Obrazy na stronie

On this ground he enquires, whether the gospels, compared with each other, bear any relative marks of the order, in which they were published. And they appear, he thinks, to have many fuch, especially if the following propofitions are juft.


1. The gofpel, by which the expreflions of another gofpel are explained, and rendered either clearer in themselves, or to the converted gentiles, was the later gofpel.


2. The gospel, in which the doctrine taught in another is adapted to a more enlarged state of the church, was the later gofpel.


3. A gofpel published among the gentiles, was later than that, which was published among the Jews.'

As a corollary to his obfervations on these heads, he adds, that a gospel defigned to be of the most extensive benefit to the people of the Jews, muft have been written in a language which was moft generally understood by them. If therefore it was published in Hebrew, as the fathers teftify, for the fake of the common people of Jerufalem and Judea, it must, at the fame time, or very foon afterwards, have been published alfo in Greek; as that was more familiar than Hebrew to a great body of the dispersion.

In the fourth difcourfe he proceeds, in his manner, to evince the priority of St. Matthew, compared with St. Mark.

• Matth. iii. 6. Were baptifed of him in Jordan.

• Mar. i. 5. Were baptifed of him in THE RIVER of Jordan. The addition of the word RIVER in St. Mark may feem a flight circumftance, on which to found an argument; and yet I think it affords a ftrong probability, that St. Mark wrote at a distance from Judea, and not so near it as Egypt: for I much question whether this is not the only place, either in the Bible or Apocrypha, where this river is called any more than fimply Jordan. So famous was it in Paleftine, and the countries round, and among these in Egypt. But at Rome it was a name little known, except among the learned, till after the wars of Titus Vefpafian, and the trophies erected on the conquest of Judea. And fince to be baptized in Jordan, like St. John's expreffion, John alfo was baptizing in Enon, does not of itfelf determine, whether a river or a place were intended, one would be apt to fufpect, that a queftion of this kind had been afked, and gave occafion to the inferting of the word river. Elfe it was extreme. ly natural for St. Mark to speak of Jordan, as all the other fa

cred writers have done.


Matth. ix. 14. Then came the difciples of john faying, Why do we and the Pharifees faft oft, but thy difciples faft not?


Mark ii. 18, AND THE DISCIPLES OF JOHN AND OF THE PHARISEES USED TO FAST. And they come to him and say unto

[ocr errors]

bim, Why do the difciples of John and of the Pharifees faft, but thy difciples faft not.

Here a little explanation is premifed, but the next inftance. is more striking.

• Matth. xv. 1, 2. Then came to JESUS Scribes and Pharifees which were of Jerufalem, faying, Why do tby difciples tranfgrefs the tradition of the elders.

• Mark vii. 1—5. Then came together unto him the Pharifees and certain of the Scribes which came from Jerufalem. And when they faw fome of his difciples eat with defiled (THAT IS TO SAY, WITH UNWASHEN) bands, they found fault, FOR THE PHARISEES AND ALL THE JEWS, EXCEPT THEY WASH THEIR HANDS OFT, EAT NOT, HOLDING THE TRADITION OF THE ELDERS. AND WHEN THEY COME FROM THE MARKET, EXCEPT THEY WASH THEY EAT NOT. AND MANY OTHER THINGS THERE BE, WHICH THEY HAVE RECEIVED TO HOLD, AS THE WASHING OF CUPS AND POTS, AND OF BRAZEN

VESSELS AND TABLES. Then the Pharifees and Scribes afkėd bim, Why walk not thy difciples according to the tradition of the elders?

St. Mark's narration goes hand in hand with St. Matthew's for a good way together, both in the preceding and fubfequent parts; except that he has inferted this note for the fake of those who were strangers to Jewish cuftoms; of which there is no fuch explication in all St. Matthew's gofpel, because they for whom he compofed it did not want any.

We meet with another little note concerning Judea in the xi. chapter of St. Mark, v. 13. where giving an account of the barren fig-tree he fays, For the time of figs was not yet. St. Matthew does not make this obfervation, as every one who lived in that country muft know, that the full season of ripe figs was not till fome time after the latest paffover. Compare Matth. xxi. 19.

