« VorigeDoorgaan »
her up stairs, and they are left to themselves. The Harami, or women's apartment, is guarded by a black eunuch, or young boy, and the utmost care is taken to prevent any breach of the marriage vow.
When a Turk dies, the women immediately fall a shrieking, and continue to do so till the body is buried, which is as soon as possible. It is first washed, then all the passages stopped with cotton; and after that it is laid in a coffin, like ours. It is carried to the mosque attended by the relations, the women shrieking, and the men singing prayers out of the Koran. Service is said by the Imaum, and the coffin is carried to the burying-place; of which there is but one that is public in the city: the rest are abroad in the fields.
From page 145, to page 189, is contained a history of the weather at Aleppo, drawn from a meteorological register, regularly kept, with only few intermiffions, for about ten years. This may be of use to the philosopher, and physi
but as it is not entertaining, nor instructive, only as it is entire, we shall give no extract from this part
of qur Author's work.
The remaining part of the book treats of epidemical difeases, and the plague. Here the Doctor shews his abilities to be considerable in his own profeffion : and we do not doubt but the medical reader will agree with us, that his account of the plague is accurate, and his method of treatment judicious.
On the whole, a3 we have very little knowlege that can be depended on, of a great part of the world, for want of reading the Arabian authors, we should own our obligations to such writers as the Author of the Natural History of Aleppo ; who, with great fidelity, and sufficient abilities, adds to our store of knowlege, both in natural and political history.
A Supplement to the First Book of the Second Part of the Credi
bility of the Gospel History. Vol. I. Containing general Observations upon the Canon of the New Testament, and a History of the Four Evangelists, with the 'Evidences of the Genuineness of the Four Gospels, and the Aets of the Apostles, the Time when they were writ, and Remarks upon them. By Nathaniel Lardner, D.D. 8vo. 55. Noon, &c.
T a time when our holy religion stands exposed to the severest enquiry, it cannot but give a fenfible pleasure
to all its real friends, that so many worthy and learned persons have arisen, who with great solidity and moderation have explained its nature, and stated the evidence of its divine authority. Among these must be reckoned Dr. Lardner ; whose writings are of very considerable service to the cause of Christianity, and cannot be read without wishing that a knowlege of the Fathers had been always accompanied with equal candour and judgment, and applied to purposes equally valuable.
The first chapter of the volume now before us contains an account of the several denominations by which the sacred Books have been called. In the second, the Doctor proceeds to make some general observations upon the Canon of the New Testament, and takes notice, that there may be different Canons of Scripture among Christians, tho' he looks upon a short one as the most eligible. I have been sometimes apt to think, says he, that the best Canon of the New Testament would • be that, which may be collected from Eusebe of Cesarea, < and seems to have been the Canon of some in his time. Ć The Canon should consist of two classes. In the first should « be those books which he assures us were then universally aca • knowleged, and had been all along received by all Catholic « Christians. These are the four Gospels, the Acts of the • Apostles, thirteen Epistles of St. Paul, one Epistle of St.
Peter, and one Epistle of St. John. These only should be
of the highest authority, from which Doctrines of Religion 6 may be proved.
In the other class should be placed those books of which 6 Eüsebe speaks, as contradicted in his time, though well < known : concerning which there were doubts, whether they
werê writ by the persons whose names they bear, or wheother the writers were Apostles of Christ. These are the
Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle of James, the second of * Peter, the second and third of John, the Epistle of Jude,
and the Revelation. These should be reckoned doubtful, 6 and contradicted: though many might be of opinion, that • there is a good deal of reason to believe them genuine. • And they should be allowed to be publicly read in Christian
assemblies, for the edification of the people: but not be al
ledged, as affording alone, sufficient proof of any doctrine. « That I may not be misunderstood, I must add, that there « should be no third class of sacred Books : forasmuch as there
appears not any reason from Christian antiquity to allow of « that character and denomination to any Christian writings, • besides those above-mentioned.'
Nevertheless, the Doctor acknowleges, that the Canon now generally received, is a good one; and thinks, that we should by no means admit any addition to it. The only work of those called the Apoftolical Fathers, that seems to make a fair claim, is the Epiftle of St. Barnabas. But against this he alleges, that it was not reckoned a part of Scripture by the ancient Christians ; nor was Barnabas an Apostle; neither does he take upon him the character of an Apostle, or a man of authority. All these things our Author fhews in a very satisfactory manner; and concludes with observing, that the Epistle of Barnabas may afford edification, and be read with that view; but that it ought not to be esteemed a part of the rule of Faith.
As to the method in which the Canon of the New Testament has been formed, which is the subject of the third chapter, the Doctor proves that it was not determined by the authority of Councils, but that the books of which it confifts, were known to be the genuine writings of the Apostles and Evangelists, in the same way and manner that we know the works of Cæsar, Cicero, Virgil, Horace, and Tacitus, to be theirs. This he evinces from the different judgments that have prevailed concerning divers books, particularly the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Revelation, which were received by fome, rejected or doubted by others.
