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and to judge for themselves, according to evidence, and proper assistances were afforded them, it would not be at all detrimental to the interests either of truth or virtue.

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CHAP. IV.

OF THE TIME OF WRITING THE GOSPELS, ESPECIALLY THE FIRST THREE.

SECT. I.

That the Gospels are not mentioned, nor referred to, in the Epistles of the New Testament.

EUSEBIUS intimates, that 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 others of a like kind.

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I. St. Paul says, Rom. ii. 16...." in the day, when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel." The same phrase occurs again, ch. xvi. 25, and 2 Tim. ii. 8, "Remember, that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, 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 history 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.

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II. 2 Cor. viii. 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 is said to be Origen's interpretation; but I do not clearly perceive it. Origen speaking of the four gospels, says: The third is that according to Luke, the gospel 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. ii. 16. or xvi. 25. or 2 Tim. ii. 8. However, whether it be Origen's interpretation of that text or not, it is Jerom's; who writing the history of St. Luke in his book of Illustrious Men, says: He wrote a gospel of ⚫ which Paul makes mention, saying: "And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel.' To the same purpose' also in the prologue to his Commentary upon St. Matthew: and likewise in his Commentary upon the epistle to Philemon.

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Chrysostom upon the place speaks after this manner.

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• And who is this brother? Some say, Luke: and think, that the apostle refers to the history written by him. Others say • Barnabas. For by gospel he intends unwritten preaching.' Theophylact' speaks to the like purpose. Theodoret 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. Ecumenius's note is to this purpose. Many say, this brother is Luke, mentioned upon account of the gospel 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 only evangelizeth, and preacheth the

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a Φασι δε, ὡς αρα τε κατ' αυτον ευαγγελιο μνημονεύειν ὁ Παυλος είωθεν, ὑπήνικα ὡς περι ιδιε τινος ευαγγέλια γραφων §λEYE, KATA TO εvayyελIOV μ8. Eus. H. E. 1. 3. c. 4. p. 73. D. b 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. Jerom.' So Whitby upon the place.

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ε Και τρίτον το κατα Λεκαν, το ύπο Παύλε επαινεμένον EvayyεNIOY. Ap. Eus. 1. 6. cap. 25. p. 226. C. d' See Vol. i. p. 532.

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e See Vol. ii. p. 552.

f Ib. p. 550. De quo [Lucâ] et in alio loco: Misi, inquit, cum illo fratrem, cujus laus est in evangelio per omnes ecclesias ... &c. In Philem. T. IV. P. I. p. 454.

1 Και τις έτος εσιν ὁ αδελφός ; τινες μεν τον Λυκα». Και φασι, δια την ίσοριαν ήνπερ έγραψε. Τίνες δε τον Βαρναβαν. Και γαρ το αγράφον κήρυγμα ευαγγελιον καλεί. In 2 Epist. ad Corinth. hom. 18. tom. X.

i In loc. p. 389.

* Τον τρισμακάριον Βαρνάβαν τα ειρημενα χαρακτηρίζει. Theod. in loc. T. III. p. 243. !cum. in loç. Tom. I. P. 663.

gospel admirably, and commendably, but he has been chosen to travel with us, with this ' also.' Such are the sentiments of the ancients upon this text.

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Let us now observe the interpretations of some judicious moderns.

Grotius says: 'he 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 pub'lished: 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.'

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Estius likewise says, that by gospel is to be understood preaching: not St. Luke's gospel, which we are not certain was then published.

Le Clerc, in his French Testament, 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 gene

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rally St. Luke is here supposed to be intended: though St. Paul refers rather to his preaching the gospel, than to the book of his gospel.'

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Beausobre 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 understood 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 written his gospel: it is rather reasonable to think, he had not.'

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Upon the whole, though we cannot certainly say, who is the brother, whose praise was in the gospel: whether 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.

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III. 1 Tim. vi. 20, "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust. Hereby some have been disposed to understand a written gospel: but they are not favoured by the best interpreters. Grotius says, that this deposit, or thing committed to Timothy's trust, is the sacred doctrine of the gospel. Estius says the same. I place below likewise a part of Beza's note upon this text. Le Clerc in his notes explains it thus: the doctrine of the gospel, which was a sacred deposit, committed by the apostles to their disciples.' And Beausobre thus: the doctrine, which had been committed to, or entrusted with Timothy.' See also, says he, 1 Tim. i. 18, and 2 Tim. ii. 2. ii. 2. I say no more to this text.

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IV. 2 Tim. i. 13, 14, "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me. ...That good thing, which was committed unto thee, 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. Timothy is here again exhorted, and required, to retain with all fidelity those sound words, that pure doctrine of the gospel, which he had been taught by the apostle, and had often heard from him.

