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satisfy us, that this promise could only respect things of consequence, and probably (as the excellent author of the Five Letters on Inspiration supposes) such things as the apostles were not at that time able fully to comprehend, and therefore were most likely to forget.* For, with respect to particular expressions, all the evangelists report our Lord's discourses with very great variations. And, provided the great end of our Lord's commission and doctrines was not injured by those different representations of things, no real harm could arise from them, and therefore no valuable end would have been gained by such an interposition of Divine Providence as would have prevented them. Agreeably, therefore, to all that we know, or can infer, concerning the
“ We must not understand by all truths, any others than those which the apostles were ignorant of, and which it was needful for them to know, that they might be able to acquit themselves as they ought to do of their charge.
“ The most simple sense, and most conformable to the accomplishment of this promise, which can be given to these words, is, to my thinking, this: • I should explain many things to you more clearly than I have done, but you are not yet in condition to receive them as you should. When you shall have received the Spirit of miracles, he will teach you the rest that you ought to know; either by visions, or by making you call to mind that which I have told you ; so that he will make you apprehend the sense, and will teach you what you ought to do afterwards. To speak properly, he will tell you nothing new; he will but recall into your memory, to make you better understand it, the doctrine of my father; which is the same that I have taught you ; and which I may also call my doctrine, because my Father bas charged me to preach it, as the only Doctor of his Church.'" See “ Five Letters concerning the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures; translated out of French," 1690, pp. 56, 66, 67.
This translation gave occasion, in 1692, to “ A Vindication of the Divine Authority and Inspiration of the Writings of the O. and N. Testament, by William Lowih, B. D.," the commentator, who says, (p. 287,) more like a Churchman than a Protestant, that “ the publishers of such tracts" as the Five Letters “ought to publish them in the learned languages, that none but scholars may read them.”
These Letters, published anonymously, were written by Le Clerc. The two first were XI. XII. of XX. Letters, entitled, “ Sentimens de quelques Théologiens de Hollande sur l'Histoire Critique du Vieux Testament, composée par Mr. Richard Simon, Prêtre,” 1685 and 1711. The other three were IX. X. XI. of XVII. Letters, entitled, “ Défense des Sentimens de quelques Théologiens de Hollande sur l'Histoire Critique du Vieux Testament, contre la Réponse du Prieur de Bolleville," 1686. Prieur de Bolleville was a name assumed by F. Simon. See Fire Letters, pp. 3–6; “ Joannis Clerici, Philosophiæ et S. Linguæ, apud Remonstrantes, Amstelodami Professoris Vita et Opera ad Annum MDCCXI. Amici ejus Opusculum, Philosophicis Clerici Operibus subjiciendum.” Amst. 1711, pp. 50–54, 246, 247.
Le Clerc, in his assumed character of a friend, referring, in the following passage, to the censures passed on him for the Letters on Inspiration, takes occasion to honour the memory of John Locke :
“ Sed vec quod nonnulli scripserunt in Dissertationem de Inspiratione Scriptorum Sacrorum, quam Dissertationem inseruerat Epistolis XI. et XII. ad se pertinere deinde putavit. Hac in re, adapopiar, ut sic dicam, induit, quâ veritati, undecumque adfulgeret, excipiendæ æquo animo paratum se esse ostendit. Ac sanè quod eximius Philosophus Joan. Lockius nuper rectè dixit, adiapopely nos, quod adtinet ad locum unde illucescit veritas, hujusque solius amore capi, si vel ab inimicis, adversariisque veniat, oportet. Nostrà tantùm interest non errare, nihil interest quem veritatis doctorem habeamus.” Ibid. p. 52.
rules of the Divine proceeding, no such interposition would be granted.
