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THE FORMER PART
St. MATTHEW's GOSPEL, &c.
C H A P, I. The Design and principal Authors of Gospel Harmonies. The
Design of the following Discourse. THE difference which there is between the Evangelifts, T in relating several circumstances of the Gospel-history, and particularly their disagreement as to the order of time, in which the things they relate were done, has in all ages of Chriftianity been objected as an argument against the truth of the history itself. Porphyry, Celsus, and many others, have for this reason reviled both the Gospels, and the religion which they contain. Hence it has been judged necessary by many pious and learned men, to employ themselves in endeavours to reconcile the seeming contradictions of these facred writers, and to reduce the Gospels to a perfect Harmony. Among the antients, Tatian, the scholar of Justin Martyr, composed a Harmony in some part of the second century, and after him Ammonius, of Alexandria, in the beginning of the third com
· Euseb. Hift. Eccl. l. 4. C. 29.
posed another, and after him Eusebius, in the beginning of the fourth a. In the last age great pains was taken in this work, by Chemnitius, Gerhard, Calvin, Dr. Lightfoot, and many others. Mr. Le Clerc, Mr. Whiston, and Mr. Toinard, are (I think) the only persons, who have done any thing considerable in this matter of late years. To say nothing of the others, the world is exceedingly obliged to Mr. Whiston, for the many curious and useful discoveries fe has made in his performance on this subject; the propositions he has advanced, are certainly, for the most part, very ingenious and happy expedients, to solve the difficulties they are designed for. There are however some of them, that do not seem to be so very evident and so fully proved, as others; and in this number is that which I have now undertaken to discuss, viz. a That the former part of St. Matthew's Gospel, in our present copies, is very much misplaced, contrary to the method and order originally intended by the Evangelift.
That part of this Gospel, which Mr. Whiston supposes difordered and misplaced, is from the middle of the fourth, to the end of the thirteenth chapter ; in which small portion of the history there must have been, according to his supposition, at least twenty several disorders and misplacings..
However good Mr. Whiston's design might be in advancing so strange a proposition, I cannot but think he has failed in his proof of it. My business therefore in the following difcourse will be, first, To shew the invalidity of Mr. Whilton's arguments, and then offer some reasons, by which it will apa pear, that no such disorder can, without the greatest absurdity, be supposed to have happened to this, or any other part of this Gospel,
a A specimen of which is to be .. b P. 109, feen in Sixt. Senens. Bib. Sanct. 1. 3.""
СНАР. ІІ. Mr. Whiston's Proof considered. The Question thereupon stated.
Mr. Whiston's first Argument, viz. That St. Matthew designed to observe the Order of Time, answered. St. Luke's
Words, Chap. i. 1. do not prove, that either of the Gospels we • now receive, were intended according to the Order of Time. TN order to establish this new and strange proposition (as 1 Mr. Whiston himself calls it) he undertakes to prove,
1. That St. Matthew appears originally to have observed the order of the time, through his whole Gospel, as well as the rest of the Evangelifts. 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 sufficiently 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 same order, and Mr. Whiston's Harmony evidently shews it), did not follow that order. So we are informed by that very antient account of Papiasa, viz. " 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 said or done by Christ.” To the same 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
“ had heard St. Peter preach, was more concerned to be true “ in his account of things, than to observe the order, in which 6 the things were done.” I might add here, that several more modern writers have been of the same 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 said before) I will not dispute this head; and then the question between us will be only this, Whether St, Matthew appears originally to have observed the order of time through his whole Gospel. Mr. Whiston, for the following reafons, 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, dues obe serve the order of time in his narrations.
3. The notes of the order of time are as many, and the fame in that part which is now disordered, as in that which is regular, and in its proper order.
1. Mr. Whifton 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 propofitions (which, by the way, feem 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 those things, which are most furely believed among us; it seemed good to me alfo, having had perfeet understanding of all things, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus. « St. Luke (says Mr. Whiston) affures us, not only « that himself had observed the order of time, but that the same « was intended by those many others, who had written the “ Evangelical History before him." This indeed seems plaufible, but will by no means prove that for which Mr.Whifton 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;
rem ipfe non vidit, fed ea, quæ andis erat magistrum prædicantem, jux. ta fidein magis geftorum narravit,
quam ordinem. Hieron. Præfat. in
e beers were
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 says, 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 fuppose 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 dea. fign. 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 afserted 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, were 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. Márk, because they both wrote very accurately, and, according to him, observed the order of time. I conclude, therefore, that not the Gofpels 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, à great number of false and spurious Gospels spread abroad in the world. Irenæus o 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 says
a P. 114.
o 'Auvontoy mandos drougúwy :... VOL. IHI
sig vólww ypaspār. Adv. Hæref. lib. 1. c. 17.