Upon the whole,' says he, the writings of the Apof• tles and Evangelists are received as the works of other emi"nent men of antiquity are, upon the ground of general con• fent and testimony. Nor does the Canon of the Scriptures
of the New Testament owe its establidhment to the decisions of Councils : but it is the judgment of Chriftian peo
ple in general. And so far as we are able to perceive, after Sa long and careful examination, it is a right and reasonable
judgment. And it may induce us to believe, that if men
were encouraged to think freely, in other matters also, and • to judge for themfelves, according to evidence, and proper
affistances were afforded them, it would not be at all detris mental to the interests either of truth or virtue,'
The design of the fourth chapter is to thew, with refpect to the time of writing the Gospels, especially the first threeg that they could not be composed till after, or about the year fixty. After which the Doctor goes on, in the fifth, to give a large account of St. Matthew, and the testimonies to his hirtory. In regard to its publication, I readily assent,' says he,
to those, who think, that this Gospel was writ in the time of the Emperor Nero, not till about thirty years after our
Saviour's ascension. I am not able to assign the year in • which it was writ, but I am somewhat inclined to the year 6 63, 64, or 65, of the vulgar Epoch. This is agreeable not
only to the testimony of Irenæus, and some other antients, - but to the circumstances of things. At the year fixty-four,
or thereabout, the Gospel had been propagated in many s Gentile countries; the times were troublesome in Judea, s and the war was coming on several of the Apostles were
dead; others of them, who survived, were gone, or going 5 abroad; and many of the Jewith believers were about to 5 feek shelter elsewhere. Now was a proper time to write a s History of Christ, and his miracles. Moreover, in this
Gospel are recorded divers plain predictions of the miseries s and desolations of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the
Temple, and the Jewish State; beside many other figuras tive intimations of the same things in many of our Lord's * discourses and parables ;; which could not be well published « to all the world in writing, till about this time. The suit• ableness of St. Matthew's Gospel to the state of the Chrift• ian religion, and of the Jewish people, about the year sixty& four or sixty-five, leads to that time. And however unwill« ingly, from private apprehensions and prejudices, we may o admit the thought of protracting so long the writing the Hil
tory of our Lord's Ministry; the circumstances of things will constrain us to acquiesce in this reason, as the most
likely.' The truth of what is here advanced, the Doctor has rendered highly probable, from some characters in the Gospel itself.
It is a tradition among many ancient Fathers, that St. Matthew having preached for some time in Judea, was desired by the believers there, to leave with them in writing, before he went away, a History of what he had taught by word of mouth. The frequent mention of this leads our Author, before he gives an account of the other Evangelists, to enquire, in the sixth chapter, how long it was after the ascension of our Lord, before Matthew, and the rest of the Apostles, left Judea to go abroad into foreign countries. In answer to the question, he shews, that the Apostles in general, continued at Jerusalem till after the famous Council we read of, Acts 15. and some of them, perhaps, a good deal longer: and he has proved, that this circumstance; instead of retarding, was, upon the whole, favourable to the propagation of Chriitianity. They staid there till they were enabled to fulfill their ministry, and bear such a testimony to Jesus, as should be sufficient to lay a good foundation for the establishment of his church in
the world, and leave all those of the Jewish people, who did not receive him as the Messiah, absolutely inexcusable.
The Doctor returns, in the seventh chapter, to the Evạnę gelists, and gives a history of St. Mark. He produces, as ho had before done, with relation to St. Matthew, a variety of testimonies concerning his Gospel, and both from external and internal evidence concludes, that it could not be wrote till about the year fixty-three or fixty-four; which opinion is confirmed by the tradition that it was composed at Rome, when St. Peter was there. The Doctor not only agrees with those who suppose that Mark received his information from Peter, but manifests its probability by several circumstances taken from the book itself. In regard to the notion that it is an abridgment of Matthew, he produces more than thirty particulars in Mark, not mentioned by any other Evangelift; particulars sufficient to assure us, that he is not an epitomizer of any other author, and that he was well acquainted with the things of which he undertook to furnish a history. He writes as an eye-witness, or as one who had full and authentic information at the first hand.
The eighth chapter contains a long account of St. Luke; of his personal history, the testimonies to his Gospel, the time when he wrote, his character, and the character of his works Among other things it is observed, that he was an early Jewish believer, and probably had been an eye-witness of many of our Lord's miracles, tho' not an eye witness from the beginning; and that tho' he was an associate of St. Paul, there is no luch remarkable coincidence between them, as should induce us to think that the one copied from the other. Our Author farther takes notice, that nothing is more remarkable in St. Luke's writings than their brevity and conciseness ; in consequence of which many things must have been omitted, which happened during the period of that history. Of these omissions he gives a very exact and curious detail from St. Paul's Epistles, and adds, that they are no reflection upon the writer, , The proper deduction to be made by us is this. We hereby perceive that it was not the design of St. Luke to aggrandize Peter, or Paul, or any of the Apostles; nor to write their lives; but to record the evidence of our Saviour's resurrection, and to give a history of the first preaching and planting the Christian religion in the world. This design he has admirably executed, and having filled up his plan, he concluded,
St. John is the subject of the ninth chapter. After setting before us an account of what is said of him in the New Tela tament, the Doctor Thews how well qualified he was to write