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THE FORMER PART OF THE HISTORY OF CHRIST, AS RECORDED
BY THE EVANGELISTS.
St. Luke's preface to his history, dedicated to Theophilus, a Chris
tian friend, for whose comfort and establishment he was parti-
Luke I. Verse 1. have taken in hand WHEREAS many have undertaken a to com- sect. to set forth in order pose the history of those important facts a declaration of those which have been confirmed among us Christians things which are most with the fullest and most satisfactory evidence", surely believed among us,
as the great foundation of our common faith;
not on their own personal knowledge, but as they 2 Eren as they de- (whether apostles or others) have transmitted livered
2 Whereas many have undertaken.] This pilers of these histories, whoever they were. must refer to some histories of the life of Euseb. Eccles. Hist. lib. iii. cap. 24. Christ which are now lost; for Matthew b To compose the history.) To set forth in and Mark, the only evangelists which can order a declaration is so antiquated a phrase, be supposed to have written before Luke, that it would hardly be understood any could not with any propriety be called where but here; at least I am sure none many; and of these iwo, Matthew at least could, by reading it, so much as guess at wrote from personal knowledge, not the the elegance and propriety of St. Luke's testimony of others. One must readily . words, avelacaofai donynoir, which may conclude the books referred to are losi, as more literally, and, I think, far more justly none of the apocryphal gospels now extant, be rendered, to compose a history: and í published particularly by Fabricius, (in his doubt not, but our English word compose Codex. Apoc. Nov. Test.) or Mr. Jones, (in may express as much regularity in the or. his history of the Canon) can with any der of facts as the evangelist meant to shadow of reason pretend to equalantiquity intimate. with this of St. Luke. But I cannot, with c Confirmed among us with the fullest evi. Ambrose and Epiphanius, suppose that the dence.) I think fiaimpopognjurywy is rather to evangelist here intends the gospels of Basi- be understood as referring to the fulness of lides, Cerinthus, and some other early that evidence with which the facts were utheretics; since he seems to allow these tended, than to the confidence with which histories, whatever they were, to have they were believed. This seems most been at least honestly written, according to honourable to the gospel; but as I know information received from the most capable the word is ambiguous, and often used in judges. And it is strange that Eusebius the latter sense, I have chose to express should imagine the words are intended as a that also in the paraphrase. Compare severe censure on the now unknown com- 2 Tim. iv. 5–17. Gr. VOL. VI. А
St. Luke's dedication of his history to Theophilus. SEÇT. them to us, who were themselves from the begin- livered them unto us, ning of Christ's ministry eye-witnesses of what which from the be
ginning were eye-witluke passed, and in proof of the sincerity of their testi- nesses, and ministers of 1. 2. mony courageously became ministers of the the word:
word", that is, of the gospel, amidst the greatest 3 opposition; I also having accurately traced all 3 It seemed good to
these things from their first rise', even from the me also, having had very conception of Jobn the Baptist, who was
of all things from the the forerunner of our Lord, have thought it pro- very first, to write unto per to write an orderly account of thems: and I thee in order, most exchuse to inscribe it to thee, 0 most noble Theophi- cellent Theophilus, lus"; because, though thou art already, in the ge
neral, acquainted with them, yet I cannot but be 4 concerned that thou mayest more fully and cir- 4 That thou mightest cumstantially know the exact and certain truth know the certainty of of those things in which thou hast formerly been those things wherein
thou hast been instructinstructed by those who were the happy instru- ed. ments of initiating thee into the Christian faith; and I am persuaded thou wilt be greatly confirmed in it by the attentive perusal of that history with which I here present thee.
d of the word.] Some have conjectured injurious to the character of St. Matthew.
the reord, here signifies Christ, as I would only here observe that the foundain the beginning of St. John's gospel: per- tion of it is very precarious; since it is evihaps it may; but I did not think it so evi- dent this evangelist might, with great prodent as to venture fixing it to that sense. priety, be said to have given an orderly ac
© Haring accurutely traced all these count of the history of Christ, as the leading things.] The original, Taguxoa:992071 WILOWY facts are in their due series, though some amfibws, plainly signifies that accuracy of particulars are transposed. investigation on which the perfect under- h 0 most noble Theophilus.] That Theostanding of his subject was built.
