תמונות בעמוד
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

which Paul wrote, the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, the Thessalonians. Afterwards, as he says, Paul wrote to particular persons undoubtedly meaning, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. So that he received thirteen epistles of the apostle Paul. Whether also that to the Hebrews is doubtful; though there are in him some expressions, in which he may be thought to refer, or allude to that epistle : he has quoted the first epistle of Peter : he supposed that John had his revelation in Patmos, where he had been condemned to the mines by the emperor Domitian; and that his gospel was written still later. • Afterwards,' says he, he wrote his gospel. When Valentinus, and Cerinthus, and • Ebion, and others of the school of Satan, were spread over the world, many from the neigh

bouring provinces came to him, and earnestly entreated him to put down his testimony in • writing. These are the books of the New Testament, of which we perceive express notice in him. There might be other books received by him, though not expressly mentioned in his few remaining works: unquestionably he received all those scriptures, which were generally received by Christians in all times, and over all the world.

In this chapter are also extracts from a poem in five books against Marcion, sometimes ascribed to Victorinus, though probably not his, usually joined with Tertullian's works. This writer distinctly mentions the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John: he expressly quotes several of St. Paul's epistles, and refers to others among them, to the Hebrews several times: he likewise frequently quotes the Revelation as written by John, the disciple and apostle of Christ.

Ch. LVII. • Methodius,' says Jerom, bishop of Olympus in Lycia, a man of a neat and • correct style, composed a work against Porphyry in several books... He also wrote Commen• taries upon Genesis, and the Canticles, and many other works... He obtained the crown of • martyrdom at the end of the last persecution, meaning Dioclesian's.

His testimony to the books of the New Testament is to this purpose: He expressly says, • there have been four gospels delivered to us.'. He refers to the Acts. He has quoted or alluded to mauy of St. Paul's epistles, particularly that to the Hebrews. In his remaining works there is little notice taken of the catholic epistles ; though, unquestionably, he received the first of Peter, and the first of John: the Revelation is often quoted by him.

There are in him clear proofs, that the scriptures of the New Testament, generally received by Christians, were well known, much used, and highly esteemed, being books of authority, and appealed to in all points of dispute and controversy. I have not observed in this Greek writer of the third century, any quotations of Christian apocryphal writings; nor do his works afford any the least ground to suppose, that there were any writings of ancient Christian authors, ihat were esteemed sacred and of authority, beside those which are now generally received as such by us, namely, the writings of apostles and evangelists.

Ch. LVIII. Lucian presbyter of Antioch, as Eusebius writes, celebrated for his piety and « his knowledge of the scriptures, was carried from Antioch to Nicomedia, where the emperor • [Maximin] then was; and, having made an apology before the governor for the doctrine pro• fessed by him, was sent to prison, and there put to death. He and Hesychius, probably of Egypt, published an edition of the Greek version of the Old Testament, called that of the Seventy, and likewise an edition of the New Testament; but their editions seem not to have been much esteemed.

Ch. LIX. Pamphilus presbyter in the church of Cæsarea, admirer of Origen, and friend of Eusebius, afterwards bishop of that church, had the honour of martyrdom, in the persecution begun by Dioclesian. He was put in prison in 307, and accomplished his testimony in 309, • a man, who' as his friend, our ecclesiastical historian, says, throughout his whole life

excelled in every virtue ; but was especially eminent and remarkable for an unfeigned zeal for • the holy scriptures, and for unwearied application in whatever he undertook.'... If he saw • any in 'straits he gave bountifully, as he was able: he not only sent out copies of the sacred • scriptures to be read, but he cheerfully gave them to be kept; and that not only to men, but • to women likewise, whom he found disposed to read; for which reason he took care to have

by him many copies of the scriptures, that when there should be occasion he might furnish • those who were willing to make use of them.' His canon of scripture may be supposed to be the same with that of Origen and Eusebius. Pamphilus erected a library at Cæsarea, which he furnished at great expense with manuscript copies of the scriptures, and of the works of Origek

[ocr errors]


and other ecclesiastical writers: of which library great care was afterwards taken oy the bishop of Cæsarea ; by which means it was kept up and subsisted in good order for a great while.

