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each Gospel bears the internal marks of adaptation to a specific period and purpose, in reference to which it is complete and sufficient. For, though it may be objectionable to consider the
final end of any of the Gospels as purely temporary, and to account for its structure upon that ground,” it is perfectly allowable and rational to regard the primary purpose as related to the circumstances and object of the writer, and to account for its structure by its adaptation to that immediate design. Mr. Greswell does not, he says, 'deny that each of the Gospels must have sufficed for its proper purpose.'
· But if in this position it is implied, that the proper purpose of any one of the Gospels was, to be complete and sufficient independ. ently of the rest, it assumes the point at issue: for this proper purpose may have been just the reverse, to be complete along with the rest, and not to be independent of them, but to presuppose them. And either of these cases, à priori, was just as possible as the other. No one could undertake to say for what particular use and purpose any one of the Gospels was written, unless this use and purpose had been previously declared by the Gospel itself; which is actually true of St. Luke's Gospel only, and even virtually, of none but St. John's besides. p. 55.
Here the learned Writer has, we think, suffered his eagerness to establish the main hypothesis, to betray him into rash and inconsequential assertion. It is surely quite possible to determine, if not with certainty, yet with high probability, from internal evidence, the use and purpose for which each Gospel was primarily intended; so as to judge of its completeness and sufficiency for that purpose, and to account for its structure on that ground. There would be no presumption in undertaking to explain and illustrate that primary purpose. Nevertheless, as the Author afterwards contends, though a particular Gospel might be writ
ten for a particular purpose, this would not invalidate the pos‘sible truth of its supplementary relation to others ’; (the first excepted ;) nor would it prove that the instruction of a con
temporary, and the perpetual benefit of future ages, might not * both be consulted in the same provision. But the specific purpose of the Writer is one thing; and the design of Divine Providence in overruling the specific purpose of each writer for a common final end, is another thing. We might as well suppose that St. Paul, in writing his first Epistle to the Corinthians, did not immediately consult the benefit of the Church of Corinth, but constructed his letter with the express design, that that Epistle might, together with the second and the other canonical epistles, written or to be written, form a complete provision for the necessities of the Church in all ages: we might as rationally suppose this, as that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel, not immediately for the benefit of the Christian believers in Palestine, but
to meet the necessities of the Church in later ages; conscious that it would be insuficient or incomplete without supplements from other hands. The Author's reasoning implies this absurdity; and yet, his argument does not require it. Absolute completeness does not attach to either of the Gospels, nor to all four collectively. The relative completeness of each, can be judged of only in reference to its specific purpose. If that purpose had a supplemental relation to a prior document, then its completeness must be judged of in connexion with that previously incomplete history. But, though not complete, each might be sufficient for its particular purpose, and perfectly adapted to that purpose ; while the concurrent accounts, mutually illustrative and in a sense supplemental, are sufficient for the common and final end for which the Holy Spirit overruled the immediate purpose of the sacred writers.
That St. Mark should not have seen St. Matthew's Gospel, is so utterly incredible, that we are surprised how such a notion should have been seriously maintained. Having seen it, it is equally incredible that he should not have consulted it. And that he should have done so, and made use of it, is surely a more natural supposition, and not less compatible with the credibility, independence, and inspiration of St. Mark, than that Matthew, Mark, and Luke drew their materials, independently and without concert, from an imaginary 7WTEVQyzénov, or from floating, unarranged, unauthoritative documents. Upon this point, Mr. Greswell's observations are, we think, quite conclusive.
• It is considered as no objection to the credibility of St. John, even when he goes along with the first three Gospels, that he had seen and was acquainted with them; and I would inquire of those who feel any alarm on this score, whether, if they knew that St. Mark had repeatedly heard or conversed with St. Matthew, they would think him, on that account, less competent to write a Gospel. Instead of this, they must say he would be more so. I would inquire again, then, what difference there could be between hearing and conversing with St. Matthew, and reading his work? Would not the one be as good and as authentic a source of information as the other? Is the credi. bility of St. Mark increased, the more of the original eye-witnesses and ear-witnesses of the Gospel he had personally seen and heard ? Is it all at once impaired, if he had perused a Gospel by any of them? The truth is, unless every one of the first three Gospels was composed at the same time and in different places, it would be a moral impossibility, that St. Matthew's Gospel could actually have been in existence before St. Mark wrote his, and yet not be known to him ; and equally so, that, if known to him before he wrote his own, it could have been deliberately disregarded by him when he was writing it. The same impossibility will hold good of St. Luke; so that, except on the supposition before mentioned, we could not, however much we might consider it necessary, keep a later Evangelist in ignorance of
the existence of a prior. But, in fact, the whole basis of this imaginary danger is overthrown by the supplementary relation of the later Gospels: it is peculiar to that relation, both to imply the existence of prior, and yet to derive no authority from them.' Vol. I. p. 62.
