Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

comes down only to about the year 135, B. C.; tions during this period, Prideaux's “Old and so that the student is compelled to have recourse New Testament connected” is the best work exto other sources to supply the deficiency. Jose- tant. Dr. A. Clarke has given a succinct sumphus we have already mentioned; but for a con- mary of this at the close of his Commentary on nected history of the Jews and neighbouring na- the Old Testament.

[blocks in formation]

PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

SECTION I.

of what was spoken. A remarkable proof of this we have in Matt. x. 9, compared with Mark vi. 8.

In the former passage, Jesus is introduced speak1. The term GOSPEL, as previously remarked, is ing to his apostles thus: “Provide-neither shoes, the designation given to the writings of the four nor yet a staff;" but in the latter, which exhibits Erangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the repetition of these instructions, he commanded which comprise an authentic account of the incar- them that they should take nothing for their nation, ministry, miracles, sufferings, death, resur- journey, save a staff only: words, in fact, contraraction, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. dictory to the former, though in sense perfectly It must not be supposed, however, that these the same. Such of the apostles as were possessed writers have related all the circumstances of the of staves might take them; but those who were life of the Redeemer, or that they have recorded without them were not to provide them.' So, all the discourses and instructions he delivered. also, the words addressed from heaven at the Their object has been to preserve a record of the baptism of Christ, Matt. iii. 17: “This is my most important of these ; and of such a character beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” though as should disclose the nature and divine origin of different in point of fact from the words in Mark the Christian system. This is in fact declared by i. 11, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I John: “Many other things there are, which Jesus am well pleased;" yet being the same in sense, did, which are not written in this book : but these they are truly repeated. Many other passages are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is might be cited; but these will suffice for our the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, present purpose, as well as to give a satisfactory ye might have life through his name." Some solution of the difficulties that present themselves things related by one Evangelist are omitted by on comparing the quotations in the New Testaanother, or related with some varying circum- ment with the passages in the Old, whence they stances, as best suited the object for which they are taken ; for if the meaning of the passage be were severally writing. Another thing to be truly given, it must be allowed that the quotation observed is, that the writers of the gospels have is justly made. 200 confined themselves to chronological order,

2. That the gospels were written by the persons the arrangement of events being not merely those whose names they bear, we have the concurring of time, but of the various associations ; such as and decisive testimony of the ancient Fathers of similarity in the facts themselves, vicinity of place, the Christian church. (1) A passage from Poly&c. A want of attention to this circumstance carp (who, as Irenæus informs us, was made will induce much confusion in reading the evan-bishop of Smyrna by the apostles, and conversed pelical histories. Finally, it does not appear to with many who had seen the Lord), is cited by Lave been any part of the design of the evangelists Victor Caperanus

, in which we find the names of to preserve the rery roords made use of on any

the four gospels, as we at present have them, and secasion, but rather to give the sense and meaning the beginning of their several histories. (2)

Justin Martyr, who, according to Eusebius, lived

* We have offered some general remarks on the divisions in the New Testament, in Part I., chap. ii., sect. 7.

See Macknight's Prelim. Observations, Obs. i. The reader t for some valuable observations on this subject, the reader may find some judicious remarks on the quotations from the is referred to Cook's Inquiry into the Books of the New Testa- | Old Testament in the New, in Couk's Inquiry, p. 284, &c.; or welt, p. 210 de.

in the Critica Biblica, vol. ii., p. 155, &c.

not long after the apostles, shows that these books | do it with this remark, that the gospels received were then well known by the name of Gospels, by the tradition of the church were bnly four, and and were read by Christians in their assemblies that the others belonged not to them, nor to the every Lord's-day. We also learn from him that evangelical canon. Dr. Whitby, to whom we are they were read by Jews, and might be read by indebted for these remarks, and in whose general heathens; and that we may not doubt that, by preface the reader may find the authorities for the the “memoirs of the Apostles, which” says he, passages here cited, sums up the argument as “ we call gospels,” he meant these four, received follows: Seeing, then, (1) that these four gospelsi then in the church, he cites passages out of each, were received without any

