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these writings, it would have been a foolish undertaking to refute them from the contents of the books.
Further; it is a wholly peculiar circumstance in the history of the gospels, and one which goes a great way to sustain their genuineness, that we nowhere find, in any writer of any part of the ancient world, an indication that only a single one of the four gospels was in use, or even known to exist separately. All possessed the entire collection of the gospels. It is true, there is one writer, Papias, bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, concerning whom there is no express statement, that he had all the four gospels. But the manner in which Eusebius speaks respecting him in his Church History, is such, that there is nothing questionable in this silence. Eusebius adduces from a work of Papias, now not extant, some notices of Matthew and Mark. It is certainly true that nothing is said of Luke and John ; but this is undoubtedly because the ancient bishop had not made any particular observations on these two gospels. His silence l'especting them is the less an evidence that he was not acquainted with them, as the theatre of the labors of Papias was in the vicinity of Ephesus, where John lived so long, and moreover, wrote his gospel. Hence Papias must necessarily have been acquainted with it. Eusebius, moreover, remarks in the same place, that Papias was acquainted with the first epistle of John ; how much rather, then, with his gospel? Hence, Eusebius says nothing concerning Luke and John, because it was a matter of course that Papias was familiar with them, and the latter had not said anything special in regard to their origin. There were, moreover, some heretics who made use of but one gospel, e. g; Marcion used Luke, and the Ebionites Matthew; but they had special reasons for doing so, in their doctrinal opinions. They did not, by any means, deny the three other gospels to be genuine; they only asserted that their authors were not true disciples of our Lord. Marcion held the erroneous notion, that all the disciples, with the exception of Paul, still continued halfJews. The Jewish Christians maintained that all the disciples except Matthew, had strayed away too far from Judaism, and on that account did not receive their writings. In this state of the case, there is a clear evidence from their opinions, also, that the gospels are genuine, and were in that day generally diffused in the church. Now, as the collection of our four gospels existed so very early and so universally, the inquiry occurs, how
it could have originated ? A particular individual, or a church, may have formed it, and it may then have spread itself every where abroad. This supposition seems to be countenanced by the circumstance of the general uniformity as to the order of the four gospels. A few Mss. only, place John next to Matthew, in order that the writings of the apostles may be by themselves. Clearly, however, this transposition arose from the fancy of some copyist, and has no historical foundation. There is still, therefore, positive authority for the universally received arrangement. The most weighty circumstance against the opinion that the collection of the gospels was made in a particular place, and diffused itself abroad from thence, is, that we have no account respecting such a process; though we should expect one from the fact that John lived, and moreover, wrote his gospel, at so late a period. For this reason had the evangelist John himself, as some suppose, or any other man of high authority in the church, formed the collection of the gospels, we should, one would think, have had an account of its formation, as it could not have taken place before the end of the first, or commencement of the second century, which period borders very closely on that from which we derive so many accounts concerning the gospels. But this very circumstance, that we read nothing at all respecting a collector of the gospels, that writers have been left to conjecture, in regard to the manner in which the collection of them was inade, leads to another view of its formation, which casts the clearest light on the genuineness of the books. It is in the highest degree probable, that our gospels all originated in capital cities of the Roman empire. Matthew probably wrote his in Jerusalem, the centre of Judaism, where also, as appears from the Acts of the apostles, a large Christian church was early gathered. Mark and Luke undoubtedly wrote in Rome, the political centre of the empire, to which innumerable multitudes thronged from all quarters of the world, for the transaction of business. In this city, too, a flourishing Christian church was early formed, as is seen from the epistle of Paul to the Romans, which was written before Peter, or Paul, or any apostle had visited Rome. Lastly, John wrote at Ephesus, a large and thriving city of Asia Minor, which was the residence of many learned and ingenious heathen. The large church of Ephesus was, according to the Acts, founded by Paul. It was fostered by the labors of John. Now let it be considered, how many thousands must, consequently, hay
been most exactly aware who wrote the gospels, and it will be
From this cursory view of the evidence in favor of the genu-
to maintain and demonstrate the spuriousness of the gospels.
gospels of the Jewish Christians, the Marcionites and others;
apostolic authority. But, setting aside the fact that this hypothesis must be false, for this very reason, because it opposes genuineness of the gospels, which can be demonstrated by historical proof, this theory has been, moreover, of late utterly discarded on other grounds. In the first place, no ancient Christian writer exhibits any acquaintance with such an original gospel; and is it conceivable that the knowledge of so remarkable a work should have been totally lost ? Then, too, the idea that a guide was composed by the apostles for themselves, in order to preserve unity in doctrine, is not at all suited to the apostolic times. In them the Holy Spirit operated with its primitive freshness and power. This Spirit, which guided into all truth, was the means of preserving unity among the apostles. Not an individual of those witnesses to the truth needed any external written guide. Besides, this supposition solves the difficulty in question respecting the coincidence between the gospels only in a very meagre and forced manner, while there is a much simpler way of reaching the same result far more satisfactorily. We must suppose more than one source of this characteristic of the first three gospels. Sometimes one evangelist was certainly made use of by another. This remark is applicable particularly to Mark, who undoubtedly was acquainted with and made use of both Matthew and Luke. Moreover, there existed short accounts of particular parts of the gospel history, such as narratives of particular cases of healing, relations of journeys, and the like. Now when two evangelists made use of the same brief account, there naturally resulted a resemblance in their history. Still, as each was independent in his use of these accounts, some variations also occurred. Finally; much of the similarity between them arose from oral narratives. It is easy to believe that certain portions of the evangelical history, e. g. particular cures, parables, and discourses of our Lord should have been repeated constantly in the very same way, because the form of the narrative imprinted itself with very great exactness on every one's memory. In this manner the songs of Homer and Ossian were long transmitted from mouth to mouth. Uniformity in the oral mode of narration is not sufficient of itself alone to explain the relation between the gospels, because in prose it is impossible (in poetry it is much easier) to imprint on the memory minute traits and unimportant forms of expression with so much exactness as would be necessary to account for the mutual affinity of the gospels; and, moreover, could their similarity be