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107. Matthew proceeds: “And He left them, and departed. And when His disciples were come to the other side, they forgot to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees;” and so forth, down to where we read, “Then understood they that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”425 These words are recorded also by Mark, and that likewise in the same order.426
AND OF THE QUESTION WHETHER, WITH REGARD EITHER TO THE SUBJECT-MATTER OR THE ORDER, THERE ARE ANY DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN MATTHEW, MARK, AND LUKE.
108. Matthew continues thus: “And Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi; and He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I,427 the Son of man, am? And they said, Some say that Thou art Jn the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets;” and so on, down to the words,” And whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”428 Mc relates this nearly in the same order. But he has brought in before it a narrative which is given by him alone, —namely, that regarding the giving of sight to that blind man who said to the Lord, “I see men as trees walking.”429 Luke, again, also records this incident, inserting it after his account of the miracle of the five loaves;430 and, as we have already shown above, the order of recollection which is followed in his case is not antagonistic to the order adopted by these others. Some difficulty, however, may be imagined in the circumstance that Luke’s representation bears that the Lord put this question, as to whom men held Him to be, to His disciples at a time when He was alone praying, and when His disciples were also with Him; whereas Mark, on the other hand, tells us that the question was put by Him to the disciples when they were on the way. But this will be a difficulty only to the man who has never prayed on the way.431
109. I recollect having already stated that no one should suppose that Peter received that name for the first time on the occasion when He said to Him, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” For the time at which he did obtain this name was that referred to by John, when he mentions that he was addressed in these terms: “Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, Peter.”432 Hence, too, we are as little to think that Peter got this designation on the occasion to which Mc alludes, when he recounts the twelve apostles individually by name, and tells us how James and Jn were called the sons of thunder, merely on the ground that in that passage he has recorded the fact that He surnamed him Peter.433 For that circumstance is noticed there simply because it was suggested to the writer’s recollection at that particular point, and not because it took place in actual fact at that specific time.
AND OF THE MEASURE OF CONCORD BETWEEN MATTHEW, MARK, AND LUKE IN THE ACCOUNTS WHICH THEY GIVE OF THE SAME.
110. Matthew proceeds in the following strain: “Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples how that He must go into Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes;” and so on, down to where we read, “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”434 Mc and Lc add these passages in the same order. Only Lc says nothing about the opposition which Peter expressed to the passion of Christ.
IN WHICH THE LORD CHARGED THE MAN TO FOLLOW HIM WHO WISHED TO COME AFTER HIM.
111. Matthew continues thus: “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me;” and so on, down to the words, “And then He shall reward every man according to his work.”435 This is appended also by Mark, who keeps the same order. But he does not say of the Son of man, who was to come with His angels, that He is to reward every man according to his work. Nevertheless, he mentions at the same time that the Lord spoke to this effect: “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”436 And this may be taken to bear the same sense as is expressed by Matthew, when he says, that “He shall reward every man according to his work.” Luke437 also adds the same statements in the same order, slightly varying the terms indeed in which they are conveyed, but still showing a complete parallel with the others in regard to the truthful reproduction of the self-same ideas.438
TO HIS DISCIPLES ON THE MOUNTAIN; AND OF THE QUESTION CONCERNING THE HARMONY BETWEEN THE FIRST THREE EVANGELISTS WITH REGARD TO THE ORDER AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THAT EVENT; AND IN ESPECIAL, THE NUMBER OF THE DAYS, IN SO FAR AS MATTHEW AND MARK STATE THAT IT TOOK PLACE AFTER SIX DAYS, WHILE LUKE SAYS THAT IT WAS AFTER EIGHT DAYS.
112. Matthew proceeds thus: “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom. And after six days, Jesus taketh Peter, James, and Jn his brother, and brought them up into an high mountain;” and so on, down to where we read, “Tell the vision to no man until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” This vision of the Lord upon the mount in the presence of the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, on which occasion also the testimony of the Father’s voice was borne Him from heaven, is related by the three evangelists in the same order, and in a manner expressing the same sense completely.439 And as regards other matters, they may be seen by the readers to be in accordance with those modes of narration of which we have given examples in many passages already, and in which there are diversities in expression without any consequent diversity in meaning.