philus is the name of a particular person f From their first rise.] Some very pious eminent in the church in those carly days, and learned writers have pleaded this text and not (as Salvian thought it) a general as an argument for the inspiration of St. title applicable to every Christian as a lover Luke's gospel, and consequently of the rest, of God, Dr. Whi after many others, because the word antry sometimes signifies hath abundantly proved. What his rank in from above, or from heaven; as it plaiuly life was, we do not indeed certainly know; doth, John ii. 31. Jam. i. 17. iii. 15, 17. but it seems that it was pretty considerable; But Luke so evidently uses it in the sense for Kp2.154 was then, as Ercellency among here given, Acts xxvi. 5. and that sense is us is, a title of honour and respect usual in so common elsewhere, and seems so ab- addressing noble personages (see Acts xxiii. solutely necessary in this connection with 26. xxiv. 3. xxvi. 25.) and it might with Wrex018F140Th, that I cannot think this text some peculiar propriety be applied here, as at all to the purpose. The argument I men- Theophilus was so worthy the name he tion is one of those which, like pieces of bore, which signifies a true lover of God. superfluous armour, encumber rather than i Hast been instructed, wist wv xeting mans. ] defend; and the more I am concerned about The word doth with great accuracy express the conclusion here or elsewhere,
the instructions given to those who were cautious shall I always be, that I may not training up for an admission to the Chrisdraw it from such premises.
tian church, whose name of catechumens & To wrile an orderly account of them, was, as it is well known, derived from matEns gou yafa..] It is chiefly on the hence, and applied without any particular authority of this clause that M. Le Clerc, regard to the age of the persons concernand many other modern harmonizers have ed. Compare Acts xviii. 25. Rom. ii. 18. I thought (as Beza also did) that all the other endeavour to express this in the paraphrase ; gospels are to be reduced to the order of but it would be very improper to use the Luke, wherever they differ from it: a con- English word which most literally answers clusion which I apprebend, for reasons that to the Greek, because that is now almost shall afterwards be given at large, to be an wholly appropriated to children. occasion of many errors, and particularly
Reflections on St. Luke's dedication.
IMPROVEMENT. Let us humbly adore the Divine Goodness, that facts of so great importance as these now to be laid before us were not left to the uncertainty of oral tradition, but delivered to the church in writing, by persons who had so many opportunities of learning the Ver. truth, and have given such full proof of their integrity in relating 2 it.--Let us be thankful that we have not only one such bistory, but that several undertook this excellent and necessary work, by i whose united testimony the whole is confirmed; while it is also illustrated by the variety of their narrations, each inserting some considerable circumstance which the rest have omitted. Let us rejoice in that providential care which hath preserved this invalu. able treasure through so many succeeding ages, and some of them periods of the grossest darkness and the hottest persecution.
While we study this orderly series of sacred story, let us be 4 concerned that our faith may be established by it, and our other graces proportionably advanced ; maintaining a continual depend ance on that blessed Spirit, by whose instruction it was written to lead us into wise and pious reflections upon it.
To conclude; from the care which this holy evangelist ex-.
count of the deity and incarnation of Christ; and of those glorious
John I. ).
being, a glorious person existed, who (on account
the . The word of God.] The Greek logos is that I doubt not but most of iny readers now become so familiar to an English ear, would have understood me had I retained it
St. John asserts the Deity of Christ. SECT. the word was originally with God the Father of word was with God,
all; so that to him the words of Solomon might and the word was God. John justly be applied, Prov. viii. 30.
