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pagated the Christian faith with such success, that multitudes, both of men and women, From the benot only became converts, but engaged themselves likewise in a more strict profession† Gospels to of the religion that he taught them than ordinary. Mark ii. 23.
ginning of the Matth ix. 8.
Luke vi. 1.
From Alexandria he removed westward, and passing through the countries of Marmorica, Pentapolis, and some others in his way to Libya, (though the people were barbarous in their manners, as well as idolatrous in their worship) by his preaching and miracles he not only converted, but, before he departed, confirmed them in the profes→ sion of the Gospel. Upon his return to Alexandria he preached with all boldness, ordered and disposed of the affairs of the church, and wisely provided for the continuance thereof, by constituting governors and pastors in it. (a) The great number of miracles which he wrought, and the reproaches which some of the converts made upon the senseless idols of the Egyptians, so exasperated their rage, that they were resolved to destroy this introducer of a new religion among them. It was at the time of Easter, when the great solemnities of their god Serapis happened to be celebrated; at which festival, the minds of the people being excited to a passionate vindication of the honour of their idol, broke in upon St Mark, then engaged in the solemn celebration of Divine worship, and, binding his feet, they dragged him through the streets and other rugged places to a precipice near the sea; but for that night they thrust him into a dark prison, where his soul, by a Divine vision, was strengthened and encouraged under the ruins of a shattered body. Early next morning the tragedy began again. For, in the same manner as they had done the day before, they dragged him about till his flesh being raked off and his veins emptied of blood, his spirits failed, and he expired: But their malice died not with him, for taking the poor remains of his body, they threw them into a fire and so burnt them; but his bones and ashes the Christians gathered up, and decently intombed near the place where he usually preached.
(b) After the defeat of Simon Magus, (whereof we shall have occasion to say more hereafter) the reputation of the Christian religion grew so great, and converts at Rome became so many, that they were desirous to have in writing those doctrines which had hitherto been imparted to them by word of mouth only. St Mark, to whom this request was made, accordingly set himself to recollect what he, by long conversation, had learned from St Peter, who (when the other had finished the work) perused, approved, and recommended it to the use of the churches: And for this reason it is, by some of the ancients, styled St Peter's Gospel; not that St Peter dictated it to St Mark, but because St Mark did chiefly compose it out of that account which St Peter usually delivered in his discourses to the people: And accordingly St Chrysostom (c) observes, that the evangelist, in his nervous style and manner of expression, takes a great delight to imitate St Peter.
+ This Gospel indeed was principally designed for the use of the Christians at Rome,
+ Philo, in his "Treatise of a Contemplative Life," gives us a long account and high commendation of a set of people (whom he calls gaTTar), who, in a pleasant place near the Maræotic lake in Egypt, form ed themselves into religious societies, and lived a strict philosophic life; and these Eusebius (Hist. Eccl lib. ii c. 16.) affirms to have been Christians, converted and brought under these admirable rules by St Mark at his coming into Egypt. But whoever seriously considers Philo's account, will plainly find that he intends it of Jews and professors of the Mosaic religion, and not of Christians; partly because it is improbable that Philo, being a Jew, should give so great a character and commendation of Christians, who were so hateful to the Jews at that time in all places of the world; partly because Philo speaks of them as an in
stitution of a considerable standing, whereas Chris-
(a) Cave's Lives of the Apostles.
(b) Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. iv.
+ The original Greek copy, under St Mark's own
A. M. 4034, and from hence some may be apt to think it highly congruous, that it should at first be &c. or 5439 written in the Latin tongue: But it must be considered, (a) that as the Jewish converts in that city understood but little Latin, so there were very few Romans that did not Vulg. Ær. 28. understand Greek, which (as appears from the writers of that age) was the genteel and
fashionable language of those times; nor can any good reasons be assigned why it should be more inconvenient for St Mark to write his Gospel in Greek for the use of the Romans, than that St Paul should, in the same language, write his epistle to that church.
We cannot compare St Matthew and St Mark together but must perceive, that the latter had seen the writings of the former, because he often uses the same terms, relates the same facts, and takes notice of the same circumstances (b); but we must not therefore infer, that all he intended in his work was simply to abridge him: (c) Be
scripts, wherein the twelve last verses of this Gospel are omitted; but they are extant in the greatest num ber of the most ancient and authentic copies, as well as in the works of Irenæus, an author of prior date to any of the manuscripts that want them. It is not to be questioned, therefore, but that they originally belonged to St Mark's Gospel, and were suppressed by some ignorant or conceited transcriber, upon the account of some seeming contradictions between St Matthew and this other evangelist, which, with a small skill in critical learning, may be easily reconciled. Cave's Lives of the Apostles, and Beausobre's Preface sur S. Marc.
