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ever such a thing did happen, it was most likely to have been before the art of writing was brought to that perfection, and had received those improvements, which it had in St. Matthew's time : instead of this, not one of the books of the Old Testament, nor Homer, Hesiod, Demosthenes, Isocrates, &c. who wrote long before St. Matthew's time; nor any of the books of the New Testament; nor Cicero, Ovid, Horace, nor any of the Roman poets or historians, who wrote about his time, have suffered any such misfortune, as Mr. Whiston supposes this Gospel to have done. It is true indeed, Spinoza, and after him Father Simon, and Mr. Whiston, have - imagined fome such disocations to have happened to some parts of the Old Testament (as has been said in the Preface). But after the closest examination of what they have said, I can find little more than bare assertions; and therefore till fome further proof, than yet has been, be made, I must conclude their opinion false.
2. It does not seem consistent with that care, which Divine Providence always did exercise, and may be reasonably supposed always would exercise, towards the books of inspiration, to suppose this Gospel so confused and disordered as Mr. Whiston does. Every one, who is at all acquainted with the history of the Jewish nation, must needs acknowledge, that a remarkably kind Providence has always concerned itfelf in the preservation of the books of the Old Testament. In the most degenerate state of that unhappy nation, in the times of their ignorance and idolatry, their slavery and captivity, the books which were given them by God, and received into the Canon of their Church, were preserved safe and uncorrupted, notwithstanding the malicious efforts of their enemies to the contrary. It does frot appear that any one of all these books has been loft 4, though their conquering enemies endeavoured to the utmost to destroy them. A remarkable instance of this Josephus tells us ; viz. that Antiochus Epiphanes, when he
Vide Turretin. de Scrip. Quæft. ois ijęs Seios, vai šton xaxoè xanās .19. et Spanhem. Dub. Evang. Par. 2. útúnorto. Antiq. Jud. 1. 12. c. g. Dub. 88.
;.$. 4. The laine account we have 'b 'Houviétod, 'di T8 Bilao's i Macc. i. 56, 57. sügedrin isgos rai vópos, xxi trag. ite
had subdued Jerusalem, tried' all possible methods to abolish the religion of the Jews; and, in order to that, made particular search after the sacred volume, destroying it wherever it was found, and puniming with death all those in whose poljefion it was. But he, who was the author of them, took care of them, and preserved them not only from being loft, but from being in any remarkable degree corrupted. It is true indeed, there are some slight corruption's crept into the text, both of the Old and New Testament, through the carelessness of transcribers; there are a great number of various lections in both; but these are fuch as without a constant miracle could not but happen, and are to be found in as great, or greater number, in several of the profane authors (as the learned Dr. Bentley has very well observed"), and are for the most part such, that it is not much matter which reading we choose. But the corruptions, which Mr. Whifton supposes in St. Matthew, are of another nature : these are such as render the text of the Gospel very precarious, and make it depend upon the judgment and fancy of every one, who pleases to alter it.. And is this now consistent with the care of Divine Providence? Is it likely God would permit this useful Gospel to be thus confusedly put together by such a blunderer, who out of twenty parts could not put but one in its proper order ? This fure can never be believed by any, who acknowledge a divine Providence to have concerned itself at all about the facred volume.' :
: 3. It is very improbable this part of St. Matthew's Gospel fhould be fo disordered and confused; because all the other part of it is exadly in the order, in which the Evangelist wrote, without the least transposition. Mr. Whiston's hypoa thefis, by which he accounts for the dislocation of the several periods of the former part of this Gospel, is, that they were wrote upon separate and distinet pieces of paper : now upon this hypothesis I argue thus ;
Either St. Matthew wrote the other parts of his Gospel on sinalt pieces of paper, or he did not. If it be said, he did not, then it is yet more unaccountable, that he should write this for
Answer to the Discourse of Free Thinking, Part I. p. 64, &c.
