« السابقةمتابعة »
batim, and the other four are the author's own composition. To this circumstance the reader's particular attention is requested; for, I persuade myself, there is no person of taste or feeling, who has attentively read the writings of Luke, and has not admired the parables of his first, and the speeches of his se. cond history, as pieces of masterly composition, whether he considers the elegant simplicity of the diction, the justness and force of the sentiment and doctrine intended to be conveyed by them, or the strict propriety, and consistency of character, of the several agents or speakers introduced, either allegorical or real: but whoever impartially considers the various parables, related by the writer called Matthew, will find that every one of them, which is not taken from Luke, is grossly defective in some or all of those particulars; and that, of those which he has. évidently copied from Luke, there is not one which is not injured, exactly in the proportion in which he has thought fit to deviate from the very' words of Luke. Of all this, the parables that compose this chapter afford us most striking examples. The first is the well known parable of the sower; from several circumstances of which, it is as clear as
light,* as Dr. Mills expresses it, that the au. thor must have borrowed it, and transcribed several sentences from Luke; but he has chosen to vary some parts of the phraseolo. gy, and, instead of telling us, in the words of the latter, that “some fell upon a rock, and, « as soon as it sprung up, it withered away 66 because it lacked moisture,” he says, “ some « fell on stoney places, where they (the seeds) “ had not much earth, and forthwith they * sprung up, because they had no depth of
earth, and when the sun was up they were "seorched, and because they had not root “they withered away." Here the concise simplicity and strict propriety of Luke's expression, : and the aukwardly laboured periphrasis of this author, together with the false idea it suggests, that seed vegetates the sooner for want of depth of soil, form so glaring a contrast, as must surely strike every attentive reader: and where Luke tells us, “other fell on good ground, and “ sprang up and bare fruit an hundred fold, this writer says, 'no doubt, with intent to improve upon his model, that “other fell “ into good ground, and brought forth fruit, * some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, and
* Luce Ciarius.
* some thirty fold.” Now, if the criterion of good ground be, its producing an hundred fold, that which produces only thirty or even sixty fold, is certainly not good ground; and the author, instead of apprehending our Saviour's meaning, in the parable recorded by Luke, seems to have been misled into these three different degrees of produce, of what he calls good ground, by the very dissimilar parable of the talents, and an attention to the different capacities of men ; but that difference is by no means the object of this parable, as stated by Luke; and, therefore, he is far from attributing the product of the fruit of the Gospel, in any degree, like this writer, to the mental capacity of the hearer, but represents his Master as teaching ùs, that by the seed on the good ground, is meant all those, who, “in an honest and “ good heart, having heard the word, keep it,
and bring forth fruit with patience.” The intellectual abilities of men, indeed, vary as greatly as the degrees of their bodily strength, but in capacity for moral virtue they are all equal; the weakest and most illiterate may possess as honest and as good a heart, as the wisest and most exalted genius that ever lived: the moral virtue of the latter may have a more extensive influence than that of the. former, but that difference is merely accidental ; his heart cannot be justly represented as a better and more fruitful soil in its proportion, though it might, with propriety, be compared to a more extensive field of equally productive soil, whose produce must of consequence be more extensively beneficial.
The second parable of this collection is entirely the author's own; and the reader will in vain search in it for that propriety of expression, and consistency of doctrine, which are so eminently conspicuous in Luke's compositions of the same kind. It begins with resembling the kingdom of heaven to “á “ man who sowed good seed in his field;" but what idea must this writer have formed to himself, of the meaning of the kingdom of heaven, that he could think of likening it to a husbandman? The kingdom of heaven (or, as it is always called by other writers, of God, or of Christ, as that phrase is used by Jesus in the prayer he taught his disciples, by, Luke, Paul, and John in the apocalypse) uniformly signifies, as I have before observed, the dutiful state of submission and obedience of mankind, to the terms of the New Covenant
of the Gospel; and what similitude can there be between such a state of the world, and the husbandman in this parable ? It is said, indeed, to obviate objections to many solecisms that are observable in the language of some parts of the canonical scriptures, that though the miraculous gift of tongues' supplied the writers with a knowledge of different languages, so far as to enable them to make themselves understood by those to whom they preached the Gospel; it did not endow them with that elegance, and propriety of diction, which is acquired gradually by the cultivation of natural learning : but why the knowledge of any language, infused into the mind at once, by the influence of divine inspiration, should be less complete and perfect than the slower attainments of human industry and application, is not easy to see. It is certain, if Luke acquired his Greek on the memorable day of Pentecost, few scholars, in the ordinary ways of learning, could ever make a greater proficiency; and, whether he did or not, it must be remembered that, according to all those who tell us this history was written by Matthew, he wrote it not in Greek, but in his