« AnteriorContinuar »
they had left her there solitary and unattended. This view is not opposed unto, as is generally thought, but corroborated by, the words of Matthew, when rightly translated, for they will bear the following translation, which clearly marks the distinction between the first and second visit: “ And as they went away from telling his disciples,"—that is, after delivering their message, they went away, no doubt to visit the tomb, or to meet Mary Magdalene; and while they were on the road, and just as Mary Magdalene joined their company in returning to Jerusalem, “ behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail.” And what is singular, after refusing Mary Magdalene, a little before, liberty to touch him, he allows them now to hold his feet, and to worship him. Matt. xix. 15 is an example of the same translation, “ Departed thence,” or, more literally, “ Went away from that place. Matt. ii. 9, also xi. 7, and especially xxiv. 1, are instances where the same word bears the sense of “going away from ”any place. Schrevelius, a high authority, translates this word by the Latin verb abivi, which means, “I went away from.” And thus when we translate the passage under consideration, “ And when they went away from telling," or rather," from having told, his disciples,” it is manifest that we are not forging a translation for the purpose; that the new translation is fair, and perfectly conformable to usage; and that it must have been overlooked by the translators, from their not thoroughly understanding the circumstances attendant on the history of the resurrection of Christ, as given by the four evangelists. But if these translations be fair, and conformable to usage, then the whole difficulty of the harmony vanishes, then each historian is perfectly consistent with the other, then the scruples of the sincere inquirer are removed, and then the triumph of the infidel is turned into shame and defeat. A powerful weapon is wrenched out of the hands of the enemies of the faith; and a wide and long standing breach in the bulwarks of our Zion is filled up, and made strong against the rudest attacks. Let it not be for a moment imagined that the evangelists contradict one another in their narratives of Christ's resurrection. Their perfect harmony is now completely established, and every shade of mystery and darkness is now dispelled. The principle of the solution is simple, viz., the integrity or oneness of the company of the women, as proved by the various lists, and by the unity of the time of their arrival. This thread conducts us through every chamber of the labyrinth with unerring certainty, and brings us out of darkness that may be felt into the unclouded light of meridian day; for let us observe how simply and safely it directs our steps.
The women all arrive a little before sunrise, or just when the sun was rising, and while there was some degree of remaining obscurity, in consequence of the brevity of the twilight in these latitudes; they see an angel seated upon the stone, which he had rolled away from the door of the sepulchre, who frightens the guards and encourages the women, inviting them to enter the supulchre; they enter the sepulchre accordingly, and see an angel seated on the right side, who also encourages and invites them, not to enter, for this had already been done, but to behold the place where the Lord lay, and then, his mission being fulfilled, he disappears; they examine the place, the clothes, the napkin, their order and position, but find not the body, and are thereby much perplexed and discouraged, when, lo! two angels appear, and assure them of Christ's resurrection, and bid them go and bring the disciples word; they depart quickly, and run to Jerusalem and tell the eleven; but Mary Magdalene confines her attentions to Peter and John, who run to the tomb, followed also by Mary Magdalene, who remains, after their departure, till she had seen the Lord; meanwhile, the other women having delivered their message, and hearing of Mary Magdalene's second visit to the tomb, went away, either to meet Mary, or to visit the tomb, in expectation of more wonders, when, lo! Christ meets them on the road, and greets them with the welcome salutation, “ All hail.” The same day Christ appears first to Simon Peter, then to the two disciples in their way to Emmaus, and then to the eleven in the evening. From this view of the harmony, it appears,
1. That though the evangelists, in narrating any event, may give different particulars, yet they substantially agree; and this variation in particulars, so far from being an argument against their veracity, is the strongest possible confirmation of it; for, let us observe how the case stands. Professing only to give us some memoirs of Christ, they are not bound to furnish us with every particular in any occurrence which they mention; and this being the case, it is easy to see how four writers, acting independently of each other, might vary in their description of it-each admitting the fact, but giving along with it some circumstance not noticed by the others, yet not inconsistent with their details. All the evangelists, for example, mention the fact of the crowing of the cock at the third denial of Christ by Peter, and they all agree that this event was predicted by Christ, in some such general terms as these,—“ Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice ;" but Mark alone (who gives a fuller history of this occurrence than any of the rest) adds a particular, which, while it does not contradict, but admits the truth of their statements, yet seems to have been the full and perfect account of