“ He was by 1.1. him as one brought up with him, and was
daily bis delight." Nay, by a generation
God, that is, possessed of a nature truly and pro-
with tively considered, this divine (word) was in the God. very beginning with God, and, by virtue of his
most intimate union with him, was possessed of 3 infinite glory and felicity. And when it pleased
All things were God to begin his work of creation, all things in made by him; and
in my translation; which, on account of the rinthians and Ebionites (sec Iren. . i. c. 26; singularity of the idea here signified by it, l. iii. c. 11; Euseb. Eccl. Hist. I. vi. c. 14), I should bave done had I not feared it on which account a greater accuracy of exmight have been unintelligible to a few at pression must have been vecessary. There Jeast, and so have impaired the pleasure are so many instances in the writings of they might find in so excellent a passage. this apostle, and eren in this chapter (see I know that some of the fathers render ver. 6, 12, 15, 16,) where O:05, without the logos, reason, as M. Le Clerc doth ; though article, is used to signify Godin the highest I apprehend they mean it in a very diffe- sense of the word, that it is something surrent sense from him, who seems to under- prising such a stress should be laid on the staud it only as a strong eastern phrase, to want of that article, as a proof that it is signify the consummate wisdom of the gos. used only in a subordinate sense.-On the pel scheme. See his Harmony, p. 44. But other hand, to conceive of Christ as a disthis will entirely enervate and destroy the tinct and co-ordinate God, would be equally sense of ver. 14. as well as of those texts inconsistent with the most express dewhich speak of Christ's coming out from God, clarations of scripture, and far more irreconenjoying glory with him before the world was, cileable with reason. Nothing I have said &c.
above can, by any means, be justly interb The word was God.) I know how ea- preted in such a sense: and I here solemnly gerly many have contended that the word disclaim the least intention of insinuating God is used here in an inferior sense ; tie one thought of that kind, by any thing I pecessary conseqnence of which is (as in- have ever written, here or elsewhere.deed some have expressly avowed it) that The order of the words in the original this clause should be rendered The word (@ins mv o ngyos), is such, that some have was a god, that is, a kind of interior deity, as thought the clause might more exactly be governors are called gods. See John x. 34, translated, God was the word. But there and 1 Cor. viii. 5. But it is iinpossible be are almost every where so many instances should liere be so called merely as a gover- of such a construction as our version supnor, because he is spoken of as existing be- poses, that I chose rather to follow it than fore the production of any creatures whom to vary from it, unnecessarily, in this imhe could govern: and it is to me inost incre- portant passage.--I am deeply sensible of dible that, when the Jews were so exceed- the sublime and mysterious nature of the ing averse to idolatry, and the Gentiles so doctrine of Christ's deity, as here declared; uvhappily prone to it, such a plain writer but it would be quite foreign to my pure as this apostle should lay so dangerous a pose to enterinto a large discussion of that stumbling-block on the very threshold of his great foundation of our faith ; it has often work, and represent it as the Christian doc- been done by much abler hands. It was, trine, that in the beginning of all things however, matter of conscience with me, there were tiro gols, one supreme and the on the one hand, thus strongly to declare other subordinate: a difficulty which, my belief of it; and, on the other, to leave if possible, would be yet farther increased it as far as I could in the simplicity of by recollecting what so many ancient wric scripture expressions. I shall only add in ters assert, that this gospel was written the words, or at least in the sense of Bishop with a particular view of opposing the Ce- Burnet, “That had not St. John and the
All Things were made by him.
25 without him was not the whole compass of nature were made by himo, sect. any thing made that was made.
even by his almighty word ; and without him
John single being", whether among the noblest or the 1.4. 4. In him was lise, meanest of God's various works. That fulness and the life was the of power, wisdom, and benignity, which was in light of men.
him, was the fountain of lifce to the whole crea-
other apostles thought it a doctrine of grect μηδενι των κατ’ αισθησιν εμφερης «ή, αλλ' αυτος Emportance in the gospel scheme, they εικιων υπαρχων Θιε, των νοηλων απαξ απαντων ο would rather have waved than asserted and πρεσβυλαλος, ο εγγυλαλος, μηδενος ονθος μεθορια insisted upon it, considering the critical dashualos, Tor MONOT. εςιν αψευδες arcumstances in which they wrote.” See αψιδρυμενος. Λέγεται γαρ, Λαλησω σοι ανωθεν Burnet on the Articles, page 40.
