Besides the two books of Maccabees here noticed, there / same as the book "concerning the government, or empire are three others which bear their names, but very impro- of reason," ascribed to Josephus by Philostratus, Eusebius, perly: neither of them has ever been reputed canonical. and Jerome. Its author is not known: it is extant in the

3. The THIRD BOOK or MACCABEES contains the history of Vatican and Alexandrian manuscripts, and in various editions the persecution of the Jews in Egypt by Ptolemy Philo- of the Septuagint, in which it is placed after the three books pater, and their sufferings under it. From its style, this of Maccabees, but it is not extant in any Latin Bibles. It book appears to have been written by some Alexandrian is designed to adorn and enlarge the history of old Eleazar, Jew: it abounds with the most absurd fables. With regard and of the seven brothers, who with their mother suffered to its subject, it ought in strictness to be called the FIRST martyrdom under Antiochus, as is related more succinctly in book of Maccabees, as the events it professes to relate oc- the sixth and seventh chapters of the second book of Maccurred before the achievements of that heroic family; but as cabees.3 Dr. Cotton has the honour of giving the first corit is of less authority and repute than the other two, it is rect English version of this book. reckoned after them. It is extant in Syriac, though the 5. The FIFTH BOOK OF MACCABEES is the work of an untranslator seems to have been but imperfectly acquainted known author, who lived after the capture of Jerusalem by with the Greek language; and it is also found in some an- Titus; it is supposed to have been compiled from the acts of cient manuscripts of the Greek Septuagint, particularly in each successive high-priest. Although Calmet is of opinion the Alexandrian and Vatican manuscripts; but it was never that it was originally written in Hebrew, whence it was inserted in the Latin Vulgate, nor in our English Bibles. translated into Greek, yet it is not now extant in either of Being reputed to be a canonical book by the Greek church, those languages. It is, however, extant both in Syriac and it is inserted in the various editions of the Septuagint: a in Arabic. Dr. Cotton has given an English translation of translation of the third book of Maccabees is inserted in it from the Latin version of the Arabic text, printed in Bishop Becke's edition of the English Bible, printed in 1551; a Walton's Polyglott edition of the Bible.' "This book" is a second translation by Mr. Whiston was published in his kind of chronicle of Jewish affairs, commencing with the “ Authentic Documents,” in two volumes, 8vo. 1719-27; attempt on the treasury of Jerusalem by Heliodorus (with and a third version, made by the Rev. Clement Crutwell, an interpolation of the history of the Septuagint version, comwas added to his edition of the authorized English version, posed by desire of Ptolemy), and reaching down to the birth with the notes of Bishop Wilson. Dr. Cotton considers of Christ; or, speaking accurately, to that particular point of Mr. Whiston's version to be the more faithful of the three ; time, at which Herod,

almost glutted with the noblest blood but he has not held himself bound to retain it in his English of the Jews, turned his murderous hands upon the members edition of the five books of Maccabees, wherever an exami- of his own family, and completed the sad tragedy of the nation of the original suggested an alteration as advisable. Asmonaan princes, by the slaughter of his own wife Mari

4. The fourth BOOK OF MACCABEES is supposed to be the amne, her mother, and his own two sons.”4






Various modes of arranging the books of the New Testa- | and the sixth, the Apocalypse. But the more modern, and ment have obtained at different times; nor does the order in certainly more convenient arrangement, is that of the Historiwhich they are to be found in manuscripts correspond with cal, Doctrinal, and Prophetical Books. that in which they occur in the printed copies and modern The HISTORICAL Books are such as contain principally translations. In the time of Ignatius (who flourished 4. d. matters of fact, though points of faith and doctrine are also 107), the New Testament consisted of two codes or collec- interwoven. They consist of two parts; the first, comprising tions, called “Gospels,” and “ Epistles,” or “Gospels,” and the four Gospels, relates the transactions of Jesus Christ. “ Apostles ;"5 the same division prevailed in the time of These, when formed into a volume, have sometimes been Tertullian, A. D. 200. (the Acts being included in the latter collectively termed Eurz zextov, the Gospel, and Eu27769.67 Teemu, division), who called the Gospels "our Digesta,” in allu- the Scripture of the Gospels. The second part of these histosion, as it seems, to some collection of the Roman laws rical books relates the transactions of the Apostles, especially digested into order. This division also obtained in the time those of Peter and Paul, and comprises the books called the of Cyprian, who flourished soon after Tertullian.? About a Acts of the Apostles. The Doctrinal Books include the century afterwards, Athanasius, or the author of the Synopsis fourteen Epistles of Saint Paul, and also the seven Catholic of the Sacred Scriptures attributed to him, makes the New Epistles, so called because they were chiefly addressed to Testament to consist of eight volumes or parts, viz. the four the converted Jews, who were dispersed throughout the RoGospels; the fifth book is the Acts of the Apostles ; the sixth man empire. The appellation of Catholic Epistles is of concontains the seven Catholic Epistles; the seventh, the four-siderable antiquity, being mentioned by Eusebius, Jerome, teen Epistles of St. Paul; and the eighth, the Revelation of and the pseudo-Aihanasius.' The Revelation of Saint John Saint John. In a later age, Leontius of Byzantium® (or Con- forms the PROPHETICAL class of the books of the New Tesstantinople), distributed the books of the New Testament tament. into six books or parts, the first of which comprised the Gos- On the preceding classification we may remark, that the pels of Matthew and Mark; the second those of Luke and appellation of Historical Books is given to the Gospels and John; the third, the Acts of the Apostles; the fourth, the Acts, because their subject-matter is principally historical ; seven Catholic Epistles; the fifth, the Epistles of Saint Paul; and that the Gospels are placed first, on account of the im

