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VINCE I first published the two former volumes of the Family Expositor,
I have taken the Harmony under an attentive review; but though the publication of this volume, which has long since gone through the press to the end of the Chronological Table, has been delayed so many months beyond my expectation, yet during all this time I have not met with any convinclug reasons for transposing one section of it. A variety of necessary engagements have prevented my taking the new and elaborate work of the Reverend Mr. Pilkington on this subject under that accurate examination which the learning, ingenuity, and candour apparent in it on the slightest review may we!l demand. I hope I shall soon liave the pleasure of doing it, and shail receive much light and benefit from it. In the mean time, as a specimen of the readiness with which I shall make iny acknowledgments on any such occasion, for farther instruction on subjects on which I have publicly delivered my own thoughts, I cannot but mention the great pleasure with which I have traced the illustration which the account of our Lord's resurrection has received, from those very weighty and accurate observations which have been made upon it, with so much sagacity, delicacy, and candour, by Gilbert Mest, Esq.
It is a great satisfaction to me, to find that we agree in severat very important circumstances of the story, in which some lite very ingenious writers on this subject have differed from us both; as it likewise is to see, that several of those versions and criticisms which I had proposed and pleaded :or, have the sanction of Mr. West's concurrence in them. But as this gentlenian bas advanced several very material things relating to this very iinportant part of the Harmony of the Evangelists, which were wholly unthought of by nie or any other commentators that I have perused, and which also seem to carry along with them a very high degree of probability, in the happiest manner to agree with each other, and greatly to illustrate other scriptures, I shall here give my reader a brief view of Mr. West's scheme, referring to his invaluable work itself for a more particular account of it, as well as for a variety of most solid and important remarks, relating to the evidences of this great fact, and of the truth of Christianity in general, which is so inseparably connected with it.
The scheme proposed there, so far as I can recollect it from an attentive perusal, is this: That during the time of our blessed Redeemer's lying in the grave, several of the pious women who had attended him from Galilee, together with soine of their female friends and acquaintance at Jerusalem, agreed to meet at his sepulchre early on the morning of the third day, to embalm the body. Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Salome, and Joanna, were principal persons in this appointment: The chief care of preparing, that is, pounding, mixing, and melling the spices, was left to Joanna and her company, who were to be there about sun-rising; whereas the two Maries and Salome (of VOL. VIII. B
whom * Our author observes, that this text, I am not yet ascended, &c. comprchends in a few words a variety of most important hints, which have not commonly been taken notice of in them; particularly that our Lord intended by them to recall to the minds of his disciples the discourse he had with them three nights before, in which he explained what he meant by going to the Father ; (see John xvi. 28.) and by twice using the word ascend, designed to intimate, that he was to go up to heaven, not merely in spirit, as the pious dead do, but by a coporeal motion and translation, and that it would be some time before he took his final leave of earth by this intended ascension : All which weighty expressions and predictions concur with a thousand other circumstances to shew, how impossible it was that such an apprehended appearance should have been merely the result of a disordered imagination; a consideration, which Mr. West illustrates at large, as he also does the mistaken apprehension of the disciples, who, when some of their companions, whose veracity they could not suspect, testified they had seen the Lord, thought his body was not risen, but that it was only his spirit had appeared to them ; which hint I mention as a key, by means of wiich many passages in the Evangelists are explained in this work.
whom Matthew and Mark chiesly write) came thither mpwi before the appointed time early in the morning, or as the day dawned, in order Jewprsus 10 view the sepulchre, that they might judge whether they and their companions could be able to remove the stone which closed it, or whether it would be necessary to call in other assistance, as they then knew nothing of the guard which was set upon it. While these three women last mentioned, were on their way, Jesus arose, when the angel had opened the sepulchre and struck the guards into amazement and consternation; the consequence of wbich was, that some of them went to the Jewish rulers, and joined in contriving and propagating the senseless falsehood of the body being stolen, and others went into other parts of the city, and told the matter as it really was. In the mean time the angel disappeared, and Mary Magdalene approaching the sepulchre, discerned from some distance that the very large stone that stopped it was rolled arvay, and concluding from thience that the body was removed, left the other Mary and Salome to wait for Joanna and her company, while she herself ran to Peter and John to acquaint them with what she had discovered. While she was gone, these two, (the other Mary and Salome) went toward the sepulchre, and entering into it, saw, to their great astonishment, an angel, who told them, that Jesus, whom he knew they sought, was not there, but was risen from the dead, and gave it them in charge to go and acquaint his disciples with it, and to let them know that he would give them a meeting in Galilee. The greatness of their consternation prevented them from saying any thing immediately to any one, even to some of their own company, who might pass and repass within their view at least, and so occasioned a delay which left room for some other circumstances. Just as they were on their return, Peter and John came, (perhaps passing by them at some distance,) ard Mary Magdalene