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No theory in reference to the inspiration of the four Gospels and the sources whence the inspired penmen derived their accounts appears to me satisfactory, unless it clearly recognises that the four narratives are capable of minute and complete harmony. I do not say that we shall ever be able to do more than arrive at what is called in the Introduction to this volume, “ An idea of their harmony;” but only,that our inability to harmonize them arises, not from the fact that they do not admit of it, but, from our own lack of information.
Such harmonies. as have been or may be drawn out by Biblical scholars will always be too complicated, and require too much close research for ordinary readers. And happily the construction and study of harmonies is not neces sary for the saving reception of the testimony borne by the Evangelists to Christ. But I view the publication of this volume with much satisfaction and interest, as supplying, in the very words of our own authorized version, and without note or comment, a continuous Life of Christ-the Prophet of Nazareth and the Saviour of Men. It has long appeared to me a great mistake, and one to be much lamented, to suppose that, in order to the instruction of little children in the truths of the Bible, we must throw the Scripture narratives into other than Bible language. An intelligent and careful teacher does better by taking the very words of our own venerable and precious translation even with the youngest child in the nursery or the school-class, than by substituting any of those numerous works which give the sacred story with undue familiarity, in mean and undignified language. I would recommend every Eunice and Lois, no less than every “teacher of babes” in our Infant Schools, to teach the life of Christ, and the Old Testament histories also, in Bible language. And, by no means as a substitute for the study and comparison of the four Gospels in their respective peculiarities, but, as presenting in one continuous narrative “The one Story of the four Gospels,”—I cannot but anticipate that the present arrangement is likely to prove very useful and very interesting.
I trust that the volume will fall into the hands of Christian parents, who are careful that their children should know the Holy Scriptures; and that, in addition to more minute teaching, it will be used to give the young a general and continuous view of the earthly life of IMMANUEL. In the same way, I cordially recommend its adoption in Schools, believing that it is very desirable that every scholar should, at least once in his life, read in this form the history of those momentous FACTS on which our common salvation” rests.
JOHN C. MILLER.
THE “Prophet of Nazareth!" What a life, and what a character were His! He was the Holy One, “harmless and undefiled,” though a sojourner in this our fallen world !--"separate from sinners,” though the sinner's friend !—“chief among ten thousand, though found in the form of a servant!—the “altogether lovely,” though despised and rejected of men!—the
Son of the Blessed,” though a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief!
The story of the Gospels! What wondrous records of so wondrous a life! How condensed, and yet how full! how simple, and yet how stirring! how majestic in design, yet how minute in detail! how spiritual in their teachings, and yet how graphic in their picturings! how inspiriting the lofty theme, and yet what absence of effort, or pretension, or enthusiasm, in the treatment of it! Not a sentence but brings out in full relief one or other of the Great Teacher's matchless attributes; and yet scarcely a sentence of direct eulogy! It is John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and who warmly reflected the love of Jesus, that can least refrain from making repeated mentions of His glory and His grace. But, for the most part, we must turn from the Gospels to the Epistles for express comments on the character of the Redeemer. It is an Apostle who tells us in so many words, that “ He did no sin;" and another Apostle who records, in set terms, that “He pleased not Himself.” The Evangelists are guardedly silent in His praise. They calmly chronicle His actions, and leave His mighty and merciful deeds to speak for themselves. The impulse of affection, had they blindly followed it, would no doubt have led them to expatiate on the qualities of Him whose career they were portraying. But the Spirit of God, who spake in them and by them, put forth a restraining power, and bid them forbear. It was their mission, as historians, simply to state facts; it would be the province of others, as apostles and teachers, to dilate on the living truths, and to gather up the scattered hints, which lay beneath those facts. It was for the Evangelists (in our sense of the term, as gospel-writers) to announce the marvellous , tale; it was for Evangelists (in the Scripture sense of the term, as gospel-preachers) to go about, and proclaim far and near the meaning and import of the mystery. Hence we find that the gospel-writers tell us rather of what Christ did and said, than of what He was. His personal character is incidentally revealed on every page, and in almost every line; but it ever shines in and through his actions and His words.
We have this story in four Gospels. So Divine wisdom has ordained. And we may see reason to admire the ordainment. Distinct witnesses are thus furnished, whose independence of statement marks them to be worthy of due examination. The differences in their testimony may at first sight startle the enquirer; but they vanish away in a moment, when he is brought rightly to understand the design at which the Evangelists specially aimed. The writers of the Gospels were not professed biographers. They did not make it their study to write a mere life, and to give a formal sketch of its onward course from the cradle to the tomb. It was a Saviour's life which they had to trace; and as a Saviour, they constantly bring Him before us.
Inasmuch, then, as the work of salvation could be