Matth. xv. 22. And behold a CANAANITISH woman came out of the fame coafts, and cried unto him.

Mark vii. 26. The woman was a GREEK a SYRO-PHOENICIAN by nation, and fhe befought him.

Phoenicia was part of ancient Canaan; but the latter name was grown into difufe. It is mentioned no where in the New Teftament, except here, and Acts vii. 11. xiii. 19. where St. Stephen and St. Paul fpeak of remote antiquity, and speak of it to a Jewish audience. Jofephus ufes it only with regard to the higher ages. St. Mark therefore explains Canaantish by Syro-Phoenician, which was more generally understood. By faying, that, the woman was a Greek, he means that she was not of the Jewish religion.

As the term Canaanite was become obfolete, may we not conclude, that a tranflator of St. Matthew from the Hebrew would have rendered it either Syro Phoenician with St. Mark, or fimply Phoenician, as is often done in the Septuagint? H 2


This therefore is one of the prefumptive proofs, that the Greek of this gofpel is from the hand of the author himself. And the preference of an antique to a modern word in this place makes the conjecture already mentioned more probable, that Gergefa and Gadara were names of the fame city, of which St. Matthew chofe the more ancient."

In the fame manner the author endeavours to prove, that St. Matthew wrote before St. Luke.

St. Matthew, ch. iii. 3. quotes a paffage from Ifaias, which is likewife cited by St. Luke, with this additional claufe: and all flesh fhall fee the falvation of God. Upon which the author has the following remark.

• St. Luke feems to have lengthened out St. Matthew's quotation for two reafons: because he wrote for thofe who were lefs acquainted with the prophecy; 2. because the part, which he has added contains a promife, that the manifeftation, which God will make of himself by the gofpel, will be fuch a bleffing, as all nations will have a fhare in.


Matth. xi. 11. There hath not rifen a greater than John the Baptift.

Luke vii. 28. There is not a greater PROPHET than John the Baptift.

The gentiles being little acquainted with the character and office of John, whofe miffion had been confined to his own country, St. Luke very ufefully inferted the word prophet, that it might appear more evident, in which refpect John was to be numbered among the greatest of thofe that are born of


• Matth. xxiv. 15. When ye shall fee the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION, Spoken of by Daniel the prophet, ftand in the holy place.

• Luke xxi. 20. When ye shall fee JERUSALEM compassed with

armies, &c.

What St. Matthew had delivered in the figurative ftyle of the prophet Daniel, St. Luke, paffing over the reference to the prophecy, more openly declares, the holy place is Jerufalem, and the abomination of defolation are the armies encompaffing it, and encamping on this holy ground, with enfigns of idolatrous worship.

St. Matthew fays in the fame chapter, v. 29. Immediately after the tribulation of those days, fhall the fun be darkened, and the moon fhall not give her light, and the fars shall fall from beaven, and the powers of the beavens shall be shaken.

This is the fymbolical language of prophecy to fignify the ruin of great perfonages and kingdoms, and denotes the fame events, which are thus predicted in St. Luke:

'xxi. 23, 24. There shall be great diftrefs in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the


faword; and Jerufalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the G ntiles be fulfilled.

It is probable that our Lord, as was fometimes done by the prophets, having first delivered these things in figurative diction, did then open the meaning of the prophecy to the four apoftles with whom he was in private. St. Luke hath récorded the explanatory part, St. Matthew only the figurative. And if we enquire why he chofe it in preference to the other, it feems evidently to have been, because he wrote in Judea, while there were reafons of prudence, refpecting not only the Jews the fubject of the prophecy, but the fafety and even the prejudices of the firft believers, not to fpeak more openly of fuch a total and long fubverfion of the Jewish ftate. But then it is as evident, that St. Luke had not written in Judea before him. For, had this been the cafe, what should induce St. Matthew to couch the prophecy under allegory and fymbols, when the literal fenfe had been already opened, and might be read by every one in the cleareft terms? There cannot be a plainer fign, I think, of the precedence of St. Matthew.'