portance of their contents, which relate the history of the life, 1 Prideaux's Connection, vol. ii. p. 111. 8th edit. sub anno 216. discourses, doctrines, miracles, death, resurrection, and as. Cotton's Five Books of Maccabces, p. xx. 3 Calmets Preface sur le IV. livre des Maccabees. Dissertationes, tom. the Christian faith.10 'The Acts of the Apostles are placed

cension of Jesus Christ, which form the primary articles of ii. pp. 423-428.; where he has collected all the traditionary information extant concerning this book.

9 Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. lib. ii. c. 23. Hieronymi, Cat. Script. Eccles. * Cotton's Five Books of Maccabees, p. xxxii. xxxiv. xxxi.

(Opp. tom. i. pp. 169, 170. Francof. 1684.) Pseudo-Athanasii Synops. Sacr. See the passages in Dr. Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. ii, pp. 81, 82. ; 4to. Script in Athanasii Opp. p. 59. vol. i. pp. 3-2,7323.

10 Considerable discussion has taken place among the German critics, 6 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. pp. 278-282. ; 4to. vol. i. pp. 431–433.

and some few critics in this country, respecting the sources of the four - Ibid. 8vo. vol. iii. pp. 179, 180. ; 4to. vol. ii. pp. 28, 29.

Gospels. Hypothesis has succeeded to hypothesis; and the last is as un• De Sectis, art. 2. cited by Heidegger, Manuale 'Biblicum, p. 441 and satisfactory as the first. For an account of the principal theories

on this Rumpæus, Com. Crit. ad Libros N T. p. 97.

subject, the reader is referred to Appendix I. to this volume.

second in order, because they continue and confirm the his- As these dates are particularly considered in the account of tory delivered in the Gospels, and give an account of the each book, given in the following pages, it may suffice at churches which were planted by the apostles. The Epis- present to remark that the order now generally received is tles hold the third place, because they contain instructions to the most ancient, being that adopted by Eusebius in the early the newly-planted churches, and more fully explain, confirm, part of the fourth century, as it had probably been the order and apply the doctrines of the Gospel. In the fourth place adopted by Ignatius, who lived at the close of the first and comes the Apocalypse, which, Dr. Mill remarks, is fitly during the former half of the

second century. Dr. Lardner placed last, because it predicts things that are hereafter to be (in whose judgment Bishop, Tomline has acquiesced) is of fulfilled, and is therefore of a different kind from the rest : opinion that the received order is the best: and although it and also because it has, towards the end, that remarkable is both entertaining and useful to know the order in which clause (Rev. xxii

. 18, 19.) against adding to or taking from Saint Paul's epistles were written, yet he is of opinion that it, which may be applied to all the books of Scripture: to we should not deviate from that arrangement which has been which observation we may add, that there are strong reasons so long established in all the editions of the original Greek, for believing it to be the last written of all the books of the as well as in all modern

versions, partly on account of the diffiNew Testament.2

culty which would attend such an alteration, and also because With respect to the order in which particular books (espe- the order of time has not yet been settled beyond the possicially Saint Paul's Epistles) are to be placed under these bility of dispute.4 respective classes, there is a considerable difference of opi- The following table will perhaps be useful to the student, nion among learned men, in consequence of the diversity of as exhibiting at one view the various classes of the books of the dates when the books are supposed to have been written. the New Testament ve enumerated.5

The Books of the New TESTAMENT are,

Matthew, 1. Jesus Christ, the head of the Church ; whose genealogy, birth, life, doctrine, mira. Mark,

cles, death, resurrection, and ascension are recorded by the four evangelists - Luke, 1. HISTORICAL, describing the history of

John 2. The Christian Church, whose primitive plantation, state, and increase, both among Acts of the Apostles. Jews and Gentiles, are declared in the


I. Corinthians. II. Corinthians.

Galatians. 1. General, which Paul wrote unto whole churches about matters of general and

Ephesians. public concernment, as the Epistles to the


Colossians. 11. To believing

1. Thessalonians.

II. Thessalonians.
Gentiles, as Paul's

1. Timothy
2. Particular, to (1. Public or Ecclesiastical affairs, as his Epistles to

II. Timothy. II. DOCTRINAL, comparticular persons

Titus. prising all the Epis. concerning, (2. Private, or Economical affairs, as his Epistle to

Philemon. iles written by the Apostles, either, ( 1. The Epistle, written by Paul to the

Hebrews. (James

2. To the believing

SI. Peter.
Jews, as it is pro 2. The seven Epis- Peter

II. Peter
bable all these tles, commonly called

General 1. John,
Epistles were; viz. General, the

Catholic Epistles, of


II. John.

III. John.


[ocr errors]


II. Propter hos ao foretelling melent shall be the future state and condition of the Church of Christ to the end of the world, The Revelations.