followed them. John at his first arrival only looked into the sepulchre ; but when Peter came and entered it, John went in too, and from the circumstances in which he saw things, believed that Jesus was risen ; though the angel, (who could appear or disappear at pleasure) did not render himself visible to either. They returned to the city, and Mary Magdalene, who was now alone, stooping down to look into the sepulchre, saw two angels; but (perlaps imagining they were young men, whom curiosity or accident might have brought thither) took little notice of them, and continued weeping in deep thought and distress, till Jesus appeared, and made himself known to her in those very remarkable words, John xx. 17. which Mr. West illustrates with some very peculiar observations *. Leaving. her very suddenly, our Lord appeared to the other Mary and Salome, whom he permitted to embrace bis feet, comforted them under their fear, and renewed the assurance the angel had given them, that he would meet his disciples
in Galilee. While these things were passing at some distance, and the scene at the sepulchre was clear, Joanna and the women who brought the spices, (and of whom Luke only writes) came, and entering into ihe sepulchre, at first saw no one in it, till the two angels, who a few minutes before hid appeared to Mary Magdalene, made themselves visible to Joanna and her attendants, and assuring them of the resurrection of Jesus, reminded them how it had been foretold by himself, with the previous circumstances of his sufferings, bat gave them no charge concerning the information to be carried to the apostles; that having been committed to the others. Yet (as it was natural to suppose they would) some of this second company ran to the city, and, by whatever accident it happened, reached the eleven, and some other disciples who were with them, before the two Maries and Salome arrived, telling them, (which was all they could tell them) that they had seen a vision of Illineás, whoa-ered that Jesus was alive. Peter on this ran a second time to the sepulchre, Luhe xxiv. 12.) and not entering as before, but only stooping down and looking into it, he saw 10 angels, or any thing else but ta 0062 xsupervce pove, only the linen clothes lying there, on which be returned; and just on his making that report, the two disciples who went that day to Emmaus, or some from whom they received their information, (Luke xxiv. 22--94.) lest the place before the arrival of the two Maries and Salome; who, retarded, as was hinted above, by some unknown accident, (perhaps by guessing wrong as to the place where they might find the largest company together,) at last, however, 'reached them, and made abundant satisfaciion for the little delay, (lor all migbt perhaps have passed in an hour,) by assuring them, not only that they also had seen an angel who informed them of their Lord's resurrection, but that Jesus himself had appeared to them, and had even permitted bimself to be touched by two of them.
This is Mr. West's scheme of this important story; and the reader will easily perceive, that it chiefly differs from mine in these two circumstances:– That it supposes the women to have made two different visits to the sepulchre, and in consequence of that, two distinct reports ; whereas mine unites them, (though I do not suppose they all came together, but that they met there): And that it also makes Peter to bave run to it twice, of which I now think there can be no reasonable doubt, though I before incorporated Luhe's account with that of John, relating to his running thither with John on Mary Magdalene's first report.
On the whole, whatever embarrassments some may apprehend, I am fully convinced, that the scheme I have offered in my Harmony, will mully acuit the Evangelists from any charge of absurdity or contradictior; emeltünkit far preferable to any other method of adjusting ther: inicu pok! !potwith, before or since the publication, till this piece of Mr. list came in. Whils: But his plan, though not altogether clear of sone itt: culties, (especially from the connection of the 1st and 10th terses of the list of Like with the intermediate,) yet seerns on the whole to have so many advantages, that I am inclined to acquies in it. I doubt not but those of my readers, who have not read the ingenious piece from which this extract is taken, will be glad to find it here, and will take the first opportunity of peru ing the book itsell, in which they will find a variety of other excellent remarks. I cannot conclude without recommending it to the divine blessing, and deciaring my joy, that so able and worthy a defender of Christianity is risen up, in a rank of life wbich leaves no room for insinuating any suspicion of those secular views to which some, who may perhaps judge of others by what they know of their own low principles of action, may be ready ungenerously, and in many instances viui. culously, to impute those efforts, which the minister's of ihe gospel are so frequently making for its vindication.
Since all the preceding part of this Postscript was written, the world has been blessed with another admirable production of this kind, from the pen of one the politest of writers and worthiest of men, who is lately become the public advocate of that religion, to which he hath much longer been a distinguished ornament. Many of my readers will undoubtedly know, that I refer to the Observations on the conversion and apostleship of St. Paul, by the honourable George Lyttleton, Esq. one of the Lords of the Treasury ; a piece, if I may presume to give my opinion of it, as perfect in its kind as any our age has produced. I cannot but greatly regret, that I have not the opportunity of enriching my notes on the Acts with several of this gentleman's judicious and entertaining remarks, which I shall not fail to attempt, if a second edition should be required. In the mean time, I mention it here, that no one who has it in his power may lose the pleasure and benefit of perusing that masterly treatise ; in which he will find a most compendious yet unanswerable demon. stration of Christianity, proposed in so clear, elegant, and nervous manner, with such intermingled traces of the author's excellent heart, that he must surely be among the most perfect, or the most unteachable of mankind, who is not greatly instructed and edified by it.
Oct. 28, 1747.