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passover with my disciples ? And he will show you a large upper room fur" nished and prepared : there make ready for us.”* According to this, the disciples, when they quitted Jesus, did not know whom they were to meet, or where the passover was to be made ready; they were to find a man who was evidently a stranger unto them, and he would lead the way to a house which, without such guidance, they could not have found. How, then, are we to answer the questions, Did Peter and John know unto whom they were to go when they quitted Jesus to prepare the passover meal? Did they go to a man known to them, or were they to be led by an unknown ?
(3) There has been much debating about whether Jesus had not already made arrangements with the man who was to supply the chamber. Did he know, in virtue of some supernatural powers, that, purely by accident, a man would be at such a place with a pitcher, and that he would go to a house in which there would be room for the disciples ? or, had he previously arranged with the owner of the house, and was the pitcher a sign which had been agreed upon as a guide to the messengers ? Say, for instance, that in Jerusalem there was a man who had secretly become a disciple of Jesus, and had a room large enough for the desired purpose, the use of which he had promised to Jesus. It may have been that profound secrecy was necessary. The authorities justify our believing there was danger in publicity, and, consequently, it may have been arranged that at a certain time and place a man should be in waiting with a pitcher, to lead those to the house whom Jesus sent. There are difficulties about this not easily set aside; for how could the disciples have been ignorant of the whole proceeding? They must have known those who were secretly well-affected toward Jesus as well as himself.
But when considered as a miracle, it is equally difficult. For, is it possible to believe that a man who would allow his upper room to be used by a body of strangers, would have it unengaged at a time when, through the crowding in the city because of the Passover, there was a great demand for space ? He must have been miraculously prevented from letting it! Neander sees no miracle in it,” + and contends that Luke does not intend to represent it in that light; he believes in the pre-engagement, and certainly that is the most natural explanation of the whole transaction. They who insist upon the supernatural element are but creating difficulties which they have no means of removing, and, in fact, are multiplying contradictions which are already too numerous.
(4) It may seem out of place, after the preceding, to ask the question, Whether this supper was eaten in Jerusalem or in Bethany ? and yet this inquiry cannot be avoided. The writers of the first three Gospels are unanimous in fixing it in Jerusalem; they speak of the disciples having been sent into the city for no other purpose than that of preparing it, and their entire narrative is based upon the upper chamber in Jerusalem' theory. Yet if the narrative furnished in the fourth Gospel be correct, and if that is to be taken as a correct setting forth of the last supper and its incidents, then undoubtedly it was eaten in Bethany-not in Jerusalem. It is quite clear from John, that Jesus was in the habit of returning to Bethany every evening; and as nothing is said by that writer about sending into the city, we can understand his narrative only in the sense of meaning that it was in the house of Martha and Mary the closing meal was eaten.
(5) But we have now to consider when this supper was eaten. Was there any supper in the sense in which it is ordinarily understood ? Or, to put the question in another form, Did Jesus really partake of the Passover ? The first three Evangelists state, that the night before he suffered he partook of that feast. That this is their meaning cannot be doubted. The first says, that the disciples went into the city as Jesus had commanded them, and "made ready the passover." To which he adds: “Now when the evening was come, he sat down with the twelve," I "and as they did eat," &c. The third puts it in the following unquestionable form—the disciples "Made ready the passover:
And when the hour was come, “ he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With “ desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: for I say * Mark xiv, 13.15,
+ Life of Christ, p. 427, # Matthew, xxyi. 20.
“ unto you, I will not any more cat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of “ God."* If this be taken in connection with the preceding conversations, and those which are reported as occurring at the table, it will be admitted as unquestionable that the authors of the first three Gospels-Mark merely repeating Matthew -intended their readers to understand that, not only did Jesus keep the passover with his disciples, but also that it was his last supper with them before bis arrest.
In like manner John speaks of Jesus celebrating a supper on that night, which must be the same, because the circumstances are alike. There can be little doubt that in John † the very same supper is described as in the passages quoted from the first three Evangelists. The legal period at which the passover was celebrated was the 14th of Nisan. Hence we inser that Jesus kept the passover on the night of Thursday the 14th of Nisan. Such is the plain conclusion to which the accounts in the first three Gospels directly lead. But the narrative of John presents serious obstacles in the way of this statement. This apostle says, "Now, before the feast “of the passover,” at the very beginning of his description of the supper. Hence it could not have been the paschal supper which Jesus then partook of.
Again, he says that the Jews who brought Jesus to Pilate the morning after the supper would not enter the judgment-ball lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover.
