Page images

ratives so concise, and in which a strict regard to chronological order did not enter into the plan of the writers. And if this objection be permitted to influence our judgment in this case, it will operate against the inspiration of the other Evangelists as well as Mark; but in our apprehension, when the discrepancies are impartially considered, and all the circumstances of the facts candidly and accurately weighed, there will be found no solid ground of objection to the inspiration of any of the Gospels; certainly nothing which can counterbalance the strong evidence arising from the style and spirit of the writers. In what respects these two Evangelists fall short of the others, has never been shown; upon the most thorough examination and fair comparison of these inimitable productions, they appear to be all indited by the same Spirit, and to possess the same superiority to all human compositions.

Compare these Gospels with those which are acknowledged to have been written by uninspired men, and you will need no nice power of discrimination to see the difference: the first appear, in every respect, worthy of God; the last betray, in every page, the weakness of men.

I beg leave, here, to use the words of an excellent writer, in a late work: "The Gospel of St Luke was always, from the very moment of its publication, received as inspired, as well as authentic. It was published during the lives of St John, St Peter, and St Paul, and was approved and sanctioned by them as inspired; and received as such by the churches, in conformity to the Jewish Canon, which decided on the genuineness or spuriousness of the inspired books of their own church, by receiving him as a prophet, who was acknowledged as such by the testimony of an established prophet. On the same grounds, Luke must be considered as a true Evangelist: his Gospel being dictated and approved by an Apostle, of whose authority there can be no question. There is, likewise, sufficient evidence to warrant the conclusions of Whitby-that both St Mark and St Luke were of the number of the Seventy, who had a commission from Christ to preach the Gospel, not to the Jews only, but to the other nations-that the Holy Ghost fell on these among the numbers of the Seventy, who formed a part of the hundred-and-twenty, assembled on the day of Pentecost; and from that time they were guided by the influences of the Holy Spirit, in writing or preaching the Gospel. And if the Universal Church, from the first ages, received this Gospel as divinely inspired, on these satisfactory grounds, distance of time cannot weaken the evidences of truth, and we

are required to receive it on the same testimony. That which satisfied those who had much better means of judging, should certainly satisfy us at this time.*

There is something reprehensible, not to say impious, in that bold spirit of modern criticism, which has led many eminent Biblical scholars, especially in Germany, first to attack the authority of particular books of Scripture, and next to call in question the inspiration of the whole volume. To what extent this licentiousness of criticism has been carried, I need not say for it is a matter of notoriety, that of late, the most dangerous enemies of the Bible have been found occupying the place of its advocates; and the critical art, which was intended for the correction of the text, and the interpretation of the Sacred books, has, in a most unnatural way, been turned against the Bible; and, finally, the inspiration of all the Sacred books has not only been questioned, but scornfully rejected, by Professors of Theology! And these men, while living on endowments which pious benevolence had consecrated for the support of religion, and openly connected with churches whose creeds contain orthodox opinions, have so far forgotten their high responsibilities, and neglected the claims which the church had on them, as to exert all their ingenuity and learning to sap the foundation of that system which they were sworn to defend. They have had the shameless hardihood, to send forth into the world, books under their own names, which contain fully as much of the poison of infidelity as ever distilled from the pens of the most malignant deists, whose writings have fallen as a curse upon the world. The only effectual security which we have against this new and most dangerous form of infidelity, is found in the spirit of the age, which is so superficial and cursory in its reading, that, however many elaborate critical works may be published in foreign languages, very few of them will be read, even by theological students in this country.

May God overrule the efforts of these enemies of Christ and the Bible, so that good may come out of evil!

• New Testament, by the Rev. George Townsend, vol. i, p. 5.



THE Fourth Gospel was written by John, the son of Zebedee and Salome, who was originally a fisherman of Galilee, and brother of James; and, we may suppose, was the younger of the brothers, as he is generally mentioned last, and is commonly reported to have been the youngest of all Christ's Disciples. They were plain uneducated men, as their occupation sufficiently indicates. Probably they had been disciples of John the Baptist, and some have conjectured that John the Evangelist was one of the two to whom John the Baptist pointed out Jesus, and who went after him to his lodging. The other we know was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother; and John, in other cases, has concealed his own name, where any thing is mentioned which could be interpreted to his honour.

Why these two brothers were surnamed Boanerges, by the Lord, does not clearly appear, unless we suppose that the names were prophetic of the manner of their preaching, when commissioned as Apostles. But there are no facts recorded, from which any inference can be drawn, in relation to this subject. John has been long celebrated for his affectionate temper, and for the suavity of his manners, which appear very remarkably in all his writings; but there is no evidence that he was naturally of a meek temper. The facts in the Gospel history would seem to indicate, that both he and his brother were of a fiery temper, and very ambitious by nature; and some have supposed, that their surname had relation to this ardour of temper, but this is not very probable.

