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of the peculiar and exclusive authority IX. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, * who which the Scriptures possessed.
wrote about twenty years after the appearV. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, * whose ance of Arianism, uses these remarkable age lies close to that of Origen, earnestly words : “ Concerning the divine and holy exhorts Christian teachers, in all doubtful mysteries of faith, not the least article ought cases, go back to the fountain ; and, to be delivered without the Divine Scripif the truth has in any case been shaken, to tures." We are assured that Cyril's Scriprecur to the Gospels and apostolic writings.” tures were the same as ours, for he has left
—“ The precepts of the Gospel,” says he in us a catalogue of the books included under another place, are nothing less than autho- that name. ritative divine lessons, the foundations of X. Epiphanius,t twenty years after Cyril, our hope, the supports of our faith, the guides challenges the Arians, and the followers of of our way, the safeguards of our course to Origen, " to produce any passage of the heaven.”
Old and New Testament, favouring their VI. Novatus, † a Roman, contemporary sentiments." with Cyprian, appeals to the Scriptures, as XI. Pabadius, a Gallic bishop, who lived the authority by which all errors were to be about thirty years after the council of Nice, repelled, and disputes decided. “ That testifies, thạt “ the bishops of that council Christ is not only man, but God also, is first consulted the sacred volumes, and then proved by the sacred authority of the Divine declared their faith.”! Writings.” !_“ The Divine Scripture easily XII. Basil, bishop of Cæsarea, in Cappadetects and confutes the frauds of heretics.” docia, contemporary with Epiphanius, says, —“ It is not by the fault of the heavenly
“ that heaters instructed in the Scriptures Scriptures, which never deceive.” Stronger ought to examine what is said by their assertions than these could not be used. teachers, and to embrace what is agreeable
VII. At the distance of twenty years to the Scriptures, and to reject what is from the writer last cited, Anatolius, I a otherwise.” learned Alexandrian, and bishop of Laodi- XIII. Ephraim, the Syrian, a celebrated cea, speaking of the rule for keeping Easter, writer of the same times, bears this conclua question at that day agitated with much sive testimony to the proposition which earnestness, says of those whom he opposed, forms the subject of our present chapter :
They can by no means prove their point “ The truth written in the Sacred Volume by the authority of the Divine Scripture.” of the Gospel, is a perfect rule. Nothing
VIII. The Arians, who sprung up about can be taken from it nor added to it, without fifty years after this, argued strenuously great guilt.”ll against the use of the words consubstantial, XIV. If we add Jerome to these, it is and essence, and like phrases; “ because only for the evidence which he affords of they were not in Scripture.”'S And in the the judgment of preceding ages. Jerome same strain, one of their advocates opens a observes, concerning the quotations of anciconference with Augustine, after the follow- ent Christian writers, that is, of writers who ing manner : “ If you say what is reason- were ancient in the year 400, that they able, I must submit. If you allege any made a distinction between books; some thing from the Divine Scriptures, which are they quoted as of authority, and others not: common to both, I must hear. But unscrip- which observation relates to the books of tural expressions (quæ extra Scripturam Scripture, compared with other writings, sunt) deserve no regard.”
apocryphal or heathen. 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
SECTION III. thirsts may be satisfied with the oracles contained in them. In these alone the
The Scriptures were in very early times doctrine of salvation is proclaimed. Let no
collected into a distinct volume. man add to them, or take any thing from IGNATIUS, who was bishop of Antioch with them.”||
in forty years after the Ascension, and who
* Lardner, Cred. vol. iv. p. 840.
Ibid. p. 146.
* Lardner, Cred. vol. viii. p. 276.
# Ibid. vol. ix. p. 52. $ Ibid. vol. ix. p. 124. || Ibid. p. 202, Ibid. vol. x. p. 123, 124.
had lived and conversed with the apostles, they are not only evidences of our proposispeaks of the Gospel and of the Apostles in tion, but strong and very ancient proofs of terms which render it very probable that he the high esteem in which the books of the meant by the Gospel, the book or volume of New Testament were holden. the Gospels, and by the Apostles, the book II. Eusebius relates, that Quadratus and or volume of their Epistles. His words in some others, who were the immediate sucone place are, Fleeing to the Gospel as cessors of the apostles, travelling abroad to the flesh of Jesus, and to the Apostles as preach Christ, carried the Gospels with the presbytery of the church ;” that is, as Le them, and delivered them to their couverts. Clerc interprets them, “in order to under- The words of Eusebius are: “ Then travelstand the will of God, he fled to the Gospels, ling abroad, they performed the work of which he believed no less than if Christ in evangelists, being ambitious to preach Christ, the flesh had been speaking to him; and to and deliver the Scripture of the Divine the writings of the apostles, whom he Gospels.”* Eusebius had before him the esteemed as the presbytery of the whole writings both of Quadratus himself, and of Christian church.” It must be observed, many others of that age, which are now lost. that about eighty years after this, we have It is reasonable, therefore, to believe, that
direct proof, in the writings of Clement of he had good grounds for his assertion. | Alexandria, t that these two names, “ Gos- What is thus recorded of the Gospels, took pel,” and “
Apostles,” were the names by place within sixty, or, at the most, seventy which the writings of the New Testament, years after they were published : and it is and the division of these writings, were evident, that they must, before this time usually expressed.
