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make them capable of enjoying everlasting happiness in heaven. The writers of the Gospel are called Evangelists, that is, they who 'give us the account of those good tidings. There are four of these Gospels called, according to the names of the writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Matthew and John were two of Christ's disciples and apostles. Mark was a convert k to the Christian faith, and a constant attendant of St. Peter the Apostle! Luke was also a convert to Christianity, and a companion of St. Paulm.
There might be indeed other Christian writers, that were not apostles, besides Mark and Luke, who lived in the Apostles' times; and yet their writings do not make a part of the Scriptures, as the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke do, because these were nowned and approved by the Apostle St. John, and so received into the canon of Scripture : and however we may suppose that some of the Apostles, whilst they planted the Gospel in remote parts, might at first, for a present occasion, write more books or gospels than are now extant, (which yet cannot be known ;) yet it would not follow, but that those we now have are sufficient to instruct us in all points of Christian faith and practice: for all the Apostles and holy writers were taught by the same Master, Christ, and all enlightened by the same Holy Spirit; and St. John, in the same place where he acknowledges that he had omitted the relation of many things which Jesus did, intimates, that what he wrote was sufficient to salvation ; for that he had written the things contained in his Gospel, that men might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing they might have life through him, or be savedo. Lastly, the same good Providence, which, as is now supposed, might take care for the writing of more books, when more might be necessary, has likewise taken care for the preservation of so many of those books as are now sufficient.
k Euseb. Hist. book ii. chap. 15. Gr. c. 14.
1 Pet. y. 13. m Acts xvi. 10. in Euseb. ibid. book jii. chap. 24. Gr. c. 24. αληθειαν αυτοις επιμαρτύρησαντα. .
Furthermore, concerning the Evangelists, it appears from the ancients, that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel about eight, or between that and thirteen years after Christ's ascension P, to correct some mistakes, and to supply the defects that were in those accounts, which the first Christians, who were Jewish converts, received concerning the doctrine, life, and death of Christ? Some few years afterwards St. Mark's Gospel was written, according to what St. Peter taught, at the request of the Christians at Rome', and was perused and ratified by St. Peter. It hath been supposed, that St. Mark's Gospel was for the most part an abridgment, or short accounts, of what is contained in St. Matthew; but by comparing them it appears, that Mark doth not always observe the same order which is in St. Matthew; and that he gives a larger account in some particulars than Matthew doth, and that in some points of great moment, of which there are no footsteps in the other. Soon after the publishing of St. Mark's Gose pel, St. Luke wrote to correct some mistaken accounts which were published of Christ's life and death amongst the Christians at Alexandria in Egypt".
• John xx. 30, 31. and xxi. 25. p Dr. Mill's Prolegom. p. 7, supposes it later, viz. in the year of Christ 61. But see Dr: Cave on St. Matthew, ex Epiphan. Hæres. 51. and Dr. Wells's preface to St. Matthew. 9 Dr. Mill's Prolegom. p. 7, 8. Whether it was at first written in Hebrew, the reader may consult Dr. Mill's Prolegom. p. 8. and Cave on St. Matthew for the affirmative, and Hottinger's Thesaurus, 1. ii. cap. 1. §. 5. for the negative. " Irenæus, 1. iii. c. 1. Dr. Cave on St. Mark, and Euseb. 1. ii. c. 15. s Dr. Mill, ibid. p. 12. and Dr. Wells's preface to St. Mark. + Euseb. 1. ii. c. 15. Dr. Mill, ibid. p. 12, 13. and Dr. Wells, ibid. u Dr. Mill's Prolegom. p. 13, and Du Pin's Canon, vol. ii. chap. ii. . 5.
He has also mentioned what is omitted in the two former Evangelists, such as the conception and birth of John the Baptist, and of Christ himself; the presentation of Christ in the temple ; his going up to the passover at twelve years of age, and in other instances. St. John”, who outlived all the rest of the Apostles, and resided at Ephesus, having read the other Gospels, and approved them, made sundry additions of what was wanting, at the request of the Asian bishops, especially concerning the divine nature of Christ, affirming that he was God, in opposition to some heretical deceivers of that age. It is affirmed that this Gospel of St. John was written by him in Asia, when he was very old, at least threescore years after Christ's ascension".
