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while she was asking them concerning the body, Jesus himself appeared to her, and bade her go and tell his disciples that he was risen.
To me it appears not very easy to suppose that these different accounts were written by persons who had precisely the same ideas of the events, and of the order of them ; but the variations are such, that it is not worth the while of any friend of Christianity to take pains to reconcile them. After considering and comparing all these accounts, my own ideas of the affair are as follow:
The stone was rolled away from the sepulchre, Jesus rose, and the guard were dispersed, some time before day-break. Presently after, the women came with their spices, intending to embalm the body ; but recollecting that the stone was too large for them to remove, they were at a loss what to do; when they were surprised to find it already rolled away, and the body gone.
Being exceedingly astonished at this, they dispersed themselves to different places, to inform the disciples of what they had seen ; for it is not at all probable, that, in their present state of fear and consternation, they were all together. Mary Magdalene went to Peter and John, who immediately ran to the sepulchre, followed by Mary herself; but staying longer than they did, and looking into the sepul. chre after they were gone, she saw first the two angels, and then Jesus himself.
Supposing the other women not to have quitted the garden, but to have waited for the return of Mary Magdalene, we may allow that they also were favoured with an appearance of Jesus to them, presently after the appearance to Mary, and before they had quitted the garden, when they were all permitted to embrace his feet, according to Matthew.
By this time, it is probable, that most of his disciples were got together, in consequence of the news they had heard, when Mary joined them, and informed them that she had seen Jesus himself; but they gave no credit to her. Some time the same day, when the disciples were separated, Jesus appeared to Peter alone, (Luke xxiv. 34,) who upon this, probably assembled as many of the disciples as he could, to inform them of it. After the appearance to Peter, our Lord joined the two disciples who were going to Emmaus, ( Luke xxiv. 13,) and discovered himself to them; upon which they immediately returned to Jerusalem, and going to the place where the disciples were assembled, were informed by them that Jesus had appeared to Peter; and while they were giving an account of the manner in which he had made himself known to them also, Jesus himself appeared to them, and ate with them. Thomas being informed of this, would not believe ; but that day seven-night, Jesus appeared to them when Thomas was present, and was fully satisfied. After this, all the disciples went to Galilee, where Jesus was seen by them, and the other disciples, many of whom resided in Galilee; and, returning to Jerusalem, he ascended to heaven in the presence of many of them, from the Mount of Olives.
I take it for granted, that John would not have given so circumstantial an account as he has done of the manner in which the resurrection was first notified, if it had not been for the sake of being more exact than the other evangelists had been. I have, therefore, followed his account, and think that the variations in the other evangelists which cannot be easily reconciled with it, must be ascribed to their being misinformed and mistaken concerning them. But they are things of no moment; so that the variations with respect to them, serve to make the general account of the resurrection the more, and not the less credible.
All the evangelists, except John, represent the women as having seen the vision of angels before any of them had been with the apostles, but the account which John gives, makes the discovery of the resurrection more gradual and pleasing. It is also to be observed, that the manner in which they describe this vision is remarkably different.
The reader will find much light thrown upon the history of the resurrection in a quarto pamphlet of Dr. Lardner's, entitled “ Observations on Dr. Macknight's Harmony of the Four Gospels, so far as relates to the History of our Saviour's Resurrection.”* Dr. Macknight has made such a number of arbitrary and improbable suppositions relating to this part of the gospel history, that instead of succeeding in his attempts to reconcile the different accounts of it, the unwarrantable liberties he has taken with it do, as Dr. Lardner observes, exceedingly perplex and pervert the history, which " must be of bad consequence.
What history,” he observes, “can stand before such treatment?”+ My account of the order of the events agrees very nearly with that of Dr. Lardner, though it was written without consulting his. We differ in this, that he thinks all the writers had precisely the same ideas of the order of the events, which to me does not appear probable.
* “In a Letter to the Author," 1764, Works, XI. pp. 350—400. + Ibid. p. 371.
SECTION XVII. * A Computation of the Time that was necessary for the Purpose
of Christ's Ministry. The greatest objection that can be made to the hypothesis of our Lord's ministry having continued no longer than a year, or a year and a few months, arises from the supposed impossibility of crowding the business of the evangelical history into so small a compass. The more effectually to answer this objection, I shall briefly go over the whole history of Christ, and collect all the notes of time that I can find in it. This I did at first, in order to judge of the possibility of the scheme; but the result of my observations con. vinced me of the great probability of it, independent of all other arguments. For when I found that every thing related of the public ministry of Christ fell with ease within these limits, I was sensible that more time would have been both unnecessary and an incumbrance to the scheme.
Whether this kind of evidence will have the same weight with my reader, I cannot tell. I shall lay before him the result of my observations, that he may judge for himself.
We have no date from the history of the gospel to determine the time of the year when John began to preach, or when Jesus was baptized. Jerome, Eusebius, and Origen fix the time of Christ's baptism to the seventh of January, which seems to have been an old tradition. † Pilkington supposes that John began his ministry in September, when the wilderness could furnish neither locusts nor wild honey.
