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to the first, as the design of it was to remove the objections of the Jews, and as they were very much prejudiced against St. Paul, from an idea that he was an enemy to their nation, his name was therefore concealed, lest the discovery of it might blast the good effects intended by his Epistle. And this might have been the occasion of the doubts which were raised about it, for as it was not addressed to any particular Church or person, the original perhaps was not preserved with the same care as the others;a it is, however, frequently cited by Clemens of Rome, as having been composed by St. Paul. Among the Latius, it was rejected because it seemed to favour the heresy of the Novatians, that cut off apostates from the hopes of repentance, yet its authenticity is recognised by several writers. Thus Athanasius includes it and the seven general Epistles among the canonical writings. In like manner Cyril reckons in his catalogue (which he says he delivers from the Church as she had received it from the Apostles) the seven general Epistles and the fourteen of St. Paul. The same is testified by Ruffin, by the Council of Laodicea, the canons of which were afterwards received into the code of the
a Tert de Præsc. c. 36.
Orig. Ep. ad African. Orig. Exh. ad Martyr. Euseb, Hist. 1. 6. c. 20. Hieron. Ep. ad Dardan. Cyr. Catech. 4.
Universal Church,a and by the Council of Carthage. The Epistle to the Hebrews is likewise cited frequently by Irenæus, Origen, and Clemens Alexandrinus.
St. James's Epistle is cited by Clemens of Rome, Ignatius, Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome.
St. Peter's second Epistle is cited by Origen, Firmilian and Eusebius. This Epistle, however, besides the external evidence in its favour, has several internal marks of genuineness as St. Peter's name at the beginning, and his allusion to the transfiguration.
e The second and third Epistles of John are cited by Irenæus, Clemens and Dennis of Alexandria, and by Tertullian, who also quotes the Epistle of St. Jude.
f The Revelation of St. John is also cited by Clemens.of Rome, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Melito, who wrote a commentary on it, Theophilus
Can. 60. Can. 47.
b Iren. 1. 3. c. 38. Orig. 1. 3. and 7. Cont. Cels. Dial, Cont. Marc, and Ep. ad Afric. Clein. Aler.
Ignat Ep. ad Eph. Orig. Hon. 13. in Genes. Eus. Hist. 1. 2, c. 22. 1. 3. c. 24, 25. Hieron. Pref. in Ep. Jac.
Orig. Cont. Marc. Firmil. Ep. 75. and Cypr. Euseb. Hist. 1. 3. c. 3.
e Iren. l. 1. c. 13. Clem. Aler. Strom. 2. Tert. de Car. Ch. c. 24. Euseb. Hist. 1. 6. c. 24. Tert. de Cult. Fæn.
f Clem. in Ep. ad Cor. Justin. Cont. Tryphon. Iren. I. 5. c. 30. Euseb. Hist, I. 4. c. 24, 26. 1. 5. c. 18. 1. 7. v. 27.
of Antioch, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Cyprian and Origen. All these circumstances taken together fully evince the impossibility of any imposition taking place with respect to the books of Scripture. For independent of the suffering and depressed state of the early Christians, which would deter men from such an attempt as could only bring them under great troubles, the early spreading of the Christian religion into so many remote countries and provinces, and the many translations made in those countries, all concur to make the impossibility of any such forgery the more sensible.a
Before we conclude this part of the subject, it must be observed, 1. That a great difference is to be made between the tradition by which the scriptural canon has been just established, and the oral tradition of a doctrine. The former is the history of the universal reception of a book, which was, by its publicity, preserved from corruption. In the latter there is nothing fixed or permanent, the whole being only report, carried about and handed down. 2. It should be observed, that the authority of these books is not derived from any judgment the Church made about them; but from this, that it was known they were written, either by men who were themselves the Apostles of Christ, or by those who were their assistants and companions.
a See Michaelis' Introd. v. 1. sec. 5. p. 31.
Having thus considered the canon of the New Testament, we shall now proceed to establish,
2. The canon of the Old Testament,
The genuineness and authenticity of the books which compose it, appear from the following considerations :
(1.) From the approbation of Christ and his Apostles. Our Saviour frequently cites Moses and the Prophets, and though he charged the Jews at that time with many disorders, yet he never even insinuated that they had corrupted their law, which, if true, had been the greatest of all the abuses he objected against them. He also cites the Old Testament, by the threefold division a in which the Jews themselves received it: “ The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” (Luke, xxiv. 44.) St. Paul likewise says, that “ to the Jews were committed the oracles of God,” (Rom. iii. 2.) yet he never blames them for being unfaithful in this trust. These appeals prove the authority of the Books of the Old Testament, if the writings of the New Testament be acknowledged to be divinely inspired.
a After the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, Ezra and others, to the number of one hundred and twenty, met in a council called the Great Synagogue, to revise and arrange the Books of the Old Testament, at which time, it has been supposed by some, they were divided into three parts, viz. the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa. Others, however, have, with more probability, conceived that this division was of later invention.-See Lewis's Heb. Antiq. v. 4. p. 156. Ed. Lond. 1725, Elias. Lev. in præf. ad l. Mas. and Leusden Philol. Hebræus. Diss. ii. p. 19.
(2.) The authenticity of these Books is established by the connexion that exists between their subject and the circumstances of the people to whom they are delivered. The miracles wrought by Moses are of so wonderful a nature, that if these are acknowledged to be true, there can be no question made of his being sent of God, and authorized by him to deliver his will to the Jewish nation. The relation given of these miracles, represents them to be such in themselves, and to have been transacted so publicly, that either they are altogether fables, or they were clear and uncontested characters of a Prophet inspired by God. Now, that relation is not made with
any of those arts which are almost necessary to impostors. The Jewish nation are represented throughout, as froward and disobedient. The laws it contains, are, as to the political part, calculated to advance justice, and assert a degree of liberty duly tempered with authority; the moral part is pure, and suitable to human nature; and the religious part free from the idolatrous and
a See Dr. Graves' Lectures on the Pentateuch, p, 1. lec, 2.