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perance of controversy, would venture to call in question. There is no reason to believe that Marcion, though full of resentment againt 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, “ 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 head of evidence in the following words : “ Noëtus, Paul of Samosata, Sabellius, Marcellus, Photinus, the Novatians, Donatists, Manicheans t, 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 *."
* I have transcribed this sentence from Michaelis (p. 38), who has not, however, referred to the authority upon which he attributes these words to Marcion.
+ This must be with an exception, however, of Faustus, who lived so late as the year 384.
The four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles,
thirteen Epistles of Saint 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 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 acquiescence.
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, 6 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 *.”
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 Saint 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
* Lardner, vol. iii. p. 240.
+ Ib. p. 246.
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 these 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
* Lardner, vol. iii. p. 234.
+ Ib. vol. iv. p. 670.