« PoprzedniaDalej »
natural solution ; because, if the evangelists have given the true meaning of what our Lord said on every occasion, they have expressly delivered what may be called the words of Christ, though the expressions in each Gospel should be different, or, even to appearance, contradictory. A remarkable example of this we have, Mat. x. 9, 10, where Jesus is intro. duced speaking to his apostles thus-Provide neither shoes, nor yet a staff; but in the parallel passage, MARK, vi. 8, which exhibits the repetition of those instructions, he commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only: words in sound contradictory to the former, though in sense perfectly the same. Such of the apostles as had staffs in their hands might take them ; but those who were walking without them were not to provide them ; for, as the promise of God was to supply them with all necessaries, to have made the least preparation for their journey would have implied a disbelief of their Master's promise. In like manner, the words of the voice at Christ's baptism, Mat. iii. 17, This is my be- . loved Son, in whom I am well pleased; though different as to sound from the words, MARK, i. 11, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; yet being the same in sense, they are truly repeated. So likewise are the words of institution in the history of the Lord's Supper, and the words of the title that was affixed to our Lord's cross. It may be remarked, that these principles afford an easy solution of the difficulties which arise upon comparing the citations in the New Testament with the passages of the Old from whence they are taken; for, if the meaning of the passage is truly given, we must allow that the quotation is justly made. Hence, though the words, He shall be called a Nazarene, Mat. j. 23, are not to be found in the writings of the prophets ; yet, as the thing meant by these words frequently occurs in them, the application is made by the evangelist with sufficient propriety,
But farther, it ought to be considered, that our Lord's discourses were all delivered, and his conferences managed, in a language different from that wherein they are handed down to posterity, viz. the Syro-Chaldaic, called the Hebrew tongue. Acts, xxi. 40, because it was a dialect thereof; for which cause, though all the evangelists had remembered the precise words of every person introduced in their histories, when they related them in a different language, they could hardly avoid making use of different expressions. CONCERNING THE FACTS, AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF
FACTS, WHICH THE SACRED WRITERS HAVE MEN. TIONED.
It is certain the sacred historians have recorded nothing but what is strictly true; yet it was not their intention to relate
all the things they might with truth have told. Each of them, indeed, has delivered as much of Christ's doctrine and miracles as is necessary to salvation. Nevertheless, many important sermons and actions are omitted by each ; which if the rest had not preserved, the world must have sustained an unspeakable loss. We have even reason to believe that it is but a small part of our Lord's history which is preserved among them all; for the Evangelist John has said expressly, That there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. John, xxi. 25. The other evangelists affirm the same thing in the summaries which they give of such discourses and miracles as they did not think proper to relate particularly. Thus, Luke, xxiv. 27: And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. See ver. 45. Mar. iv. 23, 24: And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy ; and he healed them. See also Mat. xiv. 35, 36. do. xv. 30. do. xix. 2. John, ii. 23. do. iii. 2.
As the evangelists did not intend to relate all the sermons and actions of Christ, so it was not their purpose to mention every circumstance of those they undertook to relate. Each evangelist made his own choice. This circumstance is mentioned by one, and that by another, as they judged most proper. If so, we must by no means urge omissions, whether of facts, or circumstances of facts, in such a manner as to fancy that the authors rejected all the things they have omitted, or even that they were ignorant of them. From the summaries above mentioned, it is plain they have passed over many particulars which they were well acquainted with; besides, the things omitted are sometimes implied in the form of their narration itself. But had the evangelists, in those instances, formed their accounts so as not to have implied the particulars they have omitted, which they might easily have done,, we should have been mistaken if for that reason we had imagined they were ignorant of them. Wherefore we may be mistaken if, in other instances, we should think they were ignorant of every thing they have not mentioned or hinted.
The sacred historians have sometimes omitted things of importance, while they have taken notice of particulars which, to appearance, are not so material. Thus (MARK, xiv. 51)
the cure which our Lord performed on the High Priest's servant, whose ear Peter cut off, is omitted ; while the young man, who followed him with a linen cloth cast round his naked body, is mentioned. The evangelists relate every thing as it occurred to their minds, without making choice of those particulars only which might have prejudiced their readers in favour of their Master, or led them to form a high idea of him ; which is evidently the character of people who have no distrust of their cause, but who tell the truth as it presented itself, without artifice or disguise.
THE FOLLOWING ARE EXAMPLES OF REFERENCES TO · PARTICULARS OMITTED BY THE EVANGELIST WHO MAKES THE REFERENCE, AND BY ALL THE REST.
