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Paul in his later travels, and probably also well acquaint, ed with the other apostles. In the introduction to his gospel he mentions his ability to collect and arrange the most authentic accounts that he could collect for his undertaking.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are said to have written their gospels about the year a. D. 64, when written accounts of the life of Christ would be particularly wanted as the great actors in the fcene were then going off the stage, and the principal church at Jerusalem was about to be broken up, and the members of it difpersed, by the approaching Jewilh war.
John wrote after the rest, and is said to have intend. ed his gospel to be a supplement to the others, which being composed when he was old, and being probably written in detached parts, was perhaps put together by other persons. The greatest part of his gospel consists of discourses and incidents not recorded by any of the other evangelifts, but other parts are very circumstantial details of events related by them ; being perhaps taken from his mouth before he had seen the other gospels ; and in some cases in which his account differs from that of the other evangelists, he seems to have intended to be more exact than they were.
The style of John is very peculiar, and highly figu. rative, and he represents our Saviour as using a lan. guage of which we should have had no idea from the writings of the other evangelists. On this account his Gospel, and his other writings, are difficult to be understood
Tho' we have only four original writers of the life of Jesus, the evidence of the history does not rest on the testimony of four men. Chriftianity had been propagated in a great part of the world before any of them had written, on the testimony of thousands, and tens of thousands, who had been witnesses of the great facts which they have recorded; so that the writing of these particular books are not to be conlidered as the cause but rather the effect of the belief of christianity ; nor could those books have been written and received as they were, viz. as authentic histories, of the subject of which all persons of that age were judges, if the facts they have recorded had not been well known to be true.
Two of the gospels, viz. those of Luke and John, have introductions, or observations previous to their entering on the history, that of Luke being designed to thew his competency to the undertaking, and that of John indirectly animadverting on some opinions con. cerning the person of Christ, which were very prevalent at the time of his writing, and which seem to have been the occasion of all that he wrote. I shall begin with that of Luke,