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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book IV, Chapter 4

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book IV

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Chapter 4. Of the Words, The More He Charged Them to Tell No One, So Much the More a Great Deal They Published It; And of the Question Whether that Statement is Not Inconsistent with His Prescience, Which is Commended to Our Notice in the Gospel.

5. Mark continues thus: And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him: and He was near unto the sea; and so on, down to where we read, And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. This last portion Mark has in common with Luke, and there is no discrepancy between them. The rest of the contents of this section we have already discussed. Mark continues in these terms: And He said to them, Come ye apart into a desert place, and rest a while; and so on, down to the words, But the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He has done all things well: He makes both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak. In all this there is nothing which presents the appearance of any want of harmony between Mark and Luke; and the whole of the above we have already considered, when we were comparing these evangelists with Matthew. At the same time, we must make sure that no one shall suppose that the last statement, which I have cited here from Mark's Gospel, is in antagonism with the entire body of the evangelists, who, in reporting most of His other deeds and words, make it plain that He knew what went on in men; that is to say, that their thoughts and desires could not be concealed from Him. Thus John puts it very clearly in the following passage: But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for He knew what was in man. But what wonder is it that He should discern the present thoughts of men, if He announced beforehand to Peter the thought which he was to entertain in the future, but which he certainly had not then, at the very time when he was boldly declaring himself ready to die for Him, or with Him? This being the case, then, how can it fail to appear as if this knowledge and foreknowledge, which He possessed in so supreme a measure, is contradicted by Mark's statement, He charged them that they should tell no man: but the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it? For if He, as one who held in His own knowledge all the intentions of men, both present and future was aware that they would publish it all the more the more He charged them not to publish it, what purpose could He have in giving them such a charge? Well, but may not the explanation be this, that he desired to give backward ones to understand how much more zealously and fervently they ought to preach on whom He lays the commission to preach, if even men who were interdicted were unable to keep silent?

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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. <>.

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