MAT. xi. 22: Chorazin is mentioned by our Lord as having been the scene of miracles, which would have converted Tyre and Sidon from their idolatry. Yet none of the evangelists speak so much as of one miracle wrought there : they do not even say that Jesus was ever in that town. John, iv. 42: The inhabitants of Sychar, with whom Jesus tarried two days, say, We have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. These words imply that our Lord had preached much during the two days he stayed in Sychar, though none of the sermons which he then delivered are recorded. do. ii. 3: At the marriage in Cana the mother of Jesus told him of the wine having run short, to hint that it would be very acceptable if he would provide some. It seems she had formed a just notion of his miraculous power; and, though he declined her request, she ordered the servants to do whatever he should bid them. We may therefore believe that afterwards, by some sign or other, or by something he said to her which is not recorded, he gave her reason to think be would do what she desired. do. xi. 41, 42: Before Lazarus was raised Jesus thanked the Father that he had heard him ; which implieth that he prayed for Lazarus’s resurrection in the hearing of the by-standers, for he declares that he had for their sakes; yet John has not mentioned this circumstance. do. 49, 50 : Caiaphas makes a speech in the council; the propriety of which cannot be understood but on supposition that some of the members present had been opposing the resolution which the rest were forming, namely, to destroy Jesus, however innocent he might be. Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. do. xx. 19, 26: We are told that Jesus came at two different times after his resurrection, and stood in the midst of his disciples, notwithstanding the doors had been fast shut, for fear of the
prayed Jews; the circumstance of his having drawn the bolts with his miraculous power being omitted by the historian, as is plain from a similar instance, recorded Acts, v. 23, where the officers sent to fetch the apostles out of prison make the following report to the council :- The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors : but when we had opened, we found no man within. From the circumstance of the doors being shut, and the officers opening them, no one imagines that the angel, in bringing the apostles out, made them pass through the prison doors. The reason is, Luke, in the preceding part of his narration, says expressly that the angel opened them. Neither does any reader fancy that he did not shut them again, though the sacred writer does not mention it; for the officers reported that they found them shut. But had Luke, in the former part of his narration, happened to omit the circumstance of the angel's opening the prison doors, as he does of his shutting them, to have inferred, from their being found shut by the officers, that the angel carried the apostles through them without opening them, would have been absurd. THE FOLLOWING ARE EXAMPLES OF REFERENCES TO
THINGS OMITTED BY THE EVANGELIST WHO MAKES THE REFERERCE, BUT WHICH ARE RECORDED BY SOME OF THE REST.
John, xviii. 15: We are told that the disciple who was known to the High Priest's family went into the palace with Jesus; yet in the preceding part of the history there is no mention made of Christ's being carried thither. It is only said that they led him away to Annas, who was father-in-law to Caiaphas the High Priest.
We must therefore suppose that the soldiers, with Judas at their head, carried him to Caiaphas, after Annas had dismissed him. This circumstance is mentioned by the other historians. The Evangelist John, in the thirteenth chapter of his Gospel, relates our Lord's transactions at the Passover, which he ate with his disciples immediately before his passion, but does not tell us directly that supper was the Passover. Nevertheless, by comparing his account with those which the other evangelists have given of this affair, it evidently appears to have been the Passover. Besides, we cannot rightly understand the particulars whiclı John himself has mentioned, without making this supposition. In the history which John gives of our Lord's trial before the Roman governor, he tells us, chap. xviii. ver. 33, that Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? The priests, it seems, in the charge which they brought against Jesus, informed the governor that he had called himself King of the Jews; yet, in the preceding part of his history, the evangelist does not mention this circumstance. It is supplied, indeed, by Luke, who tells us, chap. xxiii. ver, 2, that they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. Luke, xxiv. 2, speaking of the journey of the women who carried the spices to the sepulchre on the morning of the first day of the week, tells us, that they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre ; yet, in the history which he has given of our Lord's burial, he does not mention any stone that was laid to secure the entrance. This circumstance is sup. plied by Matthew, who informs us, chap. xxvii. ver. 60, that after Joseph had laid our Lord's body in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock, he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
As these instances prove that the evangelists were acquainted with particulars of our Lord's history which they did not think proper to mention directly, it is reasonable to think that they omitted many things with design : wherefore we need not be surprised, if, on comparing their histories, we meet with large periods of Christ's life entirely passed over in silence, or which are touched upon but very slightly, while other periods appear exceedingly crowded with actions and discourses. The whole of our Lord's public life was full of action, being spent in doing good to the bodies and souls of men, though the history exhibits but a few of the particulars. Had we a journal of his life, such as they were wont to keep in the palaces of the eastern monarchs, what an astonishing multitude and variety of sermons, sayings, precepts, admonitions, parables, miracles, and other particulars, all worthy to be recorded, read, considered, and kept in remembrance, would present themselves to our view, which are now buried in oblivion! The Apostle Paul has preserved one memorable saying of our Lord, which none of the evangelists have mentioned, though it must have been a favourite saying, and often repeated :-Acts, xx. 35: I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. The same apostle has mentioned two appearances of Christ after his resurrection, which are likewise omitted by the evangelists, namely, the appearance to Peter first, then to James. 1 Cor. xv. 5, 7. EXAMPLES OF DOCTRINES, PARABLES, AND PRECEPTS,
REPEATED BY OUR LORD IN THE COURSE OF HIS MINISTRY The parable of salt is delivered, Mat. v. 13; it is repeated, MARK, ix. 50; it is made use of a third time, LUKE, XIV. 34.