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The historical books of the New Testament,
meaning thereby the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, are quoted, or alluded to, by a series of Christian writers, begin, ning with those who were contemporary with the apostles, or who immediately followed them, and proceeding in close and regular succession from their time to the present.
The medium of proof stated in this proposition is, of all others, the most unquestionable, the least liable to any practices of fraud, and is not diminished by the lapse of ages. Bishop Burnet, in the History of his Own Times, inserts various extracts from Lord Clarendon's History. One such insertion 'is a proof, that Lord Clarendon's History was extant at the time when Bishop Burnet wrote, that it had been read by Bishop Burnet, that it was received by Bishop Burnet as a work of Lord Clarendon, and also regarded by him as an authentic account of the transactions which it relates; and it will be a proof of these points a thousand years hence, or as long as the books exist. Quintilian having quoted as Cicero's *, that well-known trait of dissembled vanity :
“Si quid est in me ingenii, Judices, quod scntio quam sit exiguum ;".-
the quotation would be strong evidence, were there any doubt, that the oration, which opens with this address, actually came from Cicero's pen. These instances, however simple, may serve to point out to a reader, who is little accustomed to such researches, the nature and value of the argument.
The testimonies which we have to bring forward under this proposition are the following:
I. There is extant an epistle äscribed to Barnabas *, the companion of Paul. It is quoted as the epistle of Barnabas, by Clement of Alexandria, A. D. cxciv; by Origen, A. D. ccxxx. It is mentioned by Eusebius, A. D. cccxv, and by Jerome, A. D. cccxcii, as an ancient work in their time, bearing the name of Barnabas, and as well known and read amongst Christians, though not accounted a part of Scripture. It purports to have been written soon after the destruction of Jerusalem, during the calamities which followed that disaster; and it bears the character of the age to which it professes to belong.
* Quint. lib. xi. c. 1,
In this epistle, appears the following remarkable passage :-“ Let us, therefore, beware lest it come upon us, as it is written; There are many called, few chosen.” From the expression “ as it is written,” we infer with certainty, that, at the time when the author of this epistle lived, there was a book extant, well known to Christians, and
* Lardner, Cred. edit. 1755, vol. i. p. 23, et seq. The reader will observe from the references, that the materials of these sections are almost entirely extracted from Dr Lardner's work ;---my office consisted in arrangement and selection.
of authority amongst them, containing these words :-“ Many are called, few chosen." Such a book is our present Gospel of Saint Matthew, in which this text is twice found*, and is found in no other book now known. There is a farther observation to be made upon the terms of the quotation. The writer of the epistle was a Jew. The phrase “it is written," was the very form in which the Jews quoted their Scriptures. It is not probable, therefore, that he would have used this phrase, and without qualification, of any books but what had acquired a kind of Scriptural authority. If the passage remarked in this ancient writing had been found in one of Saint Paul's Epistles, it would have been esteemed by every one a high testimony to Saint Matthew's Gospel. It ought, therefore, to be remembered, that the writing in which it is found was probably by very few years posterior to those of Saint Paul.
Beside this passage, there are also in the epistle before us several others, in which the sentiment is the same with what we meet with in Saint Matthew's Gospel, and two or three in which we recognise the same words. In particular, the author of the epistle repeats the precept, “ Give to every one that asketh thee*;" and saith that Christ chose as his apostles, who were to preach the Gospel, men who were great sinners, that he might show that he
* Matt. xx, 16. ; xxii, 14.
,came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance-f3"
II. We are in possession of an epistle written by Clement, Bishop of Rome I, whom ancient writers, without any doubt or scruple, assert to have been the Clement whom Saint Paul mentions, Phil. iv. 3.; “ with Clement also, and other my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life." This epistle is spoken of by the ancients as an epistle acknowledged by all; and, as Irenæus well represents its value, “ written by Clement, who had seen the blessed apostles, and conversed with them; who had the preaching of the apostles still sounding in his ears, and their traditions before his
* Matt. v. 42.
f Ib. ix. 13. Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 62, et seq.