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see them flying through every book of the sacred
IX. A controversy at the same time existed with the Noetians or Sabellians, who seem to have gone into the opposite extreme from that of Paul of Samosata and his followers. Yet, according to the express testimony of Epiphanius, Sabellius received all the Scriptures. And with both sects Catholic writers constantly allege the Scriptures, and reply to the arguments which their opponents drew from particular texts.
We have here, therefore, a proof, that parties, who were the most opposite and irreconcilable to one another, acknowledged the authority of Seripture 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-" am of opinion that the blasphemous and wicked heretics, who pervert the sacred and adorable works of the Scriptures, should be execrated.”! Undoubtedly what they perverted, they received.
XI. Millennium, Novatianism, the baptism of heretics, the keeping of Easter, engaged also the ato tention and divided the opinions of Christians, at and before that time (and, by the way, it may 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 embrace 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 * Lardeer, vol. xi. P: 158
| Ib. 839. Ib. vol. ir. p. 666,
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."*
XII. The Donatists, who sprung up in the year 328, used the same Scriptures as we do.
• Produce (saith Augustine) some proof from the Scrip. tures, whose authority is common to us both.”+
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 acknowledgment of the con• clusive authority of Scripture.
XIV. The Priscillianists, A. D. 378,|| the Pelagians, A. D. 405,17 received the same Scripture 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. general reception of the Gospels is a proof that their history is true and consistent ; for, since the writings of the Gospels, many heresies have arisen, holding opinions contrary to what is contained in them, who yet receive the Gospel either entire or in part.”**
"**' 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.
* Lardner, vol. vi. p. 105.
| Ib. vol. vii. p. 283 1 1d. p. 277. || Ib. vol. ir. p. 329. 4 Ib. Fol. II. p.
** Ib. vol. a. p. 316.
opinion, that he rejected the first two chapters, seems to have been å mistake.* It is agreed, how. ever, 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 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 a 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. The 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 intemperance of controversy,
would venture to call in question. There is no reason to believe that Marcion, though full of resentment against the Catholic Christians, ever charged them with forging their books. "The Gospel of Saint Matthew, the Epistle to the Hebrews, with those of Saint Peter and Saint James, as well as the Old Testament in general (he said,) were writings not for Christians but for Jews." This declaration shows the ground upon which Marcion proceeded in his mutilation of the Scriptures, viz. his dislike of the passages or the books. Marcion flourished about the year 130. Dr. Lardner, in his general Review, sums up this
* Lardner, vol. ir. ed. 1789, p.322.
I have transcribed this sentence from Michaelis (p. 38,) who has not, however, referred to the authority upon wbich be attributes these words to Marcidn.
head of evidence in the following words : " Noetus, Paul of Samosata, Sabellius, Marcellus, Photinus, the Novatians, Donatists, Manicheans,* Priscillianists, beside Artemon, the Audians, the Arians, and divers others, all received most or all the same books of the New Testament which the Catholics received ; and agreed in a like respect for them as written by apostles, or their disciples and companions.”+
SECT. VIII. The four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, thirteen
Epistles of St. Paul, the First Epistle of John, and the First of Peter, were received without doubt by those who doubted concerning the other books whick are included in our present canon.
I STATE this proposition, because, if made out, it shows that the authenticity of their books was a subject amongst the early Christians of consideration and inquiry; and that, where there was cause of doubt, they did doubt; a circumstance which strengthens very much their testimony to such books as were received by them with full acquies
I. Jerome, in his account of Caius, who was probably a presbyter of Rome, and who flourished near the year 200, records of him, that, reckoning up only thirteen epistles of Paul, he says the fourteenth, which is inscribed to the Hebrews, is not his: and then Jerome adds, “ With the Romans to this day it is not looked upon as Paul's." This agrees in the main with the account given by Eusebius of the same ancient author and his work; except that Eusebius delivers his own remark in more guarded terms: And indeed to this very time by some of the Romans, this epistle is not thought to be the apostle's.”+
* This must be with an exception, however, of Faustus, who lived so late as the year 384.
| Lardner, rol. xii. p. 12.Dr. Lardner's future inquiries suppli ed him with many other instances.
Ib. vol. iii. p. 240.
II. Origen, about twenty years after Caius, quoting, the Epistle to the Hebrews, observes that some might dispute the authority of that epistle; and therefore proceeds to quote to the same point, as undoubted books of Scripture, the Gospel of St. Mat. thew, the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians. And in another place this author speaks of the Epistle to the Hebrews thus :-" The account come down to us is various; some saying that Clement, who was bishop of Rome, wrote this epistle; others, that it was Luke, the same who wrote the Gospel and the Acts.” Speaking also, in the same paragraph, of Peter. “ Peter (says he) has left one epistle, acknowledged ; let it be granted likewise that he wrote a second, for it is doubted of.” And of John, “He has also left one epistle, of a very few lines ; grant also a second and a third, for all do not allow them to be genuine.". Now let it be noted, that Origen, who thus discriminates, and thus confesses his own doubts, and the doubts which subsisted in his time, expressly witnesses concerning the four Gospels, “ that they alone are received without dispute by the whole church of God under heaven."
III. Dionysius of Alexandria, in the year 247, doubts concerning the Book of Revelation, whether it was written by Saint John; states the grounds of his doubt, represents the diversity of opinion concerning it, in his own time, and before his time. Yet the same Dionysius uses and collates the four Gospels in a manner which shows that he entertained not the smallest suspicion of their authority, and in a manner also which shows that they, and they alone, were received as authentic histories of Christ.
IV. But this section may be said to have been framed on purpose to introduce to the reader two remarkable passages extant in Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History. The first passage opens with these words :-“ Let us observe the writings of the apos; tle John which are uncontradicted; and first of all must be mentioned, as acknowledged of all, the Gos* Lardner, vol. iii. p. 246.
| Ib. p. 234. Ib. vol. iv. p. 670.
!! Ib. p. 661.