I own that I lay a good deal of stress upon these considerations, and think that by giving up the opinion of the inspiration of the evangelists, as writers, we gain two very considerable advantages; the first is, that we place the Gospel history on the same unexceptionable footing with other credible histories, resting on independent testimonies, in consequence of their agreement in all things of importance, and appearing to be independent of each other, by their disagreement in things of no importance.* In the second place, we, by this means, disencumber the evidence of the Gospel history of many objections; insignificant, indeed, in themselves, but rendered of the greatest magnitude, and even absolutely insuperable, by our professing to maintain the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. By this means, therefore, we secure, in the most effectual manner, the evidence of all the important facts in the Gospel history; and the rest will either follow of course, or their credibility may be safely neglected.
for these reasons, I cannot but greatly disapprove of every plan of a harmony of the Gospels which goes upon the supposition that those writers were incapable of relating the same story with any inconsistency in the circumstances of it, and especially that they all wrote in true chronological order, so that we are not at liberty even to transpose any part of their narratives.
The learned Michaelis says, "Osiander is at the head of those who have discredited the Gospel history by their harmonies. However, he went not so far as his successors, but sometimes departs from his principles.”+ Dr. Macknight has pursued this plan of a
Thus Le Clerc concludes Letter XI. of his Défense, the last on this subject : “ Voilà donc la religion Chrétienne établie d'une navière invincible, sans supposer aucune inspiration dans l'histoire des apôtres et de notre Seigneur. Il faut être à l'égard des apôtres dans la même disposition, que nous sommes à l'égard de quelque personne dont la sincerité nous est connuë, que nous saurions refuser de croire lors qu'elle nous assûre de quelque chose qu'elle a vû et qu'elle a oui, et où il est moralement impossible qu'elle se soit trompée.” Défense, 1686, p. 303.
“ Thus, then, you see the Christian religion established, after an invincible manner, without supposing any inspiration in the histories of our Lord and his apostles - It is necessary only that we have the same disposition of mind towards the apostles, that we have towards any person whose sincerity is very well known to us, and whom we could not refuse to believe when he should assure us of a thing he had seen and heard, and in which it is morally impossible that he should be deceived." Fire Letters, 1690, p. 238. See Vol. II. p. 210, and Baxter's liberal opinions, on this subject, in his Saints' Rest, quoted ibid. p. 211, Note
+ Introduction to the Study of the New Testament, p. 210. (P.) Introd. Lect. 1780, p. 180. Michaelis had premised that Osiander took for granted the principle, that the evangelists wrote always in chronological order, and that the same transactions and discourses happened twice or thrice in the life of Christ." Ibid.
harmony to its utmost extent; and yet his work seems, upon the whole, to have been very well received. * But though, for these reasons, I cannot but exceedingly disapprove of his harmony, I think he is often very happy as a commentator.
It is hardly necessary to observe, that in what I have advanced above, I am far from denying all inspiration ; but only the universal and infallible inspiration of the scripture historians as writers. When the prophets or apostles worked iniracles, or delivered prophecies, and other messages from God, they must have been inspired. Paul also seems to say, that he received his knowledge of the Gospel, by a personal communication from Christ, after his resurrection.
2. Other harmonists take it for granted that Luke is the most orderly and strictly chronological, of all the Gospel historians, chiefly because, in the beginning of his Gospel, he says that, having examined every thing with care, he proposed to write of them in order (rabens). But admitting that by this phrase he really meant to express his attention to exact chronological order, it does not follow that he was qualified to execute this design with accuracy. Besides, there is no reason to think that he had that idea of the word, because it does not necessarily convey that meaning.
To judge by the history itself, it is evident that there are fewer marks of an orderly narrative in the Gospel of Luke than in any of the other three ; and his arrangement of the facts is, at the same time, the least probable in itself, and the least reconcileable to that of the rest. This will suffi. ciently appear by my own observations; but much more evidence of this kind than can well be stated in writing, must, I think, occur to any person who shall read the Gospel of Luke with attention, and in comparison with the other Gospels.
With respect to myself, I must acknowledge that the harmony of the Gospels always appeared to me to be a subject of great curiosity indeed, and even of much use and importance; but, at the same time, of so much difficulty and uncerlainty, that I despaired of ever seeing the undertaking accomplished to any purpose ; till I met with Mr. Mann's Dissertations on the Times of the Birth and the Death of Christ. † Finding in this treatise some fundamental errors
See supra, p. 8, Note 4. + " Of the true Years of the Birth and Death of Christ. Two Chronological Dissertations," 1733. The learned author, Nicholas Mann, was chosen Master of
in all preceding harmonies, rectified, and the general outline of a quite new and better harmony laid down, I was led to consider the subject with some attention, and immediately set about the scheme of a harmony on his principles ; and, in the prosecution of this work, I was led to depart from his disposition of many particular events; though a variety of additional arguments occurred to me in support of his general hypothesis.