doubt or contradiction 1 declaring that they contained the words of Christ. by all Christians from the beginning, as the (3) Irenæus, in the same century, not only cites writings of those apostles and evangelists whose them all by name, but declares that there were names they bear, and that the first Christians i neither more nor fewer received by the church, both acknowledged and testified that these writ- 1 and that they were of such authority, that though ings were delivered to them by the apostles, así the heretics of his time complained of their obscu- the pillars or fundamental articles of their faith : rity, depraved them, and endeavoured to lessen Seeing (2) that the same gospels were delivered their authority, yet they durst not wholly disown by the immediate successors of the apostles to all them, nor deny them to be the writings of those the churches which they converted or established, apostles whose names they bore. He further cites as the rule of their faith : Sceing (3) they were passages from every chapter of Matthew and read from the beginning, as Justin Martyr testifies, Luke, from fourteen chapters of Mark, and from in all assemblies of Christians, on the Lord's day; twenty chapters of John. (4) Clemens of Alex- and so must have been early translated into those andria, having cited a passage from “the gospel languages in which alone they could be underaccording to the Egyptians," informs his readers stood by some churches, viz., the Syriac and “ that it was not to be found in the four gospels Latin : Seeing (4) they were generally cited in delivered by the church.” (5) Tatian, who flour- the second century for the confirmation of the ished in the same century, and before Irenæus, faith, and the conviction of heretics; and that the wrote “a chain,” or “harmony of the Gospels,” presidents of the assemblies exhorted those who which he named, “The Gospel gathered out of heard them to practise and imitate what they the Four Gospels.” (6) Inasmuch as these gos- heard : Seeing (5) we never hear of any other pels were written,” says Irenæus, “ by the will gospels till the close of the second century, and of God, to be the pillars and foundation of the then only hear of them with a mark of reproChristian faith," the immediate successors of the bation, or a declaration that they were yerdeapostles, who, says Eusebius, did great miracles Fiygapa, falsely imposed upon the apostles, that by the assistance of the Holy Ghost, and per- they belonged not to the evangelical canon, or to formed the work of evangelists in preaching the gospels delivered to the churches by a sucChrist to those who had not yet heard the word, cession of ecclesiastical persons, or to those gospels made it their business, when they had laid the which they approved, or by which they confirmed foundation of that faith among them, to “deliver their doctrines, but were to be rejected as the to them the writings of the holy gospels.” inventions of manifest heretics ;-all these consi

3. It has been objected, however, that other gos- derations must afford us a sufficient demonstration pels, bearing the names of apostles, are mentioned that all Christians then had unquestionable evias having existed in the early ages of Christianity. dence that these four gospels were the genuine But this materially tends to confirm the tradition works of those apostles and evangelists whose of the church, concerning those four we now names they bore, and so were worthy to be rereceive. This will be evident from the following ceived as the records of their faith. What reason, considerations. (1) We find no mention of any then, can any persons of succeeding ages have to of these supposititious gospels till the close of the question what was so universally acknowledged second century, and of but few of them till the by those who lived so rear to that very age in third or the fourth ; that is, not until long after which these gospels were indited, and who rethe general reception of the four gospels by the ceived them under the character of the holy and whole church of Christ. For Justin Martyr and divine Scriptures ? Irenæus, who cite large passages from these four 4. In closing these introductory remarks, it may gospels, take not the least notice of any others, be necessary to advert to a subject which has mentioned either by the heretics or by the ortho- given rise to a multiplicity of works on the condox. (2) Those writers who speak of them, in the tinent of Europe especially, viz., the origin of the close of the second, or in the following centuries, three first gospels. Since the publication of Bishop Marsh's translation of Michaëlis, in which the our limits, and useless to the great bulk of our learned translator inserted an elahorate dissertation readers. There are many phenomena in the liteon the subject of this inquiry, it has been dis- tary history of the Scriptures which it is infinitely cussed to a considerable extent among the divines beyond the capacity of mortals to comprehend ;of Germany. The cause of the inquiry is to be it is foolish and absurd to attempt the explication, found in the verbal agreement of the three evan- in many instances, of their literal difficultiesgelists on some of the subjects on which they especially where we are unable to afford even the treat, while in others there is found, not only a appearance of accounting for them, except from difference in the words, but a discrepancy in the mere hypothesis and groundless conjecture, unfacts. To account for these phenomena, various assisted by any positive evidence ; and it would be hypotheses have been assumed, each of which has profane to mutilate the Scriptures, or alter them been advocated with considerable learning and even in a single word or letter, without sufficient zeal. The following are the two principal ones : authority. We believe that none of the hypo