Besides Pamphilus, the history of some others is related in this chapter, who were remark. able for their affection for the revealed will and word of God. • The second person, and

next · after Pamphilus, was Valens a deacon of Ælia (that is, Jerusalem,] an old man,' says Eusebius, of grey hairs, and venerable aspect, exceedingly well skilled in the divine scriptures ;

and they were so fixed in his memory, that there was no discernible difference between his * reading and reciting them by heart, though it were whole pages together.' That person suffered with Pamphilus.

Afterwards, among divers other martyrs in 310, was John, who had lost his sight, " who,' as Eusebius goes on, in strength of memory surpassed all men of our time...... He had whole • books of the divine scriptures, not written in tables of stone, nor on parchments and papers, • which are devoured by moths and time, but on the living tables of his heart, even his pure and

enlightened mind; insomuch that whenever he pleased, he brought out, as from a treasury of • knowledge, sometimes the books of Moses, at other times those of the prophets, or some sacred • history, sometimes the gospels, sometimes the epistles of the apostles. I must own,' says the historian, “that I was much surprised the first time I saw him: he was in the midst of a large

congregation, reciting a portion of scripture : whilst I only heard his voice, I thought he was reading, as is common in our assemblies; but when I came near and saw this person, who had • no other light but that of the mind, instructing like a prophet those whose bodily eyes were • clear and perfect, I could not forbear to praise and glorify God.'

Ch. LX. Phileas, bishop of Thmuis in Egypt, was a man of a noble family, and great estate. There is in Eusebius a part of a letter of his, quoting divers books of the New Testament, and shewing great regard for the scriptures. He and Philoromus, who had been the emperor's receiver general, were beheaded at Alexandria, in the same persecution, in the year 311, or 312, by order of the emperor Maximin.

Ch. LXI. In the year of Christ 300 Peter succeeded Theonas at Alexandria. Eusebius says, • he obtained great honour during his episcopate, which he held twelve years: he governed the .church three years before the persecution... In the ninth year of the persecution he was • beheaded, and obtained the crown of martyrdom.? In another place the same historian says, * About the same time Peter also, an ornament of the episcopal character, both for the holiness of his life, and his laborious application in studying and explaining the scriptures,...was on a sudden apprehended and beheaded. I forbear to transcribe any thing here from his writings.

Ch. LXII. A work ascribed to Archelaus bishop of Mesopotamia, containing an account of a conference with Mani, and his principles ; which work probably was composed near the beginning of the fourth century. Herein are quoted the gospels, the Acts of the apostles, and divers of St. Paul's epistles; and there are references to the epistle to the Hebrews.

Ch. LXIII. Here is a history of Mani and his followers, who is supposed first to have appeared as author of a sect near the end of the third century, and a large though not complete account of their principles and worship, and their doctrine concerning the scriptures : in which last, exactness has been aimed at. These people always rejected the Old Testament: they received the New Testament, and had a great deal of respect for it. They seem to have received all the books of the New Testament, generally received by other Christians at that time, excepting the book of the Acts, which may have been rejected by some, but not by all of them. See Vol. ii. p. 216. They said, that the books of the New Testament had been corrupted and interpolated; but they never produced any copies different from those in the hands of the Catholics.

They likewise made use of apocryphal books; but it does not appear that they forged any books; they only made use of such apocryphal books as they found written before by some others of like sentiments with themselves.

Here also is an account of the Paulicians in the seventh century, a branch of the same sect. They likewise rejected the Old Testament, and used only the gospels and the apostles. In particular they are said to have received the four gospels, and the fourteen epistles of Paul, and the epistle of James, and the three epistles of John, and the epistle of Jude, and the Acts of the

apostles, without making any alteration in them; but they admitted not the two epistles of the : chief of the apostles. What was their sentiment concerning the Revelation we cannot say.

One thing more should be observed of this people: they greatly respected the scriptures of the

New Testament, and approved that all the laity, and even women, should read, study and understand them.

