of the peculiar and exclusive authority which the Scriptures possessed.

V. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, * whose age lies close to that of Origen, earnestly exhorts Christian teachers, in all doubtful cases, " to go back to the fountain; and, if the truth has in any case been shaken, to recur to the Gospels and apostolic writings." —" The precepts of the Gospel," says he in another place, " are nothing less than authoritative divine lessons, the foundations of our hope, the supports of our faith, the guides of our way, the safeguards of our course to heaven."

VI. Novatus, t a Roman, contemporary with Cyprian, appeals to the Scriptures, as the authority by which all errors were to be repelled, and disputes decided. "That Christ is not only man, but God also, is proved by the sacred authority of the Divine Writings."—" The Divine Scripture easily detects and confutes the frauds of heretics." —" It is not by the fault of the heavenly Scriptures, which never deceive." Stronger assertions than these could not be used.

VII. At the distance of twenty years from the writer last cited, Anatolius, { a learned Alexandrian, and bishop of Laodicea, speaking of the rule for keeping Easter, a question at that day agitated with much earnestness, says of those whom he opposed, "They can by no means prove their point by the authority of the Divine Scripture."

VIII. The Arians, who sprung up about fifty years after this, argued strenuously against the use of the words consubstantial, and essence, and like phrases; " because they were not in Scripture"^ And in the same strain, one of their advocates opens a conference with Augustine, after the following manner: " If you say what is reasonable, I must submit. If you allege any thing from the Divine Scriptures, which are common to both, I must hear. But unscriptural expressions (quae extra Scripturam sunt) deserve no regard."

Athanasius, the great antagonist of Arianism, after having enumerated the books of the Old and New Testament, adds, " These are the fountain of salvation, that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the oracles contained in thein. In these alone the doctrine of salvation is proclaimed. Let no man add to them, or take any thing from them." ||

* Lardner, Cred. vol. iv. p. 840.

+ Ibid. vol. v. p. 102. I Ibid. p. 146. 6 Ibid. vol. vii. p. 283, 284.

I| Ibid. vol. xii. p. 182.

IX. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem,* who wrote about twenty years after the appearance of Arianism, uses these remarkable words: "Concerning the divine and holy mysteries of faith, not the least article ought to be delivered without the Divine Scriptures." We are assured that Cyril's Scriptures were the same as ours, for he has left us a catalogue of the books included under that name.

X. Epiphanius,t twenty years after Cyril, challenges the Arians, and the followers of Origen, " to produce any passage of the Old and New Testament, favouring their sentiments."

XI. Pcebadius, a Gallic bishop, who lived about thirty years after the council of Nice, testifies, that " the bishops of that council first consulted the sacred volumes, and then declared their faith."J

XII. Basil, bishop of Caesarea, in Cappadocia, contemporary with Epiphanius, says, "that hearers instructed in the Scriptures ought to examine what is said by their teachers, and to embrace what is agreeable to the Scriptures, and to reject what is otherwise." §

XIII. Ephraim, the Syrian, a celebrated writer of the same times, bears this conclusive testimony to the proposition which forms the subject of our present chapter: "The truth written in the Sacred Volume of the Gospel, is a perfect rule. Nothing can be taken from it nor added to it, without great guilt."||

XIV. If we add Jerome to these, it is only for the evidence which he affords of the judgment of preceding ages. Jerome observes, concerning the quotations of and' ent Christian writers, that is, of writers who were ancient in the year 400, that they made a distinction between books; some they quoted as of authority, and others not: which observation relates to the books of Scripture, compared with other writings, apocryphal or heathen.1T


The Scriptures were in very early times collected into a distinct volume.

Ignatius, who was bishop of Antioch with in forty years after the Ascension, and who

* Lardner, Cred. vol. viii. p. 276. t Ibid. p. 311. J Ibid. vol. ix. p. 52.

Ibid. vol. ix. p. 124. || Ibid. p. 202.

Ibid. vol. x. p. 123, 124.

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had lived and conversed with the apostles, speaks of the Gospel and of the Apostles in terms which render it very probable that he meant by the Gospel, the book or volume of the Gospels, and by the Apostles, the book or volume of their Epistles. His words in one place are,* " Fleeing to the Gospel as the flesh of Jesus, and to the Apostles as the presbytery of the church ;" that is, as Le Clerc interprets them, "in order to understand the will of God, he fled to the Gospels, which he believed no less than if Christ in the flesh had been speaking to him; and to the writings of the apostles, whom he esteemed as the presbytery of the whole Christian church.' It must be observed, that about eighty years after this, we have direct proof, in the writings of Clement of Alexandria, t that these two names, " Gospel," and " Apostles," were the names by which the writings of the New Testament, and the division of these writings, were usually expressed.

