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many prophecies of the Old Testament to prove the Divinity of Chrift. (2.) That the true Gospel of St. Matthew was wrote in Hebrew, whereas this which we now have under his name, feems originally to have been wrote in Greeka.
To the first of these my design does not oblige me to give any answer; because all I undertake to prove is, that the Gorpel was received as St. Matthew's, and of as great authority in the primitive Church, without any respect to the several difficulties that may be in its contexture; though it were no diffi. cult matter to thew the falsehood of their allegation.
To the second it will be sufficient to answer, that I have elsewhere proved b that St. Matthew's true Gospel was nos originally written in Hebrew, and that it was a mistake in the Fathers to assert that it was wrote in that language, there never having been any other Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew, but what was a translation out of his original Greek, and afterwards interpolated by the Nazarenes, was made use of by them as the true Gospel of this Evangelift.
CH A P. V.
Concerning the Time of St. Matthew's writing his Gospel.
Irenæus and Eufebius differ in this Matter. The Opinion of the latter proved to be more probable than that of the former ; viz. that he wrote A. D. XLI, and not A. D. LIX, or LX.
TT remains now that I say somewhat concerning the time, iş 1 which it is most probable that St. Matthew's Gospel was written; and herein I find it difficult to come to any certainty, because of the disagreement there is between the antients themselves, as to the matter. I lhall furft lay down the different opinions, and then observe what appears more probable.
Sixt. Senenf. Bibl. Sanct. 1.7. de Evang. Matt. Hærel. p. 581.
• Vindication of St. Matthew's
Gospel, ch. xvii, xviii, xix. See allo of this work, Vol. I. Part II, Che XXIX. p. 305, &c,
1. The first is that of Irenæus, who tells us, that Mate thew published his Gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of a church there. Now as I have had occafion to observe in another place, though it is not certain when Peter was at Rome, yet Paul was there in the third year of Nero; i. e. in or about the year of Christ LIX. or LX. as Eusebius relates in his Chronicon; and to this moft Chrono logers and writers of church-history agree
2. Eusebius in his Chronicon has placed the writing of St. Matthew's Gospel in the third of Caligula ; i. e. eight years after Christ's ascension, or the year of Christ XLI.
Besides these two, I know none of the writers of the first centuries who have assigned any time, in which they suppose St. Matthew to have wrote: Nicephorusd indeed has without any reason asserted; that it was wrote fifteen years after Chriff's ascension ; but he being so late a writer (viz. of the ninth century), his testimony can deserve no regard here. As to more modern writers, I find they generally credit and follow Eusebius in this matter; nor do I know any one besides the famous Je. suit Andradiuse, Chemnitius f, and Dr. Mill, who have be. lieved Irenæus in this matter. That which influenced the first of these to his opinion was, that he thereby was able the better to support the Popish doctrine of the necessity of traditions, and the insufficiency of the Scripture. For if the Christians were without any authentick history of Christ, and St. Matthew did not write till the time which Irenæus mentions; i.e. till the year of Christ LIX. or LX. i. e. for the space of twenty six or twenty seven years, it would seem somewhat fa
• Adv. Hæref. lib. 3. cap. 1. 'Open de Marlatos év toño 'E&paío's τη ιδία αυτών διαλέκτω και γραφής εξήνεγκεν ευαγίελία, τα Πέτρε και το Παύλο έν Ρώμη ευαγγελιζομένων και Seuervoúrtwv Thv exxanolav. See the Greek in Euseb. Hift. Eccl. lib. 5.
0.8. ,, Helvicus, Petavius, Dr. Light
foot, Mr. Tallents, &c.
Spanheim, Eachard, Le Clerc, &c.
Lib. 2. c. 45. apud D. Cave Hift. Liter. in Matth. p. 8.
e Apud Chemnit. Exam, Concil, Trident. Pars I. p. 28.
f Lib. denuo cit. p. 31.
& Prolegom. in Nov. Teft. §. 61, &c. I find Mr. Whiston also fixes the time of St. Matthew's writing to this same period. Efsay on ConItit. p. 16.
vourable to the Popith scheme, viz. that religion might be propagated by mere tradition without any writing. Chemnitius, though he well refutes the Jesuit's reasonings, yet agrees with him, that Irenæus was in the right as to the time of St. Matthew's writing; because, says he, it is fit we should rather credit the more antient, than later Fathers. Dr. Mill also credits Irenæus, but without assigning the least shadow of a reason, why that Father is to be credited rather. For my part, though I freely own it is difficult to come to any certainty in the point, yet I cannot but rather subscribe to Eusebius than Irenæus ; i, e. I rather think St. Matthew's Gofpel was written in the third year of Caligula, eight years after Christ's ascension, A. D. XLI. than in the third year of Nero, fix or seven and twenty years after Christ's ascension, A. D. Lix. or ex. And for this opinion I shall offer the following reasons ; viz.
