Page images
PDF
EPUB

riod which we have considered, is greatly strengthened by the observation, that it is the testimony, and the concurring testimony, of writers who lived in countries remote from one another. Clement flourished at Rome, Ignatius at Antioch, Polycarp at Smyrna, Justin Martyr in Syria, and Irenæus in France.

XI. Omitting Athenagoras and Theor philus, who lived about this time*; in the remaining works of the former of whom are clear references to Mark and Luke; and in the works of the latter, who was bishop of Antioch, the sixth in succession from the apostles, evident allusions to Matthew and John, and probable allusions to Luke (which, considering the nature of the compositions, that they were addressed to heathen readers, is as much as could be expected); observing also, that the works of two learned Christian writers of the same age, Miltiades and Pantænust, are now lost; of which Miltiades, Eusebius records, that his writings “ were monuments of zeal for the Divine Oracles :" and which Pantenus, as Jerome testifies, was a man of prudence and learning, both in the Divine Scriptures and secular literature, and had left many commentaries upon the Holy Scriptures then extant; passing by these without further remark, we come to one of the most voluminous of ancient Christian writers, Clement of Alexandria*. Clement followed Irenæus at the distance of only sixteen years, and therefore may be said to maintain the series of testimony in an uninterrupted continuation,

* Lardner, vol. i. p. 400.-Ib. 422. + Larduer, vol. i. p. 413. 450.

In certain of Clement's works, now lost, but of which various parts are recited by Eusebius, there is given a distinct account of the order in which the four Gospels were written. The Gospels which contain the genealogies, were (he says) written first; Mark's next, at the instance of Peter's followers : and John's the last: and this account he tells us that he had received from presbyters of more ancient times. This testimony proves the following points ; that these Gospels were the histories of Christ then publickly received, and relied upon ; and that the dates, occasions, and circumstances, of their publication were at that time subjects of attention and inquiry amongst Christians. In the works of Clement which remain, the four Gospels are repeatedly quoted by the names of their authors, and the Acts of the Apostles is expressly ascribed to Luke. In one place, after mentioning a particular circumstance, he adds these remarkable words: “ We have not this passage in the four Gospels delivered to us, but in that according to the Egyptians ;" which puts a marked distinction between the four Gospels and all other histories, or pretended histories, of Christ. In another part of his works the perfect confidence, with which he received the Gospels, is signified by him in these words: " That this is true, appears from hence, that it is written in the Gospel according to Saint Luke;" and again, “ I need not use many words, but only to allege the evangelic voice of the Lord.” His quotations are numerous. The sayings of Christ, of which he alleges many, are all taken from our Gospels; the single exception to this observation appearing to be a loose* quotation of a passage in Saint Matthew's Gospel.

* Lardner, vol. ii. p. 469.

XII. In the age in which they livedt, Tertullian joins on with Clement. The number of the Gospels then received, the names of the evangelists, and their proper descriptions, are exhibited by this writer in one short sentence :-“ Among the apostles, John and Matthew teach us the faith ; among apostolical men, Luke and Mark refresh it.” The next passage to be taken from Tertullian, affords as complete an attestation to the authenticity of our books, as can be well imagined. After enumerating the churches which had been founded by Paul, at Corinth, in Galatia, at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Ephesus ; the church of Rome established by Peter and

* “ Ask great things, and the small shall be added unto you.” Clement rather chose to expound the words of Matthew (chap. vi. 33.) than literally to cite them ; and this is most undeniably proved by another place in the same Clement, where he both produces the text and these words as an expo. sition :- Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and its right. eousness, for these are the great things : but the small things, and things relating to this life, shall be added unto you." Jones's New and Full Method, vol. i. p. 553.

+ Lardner, vol. ii. p. 561.

و

22

Paul, and other churches derived from John; he proceeds thus :-" I say then, that with them, but not with them only which are apostolical, but with all who have fellowship with them in the same faith, is that Gospel of Luke received from its first publication, which we so zealously maintain :" and presently afterwards adds ; “ The same authority of the apostolical churches will support the other Gospels, which we have from them and according to them, I mean John's and Matthew's ; although that likewise which Mark published may be said to be Peter's, whose interpreter Mark was.” In another place Tertullian affirms, that the three other Gospels were in the hands of the churches from the beginning, as well as Luke's. This noble testimony fixes the universality with which the Gospels were received, and their antiquity ; that they were in the hands of all, and had been so from the first. And this evidence appears not more than one hundred and fifty years after the publication of the books. The reader must be given to understand that, when Tertullian speaks of maintaining or defending (tuendi) the Gospel of Saint

« PreviousContinue »