Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

therefore, in him, would have been unnatural, as not being wanted by the readers whom he addressed. But in Mark, who, whatever use he might make of Matthew's Gospel, intended his own narrative for a general circulation, and who himself travelled to distant countries in the service of the religion, it was properly added.

CHAP. IV.

Identity of Christ's character. The argument expressed by this title, I apply principally to the comparison of the first three Gospels with that of Saint John. It is known to every reader of Scripture, that the passages of Christ's history, preserved by Saint John, are, except his passion and resurrection, for the most part, different from those which are delivered by the other evangelists. And I think

the ancient account of this difference to be the true one, : viz, that Saint John wrote after the rest, and to sup

ply what he thought omissions in their narratives, of which the principal were our Saviour's conferences with the Jews of Jerusalem, and his discourses to his apostles at his last supper. But what I observe in the

comparison of these several accounts is, that, although ? actions and discourses are ascribed to Christ by Saint

John, in general different from what are given to him

by the other evangelists, yet, under this diversity, there i is a similitude of manner, which indicates that the į actions and discourses proceeded from the same person.

I should have laid little stress upon the repetition of actions substantially alike, or of discourses containing many of the same expressions, because that is a species of resemblance, which would either belong to a true history, or might easily be imitated in a false one. Nor do I deny, that a dramatic writer is able to sustain propriety and distinction of character, through a great variety of

separate incidents and situations. But the evangelists were not dra tic writers; nor possessed the talents of dramatic writers; nor will it, I believe, be suspected, that they studied uniformity of character, or ever thought of any such thing, in the person who was the subject of their histories. Such uniformity, if it exists, is on their part casual ; and if there be, as I contend there is, a perceptible resemblance of man. ner, in passages, and between discourses, which are in themselves extremely distinct, and are delivered by historians writing without any imitation of, or reference to, one another, it affords a just presumption, that these are, what they profess to be, the actions and the discourses of the same real person ; that the evangelists wrote from fact, and not from imagination.

The article in which I find this agreement most strong, is in our Saviour's mode of teaching, and in that particular property of it, which consists in his drawing of his doctrine from the occasion; or, which is nearly the same thing, raising reflections from the objects and incidents before him, or turning a particular discourse then passing, into an opportunity of gene ral instruction.

It will be my business to point out this manner in the first three evangelists; and then to inquire, whe ther it do not appear also, in several examples of Christ's discourses, preserved by Saint John.

The reader will observe in the following quotations, that the Italic letter contains the reflection; the common letter, the incident or occasion from which it springs.

Matt. xii. 47–50.“ Then they said unto him, Be hold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without desiring to speak with thee. But he answered, and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who åre my brethren ? And he stretched forth his hand to wards his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren : for whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

Matt. xvi. 5. “And when his disciples were come 'to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread, then Jesus said unto them, Toke heed, and bevrare of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees.

And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. How is it that ye do not understand, that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees? Then understood they, how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the DOCTRINE of the Pha. risees and of the Sadducees.

Matt. xv. 1, 2. 10, 11. 15-20. “Then came to Jesus Scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the traditions of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. And he called the multitude, and said anto them, Hear and understand : Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

-Then answered Peter, and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do ye not yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? but those things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and they defile the man : for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies ; these are the things which defile a man: BUT TO EAT WITH UNWASHEN HANDS DEFILETH NOT A

Our Saviour, on this occasion, expatiates rather more at large than usual, and his discourse also is more divided : but the concluding sentence brings back the whole train of thought to the incident in the first verse, viz. the objugatory question of the Pharisees, and renders it evident that the whole sprang from that circumstance.

Mark x. 13-15.“ And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them : but when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God : verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein."

MAN.

Mark i. 16, 17. “Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers : and Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Luke xi. 27. “And it came to pass as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked: but he said, Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.

Luke xiii. 1-3. “ There were present at that season, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices; and Jesus answering, said unto them, Suppose ye, that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except yerepent, ye shallalllikewise perisk.

Luke xiv, 15. “And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many,” &c. The parable is rather too long for insertion, but affords a striking instance of Christ's manner of raising a discourse from the occasion. Observe also in the same chapter two other er. amples of advice, drawn from the circumstances of the entertainment and the behaviour of the guests.

We will now see, how this manner discovers itself in Saint John's history of Christ.

John vi. 25. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them, and said, Verily I say unto you, ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto ever. lasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto

you."

John iv. 12. “Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered, and said unto her (the woman of Samaria), Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again ; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.

John iv. 31. “In the mean while, his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat; but he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him aught to eat ? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is, to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."

John ix, 1-5. “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth; and his disciples asked him, saying, Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no mun can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

John ix. 35-40. Jesus heard that they had cast him (the blind man above mentioned) out: and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God ? And he answered, and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen bim, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe; and he worshipped him. And Jesus said, For judgment I have come into this world, that they which see not, might see; and that they which see, might be made hlind.

All that the reader has now to do, is to compare the series of examples taken from Saint John, with the series of examples taken from the other evangelists, and to judge whether there be not a visible agreement of manner between them. In the above-quoted passages, the occasion is stated, as well as the reflection. They seem, therefore, the most proper for the purpose of our argument. A large, however, and curious collection

« VorigeDoorgaan »