1. Observations on the general Appellation of Gospel, as applied to the Histories of Jesus Christ.-II. General Scope of the

Gospels.--III. Their Number.-IV. Importance of the Gospels. 1. The word ErarTEAION, which we translate Gospel, | of Christ,—that is, to those sacred histories in which are among Greek profáne writers, signifies any good tidings recorded the “good tidings of great joy to all people," of the (from ev, good, and aggenet, a message or tidings), and corres- advent of the Messiah, together with all its joyful circumponds exactly with our English word Gospel, which is de- stances; and hence the authors of those histories have acrived from the Saxon words zod, God or good, and spel, word quired the title of EVANGELISTS.7 Besides this general title, or tiding, and denotes God's word or good tidings. In the the sacred writers use the term Gospel, with a variety of New Testament this term is confined to the glad tidings of epithets, which it may be necessary to mention. the actual coming of the Messiah, and is even opposed to the Thus, it is called the Gospel of Peace (Eph. vi. 15.), beprophecies concerning Christ. (Rom. i. 1, 2.) Thus, in cause it proclaims peace with God to fallen man, through Matt. xi. 5. our Lord says, " the poor have the Gospel Jesus Christ;—The Gospel of God concerning his Son (Rom. preached to them,"—that is, the advent and doctrines of the i. 1.3.), because it relates every thing concerning the concepMessiah or Christ are preached to the poor. Hence ecclesi- tion, birth, preaching, miracles, death, resurrection, and asastical writers gave the appellation of Gospels to the lives cension of Jesus Christ;—The Gospel of his Son (Rom. i. 1 Millii Prolegom. ad Nov. Test. $ 239.

9.);–The Gospel of Salvation (Eph. i. 13.), because it offers * Rumpæi. Comm. Crit ad Nov. Test. pp. 98–120. Moldenhawer, Introd. salvation to the lost or miserable;

-The Gospel of the Kingad. Lib. Bibl. pp. 201—206. Heidegger, Manuale Biblicum, pp. 441 447. dom of God (Matt. iv. 23. ix. 35. xxiv. 14. Mark i. 14.), Dr. Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 611-619.; 4to. vol. ii. pp. 454 the nature and privileges of his kingdom, its laws, and the

because it proclaims the power and dominion of the Messiah, s From Roberts's Clavis Bibliorum, p. 692.

duties of its subjects ;-—The Word or Doctrine (nozos) of the 6 On the various meanings of the word Evrygerov, Schleusner's and Durkhurst's Greek Lexicon, or "Leusden's Philologus Græcus (pp. 133—- Rosenmüller, Scholia in N. T. tom. 1. pp. 2, 3. Michaelis, vol. iii. 135.), may be advantageously consulted.

pp. 1, 2



Gospel (Acts xv. 7.);„The Word of Reconciliation (2 Cor. [pens of separate and independent writers, who, from the conv. 19.), because it makes known the manner and terms by tradictions, whether real or apparent, which are visible in which God is reconciled to sinners ;The Gospel of Glory these accounts, have incontestably proved that they did not (or the glorious Gospel) of the blessed God (1 'Í'im. i. 11.), unite with a view of imposing a fabulous narrative on manas being that dispensation which exhibits the glory of all the kind. That Saint Matthew had never seen the Gospel of divine attributes in the salvation of mankind ;-and The Saint Luke, nor Saint Luke the Gospel of Saint Matthew, is Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts xx. 24.), because it is a evident from a comparison of their writings. The Gospel declaration of God's free favour towards allmen.—The bless- of Saint Mark, which was written later, must likewise have ings and privileges promised in the New Testament (1 Cor. been unknown to Saint Luke; and that Saint Mark had ix. 23.) –The public profession of Christian doctrine (Mark ever read the Gospel of Saint Luke, is at least improbable, viii. 35. x. 29. 2 Tim. i. 8. Philem. ver. 13.) ;—and in Gal. because their Gospels so frequently differ."'s. It is a genei. 6. 8, 9. any new doctrines, whether true or false, are re- rally received opinion, that Saint Mark made use of Saint spectively called the Gospel.?

