תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

pray."

in Matthew's gospel, twelve times in Mark's, twenty-one times in Luke's, and eleven times in John's, and always with this restriction.

IV. A point of agreement in the conduct of Christ, as represented by his different historians, is that of his withdrawing himself out of the way, whenever the behaviour of the multitude indicated a disposition to tumult.

Mat. xiv. 22. "And straightway Jefus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other fide, while he sent the multitude away. And when he had sent the multitude away, he went up into a mountain apart to

Luke v. 15, 16. " But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him, and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities : and he withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed."

With these quotations compare the following from St. John.

Chap. v. 13. “ And he that was healed wist not who it was, for Jefus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place."

Chap. vi. 15. “ When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain by himself alone."

In this last instance St. John gives the motive of Christ's conduct, which is left unexplained by the other evangelists, who have related the conduét itself.

V. Another, and a more fingular circumstance in Christ's ministry, was the reserve, which, for some time, and upon some occasions at least, he used in declaring his own character, and his leaving it to be collected from his works rather than his professions. Just reasons for this reserve have been assigned.* But it is not what one would have expected. We meet with it in Matthew's gospel (xvi. 20.) “ Then charged he his difciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” Again, and upon a different occasion, in Mark's, (iii

. 4.) “ And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God; and he straightly charged them that they should not make him known." Another instance similar to this last is recorded by St. Luke, (iv. 41.) What we thus find in the three evangelists, appears

a See Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity.

part of

also in a passage of St. John (X. 24, 25.) “ Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt ? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." The occasion here was different from any of the rest ; and it was indirect. We only discover Christ's conduct through the upbraidings of his adversaries. But all this strengthens the argument. I had rather at any time surprise a coincidence in some oblique allusion, than read it in broad assertions.

VI. In our Lord's commerce with his disciples, one very observable particular, is the difficulty which they found in upderstanding him, when he spoke to them of the future his history, especially of what related to his paflion or resurrec. tion. This difficulty produced, as was natural, a wish in them to ask for further explanation ; from which, however, they appear to have been sometimes kept back, by the fear of giving offence.. All these circumstances are distinctly noticed by Mark and Luke, upon the occasion of his informing them (probably for the first time) that the Son of Man should be delivered into the hands of men. “ They understood not,” the evangelists tell us, " this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not; and they feared to ask him of that saying.” (Luke ix. 45. Mark ix. 32.) In St. John's gospel we have, upon a different occafion and in a different instance, the same difficulty of apprehension, the same curiosity, and the same restraint:-- “ A little while, and ye shall not see me : and again a little while, and ye shall see me ; because I the Father. · Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he faith unto us? A little while, and ye

shail not see me: and again a little while, and ye shall see me ; and, Because I

go

to the Father ? They said, therefore, What is this that he faith, A little while ? We cannot tell what he faith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them,” &c. John xvi. 16, et seq.

VII. The meckness of Christ during his last sufferings, which is conspicuous in the narratives of the three first evangelists, is preserved in that of St. John under separate examples. "The answer given him, in St. John, when the high-prielt alked him of his disciples and his doctrine, “I fpake openly to the world, I ever taught in the fynagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort, and in secret have I said noth

go to

a xviii, 20.

ing, why askelt thou me ? Ask them which heard me what I have faid unto them ;” is very much of a piece with his reply to the armed party which seized him, as we read it in St. Mark's gospel, and in St. Luke's : a “ Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and with staves, to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not." In both answers we discern the same tranquillity, the same ref. erence to his public teaching. His mild expoftulation with Pilate upon two several occasions, as related by St. John, is delivered with the same unruffled temper, as that which con. ducted him through the last scene of his life, as described by his other evangelists. His answer, in St. John's gospel, to the officer who struck him with the palm of his hand, “ If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if well, why smitest thou me ?”?c was such an answer, as might have been looked for from the person, who, as he proceeded to the place of execution, bid his companions (as we are told by St. Luke') weep not for him, but for themselves, their posterity, and their country; and who prayed for his murderers, whilst he was suspended upon the cross, “ For they know not (faid he) what they do.' The urgency also of his judges and his prosecutors to extort from him a defence to the accusation, and his unwillingness to make any (which was a peculiar circumstance) appears in St. John's account, as well as that of the other evangelists.