If I should be thought to have succeeded in this work better than the generality of my predecessors, I shall attri. bute it chiefly to the mechanical methods I made use of in the arrangement of it; which were as follow: I procured two printed copies of the Gospels, and having cancelled one side of every sheet, I cut out all the separate histories, &c. in each Gospel ; and having a large table appropriated to that use, I placed all the corresponding parts opposite to each other, and in such an order as the comparison of them (which, when they were brought so near together, was exceedingly easy) directed.
In this loose order the whole harmony lay before me a considerable time, in which I kept reviewing it at my leisure, and changing the places of the several parts, till I was as well satisfied with the arrangement of them, as the nature of the case would admit. I then fixed the places of all these separate papers, by pasting them, in the order in which they lay before me, upon different pieces of pasteboard, carefully numbered, and by this means, also, divided into sections.
the Charter-House in 1757, .when his competitor was Dr. Conyers Middleton. Mr. Mann had before held, probably for a subsistence, the office of “ Wardrobe Keeper at Windsor."
“ Dying November 24, 1758," says Mr. Nichols, “he was buried in the piazza at the Charter-House; where, over the chapel door, a tablet is thus inscribed :
“ Attende paululum, quisquis es.
Subtus jacet Nicolaus Mann,
Omitte quæritare: scit Deus.
Benè universis tu fac et fieri velis,
Sic si paratus huc intres,
Jpse quum stabis reus die suprema
Nichols's Lit. Anecd. 1812, II. pp. 165, 166, Note 1. “ The tablet,” probably inscribed by Mr. Mann himself, “ was placed some years before his death-and covered with a black stone, whichi, after his interment, was removed.” Ibid. p. 705.
When I had done this, I published A General View of my Harmony, with the principal reasons on which it was founded, in the Theological Repository, which I then conducted, that my friends, and the public in general, might form a judgment of it. This was in the years 1769 and 1770; and since that time no material objection, that has come to my knowledge, has been made to it. However, preserving my pasteboards, I have reviewed them occasionally, and, as it was still not difficult to do it, have transposed some of the parts to what I have thought to be more convenient places.
I will venture to say, that, by the help of such a mechanical contrivance as this, a person of a very moderate capacity or critical skill, will have an advantage over a person of the greatest genius and comprehension of mind without it. For, by this means, the things to be compared are brought under the eye at the same time, and may be removed from one situation to another without trouble, so that every thing may be viewed, to all possible advantage, in every light, and nothing can escape, perplex, or distract the attention. Whereas, when a person takes the several Gospels as they lie in our printed books, he not only loses time, in turning to the parallel passages, and in considering how they will stand in new connexions; but, not being able to carry in his mind all the circumstances that demand his attention at the same time, he will be in great danger of being bewildered, and, consequently, of forming a hasty judgment, on a confused and inadequate view of things. Whether other harmonists have had recourse to any method similar to this of mine, I cannot tell ; but from the result of their labours, I am inclined to think that few of them were possessed of such an advantage.
That I might not be biassed by a regard to any particular hypothesis, I resolutely avoided so much as looking into any harmony whatever, till I had nearly pleased myself with my own arrangement; beginning only with Mr. Mann's transposition of the 5th chapter of John, * and neglecting even his outline of a harmony. But when I had done this, I
• Mr. Mann says,
" that the sixth chapter seems to be transposed from its proper place, and should precede the fifth ;" and that “the learned Petit (Eclog. Chronol. L. i. C. xii.) has taken notice of this disorder or úsepov apotepov, as le calls it, in the course of the narration; but believes it to be want of method in the author." Mr. Mann is rather inclined to think “ that the two chapters, beginning both with the same words, were anciently misplaced ;-from the negligence of those who had the first keeping of St. John's writings, or those who copied them.” True Years, pp. 156, 157, 161. See Appendix, No. III. VOL. XX.