Page images

VIII. The Arians, who sprung up about fifty years after this, argued strenuously against the use of the words consubstantial, and essence, and like phrases; “ because they were not in Scripture" And in the same strain, one of their advocates opens a conference with Augustine, after the following manner: "If you say what is reasonable, I must submit. If you allege any thing from the Divine Scriptures, which are common to both, I must hear. But unscriptural expressions (quæ extra Scripturam sunt) deserve no regard."

Athanasius, the great antagonist of Arianism, after having enumerated the books of the Old and New Testament, adds, "These are the fountains of salvation, that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the oracles contained in them. În these alone the doctrine of salvation is proclaimed. Let no man add to them, or take any thing from them †.”

* Lardner, Cred. vol. vii. p. 283, 284,

† Ib. vol, xii. p. 182.

IX. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem *, who wrote about twenty years after the appear ance of Arianism, uses these remarkable words: "Concerning the divine and holy mysteries of faith, not the least article ought to be delivered without the divine Scriptures." We are assured that Cyril's Scriptures were the same as ours, for he has left us a catalogue of the books included under that name.

[ocr errors]

X. Epiphanius, twenty years after Cyril, challenges the Arians, and the followers of Origen, " to produce any passage of the Old or New Testament, favouring their sentiments."

XI. Pœbadius, a Gallic bishop, who lived about thirty years after the council of Nice, testifies, that "the bishops of that council first consulted the Sacred Volumes, and then declared their faith

[ocr errors]

* Lardner, Cred. vol. viii. p. 276.

+ Ib. p. 314.

Ib. vol. ix. p. 52.

XII. Basil, Bishop of Cæsarea, in Cappadocia, contemporary with Epiphanius, says, “that hearers instructed in the Scriptures ought to examine what is said by their teachers, and to embrace what is agreeable to the Scriptures, and to reject what is otherwise *."

XIII. Ephraim, the Syrian, a celebrated writer of the same times, bears this conclusive testimony to the proposition which forms the subject of our present chapter: "The truth written in the Sacred Volume of the Gospel, is a perfect rule. Nothing can be taken from it nor added to it, without great guilt †.”

XIV. If we add Jerome to these, it is only for the evidence which he affords of the judgment of preceding ages. Jerome observes, concerning the quotations of ancient Christian writers, that is, of writers who were ancient in the year 400, that they made a distinction between books; some

*Lardner, Cred. vol. ix.



+ Ib. p. 202.

they quoted as of authority, and others not: which observation relates to the books of Scripture, compared with other writings, apocryphal or heathen*.

* Lardner, Cred. vol. x. p. 123, 124.




The Scriptures were in very early times collected into a distinct volume.

I. IGNATIUS, who was Bishop of Antioch within forty years after the Ascension, and who had lived and conversed with the apostles, speaks of the Gospel and of the apostles, in terms which render it very probable, that he meant by the Gospel, the book or volume of the Gospels, and by the apostles, the book or volume of their Epistles. His words in one place are*, "fleeing to the Gospel as the flesh of Jesus, and to the apostles as the presbytery of the church;" that is, as Le Clerc interprets them," in order to understand the will of God, he fled to the Gospels, which he believed no less than if Christ in the flesh had been speaking to him; and to the

* Lardner, Cred. part ii. vol. i. p. 180.

« PreviousContinue »