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Taking it then for granted, that St. Mark's Gospel was wrote under the conduct of the divine Spirit, it is not reasonable to suppose it to be an epitome of St. Matthew ; to be an epitomizer, and to be under the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit, seems to be a little inconsistent. For if, as Mr. Whiston says, St. Matthew's Gospel; lying before him, was bis guide in writing his history, what need was there of the inspiration and guidance of the Spirit? If he had St. Matthew's Gospel lying before him, why could he not, without any immediate influences from Heaven, transcribe out of it, here a piece, and there a piece, of the history, where he had a mind ? a person endowed with the common and ordinary powers of nature, if he were but able to read, might have made as good, nay I may venture to say a much better epitome of St. Matthew's Gospel, than this of St. Mark's is supposed to be. For my part, I freely own, that if it could be proved, that St. Mark made St. Matthew's Gospel, lying before him, his main guide in writing his history, I should very much question whether he were inspired at all or no. The little neceffity there was for inspiration, or the influences of the Spirit, to affist a person in transcribing another man's book, is a fuffi. cient argument, there was no inspiration at all. I conclude therefore, upon the supposition of St. Mark's Gospel being in. spired, that it was not transcribed or extracted out of St. Matthew's:
Besides, to argue further upon the fame supposition, how odd does it found to hear a Christian say; “ the Holy Spirit « inspired one person to write a history, and then inspired an. « other person to abridge it? The Holy Spirit thought fit at « first to have so much wrote, but then afterwards, that it
should not be quite so much." This is to make the Holy Spirit to cut off the superfluities of his own works. But this is an absurdity so great, that no one sure will be willing to dem fend ; and yet defended it must be, and certainly true it is, if St. Mark be an epitome of St. Matthew.
It may indeed be objected here, that the same difficulty at. tends the account I have given out of the antients, of the ori. ginal manner of St. Mark's writing, as does attend the supposition of his being an epitomizer. It may be said, inspiration was as little necessary to St. Mark writing from St. Peter's mouth, as transcribing out of St. Matthew's Gospel. * To this, I think, it is sufficient to answer, that, if the account that has been given be true, viz. that St. Mark wrote what he heard St. Peter preach, the inspiration must be rather supposed in St. Peter, than in St. Mark, who was only as his fcribe or amanuensis; and so no more was required of him, than faithfully to write down, what St. Peter told him. Hence Eusebius tells out of Clemens Alexandrinus, that, when St. Mark had wrote down, what he had heard St. Peter preach, St. Peter, amoxanúfartos aútâ ci creópatos, by the inftigation of the Holy Spirit, approved and confirmed this Gospel, for the use of the Churchesa. . . . . .
. . Arg. VII. St. Mark's Gospel is not an epitome of St. Matthew's, because the supposing it to be so, detracts from its honour, and usefulness. The enemies of revealed religion may many ways improve such a concession, to the lessening the juft esteem we ought to have for this sacred Book. To say this Gospel is only an abridgment of another, makes it liable to the opprobrious charge of being stolen, and its author to the black name of being a plagiary. An epitome indeed of another person's work, known and owned to be such, is not in the least liable to this charge; but for a person to transcribe the greatest part of another's book, to publish it in the world under his own name, without the least hint or intimation, that he did make use of that other person's book, though he have the best ends and designs in his work, will be looked upon as a sort of pious fraud. This is not only, what might be reasonably imagined and supposed, but has been really matter of fact. For as long since as the latter end of the fourth century (in Jerome's time), Ruffinus plainly called it religiofum furtum, a religious theft; and Pighius, a great advocate for
mult efteem we ough an abridgment on folen, and i
2 Hift. Eccl. lib. 2. c. 15. I own indeed, Eusebius, citing this account of Clemens in another place, seems to make it contrary to this, as though St. Peter did neither encourage nor discourage this under.
taking of St. Mark. Vid. lib. 6. c. 14. For the reconciliation of which difference, I shall only refer the reader to Valesius's notes on the place last cited.