That St. Matthew wrote very early, before either St. Mark or St. Luke, appears, he thinks, by feveral circumftances. St. Matthew calls Jerufalem, the holy city, the holy place, &c. The other evangelifts do not give it these titles of fanctity. The reafon he apprehends to be this: After fome years, the word of God, being received by multitudes in various parts of the world, did as it were fanctify other cities, while Jerufalem by rancorous oppofition to the truth, and sanguinary perfecutions of it, more and more declined in the efteem of the believers. They acknowledged the title and character, which the claimed by ancient prescription, when St. Matthew wrote; but between the publication of his gospel and the next, were taught to transfer the idea of the holy city, the mother of the true Ifrael, to a worthier object. See Gal. iv. 25, 26. Heb. xii. 22.

St. Matthew teftifies alfo a higher veneration than they for the temple. He calls it the temple of God.-It had a peculiar facredness, till the fon of God came to tabernacle among men, and even till he, our paffover, was facrificed for us. Yet only St. Matthew continues on the notion of this facredness to the death of Chrift. No other writer of the New Teftament calls it the temple of God, in treating of a time after the birth of

our Lord.


The language of an early writer appears again in St. Matthew, when he fpeaks of the apoftles. At the firft enumeration of them, he calls them the twelve apostles, and after that the twelve difciples, till in ch. xxvi. where the perfidy of Judas is the fubject, he ftyles him, one of the twelve, perhaps * Isa. xlviii, 2. Dan. ix. 24. Neh. xi, 1, 18,

H 3


with a certain lenity of expreffion, that he might not seem to aggravate the guilt of Judas, by reminding the reader, that he was not only a conftant attendant, but a chofen difciple. Whatever the reason was, these two are the only inftances of his faying fimply the twelve throughout his gospel, according to the Vulgate, and the more approved copies of the Greek. But if the reading of our tranflators in v. 20. of this chapter, be fat down with the twelve, is to be received, ftill it is certain, that St. Matthew had well prepared us, before he supposed us to understand, who the twelve were. Whereas the other evangelifts begin early with this appellation, and fearce ufe any other becaufe, by the time when they wrote, the twelve was become the common defignation of the twelve apoftles, and the eftablished language of the church,


There is a like difference between St. Matthew and the two other evangelifts in fpeaking of St. John. St. Mark at first calls him the brother of James, but as foon as he has related the death of the Baptift, changes his ftile, and calls him only John. When St. Luke firft mentions him, he intitles him the fon of Zebedee, but never afterwards. St. Matthew, who often fays fingly Peter, has not named St. John without adding, that he was the fon of Zebedee, or, the brother of James. The reason feems to be, that in a courfe of years this apostle was fo eminent in the church, that John without epithet or distinction was understood to be John the apoftle; but when St. Matthew wrote, to be rather John the Baptift.'

In proving, that St. Matthew wrote for the Jews, and in Judea, he obferves, that the deduction of our Saviour's genealogy from Abraham; the prophecies alleged, the errors which our Lord endeavoured to rectify in his fermon on the mount; the first miracle recorded, (that of healing a leper) proving on fcripture authority, and their own principles, the divine miffion and power of Jefus *; the frequent intimations that they were the children of the kingdom, and that Jefus was fent to the loft fheep of the houfe of Ifrael; the pains taken to fatisfy them, that John the Baptift was the Elias foretold by Malachi; our Lord's difcourfe, ch. xxiii. concern ing the Scribes and Pharifees, and his command to his disciples to obey those who fat in Mofes's feat; his direction to pray, that their flight might not be on the fabbath day; the particular notice, which is taken of this dreadful imprecation, his blood be on us and on our children, &c.' are circumftances, which have a plain reference to the condition, manners, and principles of the Jews.


In the fifth difcourfe the author confiders the order of St. Mark and St. Luke. And though it appears, that St. Mark • Exod. iv. 7, 8, 33.


« PoprzedniaDalej »