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Cæsarea, and by Irenæus, bishop of Lyons, in Gaul, writers of the second century; and by Origen, in the early part of the third. Its authenticity, therefore, cannot reasonably be doubted.
The next of the four Gospels that made its appearance was that of Mark. This fact also rests upon the authority of Papias, who tells us that the writer of it was a disciple, or follower of Peter, and that the latter dictated to him what he should write. The subject is also mentioned by Irenæus, who says that“ Mark also, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, delivered to us in writing the things which had been preached by Peter.” And, indeed, Tertullian says, that the gospel of Mark was ascribed to Peter, even as that of Luke was to Paul; these evangelists being the disciples of those apostles.
It has been supposed by some that the evangelist Mark is the same individual who is several times mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles under the title of John, whose surname is Mark, and who accompanied Paul and Barnabas in their first journey; but Dr. Campbell has shown the improbability of this. “ The accounts given of Paul's attendant, and those of Peter's interpreter, ooncur in nothing but the name, which is a circumstance · too slight to evince the sameness of the person.” That Mark wrote his Gospel in Greek is admitted by all antiquity, and he seems to have abridged that of Matthew. According to some accounts he wrote it in Egypt; but others affirm that it was written at Rome. According to Eusebius, he went into Egypt in the second year of the reign of the emperor Claudius ; or the ninth, according to Eutychius of Alexandria, at which time the apostle Peter was yet in Palestine. The publication of Mark's Gospel is dated by some writers only two years later than that of Matthew ; but this is a point on which there is no certainty.
Luke was the disciple and companion of the apostle Paul. Originally he had been a physician, and, as some say, resided at Antioch, in Syria. Though, like the other evangelists, he has not named himself as the author, he sufficiently intimates that he was not an apostle, nor himself an eye-witness of what he attests, but that he had his information from apostles, and others who attended our Lord's ministry upon the earth. In compiling his Gospel, he is supposed to have drawn his materials chiefly from the apostle Paul, whom he faithfully attended, as Mark did the
CREDIBILITY OF THE EVANGELISTS.
apostle Peter : but, as he declares that the chief source of his intelligence, as to the facts related in the Gospel, was from those who had been eye and ear witnesses of what our Lord both did and taught, it seems to militate against that opinion; for Paul was evidently not of that number. As to the time when Luke's gospel was written, and the place of its first publication, the learned are quite divided. It is obvious that it was written some time prior to the writing of the Acts of the Apostles, because he refers to it, Acts i. 1, as to a treatise which he had formerly composed, and which was then well known. It is a remarkable circumstance that the apostle Paul appears to have been the first writer upon record who has quoted this gospel, and he has thereby fully established its authenticity. In writing to Timothy he makes use of the following words, “ for the Scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn,”-and “ the labourer is worthy of his reward," 1 Tim. v. 18. The former of these sayings is a quotation from Deut. xxv. 4. The latter is found no where else in these terms, but in Luke x. 7, where we have the very words the apostle has adopted. Dr. Lardner has taken notice of several allusions to certain passages in the gospel of Luke which are to be found in some of the aposto'ic fathers; and there are manifest quotations from it in Justin Martyr, and the epistle of the churches of Vienne and Lyons, written about the year 177. About the same time Tatian, one of the Fathers, composed a Harmony of the Gospels, the first of the kind that had been attempted, which he called D1ATESSARON (da teogapwv), of the four, and which demonstrates that, at that time, there were four gospels, and no more, of established authority in the church. Not long after this, Irenæus mentions all the evangelists by name, arranging them according to the order in which they wrote, and which is the same with that universally given them throughout Christendom to this day. When he speaks of Luke, he recites many particulars which are peculiar to that Gospel. And, indeed, if you will take the pains to examine the matter narrowly, you will be struck with the number of interesting particulars which he has supplied, that had been omitted by both his predecessors, Matthew and Mark.
The last of the four Gospels was written by John, one of the twelve apostles. He had been a fisherman of Bethsaida, in Galilee, and was the younger brother of James, called the
greater or elder (for there were two apostles of that name,) and the son of Zebedee, by his wife Salomé. He was one of the three most favoured apostles, and is designated as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” There are evident references to this gospel in some epistles of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch. These epistles must have been written early in the second century; for Ignatius suffered martyrdom in the year 107. The precise time when this gospel was written has not been ascertained; but the opinion most generally entertained is, that it was written subsequently to the apostle's return from exile in the isle of Patmos, to which he was banished “ for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus.” According to Irenæus, the apostle wrote it with the express view of extirpating the errors of Cerinthus and the Nicolaitans, which were then prevalent. Any one who examines the subject carefully will readily perceive that it forms a very important supplement to the other three Gospels. John rarely introduces into his narrative any of the topics that are mentioned by his predecessors, while he is much more particular, circumstantial, and copious than they are on the doctrine of our Lord's divinity, ch. i, and also in supplying us with those precious discourses which fell from the lips of that divine teacher, in his intercourse with the unbelieving Jews, as in ch. iii., v., vi, to x.;-his consolatory sayings to his disciples before his passion, and his wonderful intercessory prayer for them,recorded in ch. xvii. For these grand and interesting topics, so replete with instruction to the ignorant and so edifying to the pious mind, we are almost exclusively indebted to the Gospel of John. In fine, it appears to have been a very early tradition in the church that this Gospel was composed, not only to supply what had not been fully communicated in the former Gospels, but also to serve for refuting the errors of Cerinthus and the Gnostics. It is quoted by Justin Martyr, by Tatian, by Irenæus, Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and the whole current of succeeding ecclesiastical writers.
