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MARK'S GOSPEL.


Let us now try the truth of the affirmation of Strauss, as applying to the authorship of the SECOND GOSPEL.  Nobody knows who Mark was: John, whose surname was Mark.  There is no historical identity about Mark; nothing to connect him, in any way, with the history—if you call it a "history"—which, you say, he wrote, about Christ.  There is no circumstantial evidence for Mark's authorship of the Gospel which bears his name.  Let us see.  What does Paul call Mark?

    I need not take up your time by discussing any question about Paul's testimony on these points of Christian evidence.  There is not a sceptical school in Germany or France that does not acknowledge Paul's existence and activity as a Christian preacher and missionary.  Their language translated into our mother-English is, "That's the fellow that has done all the mischief!  If it had not been for Paul, we should very likely never have heard of this Jesus Christ.  The early fanaticism might have died out had it not been for him, and for his incessant activity in preaching and writing those letters to the churches," and so on.  So we need not spend time, just now, in discussing Paul's credibility or authority as a witness.

    Again, I say, What does Paul call Mark?  "Sister's son to Barnabas."  Barnabas, or "the son of consolation," that Levite convert to Christianity from the island of Cyprus, who had land, and sold it, and laid the money at the feet of the apostles, when, just after the day of Pentecost, they had "all things common."  This is Mark's uncle, and as the uncle is much attached to Paul, the nephew becomes the companion of both; and, long after, Mark is often mentioned as a companion and assistant of Paul, even when the uncle is not with them.

    But Peter also knows Mark, and mentions Mark in his first epistle: "The Church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so also doth Marcus my son."  Babylon, which Eusebius tells us meant Rome.  That spiritual Babylon depicted with such intensely vivid power in the Book of Revelation.  That Rome is the "Babylon" from which Peter writes, I feel fully persuaded, notwithstanding the contrary opinion of some scholars; and that the early Christians used the Apocalypse and its phraseology, and expected the fulfilment of some of its prophecies in their own days, as is evident from Justin Martyr, who, although he never mentions the name of an evangelist, tells us that "John, one of the apostles of Christ," wrote the Revelation.

    When Peter calls Mark his son, he is understood to mean that Mark was his spiritual son, because Mark was converted under his preaching, say the Fathers.  And so Peter becomes a friend and intimate of this Levite family of Christians.  You may see that he was so esteemed; for, on the night that Peter is released from prison by the angel, he goes and finds the Christians at midnight, holding a prayer-meeting shall I say?—at the house of "Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark;" that is to say, also at the house of Barnabas's sister.  So, then, although the second evangelist was not, like the first, one of the twelve apostles, yet he is in the midst of their assemblies, and the assemblies of their friends, and must, therefore, have become fully acquainted with all the circumstances and facts of the Gospel history which were rehearsed by the apostles.  But, suppose he had never seen a miracle by the Saviour, or heard a parable from Him: suppose Mark had never seen Christ—though no one has a right to say aught of the kind—yet, I repeat he was in a situation to become fully acquainted with the facts of the Gospel history; and therefore a very likely person to write a Gospel.

    But the testimony of the Apostolic Fathers—Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, and others, the earliest and most important Christian writers who succeeded the apostles and their companions—I say the early testimony of the Christian Church respecting the authorship of Mark's Gospel, although brief, is of such peculiar importance that I beg your closest attention while I rehearse it to you.  Mark they affirm, wrote his Gospel at Rome,—wrote down the substance of Peter's preaching, at the request of the Christian Church in that city, where he had acted as Peter's interpreter; and that the apostle knew of it, and approved it.  How short this information is, and yet how important it is! and how it recalls to our recollection what we have just been talking of,—Peter writing from the spiritual Babylon, that "eternal" Rome, and telling us that his "son" Mark is with him!

    Brief as this information is, it completely overthrows Strauss's affirmation—"Nobody knows who, nobody knows where, and nobody knows when."  Mark's Gospel, it is clear, from the conjoint statement of so many of the Fathers, was, like Matthew's, written before the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70, by the Roman army under Titus; a fact which may also be clearly gathered from Mark's Gospel as well as from Matthew's.  But what is the peculiar statement of this testimony of the Fathers?  That Mark, who interpreted while Peter preached, wrote down the substance of Peter's preaching.  So that the second Gospel might be called the Gospel of Peter, with almost greater propriety than it is called the Gospel of Mark.

    "Peter's preaching?" says some one, who is disposed to be critical while he listens to me; "Peter's preaching?  You don't think it likely, do you, that Peter's preaching at Rome resembled Mark's Gospel?"

    Pray, my good friend, I would reply, how do you think Peter did preach at Rome?  Try to imagine it with something like verisimilitude.  You know the apostles could not take as a text a verse from the New Testament when it was not written; they could not take a text, and divide it "first," "secondly," and "thirdly," according to the stiff old Aristotelian mode, still followed by so many modern preachers; or go on to "nineteenthly," "twentiethly," and "lastly," like some of the good old Puritans.

    Their first duty, you know, when they entered a new town or city, was to remember their Divine Master's injunction, and "go first to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!"  If there were a Jewish synagogue in the place, they had to carry their message thither first.  And now, again, if there were time to dwell upon it, how we might expatiate on that remarkable Providence which had led the Jews, for some hundreds of years before, to the cultivation of their mercantile habits!  Alexander, 333 years before Christ, gave them privileges when he founded the capital of Egypt, and called it by his name.  And when Paul, and Peter, and the rest went forth as Christian missionaries, there was scarcely a port of importance on the shores of the Mediterranean, or a city of rank in Greece, in Asia Minor, and the Levant, but, most likely, a Jewish synagogue was to be found there.  So wondrously God had provided that a little soil should be found wherever they went wherein the apostolic sowers could drop the first seeds of Christian truth!

    "Why did not the Jews believe in Christ?" two or three notable London sceptics used to cry out, when I endeavoured to lay these evidences before them in the year 1857.  "Why do you tell lies in the shape of asking questions?" I replied; "for some of you are very ingenious in that art.  You know, even while you ask that question, that hundreds and thousands of the Jews believed in Christ.  All the first Christians were Jews.  And it was not until Jews refused to listen to their message that the apostles turned to offer Christ to the Gentiles."

    Well, when, in his character as a Christian missionary, any of the apostles, coming to a new place, entered a Jewish synagogue to address his own countrymen, he might read, or call on another to read, a passage in Hebrew from the Torah, or the Prophets, or the Psalms; and then go on to show that it was a declaration relating to Jesus as the promised Messiah.  But when Peter preached to a mixed assembly of Jews and Pagans at Rome, he could not act so absurdly as to cause a Hebrew writer to be read to them.  How would he have to preach?  He would have to tell his audience who Jesus was, what He came to do, and what He did.  How He proclaimed Himself to be the Saviour of men, how He compassionated the sick and suffering, and healed them, how He fed the hungry multitude miraculously, how boldly He reprehended the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees, how openly He invited the multitude to turn from sin to holiness, how lovingly He conducted Himself towards His disciples; but how, at length, one of them betrayed Him, and He was seized, and treated with vile indignity, and at last crucified.  Just so; and all this is Mark's Gospel.

    But again, can we bring this home completely to our minds as an exact truth—that Mark's Gospel is the substance of Peter's preaching?  I invite you to a critical inquiry, and want to rivet your attention to it.  For, to my mind, a critical inquiry demands a more determined voluntary attention of the mind than even an argumentative and logical inquiry; since, to some, it looks trivial, and others find that it tends to dissipate the power of reasoning, by the scattered character of the items it presents for considerate thought.  What kind of a Gospel is Mark's Gospel?  You know the Gospels differ from each other in form and manner of narration, and sometimes in the omission of some facts, or the insertion of other facts.  Whatever may be pronounced, at some future period of the Church's history, to be the true theory of inspiration (for, although eighteen centuries have passed away, the Christian Church, as yet, has not pronounced what is the true theory), it will be a theory which admits the fact that verbal inspiration does not characterize every part of the Scriptures; since the Evangelists certainly differ verbally: they by no means always employ the same words, either when describing what Christ did, or what He said.

    How does Mark differ, now, from the other Evangelists?  What is there that is peculiar to him, which an attentive reader cannot fail to remark?  It is this, that he often mentions some little fact which is not mentioned by Matthew or Luke when they are relating the parallel part of the Gospel history; and he also relates it in a striking or graphic way.  He has a strong tendency to notice facts.  And often his little fact, as we at first deemed it to be, is found to be of more importance than it seemed to be.  He did not introduce it, we discover, through a trifling and merely garrulous tendency; but because he estimates the full importance of facts.  Now is this any mark of Peter's mind?

    What sort of a mind had Peter as it regards the tendency to notice facts?  What kind of a mind was Peter's?  A quick, impulsive, impetuous mind.  Well, that is the kind of man who does notice facts keenly.  But we will not beg the question in that way.  What kind of a mind was Peter's as it regards the tendency to notice facts? for you know all men are not alike in that respect.  Some men have very little tendency indeed to notice facts.

