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more disciples than John... 3. He left Judea.” But if Jesus tarried in the land of Judea, and made more disciples there than John, and if his fame reached the ears of the Pharisees at Jerusalem, he must have preached at least several months in that country. The following circumstances confirm this supposition. By the time that our Lord arrived in Galilee, the fame of his miracles was so great, that when the nobleman of Capernaum heard of his being in Cana, he went thither and solicited the cure of his son, John iv. 47. Farther, while John was in Enon, near to Salim, baptizing, Jesus preached in Judea, John iii. 23, 24. and did not leave that country till the Baptist was imprisoned, Matt. iv. 12. Mark i. 14. How long the ministry of the latter continued, is uncertain. Probably it lasted several years, if we may judge of its duration from the greatness of its effect, the preparation of the people for the reception of the Messiah, Luke i. 16, 17. Acts xiii. 24, 25. a work that could not be accomplished in a few months. At length, happening to reprove Herod the tetrarch of Galilee, that prince cast him into prison. This, as well as the malice of the Pharisees, who now began to take notice of Jesus, on account of his fame, and the number of his disciples, determined him to leave Judea ; for as he had opened his ministry there in consequence of the Baptist's having prepared his way first in that country, because it was the seat of government, it was agreeable to the economy of Providence, that he should retire into Galilee, as soon as the jealousy of the great men was raised, and the Baptist was silenced. Thus it appears, from a variety of circumstances, that our Lord continued a considerable time in Judea, after the first passover, before he removed into Galilee; at which pe— riod, the three evangelists above mentioned begin their histories. Accordingly, when he preached in the synagogue of Nazareth, soon after his arrival in Galilee, Luke iv. 14. it was about the beginning of September. I gather this from the passage which he read in the synagogue, viz. Isa. lxi. for that was the portion of the prophet used in the public service, on the first or second sab
bath of Tizri. See note on Luke iv. 16. § 24. These reasons I think make it evident, that there is nothing improbable in Sir Isaac Newton's supposition, that there was a passover between our Lord's journey into Galilee, after the Baptist's imprisonment, Matt. iv. 12. and the next feast mentioned in the history, John v. 1. The truth is, the journies, and the otber transactions which come in before that feast, could hardly be all performed between September, when Jesus came into Galilee, and the following March, the month in which the passover was celebrated.—In the history of the tribute-money, Matt. xvii. 24. we find the traces of another passover not mentioned directly by any of the evangelists: for we learn from the Talmud, that the tribute belonging to the temple, was demanded in all the cities, - - upon upon the 15th day of the last month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, answering to our February and March. Wherefore, if it was so late in the year when our Lord paid the tribute in Capernaum, the journey he took immediately after into Judea through the country beyond Jordan, Matt. xix. 1. must have been to the passover which happened in the following month; not however to the passover at which he suffered, for we find him afterwards celebrating the feasts of tabernacles and dedication; as shall be shewed in their proper places. By the addition of these two passovers to the four which are commonly allowed to have happened in our Lord's ministry, the whole must have been no fewer than six ; and of consequence, our Lord's public life must have continued more than five years complete, perhaps a full half year more, if, as is probable, he was baptized in autumn. Nay, it may have been several years longer, on the supposition mentioned above; namely, that there were passovers in our Lord's ministry, of which there is neither direct mention made, nor any trace to be found in the history. According to this view of the matter, it appears that the evangelists, in their histories, have given only a faint sketch, as it were, of our Lord's life, and not a full delineation. However, though the miracles and sermons which they have recorded be few in respect of the whole, it is certain that the miracles mentioned, do put Christ's mission beyond all reasonable possibility of doubt, and the sermons related, give a just idea of his doctrine. Nay, such is the importance of the things related, that each evangelist must be acknowledged singly to have comprehended in his Gospel as much of the knowledge of Christ, as is sufficient to the salvation of the world. At the same time, by confining themselves to the principal miracles which our Lord performed, and to some select sermons which he preached in the course of his ministry, they made their histories such small books, that every Christian had it in his power to purchase some one of them. And although, at first sight, this may seem but a matter of little moment, it was in reality a singular benefit to mankind, especially in those ancient ages, before printing was invented, when a book of any considerable bulk amounted to a large sum. Brandt, in his History of the Reformation of the Low Countries, vol. I. g. 23. tells us, that for one copy of the Bible tolerably written on vellum, it was usual to pay four or five hundred crowns; and, even after the invention of printing, sixty for a printed copy, till the art grew more conmon. We may therefore presume, that it was not without the particular direction of the Spirit that the evangelists, in writing their histories, thus consulted the benefit of the poor; who, if they got any one of the Gospels into their possession, could be at no loss for the knowledge of Christ necessary to eternal life.
The several branches of this observation rightly applied, may be of great use to us in making out the harmony of the Gospels. They lead us to consider with accuracy the different accounts which the evangelists have given of our Lord's life, and direct us to join them together, that a whole may be formed from them all; each evangelist supplying both facts, and circumstances of facts, which the rest have passed over in silence. And since, from the examples produced, it is evident that many things are omitted, not only by particular evangelists, but by them all, which the form of their narration itself directs us in a few cases to supply , as often as any difficulty occurs, we may reasonably believe that something has been omitted, which, if we knew, would immediately clear it up. Here then the ingenuity of the reader must be exercised to supply the deficiency the best way he is able ; an equity that is due to every historian, because without it, insuperable difficultics would arise upon comparing the works, even of such as are esteemed the most accurate. In the following performance, something of this kind is attempted in behalf of the evangelists. How far the attempt has been attended with success, the reader must judge. Only he will be so good as to carry this along with him, that it is not the author's intention to affirm, concerning the circumstances which he has ventured to supply, that every one of them actually existed. All he contends for is, that they may have existed ; which is sufficient to clear the evangelists from the imputation of inconsistency and contradiction, provided the supposition of these circumstances is found to reconcile them.