There are moreover two other correspondencies between St. John's history of the transaction and their's, of a kind fomewhat different from those which we have been now mentioning.

The three first evangelists record what is called our Saviour's agony, i. e. his devotion in the garden, immediately before he was apprehended ; in which narrative they all make him pray, “that the cup might pass from him.” This is the particular metaphor which they all ascribe to him. St. Matthew adds, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except 1 drink it, thy will be done."£ Now St. John does not give the scene in the garden ; but when Jesus was seized, and some resistance was attempted to be made by Peter, Jesus, according to his account, checked the attempt with this reply : “ Put up thy sword into the sheath ; the cup, which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it ?' This is something more than bare consistency; it is coincidence : because it is extremely natural, that Jesus, who, before he was apprehended, had been praying his Father, that “that cup might pass from him," yet with such a pious retraction of his request, as to have added, “ If this cup may not pass from me, thy will be done ;" it was natural, I say, for the same person, when he actually was apprehended, to express the resignation to which he had already made up his thoughts, and to express it in the form of speech which he had before ufed, “ The cup

a Mark xiv. 48. Luke xxii. 52. b xviii. 34. xix. II. c xxviii. 23.

d xxvi. 28.

f xxvi. 42. e See john xix 2. Matt. xxvii. 14. Luke xxiii. 9.

which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” This is a coincidence between writers, in whose narratives there is no imitation, but great diversity.

A second fimilar correspondency is the following : Matthew and Mark make the charge, upon which our Lord was condemned, to be a threat of destroying the temple ; “ We heard him say, I will destroy this temple, made with hands, and, within three days, I will build another made without hands;" \; but they neither of them inform us, upon what circumstance this calumniy was founded. St. John, in the early part of his history, fupplies us with this information ; for he relates, that, upon our Lord's first journey to Jerusalem, when the Jews ask. ed him, “ What sign shewelt thou unto us, seeing that thou doeft these things? He answered, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” This agreement could hardly arise from any thing but the truth of the case. From

any or design in St. John, to make his narrative tally with the narsatives of the other evangelists, it certainly did not arise, for no such design appears, but the absence of it.

A strong, and more general instance of agreement, is the following : The three first evangelists have related the appointment of the twelve apostles ;d and have given a catalogue of their names in form. John, without ever mentioning the appointment, or giving the catalogue, fupposes, throughout his whole narrative, Christ to be accompanied by a select party

of disciples; the number of these to be twelve ;' and, whenever he happens to notice any one as of that number, it is one included in the catalogue of the other evangelists; and the names

care

a xviii. II. d Matt. X. 1.

b Mark xiv. 5.
Mark ii. 14. Luke vi. 12.
f xx. 24. vi. 71.

cji. 10.

vi. 7.

principally occurring in the course of his history of Christ, are the names extant in their list. This last agreement, which is of considerable moment, runs through every gospel, and through every chapter of each.

All this bespeaks reality.

CHAP. V.

Originality of our Saviour's Chara&ter. THE

HE Jews, whether right or wrong, had understood their prophecies to foretel the advent of a person, who, by some superHatural a fittance, should advance their nation to independence, and to a supreme degree of fplendour and prosperity. This was the reigning opinion and expectation of the times.

Now, had Jefus been an enthusiast, it is probable that his enthufa fin would have fallen in with the popular delusion, and chat, whilit he gave himself out to be the person intended by these predictions, he would have assumed the character, to which they were universally supposed to relate.

Had he been an impostor, it was his business to have flattera ed the prevailing hopes, because these hopes were to be the instru. ments of his attraction and success.

But what is better than conjectures, is the fact, that all the pretended Memahs actually did fo. We learn from Jofephus ihat there were many of these. Some of them, it is probable, might be impostors, who thought that an advaritage was to be taken of the state of public opinion. Others, perhaps, were enthusiasts, whose imagination had been drawn to this particular object, by the language and fentiments which prevailed around them. But, whether impostors or enthusiasts, they concurred in producing themselves the character which their country. men looked for, that is to fay, as the restorers and deliverers of the nation, in that sense in which restoration and deliverance were expected by the Jews.

Why therefore Jefus, if he was like them, either an enthusi. aft or impostor, did not pursue the same conduct as they did, in framing his character and pretensions, it will be found difficult to explain. A mission, the operation and benefit of which was. to take place in another life, was a thing unthought of as the

« הקודםהמשך »