Page images

Luke, he only means maintaining or defending the integrity of the copies of Luke received by Christian churches, in opposition to certain curtailed copies used by Marcion against whom he writes.

This author frequently cites the Acts of the Apostles under that title, once calls it Luke's Commentary, and observes how Saint Paul's epistles confirm them.

After this general evidence, it is unnecessary to add particular quotations. These, however, are so numerous and ample, as to have led Dr Lardner to observe,

66 that there are more, and larger quotations of the small volume of the New Testament in this one Christian author, than there are of all the works of Cicero in writers of all characters for several ages *.”

Tertullian quotes no Christian writing as of equal authority with the Scriptures, and no spurious book at all; a broad line of distinction, we may once more observe, between our Sacred Books and all others.

* Lardner, vol. ii, p. 647,

We may again likewise remark the wide extent through which the reputation of the Gospels, and of the Acts of the Apostles, had spread, and the perfect consent, in this point, of distant and independent societies. It is now only about one hundred and fifty years since Christ was crucified ; and within this period, to say nothing of the apostolical fathers who have been noticed already, we have Justin Martyr at Neapolis, Theophilus at Antioch, Irenæus in France, Clement at Alexandria, Tertullian at Carthage, quoting the same books of historical Scriptures, and, I may say, quoting these alone.

XIII. An interval of only thirteen years, and that occupied by no small number of Christian writers *, whose works only remain in fragments and quotations, and in every one of which is some reference or other to the Gospels (and in one of them, Hippolytus, as preserved in Theodoret, is an abstract of the whole Gospel history), brings us to a name of great celebrity in Christian antiquity, Origen * of Alexandria, who, in the quantity of his writings, exceeded the most laborious of the Greek and Latin authors. Nothing can be more peremptory upon the subject now under consideration, and, from a writer of his learning and information, more satisfactory, than the declaration of Origen, preserved, in an extract from his works, by Eusebius ; “ That the four Gospels alone are received without dispute by the whole Church of God under heaven :" to which declaration is immediately subjoined, a brief history of the respective authors, to whom they were then, as they are now, ascribed. The language holden concerning the Gospels, throughout the works of Origen which remain, entirely correspond with the testimony here cited. His attestation to the Acts of the Apostles is no less positive : " And Luke also once more sounds the trumpet relating the acts of the apostles.” The universality with which the Scriptures were then read, is well signified by this

* Minucius Felix, A pollonius, Caius, Asterius, Urbanus, Alexander bishop of Jerusalem, Hippolytus, Ammonius, Ju. lius Africanus.

* Lardner, vol. iii. p. 234.



writér, in a passage in which he has occasion to observe against Celsus, “ That it is not in any private books, or such as are read by a few only, and those studious persons, but in books read by every body, that it is written, The invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by things that are made.” It is to no purpose to single out quotations of Scripture from such a writer as this. We might as well make a selection of the qu tations of Scripture in Dr Clarke's Sermons, They are so thickly sown in the works of Origen, that Dr Mill says, “ If we had all his works remaining, we should have before us almost the whole text of the Bible *


Origen notices, in order to censure, certain apocryphal Gospels. He also uses four writings of this sort; that is, throughout his large works he once or twice, at the most, quotes each of the four ; but always with some mark, either of direct reprobation, or of caution to his readers, manifestly esteeming them of little or no authority.

* Mill, Proleg. cap. vi. p. 66.

XIV. Grégory bishop of Neocesarea, and Dionysius of Alexandría; were scholars of Origen.

Their testiinony, therefore, though full and particular, may be reckoned a repetition only of his. The series, how ever, of evidence, is continued by Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, who flourished within twenty years after Origen. 6 The Church," says this father, " is watered, like Paradise, by four rivers, that is, by four Gospels.” The Acts of the Apostles is also frequently quoted by Cyprian under that name, and under the name of the “ Divine Scriptures." In his various writings are such constant and copious citations of Scripture, aš to place this part of the testimony beyond controversy. Nor is there, in the works of this eminent African bishop, one quotation of a spurious or apocryphal Christian writing.

XV. Passing over a crowd * of writers following Cyprian at different distances,

* Novatus, Rome, A. D. 251 ; Dionysius, Rome, A. D. 259; Commodian, A. D. 270; Anatolius, Loadicea, A. D. 270; Theognostus, A. D. 282; Methodius, Lycia, A. D. 290; Phileas, Egypt, A. D. 296.

« PreviousContinue »