Another passage from Ignatius is the following: " But the Gospel has somewhat in it more excellent, the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, his passion and resurrection."J

And a third: " Ye ought to hearken to the Prophets, but especially to the Gospel, in which the passion has been manifested to us, and the resurrection perfected." In this last passage, the Prophets and the Gospel are put in conjunction; and as Ignatius undoubtedly meant by the Prophets a collection of writings, it is probable that he meant the same by the Gospel, the two terms standing in evident parallelism with each other.

This interpretation of the word " Gospel," in the passages above quoted from Ignatius, is confirmed by a piece of nearly equal antiquity, the relation of the martyrdom of Polycarp by the church of Smyrna. "All things," say they, " that went before, were done, that the Lord might show us a martyrdom according to the Gospel, for he expected to be delivered up as the Lord also did." § And in another place, " We do not commend those who offer themselves, forasmuch as the Gospel teaches us no such thing."|| In both these places, what is called the Gospels, seems to be the history of Jesus Christ, and of his doctrine.

If this be the true sense of the passages,

* Lardner, Cred. part ii. vol. i. p. 180.
I lb. vol. ii. p. 516. J Ibid. p. 182.

5 Ignat. Ep. c. i. | Ibid. c. ir.

they are not only evidences of our proposition, but strong and very ancient proofs of the high esteem in which the books of the New Testament were holden.

II. Eusebius relates, that Quadratus and some others, who were the immediate successors of the apostles, travelling abroad to preach Christ, carried the Gospels with them, and delivered them to their converts. The words of Eusebius are: "Then travelling abroad, they performed the work of evangelists, being ambitious to preach Christ, and deliver the Scripture of the Divine Gospels."* Eusebius had before him the writings both of Quadratus himself, and of many others of that age, which are now lost. It is reasonable, therefore, to believe, that he had good grounds for his assertion. What is thus recorded of the Gospels, took place within sixty, or, at the most, seventy years after they were published: and it is evident, that they must, before this time (and, it is probable, long before this time), hare been in general use, and in high esteem in the churches planted by the apostles, inasmuch as they were now, we find, collected into a volume; and the immediate successors of the apostles, they who preached the religion of Christ to those who had not already heard it, carried the volume with them, and delivered it to their converts.

HI. Irenaeus, in the year 178, t puts the evangelic and apostolic writings in connection with the Law and the Prophets, manifestly intending by the one a code or collection of Christian sacred writings, as the other expressed the code or collection of Jewish sacred writings. And,

IV. Melito, at this time bishop of Sardis, writing to one One3imus, tells his correspondent,J that he had procured an accurate account of the boons of the Old Testament. The occurrence, in this passage, of the term Old Testament, has been brought to prove, and it certainly dees prove, that there was then a volume or collection of writings called the New Testament.

V. In the time of Clement of Alexandria, about fifteen years after the last quoted testimony, it is apparent that the Christian Scriptures were divided into two parts, under the general titles of the Gospels and Apostles; and that both these were regarded as of the highest authority. One, out of many expressions of Clement, alluding to this distribution, is the following .—" There is

* Lardner, Cred. part ii. vol. I. p. 2J6

* Ibid. vol. i. p. 333. J Ibid. p. 331.

a consent and harmony between the Law and the Prophets, the Apostles and the Gospels." *

VI. The same division, "Prophets, Gospels, and Apostles," appears in Tertullian, t the contemporary of Clement. The collection of the Gospels is likewise called by this writer the "Evangelic Instrument;" t the whole volume, the " New Testament;" and the two parts, the " Gospels and Apostles."§

VII. From many writers also of the third century, and especially from Cyprian, who lived in the middle of it, it is collected, that the Christian Scriptures were divided into two codes or volumes, one called the "Gospels, or Scriptures of the Lord," the other, the "Apostles, or Epistles of the Apostles." ||

VIII. Eusebius, as we have already seen, takes some pains to show, that the Gospel of St. John had been justly placed by the ancients "the fourth in order, and after the other three." % These are the terms of his proposition: and the very introduction of such an argument proves incontestably, that the four Gospels had been collected into a volume, to the exclusion of every other; that their order in the volume had been adjusted with much consideration; and that this had been done by those who were called ancients in the time of Eusebius.

In the Diocletian persecution, in the year 303, the Scriptures were sought out and burnt:** many suffered death rather than deliver them up; and those who betrayed them to the persecutors, were accounted as lapsed and apostate. On the other hand, Constantine, after his conversion, gave directions for multiplying copies of the Divine Oracles, and for magnificently adorning them at the expense of the imperial treasury, tt What the Christians of that age so richly embellished in their prosperity, and, which is more, so tenaciously preserved under persecution, was the very volume of the New Testament which we now read.

