt to disprove the Bible has been to rehearse alleged difficulties and discrepancies, some of which, in cross-examination, I have endeavoured to explain. He has gone into the same course every night. He might have gone into the contradictions in the way the Socratic method allows, but he has not done so. He dwelt on them in long speeches; perhaps because he knew their force would disappear under the Socratic treatment, while they seem to show for something in a speech. Well, I will now notice some of them. I do so with reluctance, and only lest a false impression might remain if I were to ignore them, and at once resume the threat of my discourse about Moses. I take up, first the alleged discrepancy between the 24th of Luke and the 1st of the Acts on the question of the forty days. Acts 1, states that Christ was seen for forty days after his resurrection, and that his disciples, during that time, tested his reality by many infallible proofs. Mr. Bradlaugh says this is inconsistent with Luke 24. There is nothing whatever in the objection; for though the 1st of the Acts certainly specifies forty days, Luke mentions no time at all. Where can there be a contradiction in such a case? Remember that Luke is the writer of the Acts as well as of the gospel; and the fact that he mentions forty days in the Acts as the length of time Christ spent with his disciples is to be taken as a supplement in the one case of an omission in the other. Perhaps Mr. Bradlaugh may have something to say in reply to that. He did not develop his objection with the distinctness necessary to enable me to be more particular. I fancy the suggestion is that the whole of the 24th of Luke, including Christ’s ascension, is crowded into one day, and that, according to Luke, Christ ascended on the day of his resurrection; but there is nothing to shew this. It was simply stated that he did this and that, without telling us of the time at all. The writer of the Acts of the Apostles tells us the time he lingered in the midst of the apostles, giving them proofs that they were dealing with a real person.
Then Mr. Bradlaugh says that to Abraham God made a promise which he has not fulfilled. If he had stopped there, he would have been within the bounds of truth. But when he argued that, because it is not fulfilled, therefore it will not be, he was illogical. It would not be difficult to show that it is the teaching of the New Testament that the promise will be fulfilled. But Mr. Bradlaugh said it never could be because there has been a gap, and that there can be no gap in "ever". It depends upon when "ever" begins. In this case the expression "for ever" goes back to the time of promise. It begins with the time of performance. There is evidence that Abraham himself recognised this. In Gen. 15 we read that this was addressed to him:–"And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again." That shows the promise was not to take immediate effect. A promise does not involve immediate possession. If an interval elapses, and the promise has not been recalled, that is no reason for concluding the promise will never be fulfilled. We are expressly told in Hebrews 11:13, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having SEEN THEM AFAR OFF." Faith, of which Abraham was the type, is defined by Paul to be "believing in the promises of God". This of itself involves the conclusion that the promise to Abraham was not to be fulfilled at that time. The Bible affirms that Abraham has not received the promise, and yet Mr. Bradlaugh makes use of the fact that he has not received the promise as a proof that the Bible is telling lies. Extraordinary argument! which requires no further notice. The proof is entirely the other way. I am sorry Mr. Bradlaugh is sacrificing good time by forcing these trifles on my notice. He asks me to decide whether there were one, two, three, or more women at the sepulchre on the morning of Christ’s resurrection. My answer is very brief. There was one, two, and three and more. When two or more narratives are proved to be true, they must be in harmony in their details, though they are apparently discrepant, and this discrepancy is a proof that the gospel is not a forgery; if it had been a forgery, the Four Gospels would have been made to tally precisely. Whereas, like all cases of true witnesses, three or four men speak to the same facts, but vary in their narrative of them, though consistent when all put together. I put them together in the following manner:–
The first fact to be noted is that there were a number of women, related to the transactions of the resurrection morning. We find (Matt. 27:55; Mark 15:40-41) that "many women" had followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, "among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children." These many women were witnesses of the crucifixion (ibid), and also of the deposit of the body of Christ in the tomb of Joseph (Luke 23:55, also Mark 15:47); after which they returned and prepared sweet spices and ointments, and rested on the Sabbath (Luke 23:56), having arranged for an early visit to the sepulchre on the first day morning to embalm (Mark 16: 1). In the early visit, most of the "many women" appear to have taken part (Luke 24: 1), and at first in one band. The order of events seems to be this:
1.–Before the arrival of the women, there had been an earthquake and angelic manifestation attendant on the resurrection of Jesus, throwing the keepers of the tomb into a panic.–(Matt. 28:2.)
2.–The women, who had wondered how they were to obtain access to the tomb, arrive and find the stone rolled to one side, and the sepulchre empty. They conclude the body had been taken away, and are perplexed.–(Luke 24:4.)
3.–Mary Magdalene, leaving the other women at the sepulchre in their perplexity, returns and tells Peter (Jno. 20:2), saying, "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and WE know not where they have laid him."
4.–In Mary’s absence, two angels appear at the sepulchre, in whose presence the remaining women stoop, affrighted, to the earth. The angels inform the women of the resurrection of Christ, and tell them to go and tell his disciples. They depart quickly with fear and great joy, and run to bring the disciples word.-(Matt. 28:8.)
5.–Mary returns with Peter and John, who inspect the empty sepulchre, and see the left clothes of the dead. Not knowing the Scriptures that Jesus should rise again from the dead, sorrowing curiosity satisifed, they go away again to their own home.–(John 20:2-10.)
6.–Mary remains behind, and stands outside the sepulchre weeping. In a short time she takes another look into the sepulchre, and this time she sees the angels who had some time before appeared to the rest of the women. She does not know them to be angels, but probably supposes them to be visitors. They ask her why she weeps. She says, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him." Having said this, she steps back to resume her position outside the sepulchre, and sees a third person, whom she supposes to be the gardener. She instantly asks him where he has laid the body of Jesus. The response reveals to her the delightful fact that it was Jesus himself. Forbidding her to touch him, he tells her to go and tell his disciples that he is about to ascend. The interview terminated, Mary departs.–(John 20:11-17.)
7.–The other women, yet on their way, having been angelically apprised of the resurrection, are met by Jesus, who salutes them, and tells them to go and ask his brethren to meet him in Galilee. They hold him by the feet and worship him. There is no interdiction against touching him, as in the case of Mary, the cause being removed.–(Matt. 28:9-10.)
8.–Mary Magdalene arrives at the place of the disciples’ stay, about the same time as "Joanna and Mary, the mother of James, and the other women that were with them."–(Luke 24:10.)
9.–The women (all of them) tell what had happened; but their words seem to the apostles as idle tales.
10.–Two of their company afterwards (during the day) go on some business to Emmaus; and while on the way, are joined by the Lord, who converses with them, but holds their eyes, and reveals himself to them at the end of the journey and then disappears.–(Luke 24:13-31.)
11.–Peter, being out by himself, is also visited by the Lord, and returns and declares the fact to the assembled disciples, who begin to believe it must be true.–(Luke 24:33-34.)
12.–The two from Emmaus return and narrate their experience.
13.–While they are discussing the matter, Jesus himself appears, shows the nail marks on his hands and feet, submits to be handled, and eats before them in their midst, Thomas being absent.
14.–Thomas returns after the interview, but refuses to believe what he is told, unless he sees Christ for himself, and is allowed to put his fingers in the holes of the nails and spear.
15.–Eight days afterwards, the disciples being again assembled, and Thomas being with them, Jesus again appears in their midst, and addresses himself specially to Thomas, whose scepticism disappears before the evidence.
16.–Afterwards the disciples return to Galilee, where Christ appears to them several times, and finally at the end of forty days, the disciples having returned to Jerusalem, he takes leave of them at Bethany.–(Time called.)