τε Ιλατηρια ανα μεσον των δυοιν Xερεβειμ ωσθ' • Allthings rere made by him.] It would ηνιοχον μεν ειναι των δυναμεων τον ΛOΓOΝ, be the work of a treatise rather than a note εποχον δε τον λαλαγία, επικε' ευομενον τω ηνιοχω to represent the Jewish doctrine of the τα προς αρθην τα παγλος ηνιοχησιν. I insert creation of all things by the divine Logos ; this as a key to a great many other passato which (rather than the platonic) there ges in Philo; and shall only mention one may be some reference here. They who more (De Agricult. p. 195) where he re. have no opportunity of examining the ori- presents God as “ governing the whole ginal authors, may see what those learned course of nature, both in heaven and earth, men have said, to whom Dr. A. Taylor as the great Shepherd and King, by wise refers in his Treatise on the Trinity, p. 258; and righteous laws; having constituted his to which add Dr. Pearson on the Creed, p. unerring Word, his only begotten Son, to 118; Dr. Scott's Christian Life, Vol. III. preside as his viceroy over his holy flock :" p. 565, &c. fol. and Dr. Watts's Dissertation for the illustration of which he quotes those on the Trinity, No. IV. 3.—There is, remarkable words, Exod. xxiii. 20, though however, a remarkable passage I shall in a form something different from our mention to this purpose as a specimen of reading and version, “ Behold I am ; I will the rest; and the rather because it is omit- send my angel before thy face to keep thee in ted in most of the collections I have seen the way.” I'm xet udwp %. 7. a. on this head, and not fully cited and ex- fuiy Sonia, Ta di Juva, (a remarkable displained in what I take to be its exact sense tribution) ως ποιμήν και βασιλευς ο Θεος αγες in any. Philo Judæus (de Profug. p. 465.) xala dexoni rices You, w posno apsyos Toy opbor εpeaking of the cherubims on the mercu αυλα ΛOΓOΝ πρωτογονον υιον, ος την επιμέλειαν seat as symbolical representations of what TNS repas Tauln; ey!AM, Ola τι μεγαλου lie calls the creating and governing powers, βασιλεως υπαρχος, διαδεξέται. Και γαρ ειρήθαι makes this additional reflection : « The Wov, Idou fyw siput, 67705&w ceyzehov pou as divine Word (Logos) is above these, of wpaowmov gou duraçao os ty tn o?w. whom we can have no idea by the sight d Not so much as one sinyle being.) There or any other sense; he being himself the is an emphasis in the words xde ey, which image of God, the eldest of all intelligent I thought it proper to express in the verbeings, sitting nearest to Him who is truly sion, than which nuthing can be more THE HOLY ONE, there being no dis- literal. tance between them :" (alluding, I sup- e That which was in him was life.) The pose, to the form of those ancient chariots most ancient fathers that quote this text so where, as in the chairs we use upon the generally join the words o yeyovsy with this road, the driver sat close to the person fourth verse, that I cannot but apprehend driven ; which was not the case in all: this to be the true reading. (See Dr. Mills compare Acts viii. 38. “ And therefore Proleg.) But if any think it improbable be (that is, God) says, I will speak unto that yiyove should have different senses thee from the mercy seat between the tito here and in the third verse, they will cherubims ; thereby representing the Logos please to observe that the full sense of our as the charioteer by whom the motion of version is expressed in the paraphrase, these powers is directed; and himself who and that the alteration here made is of very speaks to him as the rider (or person small importance. That the Heathens carried) who commands the charioteer how sometimes speak of their deities and he is to manage the reins.”. Ode Utipryw heroes as the light and life of mankind, Telur (scil. durajueus woul.cons xav parihixn;) Elsner has shewn on this text. ΛΟΓΟΣ ΘΕΙΟΣ, εις οραην ουκ ηλθεν Ιδεαν, αλε