[Baronius and other zealots of the church of Rome having taken a fancy to have at least one Latin Gospel, fabricated this senseless tale of the autograph of St Mark's Gospel to serve their purpose; and accordingly appealed for the truth of their hypothesis to a Latin-not a Greek-manuscript in the library of St Mark at Venice, which they said the evangelist had written with his own hand! 66 Though this assertion was not only incapable of proof, but like other stories of ancient relics savoured strongly of the fabulous, yet during some time it was difficult to give a positive proof of its falsity; for the dampness of the place, in which the manuscript was kept, had, fortunately for the admirers of this treasure, so materially injured it, as to have rendered it almost illegible. Hence Misson contended that it was written in Greek, for he fancied that he discovered in it the letters A and 2, aud in one passage the whole word KATA. But about forty (now near 70) years ago, Laurentius a Turre, in a letter published in Blanshini Evangeliarum Quadruplex, part ii. p. 543, threw a new and unexpected light on this obscure subject. He shewed that the manuscript in question was brought to Venice from Friuli (Forum Julii), where a very ancient Latin manuscript, containing the gospels of St Mat thew, St Luke, and St John is still preserved. That this manuscript once contained likewise the gospel of St Mark is certain; because at the end of St Matthew's gospel is written,-explicit evangelium secundum Matthæum, incipit secundum Marcum ;-and that the Venice manuscript of St Mark's gospel formerly made a part of the Friuli manuscript appears from the following circumstances. In the year 1534, the emperor Charles IV. (V.) brought with him from
Aquileia, where the manuscript was then preserved, the sixteen last leaves of a Latin manuscript of St Mark's gospel. This fragment is now (1788) at Prague, and has been lately published by Dobrowsky, under the title of Fragmentum Pragensi Evangelii S. Marci vulgo autographi. That the manuscript now in Friuli is no other than the manuscript, which, in the time of Charles IV. (V.) was in Aquileia appears from a comparison of it with the fragment in Prague, for they are written in the very same hand, on the same vellum, and in each page are precisely nineteen lines. And that the Venetian manuscript is the remaining part of St Mark's gospel, which fails in the Friuli manuscript, appears, first, from its having been sent from Friuli to Venice in the year 1420, as a present to the Doge Macenico; and, secondly, from its containing the five first quaternions of St Mark's gospel, of which the Prague fragment contains the two last. Blanchini has given a copperplate representing the letters of this manuscript, from which we perceive the cause of Misson's mistake. A he mistook for A, and E for E: and the imaginary word KATA was nothing more than the second, third, fourth, and fifth letters of IBATAUTEM. The pretended autograph of St Mark's gospei therefore is nothing more than a fragment of the Friuli manuscript published by Blanchini, and consequently contains only a part of the Latin translation!"
In this account of the removals of the manuscript from place to place, there is evidently some mistake. If it was brought from Aquileia in the year 1534, it could not have been by Charles the IV. for Charles the V. was then emperor, and he does not appear to have taken great interest in such relics. Accordingly Cave relates that it was in 1355, when Charles IV. was certainly emperor of Germany, that the manuscript was brought by that sovereign from Aquileia. Cave's words are,-Integer Codex a multis retro seculis in ecclesiæ Aquiliensis archivis asservatus, 7 quaternionibus constabat quorum duos ultimos Carolus IV. Imper. Ann. 1355, a fratre suo Nicolao tunc patriarcha impetravit, et in ecclesia Pragensi reposuit. Marsh's Michaelis, vol. 3. chap. 5. sect. 8. and Cave's Hist. Liter. sub. tit. Marc.];
(a) Cave's Lives of the Apostles.
(b) On this question see the ensuing Appendix, (c) Beausobre's Preface sur S. Marc.
cause he begins his Gospel in a different manner; he omits several things, particularly From the be our Lord's genealogy; he varies from him in the order of his narration; he relates some ginning of the facts that the other has omitted; he enlarges upon others in many particulars, and Matth. ix. 8. (what is no mean argument of his truth and impartiality in all the rest) the shameful Mark ii. 23. lapse and denial of his beloved Master St Peter he sets down, with more and more aggravating circumstances than any of the other evangelists have recorded.
Luke vi. 1.
