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events, which each has related in his inspired narrative. One consequence of the apparent contradictions which have originated in this source has been highly beneficial to the Christian Church-greater attention to the sacred volume has been induced; and every difficulty which has been proposed by such objectors as Evanson, Priestley, Middleton, and others, to the consistency and veracity of the Evangelists, has been amply refuted. There are no real contradictions in Scripture. The scope and design of each writer require only to be known, and then the causes of their apparent discrepancies, of the variety of their phrases, of their omissions, their additions, and selections of particular events, will be fully understood and appreciated; and the value of the inspired books will be made to appear yet more and more inestimable. Another consequence, however, has been more painful. Christianity is the enemy of vice, in all its forms, all its plausibilities, all its self-deception, apologies, and motives. The least allowed indulgence of evil is incompatible with the demands of this pure and holy religion. Anxious to reconcile a life of negligence of God with adherence to Christianity, the careless, the irreligious, the presumptuous, the self-opinionated, or the indifferent, look for objections to the truth of Scripture; and reject the law to which they refuse obedience. Some of the objections proposed by the enemies of Christianity have been drawn from the apparent difficulties suggested by the various order of their narratives, adopted by the writers of the New Testament: and the evident advantage of removing these objections, and reconciling the accounts of the Evangelists, has induced many learned or enquiring men, in the earlier as well as in the latter ages of Christianity, to compile and submit to the world various Harmonies, which have been formed on different plans, or hypotheses. An eminent critic (a) has divided these into two
(a) Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iii. part ii. p. 44.
classes: "Harmonies, of which the authors have taken it for granted that all the Evangelists have written in chronological order; and Harmonies, of which the authors have admitted that in one or more of the four Gospels chronological order has been more or less neglected." To these might have been added a third, in which the Harmonizers have supposed that the chronology has been neglected by all the four Evangelists. The Harmonists who have adopted some one of these plans are very numerous. I refer the reader to the catalogues of Walchius (b), Michaelis (c), Pilkington (d), Horne (e), Chemnitius (f), and Cave (g), for a more ample account than it may be thought advisable to give in this Introduction. They ought not, however, to be passed by without some notice.
The canon of the New Testament was closed by the author of the Apocalypse. After his death, the Christian Churches admitted no addition to the inspired volume. Each book, as it had been successively given to the Churches, was carefully verified, and cautiously received. They were at first addressed to some one particular class of men, or were composed for one express purpose; and, before their general utility was acknowledged, they were received by the persons to whom they were addressed, in the sense for which they were composed by their respective authors. Thus the Gospel of St. Matthew, as Dr. Townson and others have satisfactorily shewn, was compiled at a very early period after the ascension of our Lord, for the use of the Jewish converts. The Gospel of St. Mark was probably composed for the use of the converted proselytes of the gate; and St. Luke's Gospel was written for the more general use of the Gentile converts, who were united into churches by St. Paul. The Gospel of St.
(b) Bibliotheca Theolog. vol. iv. p. 863-900. Jena, 1765. (c) Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iii. part i. p. 31-36. and part ii. p. 29-49. (d) Pilkington's Evangelical Harmony, Preface, p. 18-20. (e) Horne's Critical Introduction, vol. ii. p. 503. (f) Chemnitii Prolegomena. (g) Cave's Historia Literaria,
articles Tatianus, Ammonius, &c.
