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Mr. Whiston's Proof considered. The Question thereupon jlated.
Mr. Whiston's first Argument, viz. That St. Matthew designed to observe the Order os Time, answered. St. Luke's
Words, Chap. i. I. do not prove, that either of the Gospels we 'now receive, were intended according to the Order of Time.
IN order to establish this new and strange proposition (as Mr. Whiston himself calls it) he undertakes to prove, I. Tliat St. Matthew appears originally to have observed the order of the time, through his whole Gospel, as well as the rest of the Evangelists. 2. That from the fourth to the fourteenth chapter, the several branches of St. Matthew's history are not according to the order of time.
These two things, could they be sussiciently proved, do evidently demonstrate the truth of the proposition; for if St. Matthew wrote his Gospel according to the. order of time, and it is not now according to that order, it is plain it is misplaced since it was first wrote. The latter of these two, viz. whether these branches of St. Matthew's Gospel are according to the order of time in our present copies, or not, I will not now dispute. It seems it was believed in the first ages, that St. Mark, and consequently St. Luke (for it is certain that, for the most part, they observed the fame order, and Mr. Whiston's Harmony evidently shews it), did not follow that order. So we are informed by that very antient account of Papiasviz. " That St. Mark, being the interpreter of St. "Peter, very carefully wrote down all the things he could re"member, but not in that order, in which the several things "were faid or done by Christ." To the fame purpose St. Jerome b. "That St. Mark, the interpreter of St. Peter, who "himself did not see our Lord, but wrote the things which he
1 Mapxo; pit tf/xuvtimf? TlsTeov &c. Apud Euscb. Hist. Eccl. 1. 3. ywoptw;, offa. ifj.rr,fj.onviTw, ax^vCaJC c* 39*
hf*hv, « f*» TM T«'4» Ti ivl T5 .'' MTM"is intcrPres .APoilo!; PeY' - . ,r Q' «, tn—qui Dommuiii quidtm salvato*' had heard St. Peter preach, was more concerned to be true "in his account of things, than to observe the order, in which "the things were done." I might add here, that several more modern writers have been of the fame opinion; and that St. Matthew's Gospel is more according to the order of time, than either St. Mark's or St. Luke's. But (as I faid before) I will not dispute this head; and then the question between us will be only this, Whether St. Matthew appears originally tohav* observed the 6rder of time through his whole Gospel. Mr. Whiston, for the following reasons, asserts it, viz.
1. Because all the other writers of the Gospel-history intended to observe this order,'
2. St. Matthew., in the greatest part of his Gospel, does observe the order of time in his narrations.
3. The notes of the order of time are as many, and the same in that part which is now disordered, as in that which is regular, and in its proper order.
I. Mr. Whiston supposes, that all the other accounts of our Saviour's Acts were intended according to this order. For the proof of this he refers us to the first and third propositions (which, by the way, seem to be very near the fame, only dif> ferently expressed). The principal proof in both places is taken from those words of St. Luke, chap. i. 1, 2, 3, viz. Forasmuch as many have taken in hand, to set forth in order a declaration of these things, which are most surely believed among us; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding es all things, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus. "St. Luke (fays Mr. Whiston) b assures us, not only "that himself had observed the order of time, but that the fame *' was intended by those many others, who had written the M Evangelical History before him." This indeed seems plausible, but will by no means prove that for which Mr. Whiston contends. For
I. It is very probable, that St. Luke in these words had no reference to either of those Gospels, which we now receive;
rero ipsenon vidit, sedea, quæaudi- quam ordiiiem. Hieron. Præfat. in frat magistrum prædicantem, jux- Comment, in Matth. ta fidem magi* gestorum nanavit, * P. 97.