    Suppose two friends of some member of my audience were to pay him a visit, coming from a distance, and had never before been in this town.  You take them out to walk through the streets, and look about them.  One of them, very likely, will not have got to the end of a single street before he yawns, and intimates that he would like to go into some place of refreshment, and pass the time; for he sees nothing worth looking at.  But how very different is the behaviour of the other!  He is all curiosity about the age of the buildings, the form of house architecture, and a hundred other items of observation.  He notices everything, and is never weary of inquiry and remark.

    Or, take two men, and send them into a crowded room, and ask them, when they come out of it, what they have seen.  How different may their answers be!  "Seen!" replies one, "how seen? what d'ye mean? what was there to see?"  "Well, but," say you, "can't you just tell us what you've seen?"  "Bless me!" replies the man, impatiently, "what was there to see?—a crowd of folks and a lot of chairs and tables.  What a ridiculous question you put to me!"

    Now, if Charles Dickens had been the other man, he would have never given you that answer.  Chairs and tables?  He would have made them live!  If there was a row of chairs and an old-fashioned arm-chair standing in front of them, he would have likened it to some peculiarly observant old fellow sitting squat and making notes upon the company; he would have given the chairs grotesque human features.  He would have told you all about the crockery in the room, and all about the colours and pictures upon it.  If any man's nose in the room were twisted a little to the right or left, or a man squinted, or there was something odd in a lady's dress, he would have been able to tell you all about it, and in a very piquant style too.  If he had been but five minutes in such a room, he could have made five pages of living and attractive description out of what he had seen and noticed in it—five? ay, five-and-twenty.

    I repeat, that we are very different people, compared one with another, as it regards the tendency to notice facts.  Now, was Peter constitutionally a keen, an exact,—shall I say, even with all his impulsiveness,—an imperturbable observer and noticer of facts?  Let us turn to one of the other Gospels, and see if we can discover that such was the case.  To what shall we turn?  Let it be to something of real importance in the Gospel history.  Well, then, let us turn to the morning of the resurrection; the events of that morning would test a man's powers of observation, if he had any.  What do we read of Peter's conduct during that morning?  Turn to Luke, and see what he says about it; and then turn to John, and observe how pointedly he corroborates Luke.  But take especial notice of what John says; for he is with Peter that morning.  What does John say?  That, when Mary Magdalene returned from the sepulchre to tell Peter and John (most likely knowing that they lodged together as friends—all the disciples would not lodge in one house) that the stone was removed, and the Lord's body was gone from the tomb, the two disciples ran to the sepulchre.  But that "the other disciple," meaning John himself, the other disciple whom Jesus loved, "did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.  And he, stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying, yet went he not in.  Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by ifself."  And the Greek words more exactly mean "neatly folded up in a place by itself."

    What a singular power and tendency of mind—nay, what a remarkable combination of seemingly opposite qualities in a mind—does this little gem of a narrative discover to us!  That Peter—the ever impulsive Peter, who does not stoop down to look in, but goes in to the sepulchre without hesitation—that Peter, with his mind all hurry and perturbation with the news of the disappearance of his Master's body, should be able to notice, so minutely and exactly, that fact about the napkin.  We can scarcely conceive of a more striking proof of a man's possessing a strong, constitutional, and unconquerable tendency to notice facts, and notice them strictly, even under circumstances most forcibly calculated to distract and dissipate such a man's power and tendency.

    Now let us return to the Gospel of Mark, and see if we can discover in it the very characteristics of mind, the identical power and tendency of mind, that we have just been describing.  And let us take in our hand the key which the Fathers give us to unlock the secret of the authorship of the Second Gospel.  They combine to assure us that it contains the substance of Peter's preaching, written down by Mark, his interpreter.  If that becomes to us clear, as a fact, we shall, I undertake to say, feel convinced we also discover personal traces of Peter's feelings in the preaching which Mark has written down.  And that will be in accordance with our experience of human nature.  It will be just what we should expect to discover.

    What shall we turn to, in Mark's Gospel, as likely to assist us in our search?  Let it be something of stirring importance in the general Gospel narrative.  Suppose we turn to the storm on the Lake of Gennesaret.  What do Matthew and Luke say of Christ in that scene of peril?  Simply, "He was asleep," and "He fell asleep."  But what do we read in Mark?  "He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow."

    How comes this minuteness and particularity into the narrative? one cannot help asking.  What has the pillow in the hinder part of the ship to do with the storm, and the peril of the disciples, and the miracle that follows?  How could any one think of aught so unimportant, we ask, in the midst of such a scene?  How could Peter get time to think about it—for, remember, it is written down from his preaching—while he cried out, no doubt with the other terrified disciples, "Lord, save us! we perish"?  How could Peter call to mind aught so apparently unimportant, while listening to the awful Being who arose, and said, "Peace, be still!" and there was a great calm?  How their blood must have become chill with awe, and how "the hair of their flesh must have stood up"—as the expression is in Homer and the Book of job while they said, "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

    We must seek the answer to our inquiry in our knowledge of common human nature. To see how all the commentators are puzzled with this "pillow in the hinder part of the ship" is most amusing. It quite confounds all their learned heads. The Greek word προσκεφάλαιου is, literally, a pillow.  But the commentators have taken every imaginable sort of round-about way to explain it.  Yet I feel, let all the commentators in the world say what they will, I must come to nature here.  I feel instinctively that the cause of this particularity is personal.  The boat must have been Peter's own.  He is spoken of as the boat-owner, during the miraculous draught of fishes.  Ah! Peter would be fond of having his Master in his own boat.  And whenever poor Peter, who had denied his Master, and felt ever-during self-condemnation for it, rehearsed the account of the storm in his preaching, he would never forget where his dear Lord slept "on the pillow in the hinder part of the ship;" for it would be a consolation to his sorrowing mind to remember that he had always provided a pillow for his dear Master's head, in his boat, and, most likely, had not one himself; for it is "the pillow" in the Greek, not "a pillow," showing pretty clearly that there was but one pillow in the boat.

    Let us turn to another striking proof that the Second Gospel is the substance of Peter's preaching.  What does the angel say to the women at the sepulchre, on the morning of our Lord's resurrection, according to Matthew?"  Go and tell His disciples that He goeth before them into Galilee."  "Go and tell His disciples;" that is, all His disciples.  Matthew relates what the angel said in a general way.  But whenever Peter related what was told him by the women to whom the angel spoke, if he himself were personally named by the angel, he would not fail to remember it.  So thus Mark gives Peter's recollection: "Go your way, tell His disciples, and Peter, that He goeth before you into Galilee."  As if the angel meant, "Peter denied his Master; but his Master has forgiven the heart-broken penitent already.  Don't forget poor Peter!  Go your way, tell His disciples, and Peter, that He goeth before you into Galilee."  One sees at once that the information comes from poor grateful Peter.

    We have just now mentioned Peter's denial of his beloved Master.  Let us stay for a moment or two, and contrast Mark's narrative of the circumstances with the narratives of the other Evangelists, and see if we cannot again bring it home as a conclusive fact and a circumstantial reality to our minds, that Mark's Gospel is the substance of Peter's preaching.  This time, be it remembered, we have the four Evangelists for comparison.  How does the general narrative begin?  With the account of the institution of the Last Supper—that meal of hallowed sweetness which they could never forget to the end of their lives.  The soul of Christ must have been already "sorrowful even unto death;" yet He speaks with such wondrous love and tenderness that they feel as if they had never had so much of heaven upon earth since they were born as they experience in that hour.  And He suddenly breaks the rapt and holy calm they are all sharing, but one, with the startling declaration, "One of you that eateth with me shall betray me"!  And then follow the inquiring alarm, "Is it I?—Is it I?" and Christ's further declaration, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night;" and Peter's self-confident assertion, "Although all should be offended, yet will not I;" and the pointed prophecy of the Saviour, "Verily I say unto thee, Before the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice!"

    Such are the words in Matthew; and they are of the same import in Luke and John.  But what are the words in Mark?  He gives us the words of Peter himself, in his customary preaching; and every word was so deeply stamped in Peter's memory that he cannot forget any word that the Saviour uttered! and he must give the very words themselves: he cannot state them generally—"Before the cock crow twice thou shalt deny me thrice."  And then, says Mark, "But he spake the more vehemently—if I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee."  Peter, in his preaching, cannot cease to take home to himself his guilt.  He can never forgive himself, even when his Master has forgiven him.  The narrative in the other three Gospels informs us that the cock crew, in general terms, and repeats the words "Verily I say unto thee, before the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice," as recurring to Peter's guilty memory; but in Mark the characteristic particularity of the narrative is kept up.  The cock crows once—and then a second time—and then Peter remembers his Lord had said, "Before the cock crow twice thou shalt deny me thrice."

