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whose four Gospels make Part of the sacred Canon of Scripture.
Q. What do you mean by the Word Gospel? : A. It is of Saron Original, in which Language it signifies a good Word, and answers to Euayyidov in Greek, which imports good News, or good Tidings. In the sacred Use of the Word, there seems to be a Figure very common and ordinary, whereby what signifies good News is set to denote the History of that good News; as the History of the Birth, Life, Actions, Precepts, Promises, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ, is that Gospel, which, of all other Relations, we Christians ought to look upon as good Tidings of great Joy.
Q. Of what Authority are the four Gospels that make Part of the sacred Canon of Scripture? i A. The whole Church of Christ hath received them from the Beginning, as the genuine Writings of those Apostles and Evangelists whose Names they, bear; and hath testified that they were delivered to them by the Apostles as the Foundation and Pillar of their Iren. adv. Kaith. They were owned as Writings divinely Hær
. lib. inspired; whereupon Copies of these Gospels were carried by the Disciples of the Apostles, or apostolic Men, to all the Churches they converted or established; they were read from the Beginning in all Christian Assemblies on the Lord's Day, and cited in the second Century for the Confirmation of the Faith, and the Conviction of Heretics, which is a Just. Mart. sufficient Proof, that they are the genuine Works Apolo 2. of those Apostles and Evangelists, whose Names they bear, and worthy to be received as the Records of our Faith. 1. Q. What Account lave we of St. Mark?
A. He was doubtless born of Jewish Parents, Hieron. originally descended of the Tribe of Levi. And Præf. in this is very much confirmed by his Style, wherein he uses the Hebrew Manner of expressing himself; neither does his Roman Name suggest any Evidence to the contrary, because it was customary with the
3, c. 2.
Jews, when they travelled into foreign Parts, especially into the European Provinces of the Roman Empire, to adapt to themselves an Appellation of that Kind. He was converted by some of the Apostles, probably by St. Peter, to whom he was a constant Companion in all his Travels; supplying the Place of an Amanuensis and Interpreter.
Q. What Need was there of an Interpreter ?
A. Though the Apostles were divinely inspired,
and had the Gift of Languages conferred upon 1 Cor. xii. them; yet was the Interpretation of Tongues a Gift
more peculiar to some than others. For Christian Assembles in those Days being frequently made up of Men of different Nations, who could not under
stand what the Apostles and others had spoken to 1 Cor. xiv. the Congregation, some were enabled to interpret
what others did not understand, and to speak it to them in their own native Language. And it is probable it might be St. Mark's Talent to expound St. Peter's Discourses after this Manner:
Q. Where was St. Mark sent to plant Christianity?
Ă. He was by St. Peter sent into Egypt, fixing his main Residence at Alexandria, and the Places
thereabout: Where so great was the Success of his Euseb. lib. Ministry, that, according to Eusebius, he converted
Multitudes both of Men and Women, not only to the embracing the Christian Religion, but to a more than ordinary strict Profession of it.
Q. Did this Evangelist confine his Preaching to Alexandria, and those Parts?
A. He afterwards removed westward to the Parts of Lybia, going through the Countries of Marmorica, Pentapolis, and others thereabouts; where, notwithstanding the Barbarity and Idolatry of the Inhabitants, yet by his Preaching and Miracles he planted the Gospel, and confirmed them in the Profession of it. And upon his return to Alerandria, he wisely ordered the Affairs of the Church, and provided for Succession by constituting Bishops, and other Officers and Pastors.
2. c. 15.
Q. How did St. Mark suffer Martyrdom?
A. About Easter, at the Time the Solemnities of Serapis happened to be celebrated, the People being excited to a Vindication of the Honour of their Idol, broke in upon St. Mark, while he was employed in divine Worship, and binding his Feet with Cords, dragged him through the Streets, and thrust bim into Prison, where in the Night he had the Comfort of a divine Vision. Next Day, the enraged People renewed the Tragedy, and used him in the same Manner, till his Flesh being raked off, and his Blood run out, his Spirit failed, and he expired. Some add, that they burnt his Body, and that the Christians decently entombed his Bones and Ashes near the Place where he used to preach. But all this Account is given by Authors whose Credit we cannot depend upon; and therefore must be received with Grains of Allowance.
