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he was born of the virgin before she cohabited with her husband. -As Joseph and Mary had their fixed residence at Nazareth, Luke takes care to shew on what occasion she came to Bethlehem to be delivered of her son, according to the ancient prophecies, which determined the Messiah's nativity to that town. But Matthew, writing after Luke, speaks nothing at all of this. Farther, by pointing out the occasion of our Lord's birth in Bethlehem, Luke has nearly fixed the time of it. He tells us that it happened in the reign of Augustus the Roman emperor, and in the year he made the census in Judea. The same evangelist has likewise fixed precisely the commencement of the baptist's ministry. It happened in the 15th year of Tiberius, under the procuratorship of P. Pilate, and while Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, &c. Annas and Caiaphas being high priests. He has even mentioned our Lord's age at his baptism, and by that, compared with the commencement of John's ministry, he has nearly fixed the time when Jesus entered upon his. But throughout the whole of the other Gospels there is not, as far as I remember, so much as a single date to be found, whereby we can judge of the time of any of the transactions therein mentioned; a circumstance very improbable, on the supposition that the rest wrote their histories before Luke published his.-The election of the twelve apostles having been described by Luke, chap. vi. 13. is omitted by Matthew. But the instructions given them after their election are told at great length by the latter, because the former had passed them over in silence, intending to relate the recapitulation which Jesus gave of them immediately before he sent his apostles out, chap. ix.-In like manner, our Lord's ministry in Perea having been fully treated of by Luke, is for the most part omitted by the rest. Indeed the resurrection of Lazarus, which happened about that time, is not taken notice of by Luke, because the miricle was performed in Judea, and at a village within two miles of Jerusalem. Besides, Lazarus being probably alive when Luke wrote, the latter might judge it improper to mention his resurrection, lest so public an appeal to the offensive but well known truth, which the Jews desired by all means to bury in oblivion, should have provoked them to kill Lazarus.
Farther, on supposition that Luke wrote before the other evangelists, their several histories of our Lord's resurrection from the dead, will appear with greater propriety. For Luke, as became the first historian, gives an account of the design on which the women went to the sepulchre. He tells us, that after Jesus was buried, they prepared aromatic ointments, with which they proposed to embalm him; that early the first day of the week, they went to the sepulchre with those spices; that when they came, they found the stone which closed the mouth of the sepulchre rolled away; that they entered, but did not find the body of the
Lord Jesus; that while they were in great perplexity on this account, two angels appeared to them, who informed them of Christ's resurrection; that on hearing the joyful news, they made all the haste they could into the city, to inform the apostles; and that Peter ran to the sepulchre, to examine the truth of their report. Farther, as became the first historian, he describes particularly our Lord's appearances to the male disciples. For he informs us, that two of them going to Emmaus the same day that their Master arose, saw him and conversed with him; that when they returned to Jerusalem, they were told by their brethren that Jesus had appeared to Peter; that they confirmed this account by relating their own story; and last of all, that Jesus himself put the matter beyond doubt, by appearing to them at that very meeting, while they were disputing about his resurrection. The male disciples being the witnesses upon whose testimony the world was to believe that our Lord arose from the dead, it concerned mankind more to be informed of his appearances to them, than to be made acquainted with his appearances to the women. Luke knew this: and therefore, while he has related the appearances to the male disciples, he has omitted the appearances to the women altogether. It seems the brevity which he studied did not permit that both should be told. In like manner, the apostle Paul, summing up the evidence of our Lord's resurrection, takes no notice of his appearances to the women, because they were not to be the witnesses of this matter to the world. His appearances to them were calculated purely for the confirmation of their own faith, and to do honour to their piety and affection towards him. 1 Cor. xv. 4. "That he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5. That he was seen of Cephas, and then of the twelve. 6. After that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain at this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8. And last of all, he was seen of me also."The particulars of our Lord's resurrection recorded by the other evangelists are evidently of less importance; though, at the same time, they are such as tend to render Luke's relation more complete. Thus, because he tells us that the women found the stone rolled away from the door of the sepulchre, but does not say how it came to be placed there, Matthew gives a particular account of that circumstance, as well as of the manner in which it was rolled away. He says it was put to the mouth of the sepulchre by Joseph, and was rolled away by an angel. And because there were two remarkable particulars which had an immediate relation to the stone, viz. the journey to the sepulchre, which the women undertook at the end of the Sabbath, in order to see if the stone was still in its place, and the planting of the guards at the sepulchre, he speaks particularly of both, and in