    Do not let us dismiss this item of our critical enquiry in such haste as to forget that the other three Evangelists meant what Mark has expressed.  There were two cock-crowings which were noted by the ancients as the announcements of the morning; and the second was more especially called "the cock-crowing"—though the two crowings were often mentioned distinctly.

    And what does Mark say of Peter's conduct, just after the denial of his Master? "When he thought thereon, he wept."  "When he thought?"  Who could tell what were Peter's thoughts, except himself?  That little item of information could only come from Peter himself.  But what do Matthew and Luke say?  That Peter "went out and wept bitterly."  Ah, poor Peter would not say "I wept bitterly"—though Matthew and Luke's informant knew that he did: Peter never thought he had wept bitterly enough.

    There is another kind of proof which I wish you could feel to be as forcible as I feel it to be.  Why do not you young men learn to read your Greek Testament?  It is as easy as learning A, B, C.  You can make no estimate of the enjoyment it would give you to be able to read the Gospels in Greek, and compare them one with another.  A little skill in Greek would enable you to discover that Mark's Greek is the rudest—to speak plainly—in the New Testament.  Peter's skilful and diligent interpreter has fully succeeded in his endeavour to embody in the Greek, the style and manner of an impulsive and energetic extemporary preacher.  Men who read, or speak what they have written, to their audiences, you know, usually display a change and variety of words and expressions.  Not so with off-hand, impetuous speakers.  They use the same words often; and so did Peter, as Mark shews us.

    I may instance the frequent use of one word—εύθέως—"immediately," or "straightway," or "forthwith," as our good translators have variously given it.  The word occurs 37 or 38 times in St. Mark's Gospel; 11 times in his very first chapter.  In St. Matthew it occurs but 15 times; in St. Luke only 5 times; while St. John has it only thrice.  38 times this one word occurs in St. Mark, and only 23 times in all the other three Gospels put together.  "And straightway Jesus did so and so—and immediately he did so and so—and forthwith he did so and so."  The phrase and manner of an energetic speaker.  Mark had interpreted for Peter during his preaching, so often, that he produces the exact mannerism of Peter's delivery, in writing down, from memory, the substance of Peter's preaching.

    But it is the graphic power, which Strauss half-sneeringly terms the "dramatic tendency" of St. Mark, and his ever-present habit of being particular even to minuteness in his relation of facts, which is his distinguishing characteristic—just as we learn from the narrative of the Resurrection, that this was the constitutional tendency, or instinct one might say, of the mind of Peter.  This minute particularity and exactness sometimes make one smile: for instance, when Christ bells his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, Matthew and Luke tell us how the poor disciples, with their customary dulness, "began to reason among themselves—It is because we have taken no bread."  But what adds Mark?  "Neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf."  Peter had been looking into the "locker," as our sailors would say.  It was most likely, again, his own boat; and he had felt uneasy about the meal, which was drawing nigh.  Just like Peter: circumstantial Peter!

    I must not dwell longer on the Second Evangelist.  But let me just notice very hastily how there is no mention of our Lord's genealogy, or his miraculous birth, in Mark; and Peter would feel that neither of these relations,—nor the denunciations of Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum, and the comparison of them to Tyre, Sidon and Sodom,—would be likely to impress the minds of the pagan Romans, while he preached to them.  Christ's temptation is also described in a single verse; and Peter was not likely to dwell on that fact before such an audience.

    Mark also, very naturally, as Peter's interpreter, gives the very words that the preacher spoke in his native Syriac: "Talitha cumi," "Ephphatha," "Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani:" these being the very words uttered by the Saviour.  But what most clearly demonstrates the fact that the Second Gospel is a record of what was spoken to Gentiles, and not to Jews is, that it explains Jewish phrases and customs.  Surely, it would have been like carrying coals to Newcastle, to say, at Jerusalem—"Corban, that is to say, a gift; the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath; defiled, that is to say, with unwashed hands."  "For, the Pharisees and all the Jews except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.  And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not.  And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables (or beds)."

    Let me entreat you to observe, before we leave the Second Evangelist, how Mark's reproduction of his spiritual father's preaching, demonstrates to us the heartfelt modesty of Peter's true character; for it omits what Matthew tells of Peter—how he walked on the water to meet his Lord, how Christ blessed him, and gave him the keys, and how Christ sent him to get the temple-money from the mouth of the fish;—what Luke tells us—that Christ prayed specially for Peter; and what John tells us—how Peter cast himself into the sea to meet Jesus after the Resurrection,—how Christ gave Peter charge to feed his lambs and his sheep, and how Christ predicted Peter's martyrdom.

    In conclusion, I think I may say without fear of contradiction, Strauss cannot truly say that nobody knows who wrote the Second Gospel: nobody knows who Mark was: nobody knows when his Gospel was written, or where it was written.

 
LUKE'S GOSPEL.


Let us now approach the THIRD EVANGELIST.  I shall not make so large a demand upon your time, in the cases of St. Luke and St. John, as in that of St. Mark.  What reply are we able to make to the assertions of Strauss, that nobody knows who Luke was, or when or where the Third Gospel was written?  Is Luke a mere man in the moon, a shadow without any historical identity?  Is the author of the Third Gospel a mere ignoramus, who knows nothing about the history of Christ, and therefore can tell us nothing?  If that be the opinion of Strauss, we immediately reply, it was not the opinion of Luke himself.

    In the sixteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we have the author speaking in the first person plural, as we say: "we endeavoured to go into Macedonia"—"we came with a straight course to Samothracia"—"we were in that city—that is to say, Philippi—certain days," and so on.  The author is with Paul; is one who obeys the divine signal given to Paul of the man of Macedonia, in a vision saying "Come over and help us;" and so; doubtless, hears Paul preach the first Christian sermon ever preached in Europe.  Further on in the Acts of the Apostles, he tells us he was with Paul in the voyage he made amongst the Greek islands, and to Tyre, and Ptolemais and Cesarea; and how he went with him to Jerusalem.  "The day following," the author of the Acts himself also tells us, he went in with Paul to "James, and all the elders were present."  He is thus a personal eye-witness of the real existence of the Apostles of Christ; and, undoubtedly, would hear them speak in that meeting at Jerusalem and give their advice to Paul.

    As we draw nearer the end of the Acts of the Apostles, the author of it informs us that he sailed with Paul in that long and dangerous voyage in the Mediterranean by Cyprus and Crete, and across the Adriatic to Malta, and from thence to Syracuse, and thence to Rome, and there he concludes by describing to us how Paul, as a prisoner, "dwelt two whole year's in his own hired house," and preached Christ to all who would come and hear him.

    Whoever the author of this Acts of the Apostles may be, he is, like the Apostle to whom he is attached, a man of earnestness and of action, and is a very likely man to write, not only this stirring narrative of the life of Paul, preceded by a brief account of the doings of Christ's earlier disciples, but to write some account of the life of Christ himself.  And he points us to the fact that he did write such an account in the very first words of the Acts of the Apostles, "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up," and so on.  We turn to the "former treatise."  How does it begin?


    "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee, in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed."


    So then, the author of the Third Gospel begins it with the bold challenge that he had "perfect understanding of all things from the very first."  Strauss must have been very bold, must he not? if he really asserted that Luke knew nothing of the history of Christ, had no certain information, or could give us none, about Christ's words and deeds.  For that Λουας, or Luke, is the name of the author of the Acts of the Apostles, and of the Third Gospel, we have the direct testimony of Irenæus and Tertullian, in the close of the second century, and their evidence is corroborated by the testimonies of Origen, Eusebius, and numerous Fathers that follow.  Justin Martyr, also, let it be observed, repeatedly quotes St. Luke's Gospel as well as St. Matthew's, and he wrote in the first half of the second century.  Justin does not mention the name either of Luke or of Matthew, but it is certain that he quotes both Gospels very frequently.  He does not mention either of their names, because their names would be not only unknown to the persons he addresses, but would be no evidence to them of the truth of what he was writing to prove.

    One stray thought before I pass on.  Marcion, in the second century, attempted the mischievous prank of mutilating the Gospel of Luke, and pretended that the Christian Church did not read the genuine Gospel: Tertullian's book against the mutilator has come down to us, and it contains this strong sentence after he has enumerated several Churches which were founded by the apostles: "I affirm, then, that in those churches, and not in those only which were founded by the apostles, but in all which have fellowship with them, that the Gospel of Luke which we so steadfastly defend has been received from its first publication."  You see, my friends, the belief of the early Church in the genuineness and authenticity of the gospels was not allowed to lie in their minds as an idle, slumbering persuasion.  They were put upon their metal to defend their precious possession of these Gospels even in the second century of our era.  And, 'pon honour, I think they were all the better Christians for it.

    Irenæus tells his readers that he who rejects Luke will be convicted of throwing away the Gospel of which he professes himself a disciple.  "For there are many, and those very necessary parts of the gospel which we know by Luke's means," says Irenæus.  And then he goes on to mention the facts and parable recorded by Luke which are not recorded by the other Evangelists—such as the information respecting the Holy Family and the Family of John the Baptist in Luke's opening chapters; the testimony of Simeon and Anna; Christ's questioning of the doctors when he was but twelve years of age; the age of our Lord when He was baptized; the miraculous draught of fishes; the cure of the woman who had been bowed down with an infirmity of eighteen years; the cure of the man with the dropsy on the Sabbath day; the parable of the man who knocked at the door in the night time for bread; the deed of the woman that was a sinner in kissing his feet and anointing Him in the house of the Pharisee; the parables of the rich man who hoarded up his increase, and of the creditor who had two debtors; the parable of the rich man and Lazarus; the conversion of Zaccheus the publican; the parable of the publican and Pharisee praying in the temple; the healing of the ten lepers; the parables of the judge who yielded to the importunate widow; and of the barren fig-tree.  And is all this attested by one who wrote in the latter half of the second century?  Can there be a stronger proof that the Gospel of Luke, which Irenæus had in his hands seventeen hundred years ago, and only 150 years after Christ died and rose again, was the same Gospel of Luke that we have in our hands now?

    The attachment of St. Luke to St. Paul seems to have been very strong and true.  In the great apostle's last letter which has reached us—the second epistle to Timothy—which is believed to have been written from his last Roman prison, but a few months before his martyrdom, in the year 68—St. Paul urges Timothy to come to him and bring Mark with him; for Demas, he sorrowfully says, has forsaken him through love of the present world, and Crescens and Titus are gone.  "Only Luke," he adds, touchingly,—"only Luke is with me."  Luke is also mentioned by St. Paul as one of his fellow-labourers" in his letter to Philemon; but, you will remember that, in St. Paul's letter to the Colossian Church, Luke is mentioned with others as among the friends who visit him in his first Roman prison, and he is called "Luke, the beloved physician."  He is not called a painter.  That Popish story is only an invention of the fourteenth century.  It has no foundation whatever in the testimony of the ancients.  Eusebius and Jerome, in the fourth century, assert that Luke was a physician of Antioch: the city, you know, where the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians."

    "A physician?" some one will say, "a physician?  Then Luke ought to be a better scholar than mere fishermen."  Just so.  And St. Luke's Greek is the best Greek of the Gospels.  You know it could not be expected that Jews should speak or write what is called classic Greek.  If they wrote or spoke in Greek words, the mode and term of expression would indicate a Jewish not a Greek cast of thought.  Thus the New Testament is always said to consist of Hebraistic or Hellenistic Greek.  Luke's Greek, however, is purer than the Greek of the other Gospels; nay, the four verses which I quoted to you from our authorised version, the four verses with which Luke's Gospel begins are, in the original, the purest and most classic Greek in the entire New Testament.  Let me not forget to say that these four verses are followed by a passage of considerable length which you must not include in the character I have just given of Luke's Greek.  From the 5th verse of the first chapter to the end of the second chapter, Luke's style is so Hebraistic, that it has been shrewdly conjectured by some scholars that we have here a document entrusted to him by the Holy Family, and he translates it for us, preserving the peculiar cast of thought, as much as possible, in his Greek translation from the Hebrew.

    St. Paul does not include Luke among those "who are of the circumcision," when he calls him "the beloved physician."  Luke is therefore a Gentile, "born at Antioch," says Eusebius; and he does not give the genealogy of Christ in the way that Matthew gives it, that is to say, by shewing that Jesus was descended from David and Abraham, and thus was the Messiah the Jews had been taught to look for.  Instead of this, he imitates the Gentile method of tracing genealogies, and beginning with Christ himself, traces his line up to Adam.  I cannot take up your time here by shewing how the differences in the two genealogies are to be explained; but I can refer you to a book which I have read over four times with the increasing satisfaction that it solves the whole difficulty.  Let me recommend all who have any unsettledness on this question to read the work of a venerable clergyman still living, the Reverend Lord Arthur Hervey.

    Talking of difficulties in the Gospels, let me also note that the objection so often urged against the Third Gospel, respecting Cyrenius, or Quirinus, being Governor of Syria, when the taxing or enrolment was first made, which caused Joseph and Mary to go up from Nazareth, in Galilee, to Bethlehem, to be taxed or enrolled, has also been swept away by a great living scholar.  It was always alleged that since the government of Syria by Quirinus did not commence till 10, or as some said 12 years after the birth of Christ,—the author of the Third Gospel was not, and could not be Luke, the companion of Paul; but some compiler in the second or third century who was not 'well up' in his chronology.  Even the critical Strauss sings that old song.  Now, however, Dr. Zumpt of Berlin, whose reputation as a scholar stands among the foremost of our time, has shown, to the satisfaction of all who are best qualified to judge, that Publius Sulpicius Quirinus was governor of Syria from the year 4 before Christ, to the year 1 after Christ; and again from A.D. 6 to A.D. 11.

    But Luke was a physician, we have seen from the testimony of St. Paul himself, and the tradition reported by Eusebius and Jerome. And none of you can read Luke's Gospel thoughtfully, and regard the testimony and report as untrue. St. Luke records more miracles of healing than any of the other evangelists; he takes more time to describe them; and evidently feels more interest in describing them than any of the other evangelists. Nay, but we can come nearer to the proof that it was a physician who wrote the Third Gospel; only here again, I am straitened in attempting to give you the proof, because you young men who might so easily do it, will not learn to read your Greek Testament. St. Luke uses words which are not in the other Evangelists; neither are they words common to Xenophon and Thucydides, and other socalled classic writers. They are medical words, such as παροξυσμος, ύδρωπικος and ιασις, which are in use by Greek medical writers only.

    You will remember, how, in the Acts of the Apostles, when Elymas the sorcerer opposed God's work, he was told by Paul he should be blind for a season; "and immediately," the narrative goes on, "there fell on him a mist and a darkness, and he went about seeking some one to lead him by the hand "—the very picture presented so livingly in one of Raffaelle's cartoons.  The word translated mist—άχλύς—is explained by Galen, a Greek medical writer who comes after Luke's time: and he says that those who are afflicted with the disorder of the eye so called "seem to see through a sort of mist or fog."  The peculiar word rendered 'surfeiting' in the 21St chapter of St. Luke—κραιπάλη—is used by Hippocrates, another well-known Greek medical writer.

    Again: Matthew, Mark, and John do not describe the persons stricken with the palsy in the manner that Greek medical writers describe them.  The three Evangelists always use the word paralytic —παραλυτικός.   St. Luke uses the mode of expression common to Greek medical men—παραλελυμένος—the perfect participle of the passive voice, meaning 'paralysed.'  Another remarkable token that it is the hand of a physician who is employing the pen in the Third Gospel, is the use of the term συνεχομένη—'seized with' or 'taken with,' in the way that the Greek' medical writers use it.  Thus we read in St. Luke, that Simon's wife's mother was 'taken with' a great fever; and the Greek word I have just mentioned is employed again in the Acts of the Apostles, to describe the sickness of the father of Publius 'the chief man of the island' of Melita or Malta.

    But St. Luke was a gentleman as well as a physician.  He will not let his profession down.  When the earnest, unpolished Peter preached, we learn from Mark's Gospel, that he described the woman who had an issue of blood twelve years as one who "had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse."  St. Luke does not deny that she "could not be healed of any"; but he does not say she grew worse: he will not let his profession down.  Nor does he give the rough hint that Peter seems to give that it is a suffering experiment to put yourself into the hands of physicians.  Dr. Frend also shows us that the educated physician, St: Luke, employs a more temperate word, in the delicate Greek, to show how the lady expended her wealth on physicians, than the rough, boisterous word used by Peter, which indicates luxurious and riotous waste, and is the word used by St. Luke to express the wasteful spending of the Prodigal Son.

    In conclusion, let me say that several of the Fathers say that Luke wrote his Gospel in Greece.  Luke's Gospel being called by himself "the former treatise," must have been written before his "Acts of the Apostles."  And as the "Acts" does not relate Paul's martyrdom, but leaves Paul in his first imprisonment at Rome, under Nero, we must conclude, with the judicious Lardner, that Luke left Paul, for a time, at Rome, and went into Greece to compose, or finish the composition of his Gospel, and the "Acts," not later than A.D. 64 or 65.

    I think I am now entitled to affirm that neither Strauss, nor any other rejector of Christianity, can be proclaiming truth, when he says nobody knows who Luke was; nobody knows who wrote the Gospel now called by his name; nobody knows when it was written; nobody knows where it was written.

 
JOHN'S GOSPEL.


We come at last to the FOURTH GOSPEL.  On the ungenuineness of this most glorious record of our Saviour, the critical Strauss is very strong and positive.  We must understand him as declaring, very determinedly, that nobody knows who the author of the Fourth Gospel was; nobody knows who wrote it; nobody knows when it was written, or where it was written.

