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ground of general consent and testimonie. Nor does the canon of the scriptures of the New Testament owe it's establishment to the decisions of Councils: but it is the judgement of Christian people in general. And so far as we are able to perceive, after a long and careful examination, it is a right and reasonable judgement. And it may induce us to believe, that if men were encouraged to think freely, in other matters also, and to judge for themselves, according to evidence, and proper allistances were afforded them, it would not be at all detrimental to the interests either of truth or virtue.
Of the Time of writing the Gospels, especially the first thrse.
US E B E intimates, that (a) many before him supposed, that
when Paul in his epistle speaks of his own gospel, he intended the Gospel according to Luke. We will therefore consider those texts, and some other of a like kind.
I. St. Paul says Rom. ii. 16... in the day, when God snall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel. The fame phrase occurs again ch. xvi. 25. and 2 Tim. ii. 8. Remember, that Jesus Christ
, of the feed of Dapid, was raised from the dead, according to my gospel.
In all which places, I apprehend, it must be reasonable to understand, not any written Gospel, or historie of Jesus Christ: but the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which had been preached by Paul. Which is also the opinion of learned modern interpreters in general.
II. 2 Cor. viij. 18. And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel, throughout all the churches.
Many have been of opinion, that St. Luke is the brother here intended, and that St. Paul refers to Luke's written Gospel. This (6) is said to be Origen's interpretation. But I do not clearly perceive it. Origen (c) speaking of the four Gospels, says: “ The (d) third is that according
(0) Φασί δε, ως αρα τα κατ' αυτόν ευαγγελία μνημονεύειν ο σκύλος είθεν, δπη. ίκα ως σερί ιδια τινός ευαίγελία γράφω έλεγε, καια το ευα/γέλιόν με. Εuf. Η. Ε. 1.3.6. 4. p. 73. D.
(6) “ Who this brother was, is much contested.. Antiquity has carried it “ for St. Luke, worthy of praise in all the churches for the Gospel, which he wrote. “ The authority of this assertion seems to rest upon the words of Origen, the “ interpolated Ignatius, and St. Jerome.” So Whitby upon the Place.
(6) Και τρίτον το κατα λεκάν, το υπό παύλε έπαινέμενον ένα γέλιον. Αρ. Εur. 2.6. cap. 25.p. 226. C. (d) See Vol. iii. p. 235.
to Luke, commended by Paul.”. I say, I do not perceive it to be clear, that Origen had an eye to 2 Cor. viii. 18. He might intend Rom. ij. 16. or xvi. 25. or 2 Tim. ii. 8. However, whether it be Origen's interpretation of that text, or not, it is Jerome's: who writing the historie of St. Luke in his book of illuftrious Men, says: “ He (e) wrote a Gofpel, of which Paul makes mention, saying: And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gojpel.” To the same purpose () also in the prologue to his Commentarie upon St. Matthew : and likewise in (8) his Commentarie upon the epistle to Philemon.
Chryfoftom upon the place speaks after this manner. « And (h) who " is this brother? Some fay, Luke : and think, that the Apostle refers to “the historie, writ by him. Others say, Barnabas. For by gospel he “intends unwritten preaching." Theophylazł (i) speaks to the like purpose. Theodoret (k) by the brother understood Barnabas. And therefore could not think of any written Gospel, no such work having been ascribed to him by the ancients. Oecumenius's note is to this purpose.
Many (1) say, this brother is Luke, mentioned upon account of the “ Gotpel composed by him. Many others suppose him to be Barnabas. "For, as they say, unwritten preaching is here called gospel. Which is " the more likely. For what follows is more suitable to Barnabas :
whose praise is in the gospel. As much as to say: he not only preaches, “ but commendably.” And afterwards. “ The meaning is, he not konly evangelizeth, and preacheth the gospel admirably, and commendably, but he has been chosen to travel with us,
also.” Such are the sentiments of the ancients upon this text.
Let us now observe the interpretations of some judicious moderns.
Grotius says: “he (m) does not dislike the opinion of those, who think Luke to be here intended. But he does not think, that St. Paul refers to his book of the Gospel, which was not then published: but to the office of an Evangelist, which Luke had discharged in several places, or to his preaching the gospel. And he says, that in the gospel, may be the same as by the gospel. So in ch. x. 14. of the same epistle.
Estius likewife says, that (n) by gospel is to be understood preaching: not St. Luke's Gospel, which we are not certain was then published.
LC (e) See Vol. x. p. 94.
(f) The fame, p. 83. (3) De quo [Luca] et in alio loco : Misi, inquit, cum illo fratrem, cujus laus eft in evangelio per omnes ecclefias. . . &c. in Philem. T. 4. P. I. p. 454.
