Page images
PDF
EPUB

For it contains only those books, which were acknowledged by all in the time of Eufebe, and from the beginning, and seven other, which were then well known, and were next in esteem to those before mentioned, as universally acknowledged; and were more generally received as of authority, than any other controverted writings. Nor is there in them any thing inconsistent with the facts, or principles, delivered in the universally acknowledged books. And moreover, there may be a great deal of reason to think, that they are the genuine writings of those, to whom they are ascribed, and that the writers were apostles. This evidence will be carefully examined, and distinctly considered, as we proceed.

In this canon likewise the above-mentioned rule is regarded. It is a short canon. For out of it are excluded many books, which might feem to make a claim to be ranked among sacred and canonical scriptures.

VI. There are not any books, beside those now generally received by us, that ought to be esteemed canonical, or books of authority.

I suppose this to be evident to all, who have carefully attended to the historie in the several volumes of this work, and that there is no reason to receive, as a part of sacred scripture, the epiftle of Barnabas, the epistle of Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Recognitions, the Clementin Homides, the Doctrine of the Apostles, the Apostolical Constitutions, the Gospel of Peter, or Matthias

, or Thomas, the Preaching of Peter, the Acts of Peter and Paul, of Andrew and John and other Apostles, the Revelation of Peter, and Paul, their Travels or Circuits. That these books were not received, as sacred scripture, or a part of the rule of faith, by Christians in former times, has been shewn. Nor can they therefore be reasonably received by us as such.

The only writing of all these, that seems to make a fair claim to be a part of sacred scripture, is the epistle of St. Barnabas, if genuine, as I (s) have supposed it to be. Nevertheless, I think, it ought not to be received as sacred scripture, or admitted into the canon, for these reasons.

1. It was not reckoned a book of authority, or a part of the rule of faith, by those ancient Christians, who have quoted it, and taken the greatest notice of it.

Clement of Alexandria has (t) quoted this epistle several times, but not as decisive, and by way of full proof, as we thewed. Nor is it so quoted by (u) Origen. Nor is the epistle of Barnabas in any of (x) Origen's catalogues of the books of Scripture, which we still find in his works, or are taken notice of by Eusebe. By that Ecclesiastical Historian, in Dite place it is reckoned (y) among spurious writings, that is, such as were generally rejected and supposed not to be part of the New Testament. At other times it is called by him (z) a contradicted book, that is, not received by all.

Nor

0

(s) Sze Ch. i. Vol. i. p. 23; • • .30.
(u) See Vol. ij.p. 305, 306.
0) Vol. viii. p. 97. 167.

(1) Sce Vol

. ii. p. 521. . 523 (x) The same. p. 234. . . .243. (2) P. 96.976.

to the Egyptians, fays with indignation : “ But (1) they who choose to u follow any thing, rather than the true Evangelical Canon (or the ca

non of the Gospel] infift upon what follows there as said to Salome.In another place he says: “ The (m) ecclefiaftical canon is the consent « and agreement of the Law and the Prophets with the testament deli“ vered by the Lord.”

Eufebe, as (ri) formerly quoted, says of Origen : « But in the first book « of his Commentaries upon the Gospel of Matthew, observing (@) the o ecclesiastical canon, he declares, that he knew of four Gospels only."

I shall add a few more pasiages from later writers, chiefly such as have been already quoted in the foregoing volumes: to which passages therefore the reader may easily have recourse.

Athanasius (p) in his Festal Epistles speaks of three forts of books, the canonical, the fame which are now received by us, fuch as were allowed to be read, and then of fuch as are apocryphal :' by which he means books forged by heretics.

In the Synopsis of Scripture, ascribed to him, but probably not writ till above a hundred years after his time, near the end of the fifth centurie, is frequent mention (9) of canonical and uncanonical books.

The council of Laodicea, about 363, ordains, that (9) “ no books, not "canonical, should be read in the church, but only the canonical books 6c of the Old and New Testament."