the matter. That particular is the word twice,—“ Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Here no contradiction exists, but an omission merely of a particular not essential to the main fact—the denial of his Lord by Peter for the third time. The same remark applies to the circumstances of this fact. They all agree that three questions were put to Peter, by three different persons. Matthew and Mark agree as to the persons; they were two maids of the high priest, and some of those standing by. Luke and John agree in so far that the first person who put the question was a maid ; but Luke declares the other two were men; and John, that one of them was a man, and the others those that stood by—thus agreeing with the first two in every particular, except in the article of calling one of the querists a man instead of a maid. Here is substantial concord, but circumstantial difference—a difference whichi, at first sight, affects their veracity, but which, on a closer and more critical inspection, only serves to enhance the credit of their independent testimony. The reconciliation is perfectly simple. The second maid of Matthew and Mark only mentioned her suspicions to “ those that stood by,"—she did not directly accuse Peter ; so that, in fact, we are left to infer, that while it was a maid that suggested the matter, it was the man of Luke and John that made the charge, even that man of the company whose relation had his ear cut off by Peter. And with regard to Luke's third man, it is perfectly reconcileable to the “They that stood by” of the other evangelists, on this simple principle, that his third man was merely the utterer of an accusation in which they all agreed, and to which they all, by an outward sign, or audibly, gave in their adherence. Now the accusation, in this view, might be said to have been made either by all that stood by, or by the spokesman for the rest, just as the second charge might be said to have been made either by the woman that suggested it to the company, or by the man who took up the maid's accusation and charged Peter with it. Thus it is with the account of the resurrection. The writers all agree in the main facts ; they differ in the narration of particulars ; yet all these differences are capable of being satisfactorily reconciled—and, when reconciled, they serve mightily to strengthen the evidences for the truth of Christianity. And if the reason be asked, we reply, Because they take away the appearance of collusion between the historians, and give us as many independent witnesses as there are evangelists for the truth of the facts which they record; for had the four evangelists verbally agreed in every description of events or of orations, who does not see that a violent suspicion of collusion would have been engendered, while their testimony, at best, could have been considered only as the testimony of one man. But as the case now stands, while their differences prove that they did not copy from one another, their concord in main facts, and their exemption from the charge of contradicting one another, equally prove that they drew from one living Original.
2. From this view of the harmony, it appears that infidelity, in so far as it springs from incidental variations among the evangelists, is unreasonable.
These variations in no case contradict one another—they are all capable of being perfectly harmonized. They are not greater than what might be expected from independent biographers professing to give an abridgment of some principal discourses, miracles, and occurrences, in the life and preaching of Jesus of Nazareth ; they are not greater, in fact, than what is necessary to take away the suspicion of collusion. An examination of these variations only serves to confirm the evangelist's veracity, and quadruply to strengthen the proof of Christianity derived from their testimony. We admit that if the evangelists really and truly contradicted one another, if one denied the resurrection while the others affirmed its truth, the infidel would be justified in rejecting their testimony; but not, surely, because, while they all admit the fact of the resurrection, they differ in circumstantial details, of such a nature as not to contradict one another. What would the infidel have said, had not this been the case ? Would he not have asserted that the life of Christ was a trumped up story by the four evangelists acting in concert ? By this admirable and wise arrangement, however, this objection is entirely done away, and the truth of the Christian story is established on a surer basis
. We have the testimony of four instead of one, without the suspicion of collusion, which would otherwise have been engendered. How unreasonable, then, is the objection of the infidel to Christianity drawn from circumstantial differences in the narrations of the evangelists! These circumstantial differences, so long as they are capable of being harmonized or accounted for on rational principles, instead of furnishing a just ground for infidelity, only serve to strengthen the cause of Christianity. Now, we hold that all these circumstantial differences are capable of being thus barmonized or accounted for on a rational principle; we have given some specimens, and we might contribute many more, were it necessary to our argument; and till the infidel can produce circumstantial differences impossible to be reconciled, and really contradictory statements and averments, we are entitled to maintain that his infidelity, in so far as it springs from this source, is perfectly unreasonable.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY JOHN JOHNSTONE, EDINBURGH