A. D. 64.

order a declaration of those things which are most surely Written in believed among us.

ciples of Christ inquired into every circumstance of the life of
their Divine Master before they delivered them to the world
as authenticated. It is necessary in this part of our arrangement
to pay some attention to this fact. Even the enemies of our Lord
acknowledged Him to have been an eminent and wonderful
personage. His mode of teaching, his astonishing knowledge,
the sanctity of his character, the boldness of his public cen-
sures, the number of his followers, and the devoted attachment
of his more immediate adherents, would have been sufficient to
have excited the general attention of the people and their
rulers. Many persons, therefore, would have been naturally led
to examine into and collect the various circumstances and
actions of a life so extraordinary. Spurious works must have
been published (such as the Gospels according to the Naza-
renes, Hebrews, and Egyptians; of Nicodemus, Thomas, Mat-
thias, and of the twelve Apostles; the Gospels of Cerinthus,
Basilides, and others, all of which were rejected by the Churches
without hesitation, as they were scrupulously cautious of what
they admitted (a),) and it became the duty of those who possessed
accurate information, and were anxious for the honour of their
beloved Teacher and for the propagation of his Gospel, to
transmit to posterity an authentic history of the life and death
of their crucified Lord. Such were the motives by which this
Evangelist professes to have been actuated, when he wrote his
Gospel to Theophilus, a convert of Antioch. Three interpre.
tations, however, have been given of St. Luke's words. Light-
foot says, that those who compiled the narratives to which St.
Luke refers, did so with good intentions; but not being in-
spired, although they wrote the truth, their writings could not
be received into the canon. But St. Luke had his intelligence
by divine inspiration, dvodev, from above, from on high (b).
Michaelis also remarks, that the accounts in the histories which
it was St. Luke's object to correct, were not wholly fabulous,
&c (c).

Three hypotheses have been submitted to the world to ac
count for the very singular coincidences of language and para-
graphs which abound in the three first Gospels. The principal,
adopted by Dr. Townson (d), Grotius, Wetstein, Owen, Mill,
Hales, Harwood, and Griesbach, is that the Evangelists copied
from each other. St. Luke, however, has not once alluded to
the other Evangelists, as having either seen their Gospels, or as
being at all indebted to them. He professes also to set forth in
order a narration, &c. &c. speaking of his intended work, as
an original history, not as a series of extracts from accredited
writers. For though many circumstances are not related by
St. Luke in their exact chronological order, the principal
are detailed in their natural succession, Kadežñs, in a con-
tinued series. (Vide Kuinoel in loc.) He begins with the con-
ception and birth both of John and of Christ, and proceeds
with the events of his conversing with the doctors in the temple,
his baptism, &c. &c. See some admirable observations on the
difference between the historian and annalist, and the necessity
of exact observance of chronological order, in Bishop Marsh's
Notes to Michaelis (e). The second hypothesis is, that the Evan-
gelists derived their information from one common source, or do-
cument; which contained those passages which so frequently occur
in the three Gospels in nearly the same words. This hypothesis
is adopted by Le Clerc, Lessing, Michaelis, and Eichhorn. Its


.A. D. 64.

2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from Written in

chief advocate in later times has been the present learned Bishop
of Peterborough (f). He supposes that St. Luke in this pre-
face alludes to the common document in question, which was
known by the title Διήγησις περὶ τῶν πεπληροφορημένων ἐν ἡμῖν
πραγμάτων, καθὼς παρέδοσαν ἡμῖν οἱ ἀπ' ἀρχῆς, αὐτόπται, καὶ
ὑπηρεται γενόμενοι του λόγου—a narrative of those things which
are most firmly believed among us, even as they, who from the
beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word deli-
vered them unto us. The omission, however, of the article rýv
before dınynow, is considered by the late lamented Bishop of
Calcutta (g) to be fatal to this supposition. His rule is, "When
a title to a book is prefixed to the book itself, the article may
be omitted, but when the book is mentioned, or referred to, the
article should be inserted." The hypothesis itself, although
very ingenious, is attended with so many difficulties, that it is
seldom adopted. The third hypothesis is that of Mr. Veysie (h),
who supposes that many of the hearers of the discourses of Christ,
and the witnesses of his actions, committed to writing an account
of what they bad heard and seen; and from the most authenti-
cated of these sources the Gospels were compiled. This theory
indeed seems to solve the difficulty, but Bishop Gleig (i), in
his excellent edition of Stackhouse, prefers the more obvious
and general opinion, and therefore perhaps the least discussed,
that the only common document which may be called the foun-
dation of the four Gospels, was the preaching of our Lord Him-
self. Lightfoot (k), by a singular coincidence, has given the
same idea. The learned bishop quotes the valuable tract of the
late Bishop Randolph. Bishop Gleig's illustration of the mode
in which many of our Lord's miracles and doctrines might have
been recorded, from the manner in which the extempore lee-
tures of a Professor at Edinburgh were preserved by his pupils,
is very curious, and deserves attention. "In looking up to
Him, as the author of our faith and mission, and to the
very words in which he was wont to dictate to them, which
not only yet sounded in their ears, but were also recalled
by the aid of his Holy Spirit promised (John_xiv. 26.) for
that very purpose, they have given us three Gospels, often
agreeing in words, though not without much diversifica-
tion, and always in sense." With this hypothesis, the preface
of St. Luke seems to agree. St. Luke, originally a physician,
probably one of the seventy, was a native of Antioch, and
according to Bishop Pearson, a companion of St. Paul in his
travels from the year 43, attending that Apostle through Phry-
gia, Galatia, and Mysia, to Troas (1). He accompanied him
also to Samothrace, Neapolis, and Philippi. He was one of
those who went with him, and remained with him at Jerusalem;
sailed with him in the same ship from Cesarea to Rome, and
continued with him during the whole of the two years imprison-
ment, with the account of which he concludes his book of the
Acts of the Apostles. St. Luke therefore must have had abun-
dant opportunity of conversing with the eye-witnesses and
hearers of our Lord's actions and discourses, and of making
himself acquainted from the most undeniable evidence with
every circumstance which had not passed under his own imme-
diate observation. Perhaps, as Dr. Townson judiciously re-
marks, he enjoyed the additional advantages of seeing the Gos-
pels of St. Matthew and St. Mark at Rome, the former of whom
was an undoubted eye-witness; and that it is probable he left
that city after the release of St. Paul from his two years' impri-


