« AnteriorContinuar »
was not received by the people of that country. Here, however, he cured the ten lepers.
On this journey he sent out the seventy; and being arrived at Jerusalem, at the feast of tabernacles, he discoursed with the Jews concerning his mission, reproved the woman who was taken in adultery, and cured a man who had been blind from his birth.
In the interval between the feast of tabernacles and the feast of dedication, I place all those incidents and discourses which are related by Luke after his mention of Jesus's having taken his final leave of Galilee, and before those events that are closely connected with the history of his death, and for which I can find no other place, by means of a corresponding story in some other evangelist. Here, therefore, I introduce the discourse concerning the Galileans killed by Pilate, the parable of the good Samaritan, of the wedding supper, of the prodigal son, of the rich man and Lazarus, and of the Pharisee and Publican, with some others.
At the feast of dedication, Jesus, in the temple, publicly declared himself to be the Messiah, and the Jews thereupon seeking to kill him, he retired to the country beyond Jordan, where he held the discourse concerning divorces, and the danger of riches; and where he blessed the children that were brought to him, &c.
From this country he made a journey into Judea, to raise from the dead his friend Lazarus; but having by this miracle, performed in the presence of many of his enemies, greatly enraged the Pharisees and rulers of the Jews, he retired to Ephraim, in the wilderness of Judea.
Journeying from these parts to Jerusalem, before the second passover, he again foretold his sufferings; and passing through Jericho, in the neighbourhood of that town, he cured a blind man, and visited Zaccheus.
Coining in view of Jerusalem, he lamented over it; and being arrived at Bethany, he supped with Simon the Leper, where Lazarus was present, and his sister Mary anointed him ; which gave such offence to Judas Iscariot, that from that time he formed a resolution to betray him to his enemies, who were now, more than ever, intent upon putting him to death.
The next day he entered the city in triumph, and purged the temple. The morning following, on his return from Bethany, (where he now lodged every night,) he cursed the barren fig-tree, (the effects of which were seen the next day,) and held many discourses in the temple.
In this manner he passed his time till the day before he suffered ; on the evening of which he ate the passover with his disciples; and Judas, whose treachery he had detected, having left them, he instituted the Lord's Supper; and then discoursed with the eleven in a most affectionate manner, and foretold Peter's denial of him.
Leaving the house in which they had supped, and perhaps coming in view of the Mount of Olives, he discoursed concerning the true vine, gave his disciples the promise of the Comforter in his absence from them; and, in a solemn prayer, recommended them to the care and blessing of God his father.
Being arrived at Gethsemane, he was seized with an agony in a garden ; and Judas arriving with a company of armed men, and some of the Jewish rulers, he was con. ducted first to Annas, then to Caiaphas, and afterwards to Pilate; who, after sending him to Herod, sentenced him to be crucified,
The order of the subsequent transactions it is not to my purpose at present to consider.
Such is the order in which I would choose to dispose the leading events in the life of Christ, which the reader will perceive to be considerably different from that of Mr. Mann, and I believe also from that of all other harmonists. In the next Section I shall proceed to exhibit the reasons of this arrangement, or the evidence of the harmony.
SECTION XI.* General preliminary Remarks, relating to the Order of
the Events in the Gospel History. Of the many original histories of the life of Christ, which were probably once extant, four only are come down to us; but they are abundantly sufficient to confirm our faith in the truth of the facts. The external evidence of the authenticity of these books is remarkably strong ; and an attentive reader will be equally struck with the internal evidence, to which my observations on the harmony of their histories relate. None but the persons to whom they are ascribed, or, which is the same thing, with respect to us, persons who enjoyed equal advantages for writing such histories, could have composed them.
.. Essay IV. Sact i. Theol. Rapos. I. pp. 105–112.
It is the more probable that they wrote from their memory, and therefore that they actually heard and saw what they relate, as there is not, on the face of their writings, a single trace of imagination, or of an attention to any thing that might serve to embellish their narrative. From the beginning to the end of all the evangelists, there appear no more marks of a capacity for fiction, than there are of an incli. nation to it. .: Two of these historians, Matthew and John, were, in a great measure, eye-witnesses of what they relate. The two others, Mark and Luke, were not eye-witnesses, but appear to have been well informed concerning their subject. They all, however, seem to have been equally careless of the order of events; but with respect to the two former, nature has more than supplied the place of art. As the circumstances of time and place are necessarily presented to the mind of an eye-witness, along with other circumstances of any transaction, because they were really co-existent and inseparable from it, so the ideas of time and place will force themselves upon the mind; and, unless the person who relates from his memory be particularly upon his guard, they will, even unnecessarily and improperly, intrude themselves into the narrative,
This we see exemplified every time that a person, uninstructed in the arts of speaking and writing, tells a story; and we have examples of it in the writings of Matthew and John, where we perceive more characters of time, and more marks of an orderly narrative, in the transitions from story to story, than in those of Mark and Luke. Mark, however, has preserved more of these circumstances of events than Luke ; so many that I can hardly persuade myself that he was not present, at least, at some of the transactions.