but but to some other accounts of our Saviour's life and acts, which were at that time wrote. As to St. John's Gospel, it is very certain he could not refer to that, because it was undoubtedly wrote a long time afterwards. Nor is it at all likely, he had any respect to either of the.other two Gospels which we now have, as will be apparent from a short consideration of St. Luke's word. The design of them evidently, is to give us an account of the reasons or motives, which induced him to write his Gospel, viz. as he fays, because many others had undertaken the like work before him. Now how the writing of others should be the reason or occasion of his writing, is very hard to conceive, unless we suppose some inaccuracies and defects in their writing. If the other accounts or histories he is supposed to refer to, were wrote as they ought to have been, this should have been so far from inclining him to write, that it should rather have prevented him, if he had had any such design. And therefore the histories or accounts, which St. Luke here refers to, were inaccurate and false. This is*so very evident, that Mr. Whiston himself, in another place a, has asserted the very fame thing, where he thus paraphrases these words of St. Luke, viz. That several of the histories of our Saviour, which he (St. Luke) had perused, though they attempted it, zucre not able to arrive at a sufficient accuracy in the order of time. St. Luke therefore, in these words (even according to Mr. Whiston), cannot respect either St. Matthew or St. Mark, because they both wrote very accurately, and, according to him, observed the order of time. I conclude, therefdre, that not the Gospels we now receive, but the other false Gospels, which were then wrote, were intended by St. Luke in these words: this opinion will appear yet much more probable, if we consider that there were, even at this time, a great number of false and spurious Gospels spread abroad in the world. Irenæus b tells us, that, before his" time, the hereticks had an infinite number of spurious -and Apocryphal Scriptures, which contained (as is plain from what he fays
v P. 114. t&ut yfoQw. Adv. Hæref. lib.
afterwards) afterwards) an account of our Saviour's life and acts. Men immediately upon the publishing of Christianity, formed themselves into various parties . of different denominations; and many or most of these had their own Gospel, which was different from that of others. It would be endless, as well as needless, for me to mention the several Gospels of the Ebionites, Marcionites, Nazarenes, the Gospel of St. Peter, Andrew, James, Bartholomew, &c. Every one, who has in the least made Christian antiquity his study, is acquainted with these things; those that are not, may be fully fatisfied in the matter, by a bare casting their eyes upon the authors cited at the bottom of the page1, who have, especially some of them, made a very full collection of the false Gospels, which were spread abroad in the world, in the very infancy of Christianity. These were the OZ woXXoi, the many, whom St. Luke referred to. I would only add here, that this hath been the opinion of many, if not most, antient and modern writers. "St. Luke (fays "Austin b) gives us this reason for his writing in order, be» u cause many others had attempted it; but we are to under"stand him of such, who had no authority nor esteem in the "Church, having undertaken what they were by no means "able to perform." To the fame purpose fays Eustbius. ,c c St. Luke, in the beginning of his Gospel, tells us what "was the occasion of his writing; intimating, that because "many others had rashly and inconsiderately undertaken to "write of those things, of which he had a fuil and certain M knowledge, he also would write to prevent the mischief of f those uncertain accounts." So Theophylact, in explain ing these words a, puts the question, Who were those ment intended by St. Luke, that took in hand to write, &c. and answers, They were false Aposlles ; for many such had wrote Gospels. In the fame opinion are the learned Erasmus b, Grotiusc, Father Simon d, Bellarmin % Calvinf, all asserting St. Luke here had no regard to St. Matthew or St. Mark, but to some other writers, who had not wrote as they ought to do. The learned Mr. Dodwell carries the matter further, and (if I mistake not) does by a good argument conclude from these words of St. Luke, not only that he had no reference to either of these two Gospels, but that he never faw them. What he faith is to this purpose, viz. e " St. u Luke, in the Preface to his history, giving this reason for u his writing, that he had received his accounts from those "who were eye-witnesses, plainly intimates, that the writers of "those other Gospels, which he had seen, were not furnished "with that help; so that neither being eye-witnesses them* selves, nor duly consulting such as were, their credit must "be doubtful: and thence it must necessarily follow, that the "Gospels, which St. Luke had seen, were not any of those we K now receive." Upon the whole, therefore, I hope I may justly fay, that Mr. Whiston has here failed in his proof; because these words of St. Luke, having no reference to either of the Gospels we now receive, cannot prove what Mr. Whiston brings them for : that St. Matthew, or any of the Gospel-writers, designed to observe the order of time in their histories. But, II. If it mould be allowed and taken for granted, that St. Luke in these words had respect to the Gospels we now receive, yet there is nothing in his words, which will prove,
1 Vid. cum ad Luc. i. i. tutos hoc subsidio fuisse visorura a Q
b Annot. inN. T. ad Luc. i. i. Evangeliormii auttorcs, ita nimi
c Annot. ad eund. loc. rum non fuisse aiToVrotf, nt ne qui
d Critic. Hist, of the New Test. dem alTimui cum cura aliqua et
par. i. c. 3. ^ sedulitate consuluerint, vacillare Mat
De Matrimon. Sacram. 1.
proinde meritoque dubiam fuisse eo