Concerning the order observed, and the connections used, by the sacred Writers in their Histories.
Though the evangelists did not intend to record every thing which Jesus said and did in the course of his ministry, each of them has digested his own narration, as if nothing had been omitted by him. Nor was it natural for them to compose their histories in any other manner, since they resolved to deliver many things in general terms, and to say a great deal in few words. If the reader doubts of this, he may try to abridge any history he pleases; in doing which, he will find that the transitions and connections by which the distant facts are joined in such an abridgment, excluding the intermediate ones, those distant facts will look as if they had happened in immediate succession, and the whole will be so digested, as that nothing shall appear to have been omitted. Nevertheless, when such an abridgment is compared with the work from which it is made, or with other historics of the same subject, those connections unust be dissolved, to - aflord
afford a place for the intervening events.—Examples are, Matt. xii. 9. where, after the history of the ears of corn is finished, it is said, oraoa, ixion, “going from thence,” (not, And when he was departed thence) he went into their synagogue,” as if Jesus had gone thither the same sabbath; yet, from Luke vi. 6. it is evident that it was another; perhaps the sabbath immediately following—Matthew and Luke, giving the history of our Lord's public entry into Jerusalem, connect the purging of the temple therewith, as if both had happened in one day. Nevertheless, from the more particular account which Mark gives us of those affairs, it appears, that, on the day of his public entry, Jesus did not go into the temple till the evening, when the market usually kept in the court of the Gentiles, which he designed to prohibit, was over; and that he did not reform this abuse till next day. Matthew’s words are, chap. xxi. 10. “And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? I 1. And the multitude said, This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth, of Galilee. 12. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought,” &c. Luke's words are, chap. xix. 41. “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it: 42. Saying, If thou hadst known, &c. 45. And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought,” &c. Matthew, chap. xxvii. 7. after having told that Judas offered the money he received for his treachery to the priests, adds, that the latter took counsel together, and tought the potters field with it, for burying strangers in ; as if this deliberation and bargain had happened immediately after the traitor declared his remorse, and returned the noney. Nevertheless, the nature of the thing makes it evident, that the purchase of the field could not be made till some days, perhaps weeks, after Judas threw down the money in the temple. See the Commentry, $138. “Then Judas which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders: 4. Saying, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they slid, What is that to us ; see thou to that. 5. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and slid, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7. And they took counsel, and bought,” &c. —Mark xvi. 14. Christ's appearance to the eleven, on the eighth dy after his resurrection, is related, and therewith a discourse of bis, which was not spoken till the day of his ascension, about a nonth after ; though, by the particle of connection made use of, it looks as if it had been spoken at that appearance. “Afterward, he appeared unto the eleven, as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief, and hardness of heart, because they believed lieved not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” &c.—Luke xxiii.25. “He delivered Jesus to their will. 26. And as they led him away,” &c. as if the persons to whose will Jesus was delivered had led him away; whereas, it is evident, that Jesus was delivered to the will of the priests. and people, but was led away by the Roman soldiers; and between Pilate's pronouncing the sentence, and the soldiers leading him away, several things of importance happened.—Luke, chap. xxiv. 36. giving an account of Christ's appearing to the ten, in the evening of the day on which he arose, connects therewith his discourse to the apostles before his ascension. Ver. 42. “And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43. And he took it, and did eat before them. 44. And he said unto them, These are the words,” &c. as if this discourse had been spoken, not only at the time of that appearance, but to none except the persons then present. Nevertheless, Thomas, in whose hearing Jesus spake before his ascension, was absent when he appeared on the evening after his resurrection.—John xviii. 38. “Pilate saith unto him, What is truth 2 And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and said unto them, I find in him no fault at all. 39. But ye have a custom that I should release unto you,” &c. as if these words had been spoken all at once; though, from the other evangelists, it plainly appears, that very important
transactions intervened between the two members of the go
vernor's speech. For after he had declared his persuasion of Christ's innocence, as John informs us, the Jews began to accuse him more vehemently, and in their accusations signified that he was a Galilean (Luke); upon which, the governor sent him to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. And Herod returning him without finding him guilty of any crime, the governor came out, and offered to release him; it being his custom, at the feast, to release any one prisoner they pleased to ask. —Matt. xxviii. 1. The journey of the two Marys to the sepulchre, at the end of the sabbath, is related, and therewith a speech of the angel's to one of the Marys, which was not spoken till next morning; though, by the connection, it looks as if it had been spoken that evening. Ver. 5. “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye,” &c.—Luke xxiv. 4. The appearing of one angel to the women who went to the sepulchre, is related immediately after an account is given of their entering the sepulchre, as if he had then appeared unto them ; whereas, it is probable that the women came out of the sepulchre, and searched for the Lord's body all round the garden; after that, entering the sepulchre a second time, they saw the angel. “And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by