So much, then, for, the authenticity of the four Gospels, concerning which I have thought it necessary to be the more particular, as the subject lies at the foundation of the whole superstructure of Christianity. I now proceed to say a few words respecting some other of the New Testament writers.
HISTORY OF THE APOSTLES.
Among the canonical epistles are to be noticed, first, the epistles written by the apostle Peter. They were addressed to the Jewish converts dispersed throughout the countries of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who were at that time suffering greatly from persecution, and were intended to console them under their afflictions, by the hope of a blessed issue in eternal life. They were written in the year 64.
James, the brother of our Lord (properly his cousin, for he was the son of « the other Mary,” Matt. xxvii. 56; and of Alpheus, called the less, or the Just), wrote also a concise, but most invaluable epistle to the Jews dispersed abroad, some years before his martyrdom, which happened during a tumult at Jerusalem, A. D. 61.
Paul the apostle wrote fourteen epistles at various times; some to Christian churches, and others to private individuals, as Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. These form a most important part of divine revelation; and, though they uniformly recognize the writings of the four evangelists as the basis of the Christian economy, they throw a flood of light upon many grand and sublime doctrines which had, indeed, been previously mentioned, but may be rather said to have been implied than unfolded :such are the doctrines of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, his kingdom, government, and laws--the divine decrees--and particularly the resurrection of the dead, which is illustrated in his epistle to the Corinthians, and placed in the noon-day light of the New Testament. They were written at different intervals, from the year 52 to 67.
Jude the apostle, and brother of James the Less (who is called Thaddeus, in the Syrian dialect, and also Lebbeus, from Lebba, a city of Galilee, Matt. x. 3), also wrote an epistle, subsequently to those of Peter and Paul (to whom he refers, ver. 17, 18), when several disgraceful heresies, against which he warns them, had sprung up among Christians. His epistle is supposed to have been written in the year 70,
And, lastly, the apostle John, who survived all the apostles, wrote three epistles for the use of the Christian church, and also the book of the Apocalypse, by which the Canon of Revelation was closed, and, as it were, sealed.
Although the books of the New Testament were so well authenticated as not to stand in need of any confirmation, it may not be amiss to remark, in this place, that what the apostles in their writings testify of the suffering state of the first Christians is abundantly corroborated by the writings that remain of their companions and immediate followers.
Thus, for instance, Clement, who is honourably mentioned by the apostle Paul, Phil. iv. 3, has left us his attestation to this point in the following words:—“ Let us take," says he, “ the example of our own age. Through zeal and envy, the most faithful and righteous pillars of the church have been persecuted even to the most grievous deaths. Let us set before our eyes the holy apostles. Peter, by unjust envy, underwent not one or two, but many sufferings; till at last, being martyred, he went to the place of glory that was due unto him. For the same 2/2ÂÒÂ?2??2?Â2Ò2Â?2?Â2Ò2Âăm2ti2m22 ti22 2/22/\/2 \/22/►Â?2?Â2â?– tience. Seven times he was in bonds; he was whipt; he was stoned. He preached both in the east and in the west, leaving behind him a glorious testimony of his faith; and so having taught the world (the way of] righteousness, and for that end travelled even to the utmost bounds of the west, he at last suffered martyrdom by command of the ruling powers, and departed out of the world, and went unto his holy place, having become a most eminent pattern of patience unto all ages.”
We have a similar testimony in Hermas, to whom Paul sent his salutation in his epistle to the Romans; thus he speaks :“Such as have believed and suffered death for Christ's name sake, and have endured with a ready mind, and have heartily given up their lives,” &c. &c.
Polycarp, the disciple of John (though all that remains of his works is a very short epistle), has not left this subject unnoticed. “ I exhort all of you,” says he, “ that ye obey the word of righteousness, and exercise all patience, which ye have seen set forth before your eyes, not only in the blessed Ignatius, and Lorimus, and Rufus, but others among yourselves, and in Paul himself and the rest of the apostles: being confident in this, that all these have not run in vain, but in faith and righteousness, and are gone to the place that was due to them from the Lord, with whom also they suffered; for they loved not this present world, but Him who died and was raised again for us by God.”
Ignatius, the contemporary of Polycarp, recognizes the same topic, briefly indeed, but positively and precisely. Referring to