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as they occurred, may certainly be admitted; or rather, it should be admitted, for it seems to be quite probable that lie did. Having been present as an eye and ear-witness, nothing would be easier than for him to present the great outlines of facts a's they originally succeeded each other. Yet even he, in some cases where he evidently groups things of a like kind, did not think it at all important to be bound in chronological chains. He has narrated in a free, and also in a natural, manner.
As to Luke and Mark, I suppose it will not be now contended that either of them were eye or ear-witnesses. Their condition, then, was evidently different from that of Matthew, to whom a clue had naturally been given by the circumstances in which he had been placed. They had heard a multitude of accounts respecting the life and actions of the Saviour, many more, no doubt, than those which they have recorded; out of these they were to choose ; and unless chronological order bad been before their ininds as an important circumstance, one could not expect they would be solicitious to preserve it in respect to minute circumstances. Nothing depended on it, in regard to the objects which they laboured to accomplish. They differ, therefore, as we might naturally suppose, not only from Matthew in some respects, as to the order of events, but also from each other. (See Mr. Norton's Addenda, p. cxii. in the Note at the bottom.)
I would appeal now to the candour of every considerate reader, and ask him, whether, in such a case as that before us, where it would have been easy for each writer, had he deemed it to be of any importance to his design, to make such inquiries as would produce the same order in all-whether it does not lie upon the very face of the compositions before us, that particular and minute chronological order was not at all a matter of design?
If this be conceded, then I would ask, whether the alleged mistakes, or contradictions, or misarrangements, of the writers in question, in regard to the point before us, can properly be spoken of as being plain and certain ? If a writer bas placed events out of the actual order in which they occurred, and for purposes satisfactory to his own mind; and if, at the same time, he made it no object to follow chronological order; where is his mistake in this matter? What seems now to be plain is, that the Evangelists had not the matter of chronology in their eye, in any other manner than the general one stated above; and that even Matthew bimself, who has adhered more closely to it than the others, did so simply on the ground that his circumstances more naturally led him to do so, and not because it was a matter of special design on his part.
Mr. Norton has gone into a long disquisition in relation to some of the narrations of Luke, which he deems to be “misplaced,” and to be deprived of more or less of their appropriate meaning by this circumstance. It would occupy too much room here to follow him through these remarks. While they shew that he has vigorously applied his mind to the subjects discussed, many of his exegetical remarks will not, so far as I am able to judge, give satisfaction to some of his exegetical readers. I must regard most of this discussion as unnecessary, because my views on the subject of chronological arrangement are so widely different, as it would seem, from those which he entertains.
Note E. is a long and able one, on the question, whether Justin Martyr has actually quoted our canonical Gospel ? a subject already discussed at some length in the text of his book, but here more particularly and minutely examined. Mr. Norton gives us many specimens here of Justin's quotations, with a comparison of the Gospels from which he quotes; also of his quotations from the Septuagint ; of his repeated quotations of the same passages in the Gospels; and of coincidences between him and the Greek text of Matthew, where Matthew deviates in his quotations from the Septuagint. To these the author has added remarks on the mode of quoting Scripture generally among the ancient Fathers of the church ; and finally he has examined the new hypothesis of Credner, viz., that Justin used the Gospel of Peter as the source of his quotations. The objections which he makes to Credner's views are certainly of much weight; nor can I deem it possible, that Credner should render the main propositions comprised in his theory probable to the mind of any impartial critic well versed in the literature and criticisin of the early ages of Christianity.
Mr. Norton will not complain that his book has been treated with neglect, and brought before the public as worth only a passing and hasty notice. He will rather complain, I fear, that I have almost interfered with bis rights as an author, in extracting so largely from it. But I can assure the reader of this review, that Mr. Norton's book contains a great many passages which are excellent, that I have not thought proper to copy;
and there are very cogent reasons, therefore, why he should procure and read the whole book.
Mr. Norton will also perceive, that widely as I suppose myself to differ from him in regard to some points of theology, and perhaps even of criticism, but certainly of exegesis, yet i am not disposed in any measure to underrate bis efforts on the common ground in which we are agreed. He has achieved a service which was very important in the present state of criticism and of skepticism.
As I have but a very moderate appetite for heresy-hunting, so I have not endeavoured to record every expression in Mr. Norton's book, which indicates a mode of thinking different from that which is generally called, and which I believe to be, orthodox. I fear that Mr. Norton rejects altogether the idea of inspiration in respect to the Gospels. I hope it is not so ; but he sometimes speaks in such a way, that the belief of this is forced upon me.
