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THE NATURAL ORDER OF EACH IS PRESERVED.
PARAPHRASE AND NOTES.
BY JAMES MACKNIGHT, D.D.
That thou nightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been
PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, AND ORME, PATERNOSTER-ROW :
P R E F A C E
HE following Harmony proceeds upon the supposition that
the evangelists have not neglected the order of time in their gospels, but have generally related every thing according to the true series of the history. The reasons which support this hypothesis are : That we find the sacred writers often affirming the order of their own narrations; that to transpose them in any instance where they have aflirmed their order, would manifestly injure their authority; that in comparing their gospels, the best method of producing a perfect Harmony, is to preserve the thread of their several narrations entire, because seeming contradictions will thus be removed, the whole will be rendered consistent, the credit of the evangelists as historians will be the better secured, and our faith built upon the most solid foundation. The truth is, the advantages arising from this scheme are so many, that all Christians must wish to see it established. That it is not the common method of harmonising the gospels, ought to prejudice no reader against it, seeing it has been espoused by several eminent writers. And though their scheme has been generally neglected, it was not owing so much to any defect in its evidences, as to their having omitted to propose them. The chief argument urged in behalf of transposing many facts contained in the gospel history is, that they have been judged by most people the same, because they resemble one another : and that being told in a different order by the several Evangelists, the series and connection of their narrations must be broken, thạt their accounts may be brought to agree in point of time. Nevertheless, when it is considered that one transaction may be like another without being the same, there will not appear much strength in this argument. Besides, all interpreters acknowledge that there are some particulars in the gospels, which, though like to one ano
ther, are undoubtedly different ; and therefore, in other instances not yet acknowledged, a similarity may subsist where there is no
This position I think cannot be disputed. Yet as it is one principal foundation of what is here proposed as the true Harmony of the Gospels, it merits an ample illustration. Accordingly care has been taken to explain and confirm it by a large induction of particulars, which the reader will find ranged under the fourth Preliminary Observation.
In this Harmony the order of all the Gospels is inviolably preserved, three passages excepted, wherein the sacred writers have told a few facts out of their order ; a liberty which the most accurate historians do not scruple to take on certain occasions. As often as the Gospels treat of the same subject, the whole text of each is given without the alteration of a word; only to every particular sentence, as well as to every particular transaction, is assigned what was judged its proper place with relation to the rest; and where the same thought is expressed by more than one writer, the parallel expressions are set down one after another, in such a manner that they can be compared with
Whatever is peculiar in the account which any Evangelist has given of a matter handled by the rest, is sufficiently distinguished. The several texts, though blended together, are all along kept perfectly distinct ; and being marked with the historian's name to whom they belong, together with the number of the chapter and verse, the scattered members of each may be joined with such ease and readiness, that no stop needs be made in reading any particular Evangelist whose account the reader chuses to consider separately. (See the Explanation prefixed to the Harmony.) By this disposition, which, as far as the autbor knows, is entirely new, the order of each Gospel is secured, except in the instances mentioned, the several texts are joined together, according to what is judged the true series of the history, the parallel expressions are pointed out with a most minute exactness, and often mutually throw light on each other. At the same time, the force which every expression derives from its own context clearly appears, because it can be read in connection, which must both afford pleasure, and be of great use to those who would study the Gospels with accuracy. In short, the comparison of the Gospels effected by this disposition of the texts is
so complete, that it is to be hoped the advantages arising from it, will of themselves recommend the Work to the attention of the Public.
It is true, the compound text in the following Harmony has not the form of a continued narration, which some may defect, considering that the composers of Harmonies have generally studied a continued narration as the perfection of their work. But the reader must be sensible, that in every case where more than one Evangelist has mentioned the same things, the words of none of them but one can be set down on such a plan ; and these too must often be very much changed in order to their being aptly connected. Properly speaking, therefore, a work of that kind is rather a history compiled from the Gospels than a Harmony, notwithstanding the words of the inspired writers may for the most part be made use of. However, the present Harmony can easily bear the want of a continued narration, as there is a Paraphrase subjoined, the sections of which correspond to the sections of the Harmony, and exhibit a particular account of the matters contained in them. And because these accounts are drawn from the Evangelists jointly, circumstances tending to reconcile them are suggested, where any seeming difference found in their accounts rendered it necessary. In the Paraphrase likewise, the connexion and beauty of particular passages are often pointed out, together with the moral reflections which they afford. And being designed for the illustration of the sacred texts, as well as to give a connected view of our Lord's actions, the words explained are generally introduced in different characters, that the reader may be the better able to examine the propriety of the explications given. There is also a Commentary, wherein the opinions of different interpreters upon the difficult passages are proposed and examined, and the senses offered in the Paraphrase supported, sometimes by critical observations on the words of the text, sometimes by reasonings from the context. Yet the Harmony of the Gospels being the principal thing intended, the notes are often employed in settling the order of the history, and in reconciling the differences occurring in the accounts which iho Evangelists have given of our Lord's transactions.
In all these branches the author has endeavoured to render his Work accurate. Nevertheless, in so large a field, it is not possi