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the greatness of the fever, and upon the patient's exhibiting immediately some visible sign of recovery, such as rising. A more striking instance of the same sort is Casting out

demons. the following. Matthew says,

viii. 16, “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with his word, and cured all that were sick."

Mark i. 32, “ And at even when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with demons. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many demons; and suffered not the demons to speak, because they knew him."

Luke iv. 40, “ Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases, brought them unto him; and he laid hands on every one of them, and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of God. And he, rebuking them, suffered them not to speak : for they knew that he was Christ."

It is obvious that the story has gained materially at each narration. Matthew says, that Jesus said to a paralytic

'Cure of

the palsy. man who believed in his power,

ix. 248, “ Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house."

Mark ii. 12, “ And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all.

Luke v. 25, “And immediately he arose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

In such instances, the gradual exaggeration is very different from wilful falsehood, since the additional particulars doubtless seemed to the writers no less probable in themselves than edifying to the church.

The issue

of blood. ix. 20, “ A woman who was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment. For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort ; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

Matthew says,

The narrative is simple and probable enough up to the last sentence, which might very naturally be supplied by Matthew, on supposition, as a proper conclusion, for he does not say how the fact was known. But let us turn to Mark's account:

Mark v. 25, “ And a certain woman who had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse; when she heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may but touch his clothes, I shall be well ; and straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague; and Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes ? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me ? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”

Although Mark's additions have merely the appearance of amplifications upon Matthew, his account presents a much more decided miracle. And Luke has copied it in preference. Feeding of The feeding of the five thousand with five the 5000.

loaves and two fishes is one of the best-attested of the miracles, because it is related by all the four evangelists, and without important contradictions, although Matthew and John, at least, appear not to have copied from each other; also it is alluded to in two subsequent discourses. Yet, with all this, is it possible to say, that the evidence in support of this story is such as would entitle it to serious consideration if it were found in any other book? The earliest account, that of Matthew, is as follows:

xiv. 15—22, “ And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves and two fishes. He said, bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled : and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away."

The only important additions in the other accounts are, that Mark says, they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties; Luke, that they sat by fifties in a company; and John names Philip and Andrew as the disciples to whom Jesus addressed himself.

Now, in Matt. xy. and Mark viii. we find a similar story of the feeding of four thousand men with seven loaves and a few fishes, seven baskets being taken up of the fragments: which story seems to be only another version of the former, because, Firstly, They agree with each other in the order of the speeches and events, and almost in the words. Secondly, In the latter story the disciples appear not to have the slightest remembrance of the first miraculous feeding, but ask, “Whence should we have bread in the wilderness to satisfy so great a multitude ?” and Jesus in his answer shews the same unconsciousness of any similar occurrence. Thirdly, The scene agrees in each story: in the former, Jesus had been in Galilee, and had come by ship into a desert place; in the latter, he is on a mountain near the sea of Galilee. Fourthly, After each miracle Jesus sends the multitude away, and passes over the sea. Fifthly, Luke and John relate only the feeding of five thousand.

Consequently, Matthew tells the same story twice, and contradicts himself notably in all his numbers. From xvi. 9, 10, it is plain that he considered that he had related two separate occurrences, which renders it probable that he merely gave both accounts as he found them; the

different way of narrating the same story in the church having caused it to grow into two before he wrote. But, in whatever way the doubling originated, it being admitted that both stories must refer to the same incident, this reflection arises,

since the two narratives differ from each other so much concerning the number of baskets-full taken up, and of the multitude filled, may not the real transaction differ from them both so far as that a less number of baskets-full were taken up, and that a less number of persons than the whole multitude were fed ?on which two points the miracle depends.

Since Mark and Luke appear to have borrowed from Matthew, their testimony in this case is of little value. Every tradition concerning Christ was doubtless repeated by hundreds in the church; and, after forty years, an additional narrator added little or nothing to its credibility. Matthew and John alone have any title to be considered as independent witnesses; but they, too, may have depended upon the account of some one disciple, perhaps John himself; although even he does not state that he was an eye-witness. In fact, we have not an account from any one person on whom we can depend as having been present; we are obliged to rest this important point on an inference, viz., that John must have been amongst “ the disciples."*

* The doubt as to the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew seems to be so great as to exclude any reasoning which must depend on the supposition that Matthew the Apostle was the real author. The reader will have perceived that, for the sake of brevity, the word “ Matthew” is used frequently for “the writer of the Gospel of Matthew,” when the subject in hand is not affected by this ambiguity. Although we must regret the want of certainty on this point, it is not in reality of the first importance, since, owing to the little we know of Matthew the Apostle, he and an unknown member of the Jewish church must stand nearly on a par with respect to credibility; i. e., for either of them it must The discourses which allude to these miracles bear strong marks of fiction. In Matthew xyi. 6—12, the disciples, accustomed as they were to disputes on the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and immediately after a discussion with some of these two sects, cannot understand Jesus when he tells them to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." And shortly after they are supposed to have witnessed the two miraculous supplies of loaves, they appear distressed at having forgotten to bring bread, and not one of them thinks of applying to Jesus. Could any set of men in such circumstances really be so dull as to need the reproof attributed to Jesus, “O ye of little faith ... do

ye not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how

many
baskets

up

? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up ?" But such inconsistencies, although betraying the fiction to the reader, might be overlooked by an incautious writer, inclined to the marvellous, and giving himself little pains to preserve strict coherence between his materials. * Again, in John vi. 26, Jesus is made to say,

Ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did

ye took

be determined chiefly by internal evidence. We must even have depended, in most cases, on this, in order to be satisfied that the Apostle was an eye-witness, since he is so seldom named in the Gospels.

* In bringing together truth and fiction in one narrative, some awkward joinings must be left, which it requires a violent hypothesis to complete. Of such a kind is the extreme dulness which it is often found necessary to attribute to the disciples. Their unconsciousness of the miraculous event was probably the truth; the miracle itself, and the discourse alluding to it, the fiction : the two are generally reconciled at the expense of the disciples' understanding. See more on this subject in the chapter on Christ's predictions of his death.

M

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