He tells us of things “erroneously referred by Mark';” that “ Luke coufounded the discourse;" that he “ did not sufficiently discriminate” certain things; that he
misplaced” the words of John on a certain occasion ; that he “misplaced” another discourse of the Saviour ; that he “misapprehended” his meaning on another occasion; that Lokei. ij. has a
“fabulous hue,” and that “fiction and miracle are blended” there. On p. clxx. he gives an account, in a Note, of the manner in which Paul became informed of the truths of Christianity, in which he does not even advert to the fact repeatedly asserted by Paul, that the Saviour had appeared to him and had instructed him, and that on this very ground no apostle could claim a precedence over him. From a few things of this nature in the work before us, I am reluctantly obliged to believe, that the author does not admit the idea of inspiration in respect to the Gospels. He evidently views them as credible books, and worthy of all acceptation ; with the exception of some few passages which he deems to be spurious, but which I shall not particularize, since they have already been noted in the preceeding pages.
It is a matter of sincere regret to me, that such passages as the above should be found in a work the tone and temper of which, at large, are truly worthy of imitation. The author seems to have set out with the full design not to give unnecessary offence to any class of his readers, and to present to the public a specimen of writing similar in its tone and manner to that of Lardner. He should have full credit for this. And if now and then he has expressed himself without a recollection of this his general design, it would be foolish in the reader to reject the mass of good there is in the book, because of the few things of this kind which he may deem to be blemishes. I indulge the hope, that when this book comes to a second edition, (and if it meet its just deserts it certainly will), the author will sacrifice even the few remnants of his peculiar theology, which now and then gleam upon us, to the hope and prospect of the greater good which may be evidently achieved by his book in case they are omitted. To his own individual sentiments he of course must have a right, which none but bis Maker can lawfully call in question. But it is not necessary that he should insist on the declaration of them in this valuable book, and especially it is unnecessary to declare them on a point, where, if he believes as I fear he does, the conviction that the Gospels are genuine would add little or nothing to the obligation which the world at large would feel, to admit them as their Lex Suprema in all cases of moral action.
should decline the task, if it were in any way assigned to me, of undertaking to shew, that minds of a certain cast might or might not truly and sincerely believe in the Gospels, and receive them as the rule of faith and practice, although they rejected the idea that these Gospels were composed by writers under the influence of divine inspiration. I suppose it might be rendered probable to an enlightened mind, that the actual admission of the essential truths of the Gospel, as a rule of faith and practice, would belong to the substance of faith ; a belief as to the manner in which the books had originated which presented these truths, would certainly be only a secondary ingredient in faith, when placed at its bighest just estimation. Mr. Norton may say, perhaps, and it seems probable to me that he would say, that he admits the first, while he doubts about the last. But still, with all the respect that I cheerfully accord to the serious manner in which he presents and views the Gospels, I cannot help entertaining the most serious doubts, whether general skepticism, or rather practical infidelity, would not at last be the result of inculcating principles such as he holds, in regard to the authority, or rather I should say, perhaps, the origin of our sacred books. I do not take upon myself to determine, how minds like Mr. Norton's might decide respecting the authority of the Gospels, when they had been trained and .chastened in the school of moral philosophy and in all the discipline of a theological school ; but it is unnecessary to decide this, because the proportion of men in our community who are ibus trained is so small. One thing, however, we may safely aver, viz., that any mere conviction of the genuineness of the gospels—any mere intellectual admission that they are correct and credible accounts of the life and doctrines of the Saviourcan and will never move the mass of men to yield to their authority. Does not Mr. Norton see, that this last point is so necessary, that all the rest being gained, nothing important is gained unless this follow as a sequent to the others ? But taking men as they are, with all that worldly spirit and all those desires of carnal indulgence which they possess and which they are for the most part heartily set upon gratifying, is there (humanly speaking) any chance to make real practical converts to Christianity, when the Scriptures are divested of divine authority, and made to extend no further than fallible human authority can go ? The hope of converting a sinful world on such grounds, does appear to me absolutely desperate. Without undertaking positively to decide, what a few minds trained like that of Mr. Norton might possibly admit, and how they might be influenced, can I hesitate to believe, that when the divine authority of the Gospels is given up, all is given up which gives them (if I may so speak) any chance of success in a world like this?
Mr. Norton needs not to be informed, that theoretical believers are not such as the apostle James thinks ought to be ranked among Christians, whose faith is well-anchored. Important as his own book is, therefore, (and he must see that I deem it to be a performance of great merit in many respects, and deserving of very general attention), yet the community might go where his performance would carry them, and not be any thing more than theoretical believers. What is the next and the ultimate appeal then? Mr. Norton does not even pretend to be an authority. And if his readers should lay down his book, with a conviction that his positions are well sustained, and still be inclined to ask, as many of them doubtless will ask : Why am I obliged to receive the gospels as my rule of faith and practice? what other answer can be given on Mr. Norton's ground, than that they have the honest opinion of fallible men respecting the life and doctrines of Jesus Christ, and therefore they ought to adopt it? If now such readers should rejoin