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THE objects in view in compiling the present work, have been to give such a Harmony of the Gospels as might furnish heads of families with a suitable work for family instruction: schools with a profitable school book; and Christians in general with a combined statement of the different accounts given of our Lord by the Evangelists, so that all may have a more distinct and full view of his Divine and glorious character.
The plan of Mr. Greswell's Harmony, given in his Harmonia Evangelica, on the whole, seemed to the Editor the most satisfactory of those which he has had the opportunity of consulting, and has therefore been preferred to that of others; and has been followed with but slight variations.
The fundamental principles of Mr. Greswell's Harmony are, 1, That the three last Gospels are regular compositions; 2, That St. Matthew's Gospel is partly regular and partly irregular; 3, That each of the Gospels was written in the order in which it stands; 4, That the Gospels last written, in every instance, were supplemental to the prior. For the full investigation of this subject, with the detailed evidence, the reader is referred to that valuable work, entitled, Dissertations on the Principles and Arrangement of the Harmony of the Gospels, by the Rev. E. Greswell, 3 vols. 8vo.
The Reflections of Dr. Doddridge, though wanting in that more prominent statement of Evangelical doc
trine which marks those of Guyse, Scott, and some others, are yet so peculiarly devotional and practical, as to be very edifying. It is hoped that they may be more extensively useful by being thus connected with an improved Harmony in a portable volume.
In forming the combined text, the Editor has chiefly availed himself of that published by the Moravian brethren, only following the order of Mr. Greswell's arrangement.
He has prefixed a striking Introduction taken from Baxter's Reasons of the Christian Religion, giving an account of the peculiar characteristics of the Gospel of Christ; with some slight alterations and additions.
He will be truly thankful, should it please God to make the work acceptable and useful to his church.
ON THE CHARACTER OF THE GOSPEL.
"THE Gospel or doctrine of Christ has the very image and superscription of God, I will not say imprinted on it, that is too little, but intrinsically animating and constituting it. The matter and design contains the most wonderful expression of the wisdom of God, that ever was made to man on earth. All is mysterious, yet admirably fit, consistent and congruous. That a world which is visibly and undeniably fallen into wickedness and misery, should have a Redeemer, Saviour, and Mediator towards God! That he should be one that is near enough to God and unto us, and hath the nature of both: that he should be the second Adam, the Root of the redeemed and regenerate : that God should give all mercy from himself, from his own bounty and fulness, and not (as unwilling) be persuaded to it by another; and therefore that the Redeemer be not any angel or intermediate person, but God himself: that thus God comes nearer unto man, who is revolted from him, to draw up man again to him that he lose not the world, and yet do not violate his governing justice: that he be so merciful, as not to be unrighteous, nor permit his laws and government to be despised; and yet so just, as that his only Son must die before one sinner can be forgiven: that he gives man a new law and conditions
of salvation, suitable to his lapsed guilty state; and leaves him not under a law and conditions, which were fitted to the innocent: that he revealed himself to the apostate world in that way, which only is fit for their recovery, that is, in his admirable love and goodness, yet combined with unutterable purity and tenderness, that so love might win our love, and attract those hearts, which under guilt and the terrors of condemning justice would never have been brought to love him: that guilty souls have such evidence of God's reconciliation to encourage them, to expect his pardon, and to come to him with joy and boldness in their addresses; having a Mediator to trust in, and his sacrifice, merits, and acceptable name, to plead with God: that justice and mercy are so admirably conjoined in these effects: that Satan, and the world, and death, should be so conquered, in a suffering way, and man have so perfect a pattern to imitate, for self-denial, humility, contempt of honour, wealth and life, and exact obedience, and resignation to the will of God, with perfect love to God and man: that the world should be under such an universal Administrator, and the church be all united in such a Head; and have one in their nature that has risen from the dead, to be in possession of the glory which they are going to, and thence to send down his Spirit to sanctify them and fit them for heaven; and afterward to be their Judge, and to receive them unto blessedness: and that sinners now be not condemned merely for want of innocency, but for rejecting the grace and mercy which would have saved them: that we have all this taught us by a Messenger from heaven, and a perfect rule of life delivered to us by him, and all this sealed by a