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In this book Augustine undertakes an orderly examination of the Gospel according to Matthew, on to the narrative of the Supper, and institutes a comparison between it and the other gospels by Mark, Luke, and John, with the view of demonstrating a complete harmony between the four evangelists throughout all these sections.
1. Whereas, in a discourse of no small length and of imperative importance, which we have finished within the compass of one book, we have refuted the folly of those who think that the disciples who have given us these Gospel histories deserve only to be disparagingly handled, for the express reason that no writings are produced by us with the claim of being compositions which have proceeded immediately from the hand of that Christ whom they refuse indeed to worship as God, but whom, nevertheless, they do not hesitate to pronounce worthy to be honoured as a man far surpassing all other men in wisdom; and as, further, we have confuted those who strive to make Him out to have written in a strain suiting their perverted inclinations, but not in terms calculated, by their perusal and acceptance, to set men right, or to turn them from their perverse ways, let us now look into the accounts which the four evangelists have given us of Christ, with the view of seeing how self-consistent they are, and how truly in harmony with each other. And let us do so in the hope that no offense, even of the smallest order may be felt in this line of things in the Christian faith by those who exhibit more curiosity than capacity, in so far as they think that a study of the evangelical books, conducted not in the way of a merely cursory perusal, but in the form of a more than ordinarily careful investigation, has disclosed to them certain matters of an inapposite and contradictory nature, and in so far as their notion is, that these things are to be held up as objections in the spirit of contention, rather than pondered in the spirit of consideration.
Source. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1602200.htm>.
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