John was written at the request of the Church at Ephesus, as a supplement to the rest; with more especial reference to those heresies of his age, which impugned the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. Many years, we may justly conclude, would have elapsed, before these Gospels were collected into one volume and many more would elapse before the attention of the primitive Churches, which received them with so much veneration, would be directed to their apparent discrepancies. For this veneration was not slightly founded; it originated from the universal knowledge which prevailed among all the Churches, that the authors of these books, and of the other books which they esteemed sacred, were possessed of the power of working miracles, to demonstrate the truth of their narration. The general evidence deducible from the testimony of the eye-witnesses of the wonderful actions of our Lord, and from the testimony of the hearers of his gracious teaching, was not sufficient. The relators of his actions could appeal to their own supernatural gifts, and afford undeniable proofs of their veracity, and of their more than human knowledge. St. Matthew, as one of the twelve, partook of the miraculous powers which were given to each. St. Peter may be considered as the real author of St. Mark's Gospel; and St. Paul, of the Gospel attributed to St. Luke. St. John also was of the twelve. Invested with the apostolic office, and acting with the plenary powers with which their divine Master had honoured them, we may justly conclude that none of their early converts, either of the Jews, the Proselytes, or the Gentiles, would have considered the seeming difficulties of their narratives. The objects for which both the Gospels and the Epistles were written would have been well understood, and further explanation was unnecessary: and no Harmony of the Gospels would have been either desired, or appreciated, in the apostolic age.
When the miraculous powers of the apostles, however, had ceased with their lives, and the generation which had wit
nessed these miracles had passed away, it might naturally have been expected that some attention would be paid to this subject, and some efforts made to reconcile the apparent varieties in the accounts of the Evangelists. About eighty years after the death of St. John and the closing of the canon of the New Testament, Tatian, a Syrian by descent, a Mesopotamian by birth, a sophist by profession, before his conversion to Christianity, and becoming a pupil of Justin Martyr, compiled the first Harmony of the Gospels. The fragments which remain, and have been attributed to Tatian, are now generally imputed to Ammonius. Clemens (h) quotes Tatian as the first harmonizer. He divided his harmony into eightyone chapters; omitted the genealogies which prove Christ to be descended from David (the heresy of that age being to exalt, rather than to depress, the dignity of our Lord), and reduced all the passovers to one, on the supposition that our Saviour's ministry lasted only one year. Epiphanius tells us (i), that where Eusebius accuses the Ebionites of using only the Gospel according to the Hebrews, he means that they used the Harmony of Tatian. Theodoret tells us, that he found two hundred copies of Tatian's Harmony, which were highly prized: but because the genealogies, and descent of Christ from David, were omitted, he gave the four Gospels in their place. An additional evidence, that the translations of Victor of Capua, and of Lascinius, are spurious (k), may be derived from the fact, that they retain the genealogy which Tatian is said to have rejected.
Pilkington gives a specimen, in his notes, of the confused order of the harmony of Tatian, who does not, indeed, appear to have been a man of much judgment. The account which Cave has given of his philosophical opinions sufficiently convinces us, that no dependence can be placed on his deci
(h) Clemens Stromat. lib. i. ap. Chemnitii Prolegomena. (i) Ap. Chemu. Euseb. lib. iii. cap. 24. (k) See Pilkington's Preface.
sion. I add the extract, as even Pilkington's work is rare (7). Tatian in general kept close to the order of St. Matthew, in which he has been followed by the greater number of those harmonizers who prefer being guided by the authority of one Evangelist, rather than equally to transpose the four. He sometimes, however, recedes from it without any apparent necessity or reason. "Several things," says Pilkington, "which ought evidently to be connected, are disjoined ; others are improperly united. The order of all the Gospels is arbitrarily transposed, and the times and seasons cannot be distinguished (m).”
Ammonius, a Platonic philosopher of Alexandria, published a work, in the third century, which bears a more proper title than the former; being only called Evangeliorum Narratio. He so exactly follows the method of Tatian, that there is little doubt he has made an abridgement only of that work. About the year 330, Juvencus, a Spaniard, wrote the Evangelical History in heroic verse. "He recedes," says Pilkington, " very little from the method observed by Tatian; only he keeps more closely to the present order of St. Matthew's Gospel, which he seems to have made his guide. In
(1) Tatian's Harmony, collected from Bibliotheca Patrum, tom. vii. p. 41. Paris, 1589:
Pilkington's Notes, p. 30.
tioch, as the first Harmonist.
(m) Jerome mentions Theophilus, Bishop of AnThe treatise on the Gospels, ascribed to him, alle
gorizes, instead of harmonizes, the sacred volume. Preface, p. x.