Q. Were his Remains afterwards removed?
A. They were with great Pomp translated from Alexandria to Venice, as is asserted by some Writers, and though there is great Reason to doubt the Truth of this Relation, yet, however, he is adopted the tutelar Saint and Patron of that Republic, and has a very rich and stately Church erected to his Memory.
Q. What Writings did this Evangelist leave behind him?
A. Only his Gospel, which was written at the Entreaty of the Converts at Rome, who, not content to have heard St. Peter preach, pressed St. Mark, Euseb. lib. his Disciple, that he would commit to Writing an 2. c. 15. historical Account of what he had delivered to them; which he performed with no less Faithfulness than Brevity; and being perused by St. Peter, was ratified by his Authority, and commanded to be read publicly in their religious Assemblies. It may very well be looked upon as a Supplement to St. Matthew's Gospel; for by the Light this gives, that becomes more clear and perspicuous.
Q. Why is this Gospel frequently styled St. Peter's?
A. Not so much because dictated by him to St. Mark, as because he principally composed it out of that Account which St. Peter usually delivered in his Discourses to the People, and because it received the Stamp of St. Peter's Approbation.
Q. What particular Proof is there of his Impartiality?
A. In that he is so far from concealing the shameMark xir. ful Fall and Denial of St. Peter, who was his dear
Tutor and Master, that he relates it with some particular Circumstances and Aggravations, which the other Evangelists take no Notice of
Q. What may we learn from the Observation of this Festival ?
A. That a good Christian ought to instruct by his Example, as well as by his Discourse. That when God tries his Servants with extraordinary Sufferings, he supplies them with a proportionable Assistance for their Support. That the Light of the Gospel, though admirably fitted to conduct us into the Paths of Happiness, yet will certainly increase our Condemnation, if we do not govern our Lives by the Maxims of it. That we ought to be very thankful to God for having instructed bis Church with the heavenly Doctrine of this Evangelist, and to shew our grateful Sense of this valuable Treasure, by reading his Gospel frequently and attentively, and so firmly believing those Things which he relates, that we may reap all those Advantages God. designed for us in that Revelation of his holy Will.
Q. Ought all Christians to read the Scriptures?
A. The very End and Design for which they were writ, does sufficiently prove this, because they contain the Terms and Conditions of our common Salvation, without
de and Practice of which we can never attain Happiness. The Articles of our Faith proposed in Scripture, and the Precepts for the Direction of our Lives, necessarily affect all
2 Tim. iii.
Rom. i. 16. 2 Pet, i, 19.
the Members of the Christian Church; and therefore ought they carefully to be read and studied by all People. Besides, we find these holy Writings addressed to Christians in general. Our Saviour's Sermons were preached to the Multitude as well as to his Disciples. The Apostles direct their Epistles 2 Cor. i. 1. to all the Saints, which implies all the Professors of Christianity; and to the Twelve Tribes, scattered Jam. i. 1. abroad; which were the Jewish Christians dispersed over the World. The Bereans are commended for Acts xvii. . searching the Scriptures ; and Timothy praised for); kaving known them from a Child. And as they 15. are the Power of God unto Salvation, so they are a sure Word of Prophecy, to which all People are bound to have a Regard, that value the Things which belong to their
eternal Peace. Q. What was the Practice of the Jews and the primitive Church in this Matter ?
A. It was the constant Custom of the Jews, not only to read and preach their Law every Sabbathday in their Synagogues; but it is made the Charac- Acts xvii. ter of a good Man among them to meditate upon it. 7 Day and Night. The primitive Fathers press the Reading of the Scriptures upon the People as a Matter of indispensable Obligation; as the best Preservative against heretical Opinions, as well as a bad Life; and in order to this Purpose, the ancient Church took Care to bave the Bible translated into all Languages, which sufficiently shews they thought it ought to be read by the Faithful of ali Nations. And there is a notorious Matter of fact preserved as an Evidence, that the Scriptures were then common to all People. , Among other Methods to destroy Christianity, one was to force from Christians their Bibles, and to burn them; and there were many of both Sexes, and all Degrees, who chose 'rather to die, than deliver up those sacred Records; and they who through Fear of Death complied, were styled Traitors, as a Mark of Infamy; which could not have been, if they had had no Bibles to deliver up.
Psal. i. 2,