Many good reasons may be assigned for the neglect of the order of time in those evangelists who were best acquainted with it. This is by no means the most natural, or the best method of relating events, as we see verified in every writer of lives, even those who are the most methodical and exact; because other relations have a stronger effect upon the mind than that of time, particularly a resemblance in the cause or effect of any incidents.
Several circumstances would contribute to throw irregularity into a history of Christ, written by one who was witness to it, and had often told it. It is probable that what was called preaching Christ, at the promulgation
of Christianity, consisted chiefly in reciting the particulars of the life of Christ; so that the Gospels were the substance of the preaching, as it may be called, of the apostles and evangelists. In this case it cannot be supposed that they regularly began with the birth and ended with the death of Christ; but rather that single incidents would be related occasionally, as particular occasions called for them ; and, in time, all the stories would get quite other associations, and be connected with one another various ways besides that of the order in which they happened; and the longer they deferred writing their histories, the fewer traces we may expect to find of this order. According to Dr. Lardner, * the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, were all written about the year of Christ 64, and that of John in 68.
The causes that tended to make the evangelists inattentive to the order of time in which things happened, would not in the least tend to alter or deprave the history itself, or make their testimony to all the facts the less to be depended on. For, as every distinct story would necessarily be repeated entire, they would each of them fall into one uniform method of telling it, and all the parts of any story would cohere perfectly, when the connexion of the differ. ent stories with one another might be entirely lost. Besides, independent of constant and uniform repetition, the contiguous part of one thing cannot but have a closer connexion in the mind that contemplates them, than any two different things.
It has been thought by many, and especially Dr. Henry Owent that there are evident traces of Mark and Luke having copied or abridged Matthew, because they sometimes make use of the same expressions in relating the same things. But it appears to me that every thing of this nature may very easily have arisen from the manner in which I suppose the Gospels were originally written, viz. in detached parts. Some of these might have been committed to writing by the apostles themselves, and some by their auditors, corrected by themselves.
Many of these detached histories would, from the circumstances in which they were written and transmitted, acquire considerable authority, and would naturally be
Works, VI. pp. 56, 99, 130, 191. (t)or Jesus' College, Oxford, M.D., who took orders. He died in 1795, aged 80. Besides several other theological works, Dr. Oweu published “ Remarks on the Four Gospels."
collected by Mark, Luke, and others, who had a scheme of compiling a regular history. Matthew himself, knowing them to be of authority (some of them probably being his own) and having no ambition to distinguish himself as a mere writer, might adopt them; and thus it might come to pass that, though these evangelists compiled their histories independently of one another, they would in some places seem to have copied one another, or some common original. At the same time that their differences, both with respect to the arrangement of facts, and several circumstances respecting the facts themselves, abundantly prove that they had never seen each other's writings.
If the Gospel of Mark be an abridgement of that of Matthew, * it is such an abridgement, I will venture to say, as was never made of any other work. This appears to me to be so obvious, that I wonder how any person can peruse the two histories, and entertain the least suspicion of it.
The hypothesis mentioned above, of the history of Christ having been written originally in detached parts, will help us to account for the same things being sometimes placed together in different Gospels, though they had no natural connexion. For it might happen that they were both originally contained in the same detached memoir, and had been copied from the same by more writers than one. Instances of this kind, which I cannot so well account for in any other way, will occur in some of the ensuing remarks.
If we consider the immediate object of the apostles and evangelists in preaching Christ, namely, to make their hearers good men, to affect mankind with a sense of the truth and greatness of his character, that they might live in the firm belief and expectation of his second coming, we shall not wonder at their not being solicitous about the order of the incidents in their history; for this was a circumstance that had little apparent tendency to produce that effect. In this situation of things, it cannot be expected that persons who had not attended Christ, should ever get a distinct and orderly idea of the particulars of his life, since they who once had it would be in great danger of losing it.
I would observe farther, that the confusion that appears
* See Michaelis (Introd. Lect. Sect. xciii.), pp 196—198.