In the inquiries that have been made concerning the scriptures received by the Manichees, and the respect they had for them, there are many observations concerning the genuineness and authority of the books of the New Testament, and concerning the apocryphal books made use of by the Manichees, and by some other sects of a more early original.

Moreover in this chapter is an account of two learned catholic bishops, who wrote against the Manichees : one of which is Serapion bishop of Thmuis in Egypt about the year 347. He quotes the gospels, the Acts, divers of St. Paul's epistles, particularly that to the Hebrews. See vol. ii. p. 146.

The other is Titus bishop of Bostra, about 362. He frequently quotes the gospels and the epistles of St. Paul, particularly that to the Hebrews: he likewise quotes the Acts of the apostles: he has little or nothing out of the catholic epistles, or the Apocalypse. See Vol. ii. p. 146, 147. Some remarkable quotations of the Acts made by him may be seen Vol. ii

. p. 214. We have been likewise induced to give here an account of Hierax, about 302, a native of Egypt, falsely supposed to have been a Manichee. Though he had some errors, he received the Old and New Testament. He was in divers respects a very extraordinary person: he had the scriptures of the Old and New Testament by heart, and wrote Commentaries upon several parts of them. He received the epistle to the Hebrews as Paul's. See Vol. ii. p. 154, 155.

Ch. LXIV. Arnobius, once a heathen, who in the time of Dioclesian taught rhetoric at Sicca in Africa with great reputation; and when converted composed a work in seven books, Against the Gentiles, or an Apology for the Christian Religion. As Arnobius's work is very curious, the extracts out of him cannot but afford entertainment to intelligent readers. He seems not to have judged it proper to quote the books of the New Testament in an argument with Gentiles: nevertheless he has enumerated our Saviour's miracles in such a manner, as shews him to have been well acquainted with our gospels, and to have had a great regard for them. He seems likewise to refer to the Acts of the apostles, and some of St. Paul's epistles.

At the end of this chapter is also an account of another Arnobius, who about the year 460 wrote a Commentary upon the book of Psalms. He quotes the commonly received books of the New Testament, particularly the Acts of the apostles, and also the epistle to the Hebrews, the epistle of James, and the Revelation; and he recommends the frequent reading of the scriptures.

Ch. LXV. Lactantius, the most learned Latin of his time, and as polite and elegant a writer as any among the Christians, and therefore sometimes called the Christian Cicero,' expressly, quotes St. John's gospel, and the book of the Revelation; and has allusions to many other books of the New Testament. He plainly had a collection of scriptures, consisting of the Old and the New Testament, which he esteemed sacred and divine, and of the highest authority. If he had not purposely restrained himself from quoting the Christian scriptures in his arguments with heathens, his testimony would have been much more full and particular. For, notwithstanding the reservedness which he imposed upon himself in that respect, there are many allusions and references to them; which seems to shew, that the Christians of that time were so habituated to the language of scripture, that it was not easy for them to avoid the use of it, whenever they discoursed upon things of a religious nature. There are in him likewise quotations of the Sibyl. line books, and some other writings; but it is evident that he was far from esteeming them of canonical authority. Besides, there are in this chapter extracted many passages of Lactantius upon divers subjects; which must be allowed to be an ornament to this work.

Ch. LXVI. Of burning the scriptures, and of traitors in the time of Dioclesian's persecution.

Eusebius assures us, that in the Imperial edict in 303, it was expressly ordered, not only that the Christian churches should be demolished, but likewise, that their scriptures should be burned. This was one of the affecting scenes of that persecution, that he had seen the sacred and divine scriptures burned in market places. Notice is taken of the same thing by other writers. A farther account of it may be seen in that chapter.

Ch. LXVII. The Donatists, a large body of men, who, about the year 312, separated from the catholics in Africa, under pretence that Cæcilian bishop of Carthage had been ordained by bishops who in the time of the persecution had betrayed the scriptures and other sacred things into the hands of the heathens, received the same scriptures which other Christians received, particularly the book of the Revelation, and had a like respect for them.