[graphic]

(1) The later evangelists borroroed from the theses proposed, will be found sufficient to account veritings of the former. This theory of course for the verbal phenomena of the Gospels; and we admits of a great variety of modifications. Any therefore think it the wisest measure to reject the one of the three might be supposed the original, 'whole of them. If the evangelists copied from and either of the other two might be supposed to each other, their testimony will be reduced to one have drawn from him, and the third from either only; and if they used a common document, the or both of the two former. The precedence is case will be so much the worse, since that one will accordingly assigned in a different order by dif- then be an unknown testimony. We must thereferent critics, and almost every possible shape of fore use extreme caution, lest, by admitting a the hypothesis has found an advocate.*

common document, we should lower the character (2) All the three ecangelists, or at least two of of the sacred writers, and diminish the indepenthem, dren from some common source or sources. dent proofs of their credibility and authenticity. This hypothesis, also, is susceptible of many forms. Their remarkable agreement is a convincing proof For not only might there be several sources or of their strict fidelity; while their occasional difone; but if only one, this one might be either ference affords incontrovertible evidence that they oral tradition, or a written document; and if the neither copied each other, nor drew from a comlatter, that might either be imagined so copious as mon source. I to occasion different selections, or so scanty as to 4. In this view of the case we have four separate occasion different enlargements. All these views and independent witnesses to the same transac--that of several documents prior to our gospels; tions. The three former writing without the that of a common oral tradition; that of a single, knowledge of each other; the latter perusing their large, and multifarious original, from which our several narratives, and, by the publication of a evangelists made extracts; and that of a concise fourth, confirming the truth of the former three. outline, which in its passage through various hands grew to the size of a little book—were suc

SECTION II. cessively adopted. It was in the last form, that of a short Hebrew or Syro-Chaldaic original document, supposed to have constituted the basis of our three first gospels, that the above hypothesis

1. This apostle was surnamed Levi, and was the was introduced into this country by Bishop Marsh; son of Alphæus, a native of Galilee. Our Lord with the modifications which appeared to him called him from the receipt of custom ; and he necessary to explain all the phenomena of the was therefore a publican or tax-gatherer. He gospels.t

was an attendant on our Saviour during the whole (3) It is not our design to enter into an investi- time of his ministry, was constituted an apostle, gation of this subject: it would be incompatible with and after the ascension he continued at Jeru

salem with the rest of the apostles till the day

of Pentecost. What became of him after this In sopport of the general hypothesis, the reader may con- period, we know not. sult Townson's " Discourses on the four Gospels."

His gospel, which is placed first in all the col† Those persons who are desirous of obtaining a general view of the state of the controversy, may consult the Introductian to Schleiermacher's “ Critical Essay on the Gospel of St. Lake," which is drawn up with considerable ability. A less The reader may consult Bishop Gleig's edition of Stackextended view of the subject may be seen in the “Critica Bib bouse's History of the Bible, Vol. III., p. 105, &c.; and Nares's lica," vol. II., pp. 345-359.

Veracity of the Evangelists, p. 33, &c.

[graphic]

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW.

lections of the sacred books, is almost universally used, while the converts remained in Judea, or at allowed to have been the earliest written. Its least during the continuance of the Pauline perprecise date is difficult of determination. The secution; and that it might have been given earliest period assigned to it is 37; the latest, 64. about six years after the ascension, when the perAfter a careful consideration of the arguments secution was beginning; in the year 34 or 35, the adduced on each side of this much litigated ques- date which is here assigned to it. The Greek tion, we prefer the earlier date as the most pro- gospel might have been given some years later, bable. *