113. But with respect to the circumstance that Mark, along with Matthew, tells us how the event took place after six days, while Lc states that it was after eight days, those who find a difficulty here do not deserve to be set aside with contempt, but should be enlightened by the offering of explanations. For when we announce a space of days in these terms, “after so many days,” sometimes we do not include in the number the day on which we speak, or the day on which the thing itself which we intimate beforehand or promise is declared to take place, but reckon only the intervening days, on the real and full and final expiry of which the incident in question is to occur. This is what Matthew and Mc have done. Leaving out of their calculation the day on which Jesus spoke these words, and the day on which He exhibited that memorable spectacle on the mount, they have regarded simply the intermediate days, and thus have used the expression, “after six days.” But Luke, reckoning in the extreme day at either end, that is to say, the first day and the last day, has made it “after eight days,” in accordance with that mode of speech in which the part is put for the whole.
114. Moreover, the statement which Lc makes with regard to Moses and Elias in these terms, “And it came to pass, as they departed440 from Him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here,” and so forth, ought not to be considered antagonistic to what Matthew and Mc have subjoined to the same effect, as if they made Peter offer this suggestion while Moses and Elias were still talking with the Lord. For they have not expressly said that it was at that time, but rather they have simply left unnoticed the fact which Lc has added,—namely, that it was as they went away that Peter made the suggestion to the Lord with respect to the making of three tabernacles. At the same time, Lc has appended the intimation that it was as they were entering the cloud that the voice came from heaven,—a circumstance which is not affirmed, but which is as little contradicted, by the others.
CONCERNING THE COMING OF ELIAS.
115. Matthew goes on thus: “And His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of Jn the Baptist.”441 This same passage is given also by Mark, who keeps also the same order; and although he exhibits some diversity of expression, he makes no departure from a truthful representation of the same sense.442 He has not, however, added the statement, that the disciples understood that the Lord had referred to Jn the Baptist in saying that Elias was come already.
AND OF THE QUESTION CONCERNING THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THESE THREE EVANGELISTS ALSO IN THE MATTER OF THE ORDER OF NARRATION HERE.
116. Matthew goes on in the following terms: “And when He was come443 to the multitude, there came to Him a certain man, kneeling down before Him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son; for he is lunatic, and sore vexed;” and so on, down to the words, “Howbeit this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.”444 Both Mc and Lc record this incident, and that, too, in the same order, without any suspicion of a want of harmony.445
AS IT IS RELATED IN THE SAME ORDER BY THE THREE EVANGELISTS.
117. Matthew continues thus: “And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men; and they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall rise again. And they were exceeding sorry.”446 Mc and Lc record this passage in the same order.447
118. Matthew continues in these terms: “And when they were come to Capharnaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said to him, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes;” and so on, down to where we read: “Thou shall find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.”448 He is the only one who relates this occurrence, after the interposition of which he follows again the order which is pursued also by Mark and Lc in company with him.
OF THE MEMBERS OF THE BODY CAUSING OFFENCES; OF THE ANGELS OF THE LITTLE ONES, WHO BEHOLD THE FACE OF THE FATHER; OF THE ONE SHEEP OUT OF THE HUNDRED SHEEP; OF THE REPROVING OF A BROTHER IN PRIVATE; OF THE LOOSING AND THE BINDING OF SINS; OF THE, AGREEMENT OF TWO, AND THE GATHERING TOGETHER OF THREE; OF THE FORGIVING OF SINS EVEN UNTO SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN; OF THE SERVANT WHO HAD HIS OWN LARGE DEBT REMITTED, AND YET REFUSED TO REMIT THE SMALL DEBT WHICH HIS FELLOW-SERVANT OWED TO HIM; AND OF THE QUESTION AS TO MATTHEW'S HARMONY WITH THE OTHER EVANGELISTS ON ALL THESE SUBJECTS.
