« السابقةمتابعة »
ro, that is full thirty years after our Saviour's death and resurrection; and from the reason alleged in the short preface to what is called his Gospel, for writing it, we may conclude with certainty, that he knew of no such history then written by any of the Apostles themselves. For he tells Theophilus, (whether that be the real name of any particular friend, or only the common appellation of every sincere Christian) for whose use and information he intended both his works, that, because many had undertaken to publish an account of the great objects of their faith, as they had been taught them by the Apostles, and those who had been eye-witnesses of what they had related, he also having had perfect information from the beginning, had written to him an account of every thing, in order, that he might know the certainty of those things in which he had been instructed. Now had Matthew or any other Apostle, published a history of this kind, it would have entirely superseded the necessity of Luke's writing ; and instead of a treatise of his own, he would undoubtedly have sent, or recommended to him, the narration of the Apostle : at least he could never have presumed to differ from that account, in either the order or circumstances of the facts rèm corded, in the manner in which every attentive reader of the Gospels must know he does differ from the history attributed to Matthew. So that Luke's work itself very strongly implies, that Matthew had written no Gospel at all before the fourth year of Nero: for as he had resided several years with Matthew and the other Apostles at Jerusalem, and did not leave them till nineteen years after their Master's death, that is full ten years after the date usually allotted to Matthew's Gospel, he could not have been ignorant of such a publication, had it really existed at that time. It is true, some critics, on very insufficient grounds, postpone the Gospel of Matthew to a much later date; yet still they all agree
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW.
TN observing critically the Gospel attriI
buted to Matthew, the first circumstance to be remarked is, that the author himself gives not the slightest hint to suggest to us who he was, much less that he was an Apostle of Jesus Christ; so that the mere opinion of the fathers of the orthodox church of the second century, is all the foundation there is for its being called Matthew's, which, we have seen, is not the case with Luke's histories. The next is, that all those early writers, who inform us that Matthew wrote a Gospel, assure us he wrote it in Hebrew'; and that our copy is a translation of it into Greek, by what hand is uncertain. The work itself, however, has by no means the
appearance of an uniform translation from any language: for one can hardly suppose that any person
not duly skilled in the Greek language, would undertake to translate it; and whilst the greatest part of it is exceeding bad Greek, abounding with barbarous idioms, which is not to be accounted for, if the translator was properly qualified for the work, there are many passages, and several of them of considerable length, which are not only expressed in pure and elegant diction, but are nearly word for word the same as they stand in the Gospel according to Luke. This last circumstance is so obviously remarkable, both in this and the Gospel according to Mark, that to account for so improbable à fact, Grotius, Mills, and every candid critic, who has adopted the orthodox persuasion, that these Gospels were written in the same order in which the canon of the church hath placed them, have been forced to acknowledge that, it is evident, the writer of one must have transcribed from the other : and that, therefore, when Mark wrote his Gospel he must have had Matthew's before him, and Luke both the others. But it is absolutely impossible for me to suppose that Silas or Luke, who suffered so much, and so disinterestedly, to testify the truth of the Gospel, could profess to write accurately, and in order, an account
of those acts and doctrines of Jesus, which were taught them by those who had been eye-witnesses of his ministry, and were his chosen Apostles; and yet, with the written account of an Apostle before his eyes, not only in many places invert the order of the narration, but differ greatly from him in the circumstances attending some of the most remarkable facts, and in others directly 'contradict him. Besides, in Luke, those verbally corresponding passages of the different Gospels are regular coherent parts of one uniform, well composed whole; whereas in Matthew they are quite incongruous to the l'est of the language in which the book is written, and, like the ill-suited passages of those inconsistent poems condemned by Horace, purpurei late splendent panni. It must be observed also, that these two Gospels of Matthew and Mark abound in instances of Latin words, written in Greek letters ; I do not mean proper names, nor even the names of coins, weights or measures, such as the Romans perhaps made use of, even in the most distant provinces, but military terms and words of common use in every language. Instead of the Greek words which Luke, Josephus, ånd, I believe, every other Greek writer