A. D.


the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the Written in word 3;

sonment, and went to Achaia, where he is generally supposed
either to have finished or written his Gospel, and the Acts, for
the use of the Gentile converts.

It is my wish to point out in these notes the peculiar pro-
priety of the various actions recorded of our Lord, according to
the several situations and circumstances in which he was placed.
In order to do this, it will be sometimes necessary to shew the
unimpeachable nature of the evidence on which the narrative
rests. Religion is an appeal to faith. Its truth was at first
established by an appeal to the senses and judgment of the first
witnesses and converts, and their testimony, with every other
evidence, has been handed down for the examination and be-
nefit of all succeeding ages.

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 spurious-
ness of the inspired books of their own Church, by receiving
him as a Prophet, who was acknowledged as such by the testi-
mony of an established Prophet (m). On the same grounds,
St. Luke must be considered as a true Evangelist; his Gospel
being dictated by, and approved of, by an Apostle, of whose
authority there can be no question. There is likewise suffi-
cient evidence to warrant the conclusions of Whitby (n), 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 them, among the numbers of the seventy, who formed a
part of the hundred and twenty assembled on the day of Pente-
cost, 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 so much better means of judging, should certainly
satisfy us at this time. The necessity of inspiration rests on
the necessity of Revelation itself. Without Revelation the
mercy of God to man had not been complete, and it was abso-
lutely necessary that this Revelation should not only be divine,
but that it should be clearly proved to have been so.
Dooks of the New, as well as of the Old Testament, therefore,
(for the inspiration of the latter is here taken for granted) we
may justly say with Mr. Rennell (o), "We believe that Holy
Scripture was written by men, who were under the superin-
tendance and controul of the Spirit of God; but we believe also,
that whether in writing, speaking, or acting, they were left in
full possession and use of their own natural faculties. The
Spirit of God directed, elevated, and purified their souls; all
that was necessary He supplied, all that was erroneous He cor-
rected. Every line, therefore, of the New Testament we be-
lieve to be stamped with unerring truth; and to be the voice
of God, speaking in the language of man."

And of the

(a) Vide Gill's Comment. in loc.-Jones's Full and new Method of settling the Canonical Authority of the New Testament, 8vo. 3 vols. 1726. Vol. i. p. 29, &c. and vol. iii. p. 102, &c. Rennell's Proofs of





3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect under- Written in standing of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus*,

4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.

Inspiration, written in reply to the insidious work of Mr. Hone, enti-
tled, The Apocryphal New Testament. See particularly page vi. of
Mr. Rennell's Introduction. (b) Lightfoot's Works, vol. i. p. 201,
more especially p. 391. (c) Marsh's Michaelis, vol. ii. part 1. p. 271.
The next opinion is that of Diodati, the favourite commentator of our
great poet, who represents St. Luke as desirous of following the ex-
ample of the true Evangelists, &c. Vide Diodati's Annotations in loc.
3d edit. 1651, folio. The third is that of Dr. Gill, and Mr. Jones above
alluded to. Mr. Jones, after Dr. Grabe, thinks that St. Luke particu-
larly referred to the Gospel of the Egyptians, and Nazarenes; Mi-
chaelis to a false account of Christ, stil circulated in Arabia in the time
of Mohammed. (d) Vide Dr. Townson's work on the Gospels, vol. i.
particularly pages 39 to 71; and for a very satisfactory account of these
hypotheses, Horne's Critical Introduction, 2d edit. vol. iv. p. 310, &c.
(e) Vol. iii. part ii. p. 12, &c. (f) Vide Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iii.
part 2, p. 186, &c. and the dissertation at the end of the same volume,
on the Origin of the three first Gospels. (g) Treatise on the Greek
Article, p. 289. (h) Vide the account of this hypothesis in Horne, vol.
iv. p. 319. (i) Gleig's Stackhouse, vol. iii. p. 105. (k) Fol. edit. vol. ii.
p. 375. (1) For an account of St. Luke, see Whitby's Preface, and
the Prefaces of the Commentators in general; or more particularly
Lardner, Michaelis, Horne, Cave, and Bishop Tomline. (m) I have
borrowed this remark from Whitby's Preface to St. Mark's Gospel,
fol. edit. p. 257. (n) Michaelis, like other writers on the continent of
a subsequent period, seems to pay too little attention to the authority
of the earlier writers, who lived near the Apostolic age. The testi-
mony of Origin and Epiphanius, of Theophylact, Euthymius, and
Nicephorus Callistu, that St. Luke was one of the seventy disciples, is
not overthrown by the opposite testimony of Chrysostom and Augus-
tine, (vide Lardner, Supplement to the Credibility, Works, 4to. vol. iii.
p. 190.) For though much weight will necessarily be attached to the
arguments which ingenious men discover in the internal evidence con-
tained in the New Testament, yet many of their conjectures are uncer-
tain, and it may be doubted if the evidence of antient writers is not
better authority. (o) Rennell's Proofs of Inspiration, p. 17.