Thirdly, the morning after the supper is called the preparation of the passover, the day on which Christ suffered. Fourthly, in the course of the supper, the feast is supposed to be still future: “ Bay those things that we have “ need of against the feast.” Fisthly, amid the deliberations relating to the disposal of Jesus, Pilate speaks of the passover as either at hand or just begun that morning, but not yet past: “ Ye have a custom that I should release unto
you one at the passover." Sixthly, the day after the crucifixion being the Jewish sabbath, and called a great day, must have been so styled because it coincided with the first day of the festival, or the 15th of Nisan.
This is admitted to be one of the most perplexing discrepancies in the Gospels. Dr. Davidson says, “When we consider that the apostles were present-eye“ witnesses of the occurrence-partakers of the supper they speak of—it seems “ to us impossible that there can be an irreconcilable contradiction between “ Matthew and John. Yet able writers like Meyer and Bleck assume here an “ absolute contradiction; and the necessity of the case may perhaps exempt them “ from censure ; but we cannot believe that the understandings or memories of " the apostles were of a kind to misapprehend a matter of fact like the present.
They must have known and remembered the event. It was a meinorable “ evening, the solemn occurrences of which must have made a lasting impression “ on their minds and hearts. How could any of them ever mistake or forget the
very night on which they partook of the last supper with the Saviour-on which “ he was betrayed into the hands of sinners ?”
This is candid writing, and it is to be regretted that Dr. Davidson las been so scandalously treated by the Independents, in consequence of his having made these and similar admissions. He did no more than the text and truth demands, but he has had to pay the terrible penalty of liaving his prospects ruined. Still the facts remain the same. Ten thousand Davidsons may be driven from their chairs as professors, because of admitting the truth, still it remains unalterable; and they who howl at it, are but testifying to their own weakness.
(To be continued.)
* Luke xxii. 14-16.
+ Chap. xiii, 1.
• Introduction to the Old Test., pp. 531-5.
LONDON: PUBLISHED BY M. Pattie, 31, PATERNOSTER Row, AND GEORGE
GLAISHER, 470, New Oxford STREET.
OUT OF THE CLOUD;
A TALE; BY P. W. P.
A CONFERENCE IN THE RECTORY. AFTER his return from the Court, the events recorded in the last chapter having made a very deep impression upon his mind, Lester was for some time unable to dress and make his usual preparations before descending to
ner. Jane was rather alarmned that “Master George” had not answered her double summons, twice repeated by tongue and bell ; and when Ella went up to his room to inquire if he were unwell, she was astonished at finding him buried so deeply in thought, that he paid no attention to her knock, and saw her not when, in a state of alarm, she entered the apartment. Roused from his reflections by her anxious address, he answered her questions in a very confused manner ; but speedily becoming conscious of the fact that she was painfully impressed, he hastened to relieve her mind by relating what had occurred during his absence, not even omitting the conversation with Stokes; and closed by saying that he was as completely confounded by the Christian kindness and justice of the shoemaker, as by the absence of those qualities from their more orthodox and wealthy neighbours.
Ella was shocked by the story of Walters' death, but not so much astounded as her brother at the want of charity displayed by the Bench. Her own observation, and what she had learnt in the cottages of the poor, had prepared her to expect all that Lester described; but as Barrington was below, and the dinner was ready, she urged that, instead of dwelling upon the theme just then, they should descend to the dining-parlour, and, the meal despatched, make it the subject of their evening conversation.
But,” said Lester, " at present I care neither for eating nor drinking, for society nor courtesy. How can I sit down to a well-supplied table, being certain, as I am, that among my own parishioners there are many who are without the common necessaries of life? What am I, that I should be plentiVOL. VI. NEW SERIES. Vol. II
fully supplied and they be left to starve? And, in truth the, voice of that poor widow rings in my ears so painfully that it converts all the ordinary sources of pleasure into sources of pain, and seems to make all apologies nothing more than a bitter mockery. I both see and hear her, but, thank God! not as one of those who refused mercy to her unfortunate husband.”
“But, George, have you not frequently argued in your discourses that we are not responsible for the evil now existing in the world, but only for this, that we each shall do all in our power to assist in blotting it out? You are doing this as earnestly as any one can do, and why not find consolation in that conviction ?