In this chapter may be seen a brief account of several Donatist authors and their works; by which it appears, that the Donatists were not concerned for the interest of their own party only, but employed themselves likewise in the defence of the common cause of Christianity against its enemies.

Ch. LXVIII. Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, in. whose time arose the Arian controversy, upon that occasion wrote several epistles. He quotes expressly St. John's gospel, and several of St. Paul's epistles, particularly that to the Hebrews, and the second epistle of St. John.

Ch. LXIX. Arius, presbyter of Alexandria, well known in the world, about the year 316. He and his followers received the same scriptures with other Christians, and shewed them a like regard.

In this chapter is an account of several writers of the fourth and fifth centuries, who went under the denomination of Arians, eminent men, and remarkable for their learning and their works, particularly their Commentaries upon the scriptures. But here I can do little more than mention their names: 1. Acacius, who succeeded Eusebius in the see of Cæsarea in 340, and died about the year 366. 2. Aëtius. 3. An anonymous author of a Commentary upon the book of Job. _4. An author of a Discourse in Augustine's works. 5. Asterius. 6. Basil of Ancyra. 7. Eunomius, bishop of Cizicum about 360: concerning whom it may be here taken notice of to his honour, though omitted formerly: that · he opposed the extreme veneration which was then begun to be shewn to the reliques of martyrs; as we learn from Jerom in his book against Vigilantius. 8. Eusebius bishop of Emesa, about 340. 9. Eusebius, at first bishop of Berytus, about 324, then of Nicomedia, the chief city of Bithynia, afterwards of Constantinople in 338 or 339, died about 341. 10. Euzoius bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine, about 366. 11. George, bishop of Laodicea, about the year 340. 12. Lucius, bishop of Alexandria, after Athanasius, in 373. 13. Maximin, an Arian bishop in Africa, with whom Augustine had a public conference, about 428. 14. Philostorgius, about 425, well known for his Ecclesiastical History. 15. Sabinus, about 380, author of a History of Councils. 16. Theodore, bishop of Heraclea in Thrace, about 334, author of Commentaries upon the Psalms, the gospels of Matthew and John, and divers if not all of St. Paul's epistles. 17. Ulphilas, about 365, bishop of the Goths, who translated into their language the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, excepting only, as is said, the book of the Kingdoms.

Ch. LXX. Constantine the Great the first Christian emperor, son of Flavius Valerius Con. stantius, surnamed Clorus, was born at Naissus in Illyricum, in 273 or 274, and succeeded his father in 306. Having reigned above thirty years he died May 22, 337. About the year 312 he embraced the Christian religion, of which he continued ever after to make an open profession, and educated his children in the same belief. I forbear to rehearse here his several edicts in favour of the Christians. Besides other marks of respect for the scriptures, when he had enlarged the city of Byzantium, and consecrated it by the name of Constantinople, he wrote a letter to Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, requiring him to send him fifty copies of the scriptures for the use of the churches there, and to take care that they should be written upon fine parchment by such as were skilful in the art of fair writing, and that they should be portable and fit for use.

Ch. LXXI. In 325 was assembled the council of Nice, in which a brief history has been given, with divers free observations. There is not any catalogue of the books of scripture in their canons.

