Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

those words of Paul, 2 Tim. iv. 13. The cloak that I left at Troas with
Carpus, when thou comeft, bring with thee, and the books, n; cà B.Caía. For
he believed, that thereby the ancient Christians understood the sacred
code. But he afterwards acknowledgeth, that he had not found any in-
ftance of that interpretation in ancient writers. It seems to me there-
fore, that this conjecture should be dropt, as destitute of foundation: and
that it should be better for us to adhere to the forementioned origin of
this name, which appears to have in it a good deal of probability.
III. Canon is originally a Greek word, fignifying a rule or

Canon standard, by which other things are to be examined and judged.

As the writings of the Prophets and Apostles and Evangelists contain an authentic account of the revealed will of God, they are the rule of the belief and practice of those who receive them.

Sometimes canon seems equivalent to a list or catalogue, in which are inserted those books, which contain the rule of faith.

Du Pin says, “ This (5) word signifies not only a law or rule, but " likewise a table, catalogue, lift. Some have fuppofed, that the cano“nical books were so called, because they are the rule of the faith. But " though it be true, that they are the rule of our faith; yet the reason of “their being called canonical, is, because they are placed in the cata" logue of sacred books.”

Perhaps, there is no need to dispute about this. For there is no great difference in those two senses. And there may be passages of ancient writers, where it would be difficult to determine, which of them is intended.

St. Paul has twice used the word canon, or rule. Gal. vi. 16. As many as walk according to this rule. Upon which verse Theodoret's comment is to this purpose : “ He (i) calls the forementioned doctrine a rule,

as being strait, and having nothing wanting, nor superfluous.” Again, fays St. Paul, Philip. iii. 10. Whereunto we have already attained, let us walk according to the same rule. Where he speaks of the doctrine of the gospel in general, or of some particular maxim of it: not of any books, containing the rule of faith. However, his use of the word may have been an occasion of affixing that denomination to the books of scripture. For it is of great antiquity among Christians.

Iræneus, speaking of the scriptures, as the words of God, calls (k) them the rule, or canon of truth. Here canon is not a catalogue, but the books, or the doctrine contained in the books of scripture.

Clement of Alexandria, referring to a quotation of the Gospel according

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

to

foit vrai,

(b) Le mot signifie non seulement une loi, une regle, mais aussi une table, un catalogue, une liste. ... Quelques-uns ont cru, que les livres canoniques étoient ainii appellez, parcequ'ils sont la regle de la foi. Mais quoique cela

ce n'est pas ce qui leur a fait donner le nom de canoniques, qu'ils n'ont que parceque l'on a nommé canon le catalogue des livres sacrez. Dil:

(1) Κανόνα έκάλεσε την προκειμένην διδασκαλίαν, ώς ευθύτητα κοσμημένην, και μήτε ελλείπω τι μήτε περιττόν έχασαν. Τheod. in loc.

(6) Nos autem unum et folum verum Deum ductorem fequentes, et regulam veritatis habentes ejus fermones, de iisdem semper eadem dicimus omves.

4.6. 35. al. 69. f. p. 277.

Preliin, l. i. ch. I.

[ocr errors]

!

Iren. I.

to the Egyptians, says with indignation : “ But (1) they who choose to « 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) ecclesiastical canon is the consent 6 and agreement of the Law and the Prophets with the testament deli“ vered by the Lord."

Eufebe, as (vi) formerly quoted, says of Origen : “ But in the first book « of his Commentaries upon the Gospel of Matthew, observing (0) the « ecclesiastical canon, he declares, that he knew of four Gospels only.”

I shall add a few more pafiages 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 same which are now received by us, such 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, nos “canonical, should be read in the church, but only the canonical books óc of the Old and New Testament."

Rufin, enumerating the feriptures of the Old and New Testament, makes (r) three forts of books, fuch (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, or « allows to be read, Juaith, 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.” And for the Old Teltament he recommends (*) the true Jewish canon, or

Hebrero

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

(m) Κανών δε εκκλησιαστικός και συνωδία και η συμφωνία νόμο τε και τροφητών τη xala 37 të xupir appoiar engadidouin die Sonn. Cl. Strom. l. 6. p. 676. C.

(11) Ch. 38. Vol. iii. p. 235. (o) τον εκκλησιαστικών φυλάττων κανόνα. Αρ. Εufeb. 1.6. τ. 25. p. 226. Β. () See Vol. iii. p. 228. 229.

(9) The fame. p. 243. .. 245. . The fame. p. 291.

(1) See Vol. x. p. 187. 188. *) Hæc funt, quæ patres intra canonem concluferunt, & ex quibus fidei nostræ assertiones conftare voluerunt. . . . Sciendum tamen est, quod alii libri funt, qui non funt canonici, sed ecclefiaftici a majoribus appellati sunt. Quæ omnia legi quidem in ecclefiis volucrunt, non tamen proferri ad auctoritatem ex his fidei confirmandam. Ceteras vero fcripturas apocryphas no minarunt, quas in ecclefiis legi noluerunt. Rufin. citat. ubi fupra p. 185. not. (3) (0) Vol. x. p. 41. (v): 43•

(x)...52.

[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 fince 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 Isidore of Pelusium, about 412. “ That (i) these things are so, we " Thall 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 (1) 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 ecclefiaftical, 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 nonical books, is that of ancient and new, or the Old and New Testament. The Hebrew word, berith, from which

Teftament.

it

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

p. 208.

6) Vol. x. p. 86. (2)...p.193. (a)...p. 207.
(6) Totus autem canon fcriptựrarum his libris continetur. Ib, not. (r)
(c)...p. 252.

(d) See p. 253. 256, 259... 268.
(e) Vol. xii. p. 126.

(f) Οράς, εις όσιν ατοπία, εκπίπλασιν οι μη, βαλόμενοι τω της θείας γραφής καSunshe Jis rarós. %. a. In Gen. cap. 33. hom. 58. T. 4. p. 566, B.

(3) Vid. hom. 33. in Ad. Ap. sub fin. (i) Οτι δε ταύτα έτως έχει, τον κανόνα της αληθείας, τας Θείας φημι γραφας, L'aplecquey. Ifid. ep. 114. 1. 4. (k) See Vol. xi. p. 381.

Ci(1) Ταύτά έσι τα κανονιζόμενα βιβλία εν τη εκκλησία, και παλαια και νέα. tat, 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 Mofes, use th 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 has 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 Onefimus, giving an account of his journey, and reckoning up the books in their order, he calls them (n) the ancient books, and (c) the books of the Old Testament. Eufebe calls it (D) “a catalogue of the acknowledged scriptures of the Old Testament.” Our Ecclefiaftical Historian elsewhere (9) speaks of the feriptures 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 (r) 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 sometimes 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 fays, “ How (t) large chalms Marcion has made in the

epistle to the Romans, by leaving out what he pleases, may appear from « our entire Instrument:" or our unaltered copies of the New Testament, particularly of that epistle. 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 (*)

by

(m) Notandum, quod Brith, verbum Hebraicum, Aquila eurobxny, id est, pašum, interpretatur: nxx femper Quae Súxny, id eft, teftamentum : et in plerifque scripturarum locis teftamentum non voluntatem defunctorum sonare, fed paétum viventium. Hieron. in Malach, cap. 1. T. 3. p. 1816. (η) Ετι δε και μαθείν τήν των παλαιών βιβλίων εβο ήθης ακριβειαν.

%od. Ap. Eufeb.l. 4.6. 27. p. 148. D. (0)

Και ακριβως μαθών τα της παλαιάς διαθήκης βιβλία. . Ι. p.

149. 4.

(0) Ibid. p. 148. D. (1) See Vol. viii. p. 197. (r) The fame. p. 267. (s) See Vol. ii. p. 577:

(1) Quantas autem foveas in illa vel maxime epiftola [ad Romanos] Marcion fecerit, auferendo quæ voluit, de nostri instrumenti integritate patebit. Adv. Marcion.l. 5. cap. 13. p.6c1.

(u) Sed cederem tibi, fi scriptura Pastoris--divino instrumento meruiffet incidi... De Pudicit. cap. 10.2.727. A.

(x) See Vol. 1. p. 638.

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

by us formerly. He calls () the Law and the Prophets the Jewish
Instruments; that is, writings, or scriptures. He speaks of the anti-
quity (z) of the Jewish 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 (6) Digest, he says, is often ascribed
to Paul.He calls (c) the Gospels, or the whole New Testament,
our Digest, in allusion, as it seems, to some collection of the Roman
Laws digested 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 Jewith Scriptures (e) Sacred Digests. He seems to use the word digelt (f) elsewhere, as equivalent to writing, or work, in general.

I thall not take notice of any other general denominations of the sacred {criptures. VII. My chief concern is with the New Testament, which,

Gospel, as is well known, consists of Gospels, the Acts, and Epistles. The only word, that needs explanation, is the first.

Gospel is a translation of the Greek word sügyvédor, the Latin word evangelium, which fignifies any good mefiage 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 published in this world. Says Theodoret upon Rom. i. 1. “ He (8) calls it gospel, as it contains as

« furance 6) Aut nunquid non jufti Judæi, & quibus pænitentia non opus esset, habentes gubernacula disciplinæ, & timoris instrumenta, Legem & Prophetas. De Pudicitia. cap. 7. p.722. B.

(z) Primam instrumentis illis auctoritatem summa antiquitas vindicat. Apol. cap. 19. p. 19. B.

Sed quoniam edidimus, antiquiflimis Judæorum instrumentis sectam iftam esse suffultam. Apol.cap. 21. in p.20.

(a) Sed quo plenius & impreffius tam ipfum, quam difpofitiones ejus & voluntates adiremus, inftrumentum adjecit literaturæ, fi quis velit de Deo inquirere. Apol. cap. 18.p.18. C. (b) See Vol. i. p. 581..or 579.

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

, Pseudapostoli autem veritatem eorum interpolarunt, et inde sunt nostra digetta : quod erit germanum illud Apoftolorum inftrumentum, quod adulteros paffum eft ? Adver. Marc. l. 4. cap. 3. p.

(e) Sed homines gloriæ, ut diximus, et eloquentiæ folius libidinosi, fi quid in sanctis offenderunt digeftis, exinde regeitum pro infituto curiositatis ad propria verterunt. Apol. cap. 47. p.41. B.

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

(g) Ευαγγέλιον δε το κήρυγμα προσηγόρευσεν, ώς πολλων αγαθων υπισχνόμενον χορηγίαν. Ευαγγελίζεται γαρ τας τε θεα κα αλλαγάς, τήν τε διαβόλα καλάλυσιν, των αμαρτημάτων την άφεσιν, τα θανάτε την παύλαν, των νεκρών την ανάσασιν, την ζωήν την αιωνιον, την Pershinsen räv army. In ep. ad Rom. T. 3. p. 10. D.

At

504. B.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »