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The stary of Shimei's death, i Kings ii. 39. &c. is evidently placed three years too soon in the history.
Abundance of other such instances might be collected out of the historical books, were it necesiary. Those that have a mind to fee them, may consult Dr. Lightfoot* and Usher b, &c. I would only add, that this has been a very antient and common observation; and that for this purpose the famous sixth rule of Ticoniusc, called Recapitulation was invented. But,
. II. This is not a practice peculiar to the facred writers, but made use of by all historians. The most accurate and exact among those, who are called profane writers, have taken this liberty in composing their histories. Livy, Plutarch, Tacitus, Suetonius, Florus,&c.have all upon particular occasions neglected the exact order of time. Suetonius, for instance, is very frequent in this practice; continually laying matters of a like nature together, without regard to the order of time, in which they were done. In the Life of Augustus he expressly tells us, it was his design to do sod: M not to consine himself to *' strict chronology, or the order of time, in which the several "things were done; but instead of being punctual to the <c time, join actions of a like nature together, that so they ** might be more clearly perceived and known." This any one, who reads his memoirs of Augustus's life, will perceive, be has done, just as St. Matthew and the other Evangelists, in writing the memoirs of our Saviour's life.
To the fame purpose Lucius Flaruse intimates, " That he "would not observe the strict order of time; but that the
* Lib. jam cit: , tionem vitas. Sic cum nanamus,
b Chronol. Sacr. quæ quis publice, quæ privatim,
€ Apud August, de Dost. Christ. quæ fortiter, quæ moderate, quæ
1. 3. c. 36. • ierio, quæ jocose egerit, non ob
d Proposita vitæ ejus velut sum- scrvato annorum ordine. Pitisc.
ma, parses sigillatim, neque per ad Loc • 1
tempora, fed per species, exfequar f = Quæ etsi involuta inter fe sunt
quo distinctius demonstrari cognos- omnia atque confusa, tamen, quo
cique possint. Suetonius in August. melius appareant, simul et ne ice
j. lera virtutibuj obstrepant, separatim
Sic solent scriptores—per fpe- proferentur, &c. L. Flor. lib. a. c.
ties exfequifi. e. secundum actiones 19,
et genera, narrare statum et condi
"things "things he should relate might the better appear, he would "relate them distinctly and separately, &c." If then other writers, facred and profane, have so very frequently neglected this order, we need not be surprized, that St. Matthew and the other Evangelists have done so too; especially when we consider, that it is only in a few instances, that they have done it, and then for the most part, if not ahuays, some good reason may be assigned, why they have done so. This leads me, time); viz. because having mentioned our Lord's being and preaching at Capernaum (ver. 31.) he had a mind to record together the miracles our Lord did there, though done at another time.
III. To consider, Why, and for what reasons, the Evangelists receded from the order of time, in their histories.
I shall not be at the pains to consider all the several branches of their histories, in which this order is neglected, and shew the particular occasions why they are placed as they are; all that I design, is to mention some general causes or occasions of their relating things in a different order, from that in which they were done, and particularly,
I. Sometimes the Evangelists relate those facts together. , tvbich were done at a different time, because they were done in the same place. It seemed a very good expedient to assist the memory, sometimes to relate the several miracles our Saviour wrought at one place together, though they were done at different times. So, the healing of the leprous person; the cure of the centurion's servant; the recovering of Peter's mother-inlaw, are placed immediately one after another by St. Matthew, ch. viii. from ver. 2, to the 16th, because each of these miracles was wrought at Capernaum, though at different times. "Hence (fays Dr. Lightfoot) the mention of a place 41 doth oftentimes occasion these holy penmen to speak of stories "out of their proper time, because they would take up the whole f story of that place all at once, or together'." For this reason it that St. Luke places the history of the unclean spirit being cast out of the man in the synagogue at Capernaum, ch. iv. 33, &c. and the account of Peter's mother-in-law being cured of a sever, ver. 39, &c. before the call of the Apostles by the sea-stde, ch. v. 1. (which has been provedb to be contrary to the order of
• Lightfoot, Harmon, of the New Test. §, %0. i P. 30.
