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but we must remember, that no one of the Evangelists undertook to give an account of all the miracles which Christ performed, or of all the instructions which he delivered (h). The Gospels are written with different degrees of conciseness ; but every one of them is sufficiently full to prove that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world, who had been predicted by a long succession of prophets, and whose advent was expected, at the time of his appearance, both by Jews and Gentiles (i). Whoever will consult a Greek harmony of the first three Gospels, will find not only many of the same facts and precepts recorded in them all, but also the same expressions used sometimes by all three, and frequently by two of the Evangelists. These examples of verbal agreement are not so numerous or so long between St. Mark and St. Luke, as they are between St. Matthew and St. Mark, and between
which signifies Good, and Spel, which signifies Word, or Tidings. The doctrine, of salvation, taught by Jesus Christ, is called Gospel, or Good Tidings, in several passages of the New Testament. Matt. c.4.v.23.; Mark, C. 13. v. 10.; Eph. c. 1, v.13. Hence in time it came to signify the history of Christ's preaching and miracles.
(h) Vide Macknight's Harmony. Obs. 2d.
(i) Tac. Hist. lib. 5. cap. 13. Suet. in Vit. Vesp. cap. 4.
St. Matthew and St. Luke. But where the matter is common,
is not always the same. St. Mark and St. Luke follow nearly the same order, but St. Matthew in this respect often differs from them botn. Notwithstanding this general agreement and frequent identity of expression, there is a species of disagreement in some minute points, and in various circumstances of time and place, which incontestably proves that they did not write in concert, or unite with a view of imposing a fabulous narrative on mankind. It is indeed sufficiently manifest to an accurate examiner, that no one of them, when he wrote his Gospel, had seen either of the other two Gospels, and therefore they may justly be considered as three independent authors, who relate the same history, and bear testimony to each other's veracity. The Gospel of St. John, as will be observed more fully hereafter, has very little matter in common with the other three Gospels.
The Acts contain an account of the first preaching of the Apostles, and of the establishment of Christianity in different places of Asia and Europe. This history extends to about thirty years after the ascension of our Saviour.
The Epistles were written by different Apostles to single persons, to the churches of certain 5
cities or districts, or to the whole body of Christians then in the world. They are not to be considered as regular treatises upon the Christian religion, though its most essential doctrines are occasionally introduced and explained (k). These letters were intended to confirm those, to whom they were addressed, in the true faith and practice of the Gospel; to guard them against prevailing corruptions; to warn them of impending dangers; to animate them under persecutions; or to correct irregularities and false opinions into which they had fallen : in one word, to furnish them with such advice and rules of conduct, as were suited to their respective circumstances. They are not only interesting, by informing us of the state of the primitive church, and of the errors and controversies which existed in the apostolical times, but as containing many truths and many precepts highly important and valuable to the Christians of every age, and of every country; they form a material part of the sacred volume, and will amply repay all the diligence and attention which are required for the right understanding of them.
The Apocalypse, or Revelation, is a book written in a sublime and mysterious style, con
taining (k) Particularly in the Epistles to the Romans and Hebrews,
taining a long series of prophecies of all the great events which were to take place in the Christian church, and calculated by the gradual accomplishment of these predictions, to afford to every succeeding age additional testimony to the divine origin of our holy religion.
II. It is presumed, that the Inspiration of the Old Testament was clearly established in the beginning of this work; and if the books of the Old Testament, which relate to the partial and temporary religion of the Jews, were written under the direction and superintendence of God himself, surely we must conclude the same thing of the books of the New Testament, which contain the religion of all mankind. But notwithstanding the strong ground upon which this conclusion rests, it may be right to bring forward more direct arguments in proof of the Inspiration of the New Testament.
The Apostles, it is to be observed, were constant attendants upon our Saviour during his ministry; and they were not only present at his public preaching, but after addressing himself to the multitudes in parables and similitudes, “when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples (1).”—“ And he also shewed himself
alive (1) Mark, c. 4. V. 34.
alive to the Apostles, after his passion, by many infallible proofs, being seen by them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (m).” But still our Saviour foresaw that these instructions, delivered to the Apostles as men, and impressed upon the human mind in the ordinary manner, would not qualify them for the great work of propagating his religion; and therefore he promised, that after his departure they should receive farther assistance of an extraordinary nature : “ It is expedient for you
that I go away; for if I
go not away,
the Comforter will not come unto you ; but if I depart, I will send him unto you (n).”—“ I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he
ever, even the Spirit of Truth, whoin the world cannot receive (o).”—“ But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (p).”—“How beit, when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth, for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak :- and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify
me; (m) Acts, c. I v.3.
(n) John, c. 16. v.7. (o) John, C. 14. V. 16 & 17. (P) John, c. 14. v.26.