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 show, that there is no notice taken of any such histories in these epistles: and therefore they cannot afford any evidence of their being then written and published. I think likewise, that it was not amiss to embrace this occasion to show the true meaning of some texts, which have been often misinterpreted.

a Mihi non displicet sententia illorum, qui hic Lucam designari putant: ita tamen ut per evangelium non intelligatur liber, qui tunc editus nondum erat, sed ipsum munus evangelistæ, quod Lucas Pauli vice multis in locis fideliter obierat, sive ipsa evangelii prædicatio, ut infra x. 14. evin,' pro dia 'per.' Grot. ad 2 Cor. viii. 18.

b Neque enim Paulus de Evangelio scripto loquitur, sed, quo modo passim alibi, de evangelio prædicato. Deinde, nec satis constat, Evangelium Lucæ tum editum fuisse, quando Paulus hanc epistolam scripsit. Est. in loc.

e Vid. Est. in 2 Cor. viii. 18. et Beausobr. in ver. 18. et 23.

d Vocat autem depositum sacram doctrinam evangelii, quia et res est alterius, nempe Christi, et pastoribus fida ejus custodia incumbit. Grot. ad 1 Tim. vi. 20.

e Iterum serio et graviter admonet, ut acceptam fidei doctrinam conservet, ne locum relinquat ulli peregrino dogmati. Nomine depositi metaphorice significatur doctrina successori credita ac per manus tradita. Est. in loc.

Depositum proculdubio vocat sanam evangelii doctrinam, et dona quæcumque ad ecclesiæ ædificationem, veluti depositum, Deus commiserat Timotheo. Bez. in loc.

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Observations of ancient Christian Writers, leading to the true time, when the gospels were written."

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1. SAYS Irenæus, as formerly quoted, For we have not received the knowledge of the way ' of our salvation from any others, than those,' by whom the gospel has been brought to us: ' which gospel they first preached, and afterwards by the will of God committed to writing, that

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SECT. II.

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for time to come it might be the foundation and pillar of our faith. Nor may any say, that they preached before they had a complete knowledge of the doctrine of the gospel. For after that our Lord rose from the dead, and they [the apostles] 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 every one alike, the gospel of God.'

He then proceeds to speak of the gospels of the four evangelists 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 wrote.

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2. Says Eusebius in a long passage formerly quoted: Those admirable and truly divine men, the apostles of Christ, -neither knew, nor attempted, to deliver the doctrine of their • Master with the artifice and eloquence of words....Nor were they greatly concerned about the • writing of books, being engaged in a more excellent ministry, which is above all human power. Insomuch, that Paul, the most able of all in the furniture both of words and thoughts, has left

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' nothing in writing, beside a few epistles....Nor were the rest of our Saviour's followers unacquainted with these things, as the seventy disciples, and many others, besides the twelve apostles. Nevertheless of all the disciples 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.

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3. This passage should be compared with another of Origen: and they who please may also consult our remarks upon what has been now transcribed from Eusebius. 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 written immediately after our Lord's ascension: when there is reason to think, they were not written, 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, bishop of Mopsuestia, in the latter part of the fourth century, about the year 394. After the Lord's ascension to heaven the disciples stayed a good while at Jerusalem, visiting the cities in its neighbourhood, preaching chiefly to the Jews: until the great Paul, called by the divine grace was appointed to preach the gospel to the Gentiles openly. And in process of time Divine Providence, not allowing them to be confined to any one part of the earth, made way for conducting them to remote countries: 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 al

a See Vol. i. p. 365.

Non enim per alios dispositionem salutis nostræ cognovimus, quam per eos, per quos evangelium pervenit ad nos: quod quidem tunc præconiaverunt, postea vero per Dei voluntatem in scripturis nobis tradiderunt, fundamentum & columnam fidei nostræ futurum. Nec enim fas est dicere, quoniam ante prædicaverunt, quam perfectam haberent agnitionem, sicut quidam audent dicere, gloriantes, emendatores se esse Apostolorum. Postea enim quam surrexit Dominus noster a

VOL. III.

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the faithful in general with great regard.'......He proceeds to say, that nevertheless, the Christians in Asia, 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.'

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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 written about the same 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 Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, at the desire of the brethren of Rome, wrote a short gospel, according to what he had heard related by Peter. So Jerom beside others, as before quoted in his book of illustrious Men.

St. Peter, I reckon, did not come to Rome before the reign of Nero, probably, not till the second time that Paul was in that city, in the year 63, or 64. And yet, at this time, the Christians at Rome desired Mark to give them in writing an account of Peter's preaching, for refreshing their memories concerning what the apostle had said of Christ, and his doctrine. The consequence is manifest. They had not then any written gospel in their hands; nor did they know that there was one. The truth is,' says Mr. Jones, if St. Mark, or any one else, had had St. Matthew's gospel, at Rome, there would have been no need of St. Mark's writing.' These are general observations in the ancients, or deduced from them, which may be of no small use to lead us to the true time of writing the first three gospels.

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SECT. III.

That the first three Gospels were published before the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in the year of the Christian epoch LXX.