Maithew's Gospel in the composition of his own: but this, II. The general design of the evangelists in writing the it will be shown in a subsequent page, is an unfounded Gospels was, doubtless, to confirm the Christians of that hypothesis. The Gospel of Saint John, being written after (and every succeeding) age in their belief of the truth the other three, supplies what they had omitted. Thus have that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, through whom we four distinct and independent writers of one and the same alone they can obtain eternal life (John xx. 31.), and also to history; and though trifling variations may seem to exist in defend this momentous truth against the calumnies of the their narratives, yet these admit of easy solutions; and in adversaries of the Christian faith. For, as the Jews, and all matters of consequence, whether doctrinal or historical, those who supported the Jewish superstition, would calum- there is such a manifest agreement between them as is to be niate, and endeavour to render suspected, the oral declara- found in no other writings whatever. tions of the apostles concerning the life, transactions, and “ Though we have only four original writers of the life of resurrection of our Saviour, it would not a little tend to Jesus, the evidence of the history does not rest on the testistrengthen the faith and courage of the first Christians, if the mony of four men. Christianity had been propagated in a most important events in the history of Jesus Christ were great part of the world before any of them had written, on committed to writing in a narrative which should set forth the testimony of thousands and tens of thousands, who had his dignity and divine majesty. This task was executed by been witnesses of the great facts which they have recorded two apostles, Matthew and John, and two companions of the so that the writing of these particular books is not to be con apostles, Mark and Luke, if indeed Luke was not one of sidered as the cause, but rather the effect, of the belief of those who attended the ministry of Jesus Christ. Of these Christianity; nor could those books have been written and evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke have chiefly related received as they were, viz. as authentic histories, of the subthe actions and doctrines of Jesus in Galilee, probably on ject of which all persons of that age were judges, if the account of the false reports circulated by the Jews of Jeru- facts they have recorded had not been well known to be salem : who, being unable to deny the memorable and noto- true.''; rious transactions performed there by Jesus Christ, seem to have directed all their efforts to invalidate the credibility of what he is said to have taught and done in Galilee. This is

SECTION II. the more likely, as we know that they held the Galileans in the utmost contempt, as well as everything which came from that country. (Jolin vii. 52.) Such appears to have been the reason why these three evangelists have related the transactions of Jesus Christ in Galilee more at length; while, with the 1. Title.II. Author: — III. Date. IV. In what language

written.-V. Genuineness and authenticity of Saint Matexception of his passion and resurrection, they have only

thew's Gospel in general. — VI. The authenticity of the touched briefly on the other circumstances of his life. On

two first chapters examined and substantiated. VII. the contrary,John expatiates more largely on the actions and doctrines of our Saviour both at Jerusalem and in Judæa,

Scope of this Gospel.VIII. Synopsis of its contents.-IX. and adds a variety of particulars omitted by the others.

Observations on its style. III. The Gospels which have been transmitted to us are I. In some Greek and Latin manuscripts, and the earlier four in number; and we learn from undoubted authority that printed editions, as well as in the Coptic version and many four, and four only, were ever received by the Christian Greek and Latin fathers, the TITLE of this book is, Eu.eggenCV church as the genuine and inspired writings of the evange- x4T4 MetJacv, “ Gospel according to Matthew.”' In many lists. Many of the ancient fathers have attempted to assign other MSS., however, but of later

date, it is To xxTu Mat Sale the reason why we have precisely

this number of Gospels, azuv Europencv, which may be rendered either, “ The Holy and haye fancied that they discovered a mysterious ana- Gospel according to Matthew," or (which is adopted in our logy between the four Gospels and the four winds, the authorized version), “ The Gospel according to Saint Matfour regions or corners of the earth, the four rivers of Para- thew.” But in many of the most ancient Greek manudise, and the four corners and four rings of the ark of the scripts, and in several editions it is To XAT& Met:Jaby Evuggecovenant! But the most celebrated analogy is that of the four nov, which in the ancient Latin versions is rendered Evananimals described by Ezekiel (i. 5–10.), which was first gelium secundum Matthæum,—the Gospel according to observed by Irenæus, and after him by Jerome, and which Matthew : MATu MafIrucv being equivalent to tcu Mutfaku, as gave rise to the well-known paintings of the four evangelists. the preposition x2t2 is used by Greek writers in the same The following table exhibits the most probable dates, as well manner as the 5 of the Hebrews in many of the titles of the as the names of the places, where the historical books of the psalms,-to indicate the author. The "Gospel according to New Testament were written.