We know that John was the bosom friend of Jesus, the Disciple whom he loved with a peculiar affection; and that he was admitted to all those scenes of a very interesting nature, from which most of the other Disciples were excluded.

It is also certain that he was present at the Crucifixion; stood near the Cross in company with Mary, the mother of our Lord; and that he remained at the place until the body of Jesus, now dead, was pierced with a spear. On the morning of the resurrection, John visited the sepulchre, in company with Peter, and was present when Christ made his first appearance to the



Eleven; and when he manifested himself to his Disciples, at the sea of Tiberias.

After Pentecost, he was with Peter in the temple, when the lame man was healed; accompanied Peter also to Samaria, and was present at the Council of Jerusalem.

From the book of Revelation we learn, that this Evangelist was for a time an exile in the island of Patmos, for the testimony of Jesus, where he was favoured with wonderful visions and communications from the Lord.

It seems to have been intimated to him by his Lord, at the sea of Tiberias, that he should survive the destruction of Jerusalem; for, when Peter asked, "Lord, what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" which saying gave rise to an opinion among the Disciples, that that Disciple should not die: "Yet Jesus said not unto him, he shall not die; but if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" And this accords very well with the testimonies of the ancients, who inform us that John lived to a great age.

IRENEUS, in two places of his work against Heretics, says, "That John lived to the time of Trajan," which will bring us down to A.D. 98.

EUSEBIUS understands CLEMENT of Alexandria to say the same thing.

ORIGEN also testifies, "That John having lived long in Asia, was buried at Ephesus."

POLYCRATES, who wrote in the second century, and was Bishop of Ephesus, asserts, "That John was buried in that city."

JEROME, in his book of Illustrious Men, and in his work against Jovinian, says, "That the Apostle John lived in Asia to the time of Trajan: and dying at a great age, in the sixtyeighth year of our Lord's passion, was buried near the city of Ephesus." This account would bring down the death of John to A.D. 100, in which year it is placed by this writer, in his Chronicon.

The testimonies for the genuineness of the Gospel of John, are as full and satisfactory as could be desired.

IRENEUS tells us, "That the Evangelist John designed, by his Gospel, to confute the errors which Cerinthus had infused into the minds of the people, and had been infused by those who were called Nicolaitans, and to convince them that there was one God, who made all things by his Word; and not, as they imagined, one who was the Creator, and another,

who was the Father of our Lord; one, who was the Son of the Creator, and another, who was the Christ, who continued impassible, and descended upon Jesus, the Son of the Creator."

JEROME fully confirms this testimony of Irenæus, and says, "That when St John was in Asia, where there arose the heresies of Ebion and Cerinthus, and others, who denied that Christ was come in the flesh-that is, denied his divine nature, whom he, in his Epistle, calls Antichrists, and St Paul frequently condemns, in his Epistles he was forced by almost all the Bishops of Asia, and the deputations of many other churches, to write more plainly concerning the divinity of our Saviour, and to soar aloft in a discourse on the Word, not more bold than happy."

"It is related in ecclesiastical history, that John, when solicited by the brethren to write, answered, that he would not do it unless a public day of fasting and prayer was apointed to implore God's assistance; which being done, and the solemnity being honoured with a satisfactory revelation from God, he broke forth into these words, In the beginning was the Word, &c.

JEROME, in his book of Illustrious Men, says, "John wrote a Gospel, at the desire of the Bishops of Asia, against Cerinthus, and other heretics, especially the doctrines of the Ebionites, then springing up, who say that Christ did not exist before the birth of Mary: for which reason he was obliged to declare his divine nativity. Another reason of his writing is also mentioned, which is, that after having read the volumes of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he expressed his approbation of their history as true; but observed, that they had recorded an account of but one year of our Lord's ministry, even the last after the imprisonment of John (the Baptist), in which also he suffered. Omitting, therefore, that year (in a great measure), the history of which had been written by the other three, he related the Acts of the preceding time, before John was shut up in prison, as may appear to those who read the four Evangelists, which may serve to account for the seeming difference between John and the rest."

AUGUSTINE, in conformity with the account of Jerome, says, "That this Evangelist wrote concerning the co-eternal divinity of Christ against heretics."

LAMPE has called in question these early testimonies respecting the occasion of writing this Gospel, and has attempted to prove, by argument, that John had no view to any particular heretics, in the commencement of his Gospel.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »