« PreviousContinue »
is no great difference in those two senses: and there may be passages of ancient writers, where it would be dificult 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; • Hek
calls the fore-mentioned doctrine a rule, as being straight, • and having nothing wanting, nor superfluous. Again says St. Paul, Pbilip. iii. 16, "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.
Irenæus, speaking of the scriptures, as the words of God, calls' 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 to the Egyptians, says with indignation : . But m they 'who choose to follow any thing, rather than • the true evangelical canon, [or the canon of the gospel,] • insist upon what follows there as said to Salome.' In another place be
· The ecclesiastical canon is the consent and agreement of the law and the prophets with * the testament delivered by the Lord.'
Eusebius, as o formerly quoted, says of Origen: • But in • the first book of his Commentaries upon the gospel of • Matthew, observing P the ecclesiastical canon, he declares • that he knew of four gospels only.'
I shall add a few more passages from later writers, chiefly such as have been already quoted in the foregoing volumes: to wbich passages therefore the reader may easily have recourse.
Κ Κανονα εκαλεσε την προκειμενην διδασκαλιαν, ώς ευθύτητι κοσμημενην, και μητε ελλειπον τι, μητε περιττον εχασαν. Τheod. in loc.
Nos autem unum et solum verum Deum doctorem sequentes, et regulam veritatis habentes ejus sermones, de iisdem semper eadem dicimus omnes. Iren. I. 4. c. 35. al. 69. f. p. 277.
m See Vol. ii. p. 251.
η Κανων δε εκκλησιασικος ή συνωδια και η συμφωνια νομο τε και προφητων τη κατα την τ8 Κυριο παράσιαν παραδιδομενη διαθηκη. Cl. Strom. 1. 6. p. 676. • Vol. ii. p. 494.
-τον εκκλησιαςικον φυλαττων κανονα. . Ap. Euseb. I. 6. c. 25. p. 226. B.
Athanasius 9 in his Festal Epistle speaks of three sorts of hooks, the canonical, the same which are now received by us, such as were allowed to be read, and then of such as are apocryphal : by which he means books forged by heretics.
In the synopsis of scripture, ascribed to him, but probably not written till above a bundred years after this time, near the end of the fifth century, is frequent mention' of canonical and uncanonical books.
The council of Laodicea, about 363, ordains, thats no books, not canonical, should be read in the church, but only the canonical books of the Old and New Testa* ment.'
Rufinus, enumerating the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, makes t three sorts of books; such u
as are included in the canon : such as are not canonical, but ecclesiastical, 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. Jerom likewise often speaks of the canon of scripture, as
saw in his chapter, where he says: Ecclesiasticus, * Judith, Tobit, and the Shepherd, are not in the canon :' and • that w the church reads, or allows to be read, Judith, • Tobit, and the Maccabees, but does not receive them
among the canonical scriptures : and that they, and the • books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, may be read for the • edification of the people, but not as of authority for prov
ing any doctrines. And for the Old Testament he recommends * the true Jewish canon, or Hebrew verity. I refer below to y another place relating to the books of the New Testament.
The third council of Carthage, about 397, ordains,' that? nothing beside the canonical scriptures be read in the • church under the name of Divine Scriptures.'
Augustine, in 395, and afterwards, often a speaks of canonical scriptures, and the whole canon of scripture, that is, 4 Vol. iv. p. 156.
* Ib. p. 161-164. Ib. p. 182.
· Ib. ch. CXV. u Hæc sunt quæ patres intra canonem concluserunt, & ex quibus fidei nostræ assertiones constare voluerunt-Sciendum tamen est, quod alii libri sunt, qui non sunt canonici, sed ecclesiastici a majoribus appellati sunt-Quæ omnia legi quidem in ecclesiis voluerunt, non tamen proferri ad auctoritatem ex his fidei confirmandam. Cæteras vero scripturas apocryphas nominârunt, quas in ecclesiis legi noluerunt. Rufin. citat. ubi supra, p. 185. note 8. " Vol. iv. p. 420.
W P. 421.
* P. 425. 5 P. 439,440.
2 P. 486.
· P. 492. • Totus autem canon scripturarum
-his libris continetur. Ibid. note'.
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 Apos• tles, and the Revelation of John. Of the superior authority of the canonical scriptures to all others, be speaks frequently in passages afterwards alleged d in the same chapter.
Chrysostom, in a place already cited, says: • They' 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 places to the like purpose.
Says Isidore of Pelusium, about 412: Thath these things are so, we shall perceive, if we attend to the rule [canon] of truth, the divine scriptures.'
And Leontius of Constantinople, about 610, having cited the whole catalogue of the books of scripture from Genesis to the Revelation, concludes; These k are the ancient and • the new books, which are received in the church as ca. nonical.'
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 bigbest 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 canonical books is that of ancient and new, or the Old and New Testament. The Hebrew word berith, from which it is translated, properly signifies' covenant. St. Paul, 2 Cor. c Vol. iv. ch. cxvii. num. x. 1.
d Num. x. & xi. e Vol. v. Recapitulation of chap. cxvii.
“Ορας, εις όσην ατοπιαν εκπιπτασιν οι μη βελομενοι τω της θειας γραφης kata KO BJELV kavovi. k. 4. In Gen. cap. 33. hom. 58. T. iv. p. 566. P.
8 Vid. hom. 33. in Act. Ap. sub fin.
h “Οτι δε ταυτα οτως εχει, τον κανονα της αληθειας, τας θειας φημι γραφας, κατοπτευσωμεν. Isid. ep. 114. 1. 4.
See Vol. v. p. 142. Ταυτα εςι τα κανονιζομενα βιβλια εν τη εκκλησια, και παλαια και νεα. Citat. ibid. p. 380. note e.
· Notandum, quod Berith, verbum Hebraïcum, Aquila ovvinenv, id est, pactum, interpretatur: LXX semper diagnrny, id est, testamentum : et in plerisque scripturarum locis testamentum non voluntatem defunctorum sonare, sed pactum viventium. Hieron. in Malach. cap. ji. T. ii. p. 1816.
iii. 6—18, showing the superior excellence of the gospel covenant, or the dispensation by Christ, above the legal covenant, or the dispensation by Moses, useth the word testament, not only for the covenant itself, but likewise for the books in wbich 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, ver. 14. “ Until this day remaineth the same veil 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 Onesimus, giving an account of his journey, and reckoning up the books in their order, he calls them m the ancient books, and the books of the Old Testament. Eusebius calls it 8 • a catalogue of the ac
knowledged scriptures of the Old Testament. Our ecclesiastical historian elsewhere P 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 9 things we are taught by the divinely-in• spired scriptures of the Old and New Testament.' Many other like examples occur in the preceding volumes of this work.
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 cited he calls the gospels, or the New Testament in general, the evangelic instrument. And says; • How & large chasms 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 was not reckoned
η Ετι δε και μαθειν την των παλαιων βιβλιων εβεληθης ακριβειαν. κ. λ. Ap. Euseb. I. 4. c. 27. p. 148. D.
-Και ακριβως μαθων τα της παλαιας διαθηκης βιβλια. Ιb. p. 149. Α. • Ibid. p. 148. D.
P See Vol. iv. p. 141. 4 The same, p. 172.
" See Vol. ii. p.
273. s Quantas autem foveas in istâ vel maxime epistolà (ad Romanos] Marcion fecerit, auferendo quæ voluit, de nostri Instrumenti integritate patebit. Adv. Marcion. 1. 5. cap. 13. p. 601.
! Sed cederem tibi, si scriptura Pastoris-divino instrumento meruisset incidi-De Pudicit. cap. 10. p. 727. A.
a part of the divine instrument: thereby meaning, as it seems, the New Testament: which passage was quoted by usu formerly. He calls the law and the prophets the Jewish instruments • that is, writings or scriptures.
He speaks of the antiquity of the Jewish instruments or scriptures. He seems in one place to use the word instrument, as equivalent to scriptures, containing the doctrine of revelation, or the revealed will of God.
VI. Digest is another word used by Tertullian in speaking of the scriptures. Luke's y digest,' he says, ' is often • ascribed to Paul.' He calls ? 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 passages were cited in the chapter of Tertullian. I now transcribe the latter below a more at large, it baving also the word instrument, as equivalent to the New Testament. He likewise calls the Jewish scriptures b . Sacred • Digests. He seems to use the word digesto elsewhere, as equivalent to writing, or work in general.
I shall not take notice of any other general denominations of the sacred scriptures.
VU. My chief concern is with the New Testament, which, 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 evayyelcov, the Latin word evangelium, which signifies any good message
o See Vol. ii. p. 303.
Aut numquid non justi Judæi, et quibus pænitentiâ non opus esset, hahentes gubernacula disciplinæ et timoris instrumenta, legem et prophetas. De Pudicitiâ, Cap. 7. p. 722. B.
Primam instrumentis istis auctoritatem summa antiquitas vindicat. Apol. cap. 19. p. 19. B.
Sed quoniam edidimus, antiquissimis Judæorum instrumentis sectam istam esse suffultam. Apol. cap. 21. in. p. 20.
* Sed quo plenius et impressius tam ipsum, quam dispositiones ejus et voluntates adiremus, instrumentum adjecit literaturæ, si quis velit de Deo inquirere. Apol. cap. 18. p. 18. C.
y See Vol. ii. p. 275. See Vol. ii. p. 299. • Si vero apostoli quidem integrum evangelium contulerunt, de solâ convictûs inæqualitate reprehensi, Pseudapostoli autem veritatem eorum interpolârunt, et inde sunt nostra digesta ; quod erit germanum illud apostolorum instrumentum, quod adulteros passum est ? Adver. Marc. 1. 4. cap. 3. p.504. B.
b Sed homines gloriæ, ut diximus, et eloquentiæ solius libidinosi, si quid in sanctis offenderunt digestis, exinde regestum pro instituto curiositatis ad propria verterunt. Apol. cap. 47. p. 41. B.
Elegi ad compendium Varronis opera, qui rerum divinarum ex omnibus retro digestis commentatus, idoneum se nobis scopum exposuit. Ad Nation. 1. 2. cap. i. p. 64. C.