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each other, and with the vernal equinox. In the Eleventh Dissertation, the opinions of the earliest Christian writers upon the preceding topics are examined. Dissert. XII. examines the true sense of Luke ii. 2, in reference to the census of Cyrenius. The last dissertation in the first volume treats of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, and the first part of the chronology of the Acts of the Apostles ; having for its object, to complete the argument in Diss. VIII. This subject is pursued in Diss. I. of the second volume, which is occupied with an examination of the chronology of the Acts from the xiiith chapter forwards, and belongs to the first Series.
The second volume contains twenty-two principal Dissertations. The subject of the first has been mentioned: those of the five following may be briefly stated. II. On the Two Genealogies. III. Upon the Question, Who are intended by the 'Adenooi of Christ. IV. On the date of the Visit of the Magi. V. True Nature and Design of the Ministry of the Baptist. VI. On the Order of the Temptations. The Seventh is entitled : * On the hiatus in the first three Gospels, between the time of ' the Baptism of Our Saviour and the commencement of his mi* nistry in Galilee, and on its supplement by the Gospel of St.
John. The object of this disquisition is to shew, that, beginning his narrative precisely where the other evangelists had left off, St. John conducts it regularly down to the point of time where St. Luke had begun again. To this is subjoined an appendix, involving the question of the Computation of Sabbatic Years, one of which is shewn to have actually coincided with the first
year of Our Saviour's Ministry. The Eighth Dissertation, which is divided into four parts, is designed to give a general preliminary view of Our Lord's ministry down to the middle of the third year. The next six Dissertations (IX.--XIV.) are devoted to the discussion of particular questions relating to supposed trajections or anticipations in the several narratives. The next two, in continuation of the subject of Diss. VIII., illustrate the supplementary relation of John vii.—xi. 54., to the first three Gospels; and of Luke ix. 51.-xviii. 14, to those of Matthew and Mark. The subjects of the remaining Dissertations in this volume are: XVII. On the village of Martha and Mary. XVIII. On the two Dispossessions recorded, Matt. xii. and Luke xi. XIX. On the notices of time supplied in Luke xii. XX. On the occurrence relating to the Galileans, Luke xiii. 1-9. XXI. On the question concerning Divorce, Matt. xix. 3—12; Mark x. 2-12. XXII. On the Miracles performed at Jericho.
The object of the six consecutive Dissertations contained in the third volume, is, to harmonize the several accounts in the four Gospels, from the time of Our Lord's arrival at Bethany before the last Passover, to the day of the Ascension. The re
mainder of the volume is occupied with appendices, comprising additional illustrations of various points discussed in several of the Dissertations. These, in the event of a new edition, should either be incorporated with the dissertations to which they relate, or be introduced in immediate sequence. Other improvements in the distribution of the materials, might be suggested. The three volumes are of very unequal size, the first containing much the largest number of pages; and if we add the 100 pages occupied by the first dissertation of the second volume, and Appendices I. to V., which also belong to the first series of Dissertations, we shall have 828 pages, or nearly half the three volumes, the remainder of the matter occupying 744. It so happens that the work naturally divides itself into two parts at this place. The first Part comprises an exposition of the Author's hypothesis with respect to the composition of the Gospels, and a series of dissertations upon the chronology of the New Testament. The second Part consists of preliminary disquisitions upon the subjectmatter of the inspired record, and of an application of the Author's hypothesis, or of the principles upon which it is built, to the facts recorded by the Evangelists. Had Mr. Greswell adopted this twofold division of his work, assigning to each Part one large or two smaller volumes, and subdividing the longer Dissertations into chapters, instead of adding a series of appendices, -it would greatly have improved both the appearance and the arrangement of the work.
To the Biblical student, the above synopsis of the Contents will not fail to convey a general idea of the extremely interesting and important nature of the Author's labours ; characterized by a range of erudition, a patience of investigation, and a degree of critical ability, that entitle him to take his rank with Lardner, Griesbach, and Michaëlis, in the first class of those who have zealously consecrated profound scholarship to the illustration of the Christian Scriptures. Such a work must go some way towards vindicating the literature of the day from the charge of universal frivolity or superficialness; and it is with peculiar satisfaction that we find Oxford beginning to cultivate a species of learning which has of late been almost monopolized by the German critics. Among the curious and recondite questions discussed in the first volume, and which are but remotely connected with the Harmony itself, there are some, the Author remarks, which have exercised the ingenuity of learned men, without their arriving at any satisfactory conclusions, ever since the revival of letters.
• Nor am I,' he adds, 'vain enough to suppose that they have been settled by my own individual attempts. It will not be laid to my charge, however, that what could reasonably be expected from the exertions of one person, has not been performed to the utmost; that I have not endeavoured to sift every question to the bottom ; that the
pains and labour of the investigation have not been commensurate to the difficulty or importance of the end proposed. If I have erred, it has been on the score of an over-anxious diligence to render my
Dis. sertations even tediously scrupulous and elaborately minute, rather than leave them perfunctory or superficial. Perhaps, too, there are some of these controverted instances, in which I may be considered to have approximated to the truth as nearly as, under the circumstances of the case, was practicable; for, if the results of the speculations of learned men upon such questions are not every where final and decisive, the cause must be ascribed to a defect for which no ingenuity nor industry can compensate, the defect of data. In the course of my researches, it has more than once fallen to my lot to observe that very great names, in every department of sacred literature, have lapsed into mistakes, and mistakes which frequently might have been avoided. Nor do I mention this as if to claim any merit to myself for discovering errors into which they had fallen, much less to put myself on a footing of equality with them, but that I may plead the failures of more competent and more learned persons in extenuation of my own.'
