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having narrated the circumstance; and hence it is that this first taxing, or assessment, as well as the one subsequently taken, was truly the assessment of this Governor. Other explanations have been given, but these to a candid mind, I am persuaded, will prove quite satisfactory. The difficulty above explained is the only one we have noticed, worthy of note, referred to in the whole of Renan's work; but if the intelligent reader would have every difficulty solved that may occur to his mind in the perusal of the Scriptures, he must, if he would act rationally, put himself to the trouble of consulting Commentaries, Scripture Harmonies, &c. Unless he does this, agreeably with the spirit of the Apostolic injunction, “ Prove all things,” he must necessarily remain in ignorance and uncertainty in reference to a great many apparent difficulties that may in this way be easily solved. Besides difficulties which are purely imaginary, we may expect to find many things in the Scriptures which, to the carnal mind, as the Apostle Peter says, are
“ hard to be understood ; ” and hence we are exhorted to take care that we do not, as do others, 56 wrest them to our own destruction."
With regard to the apparent discrepancies which the Gospels are said to contain, Dr. McCosh, President of New Jersey College, Princeton, in his work on
“ Christianity and Positivism,” has some very excellent remarks. He says (page 256, and following) :-“There certainly is not in these biographies that laboured consistency which we always find in trumped-up story, and which so prejudices all who are in the way of shrewdly estimating testimony. The writers are artless in everything; but they are especially so in this, that, conscious of speaking the truth, they are not careful to reconcile what they say in one place with what they or others may say in another place. I admit that we have such differences as are always to be found in the reports of independent witnesses; but I deny that there are contradictions. Commentators may differ, and are at liberty to do so, as to the explanations which they offer of the apparent discrepancies. All meanwhile may agree in declaring that the difficulties arise solely from our not knowing more than the Evangelists have told us, and that they would vanish if we knew all the circumstances. To illustrate what I mean in a very familiar way :-One day, when passing along the streets of the city in which I lived at the time, I saw that there was a house on fire about half a mile off; and as I happened to have an official interest in a dwelling in that quarter, used for a philanthropic purpose, I proceeded towards the spot. Meeting a person who seemed to be coming from the fire, I asked him where it was, and he told me it was in a certain street. Passing on towards that street, I asked another person where the fire was, and he gave me the name of a different street. I asked a third witness about the fire: he told me he had been there, and it was nearly extinguished. I met a fourth individual a little way farther on, and he informed me that it was blazing with greater fury than ever. Had I stopped here, I might have been tempted to say, What a bundle of contradictions ! one says the fire is in one street, and another that it is in a different street; one says that the flames are nearly extinguished, and another says they are increasing; and had I stopped it might have been impossible for me to reconcile the inconsistencies. But I had reason to be concerned about that fire, and so I went on, and found that all the witnesses had spoken the truth. The house was a corner one, between the two streets which had been named; the flames had been kept down for a time, but afterwards burst forth with greater fury than ever. Nowhere in these Gospels do we meet with such violent discrepancies as I had in the statements of these four men.
“ As to the apparent discrepancies between the Evangelists, there is often room for difference of opinion as to the proper
reconciliation; and a candid man may often find it proper to say, I believe both accounts, and I am sure they could be reconciled if we knew the whole facts. Sometimes the difficulty is to be removed by supposing that the two Evangelists are not recording the same events, but different incidents so far alike. It is clear that our Lord proceeded on a system or method in the deeds He performed, and was in the way of performing very much the same sort of deeds at different times and places.
Thus we have Him multiplying loaves and fishes on two several occasions. Matthew tells us (xv. 32–39; see also Mark viii. 1-9) that Jesus fed four thousand, but he had previously told us that He had fed five thousand; and if He had not done so, the infidel might have urged that Matthew (xv. 32–39) was contradicted by John (vi. 5-16), where we are told that five thousand were fed. It is clear that there were two such transactions; that Mark records the one and John the other, while Matthew details both. ... “ More frequently we are to account for the seeming discrepancy by the very simple and intelligible fact, that one witness gives one feature, and another supplies a different feature, and that we are to combine the two if we would have the whole figure before us.
“ There is a palpable discrepancy between the genealogy of our Lord as given by Matthew and by Luke. In saying so, I do not refer merely to the circumstance that the one goes back only to Abraham, whereas the other ascends to Adam ; but to real differences in the account. The number of ancestors in the two rolls is not the same, nor are the individual names identical. Matthew's division into three fourteens gives forty-two ancestors from Jesus to Abraham, whereas Luke reckons fifty-six. Matthew (i. 6) makes the descent from David through Solomon; whereas Luke (iii. 31) makes it from David through Nathan, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David.' ... The subject has been taken up and discussed with great care and a large amount of success, by Lord Arthur Hervey, in an elaborate volume. Matthew's genealogy, he argues, is meant to show that Jesus was legal successor to the throne of David ; and, therefore, His descent is traced through the line of Kings—through Solomon, Rehoboam, Abia, and Asa, and Jehosaphat, and Jehoram, and so forth. Luke, on the other hand, gives His private, His natural, His family genealogy, which he traces back to David through Nathan. Matthew shows that He was legally the heir of the throne of David through the monarchs of Judah and their legal descendants. Luke brings out the real progenitors, who were not kings, though descended from David. You may understand what I mean, if you consider that a man might be the legal heir of a property which was not possessed by his father or grandfather, or actual progenitors for generations immediately passed. In such a case he might have two genealogies, one through the persons possessing the property, the other of his proper natural progenitors. By this simple principle the author brings the two accounts into harmony. ... Thus the simple principle that one Evangelist exhibits that genealogy which contained the successive heirs to David and Solomon's throne, while the other exhibits the paternal stem of Him who was the heir, explains all the anomalies of the two pedigrees — their agreements as well as their discrepancies, and the circumstance of their being two at all. . ...
“ Matthew wrote specially to the Hebrews; and as he declares (i. 1), he sets before us Jesus as the son of David and the son of Abraham, the Messiah promised by the prophets. Mark exhibits Jesus (see i. 1) as the Son of God, and dwells forcibly on His deeds of power. Luke, the companion of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, shows, as he professes (iii. 38), how Jesus was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.'
** As to the obvious circumstance that John's Gospel differs so much from the others, not only in the narrative, but in the sort of discourses put into our Lord's mouth, I have never thought that it raises any very formidable difficulty. John tells us at the close of his Gospel, 'And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself (A hyperbolic, expression common in the East,'] could not contain the books that should be written. Of the things which He did, of the words which He spoke, we have only a few recorded. The first three Evangelists give us so much; they give us what had been inscribed most deeply on the hearts and memories of the Apostles at Jerusalem, each, however, writing independently of the others. John wrote his Gospel at a later date, and he studiously brings out other incidents of our Lord's life, and new features of His character. I believe that each writer presents our Lord under the aspect which most impressed him. In the one we have certain qualities which all
1 See Josephus, Antiq. lib. xix. c. Also Philo in his Tract “ De Ebriet.” T. I. p. 362, 10.
Also Homer's Illiad, c. 20.