1. Because it is altogether improbable that the Christian churches should for so long a space as twenty fix or twenty seven years after Christ's ascension, be left destitute of any genuine and authentick history of the life and actions, of the miracles and doctrines of Jesus Chrift. To suppose this, is plainly to suppose the Apostles either defective in their zeal for the interest of Christianity, or else ignorant of one of the most likely means to promote it. But I find Mr. Le Clerc has prevented me on this head; I shall therefore omit saying any more on it, and give the reader a translation of his words: “a They who think «that the Gospels were written as late as Irenæus faith, and « suppose that for the space of about thirty years after our “ Lord's ascension, there were many spurious Gospels in the « hands of the Christians, and not one that was genuine and “authentick, do unwarily cast a very great reflection upon the “ wisdom of the Apostles; for what could have been more “ imprudence in them, than tamely to have suffered the idle s stories concerning Christ to be read by the Christians, and “ not to contradict them by some authentick history wrote by “ some credible persons, which might reach the knowledge of
a Hist. Eccl. Secul. I. A. D. LXII. & 9. p. 414. VOL. III.
« all men? For my part, I can never be persuaded to entertain “ fo mean an opinion of the prudence of men under the con6 duct of the Holy Ghost. Besides, Matthew has delivered to us “ not only the actions, but the discourses of Christ; and this he “ must needs be able to do with greater certainty, while they “ dvere fresh in his memory, than when through length of time 6 he began to lose the impressions of them. It is true, the “ Holy Ghost was with the Apostles, to bring all things to “ their remembrance, which they had received of Christ, ac“ cording to the promise, John xiv. 26: but the Holy Ghost “in this matter did not only inspire, but deal with them ac“ cording to their natural powers, as the variety of the ex“ pressions in the Gospel shews.” Thus far he; from whence it appears very improbable, that no Gospel, which was authentick, was written before the time which Irenæus mentions, viz. the year of Christ Lix. or Lx. I am sensible this argument supposes, that St. Matthew's was the first true Gospel which was wrote; and that it was so, is generally afserted by all the antients.
2. Many of the most antient manuscripts of this Gospel do agree with Eufebius, that St. Matthew's Gospel was wrote in the eighth year after our Saviour's afcenfion. Thus, for instance, Bezaa tells us, it was in his famous Clermont manufcript, which he gave to the University of Cambridge, and which is generally esteemed the oldest manufcript of the Gof. pels, which is now in the world. Thus also it is at the end of several very antient Greek MSS. which Father Simon faw", and more which are cited and referred to by Dr. Mill, among the manuscripts of the Gospels in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. See Mill on Matt. xxviii. 20.
3. The old Arabick Version joins in the same account; viz, that he, St. Matthew; wrote his Gospel in Palestine, by the influence of the Holy Spirit, in Hebrew, eight years after our Lord Jesus Christ ascended in his flesh to heaven, and the first year of the Roman Emperor Claudius . This differs but very
Annot. in Matt. xxviii. ult.
Matt. xxviii. ult. Critic. Hist. of the New Test. pars i. 6.10.
c Vid. Ludov. de Dieu ad Matt. xxviii. ult.
little from Eusebius; for though he says it was written in the third year of Caligula, and the Arabick Version in the first year of Claudius, yet this will prove only half a year's difference ; seeing Caligula reigned but three years and a few months, and Claudius immediately succeeded him
4. Theophylact and Euthymius do also assert this Gospel to have been written in the eighth year after Christ's afcenfion; the former in his preface to his Exposition an Matthew; the latter in his Commentaries on the Gospels, which are in a manų. script in the Bodleian Library at Oxforda : and though these were late writers, yet their testimony is for this reason confiderable, as it coincides with the testimonies of others; which cannot be said of the opinion of Nicephorus above-mentioned.
5. It may not perhaps be foreign to the purpose to observe, how diligent and careful Eufebius was in collecting his accounts of this fort ; and that though there are some mistakes in his works (which in so vast undertakings could hardly be avoided) yet for the most part he is very accurate and exact, as a Chronologer and Historian.
6. What gives force to all the preceding remarks is, that Irenæus is most certainly mistaken in the very next words to these; viz. as to the time of St. Mark's writing his Gospel : he faith, that St. Mark wrote his Gospel peta tho té rwv Fodor : i.e. after the death of Peter and Paul, as those words undoubtedly mean, and are well expressed by the old Latin Verfion, poft harum excessum. But this, I say, is false, and contrary to the express affertions of many of the most artient primitive writers, as will appear hereafter in my account of Mark. I know indeed that there have been some, who have otherwise. translated these words; but this has been observed (by Valefius in Euseb. lib. 5. c. 8. Father Simon's Crit. Hift. of the New Teft. Part I. c. X. p. 87, 88.) to be a mistake, made by them with design to save Irenæus from the charge of contradicting the other Fathers.
I will conclude the whole with adding, that whereas it . was by some made an objection against this Gospel, that ec
* It is cited by Dr. Mill among the Greek testimonies prefixed to
St. Matthew's Gospel, in his edition of the Greek Teftament.