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II. The Valentinians appeared about the same time.* Their heresy consisted in certain notions concerning angelic natures, which can hardly be rendered intelligible to a modern reader. They seem, however, to have acquired as much importance as any of the separatists of that early age. Of this sect, Irenæus, who wrote A. D. 172, expressly records, that they endeavoured to fetch arguments for their opinions from the evangelic and apostolic writings. Heracleon, one of the most celebrated of the sect, and who lived probably so early as the year 125, wrote commentaries upon Luke and John.f Some observations also of his upon Matthew are preserved by Origen. Nor is there any reason to doubt, that he received the whole New Testament.
III. The Carpocratians were also an early heresy, little, if at all, later than the two preceding:|| Some of their opinions resembled, what we at this day mean by Socinianism. With respect to the scriptures, they are specifically charged by Irenæus and by Epiphanius, with endeavouring to pervert a passage in Matthew, which amounts to a positive proof, that they received that gosa pel.** Negatively, they are not accused by their adversaries of rejecting any part of the New Testament.
IV. The Sethians, A. D. 150;ff the Montanists, A. D. 156 ;ff the Marcosians, A. D. 160;$8 Hermogenes, A. D. 180; |||| Praxias, A. D. 196 ;*** Artemon, A. D. 200;ttt The.
; odotus, A. D. 200; all included under the denomination of heretics, and all engaged in controversies with Catholic Christians, received the scriptures of the New Testament.
V. Tatian, who lived in the year 172, went into many extravagant opinions, was the founder of a sect called Encratites, and was deeply involved in disputes with the Christians of that age ; yet Tatian so received the four gospels, as to compose a harmony from them,
VI. From a writer, quoted by Eusebius, of about the year 200, it is apparent that they, who, at that time, contended for the mere humanity of Christ, argued from the scriptures; for they are accused by this writer, of making alterations in their copies, in order to favour their opinions.117
VII. Origen's sentiments excited great controversies ; the bishops of Rome and Alexandria, and many others, con
g Ib. 353, # 16. 309.
#1 Ib. p. 482, $$ Ib. p. 348. A lb. p. 473.
tht Ib. p. 466.
+ Vol. I. p. 383. Vol. IX. ed. 1788. p. 352.
*** ib. p. 433.
demning, the bishops of the East espousing them; yet there is not the smallest question, but that both the advocates and adversaries of these opinions acknowledged the same authority of scripture. In his time, which the reader will remember was about one hundred and fifty years after the scriptures were published, many dissensions subsisted amongst Christians, with which they were reproached by Celsus; yet Origen, who has recorded his accusation without contradicting it, nevertheless testifies, that the four gospels were received without dispute by the whole church of God under heaven."*
VIII. Paul of Samosata, about thirty years after Origen, so distinguished himself in the controversy concerning the nature of Christ, as to be the subject of two councils or synods, assembled at Antioch, upon his opinions. Yet he is not charged by his adversaries with rejecting any book of the New Testament. On the contrary, Epiphanius, who wrote a history of heretics a hundred years afterwards, says, that Paul endeavoured to support his doctrine by texts of scripture. And Vicentius Lirinensis, A. D. 434, speaking of Paul, and other heretics of the same age, has these words : “ Here perhaps, some one may ask, whether heretics also urge the testimony of scripture. They urge it in
. deed, explicitly and vehemently; for you may see them flying through every book of the sacred law.”+
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. This is a proof, that parties, who were the most opposite and irreconcileable to one another, acknowledged the authority of scripture, and 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. 6 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 received. XI. The Millennium, Novatianism, the baptism of hereIb. vol. IV. p. 642.
+ Ib. vol. XI. p. 158. Ib. p. 839.
tics, the keeping of Easter, engaged also the attention, 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) yetevery 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 Millenarians of Egypt, confesses of them, though their adversary, 66 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."
XII. The Donatists, who sprung up in the year 398, '18ed the same scriptures as we do. « Produce (saith 9
ugustine) some proof from the scriptures, 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 witb.equal professions of deference and regard. The Ariav's, 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 anathema.''S They and the Atbinasians mutually accuse each other of using unscripturc), phrases, which was a mutual acknowledgement of the conclusive authority of the scriptures.
XIV. The Priscilianists, A. D. 378,|| the Pelagians, A. D. 405,** received the same scriptures as we do.
XV. The testimony of Chrysostom, who lived near the year 400, iv, so positive in affirmation of the proposition which wa maintain, that it may form a proper conclusion of the argument. “The general 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, Ib, vol. IV. p. 666. + lh. vol V. p. 105. Ib. vol. VII. p. 243. ♡ Ib. p. 277
Ib. vol. IX. p. 325. ** Ibo vol. XI. p. 52.
who yet receive the gospels either entire or in part.99* 1 am not moved by what may seem a deduction from Chrysostom's testimony, the words “ entire or in part;" for, if all parts, which were ever questioned in our gospels, were given up, it would not affect the miraculous origin of the religion in the smallest degre; e. g.
Cerinthús 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 two first chapters seems to have been a mistake. 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 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 pubiished a recension, or chastised edition, of St. Luke's gospel, containing the leading facts, and all which is necessary to apthenticate 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 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 St. Matthew, the epistle to the Hebrews, with those of St. Peter and St. 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. bis dislike of the passages or the books. Marcion flourished about the year 130. * Ib. vol. X. p. 316.
+ Ib. vol IX. ed. 1788. p. 322. Ib. sect. ii. c. S. Also, Michael. vol. 1. c. I. sect. xviii. I have transcribed this sentence from Michaelis, (page 38,) who has not, however, referred to the authority upon which be attributes these words to Marcion
Dr. Lardner, in his General Review, sụms up this head of evidence in the following words; “ Noetus Paul of Samosta, Sabellius, Marcellus, Photinus, the Novatians, Donatists, Manicheans,* Priscillianists, beside Artemon, the Audians, the Arians, and divers others, all received most or all of the samé books of the New Testament which the Catholics received; and agreed in a like respect for them as writ by the 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, which 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 enquiry; 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 acquiescence.
1. 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, 6 and indeed to this very time, by some of the Romans, this epistle is not thought to be the apostle's.”'
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. Matthew, 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 writ the gospel and the
* This must be with an exception, however, of Faustus, who lived so late as the year + Ib. vol. XII. p. 12.-Dr. Lardner's future inquiries supplied him with many other instances. Ib. vol. III. p. 240,
$ Ib. p. 246.