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SOME apology may seem requisite for a Layman placing before the public a Harmony of the Gospels, but not having met with one in the form, or embodying the particulars best adapted in my judgment to illustrate the more minute details of the history and doctrine of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and feeling the subject to be one of the greatest importance, and that in reading one Evangelist it was essential to have in mind the statements of the others; I have for my own satisfaction, and for the more clear comprehension of the subject, combined the several incidents and particulars given by each Evangelist, into one continuous narrative, in such manner as to my mind best gives the combined statement of those four testimonies, and that in the very words of the authorized version. The more readily to enable me to check the Harmony against all implied meanings contrary to the spirit of the Gospels (as the incidental bearing of one part of a sentence upon another is not so readily discovered in manuscript), and for the more ready reference and use, I have had the same printed. The want I have myself experienced, may no doubt have been felt by others, and this must be my apology for giving the public the opportunity of seeing the result of my labours, trusting that no one will take the arrangement as of the slightest authority, but only as representing an individual opinion of the extracts that should be made, and the order in which such extracts should be placed; and I trust that each one will carefully use the references given, and examine for themselves, are these things so ?” I have given every part the most severe, serious, and patient investigation and consideration, before adopting any conclusion; keeping each sheet as printed in proof, sometimes as much as a couple of months, examining with other Harmonies, and carefully considering the various incidental effects, bearing, and meaning of the arrangement ultimately adopted.
There is no history so important, no narrative so interesting, as that of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,- history that will live in the memory of the saints and angels, when the final conflagration shall have destroyed all earthly records. The words and actions of our blessed Lord are the most authoritative and practical explication of his doctrine and purposes; gradually
in the cry,
developing the holy character of his religion, and slowly convincing the un. prejudiced that he was indeed the Christ, the Son of God; ultimately resulting
“ Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest :” and it becomes a matter of serious import that we should as far as possible, have a clear view of all the attendant circumstances connected with each particular, in order that we may duly appreciate their intention, and the practical illustration they afford of the divine will.
These matters relate to questions in which all are interested.—It is easy to dispense with knowledge in any of the arts and sciences, in domestic economy, or in manufactures, and its manipulations or combinations; in fact, in every thing relating to the conduct of this world's pursuits, for our deficiencies herein are supplied by others; but in religion there is a question which each one can only resolve for himself, and for the resolution of which, Aye or No, he alone must ultimately abide the consequences. In this case private judgment must necessarily be applied, and no more ready a method of informing the judgment and impressing the feelings can be devised, than that of a careful aud serious examination of the actions and words of our blessed Saviour. A succinct account of the various occurrences and circumstances relating to our blessed Lord, giving all the particulars concerning him during his sojourn on earth, may, under the blessing of his Holy Spirit, serve to bring home to the mind the fact that Jesus Christ was indeed a man amongst men, but fulfilling the law and all righteousness, and that in all points he was tempted like as we are, yet without sin. All the circumstances relating to him in his divine nature, and arising from the union of the divine and human, are necessarily urged so frequently upon our attention while looking to him as our Saviour and Redeemer, that we seldom fully realize all that simply relates to him as a sojourner on earth. In the following pages we shall, by his blessing, endeavour to trace out the particulars; and may our hearts be fully impressed with the truth that Jesus Christ has indeed lived and died :—and, not resting there, may we go on to the full possession of an entire faith in him as the Son of God, who bore our sins by dying as our atonement, and to a firm personal reliance upon him as our Saviour.
The four gospels are the separate and concurrent testimonies and statements of four witnesses, relative to the miracles, teaching, life and death, of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; each of which requires to be most carefully considered and collated with the others, before an exact conclusion can be come to. When all the parts of different accounts of the same transactions are brought together, they must, if true, corroborate and illustrate each other; and nothing can be a more severe test of the accuracy of evidence than such a process: for, if all the accounts are perfectly true, that which appears at first diverse, will, on a
careful collation, render more striking and well defined, the various circumstances and particulars of each transaction. The four gospels present a most splendid illustration of this agreement. In the different statements of the Evangelists will be found sufficient diversity in the more minute and incidental circumstances, as well as in the independent distinctions, noticed occasionally only by one, (but which agree with Josephus or other historical records) to prove they are independent testimonies, and yet with an agreement which demonstrates how accurately each narrates each particular.
The bringing together the various passages from the four gospels into a chronological order, and placing them in juxtaposition, so that they should mutually illustrate each other, has from the first been considered a great desideratum. From the earliest ages of the Christian Era, Harmonies and Diatesseron have been compiled in various forms and with every kind of arrangement, and on almost every principle and hypothesis; and at the present day, as many are from time to time produced, as if nothing had been done : and there are now a great number of new and excellent works of this description, to which have been brought the latest information and highest biblical criticism, with the advantage of all that previous writers had done. Thus Dr. Townsend's arrangement of the Old and New Testaments in a chronological and historical order, is a most learned and valuable work. Also several Diatesseron on the plan of Dr. White's Greek Diatesseron, as Dr. Robinson's Harmony, and many others.
But amidst all this profuseness of publication, I have not, after a most careful and diligent search and much expense, met with one upon which the practical and exact views have been brought to bear, that appear to me desirable. The stand point from which the subject has hitherto been viewed, appears to have been very much the same, and the consequence has been that amidst a great number of Harmonies, precedent has been more looked for by erudite learning and research among authorities, rather than the practical dependence and relation of one portion of the action, subject, or narrative, upon another ; so that each Harmonizer has adopted that view amongst his predecessors, that has best suited his views, rather than beginning, de novo, and himself working out the subject.
In compiling the following pages, instead of dry disquisitions about words, the things of which those words were the representatives, have been sought after, and made the ground-work of the Harmony. The relations of time, place, and persons, and the various circumstances, intentions and motives affecting the several actions and occurrences, have been carefully considered; adopting in each case a simple common sense view of the matter ; but nevertheless not deviating essentially from the plan pursued by Dr. Townsend, except with the