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6. Conclusion.

It is some years since I began to suspect the common mode of reasoning in respect to a Hebrew original of Matthew; although the confidence reposed in it appeared to be so unwaver-. ing on the part of many writers. Every fresh investigation has served to increase my doubts; and they are now so strong, that I am forced to regard the assumption of a Hebrew original as improbable in itself, and as altogether incapable of being established by satisfactory proof.

We may, on an impartial review of the whole case, say truly, that there are difficulties on both sides of the question. How can we dispose of the declarations of the Fathers? This is one difficulty. I have endeavoured to shew how we can dispose of them, with entire respect to their integrity, and without impeachment of their understanding. What Papias said at an early period, passed current afterwards; not simply on his authority, but on the ground that it was countenanced or supported by the testimony of the Judaizing Christians. Irenaeus, who cherished a high respect for Papias, received his views, we can hardly doubt, from that writer, in respect to a Hebrew Matthew. If Eusebius did not the same, still we can easily account for his speaking as he does, on the ground of tradition and of reports derived from the Nazarenes and Ebionites. And so in the case of others. Most plainly and palpably the great body of the fathers, in this case, are hors du combat as to any ability to testify from personal knowledge or examination. Such as had ability to examine, renounced the authority of the Hebrew Gospel; and these same fathers have given us extracts enough from it to show, that they did this with good and sufficient reason. In a word, all the testimony derived from actual knowledge of the Gospel in Hebrew, does nothing but show that it was a spurious, interpolated Gospel; in many respects, indeed, having a resemblance to our Matthew, in many others differing widely and even offensively from him. Is it not time for critics to cease from eulogizing and defending such a Gospel ?

On the other hand, the facts adduced in the preceding pages can never be well accounted for, on the supposition of a genuine Hebrew original extant in the 2nd, 3d, and 4th centuries. They are incompatible with such a state of things; and therefore such a state is incredible. The facts cannot be denied. VOL. XII. No. 31.


They are not matters of conjecture or uncertainty. The internal state of the Gospel itself proclaims, that the writer had foreigners in his eye when he composed it. How can a Hebrew original be admitted under such circumstances, and in spite of all these difficulties? I cannot deem it probable; I - must believe, that our canonical Matthew came from the hands of its author as it now is, with the exception of some slight variations in its readings occasionally, which are not of sufficient importance to affect in any degree worth naming the question before us.

I cannot even go with Bengel, who, moved by some of the difficulties that I have suggested, says: "Quid obstat, quo minus idem [Matthaeus] Graece eundem librum eodem exemplo scripserit?" He means to say, that it is not improbable that Matthew wrote his Gospel originally, both in Greek and Hebrew, on the same exemplar; so that both Jews and Greeks could avail themselves of it. Of the like opinion was Dr. Townson of England; and Guerike of Halle has also recently published similar views. But there is no example of any thing like this, in respect to the Old Testament or the New. The books of Ezra and Daniel, a mixture of Chaldee and Hebrew, still never exhibit the same matter in both languages.

The Epistle to the Hebrews even, was not written in Hebrew. The labour would have been superfluous.

Doubtless the three critics above mentioned were moved with the difficulties attending the supposition of an exclusive Hebrew original, on the one hand, and on the other they do not seem to have been satisfied how the testimony of the fathers could be disposed of without impeaching their credit. Hence they made a conjecture which seemed to reconcile both opinions in relation to our subject. It is possible they may be in the right. Yet when we consider, that all the testimony we have of a Hebrew original goes to prove this to have been a spurious and interpolated Matthew, why need we be anxious in regard to this testimony? It shows indeed that there was, quite early, a so called Hebrew Gospel xarà Mardaïov; it shews that the Nazarenes and Ebionites claimed this as coming from the apostle Matthew; but all this may be admitted, and yet an original Hebrew Gospel actually written by this apostle, be very reasonably doubted. The origin of a Greek version, from an unknown author, and at an unknown time-a version of such a book as this-buried in such inexplicable obscurity,

is a problem that cannot be satisfactorily solved. Still less can the conduct of the fathers be accounted for, who never once thought of appealing to the Hebrew Gospel as a document of authority.

I cannot therefore admit the currency of such a Gospel-not even along with a Greek copy. The conduct of the church catholic is utterly inexplicable, when this is once admitted.

I must come, therefore, to a conclusion quite different from that of Mr. Norton, in respect to the original language of Matthew's Gospel. Quite as wide apart we are, also, in respect to the genuineness of Matthew I. II. The question respecting these chapters, however, remains yet to be discussed. After the preceding disquisition, it may occupy perhaps less time and room than the first question has occupied. But it is time to close our discussion for the present; the remaining topic of inquiry must be reserved for a future number of this work.



By Rev. R. W. Landis, Jeffersonville, Pa. [Continued from Vol. XI. p. 481.]

§ II. Views entertained by the Reformers on the subject of Faith.

It is contended by some that it is an essential departure from the principles of the Reformation to maintain that faith is simply an act of the mind, and is itself imputed for righteousness.*

*The fourth charge of Dr. Junkin against Mr. Barnes is, “Mr. Barnes teaches that faith is an act of the mind and not a principle, and is itself imputed for righteousness:" in support of which he quotes from "Notes on Romans" p. 94, 95. To give the reader an idea of the strong points of the evidence we subjoin a part of Dr. Junkin's summary, viz. "Mr Barnes says, 'the strong act of Abraham's faith.' He could not write without contradicting his own doctrine. What sense is in the phrase, 'the strong act of Abraham's act of the mind? It is impossible to introduce this definition of his

The reader by consulting the note in the margin, will perceive the true state of the case, and render it unnecessary for us in this place to be more particular in our allusions. We will proceed to examine what were the views of the Reformation on the points here in controversy.

[“faith is always an act of the mind”], without multiplying most strange and unmeaning expressions. If 'faith is always an act of the mind,' and 'not a principle' of action, who can explain the phrase 'an act of faith? 3. If 'faith is an act of the mind only,' and not a principle of grace in the soul, from which the acts proceed, then it must follow that Abraham was justified by an act of his mind, which 'was as much his own act as any act of obedience to the law.' Here it is indubitably taught, that the individual, personal act of Abraham's mind is the ground of his justification before God. Not the righteousness of the Saviour, as the church has always believed, but the act of the man himself was imputed to him for righteousness. 'The word it,' says Mr. Barnes, 'here evidently refers to the act of believing. It does not refer to the righteousness of another-of God, or of the Messiah.' Now it is righteousness which justifies—when a man has the righteousness required by the law, he must and will be justified by the judge. If, therefore, Abraham's act is his own righteousness—is the ground and cause of his being justified-he is not justified by Christ's merits at all, but by his own act.—Oh, sir, how difficult it is to get clear of the doctrine of imputed righteousness!" etc. etc. See "Vindication," pp. 55, 56.

In relation to this charge Mr. Barnes thus replies: "this charge consists of three counts, or specifications, which it is necessary to dispose of in their order. The first is, that 'faith is an act of the mind ;' the proof is on p. 94. In regard to this position of the charge, I admit that I meant to teach, as charged that 'faith is always an act of the mind.' And the meaning is so obvious, that it scarcely requires elucidation. I designed to teach that it is not a created essence independent of the soul; and that there was nothing in faith which could not appropriately be described by the mind receiving, and resting on Christ; exercising confidence in him; believing his promises, fearing his threatenings, and depending on him for salvation; all which are actings of the mind, or are the mind acting. And I do not wish to be understood now as holding any thing on this point different from that which is here charged upon me. The second count in the charge is, that faith is not a principle.' In the passage referred to in the Notes as proof, this is expressly stated as my belief, that faith is not a principle. By this I meant to affirm that it was not any thing independent of the acting of the mind; any created or conceivable essence of the soul that was lying back of the act of believing.-The third specification in this

The writer had read considerably in the older divines, when this controversy was approximating its height; and was surprised at the objections made to the views above stated, and the consequences attempted to be deduced from them. It is at singular fact that these very objections might be urged with equal, if not greater force against such men as Martin Luther and Francis Gomar. As these two divines have treated especially on this topic, and as they have ever been regarded fair representatives of the orthodox doctrine, we shall quote them at some length on this topic. Let us hear

I. LUTHER. In the second volume of his works (the Nürimberg edition, printed A. D. 1550,) when treating upon Gen. 15: 6, he thus remarks: "Paul has fully established this as the sentiment of the whole Scriptures; a sentiment so hateful and yet so formidable to the gates of hell, that all who believe what God has spoken are righteous. I shall not therefore darken so illustrious an exposition [of Gen. 15: 6] with any thing that I can offer. I shall therefore be brief. Read Paul, and read him with attention, and you will perceive that from this place he erects that chief article of our faith, so intolerable to the world and to Satan, that faith alone can justify; and that faith is to assent to the Divine promises, and to decide that they are true. From this foundation the author of the epistle to the Hebrews skilfully comprehends in the article faith the achievements of all the saints and affirms that all these things were done by faith. For without faith it is impossible to please God; and God, when he promises any thing, requires that we believe it, that is, we conclude it to be true by faith, and doubt not that the event will answer to the promise. If you inquire, therefore, whether before this period Abraham


charge is, that I have taught, that 'faith itself is imputed for righteousIn regard to this I observe, 1. that so far as I am able to understand the Apostle Paul, this is his very language and sense.Rom. 4:3, 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him (or imputed oyion,) for righteousness.' The word 'it' in our translation, I understand as referring, unquestionably, to the act of Abraham's mind; since his strong act of faith was the subject, and the only subject of discussion. That it should refer to any thing else, seemed to me a departure from all the proper laws of interpretation.

-5. By being justified by faith, it is meant, that we are treated as righteous-that we are forgiven,-that we are admitted to the favor of God, and treated as his friends." Defence, pp. 160, 161, 166, 167.

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