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whose testimony can in any way be questioned. But though we have sufficient proof, independently of the Apostolic Fathers, there is no reason for our rejecting them altogether as useless. When the passages in their writings, which are supposed only from their resemblance to have been borrowed from corresponding passages in the Gospels, or other books, are brought forward, as usual, in the first instance, we are then indeed lost in uncertainty, whether such passages were borrowed from the New Testament, or not. But when we have already proved, that such books of the New Testament, as they are supposed to have quoted, were then in existence, and therefore might have been quoted by them, it becomes much more credible, that those books really were quoted by them. It is true, that, if the validity of a witness must be previously established by means, which prove of themselves what the witness is intended to prove, the importance of his evidence is thereby diminished. But in the present case we are not so much concerned with the obtaining of more evidence, which is quite unnecessary, as with shewing, that the testimony of the Apostolic Fathers, as far as it goes, is consistent with the evidence already
, produced. But there are some books of the New Testament, which the Apostolic Fathers, if their writings are genuine, have mentioned by name.
Clement of Rome, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians quotes a passage from St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians, and calls it an 'Epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle.'* Ignatius, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, refers them to the Epistle, which they had received from St. Paul, whom he calls · Paul the holy, the martyr.'† And in like manner Polycarp, in his Epistle to the Philippians, I reminds them of the Epistle, which they had received from St. Paul, whom he calls the blessed and renowned Paul.' These are references, such as we might expect from the Apostolic
, Fathers in their respective Epistles : and we may be satisfied, if they have afforded as much evidence, as under all circumstances might be reasonably expected.
Another very ancient writer, who was certainly born in the first century, is Papias, who though his testimony is confined to the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark, the former of which he says was written in Hebrew, must not be omitted. This testimony is recorded in a fragment of the works of Papias, which Eusebius has preserved in his Ecclesiastical History.
* Patres A postolici. ed. Cotelerii, Tom. I. p. 173. + Ibid. Tom. II. p. 15.
1 Ibid. ib. p. 185. Lib. iii. cap. 39.
There is one more writer, whom it has been usual to quote as evidence, for our four Greek Gospels, namely Justin Martyr. I have already quoted him as evidence for the book of Revelation, because his testimony on that book is clear and decisive. But I cannot consistently quote him as evidence for our four Greek Gospels, because the quotations, which he is supposed to have made from them, are involved in difficulties, which I have fully stated elsewhere, and which it is unnecessary to repeat. Nor is the loss of one witness to the authenticity of the Gospels a matter of any importance, when their authenticity has been already established beyond the possibility of doubt. Indeed the loss is more than compensated by the advantage, which is obtained in regard to the integrity of the Gospels; which integrity would materially suffer, if it were true, that Justin Martyr, instead of quoting from a Hebrew Gospel, like others, who were born in Palestine at the same period with himself, had derived his quotations from our Greek Gospels.
To the testimonies of Christian writers it has been usual also to add the testimonies of Jewish and heathen writers. But their testimony, as well as the testimony of ancient heretics, shall be reserved for the proof of credibility.
The external evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament requires no further illustration. In the next Lecture, therefore, which will be the last of the present series, I shall proceed to the internal evidence, which affords much matter of interesting and curious inquiry.
When external evidence has been produced for the authenticity of a work, the first question to be asked in regard to the internal evidence, is whether it agrees with the external. The internal evidence for the authenticity of any book, is deduced from the book itself. If the book contains nothing inconsistent with the notion, that it was written by the author to whom it is ascribed, or, in other words, if the contents of the book are such, that it might have been written by him, then the proof from external evidence, that it was written by him, not only remains unimpaired, but receives additional support from its agreement with the internal. If indeed the evidence, deduced from the contents of a work, goes no further, than to shew that it might have been written by the author assigned to it, it is internal evidence of the lowest kind ; it can only be applied in aid of the external evidence, and cannot establish the authenticity of a work by itself. But even such