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John was written at the request of the Church at Ephesus, as a supplement to the rest; with more especial reference to those heresies of his age, which impugned the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. Many years, we may justly conclude, would have elapsed, before these Gospels were collected into one volume: and many more would elapse before the attention of the primitive Churches, which received them with so much veneration, would be directed to their apparent discrepancies. For this veneration was not slightly founded ; it originated from the universal knowledge which prevailed among all the Churches, that the authors of these books, and of the other books which they esteemed sacred, were possessed of the power of working miracles, to demonstrate the truth of their narration. The general evidence deducible from the testimony of the eye-witnesses of the wonderful actions of our Lord, and from the testimony of the hearers of his gracious teaching, was not sufficient. The relators of his actions could appeal to their own supernatural gifts, and afford undeniable proofs of their veracity, and of their more than human knowledge. St. Matthew, as one of the twelve, partook of the miraculous powers which were given to each. St. Peter may be considered as the real author of St. Mark's Gospel ; and St. Paul, of the Gospel attributed to St. Luke. St. John also was of the twelve. Invested with the apostolic office, and acting with the plenary powers with which their divine Master had honoured them, we may justly conclude that none of their early converts, either of the Jews, the Proselytes, or the Gentiles, would have considered the seeming difficulties of their narratives. The objects for which both the Gospels and the Epistles were written would have been well understood, and further explanation was unnecessary : and no Harmony of the Gospels would have been either desired, or appreciated, in the apostolic age.
When the miraculous powers of the apostles, however, had ceased with their lives, and the generation which had witnessed these miracles had passed away, it might naturally have been expected that some attention would be paid to this subject, and some efforts made to reconcile the apparent varieties in the accounts of the Evangelists. About eighty years after the death of St. John and the closing of the canon of the New Testament, Tatian, a Syrian by descent, a Mesopotamian by birth, a sophist by profession, before his conversion to Christianity, and becoming a pupil of Justin Martyr, compiled the first Harmony of the Gospels. The fragments which remain, and have been attributed to Tatian, are now generally imputed to Ammonius. Clemens (h) quotes Tatian as the first harmonizer. He divided his harmony into eightyone chapters; omitted the genealogies which prove Christ to be descended from David (the heresy of that age being to exalt, rather than to depress, the dignity of our Lord), and reduced all the passovers to one, on the supposition that our Saviour's ministry lasted only one year. Epiphanius tells us (), that where Eusebius accuses the Ebionites of using only the Gospel according to the Hebrews, he means that they used the Harmony of Tatian. Theodoret tells us, that he found two hundred copies of Tatian's Harmony, which were highly prized: but because the genealogies, and descent of Christ from David, were omitted, he gave the four Gospels in their place. An additional evidence, that the translations of Victor of Capua, and of Lascinius, are spurious (k), may be derived from the fact, that they retain the genealogy which Tatian is said to have rejected.
Pilkington gives a specimen, in his notes, of the confused order of the harmony of Tatian, who does not, indeed, appear to have been a man of much judgment. The account which Cave has given of his philosophical opinions sufficiently convinces us, that no dependence can be placed on his deci
(h) Clemens Stromat. lib. i. ap. Chemnitii Prolegomena. Euseb. lib. iii. cap. 24. (k) See Pilkington's Preface.
(i) Ap. Chemn.
sion. I add the extract, as even Pilkington's work is rare (1). Tatian in general kept close to the order of St. Matthew, in which he has been followed by the greater number of those harmonizers who prefer being guided by the authority of one Evangelist, rather than equally to transpose the four. He sometimes, however, recedes from it without any apparent necessity or reason. “ Several things,” says Pilkington, “ which ought evidently to be connected, are disjoined ; others are improperly united. The order of all the Gospels is arbitrarily transposed, and the times and seasons cannot be distinguished (m).”