3 Macknight, in the notes to his Harmony, (4to. London,
1763, p. 2,) quotes Gomarus, Cameron, Capellus, Witsius, and
Wolf, as referring this expression" of the word" to Christ,
one of whose titles is Aóyoç Toữ Oɛoũ, Apoc i. 2. xix. 13. Arch-
deacon Nares has adopted the same opinion, (Nares, Veracity of
the Evangelists, p. 40-43.) Should this remark be correct, it
will prove, what many will consider a material point, that our
Lord was distinguished by the word Logos before it was applied
in the same sense by St. John. See the notes to the next section.

These simple coincidences confirm Whitby that the Theophilus here mentioned was a real personage. Lardner does not venture to decide. A passage from Josephus, quoted by Lightfoot, has escaped the attention of both these writers: “King Agrippa, removing Jesus, the son of Gamaliel, from the high priesthood, gave it to Matthias, the son of Theophilusἔδωκεν αὐτὴν Ματθία τω Θεοφίλου.” Antig. lib. xx. cap. 8.—It proves that a man of high rank among the Jews, of the name of Theophilus, was cotemporary with St. Luke, and might possibly be the person whom he addressed. The supposition that he was a real person, whether at Antioch or Jerusalem, strengthens the authenticity of the narrative.




The Divinity, Humanity, and Office of Christ.

JOHN I. 1-18.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

It is necessary to devote particular attention to this introduction to St. John's Gospel, as it has been made the subject of more extensive and disingenuous controversy than perhaps any other passage in the whole of the New Testament. The Preface of St. Luke has been eloquently described as "the beautiful gate of the Christian Temple, the entrance into the glorious and royal fabric of the Gospels (a);" while that of St. John may be denominated the solid and deep foundation on which it rests.

To understand the expressions of any writer, particularly when they are at all dubious, or liable to misrepresentation, we must endeavour to place ourselves in the situation of those to whom they were addressed. (b) Dr. Lardner fixes the date of the publication of St. John's Gospel as early as 68, and (c) Michaelis as early as 70. The weight of the evidence, however, appears greatly in favour of the much later date 96 or 97. St. John evidently speaks in his Gospel to those who were not well acquainted with many Jewish customs; as he gives various explanations of things, which would be entirely unnecessary, if the persons for whom he principally wrote had been already conversant with the usages of the Jews (d). And we might have expected that one, at least, of the apostles would live after the destruction of Jerusalem, not only as a witness of the accomplishment of those prophecies he had himself heard delivered, but to sanction and confirm the doctrines set forth by the other apostles in the books of the New Testament, and to communicate his final instructions to the Church after that fearful and appalling event. But either of these dates will be consistent with the whole, or with the greater part of the theory we are now about to consider, which will enable us more perfectly to comprehend the great object which St. John had in view, when he wrote his introduction to this Gospel. In all our inquiries into the New Testament, we must ever bear in mind that the Jews were always the first to be addressed (e). They were the chosen people of God ➡his eldest born-the countrymen of the apostles-for whose salvation the apostles were always most anxious, and to whose conversion they devoted all the fervour and zeal of their first labours. They were the elect guardians of the ancient prophecies, and the favoured witnesses of their accomplishment. The first question, therefore, which proposes itself is, What sense would the Jewish reader attach to the account given by the Evangelist of the Logos; or, in other words, what were the sentiments of the Jews in the time of St. John concerning the Logos, and in what respects did he design either to confirm or rectify the opinions of his countrymen on that subject (f)?

Throughout the whole of the Old Testament, from the history of the fall of man to the book of Malachi, we read of the appearance of a wonderful personage, which is sometimes called Jehovah, sometimes the Angel Jehovah, or Jehovah Angel, or the Angel of Jehovah (g). In addition to numerous divines who have demonstrated the same thing, Dr. Allix, in his valuable, though sometimes inaccurate, work on the Testimony

Written at

« VorigeDoorgaan »