119. The same Matthew then proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: “In that hour came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who,thinkest Thou, is the greater in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child untoHim, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven;” and so on, down to the words, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”449 Of this somewhat lengthened discourse which was spoken by the Lord, Mark, instead of giving the whole, has presented only certain portions, in dealing with which he follows meantime the same order. He has also introduced some matters which Matthew doesnot mention.450 Moreover, in this complete discourse, so far as we have taken it under consideration, the only interruption is that which is made by Peter, when he inquires how often a brother ought to be forgiven. The Lord, however, was speaking in a strain which makes it quite clear that even the question which Peter thus proposed, and the answer which was returned to him, belong really to the same address. Luke, again, records none of these things in the order here observed, with the exception of the incident with the little child whom He set before His disciples, for their imitation when they were thinking of their own greatness.451 For if he has also narrated some other matters of a tenor resembling those which are inserted in this discourse, these are sayings which he has recalled for notice in other connections, and on occasions different from the present: just as John452 introduces the Lord’s words on the subject of the forgiveness of sins,—namely, those to the effect that they should be remitted to him to whom the apostles remitted them, and that they should be retained to him to whom they retained them, as spoken by the Lord after His resurrection; while Matthew mentions that in the discourse now under notice the Lord made this declaration, which, however, the self-same evangelist at the same time affirms to have been given on a previous occasion to Peter.453 Therefore, to preclude the necessity of having always to inculcate the same rule, we ought to bear in mind the fact that Jesus uttered the same word repeatedly, and in a number of different places,—a principle which we have pressed so often upon your attention already; and this consideration should save us from feeling any perplexity, even although the order of the sayings may be thought to create some difficulty.
TO PUT AWAY ONE'S WIFE, AND ESPECIALLY IN REGARD TO THE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS AND REPLIES WHICH PASSED BETWEEN THE LORD AND THE JEWS, AND IN WHICH THE EVANGELISTS SEEM TO BE, TO SOME SMALL EXTENT, AT VARIANCE.
120. Matthew continues giving his narrative in the following manner: “And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, He departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; and great multitudes followed Him; and He healed them there.454 The Pharisees also came unto Him, tempting Him, and saying, Is it lawful top a man to put away his wife for every cause?” And so on, down to the words, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”455 Mc also records this, and observes the same order. At the same time, we must certainly see to it that no appearance of contradiction be supposed to arise from the circumstance that the same Mc tells us how the Pharisees were asked by the Lord as to what Moses commanded them, and that on His questioning them to that effect they returned the answer regarding the bill of divorcement which Moses suffered them to write; whereas, according to Matthew’s version, it was after the Lord had spoken those words in which He had shown them, out of the law, how God made male and female to be one flesh, and how, therefore, those [thus joined together of Him] ought not to be put asunder by man, that they gave the reply, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” To this interrogation, also [as Matthew puts it], He says again in reply, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” There is no difficulty, I repeat, in this; for it is not the case that Mc makes no kind of mention of the reply which was thus given by the Lord, but he brings it in after the answer which was returned by them to His question relating to the bill of divorcement.