Ch. LXXII. Eusebius was born about the year 270, and probably at Cæsarea in Palestine, of which place he was made bishop in 315, and died in 839 or 340. From him it appears, that the number of the books of the New Testament was not then settled by any authority that was universally allowed of. But the books following were universally received: the four gospels, the Acts of the apostles, thirteen epistles of Paul, one epistle of Peter, and one epistle of John. These were universally received by Christians in his time, and had been all along received by the elders and churches of former times. Beside these, we now generally receive also an epistle to the Hebrews, an epistle of James, a second epistle of Peter, a second and third of John, an epistle of Jude, and the Revelation. And we perceive from this learned writer, that these books or epistles were then well known, and next in esteem to those before mentioned, as universally acknowledged: and were more generally received as of authority, than any other controverted writings. Beside these, there was the gospel according to the Hebrews, made use of by the Jewish believers; being, probably, a translation of St. Matthew's gospel, with some additions, and, as it seems, containing little or nothing contrary to the genuine doctrine of Christ and his apostles. The book, called the Doctrine or Doctrines of the Apostles (first mentioned by Eusebius, and by no other writer before him), we have not now a distinct knowledge of; but, probably, it was a small book, containing the rudiments of the Christian Religion, and fitted for the use of young people and new converts, and never esteemed a part of sacred scripture. Some others there were which were reckoned useful, as the epistle of Barnabas, the epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, and the Shepherd of Hermas; but they were not esteemed to be of authority, and a part of sacred and canonical scripture. Beside these he mentions also the Gospels of Peter, Thomas, and Matthias, Acts of Peter, Acts of Paul, Acts of Andrew and John, the Preaching of Peter, and Revelation of Peter, which, he says, Vol. ii. p. 370, are the forgeries of heretics, and are to be rejected as altogether spurious and impious: nor have any of the ecclesiastical writers, as he adds, vouchsafed to make mention of them in their writings. He farther bears witness, that to the books of the Old and New Testament, universally received, the greatest respect was shewn. They were esteemed of authority, and decisive in all points of a religious nature: they were publicly read and explained in the assemblies of Christian people, and they were open to be freely read by all sorts of persons in private, for their instruction and improvement in religious knowledge, and their edification in virtue. They were now also translated into many languages; for he says, Vol. ii. p. 395, that Greeks and Barbarians had the scriptures concerning Jesus in their own letters and dialect. Finally, it may be observed, that this learned author makes little use in his works of apocryphal scriptures of the Old Testament: none at all of Christian writings forged with the names of Christ's apostles, or their companions.

• Rides de reliquiis martyrum, & cum auctore hujus hæreseos Eunomio, ecclesiis Christi calumniam struis; nec tali societate

terreris, ut eadem contra nos loquaris, qua ille contra ecclesiam loquitur. Adv. Vigilant. T. iv. p. 285. in.

Upon the whole, the chapter of this bishop of Cæsarea, with the select passages alleged from him, and his several passages concerning the books of the New Testament, and observations upon them, may be reckoned as important a chapter as any in this work, if not the principal of all. As such, it is recommended to the consideration of those who are desirous to form a right judgment concerning the evidences there are of the genuineness, antiquity, and authority of the books of the New Testament now received by us.

Ch. LXXIII. Marcellus, a learned man, bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, was present at the Council of Nice in 325. In 334 or 335, he published a book against Asterius and other Arians; whereby he wrought upon himself a charge of Sabellianism or Unitarianism, for which he was deposed by the Arians in a council held at Constantinople in 336, and Basil was put in his room. He appears to have received the scriptures of the Old and New Testament as other Christians did, and to have had the same respect for them.

Ch. LXXIV. Eustathius, bishop of Antioch, and a principal part of the council of Nice, author of divers works (some written against the Arian doctrine by the intrigues of Eusebius of Nicomedia, and those who adhered to him) was deposed by a synod at Antioch in the year 828, or soon after, as a Sabellian, and otherwise unworthy of the pastoral office: after which he was banished. As little of him remains, we can only say, that he received the same scriptures which other Christians did. Ch. LXXV. Athanasius succeeded Alexander in the see of Alexandria in the

year 326, and died in 373, when he had been bishop 46 years complete. From his Festal Epistle, and his other works, he appears to have received, as divine scripture, all the same books of the New Testament which we do, and no other: the four gospels, the Acts of the apostles written by Luke, the seven catholic epistles, fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, and the Revelation. Beside these, there are others of which he speaks, as being without, not canonical, but allowed to be read by those who are newly converted, and are desirous to be instructed in the doctrines of religion. He mentions but two only, the Doctrine of the Apostles, and the Shepherd, meaning Hermas. Afterwards at the end of his Festal Epistle he speaks of apocryphal books, which he censures in general, as the inventions,' or forgeries, of heretics;' but does not name any one of them. So at the end of the Festal Epistle: and at the beginning of it he cautions men not to be seduced to

« הקודםהמשך »