Matthew," therefore, means the history of or by Matthew,

concerning the life, acts, and doctrines of Jesus Christ :' and Matthew (Ilebrew)

as the evangelist's design is, to show that every thing done (Greek) 3 Mark

- Rome between 60 and 63 or taught by Him was characteristic of the Messiah, Hug Luke (Gospel)

63 or 64.
remarks, that his book deserved to be called Evayzendy,

the (Acts of the Apostles)

consolatory annunciation of the Messiah ; an appellation, John

- Ephesus

97 or 98. IV. “It is a considerable advantage that a history of such biographies of Jesus, though though their peculiar aim was

which (he thinks) was subsequently attached to all the other importance as that of Jesus Christ has been recorded by the entirely different from that of Matthew.10 In the Arabic ver

1 Dr. Clarke's Preface to the Gospel of Matthew, p. ii. 4.

2 Irenæus adv. Hæres. lib. iii. c. il. expressly states that in the second 5 Michaelis, vol. iii. p. 4. century the four Gospels were received by the church. See additional 6 See Section III. $ VIII, infra. testimonies to the number of the Gospels in the Index to Dr. Lardner's See Vol. I. Part 11. Book II. Chap. VII. on the Contradictions which are Works, voce Gospels.

alleged to exist in the Scriptures. 3 Irenæus adv. Hæres. lib. iii. c. 11. The first living creature, says this 8 Dr. Priestley's Notes on the Bible, vol. iii. p. 7. father, which is like a lion, signifies Christ's efficacy, principality, and 9 A similar mode of expression occurs in the second apocryphal Book regality ; viz. Jchn ;-the second, like a calf, denotes his sacerdotal order, of Maccabees (ii. 13.), where we read xx* IV TOTS UT opevnu TIGMOUS Tois

KATA viz. Luke;---the third, having as it were a inan's face, describes his

coming TON

NEEMIAN, in our version rendered the commentaries of Nee. in the flesh as man, viz. Matthew-and the fourth, like a flying eagle, MIAS." manifests the grace of the Spirit flying into the church, viz. Mark !! 10 Pritii Introd. ad Nov. Test. p. 169. Keinoel, Prolegomena ad Matthæum,

Jerone, Procem. in Matth. The reader, who is desirous of reading $ 2. IIug's Introd. to the New Testament, by Dr Wait, vol, ii. p. 9. Gries. more of these fanciful

analogies, will find them collected by Suicer, in his bach's edit. of the New Testament, vol. i. on Matt. i. 1. Moldenhawer, Thesaurus Ecclesiasticus, torn. i. pp. 1222, 1223.

Introd. ad Libros Biblicos, p. 245.


PLACES. - Judæa

A. D. 37 or 38.


- Greece

sion, as printed in Bishop Walton's Polyglott, this Gospel them to any purpose. Since, then, external evidence affords is thus entitled : “ The Gospel of Saint Matthew the apostle, us but little assistance, it becomes necessary to have recourse which he wrote in Hebrew by the inspiration of the Holy to the internal testimony which the Gospel of Saint Matthew Spirit.” In the Persian version it is :-" The Gospel of affords, and we apprehend that it will be found to preponMatthew, which was spoken in the Hebrew tongue, in a city derate in favour of an early date. of Palestine, but written in Syriac at Antioch ;" and in the In the first place, it is by no means probable that the Syriac version, “The Gospel, the preaching of Matthew." Christians should be left any considerable number of years

JI. Matthew, surnamed Levi, was the son of Alpheus, but without a genuine and authentic written history of our not of that Alpheus or Cleopas who was the father of James Saviour's ministry. “It is certain,” Bishop Tomline rementioned in Matt. x. 3. He was a native of Galilee, but of marks, “that the apostles immediately after the descent what city in that country, or of what tribe of the people of of the Holy Ghost, which took place only ten days after the Israel, we are not informed. Before his conversion to Chris- ascension of our Saviour into heaven, preached the Gospel tianity, he was a publican or tax-gatherer, under the Romans, to the Jews with great success: and surely it is reasonable and collected the customs of all goods exported or imported to suppose that an authentic account of our Saviour's docat Capernaum, a maritime town on the sea of Galilee, and trines and miracles would very soon be committed to writing also received the tribute paid by all passengers who went by for the confirmation of those who believed in his divine water. While employed at the receipt of custom,” Jesus mission, and for the conversion of others, and more particucalled him to be a witness of his words and works, thus con- larly to enable the Jews to compare the circumstances of the ferring upon him the honourable office of an apostle. From birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus with their ancient that time he continued with Jesus Christ, a familiar attend- prophecies relative to the Messiah : and we may conceive ant on his person, a spectator of his public and private con- that the apostles would be desirous of losing no time in duct, a hearer of his discourses, a witness of his miracles, writing an account of the miracles which Jesus performed, and an evidence of his resurrection. After our Saviour's and of the discourses which he delivered, because, the sooner ascension, Matthew continued at Jerusalem with the other such an account was published, the easier it would be to apostles, and with them on the day of Pentecost was en- inquire into its truth and accuracy; and, consequently, when dowed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. How long he re- these points were satisfactorily ascertained, the greater would mained in Judæa after that event, we have no authentic be its weight and authority." On these accounts the learned account. Socrates, an ecclesiastical historian of the fifth prelate assigns the date of St. Matthew's Gospel to the century, relates, that when the apostles went abroad to year 38. preach to the Gentiles, Thomas took_Parthia for his lot; Secondly, 'as the sacred writers had a regard to the circumBartholomew, India; and Matthew, Ethiopia. The com- stances of the persons for whose use they wrote, we have an mon opinion is that he was crowned with martyrdom at additional evidence for the early date of this Gospel, in the Naddabar or Naddaver, a city in that country: but this is state of persecution in which the church was at the time contradicted by the account of Heracleon, a learned Valen- when it was written : for it contains many obvious references tiniąn of the second century; who, as cited by Clement of to such a state, and many very apposite addresses both to Alexandria, reckons Matthew among the apostles that did the injurıd and to the injurious party. not die by martyrdom: and as his statement is not contra- 1. Thus, the evangelist informs the injured and persecuted dicted by Clement, it is more likely to be true than the rela- Christians, that their aflictions were no more than they had been tion of Socrates, who did not flourish until three hundred taught to expect, and had promised to bear, when they embraced years after Heracleon.2

