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an unction from the Holy One, giving the knowledge of all things. *
It is necessary, then, that there should be a truc record (especially that the existing ones so radically unsound may be supplanted) of the most important teachings of Jesus Christ; and all the more that there is now no strong hope of his immediate appearance, of that advent which is being indefinitely postponed, which, indeed, could never have been promised in the words given in these Gospels.
Seeing, then (let us suppose him to continue), that we have no faithful narrative of the Gospel, and that, though there is such need, it cannot be obtained of man, all the apostles having been long dead, why should not I write as well as another, yea, why not rather, since the Spirit has caused me to discern the need thereof?
I have faith that God will reveal even this unto me, and give me that anointing of the Spirit which teacheth all things, “all mysteries, and all knowledge.” Can it be denied to the prayer of faith? Impossible, seeing also that it is most surely in accordance with the will of God.
Such a man as this would therefore pray that the divine unction should rest upon him, and teach him the very words that Jesus had uttered, those words of chief importance, pregnant with spirit and life. Praying thus in faith, in like faith he commences his work, deliberately striking the Logos note to bring himself into harmony with what shall be revealed to him (i.e. in him); and, being impressed with the conviction—since the Logos is the Christ, who is the Incarnate Word—that there must, in the first place, have been full and explicit testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus, and to the fact that he, the Word made flesh, was the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world, we find, accordingly, that the Baptist is most emphatic in his testimony,* having been first himself convinced by a sign from heaven.t
* See 1 John ii. 20, 27.
It must, he concludes, be untrue that Simon Peter was first to profess faith in the Messiahship, and that not till near the end of Jesus' life; nor could the Saviour have uttered the words put into his mouth, to the effect that no human being had informed Simon of it. So the author of the fourth Gospel represents the Christhood of Jesus as having been known to Simon from the first, since it was expressly told him by his brother Andrew, who had it from the Baptist; for, to the fourth evangelist, discipleship to Jesus implied a profession of belief in him as the Christ.
Jesus had definitely instructed his disciples not to go (with the good tidings of the approaching kingdom) into any city of the Samaritans, but to confine themselves to the house of Israel. But it appears to our author impossible that such commands could have been given ; accordingly he suppresses and, after his manner, obliquely nullifies them, for his Jesus himself John i. 29–31. + John i. 33, 34.
# John i. 35-51.
goes into Samaria, and reveals to a woman of that district that he is the Christ, and he obtained many disciples among the Samaritans. *
The main purpose of this Gospel is acknowledged at its closet for since the existing narratives are not fitted to confirm any believer, being rather likely to raise doubts as to the Messiahship than to allay them, it is necessary that a true account be given of the prominent points of Jesus' teaching, and especially that respecting his own rank in the spiritual world, and the universality of his redeeming grace.
As the John of the Apocalypse places himself in spirit—in imagination-forward into the day of the Lord, so does the fourth evangelist transport himself backward into the day of the Lord already past, making as vivid a picture to himself as he is able, fondly believing that he is so guided by the Holy Spirit as to reproduce actual occurrences, and the very words uttered by the Christ on many important occasions. He thus from time to time continues his work as thoughts occur to him, inserting from the prior Gospels such narratives as commend themselves, inserting also what he deems necessary to counteract the errors of those Gospels, and probably he interweaves some traditions of Jesus as they rose to his mind, such as, by the laws of association of ideas, happened to fit in with his train of thought. That Jesus should not personally have given the Holy Ghost to his disciples before his ascension, is another
John iv. 25, 26; 39-42. + John xx. 30, 31.
point that needs correction; instead, therefore, of waiting till after his “ascension,” to give it from heaven, * the Jesus of the fourth Gospel, the first time he sees them after his resurrection, breathes on them, saying, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” † And the Spirit is not confined to the apostles, for all the glory which he gives them is also to be given to “all who should hereafter believe on him through their word." I
And the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, will testify of Jesus, and will be for a guide to all truth.
And thus it is we propound this theory as the most credible indeed quite tenable) as to the origin of the fourth Gospel, a work which has caused, and will yet cause, so much controversy.
We must not conceive the author as at any time entering on or proceeding with his work without first, in the name of Jesus Christ, praying the Father for the Spirit to guide him into all the truth concerning the Son and his teaching; for he agrees with the Synoptics in this, that God will give his Spirit to them that ask him.||
Perhaps it is worth while to summarize the leading features of what we contend for in this chapter :
1. The dominant ideas of the fourth Gospel are traceable to Pauline and Alexandrian sources.
* See Luke xxiv. 49-52 ; and Acts ii. 1-4, also ver. 33. + John xx. 22.
# John xvii. 20-22. $ John xv. 26; xvi. 13, 14.
|| See John xvi. 23: “If ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name.” And see xiv. 13, 14; also xv. 16; and especially “ That the Father may be glorified in the Son."
2. The author of that Gospel was educated in those ideas.
3. They are to him the chief constituents of the Gospel of Christ.
4. As such, they must have been first spoken by the Lord (i.e. he so believes, without doubt).
5. That the existing records of Christ's life and teaching ignore them, and even are to some extent at variance therewith.
6. Hence there is a crying need for the very words of the Master, relative to himself; for his words are spirit and life, and are the Word of God, which is truth, by which believers are sanctified ; * by which also many who now are not believers may come to salvation through confessing that Jesus is the Christ.
7. As the Spirit searcheth all things, and reveals all needful truth,† and as the Father will give the Spirit to each one who asks for it in his Son's name, he will, if I thus ask (thinks our author), bestow the Comforter on me, as a Guide to the truth which uttered itself by the Word; he will testify of the Christ, will take of his things and give them to me, that I may write them for the perfecting of the saints, and that the Son may be glorified, and the Father glorified in the Son It must be so. It is according to the will of God.
8. Therefore, nothing doubting, but trusting in the promised guidance, he muses on the ideas (to him, the truths) in question, and bethinks himself as to
* See John xvii. 14-17.
of I Cor. ii. 10-16.