when the converts returned to Jerusalem, and becam 3. Another thing that has exercised the talents quired inspired histories of our Lord to be sent to and ingenuity of biblical critics, is the language in their brethren of those cities in which their safety which this evangelist wrote his gospel. There have had been secured. This hypothesis will reconcile been three hypotheses offered, each of which cản some of the discrepancies which have embarrassed. boast as its advocates, men of profound learning many inquirers in their research into the early and talents. The first opinion is, that Matthew ori- history of the church. It accounts also for the ginally wrote in Hebrew, or the Syro-Chaldaic dia- early disuse and non-appearance of the Hebrew lect, spoken by the Jews in our Saviour's time; the gospel, while it agrees with the early date assigned second is, that he wrote his gospel in Greek ; and to Matthew's history t. the third is, that there were two originals, one 4. That Matthew wrote his Gospel for the use of Greek, the other Hebrew. The arguments seem to the Jews, not only accords with the voice of antipreponderate in favour of the last mentioned opi- quity, but with the contents of the book itself, in nion; for, as Mr. Townsend remarks, the authorities which every circumstanee is carefully pointed out which Dr. Lardner and Mr. Horne have collected, which might conciliate the faith of that nation ; to prove that Matthew wrote his gospel in He- and every unnecessary expression avoided which brew, or that there were some documents called might serve in any way to obstruct it. Those the gospel of Matthew compiled in that language, passages in the prophets, or other sacred books, are so numerous and so decisive, that we are relative to the Messiah, and which were generally hardly warranted in rejecting these testimonies; understood in that age to be so, are never passed and there are again, on the other hand, such evi- over in silence. The fulfilment of prophecy was dent marks of originality in the present Greek always to the Jews, convinced of the inspiration gospel of Matthew, that we are not justified in of their sacred writings, a principal topic of arguesteeming it, with Michaëlis, a mere translation. ment. Accordingly, nigte of the evangelists has It is possible that the real state of the case might been more careful than Matthew, that nothing of be this. When the persecution began, or was this kind should be overlooked. He has, further, beginning, Matthew, who, perhaps might have been more particular than either of the other already committed to writing the memorable events evangelists, in relating those discourses of our of Christ's history, might have distributed among Lord which go to recommend internal religion and his own countrymen, the converts of Jerusalem, purity, and to unveil the deformities and denounce an account of the transactions and teaching of our the wickedness of deceit and hypocrisy. That Lord; but as the persecution was not confined to this was admirably adapted for the instruction of Judea, but extended to Gentile cities, the converts the Jewish converts, will appear from the following who had taken refuge in them would be naturally considerations. anxious to have the gospel in that language which 5. The Jews were much disposed to consider the was most generally understood, that the glorious letter of the law as the complete rule and measure works of redemption and salvation might be made of moral duty; to place religion in the observance known to them, as well as to others. It is pro- of rites and ceremonies, or in a strict adherence to bable, therefore, that the Hebrew gospel was first some favourite precepts, written or traditionary ; to

ascribe to themselves sufficient dower of doing the

* The reader who is desirous of weighing the arguments on either side of this question, may consult Tomline's Elements of Theology, Vol. 1., p. 301 ; Owen's Observations on the Four

† Arrangement of the New Testament, Vol. II., p. 89. On Gospels, p. 8, &c., and Townson's Works, Vol. I., p. 107, &c., this much dispated question, the student may consult Lardner's in favour of the early date; and in favour of the late date, Works, Vol. II., p. 157, &c. 4to edit. ; Townson's Works, Vol. Lardner's Works, Vol. II., p. 163, &c. 4to. ; Marsh's Mi- I., p. 30; Marsh's Michaëlis, Vol. III., Part I., p. 112, &c.; chaelis

, Vol. III., p. 97, &c.; and Percy's Key, p. 39, &c., 7th Campbell on the Gospels, Vol. III., p. 2, &c., 3rd edit. Hales's edition. Mr. Horne has given an abstract of these arguments, Analysis of Chronology, Vol. II., p. 664, &c. Whitby's Gene Introd., Vol. IV., p. 229, &c., 4th edit. which has been copied ral Preface, and Horne's Introduction, Vol. IV. p. 234, &c. with some additions by Mr. Townsend; Arrangement of Old Campbell on the Gospels, vol. ïï. p. 36, &c.; and Town Test., Vol. II., p. 80, &c.

son's Works, vol. i. p. 121, &c.

