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two favourite pupils, Plato and Xenophon. The former states, "when Socrates was commanded by the Judges to estimate his fine, [to prevent sentence of death from being passed on him] he did so, and rated it at a mina of silver; adding, that if it were thirty minæ, his friends there present, Plato, Crito, Critobulus, and Apollodorus, had engaged to be his sureties." And Eubulides agrees with Plato as to the amount, while Diogenes Laertius reckons it only five and twenty drachmæ, or a quarter of a mina. But what says Xenophon ?"" Socrates neither rated it himself, nor would he suffer his friends to rate it; on the contrary, he said, that to rate it would imply a confession of guilt."
Again, according to Plato, "Socrates declared, that he was always attended, from his youth, by a demon (or god) whose divine voice, when it came, always dissuaded him from what he was going to do, [if wrong] but never persuaded [or advised him to do what was right." Whereas Xenophon asserts, that "it signified to him beforehand, both what he ought, and what he ought not, to do. And he even urged this inspiration, as an answer to the charge of introducing strange gods." See the original passages, Newcome's Harmony, Pref. p. 4. Here are serious and irreconcileable contradictions, affecting both the character and doctrine of Socrates, equally well attested.
Take, in like manner, the four Roman historians, Polybius, Livy, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and Dion Cassius, or four English historians, Rapin, Hume, Macauly, and Henry; and they will be found to exhibit contradictions, glaring and irreconcileable, respecting the most important facts, institutions, and dates, within the very same periods of history.
The foregoing observations have, in great measure, anticipated this last head; for what can be wanting to the credibility of historians so well informed of all the facts and doctrines which they relate, from the purest sources of human and divine testimony? What other historians could ever presume to say, "We are Christ's witnesses of these things, and so is also the HOLY SPIRIT, whom GOD hath given to them that obey him;" which equally applies to their preaching, and to their writings, Acts v. 32.
And the gospels themselves furnish internal evidence of their credibility throughout, the most convincing and satisfactory, in
the fairness and impartiality of their relations, respecting friends and enemies; they "nothing extenuate" respecting the former, but disclose the frailties, the imperfections, and the faults, even of the first and greatest of the apostles, Peter, James, and John, Thomas, &c.; "nor do they set down aught in malice" respecting the latter. Of all those who were concerned in the prosecution and death of CHRIST, they name only the high-priest Caiaphas, and his coadjutor Annas, the Roman procurator Pilate, and the treacherous disciple Judas, because the suppression of their names would have impaired the evidence of their history to posterity. And even these are barely mentioned without censure, and without resentment. The epithet attached to Judas, ὁ παραδους αυτον, by all the evangelists, is expressive of the simple fact, "who delivered him up," rather than of its criminality; which would more aptly be signified by ὁ προδους αυτον, 8 who betrayed him," or by Tроdоrns," traitor," as he is styled on one solitary occasion by προδοτης, Luke, vi. 16. Compare John xviii. 36, 37, where the verb Tapadidwμ signifies merely to "deliver up," and is so rendered in the English Testament.
Our Lord's biographers, while they were ready to do justice to distinguished merit, to signalize the exemplary faith of a Roman centurion, or of a Syrophenician woman, carefully avoided naming any one without necessity, of whom they had nothing to say that was not to his discredit. They direct our admiration, and our hatred, to virtues and vices, not to persons. They do nothing, they assume nothing, in their own character. In the OLD TESTAMENT, indeed, the sacred penmen were the voice of GOD to the people, and they not only exhorted and rebuked with all authority, but even delivered their own opinions without restraint or reserve. But the evangelists, like the Baptist, acted merely as deputed heralds * of CHRIST; and deeply impressed with a sense of his pre-eminence as the ORACLE and SON OF GOD, and of their own insignificance, they sink themselves in the shade, to place him in the foreground, in the most
"AS THE FATHER delegated (aжεσтаλкɛ) mе [to be his representative,] (the visible IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD, Col. i. 15.) so send I (πεμπ) you [to be my heralds,"] John xx. 21. "Go ye into all the world, publish (кŋpvžare) THE GOSPEL to all the creation," Mark xvi. 15. Such sameness of sentiment in the different Gospels, which evaporates in our translation, is truly admirable.
conspicuous light; they even, as it were, annihilate themselves, that JESUS may be all in all. Never could it be more truly said of any historians, that "they published not themselves, but CHRIST THE LORD;" reporting, in singleness of heart, what was said and done by Him, and to Him, throughout the whole course of his ministry, and nothing else, without partiality or prejudice, and without disguise, SACRIFICING TO THE TRUTH ALONE," according to Lucian's precept for writing history, MONH ΘΥΤΕΟΝ ΤΗ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ.
It now remains to trace the connection, and shew the consistency, of their memoirs in detail, by a careful comparison, and critical harmony, of the four gospels in the originals, not depending upon loose translations.
JOHN THE BAPTIST.
"THE LAW and THE PROPHETS subsisted till John," with whom commenced THE GOSPEL dispensation, Matt. xi. 13, Luke xvi. 16, Acts i. 21, 22. With his history, therefore, Luke properly begins his gospel, as introductory to the history of CHRIST, with which Matthew had begun, supplying the chasm of his predecessor.