Ammonius, a Platonic philosopher of Alexandria, published a work, in the third century, which bears a more proper title than the former; being only called Evangeliorum Narratio. He so exactly follows the method of Tatian, that there is little doubt he has made an abridgement only of that work. About the year 330, Juvencus, a Spaniard, wrote the Evangelical History in heroic verse. “ He recedes,” says Pilkington, “ very little from the method observed by Tatian; only he keeps more closely to the present order of St. Matthew's Gospel, which he seems to have made his guide. In
(1) Tatian's Harmony, collected from Bibliotheca Patrum, tom. vii. p. 41. Paris, 1589:
| Matthew Mark Luke John Evang. History.
66, 73, 74. 3 ix, 9-10. ii. 14-15. v. 27-29.
48, 49. 5 iv. 12-17.
50, 64. 6 iv, 23. viii. 1. iii. 13-19. vi. 12.
88--116. 7 ix. 36. xi. 2.
ii. 1-12. 41. 9 viii. 1-5. Ji. 40.
75. 10 viii. 5-14.
116. 11 viii. 14-16. i. 29–32. iv. 38-40.
117. 13 viii. 16-19. i. 32-35. iv. 40_42.
70. 14 viii. 19-21. i. 32. ix. 57.
152, 223. 15 viii. 24. ix. 2. iv. 35. v. 18. viii. 22-38.
153—156. 16lix. 2-9. lii. 1-13. v. 17-27.
76, 77. Pilkington's Notes, p. 30. (m) Jerome mentions Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, as the first Harmonist. The treatise on the Gospels, ascribed to him, allegorizes, instead of harmonizes, the sacred volume. Preface, p. X.
this he is followed by St. Augustine, who, about the year 400, wrote his treatise De Concordia Evangelistarum."
Comester, a Frenchman, about 1180, wrote his Historia Evangelica, which, in method, differs very little from that of Tatian and Ammonius.
Guido de Perpiniano published his Concordia Evangelica about 1330. He, in a great measure, follows St. Augustine, adhering to the present order of St. Matthew's Gospel : and he was of opinion, that, wherever any relation of facts or doctrines appears similar, in any of the Gospels, those passages ought to be connected, as being accounts of the same fact or discourse, though given in a different manner. For example: several doctrines were delivered by our Saviour, at different times, and on different occasions, correspondent to those contained in the Sermon on the Mount; wherever he met with any doctrines similar to these, in any part of St. Mark's or St. Luke's Gospel, he thus transposed them so as to connect them with St. Matthew.
It must appear absurd to every reader, to suppose St. Mark's and St. Luke's Gospels to be such confused rhapsodies as they are here represented. The same method was likewise continued by Ludolphus, a German, who wrote his Vita Christi about the same time with Guido : and John Gerson, who published his Monotessaron about the year 1420.
About the year 1537, Osiander, a Protestant minister of Germany, published his Annotationes in Evangelicam Harmoniam. He makes no alteration of the present order of any of the Gospels; but wherever similar facts or doctrines are placed variously, he imagines they ought to be distinctly considered. But, if the arbitrary method of transposing all the Gospels led the first Harmonists to connect passages which they ought not, the method which Osiander determined to pursue obliged him to suppose some passages to be accounts of different facts; which, upon any impartial examination into the several circumstances related, must appear to be the same : that is, two sermons are supposed to have been preached upon the Mount; one related by St. Matthew and the other by St. Luke. Two centurions' servants are supposed to have been healed-two women are supposed to have been healed of an issue of blood-two damsels to have been raised from the dead -and two tempests to have been stilled upon
the The Harmony of Corn. Jansenius, Bishop of Ghent, was published about 1550. He follows the confused method of the first Harmonists: and Calvin, whose Harmonia er tribus Evangelistis appeared in 1555, hath very nearly followed the steps of Perpinian. He omits St. John's Gospel in his Harmony, as having very little connexion with the others; though this Gospel is one of the principal guides to an Harmonist, as it mentions the several passovers, and distinguishes the times by notations omitted by the other Evangelists.
In opposition to Calvin, Carolus Molinæus, a celebrated French lawyer, published an Evangeliorum Unio, in 1565.