    "Not know who John was?" every grateful Christian will exclaim.  "What! that disciple that Jesus loved, not know who he was?  He who leaned on Jesus' breast at supper: he who could ask his Lord a question when others hardly felt courage to ask it; he who was with his Lord everywhere—in the Mount of Transfiguration—in the garden of Gethsemane—in the hall of judgment—by the very cross itself, and received there the express charge from his crucified Lord to take care of Jesus' mother?  Why, if St. John had not written a Gospel, we should scarcely have thought the Gospels complete.

    But is there unmistakeable evidence that it was our John—John, the beloved disciple—who was the author of the Fourth Gospel?  Be it understood that so generally and universally has the Christian church, all along, regarded the evidence for this fact as unmistakeable, that no discussions were raised upon it until of late years.  The industrious Lardner quotes the testimonies to John's authorship of the Fourth Gospel from Irenæus, and Athenagoras, and Theophilus of Antioch, and Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian, in the second century; and from Origen, and Eusebius, and Epiphanius, and Augustine, and Chrysostom in the third and fourth centuries; and from many later writers.

    "John, the disciple of the Lord, who leaned upon His breast, published a Gospel, while he dwelt at Ephesus, in Asia," says Irenæus.  "These things the Holy Scriptures teach us, and all who were moved by the Spirit; among whom John says, 'In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God,'" so says Theophilus of Antioch.  "In the last place," says Clement of Alexandria, "John, observing that the things obvious to the senses had been clearly set forth in those Gospels (Matthew, Luke, and Mark, as he arranges them), being urged by his friends, and divinely moved by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel."

    What these three Fathers thus write in the second century, be it remembered, was the belief of thousands and tens of thousands of Christian believers in their own age. We may feel as sure, from these clear expressions in their writings, that the Christians living in the century immediately after Christ's death believed the Fourth Gospel was written by our John—the John who leaned on Jesus' breast at supper, as we can feel sure of the clearest and strongest, and most unimpugnable facts of all past history-.

    These three writers lived in the latter half of the second century; but there are undoubted quotations from John's Gospel in Justin Martyr, who lived in the first half of that century.  Justin does not mention the name of John as a gospel writer any more than the name of Matthew or Luke; but Justin speaks of "the Logos having been made flesh," and says this was Christ—a doctrine he could only derive from John's Gospel.  Justin also quotes the words of John the Baptist, as given in the first chapter of St. John: "I am not the Christ; but I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness."  He was evidently acquainted with the words, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work," from the observations he makes about the early Christians not keeping the Jewish sabbath; and it is equally evident that he had read the third chapter of John's gospel, when he quotes Christ's words, "Unless ye be born again, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven; and adds, "it is evidently impossible for those once born to enter into their mother's womb"—an affirmative embodiment of the question of Nicodemus.

    The early Christian writers unite in assuring us that, after the death of Jesus' mother, the beloved disciple went to live in Asia Minor; and that he had the care of seven churches, Ephesus being his centre.  His banishment to the Isle of Patmos is commonly stated to have occurred in the reign of Domitian, which would be late in the first century; but there are some scholars who place it earlier, and believe the Revelation was written as early as any of the Four Gospels.  The Fathers assure us that John wrote his Gospel and Epistles at Ephesus, and died there in the hundredth year of his age, about the year 100, and in the third year of the emperor Trajan.  Many affecting traits of the behaviour and piety of the Beloved Disciple in his old age are recorded by the Fathers.

    The Gospel of John, you know, is often called the Supplementary Gospel; but that is too feeble a name for it.  No doubt, John purposed to supply some parts of the Gospel history that had not been related by the Synoptics, as Matthew, Mark, and Luke are now so frequently called.  But he had other great and independent purposes in writing his Gospel.  I say, in "writing" his Gospel; for it does not follow that he could not write because he was the son of a fisherman.  His father, Zebedee, had "servants" attending to his boats; and John seems to have been free from any absolute necessity to labour.  Peter had his wife and his wife's mother to sustain; and neither he nor Andrew—nor, perhaps, any other of the chosen Twelve, save John—were constantly with their Master.

    I beg to recommend a little book to you.  It is entitled "The Facts of the Four Gospels."  Mr. Frederic Seebohm is the author; and although I do not know him I feel very thankful to him for writing that most excellent little book.  The fact that John only accompanied Jesus in his early visits to Jerusalem, and that the twelve did not go with Jesus to that city until He went thither to die, is made very clear by Mr. Seebohm; and he also furnishes an abundance of most pellucidly clear illustrations on other points of the Gospel history.

    The narratives of the three Evangelists, the synoptics are confined very much to Christ's life in Galilee.  For Peter in his preaching would confine himself to what he personally knew, and so would Matthew.  And Luke's informants seem to have been apostles and Galilean disciples.  The fourth Evangelist had therefore as a necessary part of his task to complete the history by informing us of the earlier visits of Jesus to Jerusalem.

    But he had other great purposes.  First, he corrects the gnostic errors of his age.  The leader against whose false doctrines respecting the logos and the pleroma, or "fulness," St. John directs the opening of his Gospel, is said to have been Cerinthus.  As he lived in the close of the first century, John's Gospel could not have been published earlier than about the year 98, the time which is usually assigned to it.

    Above all other aims John had to produce what Clement of Alexandria so aptly terms "a spiritual Gospel."  He therefore shows us how the Saviour proclaimed His own Divinity, and the fitness and fulness of His salvation for men.

    John must have had the synoptical Gospels before him, but he seldom touches their narratives.  Yet when he does approach them, he usually adds something they had all omitted.  It is so in the narrative of the miracle of the five barley loaves and two fishes with which Christ fed the five thousand: it is so in the narrative of Mary's anointing Christ's feet with the spikenard; it is so above all when the Evangelists come to the solemn closing scenes of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

    Serious questioning you know has often arisen and still exists in some quarters respecting the truth of John's narrative wherein it is utterly new, as compared with the synoptical Gospels.  Strauss and Renan have unceremoniously denied the truth of that part of John's record, which relates that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  It is a fiction of a later time they assert, or why was not such an all-important miracle related by Matthew, Mark and Luke?

    The answer, and I believe the true answer, is suggested by Grotius, the friend of Milton; that Lazarus was alive during the time that the three Evangelists were writing their records, and they would not mention Lazarus to draw any attention to him, because the enemies of Christ were seeking to kill him.  An old writer says he withdrew from Jerusalem at the persuasion of the Apostles and became a missionary in Armenia, where he preached Christ, and declared the fact that Christ had raised him from the dead.  When John published his Gospel at the close of the first century, Lazarus was dead, and John gave the history of his Divine Master's crowning miracle to the world.

    Paley in his noble "Evidences," singles out the ninth chapter of John's Gospel as a master-piece of writing for its inimitable verisimilitude—a long word from the Latin, but a very expressive word—meaning "likeness to truth."  You cannot read that chapter without feeling that it is the composition of an earnest eye and ear witness.  But to my mind the verisimilitude is fully as evident and apparent in John's record of the raising of Lazarus and all its circumstantials, as in his relation of the miraculous giving of sight to the man who had been born blind by the Saviour.

    I forbear to make further remarks on the fourth Gospel; and think you will agree with me that Strauss has no truth on his side when he asserts that nobody knows who wrote it—nobody knows who John was—nobody knows when his Gospel was written, or where it was written.

 
THE CONCLUDING EVIDENCES.


    We have now brought out the circumstantial evidence for the authenticity, genuineness, and authorship of the four Gospels, for the historical identity and real human existence of their authors, and above all, for the competence of the Evangelists to write the Gospels that bear their names.  I have not performed my task as it might be performed with more time and more research; but my own conscientious conviction is that Strauss has not an inch of ground to stand upon, when he denies that we know who wrote the Gospels, when they were written, and where they were written.  His "Mythical System" which held me in bondage for twelve years, I feel has utterly lost its hold upon me—and I say it, thankfully.

    I do not forget, however, that I evoked the presence of that intelligent and candid sceptic; and let us suppose, if you please, that he is still present.

    "Yes, sir," he will be saying, "I am here; but you have not changed my convictions.  I give you credit for your own belief that all is in favour of your conclusions; but I have no such belief.  I tell you again that I do not believe in miracles; and so I hold that the Gospel miracles were never performed; and that your "Gospel History" is no history at all.  You may believe—I do not doubt that you honestly believe—the Gospels were written by the identical persons you think you have pointed out, and that they were written when and where you think you have succeeded in shewing they were written.  On the contrary, I hold that the theory of Strauss is not only a very probable theory, but that it is a most veritable theory: that it is the true way of accounting for the existence of these four ancient pieces of writing, called the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

    "I am not disposed to deny that these books were in existence in the middle of the latter half of the second century: that is to say in the year 175.  I do not question for one moment that which is granted by Strauss and all the existing school of freethinkers, and by Bolingbroke and the candid and scholarly freethinkers of the last century.  But then, as Strauss shrewdly observes, 142 years—from A.D. 33 to A.D. 175—is ample time for the formation of these legendary books.  I make no doubt that some four persons, who were companions, or associates of the companions, of this extraordinary and highly gifted enthusiast, Jesus of Nazareth, began to write these books: wrote some part of them: some comparatively short part.  And that by the natural tendency of mankind in the state of ignorance, which is, universally, a state of childish wonder and superstition, the belief in the marvellous gradually expanded in the minds of the very early Christians; and accounts of miracles were not only framed and credited, but added, in writing to the first sketches of Gospels.  Other and still more marvellous stories would be added to these; and so, by successive accretions of marvels, these Four Gospels, as they are called, came to be what we see they are now, in the course of those 142 years, or by the year 175.

