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not, perhaps, a single instance of a supposed irregularity which has been more confidently assumed than this; with what reason I leave the reader to judge. But if this is no such thing others, also, however confidently they may have been assumed, which yet, a priori, are not more presumptively so than this, may turn out upon examination to be quite the reverse.
On the call of Levi, and the entertainment which followed the call: or Mark ii. 13-22. Luke v. 27-39. compared with Matt. ix. 9-17.
THE call of Matthew the Publican, who is designated by the name of Levi also, must be assigned to the first year, and to the last six months of the first year, of our Saviour's ministry; and, even as so assigned, took place probably nearer to the end, than to the beginning, of that time. would not, however, follow from this fact that he was not yet a disciple, by which I understand a simple believer in Christ-much less that he was not yet even acquainted with our Lord-but merely that he had not received any personal call-he had not given up his usual occupations, whatsoever they were, to attach himself to Christ.
The readiness with which he obeys the call is in fact a proof that he was predisposed for its reception, and, consequently, was a disciple of our Lord already in the same sense, and to the same effect, as many others, both before and after the present time, who yet never experienced a personal invitation from our Lord himself. The calls of any among the Apostles, as ascribed to our Saviour, and left on record, were not calls to become disciples in the strictest sense of that term-such as could have been applicable to none except to persons before unacquainted with himself—but a personal compliment to the parties in question, such as might be paid, for special reasons, even to those who were believers previously. Nor is Matt. viii. 22. or Luke ix. 59. any difficulty; unless it could be shewn that these were calls addressed to persons not yet disciples, or even not yet ordained Apostles-all of whom had certainly been appointed to their office, long before the time of either of these incidents, and especially of the last. On this account, more particularly, I am persuaded that every
instance of a personal call, as addressed to those who were first disciples, and afterwards became Apostles, has been carefully placed on record—and, consequently, that such instances are five in number, four of the disciples called at the beginning of the year, and this of St. Matthew at its end. In all these cases it is the effect, which ensued upon the call, not the mere call itself, that we are bound chiefly to attend to. St. Matthew had not yet renounced his secular occupation-he was sitting at the Publican's booth, or the receipt of custom, when he was accosted by Christ: he rose up, in obedience to the invitation-and, from that time forward, forsook every thing to follow him.
The call of Matthew, considered as the same person with Levi, is related by each of the three first Evangeliststhough by St. Matthew it is related out of its place. In each of them, also, there follows, upon the account of the call, an account of an entertainment, which St. Mark and St. Luke distinctly ascribe to Levi, and in direct connection with his previous call; but which St. Matthew does not less clearly refer to the time of the return from Gadara, and just before the application of Jairus, followed by the raising of his daughter. As both this application, and the subsequent miracle, are related in their proper place by St. Mark and by St. Luke also, and that at a part of their narrative which comes much later than the present-it follows that, if this entertainment is the same in each of these instances, they must have admitted an Anticipation by giving an account of it here. But, as I cannot acquiesce in this conclusion, it becomes incumbent upon me to shew that the occasions themselves were, in all probability, distinct.
I. It is clearly implied in St. Mark and St. Lukea, that the entertainment which they record was given in the house of Levi: but it is by no means certain that the entertainment, recorded by St. Matthew, took place in the same. Matthew ix. 10. which is all the allusion to the house in question, supplied by his account, alludes to the house where our Saviour was accustomed to reside in Capernaum: a Luke v. 29. Mark ii. 15.
it is manifestly the same house, which is implied or mentioned in many other passages, after a similar manner— the house of his ordinary residence as such. The very use of the article, in speaking of it so repeatedly añλās, demonstrates the same conclusion; for the article would not be thus used except of some well known and definite house; nor could any house be such except the stated place of his abode. Now, unless this house had been Levi's or Matthew's from the first, the entertainment, Matt. ix. 10. given in this house, could not have been given in the house of Levi. But, if it was not given in the house of Levi, it could not be the same with the entertainment of Levi, which was certainly given in the house of Levi. And that this house was not the house of Levi from the first may be collected from Mark ii. 1. and Matt. ix. 2. 9. which shew that our Lord was in the habit of using or frequenting this house before even the call of Levi himself. The truth is that, if it was the house of any disciple, it was that of Simon or Andrew, not of Levi or Matthew C.
II. The entertainment given by Levi, as recorded by St. Mark and St. Luke, not only followed after his call, but, it is plainly intended to be understood, was meant as an acknowledgment of his call. But the entertainment in St. Matthew was at least six months later than the call; and even subsequently to the call, the mere call to become a disciple had been succeeded by a much greater dignitythe ordination to the rank of an Apostle. What would be more natural than that a mark of respect or gratitude, designed in acknowledgment of the call, should have ensued immediately upon the call-what more unnatural, and more improbable, than that the call should have taken place six months before, and the entertainment, which commemorated it, should have taken place six months after? Nothing but the most special reasons could have produced this anomaly, or accounted for the unnatural interval, under such circumstances, between the cause and its natural effect: and the
b Mark ii. 1. iii. 19. 31. Matt. viii. 14. Mark i. 29.
Matt. ix. 2. 28. xii. 46. xiii. 1. 36. xvii. 25.
existence of any such reasons would be the strongest of arguments for keeping the two things as distinct in the account, as they were in themselves-for relating the call in one place, and the entertainment, which arose out of the call, in another.
III. It would be in vain to deny the truth of the assumption, on which this reasoning is founded, that the entertainment of Levi was intimately connected with the call of Levi; and, therefore, that the time and occasion of the former were, necessarily, the time and occasion of the latter. The accounts of both the Evangelists place this assumption beyond a question. But, even though the entertainment had been entirely independent of the call, still this would have been no inducement purposely to antedate the account of the former, in order to join it to the account of the latterbut quite the contrary-for it would have been to establish a connection between them which really did not exist, nor ever was supposed to exist. Nor can it be said that the Evangelists have agreed to blend both the accounts in one, with a view to preserve unbroken the history of the same person: because both the incidents had some reference to Levi. The truth is that the history of the entertainment has nothing at all to do with the history of Levi as such. It is given purely and solely on its own account, and from its connection with the history of our Lord.
The entertainment was rendered memorable by two circumstances which transpired at it—the exception, for the first time taken, against the condescension of Christ in eating with publicans and sinners-and the question, for the first time put, concerning a breach of the law of tradition, apparently sanctioned by his example, which breach related to fastings. Both these exceptions were such, as in the nature of things could have transpired only at some feast, or when our Saviour, in some house or other, was sitting at meat: but at what feast it might be, or in what house he might be sitting at meat, would be perfectly indifferent, and purely accidental.
The course of events, however, from this time forward