* Lardner, Cred. vol. ii. p. 516.

t Ibid. p. 631. 1 Ibid. p. 574.

i Ibid. p. 632. J Ibid. vol. iv. p. 846.

IT Ibid.vol.viii. p. 90. •* Ibid. vol.vii. p. 214, et seq. tt Ibid, vol.vii. p. 432.


Our present Sacred Writings were soon distinguished by appropriate names and titles of respect.

Polycarp. "I trust that ye are well exercised in the Holy Scriptures;—as in these Scriptures it is said, Be ye angry and sin not, and let not the sun go down upon your wrath."* This passage is extremely important; because it proves that, in the time of Polycarp, who had lived with the apostles, there were Christian writings distinguished by the name of " Holy Scriptures," or Sacred Writings. Moreover, the text quoted by Polycarp is a text found in the collection at this day. What also the same Polycarp hath elsewhere quoted in the same manner, may be considered as proved to belong to the collection; and this comprehends Saint Matthew's, and, probably, Saint Luke's Gospel, the Acts of the Apostles, ten Epistles of Paul, the First Epistle of Peter, and the First of John-t In another place, Polycarp has these words: "Whoever perverts the Oracles of the Lord to his own lusts, and says there is neither resurrection nor judgment, he is the first-born of Sat an." f —It does not appear what else Polycarp could mean by the "Oracles of the Lord, but those same "Holy Scriptures," or Sacred Writings, of which he had spoken before.

II. Justin Martyr, whose apology was written about thirty years after Polycarp's epistle, expressly cites some of our present histories under the title of Gospel, and that not as a name by him first ascribed to them, but as the name by which they were generally known in his time. His words are these:—" For the apostles in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered it, that Jesus commanded them to take bread, aDd give thanks. There exists no doubt, but that, by the memoirs above mentioned, Justin meant our present historical Scriptures; for throughout his works, he quotes these, and no others.

HI. Dionysius bishop of Corinth, who came thirty years after Justin, in a passage preserved in Eusebius (for his works are lost), speaks "of the Scriptures of the Lord." ||

IV. And at the same time, or very nearly so, by Irenaeus bishop of Lyons in France.f

* Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 203.
t Ibid. p. 223. * Ibid. p. 222.

« Ibid. p. 271. || Ibid. p. 298.

IT The reader will observe the remoteness of these two writers in country and situation.

they are called "Divine Scriptures,"— "Divine Oracles,"—" Scriptures of the Lord,"—"Evangelic and Apostolic Writings."* The quotations of Irenreus prove decidedly, that our present Gospels, and these alone, together with the Acts of the Apostles, were the historical books comprehended by him under these appellations.

V. Saint Matthew's Gospel is quoted by Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, contemporary with Irensus, under the title of the "Evangelic Voice;"t and the copious works of Clement of Alexandria, published within fifteen years of the same time, ascribe to the books of the New Testament the various titles of "Sacred Books,"— "Divine Scriptures,"—"Divinely inspired Scriptures,"—"Scriptures of the Lord,"— "the true Evangelical Canon." $

VI. Tertullian, who joins on with Clement, beside adopting most of the names and epithets above noticed, calls the Gospels "our Digesta," in allusion, as it should seem, to some collection of Roman laws then extant. §

VII. By Origen, who came thirty years after Tertullian, the same, and other no less strong titles, are applied to the Christian Scriptures: and, in addition thereunto, this writer frequently speaks of the ," Old and New Testament,"—"the Ancient and New Scriptures,"—" the Ancient and New Oracles." ||

VIII. In Cyprian, who was not twenty years later, they are " Books of the Spirit," —" Divine Fountains,"—" Fountains of the Divine Fulness." f

The expressions we have thus quoted, are evidences of high and peculiar respect. They all occur within two centuries from the publication of the books. Some of them commence with the companions of the apostles; and they increase in number and variety, through a series of writers touching upon one another, and deduced from the first age of the religion.

• L:irdner, Cred. vol. i. p. 343, et seg.
t Ibid. p. 427. t Ibid. vol. ii. p. 515.

§ Ibid. vol. ii. p. 630. || Ibid. vol. iii. p. 230. It Ibid. vol. iv. p. 844.


Our Scriptures were publicly read and expounded in the religious assemblies of the early Christians.

Justin Martyr, who wrote in the year 140, which was seventy or eighty years after some, and less, probably, after others of the Gospels were published, giving, in his first apology, an account, to the emperor, of the Christian worship, has this remarkable passage:

"The Memoirs of the Apostles, or the Writings of the Prophets, are read according as the time allows: and, when the reader has ended, the president makes a discourse, exhorting to the imitation of so excellent things." *

A few short observations will show the value of this testimony.