Rufin, enumerating the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, makes (r) three forts of books, such (s) as are included in the canon, such as are not canonical, but ecclefiaftical, allowed to be read, but not to be alleged for proof of any doctrine, and lastly, apocryphal books, which were not to be publicly read.

Jerome likewise often speaks of the canon of Scripture, as we saw in his chapter, where he says: “ Ecclefiafticus, (t) Judith, Tobit, and the “ Shepherd, are not in the canon :” and “that (u) the Church reads, ar " allows to be read, Judith, Tobit, and the Maccabees, but does not re“ceive them among the canonical scriptures: and that they, and the “ books of Wisdom and Ecclefiafticus, may be read for the edification of « the people, but not as of authority, for proving any doctrines.

doctrines.” And for the Old Testament he recommends (*) the true Jewish canon, or

Hebrer

(1) See Vol.ii. p. 529. or 527.

(m) Κανών δε εκκλησιαστικός και συνωδία και η συμφωνία νόμο τε και προφητών τη rala ang tê xozir oupaolay urgadidovén dice Shun. Cl. Strom. l. 6. p.676. C.

(1) Ch. 38. Vol. ii. p. 235. (0) ... tov iux noiesinòo ponáslwy zarórze. Ap. Eufeb. 1.6. c.25. p. 226. B. () See Vol. iii. p. 228. 229. (9) The same. p. 243. . . 245. C) The fame. p. 291.

(1) See Vol. x. p. 187. 188. 3) Hæc funt, quæ patres intra canonem concluferunt, & ex noltræ affertiones conftare voluerunt. . . . Sciendum tamen eft, quod alii libri sunt, qui non funt canonici, sed ecclefiaftici a majoribus appellati sunt... Quæ omnia legi quidem in ecclefiis voluerunt, non tamen proferri ad auctoritatem ex his fidci confirmandam. Ceteras vero fcripturas apocryphas minarunt, quas in ecclefiis legi noluerunt. Rufin. citat. ubi fupra p. 185. not. (3) (1) Vol. x. p. 41. .

(u).••P: 43: (x)...52

quibus fidei

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Hebrew verity. I refer below (y) to another place relating to the books of the New Testament.

The third Council of Carthage, about 397. ordains, “that (z) nothing " beside the canonical scriptures be read in the Church under the name “Divine Scriptures."

Augustin, in 395. and afterwards, often (a) speaks of canonical scriptures, and the (b) whole canon of scripture, that is, all the sacred books of the Old and New Testament. We “(c) read of some, says he, that they searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts xvii. 11. “What scriptures, I pray, except the canonical scriptures of the Law and " the Prophets ? To them have been since added the Gospels, the Epistles " of Apostles, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Revelation of John." Of the superior authority of the canonical scriptures to all others, he speaks frequently in passages afterwards alledged (d) in the same chapter.

Chryfoftom in a place already cited (e) says: “ They (1) fall into " great absurdities, who will not follow the rule (or canon) of the divine "scripture, but trust entirely to their own reasoning.” I refer to another place (8) to the like purpose.

Says Ifidore of Pelusium, about 412. “ That (i) these things are so, we " shall perceive, if we attend to the rule (canon] of truth, the divine “ fcriptures."

And Leontius, of Constantinople, about 610. having cited the whole catalogue of the books of scripture from Genesis to the Revelation (k) concludes : “ These (l) are the ancient and new books, which are re* ceived in the Church as canonical.”

By all which we discern, how much the use of these words, canon and canonical, has obtained among Christians, denoting those books, which are of the highest authority, and the rule of faith: as opposed to all other whatever, particularly to ecclesiastical, or the writings of orthodox and learned catholics, and to apocryphal, the productions, chiefly, of heretics, which by a specious name and title made a pretension to be accounted among sacred books. IV. The most common and general division of the ca

Old and New ponical books, is that of ancient and new, or the Old and

Teftament. New Testament. The Hebrew word, berith, from which

it

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

(v) Vol. x. p. 86. (z). . . p. 193. (a). . . p. 207.

(6) Totus autem canon fcripturarum .. his libris continetur. Ib. not. (r) p. 208. (c) ...p. 252.