Pref. pp. xi, xii. The present work first suggested itself to the Author, in the course of an examination of the most popular Harmonies, which he was led to consult, in preparing an exposition of the Gospel Parables. The striking inconsistencies which he observed in the several Harmonies he examined, convinced him that the principles upon which they rested, could not be correct; and the dissatisfaction produced by this discovery, induced him to lay them all aside, and to take the four original narratives into his hands, with a view to frame for himself a system that should at least avoid the difficulties that appeared so glaring and palpable in the works referred to. The result of this endeavour, is the Harmony before us, which has assumed a shape very different from the idea of it which its Author had originally conceived. Had he fully comprehended the extent of his undertaking, and into how wide a field of research and disquisition it would lead, he must have shrunk back, he says, from the arduous attempt; and he considers it as a fortunate circumstance, that he was too inextricably involved in the task, and too deeply interested in its completion, to be able or disposed to recede from its prosecution, when experience had convinced him of its magnitude and difficulty. The rule which he determined to adopt, was, to trust as much as possible to his own researches, so that the work, though of course containing much that is in accordance with the opinions and cor.clusions of preceding writers, is strictly original, being the result of an independent inquiry. While prepared to find that he has been anticipated in many things, Mr. Greswell states, that he has abstained from introducing any borrowed matter; and regarded as a whole, the Harmony
which he offers to the public, may still be considered as unlike any other. He disclaims all affectation of novelty or the
wish to deviate without reason from the opinions of his predecessors. Could I,' he says, “have met with any Harmony which
was not apparently fraught with more difficulties than it was in'tended to remove, most gladly would I have acquiesced in-its
use. The number and diversity of the Harmonies in circulation, afford a presumption that the true principle remains to be ascertained, upon which a perfect Harmony is to be constructed, or such a one as should unite the suffrages of the learned in favour of its satisfactory character.
If it is not in the nature of things impossible for the four Gospel narratives to be satisfactorily reduced to one, it is not in the nature of things impossible for a perfect Harmony to be composed : but, as only one niethod of reconciling these accounts can be absolutely just and true, so only one Harmony, such as should be founded altogether on the principle of that method, would be absolutely just and perfect.'
Pref. p. iii. What is not, in the nature of things, impossible, is sometimes, however, from circumstances, impracticable ; and how desirable soever it may be to harmonize the order and succession of events in the several Gospels, we cannot for a moment admit the necessity of ascertaining the true method of reconciling apparent discrepancies, in order to vindicate the credibility and consistency of the narratives. This would be a gratuitous concession to the sceptic, which the nature of the case does not warrant. Mr. Gresswell remarks, that, with some minds, the difference of ' opinion which prevails among commentators upon Scripture,
the great variety and incompatibility between their several modes of reconciling the same accounts, would be calculated to operate reflexively against the belief of the truth, or the con
sistency of the accounts themselves. But would this be a rational inference? If there are various modes of reconciling independent accounts of the same transactions that appear to differ, although but one mode can be the true one, yet, the possibility of reconciling them is established by the diverse hypotheses; and the objection founded upon their alleged incompatibility falls to the ground. That objection originates in our imperfect knowledge of all the circumstances, and of all the relations of time and place affecting the order and succession of the events recorded. Such perfect knowledge of the circumstances as would enable us to adjust their precise order with certainty, is unattainable; but if we can hypothetically harmonize them, although the hypothesis be but an approximation to the fact, it will suffice to shew that no necessary incompatibility exists. If the theory employed is fraught with more difficulties than it is intended to remove, this is a good reason for distrusting its correctness; but it may still be of use as shewing that these difficulties are capable of solu
tion;—if by the false hypothesis, still more by the true one. All that is requisite is, that we prove there is no essential disagreement between the separate accounts: the rest is matter of curiosity, or, at least, of subordinate importance.
Even although the present Writer should be thought to have failed to detect the true method, or to construct a perfect Harmony, the value of his labours will suffer little depreciation on that account. The satisfactory determination of the various questions that present themselves in the course of the attempt to reconcile and arrange the details of the four Gospels, is far more important than the object proposed as the ultimate result. The greater part of these Dissertations have for their immediate design, to clear up points affecting not so much the harmony of the various accounts, as the credibility or accuracy of each particular narrative. We do not mean to deny the utility of Harmonies ; but we are inclined to consider their indirect utility as greater than their direct benefit. It is often by an assumed hypothesis that the philosopher is conducted to the discovery of recondite facts,facts not merely more certain, but more important than the principle it was sought to establish. The construction of a diatessaron is the purpose to which the scheme of the Harmonist is intended to be subservient; but no diatessaron can possess the authority, the internal evidence, and the effectiveness of the separate documents. The stamp of genuineness, the seal of Inspiration are wanting. Digests or summaries of the evangelical history, whether in the words of the Evangelists or not, are legitimate vehicles of religious instruction ; but they must never be substituted for the four Gospels. That would be, to shape by the wisdom of man the wisdom of God,--to bend the rule of faith to our own notions of harmony and fitness,--and, by obscuring the genuineness, to weaken to a great degree the authority of Scripture. Harmonies are for the learned, not for the unlearned : they are of more service in silencing the cavils of the sceptic, than in edifying the plain and ingenuous believer. They form a valuable part of the expository apparatus for illustrating the sacred text, as they enable the commentator or teacher to throw, as it were, upon each Gospel, the concentrated light of all. They afford a tabular view of the substantial accordance, the characteristic difference, and the separate value of the four documents respectively, and serve as an illustrative index to their contents. But here, we think, their legitimate purpose terminates.
No one,' Mr. Greswell remarks, 'can study the Gospels with that attention which they deserve, or with that sense of personal interest in them which they are calculated to excite, without ' endeavouring to harmonize them, in some manner or other, for • himself. This is true. But there is a great difference be