Imatges de pàgina

the fragment under consideration, it would be sufficient, viz. that they so very particularly describe the history of Christ, his coming, suffering, resurrection, ascension, and even his very name, as others of them do the rohole business of Christianity; Omnia hujus generis quo apertiora, eo fieri (says Casaubon) suspectiora. For besides that it is so improbable a thing in itself, that the heathens should have been favoured with such prodigious discoveries, greater by far than any in the law of Moses, or the prophets of the Old Testament; the coming of Christ, his miracles, doctrine, resurrection, ascension, sending the Holy Ghost, &c. are always represented in the scriptures as great discoveries ; hence the dispensation of the gospel is by Paul called a mystery, which had been hid for ages and generations, but now is made manifest to his saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ, &c. Col. i. 26, 27. But how St. Paul could say this, and believe the writings of Hystaspes, and the Sibyls' Verses, is impossible to tell. I therefore conclude these Oracles to have been a forgery long after Peter and Paul's time, and therefore as they would not, so they could not appeal to them; and consequently, this Preaching of Peter and Paul was a forgery too, and so not only apocryphal by Prop. VIII. as containing things false, but also by Prop. X. as containing things later than the time in which the authors, whose name it bore, lived. Under this head I would further observe, that this spurious author makes the apostle Peter to owe his own belief of Christianity to the predictions of these books, (fragment VI. of Clemens Alexandrinus, chap. preced.) calls them scripture, and says, God really appointed them, which are yet further evidences of its spuriousness, and is so absurd, that I cannot but be surprised to observe Dr. Grabe so jumping in with that silly writer, as to call them scripture too ; and so according to his example, speaking of it as though it were really St. Peter's, urging us to prove every thing by the scriptures. Thus I have largely from this instance proved this book apocryphal ; nor do I know any thing that can be objected against the proof, unless it be what Baronius and the last named writer have said for the credit of the book, that St. Paul did sometimes make use

66 were

of testimonies from heathen authors; which, though it be indeed true, yet is very little to the purpose, it being one thing to cite the genuine books of a moral heathen for the support of a moral point, and another to make use of testimonies out of forgeries and spurious books, to prove the very foundation of the Christian revelation ; a method, which though however much practised by some of the fathers, especially by Justin Martyr, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Lactantius, is both unjust in itself, injurious to truth, and derided by their enemies. And hence we find Celsus objects it to Origen', " that they had

corrupted the books of the Sibyls, by inserting many things “ in favour of Christianity;" to which Origen gives a very weak answer in my judgment; perhaps, because he would not, or durst not give a better: and in another place Celsus, with an air of wit, banters the Christians under the name of Sibyllistsk, and even Lactantiusl owns, that the pagans “ wont to object, that the verses, which the Christians cited “ under the Sibyls' names, were not really theirs, but forged “ by the Christians;" and Constantine the emperorm, after he had produced the famous Greek acrostic concerning Christ, attributed to the Sibyl Erythrea, adds, Οι πολλοί των ανθρώπων άπιστούσι και ταύθ', ομολογούντες Ερυθραίαν γεγενήσθαι Σιβύλλαν μάντιν: υποπτεύουσι δέ τινα των της ημετέρας θρησκείας, ποιητικής μούσης ούκ άμοιρον, τα έπη ταύτα πεποιηκέναι, that “ Many men “ did not believe it, though they confess the Sibyl Erythræa “ to have been really a prophetess, but suppose that those

verses were made by some one of our religion, who had a

genius for poetry,” &c. I shall conclude this chapter with the judgment of St. Austin in this matter, which not only is a fair intimation of the forgery of the Sibyls, but implies a very strong argument against the Preaching of Peter. Discoursing against the Jews, he starts this objection: Perhaps it may be said, “ that the Sibylline prophecies are forged by us ;” and answers, “we have sufficient prophecies without them in the “ Jewish books;" and in the end of the next chapter, discoursing of those who arrived to the saving knowledge of Christ, who were not Israelites, he mentions only the account

i Orig. contr. Cels. lib. 7. p. 368. 1 De vera Sap. c. 15. k L. 5. p. 272.

m Orat. ad Sanct. Cæt. c. 19.


in the book of Job, and adds, “That whatever prophecies of “ others,” (viz, among the heathens, besides the book of Job, “ concerning the grace of God through Jesus Christ are pro“duced, may be thought the composures of the Christians ; “ therefore nothing will be more effectual to convince any of “ the heathens, or to establish the Christians, if they think “ rightly, than urging those prophecies concerning Christ, 66 which are in the books of the Jews n."

CHAP. XXXV. The Preaching of Peter proved apocryphal by other argu

ments ; as, viz. that it contained several contradictions and falsehoods. Instances assigned of both. How Lactantius cites it. Hore Clemens Alexandrinus cites it, viz. as a pious forgery of some Christians. WHAT has been already said may be thought sufficient to prove the spuriousness of this Preaching of Peter ; but because it has been so highly esteemed, I shall subjoin two or three brief arguments more, viz. .