forms us how the guards came to desert their post. But then as Luke had given an account of the visit which the women made in the morning, and of the vision of two angels, Matthew does not touch upon these things at all. Only because Luke had neither told that the women, at their entrance into the sepulchre, saw but one of the angels, nor that Jssus himself appeared to them as they were returning the second time to the sepulchre, nor yet that the guards informed the chief priests of Christ's resurrection, Matthew relates all these circumstances particularly. And, to name no more, Luke having given a full account of our Lord's shewing himself to the disciples who walked to Emmaus, it is omitted by Matthew altogether. Mark, who wrote after Matthew, and consequently after Luke, does not dwell on the particulars mentioned by either of these historians, but in a word or two hints at them, viz. the appearance of the one angel, as the women were going into the sepulchre; then the appearances of Jesus himself, first to Mary Magdalene, next to the two disciples, and after that to the eleven. Neither Matthew nor Luke speak of Christ's appearing to Mary Magdalene. Mark, as was observed, just mentions it. But John, who wrote last, judging it too important a branch of the history to be lost, supplies the defect of the three former historians, and gives an account of it at large, wherein he has comprehended all that he thought proper to add concerning the resurrection.
To conclude: if Matthew wrote before Luke, can it be imagined that he would have neglected to give an account of so important a fact as our Lord's ascension into heaven, in the presence of his eleven disciples, surrounded with a bright cloud, and attended by angels? This our Lord had told his apostles they were to behold, and had appealed to it as one of the strongest proofs of his having come from heaven, John xvi. 28. It was therefore a matter of too much moment to be neglected by Matthew and Mark, if it had not been recorded before. Thus it appears, upon comparison, that Luke's history comprehends the principal transactions of our Lord's life; and that the things omitted by him are, generally speaking, of less importance than those omitted by the other historians; a character which distinguishes his Gospel from the other three, and which cannot easily be accounted for, unless on the supposition that he wrote first; whereas, granting this, we have a good reason for the omissions of the other historians; Luke had gone before them, and prevented
§3. Let us next see what light antiquity furnishes for settling the order of the Gospels. Irenæus, 1. iii. c. 1. Hær. tells us from Papias, "That Matthew published his Gospel, while Peter and
Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundation of a church there." The Jesuit Andradius, Chemnitius, Mill, and
Whiston, follow Irenæus in this opinion. His testimony there fore deserves to be considered, that the proper import of it may appear. Luke's history of the Acts seems to have come abroad while Paul was prisoner at Rome for the first time; for, in the conclusion of that history, it is said that the apostle was confined there two years, but not a word is spoken of his release, which doubtless would have been mentioned, had the book been written after Paul was set at liberty. Wherefore the manner in which Luke speaks of him, makes it probable that the apostle was still in confinement when he wrote. From the preface to the Acts it is plain, that Luke's Gospel had been then published some considerable time. Perhaps it came abroad a while before Paul's imprisonment, or at latest about the beginning of it. To fix it later, would make the publication of the Acts fall after the apostle's release, which is not likely, considering that no mention is made of his release, notwithstanding it was a principal part of the apostle's history, whose ministry is the chief subject of the work. These reasons rendering it probable that Luke composed his Gospel about the beginning of Paul's imprisonment at Rome, it must have come abroad before Matthew's, notwithstanding the latter was written as early as Irenæus has fixed it, viz. while the two apostles planted the church at Rome; and that even on the supposition that Peter visited the imperial city as early as Paul's first imprisonment there, which in the mean time is very unlikely, for the reasons mentioned in the preceding observation.