divine will without the divine assistance; and, , before us in various discourses, beginning with vain of a civil or legal righteousness, to contemn the sermon on the mount, to which Matthew all others, and esteem themselves so just that they hastens, as with a rapid pace, to lead his readers. needed no repentance, nor any expiation but And that the holy light shining on the mind by what the law provided. They rested in the cove- the word and life of Christ, and quickening the nant of circumcision and their descent from Abra- heart by his Spirit, might be seconded in its operaham as a sure title to salvation, however their tions by the powers of hope and fear, the twentylives were led; and though they looked for a Mes- fifth chapter of this gospel, which finishes the siah, yet with so little idea of an atonement for legislation of Christ, exhibits him enforcing his sin to be made by his death, that the cross proved precepts, and adding a sanction to his laws, by the the great stumbling-block to them. They ex- most noble and awful description of his future pected him to appear with outward splendour, as appearance in glory, and the gathering of all nathe dispenser of temporal felicity; the chief bless- tions before him to judgment. Matthew then ings of which were to redound to their own nation passes to the history of the Passion, and shows in an earthly Canaan, and in conquest and do- them, that the new covenant, foretold by their prominion over the rest of mankind.*

phets, was a covenant of spiritual, not of temporal 6. A tincture of these delusive notions, which blessings; established in the sufferings and death they had imbibed by education and the doctrine of of Christ, wchose blood reas shed for many, FOR THE their elders, would be apt to remain with too REMISSION OF SINS (Matt. xxvi. 28); which it was many, even after their admission into the church not possible that the blood of bulls and goats of Christ. How necessary, then, was it, that just should take

away.

To
purge

the conscience from principles concerning the way of life and happi- the pollution of dead and sinful works required ness, and the nature and extent of the gospel, the blood of him, who through the eternal Spirit should be infused into the breasts of these sons of offered himself without spot to God. Sion, that they might be able to work out their 8. With the instructions of Christ are intermixed own salvation, and promote that of others ; since many hints, that the kingdom of God would not they were to be the salt of the earth, and the light be confined to the Jews, but that, while numbers of the roorld; the first preachers of righteousness of them were excluded through unbelief, it would to the nations, and the instruments of calling be increased by subjects of other nations. And mankind to the knowledge of the truth.

thus the devout Israelite was taught, in submission 7. Matthew therefore has chosen, out of the to the will and ordinance of heaven, to embrace the materials before him, such parts of our blessed believing Samaritan as a brother, and to welcome

Eviour's history and discourses, as were best suited the admission of the Gentiles into the church, ! to the purpose of awakening them to a sense of which was soon after to commence with the calling

their sins, of abating their self-conceit and over- of Cornelius. And as they suffered persecution weening hopes, of rectifying their errors, correcting from their own nation, and were to expect it elsetheir prejudices, and exalting and purifying their where in following Christ, all that can fortify the minds. After a short account, more particularly mind with neglect of earthly good, and contempt requisite in the first writer of a gospel, of the of worldly danger, when they come in competition genealogy and miraculous birth of Christ, and a with our duty, is strongly inculcated.+ fer circumstances relating to his infancy, he pro- 9. This gospel abounds more than

any

of the ceeds to describe his forerunner, John the Baptist, others with allusions to Jewish customs, and with who preached the necessity of repentance to the terms and phrases of Jewish theology. The style race of Abraham and children of the circumcision, is every where plain and perspicuous--the words and by his testimony prepares us to expect one are arranged in their natural order—the periods mightier than he ; mightier as a prophet in deed are free from obscurity and intricacy—the narand word, and above the sphere of a prophet, rative is well conducted—the discourses, parables, mighty to sanctify by his Spirit, to pardon, reward, and actions of Jesus, are described in an artless, and punish by his sovereignty. Then the spiritual unaffected simplicity, and without any encomiums nature of his kingdom, the pure and perfect laws of the historian ; the reader being left to draw the by which it is administered, and the necessity of proper inference. The genius of his gospel is sital and universal obedience to them, are set worthy an apostle—shows the familiar friend and

companion of the Saviour—and its whole form and

structure evinces its author to have had a perfect * See Justin Martyr's Dial. with Trypho the Jew, p. 153, 156, 164, &c. Ed. "Thirlby. Ball's Harmonia Apostolica: pars posterior, chap. IV., xvi., xvii. Whitby on Matt. iij. 9; Rom, ü. 13; 2 Thess, üi. p. 438.

+ Townson's Works, vol. i. p. 5, &c

N

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »