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5. TERTULLIAN. V. Tertullian has expressly determined the number of Gospels, which were received by the church in his time, to four. So, (l. 4. adv. Marcion. c. 2.) Nobis fidem ex apostolis Joannes et Matthæus insinuant, ex apostolicis Lucas et Marcus instaurant; i. e.“ The credit of the Gospel history is confirmed to
us by two that were apostles, viz. Matthew and John, and “ two that were apostolic men, (i. e. companions of the apo
stles,) Mark and Luke:” and in the same book, c. 5. speaking of the same four Gospels, and naming them, he says, Eadem auctoritas ecclesiarum apostolicarum cæteris quoque patrocinabatur evangeliis ; i. e. that “they were patronized or “ confirmed by the authority of the apostolic churches.”
6. CLEMENS ALEXANDRINUS. VI. Clemens Alexandrinus (not long after Irenæus) is the next, whose testimony I shall produce; he, disputing against Julius Cassianus, who had cited a passage out of the Gospel of the Egyptians in favour of the doctrine of the unlawfulness of marriage, replies; “ First,” says he, “I observe this is not in “ either of the four Gospels delivered to us, but in the Gospel “ according to the Egyptians x;" by which he, who knows that Clemens continually cites the four Gospels which we now receive, and no other, will be easily induced to believe he here meant the same four. See the place at large above, Vol. I. Part II. Chap. XVI. p. 177.
7. ORIGEN. VII. Origen, the scholar of Clemens Alexandrinus, has also confirmed the same; viz. that “though there were many Gos“ pels forged by the heretics, which,” says he, “we read, that “ we may not be thought ignorant, ecclesia quatuor habet
Evangelia, i. e. the church receives only four Gospelsy;" and a little after, Quatuor tantum Evangelia sunt prolata, e quibus sub persona Domini et Salvatoris nostri proferenda sunt dogmata ; “ There are only four Gospels made use of, “ out of which the articles of our religion as from Jesus Christ “ are to be proposed.” Once more a few lines after: In his omnibus nihil aliud probamus nisi quod ecclesia, i. e. quatuor
x Stromat. lib. 3. p. 465.
y Homil. in Luc. i. I.
tantum Evangelia recipienda; “ Among all these Gospels we
approve none but those which the church approves; viz. that “ only the four Gospels are to be received." It would be madness for any one, who ever saw Origen's works, to ask what four Gospels he meant. Besides that, he elsewhere. Tòv čxxanDIQOTIXÒN Quráttwv xavóvd, speaking of, or reciting the canon of the church, names these four Gospels, å xai uóve åvartigentá totiv εν τη υπό τον ουρανόν εκκλησία του Θεού, i. e. “which four alone
are received without controversy in the church of God, which “ is all over the world.” Comment. in Matth. apud Euseb. H. E. l. 6. c. 25.
8. EUSEBIUS. VIII. Eusebius (who lived in the beginning of the fourth century) expressly excludes all other Gospels from the canon besides those four which we now receive, but places them among the books which were without any controversy received by the consent of the whole church 2.
9. ATHANASIUS. IX. In the Synopsis under the name of Athanasius, the author tells us, that all “ the Gospels which are read by any, are “ rather fit to be concealed than read, except the four alone 66 which have been delivered to us.'
10. AMBROSE. X. This father, in his preface to his Commentary on Luke, has almost transcribed Origen's words on the same place; accordingly he saith, “ that though the heretics have many gos“pels, the church hath only four,” &c.a
11. JEROME. XI. In the preface to his Translation of the Gospels he mentions some false gospels, viz. those of Lucianus and Hesychius, (see above, Vol. I. Part II. Ch. XXII.) and promises, “ he will only be concerned with four, which,” “ are in the following order, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 66 John b."
It would be endless to cite the many numerous proofs that may be easily produced out of the fathers of the fourth cen
2 Vid. Hist. Eccles. 1. 3. C. 24, 25. et alibi passim.
a Procem. Cominent. in Luc. in init. b Præfat. in Evang. ad Damasum.
tury. He that has a mind may see further proof of this matter, in the places of Epiphanius c, Jerome , Chrysostome, and
, Austin f, which are cited in the margin, and in the several catalogues of Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Cyril, that of the council of Laodicea, Epiphanius, Gregory Nazianzen, Philastrius, Jerome, Austin, Ruffin, that of the third council of Carthage, and the works of Dionysius the Areopagite, which I have collected in the first volume, Part I. Ch. VIII. p. 54, &c.
