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Jerusalem, and partly the mount of Olives. The probability is, that like the other appearances in Jerusalem, it was by night, and being the last interview that they were to have on eartb, that it was prolonged through the entire night; and as the morning began to break over the eastern hills, that they went forth by that familiar path, so often trodden, across the Kedron, past Gethsemane, with its wondrous memories, up the mount of Olives, whence the city could be seen, bathed in the light of the early morning, over the summit of the mount, until they reached that quiet and sheltered spot overhanging Bethany, whence he “ascended on high, leading captivity captive." If these conjectures be true, and they seem to be demanded by the different records of this last interview, there were many instructions given by our Lord that have not been recorded by the evangelists. Each one has recorded what was necessary for the purposes of his gospel, and each one differs in some respects from the rest.
A neglect of these facts has led to some errors in the interpretation of the recorded words of the gospels. Regarding them as perhaps but a single utterance of our Lord, it has been thought necessary to weave them into a continuous discourse, and thus inake a harmony of them, an effort that does violence to some of the sentences in a most palpable manner. But if we remember that the interview was probably protracted through an entire night, that he appeared to them perhaps during their evening meal, and blessed and brake the bread before them, and continued for several hours to instruct them in the things pertaining to the kingdom, and prolonged these instructions during the long walk from the upper chamber to the scene of the ascension on the eastern slope of the mount of Olives, we will see that very much must have been said by him, and that each evangelist must make only a selection for the particular purposes of his gospel. Hence instead of attempting to make a harmony of these records, which usually makes a confusion of them, we prefer to take them just as they are given ; believing that there was a reason for the variations, which requires that each record should be considered apart from the others, and not in forced amalgamation with them as is commonly done.
The ultimate reasons for the different forms in which we find the apostolic commission recorded, will probably be found to coincide with the ultimate reasons for the different gospels in which they are written. What these reasons are must be left in some measure, to conjecture. That there were satisfactory reasons requiring that the life of our Lord should be recorded in four gospels, instead of one, must be conceded by all, and probably the same reasons required four records of the apos
tolic commission. There are some facts that present themselves to us very clearly in regard to these gospels. The general impression of the church has always been, that Matthew wrote for the Hebrews, Mark, for the Latins, and Luke, for the Greeks, whilst John wrote with a wider immediate scope, and at a later date, and hence presented the final facts that were needed to supplement the rest. There seems to be no good reason for setting aside these opinions. The Hebrews, Romans, and Greeks, were the three great representative nations of that day, and embodied the ideas of theology, law, and literature, in which they were then severally pre-eminent, each in its peculiar department. Through the Hebrew people, we have received all that is most valuable to us in religious truth; through the Romans, all that is most permanent in political organization and legal forms; and through the Greeks, all that is consummate in literature, philosophy, and art. It was but a shadowing forth of these facts that was presented in the inscription on the cross, that was written in the Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, the languages of these representative peoples. But there was a fourth kingdom then set up, the kingdom of the Incarnate Word, and the dispensation of the Holy Ghost; and the great peculiarities of this kingdom are presented in their deepest forms in the fourth gospel by John, whilst the paramount agency of the Spirit is acknowledged in the fourth form of the commission as it is recorded in Acts of the Apostles, a book that has sometimes been called the gospel of the Holy Ghost.
We find in each of the four records the precise peculiarities that mark the gospel in which it is found. The commission in Matthew presents the mediatorial dominion of Christ, the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, the organic unity and functions of the church, and the doctrine of baptism ; all which great religious ideas were needful to be presented to the Hebrew mind, as we learn from their elaborate presentation in the epistle to the Hebrews. Thecommission in Mark is brief, terse, and sententious, like a decree of the Roman Senate, and uses the word gospel, and presents the great doctrine of justification by faith, which we find so fully set forth in the epistle to the Romans. The forms in Luke and the Acts, in like manner, as will be more fully shown hereafter, present preciselythe doctrines and facts that we would infer from the apparent design of each book. Hence to fuse these different promulgations of the commission into a single continuous statement is to lose their peculiar significance, and defeat the purpose of the record.
Another preliminary question demands our consideration. What was the precise purpose of the apostolic commission ? The opinion that is very prevalently held, is, that it conveyed the ori
ginal authority of the apostles to preach and baptize, and hence contains the full and authoritative statement of the subjects and limitations of both these duties of their office. But a little reflection will show the error of this view. The ordination and consequent authority to preach and baptize had been given long before, but restricted to the Jews, and restricted as to the fulness of the truth presented. The record of this transaction will be found in the three evangelists, Matthew x. 1-23; Mark iii. 13–19; and Luke vi. 13-16. In these passages it is stated that he “ordained twelve that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,” (Mark iii. 14,) and that he forbade them to preach to the Gentiles and Samaritans, requiring them to go only " to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” (Matt. x. 5, 6.) That they also baptized is evident from John iii. 22-26; and iv. 1, 2, where it is expressly stated, in reference to a very early period of our Lord's ministry, that his disciples baptized. Hence the authority to baptize must have been conferred with the authority to preach, and have had the same restrictions to the house of Israel. Both the preaching and baptism had reference to the new form of dispensation that was to be given to the church, and both were restricted to the Jews until that dispensation was fully ushered in. Here was the original ordina. tion of the apostles, and their commission to