(and, it is probable, long before this time), Another passage from Ignatius is the fol- hard been in general use, and in high lowing: “ “But the Gospel has somewhat esteem in the churches planted by the aposin it more excellent, the appearance of tles, inasmuch as they were now, we find, our Lord Jesus Christ, his passion and collected into a volume ; and the immediate resurrection." +
successors of the apostles, they who preached And a third : “ Ye ought to hearken to the religion of Christ to those who had not the Prophets, but especially to the Gospel, already heard it, carried the volume with in which the passion has been manifested to them, and delivered it to their converts. us, and the resurrection perfected.” In this III. Irenæus, in the year 178, 7 puts the lumen last passage, the Prophets and the Gospel evangelic and apostolic writings in connecare put in conjunction; and as Ignatius tion with the Law and the Prophets, maniundoubtedly meant by the Prophets a col- festly intending by the one a code or lection of writings, it is probable that he collection of Christian sacred writings, as meant the same by the Gospel, the two the other expressed the code or collection of terms standing in evident parallelism with Jewish sacred writings. And, each other.
IV. Melito, at this time bishop of Sardis, This interpretation of the word " Gospel," writing to one Onesimus, tells his correin the passages above quoted from Ignatius, spondent, that he had procured an accurate is confirmed by a piece of nearly equal account of the books of the Old Testament. antiquity, the relation of the martyrdom of The occurrence, in this passage, of the term Polycarp by the church of Smyrna. “ All Old Testament, has been brought to prove, things,” say they, " that went before, were and it certainly does prove, that there was done, that the Lord might show us a martyr- then a volume or collection of writings called dom according to the Gospel, for he ex- the New Testament. pected to be delivered up as the Lord also V. In the time of Clement of Alexandria, did." $ And in another place, We do about fifteen years after the last quoted tesnot commend those who offer themselves, timony, it is apparent that the Christian forasmuch as the Gospel teaches us no such Scriptures were divided into two parts, under thing.”ll In both these places, what is the general titles of the Gospels and Aposcalled the Gospels, seems to be the history tles, and that both these were regarded as of Jesus Christ, and of his doctrine.
of the highest authority. One, out of many If this be the true sense of the passages, expressions of Clement, alluding to this
distribution, is the following
. There is * Lardner, Cred. part ii. vol. i, p. 180. + Ib. vol. ii. p. 516.
Ibid. p. 182. * Lardner, Cred. part i. vol. 1. p. 238. Ignat. Ep. c. i.
Ibid, c. iv.
consent and harmony between the Law
SECTION IV. and the Prophets, the Apostles and the
Our present Sacred Writings were soon Gospels.” *
distinguished by appropriate names and VI. The same division, “Prophets, Gos
titles of respect. pels, and Apostles," appears in Tertullian, the contemporary of Clement. The collection POLYCARP. “I trust that ye are well í Sm of the Gospels is likewise called by this exercised in the Holy Scriptures ;—as in writer the a Evangelic Instrument;" the these Scriptures it is said, Be ye angry and whole volume, the “ New Testament;" and sin not, and let not the sun go down upon the two parts, the Gospels and Apostles."$ your wrath.”* This passage is extremely
VII. From many writers also of the third important; because it proves that, in the century, and especially from Cyprian, who time of Polycarp, who had lived with the lived in the middle of it, it is collected, that apostles, there were Christian writings disthe Christian Scriptures were divided into tinguished by the name of “Holy Scriptures,” two codes or volumes, one called the “Gos- or Sacred Writings. Moreover, the text pels, or Scriptures of the Lord,” the other, quoted by Polycarp is a text found in the the “Apostles, or Epistles of the Apostles.” || collection at this day. What also the same
VIII. Eusebius, as we have already seen, Polycarp hath elsewhere quoted in the same takes some pains to show, that the Gospel of manner, may be considered as proved to St. John had been justly placed by the belong to the collection; and this compreancients “ the fourth in order, and after the hends Saint Matthew's, and, probably, Saint other three.” | These are the terms of his Luke's Gospel, the Acts of the Apostles, ten proposition : and the very introduction of Epistles of Paul, the First Epistle of Peter, such an argument proves incontestably, that and the First of John. In another place, the four Gospels had been collected into a Polycarp has these words : “Whoever pervolume, to the exclusion of every other; that verts the Oracles of the Lord to his own their order in the volume had been adjusted lusts, and says there is neither resurrection with much consideration ; and that this had nor judgment, he is the first-born of Satan.” been done by those who were called ancients -It does not appear what else Polycarp. in the time of Eusebius.
