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irreconcileable to one another, acknowledged the authority of Scripture with equal deference.
X. And as a general testimony to the same point, may be produced what was said by one of the bishops of the council of Carthage, which was holden a little before this time :-“ I am of opinion that blasphemous and wicked heretics, who pervert the sacred and adorable words of the Scriptures, should be execrated *.” Undoubtedly what they perverted, they receiv
XI. The Millennium, Novatianism, the baptism of heretics, the keeping of Easter, engaged also the attention and divided the opinions of Christians, at and before that time (and, by the way,
be observed, that such disputes, though on some accounts to be blamed, showed how much men were in earnest upon the subject; yet every one appealed for the grounds of his opinion to Scripture authority. Dionysius of Alexandria, who flourished A. D. 247, describing a conference or public disputation, with the Millennarians of Egypt, confesses of them, though their adversary, " that they embraced whatever could be made out by good arguments from the Holy Scriptures *.” Novatus, A. D. 251, distinguished by some rigid sentiments concerning the reception of those who had lapsed, and the founder of a numerous sect, in his few remaining works quotes the Gospel with the same respect as other Christians did : and concerning his followers, the testimony of Socrates, who wrote about the year 440, is positive, viz. “ That in the disputes between the Catholics and them, each side endeavoured to support itself by the authority of the Divine Scriptures t."
* Lardner, vol. xi. p. 839.
XII. The Donatists, who sprung up in the year 328, used the same Scriptures as we do. “ Produce,” saith Augustine, “ some proof from the Scriptures, whose authority is common to us both I.”
+ Ib. vol. v. p. 105,
* Lardner, vol. iv. p. 666.
Ib. vol. vii. p. 243.
XIII. It is perfectly notorious, that, in the Arian controversy, which arose soon after the year 300, both sides appealed to the same Scriptures, and with equal professions of deference and regard. The Arians, in their council of Antioch, A. D. 341, pronounce, that, “ if any one, contrary to the sound doctrine of the Scriptures, say, that the Son is a creature, as one of the creatures, let him be an anathema *." They and the Athanasians mutually accuse each other of using unscriptural phrases ; which was a mutual acknowledgement of the conclusive authority of Scripture.
XIV, The Priscillianists, A. D. 378 1: the Pelagians, A. D. 405, received the same Scriptures as we do.
XV. The testimony of Chrysostom, who lived near the year 400, is so positive in affirmation of the proposition which we maintain, that it may form a proper conclusion of the argument.
« The general
+ Ib. vol. ix. p. 325.
* Lardner, vol. vii. p. 277. # Ib. vol. xi. p. 52:
reception of the Gospels is a proof that their history is true and consistent; for, since the writing of the Gospels, many heresies have arisen, holding opinions contrary to what is contained in them, who yet receive the Gospels either entire or in
I am not moved by what may seem a deduction from Chrysostom's testimony, the words “ entire or in part;" for, if all the parts, which were ever questioned in our Gospels, were given up, it would not affect the miraculous origin of the religion in the smallest degree : e. g.
Cerinthus is said by Epiphanius to have received the Gospel of Matthew, but not entire. What the omissions were, does not appear. The common opinion, that he rejected the first two chapters, seems to have been a mistaket. It is agreed, however, by all who have given any, account of Cerinthus, that he taught that the holy Ghost (whether he meant by that name a person or a power) descended upon Jesus at his baptism ; that Jesus from this time performed many miracles, and that he
* Lardner, vol. x. p. 316. + Ib. vol. ix. ed. 1788, p. 322.
appeared after his death. He must have retained therefore the essential parts of the history.
Of all the ancient heretics, the most extraordinary was Marcion * One of his tenets was the rejection of the Old Testament, as proceeding from an inferior and imperfect deity ; and in pursuance of this hypothesis, he erased from the New, and that, as it should seem, without entering into any critical reasons, every passage which recognised the Jewish Scriptures. He spared not å text which contradicted his opinion. It is reasonable to believe that Marcion treated books as he treated texts : yet this rash and wild controversialist published a recension, or chastised edition, of Saint Luke's Gospel, containing the leading facts, and all which is necessary to authenticate the religion. This example affords proof, that there were always some points, and those the main points, which neither wildness nor rashness, neither the fury of opposition, nor the intem+ Lardner, sect. ii. c. X. Also Michael, vol.i. c. i. sect. xviii.