It can hardly be supposed, for the reasons given in a preceding Section, that after the first passover (which, I suppose, to have fallen on Tuesday the 30th of March, that Jesus spent more than one sabbath in Judea, before his arrival in Galilee. Where he spent that sabbath (the 3d of April) is not said ; but as all the known events that intervened between this sabbath and that which he spent at Capernaum, are his journey through Samaria, two days' stay at Sychar, (which, agreeably to a mode of speaking usual in the Scriptures, may, perhaps, only mean part of two days, or little more than a night,) and his interview with the nobleman at Cana, we may well suppose that this last mentioned was the 10th, and that he arrived at that place on the day before, when he called Peter and John, &c.
Essay V. Theol. Repos. JI. 319-327. + See Pilkington's Chronological Dissertations, No. LV. Notes, p. 9. (P.)
This was the sabbath on which Jesus healed the demoniac in the synagogue, and Peter's wife's mother at Peter's own house, with many other sick persons; which gave rise to his very great fame in that place, (Mark i. 28,) so that, in order to avoid the prodigious concourse of people that crowded to him upon the occasion, he retired early the next morning (Sunday the 11th) into the neighbouring desert, whither his disciples resorted to him, and from whence he visited the places in that district.
On this excursion from Capernaum, it appears from Mark ii. 1, that he was absent only a few days. Now if we admit these few days to be a week; which is more than sufficient, considering that we have no account of any intervening events, except the Sermon on the Mount, and the cure of the leper, we may fix his return for the Sunday following, or April the 18th. Allowing one day more, it will be Monday, April the 19th.
The day on which the disciples plucked the ears of corn, I suppose to have been the next sabbath, as the transactions will easily admit of it; for, excepting the time that was taken up in crossing the sea of Tiberias, and returning to Capernaum, we have no events, but what are expressly confined to two or three days.
Immediately on his entering Capernaum, be healed the Centurion's "servant, and the very next day, (Luke vii. 11,) Tuesday the 20th, he was at Nain, where he raised the widow's son. I can hardly help thinking, but that Jesus did not perform this journey on foot; for it seems to have been about twenty miles, which is rather too far for him to have walked conveniently. It is an objection, however, to this supposition, that “many of Jesus's disciples and much people” are said (Luke vii. 11) to have gone " with him.” There is a great difference, indeed, in the maps of the Holy Land, with respect to the situation of Nain. In some of them it is placed to the East, and in some to the West of Nazareth ; though most of them place it to the East. According to both it was about the same distance from Capernaum ; but according to the latter it was more conveniently situated for crossing the sea to Gadara ; being about half-way between Nazareth and the southern part of the sea of Galilee.
I conclude, that very little time elapsed between Jesus's return to Capernaum, and his crossing the sea to Gadara, because Matthew connects these two events together, saying, (viii, 18,) that when he saw great multitudes, he went to the other side of the sea. Admitting that he set out from Nain early the next morning (Wednesday the 21st) in the same mode of travelling in which he had come to Nain, he might easily have got to the other side of the sea before night. The storm they met with may as well be supposed to have quickened, as to have retarded their passage ; and probably it was not of long continuance, as they would naturally awake Jesus on the first apprehension of danger. That sea is but about five or six miles over in that place, so that the navigation of it could not, in general, exceed an hour.
Considering the reason why Jesus had just left Capernaum, viz. the crowd, it is not probable that he would stay long in Nain, after so illustrious a miracle as he had performed in that place. It is expressly said, (Luke vii. 12,) that “much people of the city' attended the funeral, and, (ver. 17,) that this miracle occasioned “a rumour of him" to go " throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about.
On the other side of the sea, it is evident that our Lord made but little stay. The demoniac (Mark v. 2) “met him immediately” on his landing, and as soon as ever the cure was performed, and the swine drowned, in consequence of it, (which events followed close upon one another, Mark v. 13,) the people of the country urged him “to depart.
Upon the supposition that he landed in the evening, he might set sail again about sun-set ; and as the moon was about the last quarter, there would be no difficulty in reaching Capernaum before morning, (Thursday the 22d,) the distance being only twelve or fifteen miles. So that the events of the busy day on which he called Matthew, might happen on that very day; and then we shall be at a loss how to dispose of Jesus till the sabbath following, on which the disciples plucked the ears of corn. If, therefore, any of the preceding events seem to be too crowded, we may suppose that he arrived at Capernaum on the Friday.
I see no reason to suppose, with some, that the entertain. ment which Matthew made for Jesus, mentioned Matt. ix. 10, and Luke v. 29, was on a different day from that on which that apostle was called. The very next words that follow the account of Matthew's rising and following Jesus, are, “ And it came to pass as Jesus sat at meat in the house."
Luke, indeed, supposes, that Matthew made a great feast on purpose for him; but it might be a day on which he expected some of his friends, and was already prepared ; or, supposing that this feast was made on purpose to entertain