After a long intermission for upwards of four centuries, from Malachi, the last of the Jewish prophets, the age of miracles and prophecy revived, as was foretold by the prophets, especially Joel, ii. 28. And the annunciation of the Baptist's birth was made from heaven to "Zechariah, a venerable priest, who, with his wife Elizabeth, were both righteous before GOD, and walked in all the ordinances of THE LORD blameless; and they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years," Luke i. 5-7.
It is remarkable that this annunciation was made by the same archangel, Gabriel, who had formerly appeared to the prophet Daniel, viii. 16, ix. 21, and probably to the prophet Zechariah, ii. 1-4, and described to both so circumstantially the coming of CHRIST, his rejection by the Jews, and the final establishment of his kingdom.
While Zechariah was officiating as a priest in the temple, and offering incense upon the altar in the sanctuary, during the
time of the [evening] oblation*, and the people were praying without in the temple court, the angel appeared to him, and said, "Fear not, Zechariah, thy supplication [for thy people] is heard, and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John," [the grace of THE LORD] expressive of the gracious purposes of his mission, namely, 1. "to go before THE LORD in the power and spirit of Elijah," foretold by Malachi, iv. 5, resembling that illustrious prophet in his power of conversion and spirit of reproof +; 2. "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just," by promoting peace and harmony among his countrymen; and 3. "to make ready a people prepared for THE LORD," or prepared for the reception of THE GOSPEL, ver. 8-17.
Zechariah, however, for distrusting the performance of this gracious promise, on account of his own and his wife's advanced age, whereas the case of Abraham and Sarah, to whom a son Isaac was promised in similar circumstances, ought to have assured him, was punished in the sign that he required, and struck dumb by the angel, until the accomplishment of the promise, and the circumcision of his son, when his speech was restored to him at the naming of the child, as appointed by the angel, and he was moreover inspired to utter that admirable hymn, "praising God for the promised redemption of Israel by that Horn of Salvation, CHRIST, of the house of David, foretold by the mouth of God's holy prophets from the beginning of the world," in the blessed seed of the woman, Gen. iii. 15, and styling John a prophet of THE MOST HIGH, and a harbinger of CHRIST, ver. 18-79.
In the sixth month of the conception of Elizabeth, the same angel Gabriel was sent by God to the virgin Mary, of the house of David, who then dwelt at Nazareth, in Galilee, and was betrothed, but not yet married, to Joseph, a man of the same tribe, and he hailed, or saluted her, as "blessed among women," "the virgin" foretold by the prophet Isaiah "to conceive and bear a son, called IMMANUEL," expressive of his divinity, signifying
This was precisely the hour," the ninth, or third afternoon," when Gabriel formerly appeared to Daniel, ix. 24.
See his conversion of the people of Israel from Baal, 1 Kings xviii. 21-40; his reproofs of Ahab, 1 Kings xviii. 17, 18, xxi. 20-29; of Ahaziah, 2 Kings i. 16, 17.
"GOD WITH US," Isaiah vii. 13, 14, ix. 6, 7, whom therefore she should call by a synonymous name, JESUS (SAVIOUR).
A case so wholly unprecedented, in the providential history of mankind, as a pure virgin's conceiving, who knew not a man, naturally excited her modest doubt. The angel, therefore, not offended thereat, as he had been with Zechariah, gave her a sign in point, namely, the conception of her heretofore barren and aged cousin Elizabeth, who was now advanced in the sixth month of her pregnancy, assuring her, in the language of THE LORD formerly to Sarah, Gen. xviii. 14, that nothing is impossible with God.
Accordingly, the pious and holy virgin believed, and expressed her belief. "Lo, the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy oracular word (pnua.)"
Anxious to learn the accomplishment of the sign," she arose in those days, and went with haste to the hill country of Judea, in order to visit her cousin Elizabeth," who lived at Hebron *, according to tradition, where she received full confirmation of her faith; for Elizabeth, to whom the mystery of Mary's conception had been revealed likewise, immediately greeted her, by inspiration, with the angel's salutation, as "blessed among women," and "blessed the fruit of her womb," with an acknowledgment of her own inferiority; since the mother of HER LORD (CHRIST) had thus condescended to visit her, and giving the fullest proof of her own pregnancy, by declaring that no sooner had the voice of Mary's salutation sounded in her ears, than “the babe leaped in her womb for joy.”
On this decisive evidence, the enraptured Mary also gave full expression to all her mingled emotions of joy, gratitude, humility, and reliance on God's mercies, not only to herself, but unto all those that fear him, " to generations of generations," or to the remotest ages, in that admirable hymn, which so strongly resembles, and furnishes the finest commentary on Hannah's Hymn, 1 Sam. ii. 1—10, in which the BLESSED SEED was first celebrated, and by a woman, under the title of THE MESSIAH, CHRIST, ("ANOINTED,") or "KING OF ISRAEL," or king of those "true Israelites, in whom there is no guile," John i. 48-50; Matt. ii. 6; for "all are not Israel, that are of [or
Hebron was allotted to Aaron's family in Joshua's days, xxi. 11. It was near fourscore miles from Nazareth.