Fifthly, I argue the Preaching of Peter to be apocryphal, from that passage in it cited by Heracleon, (produced above, Chap. XXXIII. No. II. and more largely by Clemens Alexandrinus, in the same Chapter, No. III.) viz. where Peter commands, that God should not be worshipped according to the manner of the Jews, who, says he, worship angels and archangels, and the month, and the moon, &c. This will afford us an undeniable argument against this book; to make which appear, I observe, that among the Judaizing Christians, even in the apostolic age, there was a custom arose of paying worship or homage to the angels. This is sufficiently clear from those obscure words of St. Paul, Col. ii. 18. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility, and worshipping angels, &c. where it is plain by the context he was guarding the Colossians against the insinuations of the Jews, about the necessity of their worship, as to holy days, and new moons, &c. The foundation of this practice was partly their opinion, that it was too great boldness in a creature to approach to his Creator without some intercessor, and partly because the law was given by angels; now this practice the pretended Peter inveighs against, but therein contradicts some other parts of his book, wherein, as it appears by the Epistle of Peter to James, (Chap. XXXIII. No. I.) the whole of the Ebionite scheme was contended for. I conclude it therefore apocryphal by Prop. VII. as it contained contradictions.

n De Civit. Dei, lib. 18. c. 46, 47,

Further, the passage forbids the worshipping of the month and the moon, as the Jews did, which either means, that the Jews paid idolatrous worship to the moon, as the heathens did, or else their appointing their several feasts by it, as they were appointed to do by the law of Moses. If we suppose the former, it will prove the book apocryphal by Prop. VIII. because the Jews about the time of our Saviour were not guilty of any

such idolatry; and therefore Peter, who knew them, could not charge them with it: if we say the latter, which is indeed most probable, because it was their known practice, it will no less prove the book apocryphal, because then it must contradict itself; seeing the design of the book was to support the observation of. the law of Moses (as appears by the Epistle of Peter to James just now cited), but the design of this command is to abrogate them: I say therefore, it is to be judged apocryphal by Prop. VII. as it contained contradictions.

Sixthly, The same character seems justly to be fixed upon the book from that passage cited by Clemens Alexandrinus twice (viz. Chap. XXXIII. No. I. and II.) and by Theodotus, N°. IV. where Christ is called the Nóuos, the Law, which seems to be upon no other account than to establish the Ebionite scheme of the everlasting obligation of the law, which has been shewn to be the intent of this book. Apocryphal therefore by Prop. VIII.

Seventhly, The author of the book about Rebaptization (above, Chap. XXXIII. No. VII.) has observed evident contradiction in it, viz. “ After the two apostles Peter and Paul “ had conferred together, and disputed at Jerusalem, they after“ wards met in the same city as much unknown to each other,

if they had never seen each other before.” This seems either to argue, that both the apostles had memories exceeding treacherous, or else something (as the anonymous author says)

a very


very absurd, i. e. contradictious to itself, and therefore what proves it apocryphal by Prop. VII.

Eighthly, The passage (No. IV. out of Clemens Alexandrinus, above, Chap. XXXIII.) in which is Christ's command to his apostles, not to go out into the world to preach the gospel, till after the expiration of twelve years, will also prove it apocryphal. For though there be another testimony to this tradition, viz. Apollonius, a writer of the second centuryo, yet it seems very contrary, not only to the design of the Christian religion, which was intended to be as diffusive as possible, without any distinction of persons or nations, but also to the express testimonies of several of the books now received; as where our Saviour tells the woman of Samaria, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, worship the Father, &c. John iv. 21. where he tells his disciples, the gospel was to be preached to all the world, Matt. xxiv. 14. and actually commands them, without any limitation as to time, to go forth and preach the gospel to every creature, and to all nations, Mark xvi. 15. Matt. xxviii. 18. Besides, if Christ did give his apostles any such command, if the History of the Acts of the Apostles by Luke be true, they were disobedient to it; for it is certain that in much less time Peter had his vision, churches were planted in Samaria, Antioch, &c. by the preaching of the apostles: and therefore, after so much evidence, I may venture to assert this a spurious account of Christ; and consequently this Preaching, which contained it, also spurious.

I confess indeed, the Latin translator of Clemens has given these words another turn, and putting no point after the word du aptías, but a full period after the word érn, makes the

passage to speak thus, He that will repent and believe on God through my name, his sins shall be pardoned after twelve years. But this is more absurd and foolish than the former, and therefore I have chosen to follow Dr. Cave's punctuation and translation P.

Lastly, I might argue this book not to have been the composure of Peter and Paul, from the great difference there is in the style of it from the known style of those two sacred writers, and so prove it apocryphal by Prop. XI. but this I shall leave

• Apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 5. c. 18.

p Hist. Liter. in Petro.


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