Imágenes de páginas

The Old Testament was divided into three volumes, according to the different order of these inspirations. The inspiration of the New Testament is all to be reduced to the first kind, except the Revelation, which is purely prophetical, but the other parts are written after a clearer illumination and in a style suitable to it. In these some parts are historical, some doctrinal, and some argumentative. As to the historical part, the facts in the main are all true, but neither is the order of time strictly observed, nor when discourses are related, are the individual words recorded; it is enough if the effect of them is reported, which is sufficient for all practical purposes. As to the doctrinal parts, we must entirely acquiesce in these as in the voice of God, who speaks to us by means of a person, whom we are therefore obliged to hear and believe. Lastly, as to their arguings, the Apostles sometimes reason on certain grounds, and at other times they go upon principles acknowledged and received by those with whom they dealt. The latter mode of arguing is perfectly convincing to those to whom it is addressed, but unless the premises are as expressly affirmed as the conclusion, we are not bound to assent to them in their full extent.

2d. The article asserts that no other books are canonical, besides those which we receive.

The reasons for the rejection of the Apocryphal books are: 1. They are not sanctioned by our Saviour or his Apostles. Though the canonical Scriptures are frequently quoted in the New Testament, the apocryphal books are not once cited in any part of it.

2. They were not acknowledged by the Jews. The chief motive which presses Christians to acknowledge the Old Testament, is the testimony given by Christ and his Apostles to the canon as it was then received by the Jewish Church. Now it cannot even be pretended that these books were ever received among the Jews. Josephus says " they had only 22 books that deserved belief, but that those which were written after the time of Artaxerxes were not of equal credit with the rest, in which period they had no prophets at all.”

3. The primitive Church rejected them. Melito, Bishop of Sardis, being desired by Onesimus to give him a perfect catalogue of the books of the Old Testament, took a journey on purpose to examine this matter near its source, and having (as he says) made an exact inquiry, he sent him the names of them precisely agreeing with our canon ; which, Eusebiusa says, he has preserved, because it contained all the books which the Church owned.

a This testimony, we have seen, was confined “ to the law, the prophets, and the psalms.” Now it is evident,' the apocrypbal books cannot be classed under the law or the psalms, as they are composed in a different style of writing altogether. Neither can they be included under the prophets, for they are acknowledged to have been written after Malachi, from wbose time the Jews date the cessation of the spirit of prophecy. See Extracts from the Talmudists in Bp. Beveridge on the Art. p. 128. note (b) and Prideaur's Fas. Cont. C. 1. Q. 2.

6 Jos. 1. 1. Cont. Apion. To make up the number of 22, Ruth was added to Judges, and Lamentations to Jeremiah. See Cosin's Schol. Hist. of Can. c. 2.

Origen gives the same catalogue; Athanasius reckons 22 books in the same manner, and says expressly, that “ he delivers them, as they had received them by tradition, and as they were acknowledged by the whole Church of Christ.” Cyril and Hilary give precisely the same catalogue, according (as they add) to the tradition of the ancients. Gregory Nazianzen reckons 22 books, and says none other are genuine. Lastly, the council of Laodicea by an express canon, delivers the catalogue of the canonical books as we do, decreeing that these only should be read in the Church.d Now the

[ocr errors]

a Hist. 1. 4, c. 26.

Orig. in Ps. 1. Athan. in Synop. and in Eppasch. Cyril. Catech, 4.

C Can. 95 and 60.

& The council of Laodicea was held in the year 364, and its canons received by the council of Chalcedon in 451, and further confirmed as the law of the Universal Church by the Emperor Justinian in 541. In opposition to this council, Roman Catholics

canons of this council were afterwards received into the code of the Universal Church. On this subject, therefore, we have the concurring sense of the whole Church of God. It is true, the book of Revelation not being reckoned in it, this may be urged to detract from its authority; but this omission is accounted for by the design of the council, which was to declare the books that were to be read in the Churches, and the apocalypse, not being used on account of its obscurity, was therefore omitted. Independent of this, however, we have already seen, that it was received much earlier into the canon of the Scriptures.

Thus, we have four centuries clear for our canon in exclusion of all additional testimony.

allege the authority of the council of Carthage, on which we may observe : 1. Its acts were never received publicly into the Church, having been confirmed only in the synod of Trullo, which is not acknowledged as authoritative. 2. Evey if the latter were ac. knowledged, the council of Laodicea is approved in the same synod. 3. It canpot be decided what council of Carthage this was, some place it 397. ( ver. Dei. 1. 1. c. 10.) and others in 419, (Binius in notis ad 47 can. ejusd Conc.) and 4. The synod of Trullo does not mention any particular council, but only speaks of canons agreed on in New Carthage. See Canus 1. 2. c. 9. Cosin's Hist. of the Canon, sec. 82. Field of the Church, B. 4. p. 382. The reader will observe, that here is an example of a direct contradiction between two acknowledged councils of the infallible Church. For the canon of Scripture received at Laodicea, and afterwards confirmed as the law of the Universal Church, is not the canon authorized in the council of Trent.

At first, indeed, many writings were read in the Churches, from the excellence of their contents, such as Clemens' Epistle, &c. Among these the apocryphal books came likewise to be read, as containing some valuable instruction and several fragments of Jewish history. Hence, they were reckoned among canonical Scriptures, (in the sense in which that word was used, signifying no more than genuine, in opposition to spurious;) for this is the reason assigned in the third council of Carthage, for calling them canonical, because they had received them from their fathers as books that were to be read in churches.

It remains only to observe, the diversity between the Articles now established and those set forth by King Edward. In the latter, there was no catalogue given of the books of Scripture, nor any distinction stated between those called canonical and apocryphal. There was also a paragraph added after the words proved thereby, “ although sometimes it may be ad“mitted by God's faithful people, as conducing to “good order and decency.” These words are now omitted, as the authority of the Church is treated of in the 35th article.

* See Avgust, de Civit. Dei. 1. 18. c. 36.
b See Codex. Can. Eccl. Afric. Cun. 24.


« AnteriorContinuar »