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COMMENTARY

ON

THE GOSPELS:

Inteuded før popular Use.

By D. D. WIE DON, D.D.

MATTHEW-MARK.

TWENTY-FIRST EDITION.

NEW YORK:
NELSON & PHILLIP S.

CINCINNATI: HITCHCOCK & WALDEX.

Entered accorcling to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, 59

CARLTON & PORTER, to the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Soutliern

District of New York. amma wound

gl. voor it. ?erdoru 8.87-36 . 3rals.

INTRODUCTION.

The word Testament is a term for any document which is attested by seal or otherwise. Such documents, in law, are a Will bequeathing property, or a Covenant ombodying a solemn treaty or contract. It is m this latter sense that the word is biblically used. The Old Testament embraces the covenant between God and his people, expressing the terms of service and favour under the old dispensation; the New Testament embodies a similar covenant under the later dispensation of his Son. Both Testaments constitute'what (from the Greek ó Biblos, the book) is preeminently styled The Bible.

The New Testament is that body of twenty-seven books, or treatises, written by eight different authors, which the Christian Church from the apostolic age has considered as providentially designed by Jesus Christ, the Great Head of the Church, as the true, and perfect, and infallible expression and record of his religion. The authenticity of these books, their historical truth, and the verity of the religion they teach, have been demonstrated with great learning and force, and at great length, by many able writers. The vast mass of proof we may very imperfectly classify as Historical, Prophetical, and Internal. Of these we briefly notice the first two.

HISTORICAL PROOF. The Historical Proof embraces, I. The testimony of profane or pagar. authors to the facts of Christianity. 1. Tacitus, the greatest of Roman historians, says, in words which show his own pagan hostility to Christianity, that the emperor Nero “inflicted the severest punishments upon a class of people held in abhorrence for their crimes, called Christians. The founder of that name was Christ, who suffered death in the reign of Tiberius under his procurator, Pontius Pilate. This destructive superstition, thus checked for a while, broke out again, and spread, not only over Judea, where the evil originated, but through Rome also.” This extract furnishes, in fact, a brief history of the origin of Christianity; of the existence, time, and death of its founder, and the early martyrdoms of his Church. 2. Suetonius, another Roman pagan historian, says, in his Life of Nero: “The Christains were punished—a set of men of a new and mischievous superstition.” 3. Pliny, one of the most elegant of pagan writers, in a letter to the emperor of Rome about thirty or forty

years after the death of Christ, detailing the persecutions he was inflicting on the Christians of his province, says: “They declared that the whole of their guilt or error was that they were accustomed to meet on a stated day before it was light, and to sing in concert a hymn of praise to Christ as God, and to bind themselves by a sacred obligation, not for the perpetration of any wickedness, but that they would not commit any theft, robbery, or adultery, nor violate their words, nor refuse when called upon to restore anything committed to their trust. After this they were accustomed to separate and then to re-assemble to eat in common a harmless meal.” These passages demonstrate, by the highest possible pagan authority, the great facts of the existence, the time, and the death of Christ, as well as of the sufferings, the purity, the stated worship, the belief in Christ's divinity, and the sacramental meal of the early Church.

II. The testimony of pagan controversial opposers. Celsus wrote against Christianity in the second century. He asşumes throughout that the four Gospels were written by the authors whose names are attached to them, and that if he can overthrow them he destroys the religion. Ile does not so much deny the miracles of Jesus as ascribe them (like the scribes) to magic and connection with evil powers. Porphyry in the third century, and the emperor Julian in the fourth, follow the same course. - The authenticity of the Gospels is by them wholly admitted.

III. Higher than all pagan admission is the testimony of the early Christian Church. That the primitive Christians were a holy Church, sifted by the terrible power of martyrdom, is attested alike by pagan statements, by Christian record, and by the wonderful and solemn disclosures of the catacombs, whose sepulchral inscriptions bear register of the immense numbers of the martyr army. Of the truth of the Christian history these were the witnesses, such witnesses as no other history ever claimed.

A whole body of Christian writers exists, extending from the present day to the time of Paul and the evangelists. A whole mass of books and records lies along from the present commentary to Matthew himself. Each snocessive generation quotes the books of the preceding generation entirely ap to the New Testament writers. Each generation proves the existence of the writings of the previous generation by quotations; for nobody can quote books that do not exist. All these generations quote the books of the New Testament; and each generation quotes the preceding generation as quoting the New Testament. The New Testament books could not then have been forged or written at any point subsequent to the time of the writers whose name they bear. And that is the very time which the pagan Tacitus, and Suetonius, corroborated by Pliny, affirm to have been the time of Christ. In the evangelists and epistles re have, there

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