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These prophecies, therefore, stand on a sure foundation, and bear an overwhelming testimony to the divine wisdom which dwelt in the blessed Jesus, and which enabled him, "who being in the form of God took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man," to see things future in one view with the
past and the present, and to
dering hearers things that
show to his won
should be there
There is a subject which, in the present stage to which it has attained, is calculated to afford additional evidence to the authenticity of the Gospel. I allude to the harmony of the three Evangelists-Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and, at the same time, to their discrepancies. In these there have been found difficulties not easy to be reconciled. They have been deeply entered into by the German theologians, and it is wonderful that the subject has drawn so little attention to it in England. One Englishman,
however, has laboured diligently in the cause the present Bishop of Peterborough, who, in his younger years, spent a considerable time among the Germans, and understood their language and their theology.
The difficulties that surround this subject were formerly almost wholly obviated by a pretty general acquiescence in the doctrine of plenary inspiration, by which the knot was severed. But the inquisitive spirit of the German divines could not long submit to a doctrine which they believed to be sanctioned neither by reason nor scripture; accordingly the doctrine of plenary inspiration gave place to the belief that the Evangelists had been assisted in composing their gospels by having consulted, in common, an original manuscript, and this opinion prevailed, and its merits were discussed, during many years. At length it was found that this system was unequal to the solution of all the difficulties involved in the question satis
factorily, and another notion was adopted by some, which prevails at present-that the Evangelists had access to many manuscripts, written and preserved by the disciples of Jesus, and by the friends and followers of the Apostles; and that from these manuscripts, from the personal information of the same friends or others, or from what they had witnessed themselves, they composed those lively oracles which we at present enjoy, and from whose pure fountains we draw that living water which springeth up unto everlasting life.
St. Luke, in the beginning of his gospel, seems to favour this idea of a number of early manuscripts existing; for if "many had taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which were most surely believed," it seems highly probable that there were also many who had set down memoranda of particular things which they had seen or heard.
Supposing it could be satisfactorily shown
that numerous original manuscripts existed, it would greatly diminish the importance of the question, when were the gospels of the Evangelists published? for such manuscripts could not have been written but by men who had heard the parables or seen the miracles of Christ himself. I hope none of my readers will quarrel with me under a fear that I am opposed to the doctrine of divine inspiration, for I am a firm believer in the faith that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God." But I am of opinion that a belief that the Apostles and Evangelists received divine inspiration whenever it became necessary, and that they were, in other respects, left free to the exercise of their own feelings and judgment, is more rational, and also more in accordance with the general tenor of scripture, than a belief in the doctrine of plenary inspiration.
When Christ told his Apostles that they should be "brought before governors and kings
for his sake and the gospel's," he cautioned them "that they should take no thought how or what they should speak, for that it should be given them in that same hour what they should speak, for it is not ye that speak," added our Lord, "but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."* Here divine aid was needful.
It is clear that the power to work miracles in the Apostles was limited, for the father who brought to Jesus his lunatic son to be cured, said, "I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him."+
St. Paul, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, gives his advice to unmarried and widows, during the perilous times that impended over the Christians, not to marry, but to abide even as himself. But the married he commands, "yet not I," says the Apostle, "but the Lord, let not the wife depart from her husband."
*Matt. x. 18-20.
+ Matt. xvii. 16. 1 Cor. vii. 8-10.