St Luke, who, by some ancient authors is called Lucius and Lucanus, was a Syrian by birth, a native of Antioch, and by profession a physician. Antioch (a), the metropolis of Syria, was at this time a city celebrated for the pleasantness of its situation, the fertility of its soil, the riches of its traffic, the wisdom of its senate, the learning of its professors, and the civility and politeness of its inhabitants, by the pens of some of the greatest orators of their times; and yet, above all these, it was renowned for this one peculiar honour, that in this place it was "where the disciples were first named Christians."
In Antioch there was a famous university, well replenished with learned professors of all arts and sciences, where St Luke could not miss of a liberal education; however he did not only study in Antioch, but in all the schools of Greece and Egypt, whereby he became accomplished in every part of human literature: And as the Greek academies were then more especially famous for the study of physic, our evangelist, for some time, applied himself solely to the practice of that; and after his conversion continued very likely in the same profession, which was far from being inconsistent, but rather subservient to the ministry of the Gospel, or the cure of souls.
As to his other accomplishment, the art of painting, the ancients knew nothing of it. Nicephorus (b) is the first author that mentions it; and though a great deal of pains has been taken to prove that some pieces, still extant, were drawn by his own hand, yet the ancient inscription, found in a vault near St Mary's church in the Via lata at Rome, (the place where St Paul's house is said to have stood), where mention is made of a picture of the Blessed Virgin, as one of the seven painted by St Luke, is an argument of better authority for his skill in that art than any that the Jesuit Gretser, in his laborious treatise, (c) has produced. But whether ever our evangelist painted the Blessed Virgin or not, it is certain that he has left us so many particulars (omitted by others) relating to the conception, birth, and infancy of her son, (d) that he seems to have been acquainted with her, and to have had some share in her confidence.
That he was one of the seventy disciples is a notion inconsistent with his own decla ration in the preface to his Gospel; wherein he informs us, that the facts therein contained were communicated to him by others, who had been (e)" eye witnesses, and ministers of the Word from the beginning :" And therefore the most probable opinion is, that as the Jews lived in great numbers, and had their synagogues and schools of education at Antioch, St Luke was at first a Jewish proselyte, but afterwards, by St Paul, (while he abode in this city) converted to the Christian faith (f). A companion of his travels and sufferings he plainly appears to have been, if not from his first conversion, at least from the time of St Paul's first going into Macedonia; for there, in bis account of the apostle's actions, he changes his style, and (g) includes himself ever after as a party concerned in the narrative.
The truth is, he followed him in all his dangers, was with him at several arraignments at Jerusalem, and accompanied him in his desperate voyage to Rome, where he still attended on him, to serve his necessities, and supply those ministerial offices which
(a) Cave's Lives of the Apostles. et à St Lucâ pict. c. 18, 19. (f) See the ensuing Appendix.
(b) Lib. ii. c. 43.
(c) De Imagine non Manuf.
&c. or 5429.
A. M. 4034, the apostle's confinement would not suffer him to undergo Nay, it appears from a
he continued his attendance on him until the apostle had finished his course, and
After the death of St Paul, how he disposed of himself is not so certain. Some are of opinion that he returned into the East, and in Egypt and Lydia preached the Gospel, wrought miracles, converted multitudes, and constituted guides and ministers of religion; but others rather think that he travelled into Dalmatia, Gallia, Italy, and Macedonia, where he spared no pains, nor declined any dangers, that he might faithfully discharge the trust committed to him. (c) Upon his coming into Greece, those who make him die a violent death (for some are of a contrary opinion) tell us, that he preached with great success, and baptized many converts into the Christian faith, till a party of infidels, making head against him, drew him to execution, and for want of a cross whereon to dispatch him, hanged him upon an olive tree, in the eightieth year of his
We have two pieces of his, viz. his Gospel, and the History of the Apostolic Acts, wrote for the use of the churches, and both dedicated to Theophilus: But who this Theophilus was it is not so easy a matter to determine, since many of the ancients themselves have taken this name in a general appellative sense, for a lover of God, a title common to every good Christian; but others (with better reason) have thought that it is the proper name of some person of distinction, since the title of Most excellent is annexed to it, which is the usual form of address to princes and great men. But who this person of distinction was it is impossible to tell, only we may suppose that he was some considerable magistrate, whom St Luke had converted, and to whom he now dedicated his books, not only as a testimony of honourable respect, but as a means of giving him a farther information of those things wherein he had instructed him.
