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is known in them, with the account of the journey to Samaria, a narration, peculiar to himself, and which, if he has not read them, renders a narration, (in every other respect, singularly clear,) difficult and unconnected.
Chap. xii. 16. The disciples had long had it in remembrance, namely, that the Messiah, coming and riding upon an ass had been predicted in the prophets, " and that they had done these things unto him.” But John does not repeat what the disciples did, but assumes it, as already known from the other gospels, making, as is usual with him, additions of his own, that the disciples had, loosened and brought him the ass, which some had bound upon the road.
. Chap. xv. 20. “ Remember the word that I said unto you;” this implies a reader, who is acquainted with what Jesus had previously told to his disciples, and with the subsequent events; these, however, are not recorded by John, but by the other evangelists. In the history of the resurrection, other examples will be brought forward in illustration of this general observation. From these, however, the mode, or as we now say, the manner of John in narration, becomes easier to be understood.
In concurrence with this, he generally omits what the other evangelists have written, and it is thus, that by far the greatest part of the life of Jesus, which we read in them, is wanting in him; we must not, therefore, argue from this omission that there is a contradiction between him, and the other evangelists; but this is a favourite ground with unbelievers; John does not even mention, that Jesus was born, but this, no unbeliever denies. When, however, he has any thing in common with the other evangelists, it is generally in one of these cases :
1. When he is desirous of using the repetition as an introduction to some very important and necessary detail, such for instance, as the history in the sixth chapter, of Jesus feeding five thousand men with five loaves, and of his walking on the sea. These are related by the four evangelists, but the object of John is to relate the valuable discourses connected with the middle of the chapter, and this he could not have done, or have been intelligible, unless he had introduced the previous history which gave rise to the discourses, and here, he as a subsequent writer, adds, and, I may say, improves. But of this hereafter.
2. Another time it seems to be his object to
add circumstances, omitted in the other evangelists; as for instance, he relates, in common with them, in his twelfth chapter, the supper at Bethany, the unction of Jesus, and his entrance into Jerusalem, but here there are important additions, especially that of Lazarus, of whom, as I have observed in my introduction, the others had so much reason to be silent, and whose name illustrated his splendid entrance into Jerusalem, chap. xii. 1, 2, 17, 18. nor must we omit the name of Judas Iscariot, (v. 4, 5.) who may here have formed his resolution to betray Jesus from a principle of hatred and envy. In fact, the history of the temper and treason of this unfortunate man, and at the same time, the strongest evidences of Christianity may be more completely and instructively drawn from this evangelist, than from any other.
3. When the other evangelists have been either incomplete, or obscure, he either amplifies, or illustrates ; so far at least I may say, and, in truth, I do not like to go further, if I wish to adhere to the doctrine of our church, with respect to the divine inspiration in historical details, and their miraculous infallibility. Assuming, however, the reverse, then I should
say, that, where his predecessors have failed in any instance, the superior information of John rectifies their narration. We should find hereafter, sufficient examples of this assertion, especially, where they tend to illustrate; some few, where mistakes are rectified. But every reader must judge for himself, and I am not desirous of forestalling judgment. To give one instance, and yet, without wishing to prejudice the reader, compare John vi. 21. with the parallel passages in the other evangelists, and inquire, whether the eye-witness, and a most accurate observer of facts, and the subsequent reader of the gospels of the other writers does not here make some, although a very slight correction?
If that, which I have said in this treatise, with a view to obviate the objection, “ that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimatbea, having already embalmed Jesus at his burial, it was singular, that the women, according to Luke and Mark, should be also desirous of embalming him, and the more so, when a guard was purposely placed before the grave;” if this, I say, gives my reader no satisfaction, and he exclaims, my doubts, or rather the contradiction still remains, then, I repeat, let it remain, and
the contradiction of John will resolve itself into one of these mild and minor corrections. Mark and Luke, who were not eye-witnesses, will then have only committed a very slight error, and the language of John is then “ Other biographers of Jesus have heard something of embalming, and have not clearly understood it. The women did not wish to embalm Jesus; they wished once more to see
grave, already embalmed by Nicodemus." He could decidedly give more accurate information, than any other disciple, because he alone of all the disciples remained at the cross, and the mother of Jesus was with him in the house. The reader, however, must decide for himself. But in this case, this gentle correction of a statement of his predecessors is not to me so probable as the answer, which is given in the book itself. The charge which has been brought against Christianity by its enemies is singular and untenable : “ The evangelists come forward, as witnesses, or rather historians of what they had seen and heard, and who have arranged with one another, but who have forgotten to arrange a complete history.” Certainly if they had made this arrangement, they would not have been charged with ten contradictions,