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THE design of this Publication is to present one continuous Narrative of the Life of Christ, without deviating from the words of Scripture. It is no insignificant proof of the Divine Inspiration of the writings of the four Evangelists, that they can be thus combined into one History, without contradiction or variance; the differences between them having arisen from the circumstance of one Writer being replete where another is concise, or communicative when the others are silent. No one Book, though much more copious than the four Books together, could possibly have afforded such convincing evidence of authenticity: and it is remarkable, that while one Evangelist relates events not recorded by the others, and which seem to have peculiarly impressed his own mind; they all dwell, with more or less fulness, on those momentous realities in the life and death of our Saviour which constitute the essence of Christianity.
Although thousands, and hundreds of thousands, peruse almost daily a portion of the Gospels, and thus repeatedly read through the whole of them in their lifetime, and become so familiarly acquainted with their contents that every line is recognized, if not accurately retained in the memory ;-yet, comparatively few readers of the Bible can recollect the chronological order of the touching scenes and impressive facts in the life of Jesus Christ, or of the surprising miracles which he wrought, or of the beautiful parables and sublime teachings which he uttered,-with as much precision as they remember other biographies, though read comparatively seldom, and in which they have little or no personal
This representation may be said to apply to general and cursory readers only; as every Scripture-student may be presumed to have so collated the four Gospels, as to have arranged and registered events in his own mind in as orderly a manner as a combined narrative can depict them. But, if every biographical portrait owes part of its interest to the arrangement of its features;-if the history of Jesus Christ is infinitely more interesting than all other histories;-and if it is too much to expect from the general reader, that he should become a biblical student, this compilation may afford agreeable facilities to those whom it was especially intended to benefit.
The indistinctness which exists in the minds of many
readers with regard to the order of the occurrences related by the Evangelists, is attributable not only to the several impressions made by four separate narratives, but also to the division of all of them into short chapters and abrupt verses, which greatly facilitates quotation and reference, but is very unfavourable to clear perception and comprehensive recollection. Few other books would bear to be so amputated and disjointed, without losing a great deal of their interest.
The Compiler acknowledges that he approached his task with a sacred, or perhaps a superstitious, awe, which would have deterred him from completing it, if he had not reflected that he was only doing actually that which every careful student of God's word is in the habit of doing mentally; and which almost every reader of the Bible does occasionally and imperfectly; and often wishes to do more thoroughly, when looking at the beautiful delineations of one Evangelist, and recollecting some exquisite touches elsewhere which must be introduced to make the picture perfect. The consideration, too, of the diligent labour and deep research of many learned and pious men in the arrangement of parallel passages, and in the elucidation of one passage by another, gave encouragement to proceed; and the beautiful harmony which developed itself at every step would not permit the work to remain unfinished.
It may be hastily supposed, that, in combining the four books, it would be requisite to introduce connect
ing words, or sentences, so frequently, as to affect the identity of the original narratives. If so, the Compiler's reverence for the very words of Scripture would have prevented him from placing in the hands of others that which has afforded himself a more perspicuous view of the Saviour's history than he before possessed. But it is so entirely otherwise, that, although the chain of the separate narratives has been broken and linked together again in more than eighteen hundred places, the only additions necessary to maintain the connexion are the following; which are particularized, lest it should be suspected that the Compiler's and the Reader's estimate of the importance of innovations may differ.
The words or, in, it, her, him, and them, have been introduced once only; the word the has been inserted twice; the word they, four times;-the word he, six times; and the word and, twenty-three times.
In the exposition of the Parable of the Sower, the singular number is used by Matthew, and the plural by Mark and Luke: in combining them it was necessary to assimilate them in this respect.
Matthew mentions two men possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs; Mark and Luke confine their narratives to one man only :-continuity has been preserved by introducing the words one of them.
By interrupting the words of one Evangelist, and admitting those of another, a pronoun has, in a few instances, been removed so far from its antecedent as
to produce obscurity. This has occurred seven times; and has been obviated by repeating the antecedent noun (in a parenthesis) after the pronoun.
These interpolations, and they are the only ones, are printed in Italics, that they may be immediately distinguished.
It is not improbable or unreasonable, that the inquiry will be made, What omissions are there? The reply that can be given is the only one that would be satisfactory to the Compiler:-not a single word in either Gospel has been intentionally or knowingly omitted, unless the same, or a synonymous, or a more comprehensive word has been found in another Gospel and adopted. The exclusion of all the repetitions reduces the combined length of the four Gospels by about one eighth only.
The words omitted in the Book of John, and which are comprised in the other Gospels, are equal to only fourteen verses, or a sixty-third part of the whole Book.
The authorized version has been invariably followed; and the marginal references show from which Book every word has been selected.
In the chronological arrangement of events, the Compiler has been guided by the able and well-known Critics who have devoted especial attention to this subject,-Newcome, Greswell, Townsend, Townson, Doddridge, and others. He would, however, readily