(d) The occasion of his writing his Gospel was (as himself intimates) the rash and wrong accounts given to the world by some, who, either out of ignorance or design, had misrepresented the actions and doctrines of Christ, and sowed the seeds of error in the church. It is certain that this evangelist is more circumstantial in relating the facts, and more exact in the method and order of them, than either of the two who wrote before him. e) The history of Zacharias, the generation of John the Baptist, the angel's coming to the Blessed Virgin, Elizabeth's salutation of her at the first interview, the occasion of Joseph and Mary's going to Bethlehem, the circumstances of our Saviour's birth there, the publication of it to the shepherds, and the testimony which Simeon and Anna gave to him in the temple; these, and several other pieces of history, as well as the parables of the lost sheep, lost piece of money, and returning prodigal son, &c. are not related by any other evangelist. His history therefore is an excellent supplement of what they have omitted; nor does it in the least detract from the authority of his relations that he himself was not present at the doing of them: For if we consider who were the persons from whom he derived his account of things, he had a stock of intelligence sufficiently authentic to proceed upon; and when he had finished it, had the
(a) 2 Tim. iv. 11.
(b) 2 Cor. viii. 18.
(c) Cave's Life of St Luke.
(d) Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. iv.
ten before him, either with misrepresenting the ac-
(e) Pool's Argument on St Luke.
sanction and approbation of an apostle, divinely inspired (as himself likewise was), even From the beginning of the of the great apostle of the Gentiles, to confirm it t. Gospels to
Mark ii. 23.
Whoever looks into the beginning of St Luke's history of the apostolic Acts, may Matth. ix. 8. easily perceive that it is a continuation of what he had related in his Gospel; for it takes up the story at our Saviour's ascension, and continues it to St Paul's arrival at Rome after his appeal to Cæsar, and so, properly speaking, is but one history divided into two parts The main difference between the Gospel and the Acts is, that in the former he writes from the information he had from others, but such as were true and authentic witnesses; in the latter, from his own knowledge and personal concern in the things he relates.
His chief design, in the composition of this work, was to write a true history of the apostles, and of the foundation of the Christian church, in opposition to the false acts and false histories which began then to be dispersed about the world. This history, however, does not comprise the acts of all the apostles, but confines itself chiefly to the most remarkable passages of two, St Peter and St Paul, and even of these two it gives us but a short and summary account. St Peter's story carries it down no lower than his deliverance from Herod's imprisoning him, and the death of his persecutor, which happened in the year of our i.ord 44; and yet, the apostle lived four and twenty years after this. And in like manner, the History of St Paul is far from being compleat. For, as from the time of his conversion, there is very little said of him, to his coming to Iconium, which was twelve years after; so his story proceeds no farther than to his first coming to Rome, in the year of our Lord 58, ‡ and yet, after this, he lived ten years, and, having preached the gospel in Spain, and other parts of the west, at last returned to Rome, and there suffered matrydom.
(a) It must be owned, however, that the evangelist is more particular in his account of St Paul than of any other of the apostles, and that not only because he was more signally active in the cause of Christianity, but because St Luke was his constant attendant, an eye-witness of the whole carriage of his life, and privy to his most intimate transactions, and therefore capable of giving a more full and satisfactory relation of them.
(b) The evangelist's design, in short, was not to compose a large volume, but only to single out some few things which he thought necessary for the instruction of the faithful; and, in this respect, his work may be called an historical demonstration of the truth of the Christian religion, since therein we perceive our Lord's promises fulfilled, in his mission of the Holy Ghost, in his resurrection and ascension into heaven, in the sovereign power he exercises there, in the mircles he enabled his followers to work, in the rise and wonderful progress of his religion, and, in one word, in the Christian church becoming the church universal by the call to the Gentiles.
We have only one thing more to remark concerning this history, viz. That, as St Luke wrote it at Rome, [or in Greece (c)], and at the end of St Paul's two years imprisonment there, with which he concludes his story; so his way and manner of writing is exact and accurate; his style polite and elegant, sublime and noble, and yet easy and perspicuous, flowing with a natural grace and sweetness, admirably adapted to an his
+[All these opinions respecting the conversion of St Luke to the faith by St Paul, and the era and origin of his gospel, were indeed long and very gene rally received; but notwithstanding this, many of them seem to be erroneous. See the Appendix to this Dissertation.
This and the following dates of ten years seem to be both erroneous. There is hardly room for doubt, but that it was A. D. 61 that St. Paul first
arrived as a prisoner at Rome, where he was detain-
(a) Cave's Life of St Luke.
(b) Beausobre's Pref. sur les Actes des Apôtres.