Popery in the beginning of the Reformation, mightily pleafed himself with these words of Ruffinus, designing, says my author Chemnitius , thereby to lesen the authority of the Scrip. ture. Hence Spinoza and Father Simon (who were two as true enemies, as ever the sacred volume met with) have endeavoured to persuade us, that the several books of the Old Teftament, are only extracts and abridgments of some larger records. The former (Spinoza), after he had largely endeavoured to prove, that the five books of the law were not wrote by Moses, but a long time afterwards, and also that the fucceeding histories of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel I. and II. the books of Kings I. and II. were wrote a great many ages after the persons, who are mentioned in them, were dead, concludes they were all wrote by Ezra, and that they are only epitomes or abridgments of some larger records, which he made use of b. The fame also is his opinion concerning the books of the Prophets; “ When, says he, I closely consider the « books of the Prophets, I perceive the prophecies, which are “ contained in them, were collected out of other books; and as that they are not in the same order, in which they were faid « or wrote by the Prophets, &c. Wherefore these books are
only scraps and fragments of the Prophetss." Father Simon's opinion, and his conjectures to support it, are fo very like those of Spinoza, that there can be no doubt but he borrowed his hints (however, the greatest part of them) from him; he tells us expressly “, “ That it evidently appears, that 4 the most part of the Holy Scriptures, that are come to us, u are but abridgments and summaries of antient acts, which « were kept in the registries of the Hebrews.” It is very easy
to perceive, the design of these gentlemen in this their opinion, was to leffen the value and authority of the facred Scriptures ; the former, that he might banish at once all revealed religion out of the world; the latter, that he might advance the honour of the Church and priesthood, to which he belonged. And indeed the method now mentioned, seems to have a very natural and direct tendency to the end they aimed at. It is impossible to have the fame value for the facred Books, which we ought to have, if we believe them to be only extracts out of fome records and registries, that we know nothing of. There is indeed this difference between the opinion of Spinoza and Father Simon, concerning the books of the Old Testament, and the common one of St. Mark's being an epitome of St. Matthew, that they suppose the original records, out of which the books of the Old Testament were taken, are all loft, but the book, out of which St. Mark was taken, we have ftill; this indeed is true, but let it be considered, that this difference makes them more necessary and useful, and St. Mark less fo. As there could not be any very good reafon, which could induce St. Mark, to make an abstract of St. Matthew's Gospel (as has been in part argued already), so it could not be (if a mere abridgment) of any great use, when it was made. Upon what grounds could St. Mark believe his
epitome would be more useful than St. Matthew's original ? . An epitome of a history, every particular part whereof is absolutely necessary to be known by all those, who could know them, would be but of very little use to them, that either had or could procure the original.
Lastly, The supposing St. Mark's Gospel to be an epitome of St. Matthew, does in a great measure invalidate, and set afide his teftimony to the truth of the Gospel history. If his Gospel be taken out of St. Matthew's, then it is evident, that his testimony depends upon, and consequently amounts to no more, than the fingle testimony of St. Matthew. It is true indeed, that an account of a matter of fact, attested by one credible and duly qualified witness, is sufficient to fatisfy any
reafonable and unprejudiced mind, and confequently one of the Gospels would have been enough, to have rendered those, who rejected Chriftianity, inexcusable; yet fince men's minds are naturally fo corrupt, the more evidence and teftimonies we have, the more ftrong and confirmed our faith is like to be, and we have greater probability of convincing unbelievers. Now, as has been laid, if St. Mark's Gospel be taken out of St. Matthew's, it is of no ufe nor fervice in this respect. But on the other hand, if we receive the account we have from all antiquity, that he wrote his Gospel from the mouth of St. Pe. ter; we have another very good evidence for the truth of Chriftianity, even the testimony of one, who was continually with our Saviour, from the beginning of his publick miniftry till his afcenfion. , :
Now from all that has been faid, I hope it is very reasonable to conclude, that St. Mark's Gospel is not an epitome of St. Matthew's. If the accounts we have from antiquity be of any value, that he wrote it at Rome from St. Peter's mouth; if he relates the fame stories much larger than St. Matthew does; if he relates the fame accounts with very different, and seemingly contrary circumstances to those of St. Matthew's; if he gives us an account of several very considerable things, which St. Matthew does not so much as hint at; if he omits several confiderable histories; if the supposing this Gospel an epitome, makes its inspiration more dubious and uncertain, and invalidates its testimony to the truth of Christianity; if all these things are so, then there can be nothing more reasonable, than to conclude, that St. Mark's Gospel is not an epin tome of St. Matthew's... . .
I might, if it were neceffary, carry this matter fomewhar further, and make it at least probable, that neither of the three Evangelists (St. Matthew, St. Mark, or St. Luke) had fo much as feen the Gospel of the other, when he himself wrote. For bad either of them seen the Gospel of the other, it is very probable they would not have gone about to write the same things, which were wrote before: and hence it is very Qbfervo. able that St. John, who (as will appear hereafter) faw the Gofpels of the other three, does not relate the same facts, which