“Yes, Ella, I have argued thus, and I dare say I ought to be content with my own mode of solving the difficulty, but I am not and I cannot be. Were I called upon to advise a brother who had just lost a sister he loved, I know what would be my argument; yet were you to die, the same arguments used to myself would be utterly powerless to charm away my grief. When the blow falls upon ourselves we feel it too acutely to be soothed by mere words, however ready to admit their truth in a philosophical sense. The theory of duty, and the sympathies and emotions of human nature, seem to be widely at variance. And just now the fact has been painfully impressed upon my mind that the men of power are selfish and unjust, and I cannot but feel for the bitterness of the poor man's lot, who is compelled to bear the insults and to bend beneath the wrong. Why should such things be? Why are such men entrusted with power which they use so badly? I felt to-day that, had it been within reach of my power, I should have palsied the tongues of those magistrates when they were about to decree sentence; and now, as if I were the poorest beggar and most uncultivated hind in the shire, I am asking why God, as the moral governor, did not do as I should have done ? There are many apologies for men in great agony denying that there is a God, and if I heard that poor widow preaching atheism at the Market Cross, I should not dare to contradict her, although
I hate the atheist theory." “But, George, why not talk upon this subject to our friend below ? I have constantly wished you both to abstain from religious debates which I feared would be injurious to your friendship and peace of mind. Yet now I feel that it would be infinitely better were you to open your mind freely unto some one, and why not
unto him ? Probably, he could render some real assistance." As she said, Ella had desired the avoidance of that subject; for, with a growing partiality for Barrington, there had come a nervous dread lest he should be led into making religious avowals which it would be impossible for Lester to tolerate-avowals he could not hear without putting an end to the friendship. The evening conversations had become quite a looked-for luxury, and, although she knew pretty well Barrington's actual convictions, without even admitting it to herself, she desired to have silence preserved about them. This, however, could be no longer ; and, thinking only of her brother's welfare, she urged how much it was to be lamented that religious topics had been so carefully avoided in all the preceding conversations.
“Yes, Ella," said Lester, "I have avoided talking to Barrington upon these subjects, but I shall do so no longer. My mind is harassed and borne down by awful doubts, and unless I can talk them over with some reasonable person, I shall either go mad or become an unbeliever. The conduct of leading churchmen in my own congregation makes me donbt if any of them believe in the Scripture revelation. God and you, Ella, both know with what hopes I commenced my ministry in Crosswood. I thought to do something towards bringing about the time when men shall endeavour to deal justly with one another ; but instead of succeeding, every step I take seems to lead me farther from my object. If I defend the poor and adopt means to secure them fair treatment, then the rich hint that I am either democratic, impractical, or a mere visionary; and if I tell the poor of their faults, as a rule, they rush to the conclusion that I am desirous of strengthening the hands of those who deal unfairly by them. There are moments when I positively doubt if my entrance into the Church was not a mistake; then I doubt if the Church theory is not false, and if I am doing anything more than merely playing a part, as if life were a solemn farce. I cannot any longer endure the torture to which these doubts give rise; I must solve them and find my true vocation.”
Ella heard this revelation without manifesting any surprise ; she had long felt that her brother was becoming more and more uncomfortable, yet, with the faith of woman in the ultimate triumph of goodness, she had not doubted that all would be well in the end. Her tenderness and exquisite tact were now successfully displayed in chasing away the gloomy thoughts which held her brother a prisoner, so that within a quarter of an hour, although a shade of sorrow was upon his brow, he sat with somewhat of his usual composure.
Under the circumstances, the dinner passed off more quietly than usual, but the cloth had scarcely been removed before Lester was again deep in the all-absorbing narrative; when, although it was detailed to Barrington with greater fullness than it had been given to Ella, it was closed in the same manner, and in precisely the same words.
Barrington protested that instead of marvelling at the absence of those virtues in orthodox cases, and their presence in others, to him the sole source of wonder, the only proper cause, was that Lester should have expected kindness and justice from ordinary Christian men and women.
"I contend," he continued, " that, as a rule, all orthodox Christian people are sharp practitioners, who will neither overlook the weaknesses of their servants, nor cease to punish crime as with a rod of iron. They make less allowance for human weakness, and take less notice of human endurance, than others who are not admitted to Church communion. The Turk is kinder to his servant than the Christian is. The latter asks for absolute submission, and, when we hear so much said about the wickedness and ingratitude of servants, we may set down above one-half of the evil to the tyranny of their masters. That was a bitter, yet a true, saying of the American slave, that the black man had a better time of it with those who never went to church than with those who were ever going, which caused him to hope that he should not be purchased by a church-going master."
Yet, Barrington, you will confess that they are taught the contrary. Our Church, and, indeed, all connected with the Christian religion, rests upon love and forbearance, upon justice and charity.”
True, in theory it does, but not in fact, not as it is conceived by the majority of Christians. They believe that "human works are but filthy rags;' that there is nothing to be done by themselves through which to win
the favour of God,' and that a sort of abstract ‘faith' is the only essential to perfect redemption. Those who sat upon the Bench to-day felt secure in this, that the act of pardoning Walters could not promote their salvation.
" Yet every Christian admits it to be a duty to be instant in season with good words and works."
" True, Lester, but only theoretically, and it cannot be otherwise, while the doctrine of salvation through the blood of another is generally believed.