(2) Και τις ετός εςιν ο αδελφό; τιες μεν τον λεκάν. Και φασι, δια την ισοείαν ήνπες έγραψε. Τινές δε τον βαρνάβαν. Και γάς το άγραφον κήρυμα ευαίγέλιον καλεί. In 2. ep. ad Corinth. hom. 18. Tom. X.
(i) In loc. p. 389.
(4) Τον τεισμακάριον Βαριάξαν τα εύρημένα χαρακληρίζει. Τheod. in loc. Ι. 3. p. 243
(1) Oecum. in loc. Tom. i. p. 663.
(m) Mihi non difplicet fententia illorum, qui hic Lucam defignari putant : ita tamen ut per evangelium non intelligatur liber, qui tunc editus nondum erat, sed ipsum munus evangeliftæ, quod Lucas Pauli vice multis in locis fideliter obierat, five ipfa evangelii prædicatio, ut infra x. 14. i in pro dà per. Grot. ad 2 Cor. viii. 18. (1) Neque enim Paulus de Evangelio scripto loquitur, fed quo modo paslim
Le Clerc, in his French Teftament, translates in this manner : one of our brethren, who is praised on account of the gospel in all the churches. And in his notes says, “ that generally St. Luke is here supposed to be intend"ed: though St. Paul refers rather to his preaching the gospel, than to « the book of his Gospel.”
Beaufobre translates after this manner : one of the brethren, who has made himself famous in all the churches by preaching the gospel. And says in his notes : “ that though some of the ancients have hereby un“'derstood St. Luke and his Gospel ; he thinks, that by the gospel is here “ intended the preaching of the gospel. Besides, there is no proof, that “ St. Luke had as yet writ his Gospel. It is rather reasonable to think « he had not,”
Upon the whole, though we cannot certainly say who is the brother, whose praise was in the gospel : whether (0) Luke, or Barnabas, or Silas, or Apollos : I presume we are sufficiently warranted to say, that by gospel is here intended neither the gospel according to Luke, nor any other written Gospel whatever.
III. i Tim. vi. 20. O Timothie, keep that which is committed to thy trul.
Hereby some have been disposed to understand a written Gospel. But they are not favored by the best interpreters. Grotius says, that (p) this deposit, or thing committed to Timothie's trust, is the sacred doctrine of the gospel. Estius (7) says the same. I place below likewise (r) a part of Beza's note upon the text. Le Clerc in his notes explains it thus : " the doctrine of the gospel, which was a sacred depofit, committed by " the Apostles to their disciples.” And Beaufobre thus: “ the doctrine, “ which had been committed to, or entrusted with Timothie." See also, says he, 1 Tim. i. 18. and 2 Tim. ii. 2. I say no more to this text.
IV. 2 Tim. i. 13. 14. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou haft heard of me... That good thing, which was committed unto ther, keep by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in us.
Hereby some may understand a written Gospel, or history of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, I think, I need not add much here to what has been already said of the preceding text, it being nearly parallel. The meaning of both is much the same. Timothie is here again exhorted, and required, to retain with all fidelity those found words, that pure doctrine of the gospel, which he had been taught by the Apostle, and had often heard from him,
, de evangelio prædicato. Deinde, nec fatis constat, Evangelium Lucæ tum editum fuiffe, quando Paulus hanc Epistolam feripsit. Ep. in loc.
(0) Vid. Ef. in 2 Cor. viii. 18. et Beaufobr. in ver. 18. et 23..
®) Vocat autem depositum facram doctrinam evangelii, quia et res est alte. nius
, nempe Chrifti, et paftoribus fida ejus cuftodia incumbit. Grot. ad 1
(9) Iterum ferio et graviter admonet, ut acceptam fidei doctrinam conserret, ne locum relinquat ulli peregrino dogmati. "Nomine depositi metaphorice lignificatur doctrina successori credita, ac per manus tradita. ÉR. in loc.
(-) Depofitum proculdubio vocat sanam evangelii doctrinam, et dona quæcunque ad Ecclefiæ ædificationem, veluti depofitum, Deus commiserat Timotheo. Bez, in loc.
It does not appear, then, that there are in the apostolical epistles of the New Testament any references to written gospels, or histories of Jesus Christ. I do not say, this is a proof, that no such histories were then written. Nevertheless, I have thought it not improper to fhew, that there is no notice taken of any such histories in these cpistles : and therefore they cannot afford any evidence of their being then writ and published. I think likewise, that it was not amiss to embrace this occasion to fhew the true meaning of some texts, which have been often misinterpreted.