121. As far as the order or method of statement here adopted is concerned, we ought to understand that it in no way affects the truth of the subject itself, whether the question regarding the permission to write a bill of divorcement given by the said Moses, by whom also it is recorded that God made male and female to be one flesh,456 was addressed by these Pharisees to the Lord at the time when He was forbidding the separation of husband and wife, and confirming His declaration on that subject by the authority of the law; or whether the said question was conveyed in the reply which the same persons returned to the Lord, at the time when He asked them about what Moses had commanded them. For His intention was not to offer them any reason for the permission which Moses thus granted them until they had first mentioned the matter themselves; which intention on His part is what is indicated by the inquiry which Mc has introduced. On the other hand, their desire was to use the authority of Moses in commanding the giving of a bill of divorcement, for the purpose of stopping His mouth, so to speak, in the matter of forbidding, as they believed He undoubtedly would do, a man to put away his wife. For they had approached Him with the view of saying what would tempt Him. And this desire of theirs is what is indicated by Matthew, when, instead of stating how they were interrogated first themselves, he represents them as having of their own accord put the question about the precept of Moses, in order that they might thereby, as it were, convict the Lord of doing what was wrong in prohibiting the putting away of wives. Wherefore, since the mind of the speakers, in the service of which the words ought to stand, has been exhibited by both evangelists, it is no matter how the modes of narration adopted by the two may differ, provided neither of them fails to give a correct representation of the subject itself.
122. Another view of the matter may also be taken, namely, that, in accordance with Mark’s statement, when these persons began by questioning the Lord on the subject of the putting away of a wife, He questioned them in turn as to what Moses commanded them; and that, on their replying that Moses suffered them to write a bill of divorcement and put the wife away, He made His answer to them regarding the said law which was given by Moses, reminding them how God instituted the union of male and female, and addressing them in the words which are inserted by Matthew, namely, “Have ye not read that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female?” and so on. On hearing these words, they repeated in the form of an inquiry what they had already given utterance to when replying to His first interrogation, namely the expression, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” Then Jesus showed that the reason was the hardness of their heart; which explanation Mc brings in, with a view to brevity, at an earlier point, as if it had been given in reply to that former response of theirs, which Matthew has passed over. And this he does as judging that no injury could be done to the truth at whichever point the explanation might be introduced, seeing that the words, with a view to which it was returned, had been uttered twice in the same form; and seeing also that the Lord, in any case, had offered the said explanation in reply to such words.
OF THE RICH MAN TO WHOM HE SAID, "SELL ALL THAT THOU HAST;" OF THE VINEYARD IN WHICH THE LABOURERS WERE HIRED AT DIFFERENT HOURS; AND OF THE QUESTION AS TO THE ABSENCE OF ANY DISCREPANCY BETWEEN MATTHEW AND THE OTHER TWO EVANGELISTS ON THESE SUBJECTS.
123. Matthew proceeds thus: “Then were there brought unto Him little children, that He should put His hands on them, and pray; and the disciples rebuked them;” and so on, down to where we read, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”457 Mc has followed the same order here as Matthew.458 But Matthew is the only one who introduces the section relating to the labourers who were hired for the vineyard. Luke, on the other hand, first mentions what He said to those who were asking each other who should be the greatest, and next subjoins at once the passage concerning the man whom they had seen casting out devils, although he did not follow Him; then he parts company with the other two at the point where he tells us how He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem;459 and after the interposition of a number of subjects,460 he joins them again in giving the story of the rich man, to whom the word is addressed, “Sell all that thou hast,”461 which individual’s case is related here by the other two evangelists, but still in the succession which is followed by all the narratives alike. For in the passage referred to in Luke, that writer does not fail to bring in the story of the little children, just as the other two do immediately before the mention of the rich man. With regard, then, to the accounts which are given us of this rich person, who asks what good thing he should do in order to obtain eternal life, there may appear to be some discrepancy between them, because the words were, according to Matthew, “Why askest thou me about the good?” while according to the others they were, “Why callest thou me good?” The sentence, “Why askest thou me about the good?” may then be referred more particularly to what was expressed by the man when he put the question, “What good thing shall I do?” For there we have both the name “good” applied to Christ, and the question put.462 But the address “Good Master” does not of itself convey the question. Accordingly, the best method of disposing of it is to understand both these sentences to have been uttered, “Why callest thou me good?” and, “Why askest thou me about the good?”
