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by John alone; and (what is instar omniun for the purpose for which we produce it) of the difference in the accounts given of the resurrection by the evangelists, some mentioning two angels at the sepulchre, others only one *
It is extremely material to remark, that Celsus not only perpetually referred to the accounts of Christ contained in the four Gospels t, but that he referred to no other accounts; that he founded none of his objections to Christianity upon any thing delivered in spurious gospels.
II. What Celsus was in the second century, Porphyry became in the third. His work, which was a large and formal treatise against the Christian religion, is not extant. We must be content therefore to gather his objections from Christian writers, who have noticed in order to answer them : and enough remains of this species of information, to prove completely, that
* Lardner, vol. ii. p. 282.
+ The particulars, of which the above are only a few, are well collected by Mr Bryant, p. 140.
Porphyry's animadversions were directed against the contents of our present Gospels, and of the Acts of the Apostles ; Porphyry considering that to overthrow them was to overthrow the religion. Thus he objects to the repetition of a generation in Saint Matthew's genealogy ; to Matthew's call; to the quotation of a text from Isaiah, which is found in a psalm ascribed to Asaph ; to the calling of the lake of Tiberias a sea ; to the expression in Saint Matthew, “the abomination of desolation;" to the variation in Matthew and Mark upon the text, “ the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” Matthew citing it from Isaias, Mark from the Prophets ; to John's application of the term “ Word;" to Christ's change of intention about going up to the feast of tabernacles (John, vii. 8.); to the judgment denounced by Saint Peter upon Ananias and Sapphira, which he calls an imprecation of death *.
The instances here alleged, serve, in some measure, to show the nature of Porphyry's objections, and prove that Porphyry had read the Gospels with that sort of attention which a writer would employ who regarded them as the depositaries of the religion which he attacked. Beside these specifications, there exists, in the writings of ancient Christians, general evidence, that the places of Scripture upon which Porphyry had remarked were very numerous.
* Jewish and Heathen Test. vol. iii. p. 166, et seq.
In some of the above-cited examples, Porphyry, speaking of Saint Matthew, calls him your evangelist ; he also uses the term evangelists in the plural number. What was said of Celsus, is true likewise of Porphyry, that it does not appear that he considered any history of Christ, except these, as having authority with Christians.
III. A third great writer against the Christian religion was the emperor Julian, whose work was composed about a century after that of Porphyry.
In various long extracts, transcribed from this work by Cyril and Jerome, it appears
* Jewish and Heathen Test, vol. iv. p. 77, et seq.
that Julian noticed by name Matthew and Luke, in the difference between their
genealogies of Christ ; that he objected to Matthew's application of the prophecy, of Egypt have I called my son,” (ii. 15.), and to that of “ a virgin shall conceive,” (i. 23.); that he recited sayings of Christ, and various passages of his history, in the very words of the evangelists ; in particular, that Jesus healed lame and blind people, and exorcised demoniacs, in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany; that he alleged, that none of Christ's disciples ascribed to him the creation of the world, except John; that neither Paul, nor Matthew, nor Luke, nor Mark, have dared to call Jesus, God; that John wrote later than the other evangelists, and at a time when a great number of men in the cities of Greece and Italy were converted ; that he alludes to the conversion of Cornelius and of Sergius Paulus, to Peter's vision, to the circular letter sent by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, which are all recorded in the Acts of the Apostles : by which quoting of the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, and by quoting no other, Julian shows that these were the historical books, and the only historical books, received by Christians as of authority, and as the authentic memoirs of Jesus Christ, of his apostles, and of the doctrines taught by them. But Julian's testimony does something more than represent the judgment of the Christian church in his time. It discovers also his own.
He himself expressly states the early date of these records ; he calls them by the names which they now bear. He all along supposes, he nowhere attempts to question their genuineness.
The argument in favour of the books of the New Testament, drawn from the notice taken of their contents by the early writers against the religion, is very considerable. It proves that the accounts, which Christians had then, were the accounts which we have now ; that our present Scriptures were theirs. It proves, moreover, that neither Celsus in the second, Porphyry in the third, nor Julian in the fourth century, suspected the authenticity of these books, or ever insinuated that Christians were mistaken in the authors to whom they