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Intercalary years, from U. C. 702 to 708-Oratio pro Milone-Death
of Clodius-Ludicrous date of Cicero-Curio-The intercalation
HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS.
On the notices of time supplied by Luke xii.
I HAVE elsewhere a asserted that the twelfth chapter of St. Luke's Gospel contains numerous indications of the period to which it belongs; and that as the concluding period of our Lord's ministry. If the proof of this position can be established, the error committed by such Harmonies as place this chapter before even the beginning to teach in parables, that is, the middle of our Saviour's ministry, must be apparent without further comment. They introduce an anachronism of nearly eighteen months in extent.
The foundation of this mistake, which is the supposed identity of Luke xi. 14, and what follows, with the parallel instance of dispossession and its consequences, related by St. Matthew, has sufficiently, I hope, been overthrown in the preceding Dissertation. Yet among the ill consequences of the mistake, so long as it remains uncorrected, this must necessarily be one; that we are thereby deprived of the means of appreciating rightly the force, the beauty, the propriety of one of the longest, and most admirable of our Lord's discourses in public. In order to the due percep
tion of such qualities in a given instance, regard must necessarily be had to the time when the discourse was delivered; to the occasion, which called it forth; to the circumstances and situation of the speaker and of his hearers at the time, as well as to the topics or sentiments themselves. Much might be said with fitness and effect, at one time, which would not be apposite nor in character at another.
To instance only in the virtue of Christian watchfulness, and so much of the ensuing discourse, from verse 35 downwards, as is devoted to it; a virtue which, at no period during the actual presence of Christ upon earth, could have any room for its exertion, or begin to be practically incumbent upon his followers. For being altogether founded on the doctrine, and on the expectation of some second coming of Christ, it was dependent conditionally on the previous fact of his departure; and until that had taken place, by his personal removal into heaven, no principle of duty, with a view exclusively to his return, could as yet be in force. Reasonably then might it be expected that the first mention of such a duty, and the proper arguments by which it was to be substantiated, would both occur towards the close of our Lord's ministry solely; when the time of his departure was at hand. If the place of the chapter is rightly assigned by me, this expectation is verified in the present instance; and it is still more indubitably true of the next, and the only remaining instance of a discourse upon the same topic, Matt. xxiv. 42, and the parallel places of St. Mark and of St. Luke; almost to the end of the prophecy upon Mount Olivet.
More examples of the same accommodation of the topics of the discourse to the time, when we suppose it to have been delivered, might be pointed out now; were