« PreviousContinue »
ascribed them. Not one of them expressed an opinion upon this subject different from, that which was holden by Christians. And when we consider how much it would have availed them to have cast a doubt upon this point, if they could ; and how ready they showed themselves to be, to take every advantage in their power; and that they were all men of learning and inquiry ; their concession, or rather their suffrage, upon the subject, is extremely valuable.
In the case of Porphyry, it is made still stronger, by the consideration that he did in fact support himself by this species of objection when he saw any room for it, or when his acuteness could supply any pretence for alleging it. The prophecy of Daniel he attacked upon this very ground of spuriousness, insisting that it was written after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and maintains his charge of forgery by some, far-fetched indeed, but very subtle criticisms. Concerning the writings of the New Testament, no trace of this suspicion is anywhere to be found in him *.
* Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament, vol. i. p. 43. : Marsh's Translation,
Formal catalogues of authentic Scriptures
were published, in all which our present
His species of evidence comes later than the rest; as it was not natural that càtalogues of any particular class of books should be put forth until Christian writings became numerous ; or until some writings showed themselves, claiming titles which did not belong to them, and thereby rendering it necessary to separate books of authority from others. But, when it does appear, it is extremely satisfactory; the catalogues, though numerous, and made in countries at a wide distance from one another, differing very little, differing in nothing which is material, and all containing the four Gospels. To this last article there is no exception.
I. In the writings of Origen which remain, and in some extracts preserved by Eusebius, from works of his which are now lost, there are enumerations of the books of Scripture, in which the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles are distinctly and honourably specified, and in which no books appear beside what are now received *. The reader, by this time, will easily recollect that the date of Origen's works is A. D. 230.
II. Athanasius, about 'a century afterwards, delivered a catalogue of the books of the New Testament in form, containing our Scriptures and no others; of which he says, “ In these alone the doctrine of Religion is taught; let no man add to them, or take any thing from them +."
III. About 20 years after Athanasius, Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, set forth a catalogue of the books of Scripture pub
* Lardner, Cred. vol. iii. p. 234, et seq. ; vol. viii. p. 199. i + Ibid. vol. viii. p. 223.
lickly read at that time in the church of Jerusalem, exactly the same as ours, except that the “ Revelation” is omitted *.
IV. And, fifteen years after Cyril, the council of Laodicea delivered an authoritative catalogue of canonical Scripture, like Cyril's, the same as ours, with the omission of the “ Revelation.”
V. Catalogues now become frequent. Within thirty years after the last date, that is, from the year 363 to near the conclusion of the fourth century, we have catalogues by Epiphanius -t, by Gregory Nazianzen I., by Philaster, Bishop of Brescia in Italy $, by Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium, all, as they are sometimes called, clean catalogues (that is, they admit no books into the number beside what we now receive), and all, for every purpose of historic evidence, the same as ours ||.
* Lardoer, Cred. vol. viii. p. 270. + Ib. p. 368.
Ib. vol. ix. p. 132. || Epiphanius omits the Acts of the Apostles. This must
VI. Within the same period, Jerome, the most learned Christian writer of his age, delivered a catalogue of the books of the New Testament, recognising every book now received, with the intimation of a doubt concerning the Epistle to the Hebrews alone, and taking not the least notice of any book which is not now received *.
VII. Contemporary with Jerome, who lived in Palestine, was Saint Augustine, in Africa, who published likewise a catalogue, without joining to the Scriptures, as books of authority, any other ecclesiastical writing whatever, and without omitting one which we at this day acknowledge t.
VIII. And with these concurs another contemporary writer, Rufen, presbyter of Aquileia, whose catalogue, like theirs, is perfect and unmixed, and concludes with
have been an accidental mistake, either in him, or in some copyist of his work ; for he elsewhere expressly refers to this book, and ascribes it to Luke. * Lardner, Cred. vol. x. p. 77.
+ Ib. p. 213.