The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Reading the Gospels

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How do you read the Gospels? What do you expect? What do you look for? Perhaps more accurately, in what spirit do you read the Gospels? Does it bear any resemblance to the spirit manifest in some of the opening and in the closing words of John Brown’s commentary on The Four Gospels?

The Fourfold Gospel is the central portion of Divine Revelation. Into it, as a Reservoir, all the foregoing revelations pour their full tide, and out of it, as a Fountain, flow all subsequent revelations. In other parts of Scripture we hear Christ by the hearing of the ear; but here our eye seeth Him. Elsewhere we see Him through a glass darkly; but here, face to face. The orthodox Fathers of the Church well understood this peculiar feature of the Gospels, and expressed it emphatically by their usages – some of them questionable, others almost childish. Nor did the heretical sects differ from them in this; the best proof of which is, that nearly all the heresies of the first four or five centuries turned upon the Person of Christ as represented in the Gospels. As to the heathen enemies of Christianity, their determined opposition was directed against the facts regarding Christ recorded in the Gospels. And it is the same still. The battle of Christianity, and with it of all Revealed Religion, must be fought on the field of the Fourfold Gospel. If its Credibility and Divine Authority cannot be made good – if we must give way to some who would despoil us of its miracles, or to others who, under the insidious name of ‘the higher criticism,’ would weaken its historical claims – all Christianity is undermined, and will sooner or later dissolve in our hands. But so long as the Gospels maintain their place in the enlightened convictions of the Church, as the Divine record of God manifest in the flesh, believers, reassured, will put to flight the armies of the aliens.

David Brown, The Four Gospels (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1969, repr. 1993), iii-iv.

Thus end these peerless Histories – this Fourfold Gospel. And who that has walked with us through this Garden of the Lord, these ‘beds of spices,’ has not often said, with Peter on the mount of transfiguration, It is good to be here here! Who that has reverentially and lovingly bent over the sacred text has not found himself in the presence of the Word made flesh – has not beheld the glory of the Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth – has not felt His warm, tender hand upon him, and heard that voice saying to himself, as so often to the disciples of old, “Fear not!” Well, dear reader, “Abide in Him,” and let “His words” – as here recorded – “abide in thee.” This Fourfold Gospel is the Sun of the Scripture, from which all the rest derives its light. It is, as observed in the Introduction, the serenest spot in the paradise of God; it is the four rivers of the water of life, the streams whereof make glad the City of God. Into it, as a Reservoir, all the foregoing revelations pour their full tide, and out of it, as a Fountain, flow all subsequent revelations. Till the day dawn, then, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to this mountain of myrrh, this hill of frankincense! (Song iv. 6.)

David Brown, The Four Gospels (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1969, repr. 1993), 486.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 20 January 2011 at 14:36

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