could mean by the “Oracles of the Lord," In the Diocletian persecution, in the year but those same “Holy Scriptures,” or Sacred 303, the Scriptures were sought out and Writings, of which he had spoken before. burnt: many suffered death rather than II. Justin Martyr, whose apology was deliver them up; and those who betrayed written about thirty years after Polycarp's them to the persecutors, were accounted as epistle, expressly cites some of our present lapsed and apostate. On the other hand, histories under the title of GOSPEL, and that Constantine, after his conversion, gave direc- not as a name by him first ascribed to tions for multiplying copies of the Divine them, but as the name by which they were Oracles, and for magnificently adorning them generally known in his time. His words are at the expense of the imperial treasury. tt these :-"For the apostles in the memoirs What the Christians of that age so richly composed by them, which are called Gospels, embellished in their prosperity, and, which have thus delivered it, that Jesus commanded is more, so tenaciously preserved under them to take bread, and give thanks."$ persecution, was the very volume of the New There exists no doubt, but that, by the Testament which we now read.
memoirs above mentioned, Justin meant our
present historical Scriptures; for throughout * Lardner, Cred. vol. ii. p. 516.
his works, he quotes these, and no others. + Ibid. p. 631.
Ibid. p. 574.
III. Dionysius bishop of Corinth, who
came thirty years after Justin, in a passage ** Ibid. vol.vii. p. 214, et seq.
preserved in Eusebius (for his works are At Ibid. vol.vii. p. 432.
lost), speaks “of the Scriptures of the
IV. And at the same time, or very nearly
* Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 203.
Ibid. p. 222.
Ibid. p. 298. The reader will observe the remoteness of these two writers in country and situation.
they are called “Divine Scriptures,"—
SECTION V. “ Divine Oracles,”—“Scriptures of the
Our Scriptures were publicly read and Lord, "-" Evangelic and Apostolic Writings. The quotations of Irenæus prove
expounded in the religious assemblies of
the early Christians. decidedly, that our present Gospels, and these alone, together with the Acts of the JUSTIN MARTYR, who wrote in the year 1 Apostles, were the historical books compre- 140, which was seventy or eighty years after hended by him under these appellations. some, and less, probably, after others of the
V. Saint Matthew's Gospel is quoted by Gospels were published, giving, in his first Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, contem- apology, an account, to the emperor, of the porary with Irenæus, under the title of the Christian worship, has this remarkable « Evangelic Voice;”+ and the copious passage: works of Clement of Alexandria, published “ The Memoirs of the Apostles, or the within fifteen years of the same time, Writings of the Prophets, are read according ascribe to the books of the New Testament as the time allows : and, when the reader the various titles of “Sacred Books, "- has ended, the president makes a discourse, “Divine Scriptures,”—“Divinely inspired exhorting to the imitation of so excellent Scriptures,”—“Scriptures of the Lord,”- things. " the true Evangelical Canon.” I
A few short observations will show the VI. Tertullian, who joins on with Cle- value of this testimony. ment, beside adopting most of the names and 1. The “Memoirs of the Apostles,” Justin epithets above noticed, calls the Gospels in another place expressly tells us, are what
our Digesta,” in allusion, as it should are called “Gospels:” and that they were seem, to some collection of Roman laws the Gospels which we now use, is made then extant.