These four Gospels, thus confirmed (as well as one of them wrote) by St. John, whilst he was living, were received as the entire canon (or catalogue of books) of the Gospel, by the primitive bishops and pastors of the church of Asia, where St. John resided; and afterwards from them by the Christians all the world over, as containing the Christian doctrine; and therefore, wherever the first successors of the Apostles afterwards planted any Christian church, they took care to deliver to them these books of the divine Gospels, as the ancient church historian observesa. So that we have a plain and distinct account of the first writing, publishing, and receiving the authentic doctrine of our redemption by Christ, contained in the holy Gospels.
* Euseb. Hist. book iii. chap. 1. Hieronym. Catalog. sub voce Johannes. Dr. Mill, ibid. p. 21, 22, 23. Du Pin, ibid. §. 6. y Ibid. z Dr. Mill, (ex Irenæo, l. iii. c. 11. fere ad finem) Prolegom. p. 23. See for the sense of the word canon, or caronical, part i. chap. 1. §.8. a Euseb. Hist, 1. iii. c. 37.
CHAP. III. For the better understanding the holy Gospels, we may in the first place observe the following general remarks.
First remark. God was pleased to make several discoveries, from the beginning, of the Messiah, or his Son's appearance, which were still the more clear, the nearer the time approached, as it hath been briefly hinted in the first Part; and which, by the way, shew the nature of that faith which was required in the Messiah under the Old Testament; namely, according to the nature of the motives disposing one to have faith in him; that is, while they were darker, the faith was more confused; and more clear, as those became more particular and express, Immediately after the fall, it was promised that he should be born of the seed of the woman b. Somewhat above two thousand years afterwards, God declared from what nation or people he should proceed, and take our nature, viz. from the offspring of Abraham. To Jacob (the grandchild of Abraham) it was revealed of what particular tribe he should come, viz. of Judah, and at what time, before the sceptre, or government, should depart from the Jews. After that, Moses speaks of him as a great prophet sent from God, and that all should hearken to him. Four hundred years after Moses, he is shewn not only to proceed from the tribe of Judah, but from what particular branch of that tribe, viz. the house of David, David also himself was inspired to set forth Christ more plainly, as to his death, by piercing his hands and his feety: his resurrection, that God would not suffer his Holy One to see corruption"; his ascen
b Gen. iii. 15.
d Gen. xlix. 10. xviii. 15. f ? Sam. vii, 16. & Psal. xxii. 16. xvi. 10.
e Deut. h Psal.
sion into heaven, and sitting on the right-hand of Godk. Afterwards, other prophets foretold him more plainly; as Isaiah, that he should be borrr of a virgin', and suffer for usm: Micah, that he should be born in Bethlehem”: but Daniel fixed the time of his coming, viz. at the expiration of seventy (prophetical) weeks, or seventy times seven years ; that is, four hundred and ninety years'. Now, since all that was foretold (either in a plain literal, or figurative construction) concerning the Messiah, in all the different characters of him, (whether as a prophet, priest, or king) was exactly fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in none else; it follows, that he was the Messiah which was to come into the world; and it is not unworthy of our observation, that the Jews themselves, though they refuse to acknowledge him, are yet the most zealous assertors of the authority of those very prophecies which bear witness of him.
Further, as Christ was foretold from time to time, so, the primitive fathers observe, divers eminent persons under the Old Testament dispensation represented him in several particulars; as Enoch and Elijah, in his being carried up to heaven ; Noah, as a preacher of righteousness ; Melchisedeck, as king of peace, and priest of the most high God; Abraham, as the father of the faithful ; Isaac, as heir of the promise, and appointed for a sacrifice; Jacob, in wrestling with the angel, and prevailing, as Christ doth with his Father, by his intercession, (and his vision of the ladder, that reached up to heaven, prefigured Christ, by whom we may climb up into heaven also ;) Joseph also represented Christ, in that he was sold into Egypt, and thrown into prison, but wonderfully advanced, and thereby made the instru
i Psal. lxviii. 18.
k Psal. cx. 1.
I Isaiah vii. 14. mu Chap. liii.
n Micah v. 2. o Dan, ix. 24, 25.