AND OF THE TIME WHEN THE MOTHER OF ZEBEDEE'S CHILDREN CAME WITH HER SONS, REQUESTING THAT ONE OF THEM SHOULD SIT ON HIS RIGHT HAND, AND THE OTHER ON HIS LEFT HAND; AND OF THE ABSENCE OF ANY DISCREPANCY BETWEEN MATTHEW AND THE OTHER TWO EVANGELISTS ON THESE SUBJECTS.
124. Matthew continues his narrative in the following terms: “And Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him; and the third day He shall rise again. Then came to Him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him;” and so on, down to the words, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”463 Here again Mc keeps the same order as Matthew, only he represents the sons of Zebedee to have made the request themselves; while Matthew has stated that it was preferred on their behalf not by their own personal application, but by their mother, as she had laid what was their wish before the Lord. Hence Mc has briefly intimated what was said on that occasion as spoken by them, rather than by her [in their name]. And to conclude with the matter, it is to them rather than to her, according to Matthew no less than according to Mark, that the Lord returned His reply. Luke, on the other hand, after narrating in the same order our Lord’s predictions to the twelve disciples on the subject of His passion and resurrection, leaves unnoticed what the other two evangelists immediately go on to record; and after the interposition of these passages, he is joined by his fellow-writers again [at the point where they report the incident] at Jericho.464 Moreover, as to what Matthew and Mc have stated with respect to the princes of the Gentiles exercising dominion over those who are subject to them,—namely, that it should not be so with them [the disciples], but that he who was greatest among them should even be a servant to the others,—Lc also gives us something of the same tenor, although not in that connection;465 and the order itself indicates that the same sentiment was expressed by the Lord on a second occasion.
125. Matthew continues thus: “And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And, behold, two blind men sitting by the wayside heard that Jesus passed by, and cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David;” and so on, down to the words, “And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.”466 Mark also records this incident, but mentions only one blind man.467 This difficulty is solved in the way in which a former difficulty was explained which met us in the case of the two persons who were tormented by the legion of devils in the territory of the Gerasenes.468 For, that in this instance also of the two blind men whom he [Matthew] alone has introduced here, one of them was of pre-eminent note and repute in that city, is a fact made clear enough by the single consideration, that Mc has recorded both his own name and his father’s; a circumstance which scarcely comes across us in all the many cases of healing which had been already performed by the Lord, unless that miracle be an exception, in the recital of which the evangelist has mentioned by name Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, whose daughter Jesus restored to life.469 And in this latter instance this intention becomes the more apparent, from the fact that the said ruler of the synagogue was certainly a man of rank in the place. Consequently there can be little doubt that this Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, had fallen from some position of great prosperity, and was now regarded as an object of the most notorious and the most remarkable wretchedness, because, in addition to being blind, he had also to sit begging. And this is also the reason, then, why Mc has chosen to mention only the one whose restoration to sight acquired for the miracle a fame as widespread as was the notoriety which the man’s misfortune itself had gained.
126. But Luke, although he mentions an incident altogether of the same tenor, is nevertheless to be understood as really narrating only a similar miracle which was wrought in the case of another blind man, and as putting on record its similarity to the said miracle in the method of performance. For he states that it was performed when He was coming nigh unto Jericho;470 while the others say that it took place when He was departing from Jericho. Now the name of the city, and the resemblance in the deed, favour the supposition that there was but one such occurrence. But still, the idea that the evangelists really contradict each other here, in so far as the one says, “As He was come nigh unto Jericho,” while the others put it thus, “As He came out of Jericho,” is one which no one surely will be prevailed on to accept, unless those who would have it more readily credited that the gospel is unveracious, than that He wrought two miracles of a similar nature and in similar circumstances.471 But every faithful son of the gospel will most readily perceive which of these two alternatives is the more credible, and which the rather to be accepted as true; and, indeed, every gainsayer too, when he is advised concerning the real state of the case, will answer himself either by thesilence which he will have to observe, or at least by the tenor of his reflections should he decline to be silent.