certain by Justin's numerous quotations of VII. By Origen, who came thirty years them, and his silence about any others. after Tertullian, the same, and other no less 2. Justin describes the general usage of strong titles, are applied to the Christian the Christian church. Scriptures: and, in addition thereunto, this 3. Justin does not speak of it as recent or writer frequently speaks of the.“ Old and newly instituted, but in the terms in which New Testament, '_"the Ancient and men speak of established customs. New Scriptures," "the Ancient and New II. Tertullian, who followed Justin at the Oracles.”||
distance of about fifty years, in his account VIII. In Cyprian, who was not twenty of the religious assemblies of Christians as years later, they are “ Books of the Spirit, they were conducted in his time, says, “ We -“ Divine Fountains, "-"Fountains of the come together to recollect the Divine ScripDivine Fulness." I
tures; we nourish our faith, raise our hope, The expressions we have thús quoted, are confirm our trust, by the Sacred Word.” + evidences of high and peculiar respect. Hl. Eusebius records of Origen, and They all occur within two centuries from the cites for his authority the letters of bishops publication of the books. Some of them contemporary with Origen, that, when he commence with the companions of the went into Palestine about the year 216, apostles; and they increase in number and which was only sixteen years after the date variety, through a series of writers touching of Tertullian's testimony, he was desired by upon one another, and deduced from the the bishops of that country to discourse and first age of the religion.
expound the Scriptures publicly in the
church, though he was not yet ordained a * Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 343, et seq. +Ibid. p. 427.
presbyter. This anecdote recognises the [ Ibid. vol. ii. p. 515. Ibid. vol. ii. p. 630. || Ibid. vol. iii. p. 230.
usage, not only of reading, but of expounding Ibid. vol. iv. p. 844.
the Scriptures ; and both as subsisting in fuli 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.” Ø And,
* Lardner Cred. vol. i. p. 273. + Ibid. vol. ii. p. 628.
Ibid. vol. iii. r. 68. ♡ Ibid. p. 302.
what is a still more ample testimony, many
SECTION VI. homilies of his upon the Scriptures of the Commentaries were anciently written upon New Testament, delivered by him in the assemblies of the church, are still extant.
the Scriptures; harmonies formed out of IV. Cyprian, whose age was not twenty
them ; different copies carefully collated;
and versions made of them into different years lower than that of Origen, gives his
languages. people an account of having ordained two persons, who were before confessors, to be No greater proof can be given of the esteem readers; and what they were to read, appears in which these books were holden by the by the reason which he gives for his choice: ancient Christians, or of the sense then "Nothing,” says Cyprian, “can be more entertained of their value and importance, fit, than that he, who has inade a glorious than the industry bestowed upon them. And confession of the Lord, should read publicly it ought to be observed, that the value and in the church; that he who has shown importance of these books consisted entirely himself willing to die a martyr, should read in their genuineness and truth. There was the Gospel of Christ, by which martyrs are nothing in them, as works of taste, or as made.'
compositions, which could have induced any V. Intimations of the same custom may one to have written a note upon them. be traced in a great number of writers in the Moreover it shows that they were even then beginning and throughout the whole of the considered as ancient books. Men do not fourth century. Of these testimonies I will write comments upon publications of their only use one, as being, of itself, express and own times : therefore the testimonies cited full. Augustine, who appeared near the under this head afford an evidence which conclusion of the century, displays the carries up the evangelic writings much benefit of the Christian religion on this very beyond the age of the testimonies themselves,' account, the public reading of the Scriptures and to that of their reputed authors. in the churches, “where,” says he, “is a I. Tatian, a follower of Justin Martyr, confluence of all sorts of people of both and who Aourished about the year 170, sexes; and where they hear how they ought composed a harmony, or collation of the to live well in this world, that they may Gospels, which he called Diatessaron, Of deserve to live happily and eternally in the four. * The title, as well as the work, another.” And this custom he declares to is remarkable; because it shows that then, be universal: “The cauonical books of as now, there were four, and only four, Scripture being read every where, the miracles Gospels in general use with Christians. therein recorded are well known to all And this was little more than a hundred people." +
years after the publication of some of them. It does not appear that any books, other II. Pantænus, of the Alexandrian school, than our present Scriptures, were thus a man of great reputation and learning, who publicly read, except, that the epistle of came twenty years after Tatian, wrote many Clement was read in the church of Corinth commentaries upon the Holy Scriptures, to which it had been addressed, and in some which, as Jerome testifies, were extant in others : and that the Shepherd of Hermas his time. + was read in many churches. Nor does it Ill. Clement of Alexandria wrote short subtract much from the value of the argu- explications of many books of the Old and ment, that these two writings partly come New Testament. $ within it, because we allow them to be the IV. Tertullian appeals from the authority genuine writings of apostolical men. There of a later version, then in use, to the authentic is not the least evidence, that any other Greek. Gospel, than the four which we receive, was V. An anonymous author, quoted by ever admitted to this distinction.
Eusebius, and who appears to have written
about the year 212, appeals to the ancient * Lardner, Cred. vol. iv. p. 842.
copies of the Scriptures, in refutation of some + Ibid, vol. x. p. 278, et seq.
corrupt readings alleged by the followers of Artemon.
* Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 307.
Ibid. p. 638.