The preface to St. Luke's Gospel refers to a plurality of narratives, the composition of persons who had derived their information from the original witnesses and ministers of the Gospel: expressions which clearly exclude the apostolic Gospels. Yet, had St. Matthew's been a regular and orderly history, (to say nothing of St. Mark's,) it would create a difficulty, that St. Luke should nevertheless have deemed it necessary to furnish a new and more accurate narrative, and that he should have taken no direct notice of the existence of such an authentic document. The proof from internal evidence, that St. Luke was acquainted with the first Gospel, is, we must think, by no means so strong as that St. Mark consulted and followed it. Still, St. Luke's very acquaintance with the various apocryphal or unauthoritative histories, renders it in the highest degree improbable that he should not have seen the only true proto-evangelion, the Gospel of St. Matthew. But so little that is directly historical is contained in that Gospel, or even in St. Mark's, that St. Luke might well consider himself as entering upon ground totally unoccupied by the prior Evangelists. St. Luke is the only historian of the New Testament. His Gospel may be said to contain supplemental information, as his second book, the Acts, may be regarded as supplemental to St. Paul's Epistles ; but its character is not that of a supplemental document. It is not, like St. Mark's, merely a new edition, as it were, of the first Gospel, more orderly, circumstantial, and complete, and adapted to Gentile converts, but, a work of a different kind, independent and original, and comprising facts and dates with which the other Evangelists do not concern themselves. That he repeats so little of what St. Matthew has recorded; that he seems even to avoid copying him; that he gives a different genealogy of Our Lord; that he introduces few parables but such as St. Matthew had omitted ;—all tend to prove that he was well acquainted with St. Matthew's Gospel, and that he had no thought of superseding it, while they shew that he drew his information from independent sources. In point of chronology, , St. Luke's must of necessity form the basis of a Gospel history. To suppose him to have neglected order in the narration of events, is to discredit his own pretensions, and to impeach his credibility. No other Evangelist makes similar claims to historical accuracy. But the order of events, and the order of matter, are not the same thing. The most accurate historian may introduce anecdotes, without regard to the particular date and place; and the structure of all the Gospels, Mr. Greswell tells us, is 'anecdotal.' And we know of no law of historical writing, which requires the strict
observance of chronological series in introducing specimens of the sayings and discourses of the subject of the memoir. While, therefore, we should rely upon the historical precision of this Evangelist in the detail and order of facts, we should deem it far more safe for the Harmonist generally to adhere to St. Matthew in the arrangement of Our Lord's sayings and discourses, with the precise occasion, date, and scene of which, immaterial to a history,) an eye-witness only could be perfectly and accurately acquainted. And if, in giving these, St. Matthew has not adhered to chronological order, but has brought together such minor and illustrative occurrences, or sayings, as were distinct and separate in point of time, 'out of deference to certain principles • of association,' we may safely infer, that the time and order in which they occurred, are of no absolute importance. In fact, the connexion of subject which suggested them to the Evangelist, may be far more important than the connexion of time and place; and there is no small danger lest, in transpositions intended to harmonize the chronological order, violence should be done to the intention of the inspired Writer and to the general scope of the passage. Flagrant instances of this kind might be adduced from most of our Harmonies; and few indeed are the transpositions which do not involve injury to the context. How far Mr. Greswell has steered clear of this species of violence to the sacred text, we shall see hereafter. We shall for the present take leave of the subject, by exhibiting in a tabular view, the results, in part of Mr. Greswell's researches, in part of our own Biblical studies, as to the distinctive characteristics of the Four Gospels.
GOSPEL. Written about A.D. 42.
ST. MARK'S GOSPEL.
ST. LUKE'S GOSPEL.
St. Journ's GOSPEL. Written about A.D. 97.
In Palestine, for the At Rome (or Alexan Place uncertain : pro At Ephesus. The use of Jewish believers. dria), for the use of bably Achaia. The Apostle, a Galilean Jew, Originally in Syro-Chal foreign Jews and Gen Writer a Gentile, the the disciple whom Jedee. Translated, protile converts. The Companion of St. Paul; sus loved.
