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Testament other productions were afterwards annexed, on account of their instructive tendency; though their claims to inspiration have been justly rejected, and they are therefore appropriately called "the Apocrypha," from a Greek word, which signifies to conceal, expressive of the uncertainty and concealed nature of their original.
The writings of the Old Testament, distinct from the Apocrypha, being undeniably dictated by the Spirit of God, were only admitted by the Jews as canonical, and such only are received by us as a rule of faith and doctrine. The writings of the Old and New Testaments together complete the canon of scripture. The term canon is derived from a word which signifies a rule or measure; and as applied to the scriptures is used to signify that the books contained in them, and they only, are to be received as the rule or measure of our faith and practice. The word gospel signifies glad tidings or good news, because it brought to sinful man the glad tidings of a Saviour. The four gospels were written by four different persons, at different times, at different places, and under
different circumstances. These persons were St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John. They were called evangelists, because the word evangelist means a person who makes known good news; and they made known the glad tidings of a Saviour, by writing the gospels.
St. Mark's gospel supplies what was omitted by St. Matthew. St. Luke's gospel contains much that was omitted by St. Matthew and St. Mark. St. John's gospel supplies what was omitted by the other three. Each evangelist chose to treat more largely on those things which most suited the time when, and the persons to whom he wrote. St. Matthew wrote his gospel in Judea, for the use of the Jews. St. Mark at Rome, for the use of the Christians at that place. St. Luke in Greece, more particularly for the use of the Gentile converts; and St. John at Ephesus, in Asia Minor, for the purpose of refuting some false doctrines which had begun to disturb the peace of the Christian church, relative to the person of Christ, whom he asserts in the plainest manner to be both God and man. St. Matthew's gospel is supposed to have been written
about the year of our Lord 38. He was an eye-witness of most of the facts he relates, having been very early called to the office of an apostle. Besides the name of Matthew, he had also that of Levi, and was a native of Galilee. By profession he was a publican, or collector of the Roman taxes; and his office was to receive the dues of such articles as came by the sea of Galilee, and the tribute from such passengers as passed by water. This profitable post he cheerfully resigned, for the sake of Christ. You will find his call to the apostleship recorded in the ninth chapter of St. Matthew, the second of St. Mark, and the fifth of St. Luke. He wrote his gospel, as was observed before, for the service of the Jews in Palestine, with a view to confirm those who believed; and to convert, if possible, those who believed not. He wrote in a time of much persecution, both to comfort and support the suffering Christians, and to soften the resentment of the Jews. He is thought to have suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia; but as to the manner of his death and the place of his burial historians are not determined.
St. Mark is supposed to have written his gospel after St. Matthew, and it is probable after St. Luke, about the year of our Lord 65. He is the person whom St. Peter selected for his familiar companion, and whom he affectionately calls his son; it being supposed that he was converted to the gospel by that apostle. He is believed to be the John, surnamed Mark, to whose mother's house, mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter retired when released by the angel out of prison; and who accompanied Paul and Barnabas in their first travels among the Gentiles.
His mother dwelt at Jerusalem; and we learn from the Acts of the Apostles that the Christians were accustomed to meet at her house. In the time of St. Paul's imprisonment he lived at Rome; afterwards he removed to Alexandria, in Egypt, where it is supposed he suffered martyrdom.
His gospel was written at the request and for the benefit of the Christian church at Rome, which at that time was the metropolis of allcivilized nations. It is written in a plain and simple form, and is adapted to the use of Christians in general.
St. Luke is supposed to have written his gospel about the year of our Lord 63. He was a native of Antioch, in Syria; and is allowed to be that "beloved physician" whom St. Paul mentions in the sixth chapter of his Epistle to the Colossians. He travelled with the apostle Paul to Rome, afterwards he went into Africa, and preached the gospel at Thebes, in Egypt. The Acts of the Apostles were also written by St. Luke. Historians are not agreed as to the time or manner of his death.
St. Matthew's gospel being intended for the use of the Jews, it was not less proper a gospel should be written that was adapted to the Gentile or heathen converts; and this appears to have been the peculiar motive of St. Luke in writing his gospel.
St. John is supposed to have written his gospel about the year of our Lord 97, after all the rest; and to have completed whatever he found deficient in the other gospels.
He was a native of Bethsaida, in Galilee; the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James the greater. It was James and John who, from mistaking the nature of the