the Gospel (x. 21, 22. 34–36. xvi. 24.); that, however unreaIII. Matthew is generally allowed to have written first of sonable their sufferings might be, considered as the effects of the all the evangelists. His Gospel is uniformly placed first in malice of their enemies, they were yet useful and profitable to all the codes or volumes of the Gospels: and the priority is themselves, considered as trials of their faith and fidelity (v. 11. constantly given to it in all the quotations of the primitive xxiv. 9—13.); that, though they were grievous to be borne at fathers, as well as of the early heretics. Its precedence, present, yet they operated powerfully to their future joy (v. 4. therefore, is unquestionable, though the precise tine when it 10–12.); that a pusillanimous desertion of the faith would be so Dr. Mill, Michaelis, and Bishop

Percy, after Irenæus,

assign libly expose them to greater calamities, and cut them off from the 63; Dr. Lardner and Mr. Hewlett, to 61; Baronius, Grotius, hopes of heaven (x. 28. 32, 33. 39.) ; that they were not, howWetstein, Mr. Jer. Jones, and others, after Eusebius,' to 41; ever, forbidden to use the lawful means of preservation ; but even Dr. Benson, to 43; Dr. Cave, to 18; Dr. Owen and Bishop enjoined to put them in practice, whenever they could do it with Tomline, to 38; and Dr. Townson, to the year 37. In this innocence (x. 16, 17. 23.); that the due observance of the Chrisconflict of opinions, it is difficult to decide. The accounts tian precepts was an excellent method to appease the wrath and left us by the ecclesiastical writers of antiquity, concerning fury of their enemies, and what therefore they were obliged in the times when the Gospels were written or published, are point of prudence as well as duty carefully to mind and attend to so vague, confused, and discordant, that they lead us to no (v. 39. vii

. 12. 24—27. v. 13—20.); that if it should be their solid or certain determination. The oldest of the ancient fate to suffer martyrdom at last for their religion, it was infinitely fathers collected the reports of their own times, and set them better to continue faithful to their important trust, than by any down for certain truths; and those who followed adopted base compliance to incur his displeasure, in whose hands are the their accounts with implicit reverence. Thus traditions, true issues not only of this life, but also of that which is to come. or false, passed on from one writer to another, without (xvi. 25—27. x. 28.) examination, until it became almost too late to examine 2. On the other hand, again, to calm the passions of the enend, he lays before them the dignity and amiableness of a com- which the comprehensive design of the Christian dispensa passionate, benevolent disposition (v. 43. 48. xviii. 23–35.) ;' tion, as extending to the whole Gentile world, together with the natural good consequences that are annexed to it here; and the rejection of the Jews, is unfolded in this Gospel. Of the distinguished regard which the Almighty himself will pay to these topics, they suppose the.evangelist not to have treated, it hereafter. (v. 5. 7. 9. x. 40–42. xviii. 23–35. v. 21–26. until a course of years had developed their meaning, removed xxv. 31–46.) Then he reminds them of the repeated punish- his Jewish prejudices, and given him a clearer discernment ments which God had inflicted on their forefathers for their cruel of their nature. and barbarous treatment of his prophets, and assures them that a This objection, however, carries but little force with it. still more accumulated vengeance was reserved for themselves, if For, in the first place, as Dr. Townson

raged Jews, and win them over to the profession of the Gospel, · Stromata, lib. 4. p. 502. B. See the passage in Dr. Lardner's Works, he labours to soften and abate their prejudices, and to engage Bvo. vol. vi. p. 48.; tio. vol. iii. p. 159.

them in the practice of meekness and charity. (ix. 13.) To this ? Lardner's Works, vol. vi. pp. 45–47. 8vo.; or vol. iii. pp. 157-159. 4to. Pritii Introductio Lectionem Novi Testamenti, pp. 154-157. Michaelis's Introduction, vol. iii. pp. 96—99.