But Eusebius is thought to have affirmed, both in his Ecclesiastical History and in his Chronicle, that Matthew wrote in the third year of Caligula's reign, i. e. eight years only after Christ's ascension; and the moderns have therefore generally fixed upon that as the true date of Matthew's work. But, as the learned Dr Lardner has shewed, Cred. vol. viii. p. 176. there is no such thing to be found in the best manuscripts and editions of the Chronicle. And as for the Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius only says, “that when Matthew was about to go to other people, he delivered his Gospel to the Hebrews in their own language," lib. iii. c. 24. without telling us, either there or any where else, when Matthew left Judea. Dr Lardner adds, "Theophylact in the 11th century, and Euthymius in the 12th, say, that Matthew writ in the eighth year after our Saviour's ascension. Nice phorus Callisthi, in the 14th century, says, that Matthew writ about fifteen years after Christ's ascension; and the Paschal Chronicle, in the seventh century, intimates the same thing. None of these writers expressly refer to more ancient authors for their opinion. But it may be reckoned probable, that they collected it from the history in the Acts, and from the forementioned passage in Eusebe. They who thought that Matthew and the other apostles left Judea soon after the conversion
of Cornelius, supposed his gospel might be writ in the eighth. year of our Lord's ascension. And they who think that the apostles did not leave Judea to go to the Gentiles till the coun-. cil of Jerusalem, Acts xv. supposed Matthew's gospel to have been writ in the fifteenth year of our Lord's ascension, of the vulgar account 49. But neither had for their opinion the express authority of Eusebe, or any other very ancient writer. It is well known to be very common to insert articles in chronicles and such like works. This article concerning the time of Matthew's gospel, is probably a late addition." Thus far Dr Lardner. But supposing Eusebius had expressly affirmed that Matthew wrote his gospel in the third year of Caligula, if mere authority be insisted on, I do not see why a later testimony should be preferred to a more ancient one; that is, why Eusebius should be preferred to Papias, who flourished long before him.
Jerome, in his preface to Matthew, speaking of the four gospels and their authors, says that Luke, the disciple of Paul, composed his volume or gospel in the parts of Achaia and Boeotia. His words are, "Tertius Lucas medicus, natione Syrus Antiohensis, cujus laus in evangelio, qui et ipse discipulus Pauli, in Achaia Bootiæque partibus volumen condidit." By calling Luke on this occasion Paul's disciple, Jerome probably meant to insinuate, that tho travels through Greece, in the course of which Luke composed his gospel, were those which he made along with Paul. If so, Luke's gospel must have been written A. D. 52 or 53, long before Matthew's, if the latter did not come abroad till Peter and Paul preached together at Rome. Agreeably to this, several old manuscripts tell us at the conclusion of Luke's gospel, that it was written fifteen years after Christ's ascension. See Dr Mill on the last verse of Luke.
But the apostle's testimony, 2 Cor. viii. 18. "We have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel, throughout all the churches," would be decisive in this matter, could we be sure that he speaks of Luke and his performance. He was thus understood by Origen, Jerome, and the interpolator of Ignatius's epistles, among the ancients; and by Grotius, Hammond, Cave, Whitby, with many others, among the moderns. And perhaps the only reason which has hindered people from applying this to Luke, is the opinion they have taken up, I imagine without ground, that his gospel was not then published. Nevertheless, when the arguments offered above are considered, and it is remembered that Luke was long Paul's companion in his travels, I suppose it will appear that the text quoted cannot be more properly applied.
As for the priority of Luke to Mark, I know of nothing either for or against it in antiquity; a passage of the old book of Hypotyposes, which goes under the name of Clemens Alaxandrinus,