2. Another reason, why the Evangelists sometimes place a fact out of its proper order of time, is, because they having been speaking of the person concerned in it before, had a mind there to finish all they designed tosay of him. So, for instance, the story of John the Baptist's being imprisoned by Herod, Luke iii. 19, 20. (which has been proved not to be in the order of time) was placed where it is, because the Evangelist, having before been giving an account of John's ministry, and not designing to fay much more of him, had a mind here to finish his whole story together. This is so far from being any fault in a history, that it is really oftentimes the best and most accurate way of writing it; because by a strict and constant adherence to the order of time, there must necessarily be continual breaches and frequent interruptions in the history. Stories must be often brought in without any connection or coherence, and consequently are not so like to be remembered a. It may therefore be sometimes much better that the whole story of a person or thing be told together, though some other things intervene, which are told afterwards. For this reason, we may observe, the inspired penman of the book of Genesis has placed the death of Ifaac (ch. xxxv. 28, 29.) so much too soon, as it has been above proved to be b, viz. because having, ver. 27. given an account of his son Jacob's coming to him to Hebron, and designing to fay no more concerning his life, but to pro-' Ceed to the history of his posterity; it seemed very proper there to mention his death, that he might not be forced elsewhere to bring it in, by any breach or interruption in his history c. For
. ■ Facilins cujul'que rei in umim hanc historiam (se. Jolephi) Moses Cpntracta species, quam divisa tem- pjftobitum it iepulturamrecitet: ut poribus, oculis am'mil'que inhæret. necerTarioconcedendasithysterologia, Vellei. Paterc. 1. 14.. cujus ratio hæc suit; quia post ad
6 P. 36. ventum Jacobi in Hebron, nihil am
c Constat ante mortem Isaaci ven- plius de vita Isaaci vellct narrare ditum fuisse Josephum, cum tamen 'Moles, et ad ea, quæ de jacobo Pa*
triarcha the same reason also is the story of Shimei's death placed too soon, 1 Kings ii. 39. that the whole story of him might be finished at once, and not brought in without any connection, as it must necessarily have been, if it had been placed afterwards.
ll .3. It is not at all absurd or unreasonable to suppose, that divine Wisdom ordered it to be thus, to prevent all suspicion of the Evangelisls' writing in concert, or by combination., with dcsign to impose upon the world. Christianity was looked upon at first, by many, as a delusion, and the authors of these facred books as cheats and impostors. Against this the Christians commonly argued, that, if the writers of the Gospel-history had had any such designs, they would not have so many things, which seem contrary to each other. The reasoning of Chrysostom on this head is so very just, that it well deserves transcribing a. He brings in a person making this objection, that the Evangelijls do not agree in their accounts. To this he answers; " Their not agreeing in every particular, is a full "demonstration of their truth; for if they had in all things "agreed with a perfect exactness, both as to time, and place, "and words, none of our adverfaries but would have believed "that they met together, and wrote by compact and consent "to deceive: but now that difference there seems to be be■ tween them in these smaller matters, defends them from all "such suspicion, &c." Such arguing seems to be very just; and if it be, what is there absurd in supposing, that divine Wisdom ordered these little differences, those in respect of time among others, for this good end?" The Holy Spirit," fays a learned man, "influenced the Evangelists to write many
"things in a different order, that they might not seem to have "wrote by compact, or to have borrowed one from anothera."
4. Mr.Whistonhas furnished me with another reason, why the Evangelists are thus different from one another, and do not observe the fame order in relating the several acts of our Saviour's life. "It ought not (fays he) b to seem strange, if "that book, which contains the revealed will of God, be so «' framed, as to have divers seeming contradictions in it, for "the perplexing the ungodly, and the exercise of the pious." This observation of Mr. Whiston's, is what several other learned men have upon this and other occasions made c, and is, if true, a very good reason, why the Evangelists were not so Very exact, in observing the order of time in their histories.
Thus I have endeavoured to justify the practice of the Evangelists, in relating things in a different order from that in which they came to pass, both by shewing it was the practice of the best historians, and by several other reasons. I only add, that, as it has been already proved concerning St. Luke d, that he did not tell us he designed to observe the exact order of time, so it is certain no one of the Evangelists has; told us so . and if they did not engage and promise to observe this order, certainly they are not to be accused of falsehood-in not observing it. Hence- the learned Dr. Hammond e well observed, "That all these, and (if there were) many more [differences']
* do nothing derogate from the fidelity of the writers ; who, »' undertaking to make some relations of what was done by
* Christ, do no where undertake, nor oblige themselves, to ob"serve the order wherein every thing succeeded, that being "generally extrinsical, and of no importance to the rela"tions."
• Voluit vero Spiritus Sanctus c Multa diverso ordine ab Evandiverso ordine multa ab Evangeliilis ge! itis nanari voluit Spiritus Sanenan ari ;—ne vtl ex convpacto, vel tut, exeicendæ et siibigendae fidei collatU capitibus, sciipsisie, vel sua nostræ^&c. causa. Spanneim. Dub. a fe invictm deferipsisle yiderenmr, Evang. torn. iii. Dub. 69. &c. Spanheim. Dub. Evang. torn. , d P. 24., &c. iii. Dub. 69. t Annot. Oh Mark v. 2.
"Chranolog. of the Old Ttst.