    "And I further hold"—continues our sceptical friend—"that it is just as Strauss says: you may see the growth of the mythical element in these books, if you will read them with the critical faculty, and not with a blind and unexamining credence.  When Jesus is related to have raised the dead, in the two earlier Gospels, it is a very unimportant and unimpressive affair.  He enters a room where a maiden has just deceased, and restores her to life.  The mythical element grows in the Third Gospel.  The widow's son of Nain is raised to life upon the very bier on which he had lain dead and was being carried, a corpse, to the grave.  But what a startling increase of the legendary spirit there is when we come to the Fourth and last of these remarkable ancient books!  Your "John," as you call him, gives us the account of the Resurrection of Lazarus: a man who had not only been dead some time before he was interred, but who had been four days in the grave, and whose body, by his own sister's account, was now in a state of decomposition.

    "Doubtless, that story is one of very late formation.  It could only have found belief among very ignorant and credulous people; or among people who had given themselves up so thoroughly to the reception of marvellous tales that they could almost believe anything.  I should think it very probable that it is one of the latest accretions of the marvellous to these ancient books.  I don't at all think it unlikely that it was added to them very nearly as late as the very year 175 that has been mentioned."

    Now, let us enquire into the possibility of what our sceptical friend advances as being true, namely, that the account of the resurrection of Lazarus in the Gospel of St. John is merely a marvellous tale which was added to that Gospel about, or nearly, as late as the year 175.  And first, please bear it in mind that this is no question about printed books.  Printed books: what, in A.D. 175?  You know there was no printed book till more than a thousand years after that date.  Please also bear it in mind that there was no collected New Testament at that time, it is not till years after that date that we learn there was a collected New Testament in use among the Christian Churches.  In the year 175 the Four Gospels formed a volume—a written volume—by themselves.  The Epistles of St. Paul also formed a written volume by themselves.  The other books of the New Testament were still loose, in the form of tracts: they were not gathered into a third volume.  Now, how many copies of the one volume which contained the Four Gospels might there be in existence in the year 175?

    "Stop; sir," says some one, "there is a previous question, namely—What was the price of written books?  You know, since the majority of professing Christians must be thought of as poor, they could not have many books among them, if books were dear, at that period of the world's history."

    Let me entreat you to disabuse your minds of that belief, if you have believed that books were dear in the second century.  They were dear in the tenth century, when scarcely anybody could write and read: they were dear in the 9th, 8th, 7th and 6th centuries; and they were not cheap in the 5th.  But books were really cheap in the second century.  Thousands wrote books for a living, since there were many readers in the highly civilised period of the reigns of the "Good Emperors," as they were called.

    Now, how many copies of the written volume containing the Four Gospels, may we fairly suppose, there were in existence in the year 175?  You remember, Gibbon reckoned there were six millions of professing Christians in existence about the time that Constantine began to patronise Christianity—the year 313.  Well, if there were six millions in 313, there would not be more than three millions, one would think, in 175.  Now, among how many professing Christians shall we allot one copy of this volume?  Andrews Norton, an American scholar and critic of eminence, thinks we should allot one copy to every 50; and he thinks that a fair supposition, especially when we take into account the zeal of the ancient Christians and the high value they placed upon the Gospels.  Perhaps, some one among my audience may say it is not likely that one copy would be found among every 50; better suppose one copy among every 100.  Oh, but I would be more liberal still, and would say let us allot one written copy of the volume containing the Four Gospels among every 200 professing Christians.  Now divide your three millions by 200, and what is the result?  15,000.  15,000 copies—written copies of the volume containing the Four Greek Gospels, in existence in the year 175.

    Now comes the decisive question—How to get a false story so long as the account of the resurrection of Lazarus into 15,000 written copies of the volume containing the four Gospels, in the year 175?  You know, if any of you possessed a scarce printed book—a book which had been long out of print—and you were to say, 'I should like to have this book put into print again, and to have a story that I have written put into it and printed as if it had been an original part of the book; I can afford it, and I will have it done.'  And suppose you gave all into a printer's hands, and ordered 100,000 copies of the book to be struck off.  Well, that would spread the story as widely as the original book itself, and at once!

    But, consider now, supposing some person living at Antioch, or Ephesus, invented the account of the resurrection of Lazarus, and wrote it down in his own copy of the volume containing the four Gospels, that would not write it down in the volume possessed by any Christian living in Jerusalem, or in Rome, or at Corinth, or at Philippi, or at Thessalonica, or in any place where there was a Christian Church.  The man who invented the story could not get it written down in the copy possessed by his next door neighbour; if his neighbour did possess a copy, without obtaining that neighbour's leave.  How, then, to get the leave of 15,000 persons scattered over France, Italy, Greece, the Isles of the Archipelago, Asia Minor, the Holy Land, Egypt, and Northern Africa—15,000 professing Christians (for none else dared possess the Gospels), carrying their lives in their hands, and exposed to death—how, I say, to get the leave of 15,000 zealous believers in what they held to be Divine Truth, to write down a false and unauthorised story in their copies of the Gospels?  The very supposition is absurd—preposterously absurd.

    "Well, I must confess," says our sceptical friend, "that I overshot the bolt in supposing the feat I described could be accomplished so late as A.D. 175.  Yes, yes; it was an extreme, too extreme, a supposition; I grant that.  But, sir, it could be accomplished, and doubtless was accomplished at some time earlier than that.  You say the Gospel of St. John was originally published about A.D. 98.  Well, sir, from 98 to 175 is 77 years.  During such a period of time as that—some time during the 77 years, I say, there must have been ample opportunity for inserting the imaginary story of the resurrection of Lazarus in the Fourth Gospel, and successfully passing it off as a really original and authentic and genuine part of that Gospel.  No doubt of it."

    Now, let us see if there be any likelihood of truth in this amended position, as he deems it, of our sceptical friend.  Who among the Fathers, did we say, were living in the last quarter of the second century?  You may remember that we named as pre-eminent, Tertullian, Irenæus, and Clement of Alexandria.  Of the three, let us take Irenæus.  He was martyred at Vienne in France, for he was one of the early bishops of Lyons.  About the year 175, the best critical scholars agree, Irenæus wrote his book against heretics.  That book has come down to us.  Listen to a few extracts from this book, I pray you:—


"Matthew, among the Hebrews, published a Gospel in their own language; while Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel at Rome, and founding a Church there.  And after their departure (death), Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself, delivered to us in writing what Peter had preached; and Luke the companion of Paul, recorded the Gospel preached by him.  Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who leaned upon his breast, likewise published a Gospel while he dwelt at Ephesus in Asia."


    Then he gives some fanciful reasons why there should only be four Gospels—such as that there are four quarters of the world, four cardinal winds, &c.—but all that was according to the fanciful taste of the time.  I don't know but that our time is quite as fanciful, only our fancies are of another kind.  Listen, I pray, to the remaining extracts:—


"The Gospel according to John declares His (Christ's) princely, complete, and glorious generation from the Father, saying 'In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.  All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.'  The Gospel according to Luke, being of a priestly character, begins with Zacharias the priest offering incense to God.  Matthew proclaims His human generation, saying, 'the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.'  Mark begins with the prophetic Spirit, which came down from above to men, saying, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; as it is written in Isaiah the Prophet."


    If you have listened to the extracts I have just read from Irenæus, you will not wonder that our sceptical Lord Bolingbroke, in his time, together with Strauss and all sceptics who are scholars in our time, avow their belief that our Four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were in existence and were received by the Christian Church as early as the year 175.

    But what more about Irenæus?  He tells us that he learnt his Christianity from the venerable Polycarp, who was bishop of Smyrna— the 'blessed Polycarp,' Irenæus calls him; and he declares he has such a regard for his instructor, (who was afterwards a martyr for Christ when he was ninety years old) that he can still mentally see and hear him, "his walks, the complexion of his life, and the form of his body, and his conversations with the people, and his familiar intercourse with John, as he was accustomed to tell, as also his familiarity with those that had seen the Lord."

    Irenæus gives us more accounts of Polycarp and his "familiar intercourse" with the beloved disciple who leaned on Jesus' breast at supper, but let these suffice.  Now, when was the alleged interpolation made in the Gospel of St. John?  In the lifetime of that apostle himself? that apostle from whom Polycarp learned so much about Christ? that apostle whose prolonged life was so marked by increased attachment to his Lord?  I say; was the alleged interpolation made in John's own lifetime?  Who can, for one moment, imagine that it was?  What would the interpolator expect the beloved disciple to say about it?

