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same time. An historian may be very properly faid to write ia order, who does not exactly observe the order of time.
But if we suppose further, that St. Luke by the word x«Sffw did intend the order of time; why must he be supposed to limit and consine himself to it in every particular branch of his history, so that he could not, when he faw a just occasion, recede from it? He may be well faid to write in the order of time, who doth so for the most part. And hence it is excellently observed by our late English criticka; that, " It being "certain, that St. Luke in his Gospel doth not give us "Christ's miracles, sermons, and. journeys, in that order of "time, in which they were done and spoken: it remains, "that, when he promised to write xaSt^ in order, we under"stand this of Christ's conception, birth, circumcision, bap"tism, preaching, death, resurrection, and ascension, of which "he truly writes in order." Upon the whole, then, I conclude, that St. Luke in writing his Gospel did not design exactly to observe the order of time, and consequently also, that St. Mark did not; because, according to Mr. Whiston*, he every where agrees with St. Luke: and so Mr. Whiston's argument, to prove St. Matthew originally observed the order of time, viz. because other Gospel writers did so, ii plainly insussicient.
* Dr. WUitby, Annas, on Luc. i. j. * P. "4?
CHAP. C H A P. IV.
The Practice of other Historians, as well as the Evangelists, t» neglect the Order of Time. Several In/lances out of the Old Testament History. Instances out of Profane Authors. Several Reasons, why the Evangelists neglect the Order of Time.
HOWEVER strange it may seem to some, that these sacred writers should thus disregard the order of time, and consequently differ so much from each other; yet this will not at all derogate from their honour and authority, if the matter be duly and impartially considered. For as this is very often, upon many accounts, undoubtedly the best way of writing history, so it has been the practice of the best historians, both facred and profane,in all ages and countries. Mr. Whiston indeed tells us, that those who do not take his method, and suppose St. Matthew's Gospel in our present copies misplaced, are forced on another method, which plainly implies the frequent inaccuracy, if not falsehood, of the inspired writers themselves*. This is a very hard charge indeed, which at once falls upon all the harmonizers and commentators of the Gospels, that ever wrote before Mr. Whiston. It is strange that all these good men, who had so great a veneration for inspired writers, should thus charge the Evangelists with inaccuracies, if not falsehood; Mr. Whiston will agree with me, they had none of them this design, and then I am not afraid to aflert, that no such thing follows from the method they took, to reconcile the Evangelists.
The substance of their charge amounts to no more than this, viz. That they suppose the Evangelists, not to have always, and in every particular instance, observed the order of time; but this is so far from supposing an inaccuracy or falsehood in the Evangelists, that it is only supposing them to have
taken the best method, and the method the best historians have taken, before and since their time.
For the clearing of this matter, I will endeavour to shew:
I. That this is a thing very common in the history of the Old 'Testament.
II. That it has been the practice of the best profane historians.
III. Offer some reasons, why the Evangelists neglected tht order of time.
I. The writers of the history of the Old Testament very frequently deviate from the, order of time, in relating several branches of their history; sometimes placing them much sooner, sometimes much later, than the time, in which they really came t» pass. This was very remarkably the practice of that best and most accurate of all historians, Moles. For instance,
Gen. xxv. 7, 8,9. He places the death of Abraham before the birth of Ifaac's two sons, Efau and Jacob, ver. 24,25, &c. whereas it is very certain, that Abraham was alive when they were born, aud lived at least fifteen years afterwards, as will appear by the following account.
Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Ifaac was born, Gen. xxi. 5. Ifaac was threescore years old, when his sons Efau and Jacob were born, ch. xxv. 26. therefore Abraham was but a hundred and threescore at their birth. Bu6 Abraham lived till he was a hundred and seventy five, ch. xxv. 7. and therefore it is evident, that the death of Abraham is, placed at least fifteen years too soon, being placed before thebirth of Efau and Jacob; whereas if the order of time had been observed, it must have been placed at least fifteen years afterwards.
The fame may be observed also, concerning the historian's placing his account of the death of Ifaac, Gen. xxxv. 28, 29. It is placed before the selling of foseph into Egypt by his brethren, ch. xxxvii. whereas, if the order of time had been observed, it ought to have been placed after; it being certain,
that that Ifaac lived at least twelve years after that time, as will appear by the following account.