(d) See p. 253. 256. 259... 268. (e) Vol. xii. p. 126. (f) Οράς, εις όσον ατοπίαν εκπίπίεσιν οι μη. βαλόμενοι τω της θείας γραφής κατακιλεθεν κανόνι. κ. λ. In Gen. cap. 33. bom. 58. T. 4. p. 566, B.

(3) Vid. hom. 33. in Aa. Ap. sub fin.
(i) Οτι δε ταύτα έτως έχει, τον κανόνα της αληθείας, τας είας φημι γραφας,
u recouer. Ifid. ep. 114. l. 4.

(b) See Vol. xi. p. 381. (1) Ταυτά έςι τα κανονιζόμενα βιβλία εν τη εκκλησία, και ταλαιά και νέα, Citato ibid. p. 380. not. (c)

it is translated, properly fignifies (m) covenant. St. Paul, 2 Cor. iii. 16. . . . . 18. fhewing the superior excellence of the gospel-covenant, or the dispensation by Christ, above the legal covenant, or the dispensation by Moses, useth the word teftament, not only for the covenant itself, but likewise for the books, in which it is contained. At least he does so, in speaking of the legal covenant. For, representing the case of the unbelieving part of the Jewish People, he says, v. 14. Until this day remaineth the fame vail untaken away in reading the Old Testament.

It is no wonder therefore, that this way of speaking bas much prevailed among Christians. Melito, Bishop of Sardis, about the year 177: went into the East, to get an exact account of the books of the Law and the Prophets. In his letter to his friend Onesmus, giving an account of his journey, and reckoning up the books in their order, he calls them (n) the ancient books, and (b) the books of the Old Testament. Eufebe calls it (P) “a catalogue of the acknowledged fcriptures of the Old Testament.” Our Ecclefiaftical Historian elsewhere (9) speaks of the scriptures of the New Testament. I shall remind my readers of but one instance more. Cyril of Jerusalem, introducing his catalogue of scriptures received by the Christian Church, says : « These (v) things we are taught by the di« vinely inspired scriptures of the Old and New Testament.Many other like examples occur in the preceding volumes of this work. Instrument.

V. Instead of testament Latin writers fometimes use the

word instrument, denoting writing, charter, record. We find it several times in Tertullian, reckoned the most ancient Latin writer of the Church now remaining. In a passage already (s) cited he calls the Gospels, or the New Testament in general, the Evangelic Instrument. And says, “ How (t) large chalms Marcion has made in the “ epistle to the Romans, by leaving out what he pleafes, may appear from « our entire Instrument:" or our unaltered copies of the New Testament, particularly of that epiftle. Speaking of the Shepherd of Hermas, he says, it (u) was not reckoned a part of the Divine Instrument: thereby meaning, as it seems, the New Testament. Which passage was quoted (x)

by

(m) Notandum, quod Brith, verbum Hebraicum, Aquila ovróxny, id est, pa&um, interpretatur : lxx semper òs Súxny, id eft, teftamentum : et in plerisque scripturarum locis teftamentum non voluntatem defunctorum fonare, sed pactum viventium. Hieron. in Malach. cap. ii. T. 3. p. 1816.

(η) Ετι δε και μαθείν τήν των ταλαιών βιβλίων έβα ήθης ακριβειαν. κ. λ. Αρ. Euseb.l. 4.6. 27. p. 148. D. (0)

Και ακριβως μαθών τα της παλαιας διαθήκης βιβλία. .

[ocr errors]

.

149. A.

(0) Ibid. p. 148. D. (7) See Vol. vii. p. 197. (r) The fame. p. 267.

(s) See Vol. č.p.577. (1) Quantas autem foveas in illa vel maxime epiftola [ad Romanos] Mar*cion fecerít, auferendo quæ voluit, de noítri instrumenti integritate patebit. Adv. Marcion. l. 5. cap. 13. p.601.

(u). Sed cederem tibi, fi fcriptura Paftoris-divino instrumento meruisset incidi... De Pudicit. cap. 10. p. 727. A.