127. Matthew goes on with his narrative in the following terms: “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the Mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her;” and so on, down to the words, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”472 Mark also records this occurrence, and inserts it in the same order.473 Luke, on the other hand, tarries a space by Jericho, recounting certain matters which these others have omitted,—namely, the story of Zacchaeus, the chief of the publicans, and some sayings which are couched in parabolic form. After instancing these things, however, this evangelist again joins company with the others in the narrative relating to the ass on which Jesus sat.474 And let not the circumstance stagger us, that Matthew speaks both of an ass and of the colt of an ass, while the others say nothing of the ass. For here again we must bear in mind the rule which we have already introduced in dealing with the statements about the seating of the people by fifties and by hundreds on the occasion on which the multitudes were fed with the five loaves.475 Now, after this principle has been brought into application, the reader should not feel any serious difficulty in the present case. Indeed, even had Matthew said nothing about the colt, just as his fellow-historians have taken no notice of the ass, the fact should not have created any such perplexity as to induce the idea of an insuperable contradiction between the two statements, when the one writer speaks only of the ass, and the others only of the colt of the ass. But how much less cause then for any disquietude ought there to be, when we see that the one writer has mentioned the ass to which the others have omitted to refer, in such a manner as at the same time not to leave unnoticed also the colt of which the rest have spoken! In fine, where it is possible to suppose both objects to have been included in the occurrence, there is no real antagonism, although the one writer may specify only the one thing, and another only the other. How much less need there be any contradiction, when the one writer particularizes the one object, and another instances both!
128. Again, although Jn tells us nothing as to the way in which the Lord despatched His disciples to fetch these animals to Him, nevertheless he inserts a brief allusion to this colt, and cites also the word of the prophet which Matthew makes use of.476 In the case also of this testimony from the prophet, the terms in which it is reproduced by the evangelists, although they exhibit certain differences, do not fail to express a sense identical in intention. Some difficulty, however, may be felt in the fact that Matthew adduces this passage in a forth whichrepresents the prophet to have made mention of the ass; whereas this is not the case, either with the quotation as introduced by John, or with the version given in the ecclesiastical codices of the translation in common use. An explanation of this variation seems to me to be found in the fact that Matthew is understood to have written his Gospel in the Hebrew language. Moreover, it is manifest that the translation which bears the name of the Septuagint differs in some particulars from the text which is found in the Hebrew by those who know that tongue, and by the several scholars who have given us renderings of the same Hebrew books. And if an explanation is asked for this discrepancy, or for the circumstance that the weighty authority of the Septuagint translation diverges in many passages from the rendering of the truth which is discovered in the Hebrew codices, I am of opinion that nomore probable account of the matter will suggest itself, than the supposition that the Seventy composed their version under the influence of the very Spirit by whose inspiration the things which they were engaged in translating had been originally spoken. This is an idea which receives confirmation also from the marvellous consent which is asserted to have characterized them.477 Consequently, when these translators, while not departing from the real mind of God from which these sayings proceeded, and to the expression of which the words ought to be subservient, gave a different form to some matters in their reproduction of the text, they had no intention of exemplifying anything else than the very thing which we now admiringly contemplate in that kind of harmonious diversity which marks the four evangelists, and in the light of which it is made clear that there is no failure from strict truth, although one historian may give an account of some theme in a manner different indeed from another, and yet not so different as to involve an actual departure from the sense intended by the person with whom he is bound to be in concord and agreement. To understand this is of advantage to character, with a view at once to guard against what is false, and to pronounce correctly upon it; and it is of no less consequence to faith itself, in the way of precluding the supposition that, as it were with consecrated sounds, truth has a kind of defence provided for it which might imply God’s handing over to us not only the thing itself, but likewise the very words which are required for its enunciation; whereas the fact rather is, that the theme itself which is to be expressed is so decidedly deemed of superior importance to the words in which it has to be expressed,478 that we would be under no obligation to ask about them at all, if it were possible for us to know the truth without the terms, as God knows it, and as His angels also know it in Him.
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