SECT. II. Observations of ancient Christian Writers, leading to the true time, when the
Gospels were writ. SA
AYS Irenaeus, as formerly (s) quoted, “ For (t) we have not
" received the knowledge of the way of our salvation from any others, than those, by whom the gospel has been brought
Which gospel they first preached, and afterwards by the will of “ God committed to writing, that for time to come it might be the “ foundation and pillar of our faith. Nor may any say, that they preachu ed, before they had a compleat knowledge of the doctrine of the gos“ pel. For after that our Lord rose from the dead, and they (the Apo“Itles) were endowed from above with the power of the Holy Ghost " coming down upon them, they received a perfect knowledge of all « things. They then went forth to all the ends of the earth, declaring to « men the blessing of heavenly peace, having all of them, and eve. yone « alike, the gospel of God.”
He then proceeds to speak of sae Gospels of the four Evangelifts severally, and the times and occasions of writing them. All which will be taken down by us hereafter in proper places. Here is sufficient to induce us to think, that the written Gospels, or histories of Jesus Christ, were not published, till some good while after our Lord's ascension. For the Apostles first preached, he says, before they
2. Says Eusebe in a long passage formerly quoted : “ Those (u) admi“ rable and truly divine men, the Apostles of Christ, -neither knew, nor attempted, to deliver the doctrine of their master with the artifice
(1) See Vol. i. p. 353;
) Non enim per alios difpofitionem falutis noftræ cognovimus, quam per cos, per quos evangelium pervenit ad nos: quod quidem tunc præconaverunt, poftea vero per Dei voluntatem in fcripturis nobis tradiderunt, fundamentum & columnam fidei noftræ futurum. Nec enim fas est dicere, quoniam ante prædicaverunt, quam perfectam haberent agnitionem, ficut quidam audent dicere, gloriantes, emendatores se esse Apoftolorum. Poftea enim quam fur. texit Dominus noster a mortuis, & induti funt fupervenientis Spiritus Sancti virtutem ex alto, de omnibus adimpleti funt, & habuerant perfectam agniti. onem, exierunt in fines terræ, ea quæ a Deo nobis bona sunt evangelizantes, & calefein pacem hominibus annunciantes : qui quidem & omnes pariter & Guguli eorum habentes evangelium Dei. Iren, adv. Hær. l. 3. cap. 1, (1) F'ol. viii. p. 90...92.
« and eloquence of words ... Nor were they greatiy concerned about “ the writing of books, being engaged in a more excellent ministrie, " which is above all human power. Insomuch that Paul, the most able 6 of all in the furniture both of words and thoughts, has left nothing in " writing, befide a few epistles .... Nor were the rest of our Saviour's “ followers unacquainted with these things, as the seventy disciples, and
many others, beside the twelve Apostles. Nevertheless of all the dis
ciples of our Lord, Matthew and John only have left us any memoirs : “who too, as we have been informed, were compelled to write by a kind * of necessity.” And what follows.
3. This paffage should be compared with another of (x) Origen. And they who please may also consult our remarks (*) upon what has been now' transcribed from Eusebe. Which may be of use to caution us, not to be too precipitate in giving a very early date to the Gospels, as if they were writ immediately after our Lord's ascension : when there is reason to think, they were not writ, till after numerous converts had been made, who expressed their desires to have written histories of what they had heard, for refreshing their memories.
4. Says Theodore, Bithop of Mopfueftia, in the later part of the fourth centurie, about the year 394. “After (y) the Lord's ascension to hea
ven the disciples staid a good while at Jerusalem, visiting the cities in “ it's neighbourhood, preaching chiefly to the Jews : until the great Paul, “ called by the divine grace, was appointed to preach the gospel to Gen« tiles openly. And in processe of time Divine Providence, not allowing “ them to be confined to any one part of the earth, made way
for conducting them to remote countreys. Peter went to Rome, the others " elsewhere. John, in particular, took up his abode at Ephesus, visiting “ however at seasons the several parts of Asia..... About this time the “other Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, published their Gospels, « which were soon spread all over the world, and were received by all the “ faithful in general with great regard.” ... He proceeds to say, « that nevertheless, the Christians in Afia, having brought those Gospels
to him, earnestly entreated him to write a farther account of such " things as were needful to be known, and had been omitted by the rest. “ With which request he complied.”
This remarkable passage, upon which divers observations were made, when it was first quoted, may dispose us to think, that all the four Gospels were writ about the faine time, and that none of them were published till after, or about the sixtieth year of our Lord's Nativity.
5. By divers ancient Christian writers it is said, that (2) Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, at the defire of the brethren of Rome, wrote a short Gospel, according to what he had heard related by Peter. So Jerome (a) beside others, as before quoted, in his book of Illuftrious Men.
(x) See Vol. p. 236.
(*) Vol. viii. p. 124 ....137. () See Vol. ix. p. 403• 404. (z) See Vol. i. p. 247...249. ii. 472,-489. vii. 305 € • 306. xi. p. 31. (a) Vol. x. p. 926