    "Resurrection of Lazarus!" he would have exclaimed; "where did you get such a story?  Here is the Gospel that God has inspired me to write.  His holy spirit has brought to my mind the very words of my Saviour at that sweet supper.  But you will find no story about any resurrection of Lazarus in it?  Who has dared to forge such a tale?  There never was any resurrection of Lazarus, or I should have known of it.  I was with my Master in Jerusalem, I was with Him in Galilee, I was with Him on the Lake of Gennesaret, I was with Him in the Mount of Transfiguration, I was with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, I stood by His cross, and received the care of his dear mother from him ere He died, and I tell you there never was any resurrection of Lazarus.  You must not have a false story like that in your books—away with it!"

    We feel sure that no interpolator could have succeeded in getting a false account of the resurrection of Lazarus into St. John's Gospel during St. John's lifetime, and securing its reception by the Christian Church.  Then, since the amended supposition of our sceptical friend is that the interpolation could certainly be successfully made somewhere between the years 98 and 175, could it possibly have been made in the lifetime of Polycarp?  But what would the interpolator have felt sure that Polycarp would have said about it? for he could scarcely expect that Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, one of the "seven churches" mentioned in the Apocalypse, would not hear of it.

    "Resurrection of Lazarus!" Polycarp would have said ; "where have you got that story? Do you say you are reading it out of a copy of the Gospel written by my teacher? Look! here is my copy of St. John's Gospel; I had it from the hand of an Ephesian copyist who made it with St. John's original Gospel before him. You see there is no such story here. Not a trace of it. Brethren, remember : what our Lord said—that false and deluding teachers should come. You must not have that false story in your books—away with it : We can die for truth, and we may have to die for it to-morrow ; but we cannot die for falsehood."

    Who, after even one moment's consideration, does not feel sure that the supposed interpolation would be impossible in the lifetime of Polycarp?  Then, lastly, could it be made in the lifetime of Irenæus?  Remember, he was living in A.D. 175.  But what would Irenæus have said when he saw the false story, or heard it read?  And one cannot conceive it possible that such an interpolation should be made without Irenæus having a knowledge of it, for he was a man of action, and a traveller.  He went to Rome with a message from the Christian Churches of France before he became Bishop of Lyons, and entered into correspondence with various persons in different parts of the Christian world relative to the doctrines and customs of the Church; he was no novice to whom the news of an interpolation in the Gospel of St. John would, very likely, never reach.  What would Irenæus have said?


"Resurrection of Lazarus—what resurrection? what Lazarus?  Here is my copy of St. John's Gospel.  I had it from my martyred teacher, the holy Polycarp, who was himself a disciple of the beloved disciple, and often heard the substance of this very gospel from St. John's own mouth.  You will find no such story here.  We never heard of it before.  It was not left us as a testimony of either St. John or any other apostle.  Away with it!  You must not have a false story in your books.  We can die for truth, and we may have to die for it tomorrow; but we cannot die for falsehood."


    Again, I say, who, after one moment's consideration, does not feel sure that the account of the resurrection of Lazarus could not have been got into the copies of St. John's Gospel in the lifetime of Irenæus?  And who does not feel that the connection of the names of Irenæus, and Polycarp, and St. John forms a chain of testimony—self corroborative testimony—in itself of the truth of the Gospel History?  There are but three personal links in the chain, can you break one of them?  No; you feel it is impossible to do that; the links are so inseparably inter-welded and connected.  And what is the full force of this self-corroborative testimony?  That Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were the identical persons we understand them to have been; that they were real and competent testifiers to the truth of what they relate; that they gave up their lives to the spreading of this testimony; and that they exposed their lives to danger every, day rather than desist from spreading this their testimony.

    There cannot be stronger testimony of any facts than this testimony of theirs.  If their testimony be not true, there is no true testimony in the world of any facts whatever: there are no facts!  But sane men do not come to such a conclusion; sane men do not throw away such testimony as this.  The world would then have not a single page of history to read, and would cut itself off from the possibility of learning anything from the written records of the past.  True history is the most valuable boon bequeathed to us by the past generations of men; and these four gospels are the most valuable boon of all, for, thank God! they who wrote them were under the especial direction and holy guidance of God Himself.

    I can imagine, after all that has been said, some one present who is still entangled in the net of unbelief, will be saying—"I should have liked your proofs better if they had not been so one-sided; if they had not all been given by Christians.  Your 'evidences,' as you call them, are all 'part and parcel of the same thing,' as they say in old Yorkshire.  If you could give me some kind of 'evidence' from men who were not Christians, that the early 'history,' as it is called, of Christianity, and the existence of Christ himself, are facts, I should be more disposed to say the 'evidence' is worthy of belief."

    But who could be expected to write a Life of Christ save a Christian?  Who would write the life of a champion of Atheism in our day?  A bishop of the established church could not be expected to do it.  A Methodist minister would not write it.  The theme could be no attraction save to a sceptical writer.  And the "Life of Jesus," to form a solid rest for our belief, must be the work of those who were with him and saw and heard him.

    Yet there is corroborative evidence for the truth of the early Christian history, and—by deduction—we may also say for the reality of Christ's existence, to be drawn from ancient sources which are not Christian.  Some of you, no doubt, will be well acquainted with what Pliny and his friend Tacitus say about the ancient Christians.  In the year 110, Pliny, the friend of the Emperor Trajan, becomes proconsul of Bithynia and Pontus, provinces near the Black Sea, and, at that time, abounding with Christians.  The Christians were considered to have violated Trajan's law against secret societies, and many were brought up to the tribunal of Pliny for judgment.  He could discover no crime of which they were guilty.  But he tells Trajan that he learned from their own confessions, that they were accustomed to meet together on a certain day of the week (Sunday); that they sang together a hymn in praise of their God, Christ; and that they bound one another to abstain from theft, adultery, falsehood, and so on.

    Tacitus plainly tells us that, in the year 63—(the very year it is believed in which Peter and Paul were martyred at Rome)—Nero set Rome on fire; laid the blame on the Christians; crucified some of them; exposed others to be torn in pieces by dogs, after they had been sown up in skins of wild beasts; and put others to death by having fire set to them after they had been covered with pitch, or sown up in pitched shirts.  Tacitus, as one might expect from a heathen philosopher, calls Christianity an "execrable superstition," but affirms that it was derived from Christ, who was put to death in Judea under Pontius Pilate.  Is not this something like corroborative evidence from an enemy of the truth of the early Christian history?

    The satirist, Juvenal, who lived under Nero, alludes to the burnings of the Christians in their pitched shirts, and so does his brother satirist, Martial. Suetonius, writing of what took place under the Emperor Claudius, in 53, is also understood to make mention of Christ.

    Nor let it be forgotten that the Emperor Julian, Hierocles and Porphyry, who professedly wrote against Christianity, never for a moment called in question the existence of Christ, or the fact that he had wrought miracles.  And Celsus, who was the cotemporary of Irenæus and Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria, in his work against Christianity, which was answered by Origen, proves for us that the Gospels were then in existence, for he quotes them over and over again, and shews that Christians valued them highly.

    To my own mind, the fulfilment of our Lord's prophecy respecting the destruction of Jerusalem, is one of the most striking proofs of the truth of Christianity.  Not only Josephus, but Tacitus himself helps us to survey the dire picture in its reality, which had been so clearly described by Christ 37 years before "the eagles gathered where the carcase was"—before the eagled legions under Titus came to surround the doomed city; 37 years before "the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet," was seen "standing in the holy place;" 37 years before "Jerusalem was compassed with armies" and the "desolation" thereof came, and therewith came such "days of affliction" as had "not been from the creation of the world."

    In the year 70 the prophecy was fulfilled to the very letter.  Not one stone was left upon another of that gorgeous temple which Herod had so recently beautified.  In spite of resistance almost unparalleled in its madness, the Romans burst in upon the nearly famished defenders of the city.  Titus issued a commandment that the Jews, as a nation, should cease to exist; that their city should be razed to its foundations, and should never again be called "Jerusalem."  And its name was not restored till the reign of Constantine.

    And its condition and the condition of the Jews, even now, are standing proofs of the truth of Christ's prophecy.  The site of the temple is devoted to the religion of their persecutors, and yet a crowd of despised, crouching Jews cling to the quarter, near the ruined walls, where they are allowed to live.  Once a week they are permitted to enter "the Place of Wailing," where they turn towards a wall of bevelled stones which belonged to their ancient city, and kiss the very stones with tears, while they pray for Jerusalem!  Oh, who does not long for the conversion and restoration of God's ancient people?

    Yonder is the "Mount Zion" of David, and yonder is the other mount whereon stood the Courts of the House of the Lord; but there is no temple of Jehovah now!  There is no more "holy of holies;" no more golden candlestick.  Yonder is the figure of it in Rome, on the triumphal arch of Titus, for he displayed it among the spoils as he entered Rome.  There is no table of shewbread; no altar of incense; no ark of the covenant; no vail of the Temple; no high-priest ; no assemblages of priests;—and no sacrifce!  And Passover time returns, and they keep it yearly—but there is no Paschal Lamb killed and eaten!  The Jews have ceased to sacrifice, have ceased to kill the Paschal Lamb, in every part of the world!

    Why have they ceased?  You ask them, and they are dumbfounded.  They do not see that God has caused them to cease, for the real sacrifice has now been offered up, and the real Paschal Lamb has been slain.  From China to the Cape of Good Hope,—from England, across the Atlantic, to the New World—the Hebrew is to be found, with his peculiar and still unaltered physiognomy—for his picture remains on the walls of the tombs of the old Egyptian kings.  He belongs to the people "scattered and peeled"—dwelling yet on the earth as a warning to rebellious men, and a living proof of the truth of prophecy.

    I just now mentioned the martyrdom of Peter and Paul.  Who can ponder on Paul's history without feeling that it must be regarded as part of the evidence for the truth of Christianity?  Paul's existence and course of life, and the writing of his letters to the Christian Churches, are held to be facts by all the German and French schools of scepticism; and that "Reverend" Robert Taylor that I mentioned to you, who some fifty years ago was a favourite of the London freethinkers, holds by the same facts.  But what a puzzling contradiction it seems for men to acknowledge the reality of the life and recorded acts of Paul as facts, and yet to deny the truth of Christianity.

    What!  Paul a real man and Christ a myth?  Paul a real existence; Paul, who wrote so much about Christ so soon after his death and resurrection; Paul a real existing man, and Christ's existence a fable?  Paul, who held the clothes of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, while they stoned him to death?  Then Stephen was also a real existing man, who died, praying, "Lord Jesus! receive my spirit!"  Paul, the glorious half-missionary, half-mechanic, who crossed the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, and visited so many shores preaching Christ, and yet there never was any Christ to preach?  Paul, a real living man, who had seen and conversed with Peter, and James, and John; then they were all real living men.  How came they to say what they did about Christ if He never existed?  How came they to speak of His miracles to the people who must have seen Christ's wondrous acts, if ever He performed them?  Must they not have expected the people to say, "You are impostors! no such miracles were ever performed!"  Yet no one said this.  Even the worst enemies of Christ did not deny His miracles, though they attributed them to Satanic agency.

    What motive could the apostles have for deceiving the world?  How came they to say that Christ had done such wondrous deeds of power and goodness, and that they had witnessed them, if He either never existed, or never performed His miracles?  They could not be mistaken if they possessed the natural senses of men.  They could not be mistaken either about Christ's personal identity after He rose from the dead.  It was only on the Friday He was crucified, and the resurrection took place early on Sunday morning, and in the same evening He appeared to them and conversed with them.  They could not have forgotten His form and features so soon—the form and features they knew so well.

    Could their motive for deception have been a selfish and ambitious one?  Is it possible that the men who had piety and purity perpetually on their lips were false-hearted schemers? "Did they go about lying to teach virtue?" to use Paley's masculine thought.

    Look at the conduct of the apostles after Pentecost, and then, unless we are as senseless as stones, we must, without a grain of doubt, be convinced of their honesty.  During Christ's lifetime they never fully understood who their Master was, what He came to do, or what they had to do themselves.  They were always looking for Him to begin His open part as a temporal Messiah.  They expected Him to drive the Romans away, sit on David's throne at Jerusalem, and let them sit on His right hand and His left hand.  That was still their dream even after His resurrection.  The last question to Him on earth was, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?"  That is to say, Wilt Thou drive the Romans away and sit on David's throne, and let us sit on Thy right hand and left?

    You know what the Lord replied—"It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father has put in His power."  He did not encourage their prurient curiosity any more than He indulged their earthly spirit.  And I take the liberty to say, that I think Christ would have snubbed some of these "second coming" people, if He had lived in our day.  I mean the people who will have their favourite belief for breakfast, dinner, and supper, and who say no minister preaches the Gospel unless he proclaims the "second coming" in every sermon.  I do not mean that there is to be no second coming of Christ, but I think He Himself would check the absurd heat there is in some people's minds on this point if He were living in our day.

    Manifestly, He did not encourage their wish when the apostles put their last question to Him, but told them to go into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  "And, lo!" said He, "I am with you to the end of the world."  He was with them: that was to be their encouragement and support, not the hot and restless expectations about His "second coming."  And they were to wait at Jerusalem, not for His "second coming;" but for the descent of the Holy Spirit, who should guide them and show them what they had to do.

    "A cloud received Him from their sight"—the Schekinah, one feels persuaded, it must have been—and away they went to Jerusalem, their hearts burning full of love to their dear Lord, and their souls full of faith in Him.  They continued all with one accord in prayer, and were together in one place, when the Holy Spirit descended upon them in the form of distributed (not "cloven") tongues of fire, and they arose and spake with tongues, and the multitude who crowded upon them and heard them expressed great amazement.

    Now, when the "baptism of fire" had been received, the apostles knew what they had to do; they understand it now.  They know their work is to be a spiritual work, and they set about it in thorough earnest, and the infant church is at once composed of three thousand souls.  Listen to Peter, who has become the speaker among the apostles; listen to him addressing the wondering crowd after the healing of the lame man at the beautiful gate of the temple; listen to him and remember that some of that very crowd might have cried, "Crucify Him!" in Pilate's ears but a few weeks before.


    "Ye denied the Holy One and the just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead, whereof we are witnesses.  Repent therefore, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord!"


    "The priest and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees, came upon" the Apostles as they taught and "laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day."  And when, the next day, they are brought up before the high priest and his friends, they testify, while the restored lame man stands beside them—"By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him, doth this man stand before you whole."

    The high priest and his friends cannot deny that a "notable miracle" has been wrought, so they let them go after a little threatening.  But the work of the "unlearned and ignorant men," as they were deemed, spreads till it shakes Jerusalem, and the high priest and his friends of the sect of the Sadducees are "filled with indignation," and seize the Apostles and put them this time in the common prison.  "But the angel of the Lord, by night, opened the prison doors and brought them forth, and said, go, stand and speak in the Temple to the people all the words of this life."  And so, when the officers found the prison locked and bolted next morning but the prisoners gone, the high authorities are in an alarm.

    "Did we not straitly command you," says the high priest to the apostles when they are once more brought before him, "that you should not teach in this name? and behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood upon us!"

    "We ought to obey God rather than men," answers Peter and the other apostles.  What a change in Peter!  Lately, when left to himself—for God has to leave us to ourselves when we grow over-confident, in order that we may discover our weakness—when left to himself, I say, a poor servant maid frightened him, and he denied his Master.  See him now, when the Holy Spirit fills his soul!  "We ought to obey God rather than men," he says to the high priest.  He cares neither for high priest or low priest, nor would he have cared for the whole Sanhedrim, if they had been present frowning upon him.

    "And when they had beaten them and commanded them again not to speak in the name of Jesus, they let them go."  But the apostles "departed from the presence of the council; rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name!"  No more thought about sitting on His right hand and left—no zest for worldly honour.  They know it is to be suffering and persecution to the end; but they rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer shame for His name, and can shout—"Welcome the shame—welcome the suffering—welcome the persecution!"

    Did any apostle ever say before he died, "It is all a sham.  Christ never rose from the dead.  It was only a juggle that we contrived that we might get something by it!"  What; the men who were stoned in the street—hunted from city to city—and some of them put to death?  Oh, nay; their saying was of another kind.  "Do what you will with us.  Cast us to the lions—burn us alive—crucify us, as you crucified our Master, take our lives in what way you choose, but we still tell you Christ is risen from the dead.  We have seen Him, and spoken with Him, and received his command to preach His name.  And we must tell it, and we will tell it, for we feel the power of His resurrection in our own souls!"

    And they did tell it, and God helped them, and the truth of Christ spread over many lands, and it is spreading still; and thank God it has spread to us, and I trust many of us feel its power.  Oh, let us all try to spread it still more.  Will you, young men, get these evidences into your minds, and rehearse them in the ears of your sceptical acquaintances?  Will some of you devote yourselves to a new mission, and live solely to spread these evidences?  I have felt myself alone for these fourteen years, while constantly traversing this our loved British ground in every direction.  There ought to be at least one hundred men in these realms devoting themselves entirely to this work.  Will some of you young men—I ask again, and ask earnestly—prepare yourselves for this championship of the truth of Christ?  Get these evidences into your minds, I entreat you; but above all, get "Christ formed in your hearts, the hope of glory."  That will make you eager and valiant soldiers for your Lord.  May God make us all His true soldiers, and enable us to fight the good fight of faith, that at last we may win the crown of life, for Christ's sake.

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