3 Elem. of Christ. Theol. vol. i. p. 301. The following observations of : Of all the primitive fathers, Irenæus (who flourished in the second the profound critic Le Clerc will materially confirm the preceding recentury) is the only one who has said any thing concerning the exact time marks. “Those,” says he, "who think that the Gospels were written so when St. Matthew's Gospel was written; and the passage (ady. Hæres. lib. late as Irenæus states, and who supposés that, for the space of about thirty iii. c. 1.) in which he has mentioned it, is so obscure, that no positive con- years after our Lord's ascension, there were many spurious gospels in the clusion can be drawn from it. Dr. Lardner (8vo. vol. vi. p. 49. ; 4to. vol. hands of the Christians, and not one that was genuine and authentic, do iii. p. 160.), and Dr. Townson (discourse iv. on the Gospels, sect iv. $ 6.) unwarily cast a very great reflection upon the wisdom of the apostles. understand it in very different senses. The following is a literal transla- For, what could have been more imprudent in them, than tamely to have tion of the original passage, which the reader will find in Dr. Lardner's suffered the idle stories concerning Christ to be read by the Christians, works. Matthew put forth (or published) a gospel among the Hebrews and not to contradict them by some authentic history, written by some .while Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel at Rome and laying the credible persons, which might reach the knowledge of all men? For my foundations of a church there. Now, though it does not appear that Peter part, I can never be persuaded to entertain so mean an opinion of men was at Rome until after Paul's liberation from his first imprisonment, A. D. under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Besides, Matthew has delivered 63, yet we know that the latter arrived there in the spring of A. D. 61, con- to us, not only the actions, but also the discourses of Christ; and this he sequently the date intended by Irenæus must be the year 61.

must necessarily be able to do with the greater certainty, while they were Eusebius, who lived in the early part of the fourth century, merely fresh in his meinory, than when, through length of time, he began to lose says that Matthew, after preaching to the Hebrews, wrote his Gospel for the impressions of ihem. It is true that the Holy Spirit was with the apostheir information, previously to his going to evangelize other nations (Eccl. tles, to bring all the things to their remembrance, which they had received Hist. lib. iii. c. 24.); but he does not specify the time, nor is it mentioned of Christ, according to his promise (John xiv. 26.): but the Holy Spirit not by any other ancient writer. In his Chronicon, however, Eusebius places only inspired them, but also dealt with them according to their natural the writings of St. Matthew's Gospel in the third year of the reign of the powers, as the variety of expressions in the Gospel shows." Clerici Hist. emperor Caligula, that is, eight years after Christ's ascension, or A. D. 41. 1 Eccl. sæculi 1. A. D. LXII. $ 9.

has justly observed, they obstinately persisted in the ways of cruelty (xxiii. 27-39. with regard to the doctrinal part of his Gospel, if Saint x. 14, 15.); for God, though patient and long-suffering, was sure Matthew exhibits a noble idea of pure religion and morality, at last to vindicate his elect, and to punish their oppressors, un- he teaches no more than he had heard frequently taught, and less they repented, believed, and reformed, with the dreadful often opposed to the maxims of the Jews, by his divine rigour of a general destruction. (xxiv. 2. &c.)

Instructor. And when the Holy Spirit, the guide into all These and similar arguments which Saint Matthew has that he still wanted twenty or thirty years to enlighten his

truth, had descended upon him, it seems strange to imagine inserted in the body of his Gospel (by way of comfort to the mind. If he was not then furnished with knowledge to afflicted Christians, and also as a warning to their injurious relate these things as an evangelist, how was he qualified to oppressors and persecutors, evidently refer to a state of distress and persecution under which the church of Christ preach them to the Jews as an apostle ? laboured at the time when the evangelist advanced and urged Gospel declare the extent of Christ's kingdom, and the call,

In the next place, it is true that the prophetic parts of his church, while it was composed only of Jewish and Samaritan been plainly foretold by the ancient prophets, and were exand was afterwards continued and conducted by Saul with pected by devout Israelites to happen in the days of the Mesmplacable rage and

fury. During this calamity, which of the Gospel dispensation, the evangelist merely states that asted in the whole about six years, viz. till the third year the Gospel would be successfully preached among the Genof Caligula A. D. 39 or 40 (when the Jews were too much tiles in all parts of the earth. He only recites the words of turbance to the Christians), the members of the Christian our Saviour without any explanation or remark; and we know church stood in need of all the support, consolation, and it was promised to the apostles, that after Christ's ascension, assistance that could be administered to them. But what and guide them into all truth.

the Holy Spirit should bring all things to their remembrance,

" Whether Saint Matthew comfort could they possibly receive, in their distressed situaion, comparable to that which resulted from the example

of was aware of the call of the Gentiles, before the Gospel was their suffering Master, and the promise he had made to his actually embraced by them, cannot be ascertained: nor is it faithful followers ? This example, and those promises, Saint material, since it is generally agreed, that the inspired penMatthew seasonably laid before them, towards the close of men often did not comprehend the full meaning of their own this period of trial, for their imitation and encouragement, ous that it might answer a good purpose to have the future

writings when they referred to future events; and it is obvis and delivered it to them, as the anchor of their hope, to keep call of the Gentiles intimated in an authentic history of our them steadfast in this violent tempest. From this considera- Saviour's ministry, to which the believing Jews might tion Dr. Owen was led to fix the date of Saint Matthew's refer, when that extraordinary and unexpected event should Gospel to the year 38.2 Thirdly, Saint Matthew ascribes those titles of sanctity to and they would more readily admit the comprehensive design

