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rary with Irenæus, under the title of the
Evangelic Voice*;" and the copious works of Clement of Alexandria, published within fifteen years of the same time, ascribe to the books of the New Testament the various titles of “ Sacred Books,”—“ Divine Scriptures,"_“ Divinely inspired Scriptures, Scriptures of the Lord,”true Evangelical Canon ti.".
VI. Tertullian, who joins on with Clement, besides adopting most of the names and epithets above noticed, calls the Gospels “ our Digesta,” in allusion, as it should seem, to some collection of Roman laws then extant
VII. By Origen, who came thirty years after Tertullian, the same, and other no less strong titles, are applied to the Christian Scriptures; and, in addition thereunto, this writer frequently speaks of the “ Old and New Testament,”_" the Ancient and New Scriptures,”—“ the Ancient and New Oracles g."
* Lardner, vol. i. p. 427.
Ib. p. 630.
+ Ib. vol. ii. p. 515. § Ib. vol. iii. p. 230,
VIII. In Cyprian, who was not twenty years later, they are “ Books of the Spirit,” -“ Divine Fountains, “ Fountains of the Divine Fulness *.
The expressions we have thus quoted, are evidences of high and peculiar respect. . They all occur within two centuries from the publication of the books. Some of them commence with the companions of the apostles ; and they increase in number and variety, through a series of writers, touching upon one another, and deduced from the first age of the religion.
Our Scriptures were publickly read and ex
pounded in the religious assemblies of the early Christians.
Justin MARTYR, who wrote in the year 140, which was seventy or eighty years after some, and less, probably, after others of the Gospels were published, giving, in his first apology, an account, to the emperor, of the Christian worship, has this remarkable
« The Memoirs of the Apostles, or the Writings of the Prophets, are read according as the time allows : and, when the reader has ended, the president makes a discourse, exhorting to the imitation of so excellent things *
* Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 273.
A few short observations will show the value of this testimony.
1. The “ Memoirs of the Apostles,” Justin in another place expressly tells us, are what are called “ Gospels :” and that they were the Gospels which we' now use, is made certain by Justin's numerous quotations of them, and his silence about any others.
2. Justin describes the general usage of the Christian church.
3. Justin does not speak of it as recent or newly instituted, but in the terms in which men speak of established customs.
II. Tertullian, who followed Justin at the distance of about fifty years, in his account of the religious assemblies of Christians as they were conducted in his time, says, “ We come together to recollect the Divine Scriptures ; we nourish our faith, raise our hope, confirm our trust, by the Sacred Word *.
Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 628.
III. Eusebius records of Origen, and cites for his authority the letters of bishops contemporary with Origen, that, when he went into Palestine about the year 216, which was only sixteen years after the date of Tertullian's testimony, he was desired by the bishops of that country to discourse and expound the Scriptures publickly in the church, though he was not yet ordained a presbyter *. This anecdote recognises the usage, not only of reading, but of expounding, the Scriptures ; and both as subsisting in full force. Origen also himself bears witness to the same practice : “ This,” says he,“ we do, when the Scriptures are read in the church, and when the discourse for explication is delivered to the people f.” And, what is a still more ample testimony, many homilies of his upon the Scriptures of the New Testament, delivered by him in the assemblies of the church, are still extant.
IV. Cyprian, whose age was not twenty years lower than that of Origen, gives his
* Lardner, Cred. vol. iii. p. 68.
+ Ib. p. 302 .