(x) Sue Vol.ii.p. 638.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

by us formerly. He calls (y) the Law and the Prophets the Jewish
Instruments; that is, writings, or scriptures. He speaks of the anti-
quity (z) of the Jewilh Instruments, or Scriptures. He (a) seems in
one place to use the word instrument, as equivalent to scriptures, con-
taining the doctrine of revelation, or the revealed will of God.
VI. Digest is another word used by Tertullian in speaking of

Digeft.
the scriptures. “ Luke's (b) Digest, he says, is often ascribed
to Paul.He calls (c) the Gospels, or the whole New Testament,
eur Digest, in allusion, as it seems, to some collection of the Roman
Laws digefted into order. Those two pallages were cited in the chap-
ter of Tertullian. I now transcribe the latter below (d) more at large,
it having also the word instrument, as equivalent to the New Testa-

He likewise calls the Jewish Scriptures (e) Sacred Digests.
He seems to use the word digest (f ) elsewhere, as equivalent to writing,
or work, in general.

I shall not take notice of any other general denominations of the sacred {criptures.

VII. My chief concern is with the New Testament, which,
as is well known, consists of Gospels, the Acts, and Epistles.

Gospel.
The only word, that needs explanation, is the first.

Gospel is a translation of the Greek word sinyyéysov, the Latin word
evangelium, which fignifies any good message or tidings. In the New
Testament the word denotes the doctrine of salvation, taught by Jesus
Christ, and his Apostles. Which indeed is gospel by way of eminence,
as it is the best tidings that ever were publithed in this world. Says
Theodoret upon Rom. i. 1. “He (8) calls it gospel, as it contains as ,

« surance
() Aut nunquid non jufti Judæi, & quibus pænitentia non opus esset,
kabentes gubernacula disciplinæ, & timoris inftrumenta, Legem & Prophetas.
De Pudicitia. cap. 7. p. 722. B.

(2) Primam inftrumentis iftis auctoritatem fumma antiquitas vindicat.
Apol. cap. 19. p. 19. B.

Sed quoniam edidimus, antiquiffimis Judæorum instrumentis fectam istam
esse suffultam. Apol.cap. 21. in p. 20.

(a) Sed quo plenius & impreffius tam ipfum, quam dispositiones ejus & vo-
luntates adiremus, inftrumentum adjecit literaturæ, fi quis velit de Deo inqui-
Tere. Apol. cap. 18. p. 18. C.
(6) See Vol. ii. p. 581.0r 579.

(c) The same. p.629. or 630.
. (d) Si vero Apoftoli quidam integrum evangelium contulerunt, de sola
convictus inæqualitate reprehenfi

, Pfeudapostoli autem veritatem eorum interpo-
larunt, et inde sunt noftra digetta : quod erit germanum illud Apoftolorum
inftrumentum, quod adulteros paslum eft ? Adver. Marc. l. 4. cap. 3. p.

(c) Sed homines gloriæ, ut diximus, et eloquentiæ folius libidinofi, fi quid in fanctis offenderunt digeftis, exinde regeftum pro inftituto curiositatis ad propria verterunt. Apol. cap. 47. p. 41. B.

(f) Elegi ad compeçdiuin Varronis opera, qui rerum divinarum ex omnibus
retro digestis commentatus, idoneum fe nobis fcopum exposuit. Ad Nation.
1. 2. cap. i. p. 64. C.

(2) Ευαγίελ ιον δε το κήρυγμα προσηγόρευσεν, ώς πολλων αγαθων υπισχνών εναν χορηγίαν.
Ευαγγελίζεται γάρ τάς τε θεα κα αλλαγής, τήν τε διαβόλα καλάλυσιν, των αμαρτημάτων
την άφεσιν, το θανάτε την παύλαν, των νεκρών την ανάσασιν, την ζωήν την αιωνιον, την
focus.buses tão éçarwy. In ep. ad Rom. T. 3. p. 10. D.

At

504. B.

1

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »