Page images

Matthew. Clement, writing to the church of Corinth, on occasion of a dissension tbere, desires them to take into

their hands the epistle of the blessed apostle Paul written • to them :' and particularly refers them to a part of that epistle, in which he had admonished them against strife and contention. He has likewise, in his epistle, divers clear and undeniable allusions to St. Paul's epistle, sent to the church over which he presided, and in whose name he wrote ; not to repeat here other things lately taken notice of.

Quotations there could not be in Hermas, as has been observed again and again. But allusions there are to the books of the New Testament, such as were suitable to his design.

Ignatius, writing to the church of the Ephesians, takes notice of the epistles of Paul sent to them, in which he • makes mention of them in Christ Jesus.'

Polycarp, writing to the Philippians, refers them to the epistle of the apostle Paul written to them : if not also, as I imagine he does, to the epistle sent to the Thessalonian christians in the same province. Not now to insist on his quotations of texts or passages of other books of the New Testament, or his numerous and manifest allusions to them.

Obs. 7. From all which it is apparent, that these early writers have not omitted to take notice of any book of the New Testament, which their design led them to mention : their silence therefore about any other books can be no prejudice to the supposition of their genuineness, if we shall hereafter meet with credible testimonies to them. And we have good reason to believe, that these apostolical fathers were some of the persons from whom succeeding writers received that full and satisfactory evidence, which they appear to have had concerning the several books of the New Testament.

Obs. 8. Ignatius has expressions, denoting two codes or collections, one of gospels, the other of epistles of apostles.

Obs. 9. There are not in any of these apostolical fathers any quotations of apocryphal books concerning the history, or the doctrine, of Christ and his apostles. There is indeed one passage of Ignatius, in which some have supposed to be a reference to the gospel according to the Hebrews: but we rather think it a quotation of the gospel of St. Luke. There is also at the end of the Fragment ascribed to Clement, a quotation, supposed to be taken from the gospel according to the Egyptians : but we have no reason to be

c Vid. Grabe, Spic. T. i. p. 35.

much concerned about it; that not being a work of Clement, but, probably, of some writer of the third century.

Ch. VIII. In the history of things in the time of Trajan, whose reign began in 98, and ended in 117, Eusebius says: • There were many eminent men, who had the first rank in

the succession of the apostles; divers of whom travelling • abroad performed the office of evangelists, being am

bitious to preach Christ, and to deliver the scripture of • the divine gospels. This affords an argument, that at that time and before, the gospels were well known and collected together.

They who went forth to preach the salutary doctrine of the kingdom of heaven to those who were yet unacquainted with it, carried the gospels with them, and delivered them to their converts. The gospels therefore must have been collected together, and must have been for some while in use, and in the highest esteem among the disciples of the apostles, and in the churches planted by them. And I presume, that few or none will hesitate to allow, that Eusebius must be understood to speak here of the four gospels, so well known in his time.

Ch. IX. Papias was well acquainted with Polycarp, and John the elder, as is allowed, and by some is supposed to have been acquainted with John the apostle and evangelist. If it had been certain, that he was conversant with the lastmentioned John, he ought to be reckoned an apostolical man, and should have been placed with those of that character already spoken of. As that is not certain, we place him in the next rank after those who were disciples of apostles. He expressly bears testimony to the gospels of Matthew and Mark; and be quoted the first epistle of St. Peter, and the first epistle of St. John. He seems also to have a reference to the book of the Acts. There is reason to suppose he received the book of the Revelation.

Ch. X. Justin Martyr, a native of Palestine, a learned man, and a traveller, converted to christianity about the year 133, flourished chiefly from the year 140 and afterwards, and died a martyr, as is supposed, in 164 or 167. His remaining works are two Apologies, addressed, or inscribed, one to Titus Antoninus the Pious, the other to Marcus Antoninus the Philosopher, and the senate and people of Rome, (but this last is not now entire,) and a Dialogue with Trypho a Jew. In which works are many quotations of the four gospels, though he does not name the evangelists. There are also references to the book of the Acts, and to divers of the epistles of the New Testament. The Revelation is expressly quoted, as written by John, an

[ocr errors]

apostle of Christ. The gospels he calls memoirs' or commentaries: Memoirs of the apostles : Christ's memoirs : • memoirs of the apostles and their companions, who have

written the history of all things concerning our Saviour • Jesus Christ :' plainly meaning Matthew and John, Mark and Luke. In his first Apology he says, the memoirs of * the apostles, and the writings of the prophets,' were read in the assemblies of public worship, and a discourse was made upon them by the president: whence it appears, that the gospels were well known in the world, and not designedly concealed from any. Whether Justin has referred to any apocryphal scriptures, is considered at the end of the chapter.

Ch. XI. In the elegant epistle to Diognetus, sometimes called Justin's, but probably not his, there are no books or writers of the New Testament expressly named: but there are texts out of the gospels of Matthew and John, or allusions and references to them, and also to the epistle to the Romans, the first and second to the Corinthians, the epistle to the Philippians, the first and second to Timothy, the first epistle of Peter, and the first of John: all which allusions are so plain, that they must be reckoned undisputed. A text of the first epistle to the Corinthians is thus cited or introduced : “the apostle says,' meaning Paul. He also appears to have had a volume of gospels and apostolical epistles, which he joins with the law and the prophets, in this manner : • The fear of the law is sung' or celebrated, ' the grace of the prophets is known, the faith of the gos'pels is established, and the tradition of the apostles is • kept.'

Ch. XII. Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, as we learn from Eusebius, wrote seven letters to divers churches, and one to a christian woman ; of wbich nothing remains, except some fragments; in which, however, we can trace references to the Acts, and some of the epistles. He speaks of thie scriptures of the Lord,' which some bad endeavoured to corrupt, probably meaning Marcion, whose heresy he designedly opposed in one of his letters.

Ch. XIII. Tatian, a man well skilled in human literature, composed a Harmony of the Gospels, called Diatessaron, or, Of the Four. Theodoret, of the fifth century, found two hundred copies of this work among the catholics, beside those in use among the people of his own sect. Tatian is also said to have corrected the composition of St. Paul's style; which, perhaps, may have been nothing more than some marginal notes and emendations. Jerom speaks likewise of Tatian's rejecting some of St. Paul's epistles, whilst he received that to Titus. Here is a remarkable attestation to the number of the gospels, as four only. Tatian was a Syrian; possibly his Harmony was more common in that country than

other. This

may be the reason why Theodoret found so many copies of it, and why Ephrem the Syrian, as is said, wrote a commentary upon it. A more particular account of this work of Tatian may be seen in the 36th chapter; where is likewise a large account of another Harmony of the four gospels, composed by Ammonius of Alexandria.

Cb. XIV. The sum of the testimony of Hegesippus, a Jew converted to the christian faith, is this: that he has divers thing's expressed in the style of the gospels, and the Acts, and some other parts of the New Testament. He refers to the history, in the second chapter of St. Matthew, and recites another text of that gospel, as spoken by the Lord. Hegesippus travelled: he was at Corinth, and from thence went to Rome; and he says, that. in every city,' among christians, the same doctrine was taught, which the law,

and the prophets, and the Lord, preacheth;' where, by • the Lord,' he must mean the scriptures of the New Testament, which he looks upon as containing the very doctrine taught and preached by Jesus Christ. Moreover, he had a Hebrew gospel, supposed to be the gospel according to the Hebrews; and he says, there had been books forged by heretics, but they were such only as were called apocryphal, and were not received by catholics as of authority.

Ch. XV. Melito, bishop of Sardis, in Lydia, says in Eusebius, that when he went into the East, he procured

an accurate account of the books of the Old Testament;' whence it may be argued, that there was then a volume, or collection of books, called the New Testament, containing the writings of apostles and apostolical men. One of his works, now lost, was entitled, of the Revelation of John ; so that he received that book, and probably many others, collected together in a volume, called the New Testament, as the books received by the Jews as of divine authority, were called the Old Testament.

Ch. XVI. The churches of Vienne and Lyons, in Gaul, wrote an epistle to the churches of Asia and Phrygia, containing a relation of the sufferings of their martyrs in the time of Marcus Antoninus. They express themselves in the language of St. Luke and St. John, and the Acts of the Apostles, the epistles to the Romans, the Philippians, and some other epistles of St. Paul, the first of St. Peter, the first of St. John, and the Revelation ; but no book of the New Testament is expressly named : however, a text of St. John's gospel is quoted, as spoken by the Lord.'

Ch. XVII. Irenæus, probably a native of Asia, in his younger days acquainted with Polycarp, who was a disciple of St. John, for a while presbyter of the church of Lyons, in Gaul, and successor to Pothinus, as bishop, who, at the age of ninety, died in prison, in 177, in the time of the above-mentioned persecution of Marcus Antoninus; beside other things, composed a work against heresies, in five books, in which is a most noble testimony to the scriptures of the New Testament: for he assures us, there were four gospels received by the church, and no more, all which he has often and largely quoted, with the names of the writers; as also the book of the Acts, which he ascribes to Luke; and twelve epistles of St. Paul, most of them with the names of the churches, or persons, to whom they were sent. The epistle to Pbilemon is not quoted; which may be owing to its brevity, and that he had no particular occasion to make use of it. There is no plain proof that he received the epistle to the Hebrews. He has likewise quoted the first epistle of St. Peter, and the first and second of St. John, and the book of the Revelation, as St. John's, and written in the time of the emperor Domitian; but there are not any clear references to the epistles of St. James, the second of St. Peter, or the epistle of St. Jude. The reason of his not quoting the third epistle of St. John may be allowed to be its brevity: There are in him, likewise, many expressions, testifying his great regard for these scriptures; and it has been shown, that Irenæus quotes not Hermas, nor Clement, nor any other writer, as of authority, or with a Jike regard, which he manifests for the books above mentioned. At the end of the chapter it is considered upon what ground Irenæus received the writings of St. Mark and St. Luke, who were not apostles.

Ch. XVIII. Athenagoras, whose station in the church is not known, a learned man, and a polite writer, author of an Apology for the christians, addressed, as it seems, to Marcus Antoninus and Commodus, and of a Treatise of the Resurrection, plainly appears to have made use of St. Matthew, and St. John, and several of St. Paul's epistles.

Ch. XIX. Miltiades was author of an Apology for the christians, near the end of the reign of Marcus Antoninus, or at the beginning of the reign of Commodus, and of a Treatise against the Montanists, and also of two Treatises

« PreviousContinue »