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He remarks, that the accounts Icft us by the ecclesiastical writers of antiquity, concerning the times when the gospels were penned or publifhed, are too vague, confused, and discordant, to lead us to any solid or certain determination. The oldest of the antient fathers collected the reports of their own times, and set them down for certain truths; and those who followed, adopted their accounts, with implicit reverence. Thus, traditions of every fort, true or false, pafled on from hand to hand without examination, until it was almost too late to examine them to any purpose.
There being, then, according to our Author, but little dependence placed on external proofs, he enquires whether any thing can be inferred from the internal construction of the gospels themselves, and thinks it natural to conclude that when the fift Evangelist had penned his gospel, it was soon published and dispersed abroad among the vanous assemblies of Christians; who would be eager to obtain a true and genuine account of the words and actions of the founder of thcir religion, that is, of those things in which they had been instructed, and upon which their faith was founded. Hence then we may farther conclude, he thinks, that the second Evangelist was perfectly acquainted with the writings of the first: and that the third, when he wrote, perused the gospels of the other two ; which he might apply, in part, to his own use, making what additions he thought proper.
To clear the way to the proof of this, it is necessary to determine, Dr. Owen thinks, which of the facred historians is, in reality, to be accounted the first; which the second; and which the third; for much depends upon this question. He observes, that, in penning their gospels, the sacred historians had a constant regard as well to the circumstances of the perfons, for whose use they wrote; as to the several particulars of Chrift's life, which they were then writing.' It was this, our Author fays, that regulated the conduct of their narration,that frequently determined them in their choice of materials, and, when they had chofen, induced them either to contract or enlarge, as they judged expedient,-in short, it was this that modified their histories, and gave them their different colourings.
Now, if the gospels were thus modelled, as our Author apprehends they were, to the state, temper, and dispofition of the times in which they were written. . Then are we furnished: with certain criteria, by which we may judge of their respective dates. For those times, whose actions accord with the turn of the discourses related in the gospel-histories, are, in all probability, the very times, when the gospels were written. :: If we bring St. Matthew's to this test, it will manifestly appear, we are told, to have been penned at a time, when the church was labouring under a heavy persecution. For it contains many obvious references to such a state ; and many dextrous applications both to the injurious, and to the injured party. Now the greatest persecution ever raised against the church, while it confifted only of Jewish converts, was that which was first begun by the Sanhedrim, and afterwards continued and conducted by Saul, with implacable rage and fury. During these severities, which lasted in the whole about six years, (viz. till the third of Caligula, A. D. 39 or 40, when the jews were too much alarmed about their own affairs, to give any farther disturbance to the Christians) the members of the Chrifa tian church stood in need of all the support, comfort, and alsistance that could possibly be administred to them. But what comfort could they possibly receive, in their distressed ficuation, comparable to that which resulted from the example of their suffering mafter, and the promise he had made to his faithful followers. This example, therefore, and those promises, St. Matthew seasonably laid before them, for their imitation and encouragement. For now-towards the close of this dangerous period - it is most likely, our author says, that he wrote his gospel; and delivered it to them, as the anchor of their hope, to keep them ftedfast in this violent tempeft.
The Doctor now endeavours to shew that St. Luke wrote his gospel, for the use of the Gentile converts, about the year 53.
As the Gentiles were far remote from the scene of action, and consequently ignorant of Jewish affairs, it was incumbent upon St. Luke, in order to accomplish what he had in view, to trace the subject quite up to its fource, and to proceed thro' the whole of our Saviour's ministry in a circumstantial and methodical order.-Hence it is, we are told, that he begins his history with the birth of John the Baptist, as introductory to that of Chrift--that, in the course of it, he mentions several particulars omitted by St. Matthew—and that he is so careful in specifying times and places, together with other circumítances of facts that were highly conducive to the information of strangers; though they needed not to be recited to the Jews, who could easily supply them from their own knowlege. Hence, also, it is that he sets before them the genealogy of Christ, according to his natural descent,-and carries it up as high as Adam, in order to shew that he was that feed of the woman, who was promised for the redemption of the whole world.
By the like references to the state of the Gentiles, it easy is to account for his other peculiarities.
St. Luke, it is farther said, ftrongly recommended St. Matthew's gospel to those for whom he wrote, not by name indeed, but by a better and more common method, viz. that of quoting and copying his words. In order to confirm this assertion, which, in the opinion of many, the Doctor fupposes, will stand in need of proof, he produces several passages, and refers to many others.
He goes on to observe, that as the gospel met with so much oppofition, it became the duty of the first Evangelists, in order to facilitate its way in the world, to accommodate their accounts to the temper of the times, and remove the impediments that obstructed its progress. In consequence of this, they were unavoidably led, in the course of their narration, not only to confirm the truth of the doctrine they meant to establish, but also to confute the cavils, correct the opinions, and reform the practices, of those who opposed it. Hence their histories became, in the detail, more complex and various than we have reason to think they would otherwise have been ; containing references to customs and tenets, which, but for the particular disposition of the times, would, in all probability, have had no place in thcm.
But when the Christian religion had gained ground, and the controversies that disturbed it were tolerably settled, it is in no wise unnatural to suppose, that some of its most faithful and ferious profeffors might wish to see the gospel exhibited in a more simple form : and, without any particular confideration to Jew or Gentile, delivered in a manner suitable to the condition of the world at large.
Agreeably to this supposition, we are told, (Clem. Alex. apud Euseb. Hift. Eccl. 1. 2. c. 15.) that the Christian converts at Rome requested St. Mark, with great carneftnefs, to write such a history for their use and instruction. Accordingly, the gospel, which he wrote at their request, is evidently, our Author says, a simple and compendious narrative, divefted of almost all peculiarities, and accommodated to general use. In compiling this narrative, he had little more to do, than to abridge the gospels which lay before him,-varying some expressions, and inserting some additions, as occasion required. That St. Mark followed this plan, no one can doubt, our Author says, who compares his gospel with those of the two former evangelists. He copies largely from both ; and takes either the one or the other almost perpetually for his guide. The order indeed is his own, and is
of facts he is also clear, exact, and critical; and the more fo, perhaps, as he wrote it for the perufal of a learned and critical people. For he seems to proceed with great caution, and to be folicitous that his gospel should stand clear of all objections.
The Doctor goes on to consider it more particularly; produces many passages to shew, that Mark copied from Matthew and Luke, and fixes the publication of his gospel about the end of the year 62, or the beginning of 63, the ninth of the Emperor, when the church stood in need of every religious confolation, to support itself under the afflictive weight of a dreadfully cruel persecution.
The gospel of St. John, we are told, is to be considered, not merely as an historical narrative, but also as a polemic tract, designed to confute the errors of Cerinthus, and other heretics of the same stamp. In order to understand the scheme and difposition of it, we must examine the tenets of Cerinthus, in opposition to which, it is supposed, to have been purposely written. This, our Author says, will not only throw great light on particular passages, but make the whole appear a compleat work,-regular, clear, and conclusive.
It may properly be divided, he tells us, into three parts. The first comprehends the doctrines to be maintained; which are contrary to those of Cerinthus: the second contains the proofs of these doctrines, delivered in an historical manner; the third is a Conclusion or Appendix, giving some account of the person of the writer, and of the view he had in penning this gospel.-In regard to the date of it, which he endeavours to deduce from internal marks, he fixes it to the year of our Lord 69.
Towards the conclusion of his work, the Doctor observes, that the gospels are by no means to be looked upon as so many detached pieces, composed by persons totally ignorant of each other's intention, but rather as one complete, entire system of divinity, supported by the strongest proofs that the subject is capable of, and defended against all the objections, which either Jews or Gentiles, or even its more dangerous heretical profeffors, could make to the truth and certainty of it. If we read them in their proper order, we fhall find them improving one upon another, and yet all conspiring to the fame end-to a perfect representation of the revealed religion. Each of the Authors consulted the writings of his predecessors, and either by addition of facts, explanation of terms, or confirmation of doctrine, contributed something to the common stock, and the general instruction of Christians. They likewise quoted each others words, and thereby recommended each others hiftories. A circumstance of great advantage, whatever some may thiok of it, to the service of the Christian cause. For hy E 3
this means they became not only mutual vouchers for the truth of these genuine gospels, but at the same time joint-opposers of all these spurious ones, that were impiously obtruded on the world.
The History of the Discovery and Conquest of the Canary Isands :
Transated from a Spanish Manuscript, lately found in the island of Palma. With an Enquiry into the Origin of the ancient Inbabitants. To which is added, a Defcription of the Canary Islands, including the modern History of the Inhabitants, and an Account of their Customs, Manners, Trade, &c. By George Glas, Quarto. 155. Boards. Dodsley.
HIS work is divided into two parts; the first contains an
history of the conquest and discovery of the Canary Ilands; and the second a description of them, with an account of the manners and customs of the present inhabitants.
The former, in a translation from a Spanish manuscript, written in the island of Palma, about the year 1632, by Juan Abreau de Galieneo, a Franciscan friar, a native of the province. of Andalusia in Spain. This manuscript, Mr. Glas tells us, lay a long time in obscurity, in a convent in the island of Palma. About three years ago it was sent from thence to the island af Canaria, as a present to the bishop of the islands. “I heard of this manuscript, says he, when I was at Tenerife, and immediately wrote to a gentleman in Canaria to procure me a copy, which he did, and sent to it me. Upon reading the manuscript I had the satisfaction to find that it contained a genuine account of the conquest of the islands and the antient inhabitants, and perfectly agreed with those I had often received,'
From this manuscript the Author has given us a much better and more circumstantial history of the conquest and discovery of these islands, than has hitherto appeared.
The antients were no strangers to the Canaries, which they called the Fortunate Iands, and considered them as the seat of the blessed, and the Elysian fields fo highly celebrated by Homer.
But after the decline of the Roman cmpire, they seem to have been wholly unknown to the inhabitants of Europe till some time between the years 1326 and 1334, when chance discovered them by means of a French fhip, which was driven among them by a storm.
This discovery making a great noise in Europe the Count de Claramonte, a Spanith nobleman, obtained from Pope Clement VI.