תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

this very Marcion had before received and owned them? He published his Heresy very early. It is certain it was greatly spread before Justin Martyr offered his first Apology to the emperor. This is a clear proof that the Acts of the Apostles was received by all, both Christians and heretics, at the beginning of the second century: and how easy was it to look back from thence to the publishing it, which probably was some time between the years of Christ 63 and 69!

[ocr errors][merged small]

CHAP. XVI.

A brief recapitulation of the things said in the

last chapter, together with the evidence thence arising of the truth and certainty of the principal matters related in the History of the Acts.

I HAVE laid before you the clear proofs there are that St. Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. I have also shewn you that it was received by the Christians of the first ages as a sacred book. It brings down St. Paul's History to the year of Christ 63; but proceeding no further, we thence conclude that it was written between that year and the year 69, when St. Paul was beheaded. For had it been published after his death, it is reasonable to think that the historian would have given us an account of the rest of St. Paul's travels, and of his martyrdom.

It was a thing so notorious, that the Gospel according to St. Luke was published during the lives of the apostles, and many years before the destruction of Jerusalem, that the enemies of Christianity could not deny it. Origen, to shew the prescience of our Saviour, instances in what he foretold concerning Jerusalem; and then adds, “ For certainly

they will not say that the apostles, and other im“ mediate followers of Jesus himself, delivered down “ the doctrine of the Gospels without writing, and “ left their disciples without written commentaries “ of those things which relate to Jesus. Now it is “ written in them, And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh“. There were at that “ time no armies encompassing Jerusalem and lay

ing siege to it. For this began in the reign of “ the emperor Nero, and continued to the govern“ ment of Vespasian, whose son Titus destroyed Je“ rusalem b.”

The passage quoted from the Commentaries of Christ's disciples is to be found only in the Gospel according to St. Luke. And it is very evident that he understood it to be a thing well known, a thing that could not be disputed by Celsus, or any other enemy of the Christian religion, that several of the Gospels, and that of St. Luke in particular, was published before the reign of Nero. And some years before the conclusion of that reign probably was published dettepos Dóryos, or the second part, entitled, The Acts of the Apostles.

It is the opinion of some very learned men, that the first Epistle of Clemens Romanus was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, because it speaks of the temple as then standing, and of the sacrifices and services as at that time performed. And in one paragraph of that Epistle have we what

may be called a brief epitome of the Acts of the Apostles ; which, according to the translation of our late learned archbishop, is thus: “ The apostles having s received their command, and being thoroughly as

a Luke xxi. 20.

• Ου γαρ δή τους αυτού Ιησού γνωρίμους και ακροατάς φήσουσι χωρίς γραφής την των ευαγγελίων παραδεδωκέναι διδασκαλίαν, και καταλιπεϊν τους μαθητές χωρίς των περί 'Ιησού εν γράμμασιν υπομνημάτων" γέγραπται δή εν αυτούς το, “Όταν δε ίδητε κυκλουμένην υπό στρατοπέδων την Ιερουσαλήμ, τότε γνώτε ότι ήγγισεν η ερήμωσις αυτής και ουδαμώς τότε ήν στρατόπεδα περί την Ιερουσαλήμ κυκλούντα αυτήν, και περιέχοντα, και πολιορκούντα: τούτο γάρ ήρξατο μεν έτι Νέρωνος βασιλεύοντος, κ. τ. λ. Adv. Cels. I. 2. p. 69. I. 8.

€ 9.41.

66

66

“sured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, “ and convinced by the word of God, with the ful“ness of the Holy Spirit, they went abroad publish

ing, that the kingdom of God was at hand. And “ thus preaching through countries and cities, they

appointed the firstfruits of their conversions to be

bishops and deacons over such as should after“ wards believe, having first proved them by the

Spirit d.” In his Second Epistle also is there a manifest allusion to an expression in the Acts of the Apostles e

That Clemens firmly believed the inspiration of the books of the Old Testament, is evident from his own express words. For he exhorts the Corinthians thus: “Look into the holy scriptures, which are the “ true words of the Holy Ghost f.” And that he believed the same of the writings of the New Testament, is no less evident, so far as his subject led him to speak of them. For, mentioning the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, he says, “ In truth “ he wrote an Epistle to you by the Spirit concern

ing himself, and Cephas, and Apollos 8.” And doubtless he had said the same thing of the other books, if he had had the same occasion particularly to name them. Agreeably hereto, in his Second Epistle, having quoted the prophecy of Isaiah, he immediately adds, “ And another scripture saith,” citing words from St. Matthew's Gospel h. And he more than once introduces the words of St. Luke's Gospel as the sayings of our Lord'.

d $. 42. Let this passage be compared with Acts xiv. 23. and XX. 28. And in what other History is the institution of deacons related but in the Acts of the Apostles ? e §. 1, pr. compared with Acts X. 42. Kpotins Gártwy kal vexpây.

1 Ep. §. 45. 8 Επ’ αληθείας πνευματικώς επέστειλεν υμίν περί αυτού τε, και Κηφά, και Απολλώ. 1 Ep. 5. 47.

(

Ignatius, who had been bishop of Antioch forty years 5, and suffered martyrdom in the year of Christ 107 or 110, or at the latest 116, distinguishes the writings of the New Testament into the Gospel and the Apostles, (as we have before observed is done by Irenæus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius,) and professes the very highest regard for them. His words are these : Your prayer to God shall make me perfect, that I

may attain to that portion which by God's mercy “ is allotted to me; fleeing to the gospel as to the “ flesh of Christ, and to the apostles as to the pres

bytery of the church. We also love the prophets, “ because they have preached to us the things per“ taining to the gospel, and have hoped in Christ, “ and waited for him : in whom also believing, they “ were saved 1.” His first and principal regard was §. 2.

i i Ep. 9. 13, 46. 2 Ep. $. 4, fin. 5. 6. 8. k Vid. Care, Basnage, &c.

Ep. ad Philad. §. 5. That this passage is to be understood of the scriptures, vid. Clerici Not. in loc. How could either the Gospel or the Apostles be spoken of as his refuge, or be a support and comfort to him under his present great sufferings, and approaching martyrdom, if not expressed in writing, if not present to his view? The Prophets, we know, were in writing, and by them he undoubtedly means the whole Old Testament, consequently by the Gospel and Apostles the New. And that he had a written Gospel in view is very plain from other parallel places in his Epistles. He exhorts the Smyrnæans to avoid all conversation with the heretics, and to apply their minds and attend to the Prophets, but especially to the Gospel, II por exey è Tois mpopταις, εξαιρέτως δε τώ ευαγγελίω, in which both Christ's passion is manifested to us, and his resurrection perfectly declared, §. 7.

[ocr errors]

1

« הקודםהמשך »