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The E Mark and Luke were companions and assistants of the Aposgoing tles. This can afford no proof of their inspiration, even if it stle could be shown that they were endowed with the extraordites y nary gifts of the Holy Ghost, of which, however, there is no thor historical proof; because a Disciple might possess these gifts, ed, and yet his writings not be inspired. And if we ground the
iver argument for their inspiration on the character of an Apostle's h- assistant, then we must receive as Canonical the genuine Episestar tle of Clement of Rome, and the writings of other apostolical and Fathers.
The next argument which he considers, is, that the Apostles t of themselves have recommended these Gospels as Canonical in their Epistles. That the passages depended on for proof do ling refer to these or any other written Gospels, the Professor deon, nies: but even if they did, he considers the evidence unsatisfactory; for he supposes that they might have commended a book as containing genuine historical accounts, without vouching for its inspiration.
The testimony of the Fathers, that these Gospels were approved by Peter and Paul respectively, and, with Matthew's Gospel, were shown to the Apostle John, the learned Professor sets aside with very little ceremony.
And, finally, he demurs, in regard to the evidence of the Canonical authority of these books, derived from the testimony of the whole primitive church, by which they were undoubtedly received into the Canon; and suggests that the Apostles might have recommended them, and the primitive church have accepted them, as works indispensable to a Christian, on account of the importance of their contents, and that by insensible degrees they acquired the character of being inspired.
On these reasonings and objections against the inspiration and Canonical authority of several important books, which have hitherto held an unquestioned place in the Canon of the New Testament, and coming from the pen of a man, too, of such extensive Biblical learning, I think it necessary to detain the reader with some remarks, which I hope will have the effect of counteracting the pernicious influence of the opinions which have been exhibited above.
1. In the first place, then, I would observe, that it will be admitted, that Mark and Luke were humble, pious men; also, that they were intelligent, well-informed men, and must have known that the committing to writing the facts and doctrines comprehended in the Gospel, was not left to the discretion or caprice of every Disciple, but became the duty of those only
who were inspired by the Holy Ghost to undertake the work. Now, if these two Disciples had been uninspired, or not under the immediate direction of Apostles who possessed plenary inspiration, it would have argued great presumption in them, without any direction, to write Gospels for the instruction of the church. The very fact of their writing, is, therefore, a strong evidence that they believed themselves to be inspired. There is, then, little force in the remark of the learned Professor, that neither St Mark nor St Luke have declared, in any part of their writings, that they were inspired; for such a declaration was unnecessary: their conduct in undertaking to write such books is the best evidence that they believed themselves called to this work.
And the objection to this argument, from the writings of other apostolical men, is not valid; for none of them ever undertook to write Gospels, for the use of the church. All attempts at writing other Gospels than the four, were considered by the primitive church as impious; because the writers were uninspired men.
2. But the universal reception of these books by the whole primitive church as Canonical, and that while some of the Apostles were living, is the evidence which, to my mind, is conclusive, that they were not mere human productions, but composed by divine inspiration. That they were thus universally received, I think is manifest, from the testimonies which have already been adduced. There is not, in all the writings of antiquity, a hint, that any Christian belonging to the church ever suspected that these Gospels were inferior in authority to the others. No books in the Canon appear to have been received with more universal consent, and to have been less disputed. They are contained in every catalogue which has come down to us. They are cited as Scripture by all that mention them; and are expressly declared by the Fathers to be Canonical and inspired books. Now, let it be remembered, that this is the best evidence which we can have that any of the books of the New Testament were written by inspiration. I know, indeed, that Michaelis places the whole proof of inspiration on the promise made by Christ to his Apostles; but while it is admitted that this is a weighty consideration, it does not appear to us to be equal in force to the testimony of the Universal Church, including the Apostles themselves, that these writings were penned under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; for it is not perfectly clear that the promise referred to was confined to the Twelve. Certainly, Paul, who was not of that
number, was inspired in a plenary manner, and much the larger part of the Twelve never wrote any thing for the Canon. There is nothing in the New Testament which forbids our supposing, that other disciples might have been selected to write for the use of the church. We do not wish that this should be believed, in regard to any persons without evidence; but we think that the proof exists, and arises from the undeniable fact, that the writings of these two men were, from the beginning, received as inspired. And this belief must have prevailed before the death of the Apostles; for all the testimonies concur in stating, that the Gospel of Mark was seen by Peter, and that of Luke by Paul, and approved by them respectively. Now, is it credible that these Apostles, and John who survived them many years, would have recommended to the Christian church the productions of uninspired men? No doubt, all the churches at that time looked up to the Apostles for guidance in all matters that related to the rule of their faith; and a general opinion that these Gospels were Canonical, could not have obtained without their concurrence. The hypothesis of Michaelis, that they were recommended as useful human productions, and by degrees came to be considered as inspired writings, is in itself improbable, and repugnant to all the testimony which has come down to us on the subject. If this had been the fact, they would never have been placed among the books universally acknowledged, but would have been doubted of, or disputed by some. The difference made between inspired books and others, in those primitive times, was as great as at any subsequent period; and the line of distinction was not only broad, but great pains were taken to have it drawn accurately; and when the common opinion of the church, respecting the Gospels, was formed, there was no difficulty in coming to the certain knowledge of the truth. For thirty years and more before the death of the Apostle John, these two Gospels were in circulation. If any doubt had existed respecting their Canonical authority, would not the churches and their Elders have had recourse to this infallible authority? The general agreement of all Christians, over the whole world, respecting most of the books of the New Testament, doubtless, should be attributed to the authority of the Apostles. If, then, these Gospels had been mere human productions, they might have been read privately, but never could have found a place in the sacred Canon. The objection to these books comes entirely too late to be entitled to any weight. The opinion of a modern critic, however learned, is of small consideration, when opposed to the
testimony of the whole primitive church, and to the suffrage of the universal church, in every age since the days of the Apostles. The rule of the learned Huet, already cited, is sound, viz. "That all those books should be deemed Canonical and inspired, which were received as such by those who lived nearest to the time when they were published."