Written for bably, by Mark (or Writer a native Jew, supposed to have been the Church Catholic. James), about A.D. 54. intimately acquainted a native of Antioch, by Style of Transl. He with the topography profession a physician. braistic Greek; closely and idioms of Pales Style, the purest Style, Hebraistic resembling St. Mark's.
tine. Style, a Hebrais Greek of the sacred Greek, but more fluent tic Greek.
Writers; copious and and facile than that of flowing.
Mark. Purpose and scope. -To give a brief out -To give an authentic --To prove that Jesus To establish the legal line of the leading facts and orderly relation of is the Son of God, that genealogy of Our Lord and characteristic fea
the facts believed believers may have life as the Heir of David; tures of OL' Lord's among Christians; com through his name: in to vindicate from Jew.
public ministry in Gali mercing with the pa confutation of Gnostic ish cavils the circuin. lee; omitting such al rentage and birth of heresies. To furnish stances of his birth and lusions and passages
Our Lord's forerunner; additional particulars of despised condition ;-to would exclusively and carrying on the his Our Lord's public teachshew the entire corre interest the Jews, and torical account with ing and more private spondence of every part adding explanatory chronological exactness intercourse with his disof his character, conphrases and circum. to the Ascension.
ciples; and to illustrate duct, circumstances, stances for the inform
the events recorded by and sufferings, to the ation of Gentile Chris
the other Evangelists. predictions of the Jew. tians. The miracles of
To portray the moral ish Scriptures ;-to ex Our Lord are more pro
glory of the Saviour's hibit specimens of his minently adduced, than
character. "Priores illi preaching and doctrine; his character as a teach
corpus in medium profein a word, to estab er, and the correspond
runt ; Johannes vcro anilish his Divine autho ence between the facts
mum.' rity as greater than and the predictions. Moses, and the evi. dence of
his being Messiah. Characteristics : Ex Conciseness and exact.
Perspicuity and patreme conciseness in ness, yet more circum,
and exactness in the re
thos of style. Biogranoticing facts. Fre stantial and specific in
cord of events. More phical minuteness. Sup. quent appeal to Old many parts of the nar of artificial order and plemental character of Testament prophecies rative than St. Mat
classification of subject.
ihe narrative. Copious and precedents. The thew, More exact ar Specification of circum specimens of Our Lord's fullest report of Our rangement of facts. stances of general and argumentative
disLord's discourses. Omission of the dis- political interest. Sup courses. Constant re
courses. Frequent La- plemental relations. ference to his character tinisms.
as the Son of God. Contents : Genealogy Precursive ministry
re Proëm, testifying the of Jesus. Miraculous of John. Baptisın of lating to the birth of pre-existence and deity birth. Visit of the Our Lord. Public mi John the Baptist. The
of the Word who was Magi. Massacre at nistry of Christ in Ga Annunciation. The
inade flesh. Confession Bethlehem. Flight in lilee' from the impri- Nativity. The Cir and testimony of John to Egypt. Public ap sonment of
John. cumcision. Early life
the Baptist. Transacpearance of the Fore Events of the Passion of Our Lord. Date of tions which intervened runner. Baptism and week. The Crucifixion. John's ministry; his
between the Temptaprobationary tempta Resurrection. Mani- preaching, testimony
tion and Our Lord's tion of our Lord. His festation. Ascension. to Christ, and impri public ministry on the Public Ministry from
sonment. Baptism of imprisonment of John. the time of his return
Our Lord; his age at
Visit to Jerusalcin and to Galilee after the im
the commencement of
discourse with the Jews prisonment of John,
there. Discourse occaat which time this Evan
descent from David by sioned by the miracle of gelist's acquaintance
his mother. Tempta
the loaves at Caperwith the Lord com
tion. Public ministry naum. Second visit to menced. Betrayal,
of Our Lord in Galilee,
Jerusalem ; discourses Trial, and Crucifixion
and in Judea. Trans and miracles there. of Jesus. Resurrection,
at Jerusalem Third visit, to raise and public appearance
during the Passion Lazarus. Final return in Galilee.
week. Particulars of to Jerusalem. Valethe Crucifixion, Resur. dictory discourse with rection, Manifestation,
disciples. Last and Ascension.
Prayer. Trial. Cruci. fixion. Resurrection. Manifestations.
(To be continued.)