mer part fo: it is incredible, that these fourteen chapters should be written on twenty several pieces of paper, and the other fourteen on one large roll. If on the other hand it be faid, that St. Matthew wrote the latter part of his Gospel, as he did the former, on many pieces of paper ; then it is no less incredible, that none of these pieces should have the same misfortune to be disordered and misplaced, as the former. How can it be supposed possible, that every one of the papers in the latter part should be in its right and due order, and not fo much as one of the former but is misplaced, except the first? I con clude therefore, that the former part of this Gofpel is not misplaced. ..", rice v itor finance
. 4. The improbability of this part of St. Matthew's Gospel being misplaced, will appear, if we consider that there has been no time ever since St. Matthew wrote, in which there were not fome circumstances, which would prevent such a dira order. To evidence this, I argue thus ; If this part of St. Matthew's Gospel be misplaced, either the disorder happened in the Apostles' time, or not till after their decease. But as it is improbable that it happened in their time, so it is morally imposible that it should have happened afterwards. Dok
1. It is not probable, that this disorder could happen in the time of the Apostles; for if it had, they would, no doubt, have rectified it. Many reasons would oblige them, not to suffer so great a dislocation to remain in the Gospel history. They would never recommend a book to-the perusal of their converts, which they knew juftly chargeable with such notorious corruptions. It is much more reasonable to suppose, that, if this Gospel was then misplaced and out of order, they would restore it to its proper order, and take care bat some copies hould be made, in which the histories should be placed in the fame order in which the Evangelist wrote. Now if they did this, it is strange none of these copies should have others mada from them, but all the books in the world should proceed from one disordered copy, made in the Apostles' time, ..
It may perhaps be said, that this disorder might happen in the Apostles' time, and they be ignorant of it. This indeed is possible, but very improbable. The office and business of an Apostle was to preach the doctrine, and publish the mi
racles; of Jesus Christ. Now St. Matthew having, by the infuences of the Holy Spirit, collected a very early, full, and authentick account, both of the doctrines and miracles of Christ, there can be no doubt but the Apostles would make use of it themselves, and recommend it to the use of others. Not to have done this, would have been to cast that contempt upon the work of onę inspired Apostle, which we cannot suppofe another would do; besides not to have made use of this, would have been to neglect one likely means of obtaining the ends of their apostleship. Hence Eusebius a tells us, that when the pious Pantænus (who lived in the time of Irenæus and Origen) went to preach the Gospel to the Indians, where St. Bartholomew had been preaching the Gospel before him, he found there the Gospel of St. Matthew. No doubt the Apostles, when they went abroad to preach the Gospel, did take both this and the other Gospels along with them, and left copies of them, when they were gone, for the use of their converts, as I shall fhew more fully hereafter. Hence it seems very reasonable to conclude the Apostles made use of this Gofpel; which if they did, they being eye-witnesles to the history, could not but perceive such dislocations and misplacings, as those which we are treating of, and so, no doubt; would have corrected them. This argument is abundantly confirmed by a testimony of Eusebius *,, viz. that the three former Gospels were perused by St. Jahn, and that he approved them. Now if St. Matthew's Gospel had been so confusedly set together, as Mr. Whiston supposes, St. John would certainly never have approved of it. Mr. Whilton cannot question this testimony of Eusebius, having himself used it on another occafione. I conclude therefore, that this disorder did not happen to this Gospel in the Apostles' time.
.. Hist. Eccl. l. 5. c. 10. Vid. Mir padir, &c. Hift. Eccl. l. 3. Valer. ad loc.
C. 24. The same is related by o Twv appaavaypapértwy tpowr iis Theophyla&t. Præfat. 'in Matth. Tertas non xai is aútor (Ic. 'Iwo. «. 132. émm) diadidouévan, a Trodižuolat
CHA P.' XXII. The Disorder Mr. Whiffon fupposes in the former Part of St. · Matthew's Gospel, could not poffibly happen after the Apostles'
Time ; because of the great Number of Copies, that were · Spread abrgad in the World in their Time. The Time when
St. Matthewu wrote, and the Distance between that Time and St. John's Death, considered. That the Gospels were very much dispersed in the Apostles? Time, largely provedo Mr. Hobbes, Mr. Toland, and Mr. Dodwell's Notion of the Gof
pels being a long while unknown and concealed, confuted by : several Arguments. II. A S this disorder did not happen in the time of the
Apostles, so it neither did nor possibly could happen afterwards. Mr. Whiston does not any where hint to us, at what time he supposes these dislocations made ; nor does Mr. Toinard say any more in this respect, than that they were done, antiquisima schodarum transpositione, by a very antient confusion of the papers, on which they were wrote. It was not without reason that they thus left the time undetermined, being well aware of the difficulties that would attend their hypothesis, if they had determined it. As such dislocations could not happen in the Apostles' time, so it was morally impossible they should have happened afterwards : to mention no other arguments, this will sufficiently appear by the two following considerations.
1. That there were a very great number of these Gospels, spread up and down in the world before the Apostles' death.
2. The Syriack Version, which seems to have been made in the Apostles' time, has the feveral branches or periods of this history in the same order with our present Greek copies..
1. The disorder or dislocation, which Mr. Whifton sup. poses in St. Matthew's Gospel, could not possibly happen after the Apostles' death ; because between the first writing of it