1. The "Memoirs of the Apostles," Justin in another place expressly tells us, are what are called "Gospels:" and that they were the Gospels which we now use, is made certain by Justin's numerous quotations of them, and his silence about any others.

2. Justin describes the general usage of the Christian church,

3. Justin does not speak of it as recent or newly instituted, but in the terms in which men speak of established customs.

II. Tertullian, who followed Justin at the 1 distance of about fifty years, in his account of the religious assemblies of Christians as they were conducted in his time, says, " We come together to recollect the Divine Scriptures; we nourish our faith, raise our hope, confirm our trust, by the Sacred Word. " t

III. Eusebius records of Origen, and cites for his authority the letternif bishops contemporary with Origen, that, when he went into Palestine about the year 216, which was only sixteen years after the date of Tertullian's testimony, he was desired by the bishops of that country to discourse and expound the Scriptures publicly in the church, though he was not yet ordained a presbyter. $ This anecdote recognises the usage, not only of reading, but of expounding the Scriptures; and both as subsisting in full force. Origen also himself bears witness to the same practice: "This," says he, "we do, when the Scriptures are read in the church, and when the discourse for explication is delivered to the people. "§ And,

* Lardner Crcd. vol. i. p. 273.
"Ibid. vol. ii. p. 628.

J Ibid. vol. iii. r. 68. $ Ibid. p. 302.

f what is a still more ample testimony, many homilies of his upon the Scriptures of the New Testament, delivered by him in the assemblies of the church, are still extant.

IV. Cyjirian, whose age was not twenty years lower than that of Origen, gives his people an account of having ordained two persons, who were before confessors, to be readers ; and what they were to read, appears by the reason which he gives for his choice: "Nothing," says Cyprian, "can be more fit, than that he, who has made a glorious confession of the Lord, should read publicly in the church; that he who has shown himself willing to die a martyr, should read the Gospel of Christ, by which martyrs are made."*

V. Intimations of the same custom may be traced in a great number of writers in the beginning and throughout the whole of the fourth century. Of these testimonies I will only use one, as being, of itself, express and full. Augustine, who appeared near the conclusion of the century, displays the benefit of the Christian religion on this very account, the public reading of the Scriptures in the churches, "where," says he, "is a confluence of all sorts of people of both sexes; and where they hear how they ought to live well in this world, that they may deserve to live happily and eternally in another." And this custom he declares to be universal: "The canonical books of Scripture being read every where, the miracles therein recorded are well known to all people." t

It does not appear that any books, other than our present Scriptures, were thus publicly read, except, that the epistle of Clement was read in the church of Corinth to which it had been addressed, and in some others: and that the Shepherd of Hermas was read in many churches. Nor does it subtract much from the value of the argument, that these two writings partly come within it, because we allow them to be the genuine writings of apostolical men. There is not the least evidence, that any other Gospel, than the four which we receive, was ever admitted to this distinction.

* Lardner, Crcd. vol. iv. p. 842.
t Ibid. vol. x. p. 276, et seq.


Commentaries were anciently written upon the Scriptures; harmonies formed out of them; different copies carefully collated; and versions made of them into different languages.

No greater proof can be given of the esteem in which these books were holden by the ancient Christians, or of the sense then entertained of their value and importance, than the industry bestowed upon them. And it ought to be observed, that the value and importance of these books consisted entirely in their genuineness and truth. There was nothing in them, as works of taste, or as compositions, which could have induced any one to have written a note upon them. Moreover it shows that they were even then considered as ancient books. Men do not write comments upon publications of their own times: therefore the testimonies cited under this head afford an evidence which carries up the evangelic writings much beyond the age of the testimonies themselves,' and to that of their reputed authors.

I. Tatian, a follower of Justin Martyr, and who flourished about the year 170, composed a harmony, or collation of the | /'/ Gospels, which he called Diatessaron, Of ' ... the four. * The title, as well as the work,

is remarkable; because it shows that then, as now, there were four, and only four. Gospels in general use with Christians. Anu this was little more than a hundred years after the publication of some of them.

II. Pantaenus, of the Alexandrian school,

a man of great reputation and learning, who , came twenty years after Tatian, wrote many commentaries upon the Holy Scriptures, which, as Jerome testifies, were extant in his time.t

III. Clement of Alexandria wrote short explications of many books of the Old and New Testament. $

IV. Tertullian appeals from the authority of a later version, then in use, to the authentic Greek, j

V. An anonymous author, quoted by Eusebius, and who appears to have written about the year 212, appeals to the ancient copies of the Scriptures, in refutation of some corrupt readings alleged by the followers of Artemon.

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