take place. Their minds would thus be more easily satisfied ; Jerusalem, by which it had been distinguished by the pro- of the Gospel, when they found it declared in a book which phets and ancient historians, and also testifies a higher they acknowledged as the rule of their faith and practice.”:o yeneration for the temple than the other evangelists :: and this fact proves that his Gospel was written before the destruc- this evangelist's mentioning prophecies

and prophetic para

Once more, with respect to the argument deduced from tion of Jerusalem, and not after it, as a recent scoffing anta- bles, that speak of the rejection and overthrow of the Jews, gonist of Christianity has asserted, contrary to all evidence. it may be observed, that if this argument means, that, being The evangelist's comparative gentleness in mentioning John the Baptist's reproof of Herod, and his silence concerning Israel, he could not understand these prophecies, and there

at first prejudiced in favour of a kingdom to be restored to the insults offered by Herod to our Lord on the morning of fore would not think of relating them if he wrote early;his crucifixion, are additional evidences for the early date of his Gospel: for, as Herod was still reigning in Galilee, the though the premises should be admitted, we may justly deny evangelist diplayed no more of that sovereign's bad character what manner the predictions were to be accomplished, yet he

the conclusion. Saint Matthew might not clearly discern in than was absolutely necessary, lest he should excite Herod's jealousy of his believing subjects or their disaffection to him. those who rejected the Gospel : hence, he always had an in

must see, what they all denounced, that God would reject If he was influenced by these motives, he must have written ducement to notify them to his countrymen ; and the sooner before the year 39, for in that year Herod was deposed and he apprized them of their danger, the greater charity he banished to Lyons by Caligula.

showed them.11 Lastly, to omit circumstances of minor importance, Matthew's frequent mention (not fewer than nine times) of Pilate,

Since, therefore, the objections to the early date by no as being then actually governor of Judæa, is an additional means balance the weight of evidence in its favour, we are evidence of the early date of his Gospel. For Josephuss justified in assigning

the date of this Gospel to the year of informs us, that Pilate having been ordered by Vitellius, our Lord 37, or at the latest to the year 38. And as the governor of Syria, to go to Rome, to answer a complaint of weight of evidence is also in favour of Saint Matthew's have the Samaritans before the emperor, hastened thither, but being composed his Gospel in Hebrew AND Greek, 12 we may refore he arrived the emperor was dead. Now, as 'Tiberius fer the carly date of a. D. 37 or 38 to the former, and A. D. 61 died in the spring of 37, it is highly probable

that Saint to the latter. This will reconcile the apparently conflicting

testimonies of Irenæus and Eusebius above mentioned, 17. Matthew's Gospel was written by that time.. Dr. Lardner, however, and Bishop Percy, think that they

which have led biblical critics to form such widely different discover marks of a lower date in Saint Matthew's writings. opinions concerning the real date of Saint Matthew's Gospel.

IV. The next subject of inquiry respects the LANGUAGE in They argue from the knowledge which he shows of the spirituality of the Gospel, and of the excellence of the moral which Saint Matthew wrote his Gospel, and which has been above the ceremonial law: and from the great clearness with Erasmus, Paræus,

Calvin, Le Clerc, Fabricius, Pfeiffer, Dr.

among critics with no small degree of acrimony; : The same temper is also particularly illustrated in all our Saviour's Lightfoot, Beausobre, Basnage, Wetstein, Rumpæus,' Dr.

Whitby, Edelmann, Hug, Fritsche, Hoffman, Moldenhawer, 2 Owen's Observations on the Four Gospels (Svo. Lond. 1764.), pp. 8–21.

s Compare Neh. xi. 1. 18. Isa. xlviii. 2. lii. I. Dan. ix. 24. with Matt. iv. 5. 9 Thus Zacharias, the father of the Baptist, speaks of Christ as coming v. 35. xxvii. 53.

to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death (Luke Compare Matt. xxi. 12. with Mark xi. 15. Luke xix. 45. and Matt. xxvi. 61. 1.79.), which description includes the Gentiles; and Simeon expressly calla with Mark xiv. 58.

him a light to lighten the Gentiles. (Luke ii. 32.) Ant. Jud. lib. xviii. c. iv. $ 2.

10 Bishop Tomline's Elements of Christ. Theol. vol. i. p. 302. $ Dr. Townson's Discourses on the Gospels, Works, vol. i. pp. 107–115. 11 Dr. Townson's Discourses, disc. iv. sect. iv. Works, vol. i. pp. 116, 117, * Works, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 57, 58.; 4to. vol. ill. pp. 163, 161.

19 See pp. 298, 299. infra. 8 Key to the New Test. p. 55. 3d edit.

13 See p. 296. notes 3. and 4. supra. VOL. II.

2 P


« ElőzőTovább »