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CONCERN ERNING this I transcribe below a very good argument of Le Clerc from his dissertation upon the four evangelists.

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The Jewish war began, according to Josephus, in the month of May, in the 66th year of the Christian epoch, and ended in September, in the year 70, in the desolation of the city of Jerusalem, and the temple. And I think, it may be shewn to be very probable, that the first three gospels were written before the year 66, when the final troubles and calamities of the Jewish people were coming on.

This must appear to have a great deal of probability from the predictions therein recorded concerning the destruction of the temple, the overthrow of the city of Jerusalem, the ruin of the Jewish state and people in Judea, together with divers circumstances of these events, and many troubles and calamities preceding them. These predictions are recorded in the histories of our Saviour's ministry, which we call gospels, without any the least hint, either express and designed, or accidentally dropped from the writers, that those predictions had been fulfilled and verified, or that the things spoken of had happened. Those prophecies are recorded in Matt. xxiii. 34-39, and xxiv. Mark xiii. Luke xxi. St. Luke has also elsewhere recorded the affectionate

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Evangelista memorati, verbulo saltem monuissent, prædictionem fuisse eventu confirmatam. Quod tantum abest ut faciant, ut Matthæus et Marcus hac admonitione, i avayıσXWY VOEITW, qui legit, intelligat, quam subjiciunt præsagiis Jerosolymitana cladis, admonere videantur Christianos in Judæâ viventes, ut diligenter futura illa præsagia attendant, quo possint vitæ suæ consulere. Vide Matt. xxiv. 15. Marc. xiii. 14. et ad ea loca interpretes. Cleric. Diss. iii, de quatuor Evangeliis. num. vii. p. 541.

e Vid. Joseph. Antiq. Jud. Î. 20. cap. xi. n. c. &c. B. i. I. 6.

cap. x.

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concern, which our Lord expressed in the view and prospect of those impending evils, ch. xiii. 34, 35, and xix. 41-44. These things are also referred to, and spoken of, in divers other discourses, some plain, some parabolical, or otherwise figurative: as Matt. xxi. 33-46. xxii. 1-7. Mark xii. 1-12. Luke xiii. 1-9. xx. 9—20. xxi. 5-13. In none of all which places does there appear any intimation that the things spoken of were come to pass, and in recording the presages of this final and total overthrow of the Jewish nation, the historians have inserted warnings and admonitions, proper to excite the attention of readers, and induce those who lived in Judea, to take care of their own safety without delay. Matt. xxiv. 15-18. "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains. Let him which is on the house-top not come down to take any thing out of his house. Neither let him which is in the field, return back to take his clothes." And what follows. And to the like purpose in Mark xiii. 14-16. When these discourses were recorded, the things spoken of had not yet come to pass. There were men living to whom these admonitions might be useful for securing their safety.

Moreover, though these predictions must have been recorded, before they were accomplished, I think the fulfilment was then near at hand, and not far off. This seems to be implied in that expression: "Let him that readeth, understand." And indeed it must have been difficult and hazardous to publish such things in writing. How offensive these sayings must have been to the Jewish people, and perhaps to some others likewise, is easy to conceive from the nature of the things spoken of; and it may be confirmed by divers instances. When our Lord had spoken the parable of the vineyard, let out to husbandmen, recorded in Luke xx. 9-18, it is added by the evangelist, ver. 19, 20. "And the chief priests, and the scribes, the same hour sought to lay hands on him, but they feared the people; for they perceived, that he had spoken this parable against them. And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor." And among the odious charges brought against our Saviour by false witnesses, this was one, "that he said: I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days," Matt. xxvi. 61. With this he was reproached likewise, when hanging on the cross, ch. xxvii. 40. The like offensive charges were brought against Stephen. Acts vi. 14. "We have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered to us." And, possibly, he did say somewhat not very different. So likewise St. Matthew, and the other apostles, might repeat in the hearing of many what Christ had said to them, and in part to others also, concerning the overthrow of the temple, and the Jewish state: yea, very probably, they had often repeated these things to attentive hearers. But speaking and writing are different: and I apprehend it could not have been safe, nor prudent, to record these predictions (many of which are very plain, and all intelligible) soon after our Lord's ascension.

These prophecies therefore of our Lord, as recorded in the first three gospels, afford at once an argument, that they were written and published before the destruction of Jerusalem: and that they were not published many years before it, or however, not many years before the commencement of the war at the time above-mentioned.

SECT. IV.

An argument shewing the true time of writing the Gospels, taken from the Acts, and the beginning of St. Luke's gospel.

NONE ONE can suppose that the book of the Acts of the apostles was composed before the year 62, or 63, as the history is there brought down to the period of St. Paul's two years' imprisonment at Rome.

And, very probably, the gospel, to which St. Luke refers at the beginning of that book, had not been written long before. This I suppose to be now the common opinion of learned men.

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