Joseph was thirty years old, when he was advanced by Pharaoh in Egypt, Gen. xli. 46. After this there came seven years of plenty, ver. 47, 53. and two years of famine, before Jacob came down to Egypt, ch. xlv. 6. So that Joseph was at least thirty nine years old, when Jacob his father came down to Egypt; Jacob, when he came down to Egypt, was a hundred and thirty years old, ch. xlvii. 9. Now from the time of Joseph's being sold by his brethren, till this time, (viz. till his 39th year) were twenty two years, because he was sold in his seventeenth year, ch. xxxvii. 2. If then we take the twenty two years, which Joseph was in Egypt, from the hundred and thirty of Jacob; it is plain that Jacob was a hundred and eight, when Joseph was seventeen, and consequently, when Joseph was sold to Egypt, Ifaac Was no more than a hundred and sixty eight; for Jacob (who was at this time but a hundred and eight) was born, when Ifaac was sixty years old, ch. xxv. 26. Now Ifaac lived till he was a hundred and eighty years' old, ch. xxxv. 28. and consequently twelve years after Joseph was fold into Egypt. So that it is evident, the account of Isaac's death is not placed according to the order of time, but at least twelve years sooner, than that order required.
Another very remarkable instance to the fame purpose, viz. of the author of the book of Genesis not observing the order of time in his history, we have ch. xxxvtii. The several matters there related, are placed betweeu the account of Joseph's being fold into Egypt, and his advancement before Pharaoh. This interval, or space of time, consists of no more than thirteen years; for Joseph was sold in his seventeenth, and advanced in his thirtieth year. Now upon a close consideration of the circumstances of the history, it will appear morally impossible, that all the several matters, related in that chapter, should have come to pass in that time, as will be evident by just naming them.
First, Judah leaves his father's family, and marries, and successively begat three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah. When the eldest came to age, he married Tamar; some time after
the Lord slew him, and Onan the second brother married his widow; after his death she continued a considerable time a widow, expecting the time, when the third son would be grown up and marry her. He grows up, but refuses to marry her; therefore she plays the harlot with her father in law Judah, and by him she hath two sons. And all this must have been in less than the space of thirteen years, unless we suppose the historian not to have observed the order of time; which certainly he did not, a great part of what is here related, having undoubtedly come to pass, a considerable time before Joseph was fold into Egypt*. •
These are instances sussicient to prove, that though the Evangelists did not always consine themselves to observe the order of time, yet they had the example of the best historian in the world, to justify their practice in neglecting it.
Nor was this only the practice of Moses, but of most, if not all, the writers of the facred history of the Old Testament. There is a noted example of this in the book of Judges, the lajl five chapters of which history ought, if the order of time had been observed, to have been placed near the beginning of it. The story of Micah's idolatry, and the expedition of the tribe of Dan,ch. xvii. and xviii. of the Levite's concubine-, and thezuar on her account, ch. xix. xx. and xxi. are each of them placed above 200 years too late, which is easy enough to be proved. Hence Josephus has placed the hi/lory of the three lasl chapters, before the hjlory of the Judges*, and the Old Hebrew Chronologerc has placed the Jlory of Micah, and the tribe of Dan's idolatry, and the Jlory of the Levite's concubine in the time of Othniel, the first of the Judges; and,as far as I can find, most chronologers and commentators are of the fame mind*1.
* Quomodo ergo hæc omnia in- c Setter Olam Rabba, e. so. p.
mi iam "jroftcos amios fieri" potue- 50.
rint, merito movet; nisi, ut forte so- d Dr. Lightfoot Chronic, and
let, scriptura per recapitulationem, Harmon, ot' the Old Test, on
aliquot annos ante venditum Jo- Judges, &c. Ustier Chronol. Sacr.
seph, hoc fieri cæpisse intelligi velit, p. 199. Petav.Rationar. Temp. 1. 1.
&c. August. Quæst. Sup. Gen. 1.1. c. 6. Junius ad Jud. 17. 1. Span
c. 128. heim. Hist. Eccl. V. T. Epoch.
b Antiq. Jud. lib. 5. c. 2. 4. c. 10.