3. But if we should, for the sake of argument, concede, that no books should be considered as inspired but such as were the productions of Apostles, still these Gospels would not be excluded from the Canon. It is a fact, in which there is a wonderful agreement among the Fathers, that Mark wrote his Gospel from the mouth of Peter; that is, he wrote down what he had heard this Apostle every day declaring in his public Ministry. And Luke did the same, in regard to Paul's preaching. These Gospels therefore may, according to this testimony, be considered as more probably belonging to these two Apostles, than to the Evangelists who penned them. They were little more, it would seem, if we give full credit to the testimony which has been exhibited, than amanuenses to the Apostles on whom they attended. Paul, we know, dictated several of his Epistles to some of his companions; and if Mark and Luke heard the Gospel from Peter and Paul, so often repeated, that they were perfect masters of their respective narratives, and then committed the same to writing, are they not, virtually, the productions of these Apostles which have been handed down to us? And this was so much the opinion of some of the Fathers, that they speak of Mark's Gospel, as Peter's, and of Luke's, as Paul's.
But this is not all.-These Gospels were shown to these Apostles, and received their approbation. Thus speak the ancients, as with one voice; and if they had been silent, we might be certain, from the circumstances of the case, that these Evangelists would never have ventured to take such an important step, as to write and publish the preaching of these inspired men, without their express approbation. Now, let it be considered, that a narrative prepared by a man well acquainted with the facts related, may be entirely correct without inspiration; but of this we cannot be sure, and, therefore, it is of great importance to have a history of facts from men who were rendered infallible by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It should be remembered, however, that the only advantage of inspiration in giving such a narrative, consists in the proper selection of facts and circumstances, and in the infallible certainty of the writing. Suppose, then, that an uninspired man
should prepare an account of such transactions as he had seen, or heard from eye-witnesses of undoubted veracity, and that his narrative should be submitted to the inspection of an Apostle, and receive his full approbation; might not such a book be considered as inspired? If, in the original composition, there should have crept in some errors (for to err is human), the inspired reviewer would, of course, point them out and have them corrected. Now, such a book would be, for all important purposes, an inspired volume; and would deserve a place in the Canon of Holy Scripture. If any credit, then, is due to the testimony of the Christian Fathers, the Gospels of Mark and Luke are Canonical books; for, as was before stated, there is a general concurrence among them, that these Evangelists submitted their works to the inspection, and received the approbation of, the Apostles Peter and Paul.
4. Finally, the internal evidence is as strong in favour of the Gospels under consideration, as of any other books of the New Testament. There is no reason to think that Mark or Luke were capable of writing with such perfect simplicity and propriety, without the aid of inspiration, or the assistance of inspired men. If we reject these books from the Canon, we must give up the argument derived from internal evidence for the inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures altogether. It is true, the learned Professor, whose opinions we are opposing, has said, "The oftener I compare their writings (Mark's and Luke's) with those of St Matthew and St John, the greater are my doubts." And speaking in another place of Mark, he says, "In some immaterial instances he seems to have erred,” and gives it as his opinion, "That they who undertake to reconcile St Mark with St Matthew, or to show that he is nowhere corrected by St John, experience great difficulty, and have not seldom to resort to unnatural explanations." But the learned Professor has not mentioned any particular cases of irreconcilable discrepancies between this Evangelist and St Matthew; nor does he indicate in what statements he is corrected by St John. Until something of this kind is exhibited, gene ral remarks of this sort are deserving of no consideration. To harmonize the Evangelists has always been found a difficult task, but this does not prove that they contradict each other, or that their accounts are irreconcilable. Many things which, at first sight, appear contradictory, are found, upon closer examination, to be perfectly harmonious; and if there be some things which commentators have been unable satisfactorily to reconcile, it is no more than what might be expected in nar