CHAP. I. Who Matthew was. Heracleon, Origen, and Grotius, mis
taken in supposing Matthew and Levi to be the names of two persons. He was a Jew. In what countries he preached, and where he died : mentioned in the Talmud. The occasion
of St. Matthew's writing his Gospel. BEFORE I come to the Gospels themselves, and the proof of their authority, it seems to me necessary that some account be given of the author. Accordingly, I shall now begin with some short relations or accounts concerning St. Matthew, the author of this Gospel. Besides what we have in the canonical Gospels, there is not much that can be depended upon now left concerning him. The popish legends, and the fabulous writers of later ages, will afford us accounts sufficiently particular; but
, disregarding all these, I shall only mention such things as seem to be more credible, and built upon better foundations. The account we have of him in his Gospel is, that Jesus at Capernaum saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom : and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. Matt. ix. 9.' The other evangelists (viz. Mark ü. 14. and Luke v. 27, 28.) relate the same history; only they, instead of Matthew, give him the name of Levi, which seems to have been his surname, or another name, by which he was c Hæres. 51. g. 4, &c.
transcribed this of Chrysostom conà Præf. in Comm. in Matth. Comm. cerning the four evangelists' agreein Ezek. 1. 10 et Epist. ad Paulin. de ment, which I refer to, into his preface stud. Scriptur. This last Epistle is on Matthew. commonly prefixed to the Vulgate. i De Consens. Evangel. lib. 1. c. 2.
e In Matth. i. N. B. Theophylact 6. et Tract. 36. in Joan. has, according to his old custom,
as commonly called. It is a thing well known, that the Jews were wont to call a person by more names than one; e. g. Moses's father-in-law is called Jethro, Exod. ïïi. 1. and Num. X. 29. he is called Hobab; and David's son, who is called 2 Sam. iii. 3. Chileab, goes under the name of Daniel, 1 Chron. ii. 1. Simon was also called Peter, Matt. X. 2. Lebbeus was surnamed Thaddeus, ver. 3, &c. which surname, or second name, seems to have been added to distinguish them from others, who had the same first name. I have mentioned this, because some, both ancient and modern writers, have imagined Matthew and Levi to have been two different persons: thus Heracleon, an early heretic of the second century, and a remarkable person in the school of Valentinus, speaking of those disciples of Christ, who were not called to a public acknowledgment or confession of Christ (by martyrdom), names Matthew, Philip, Thomas, and Levi 8; and Origen, discoursing particularly of Christ's apostles, first mentions Matthew the publican, and afterwards names Levi the publican, but denies him to have been an apostle; "Έστω δε και ο Λεβής τελώνης ακολουθήσας τώ Ιησού, αλλ' ούτι γε του αριθμού των αποστόλων αυτού ήν, ει μή κατά τινα των αντιγράφων του κατά Μάρκον ευαγγελίου και, “Levi also the publican, “ who followed Jesus, but was not of the number of his apo“stles, unless [we follow] some copies of Mark's Gospel.” Among the moderns, Grotius is of this opinion i; but it is
easy to refute it, by observing not only that the circumstances of the fact are so exactly the same as related by the three evangelists, but that they agree precisely as to the time, and all that which happened immediately before and after his call by Christ, viz. all the three evangelists agree, that this call was as our Saviour was going out of Capernaum immediately after the curing of the paralytic: and the several histories, which St. Matthew relates to have happened after his call by Christ, (viz. that Christ went to eat with publicans and sinners, the Pharisees censuring him for it, his justification of himself, the disciples of John coming to Christ with a question about fasting, Christ's answer, &c.) are all related by St. Mark and St. Luke after the call of Levi; and this affords us the highest evidence,
6 Apud Clem. Alexand. Stromat. I. 4. p. 502.
h Adv. Cels. l. 1. p. 48. i Annot. in Matt. ix. 9.
that Matthew and Levi were the same person. It is strange indeed that Heracleon and Origen should fall into such a mistake; but this is very rationally accounted for by Cotelerius k and Mr. Dodwell 1; to whom, together with Dr. Whitby's m remarks on this opinion of Grotius, I refer the reader, who has a mind to examine further into this matter.
The two names of this evangelist, as also that of his father, (viz. Alpheus, Mark ii. 14.) evince him to have been originally a Jew, (it being certain that the Romans very frequently put the natives of the conquered provinces into such offices, under the principal officers who were generally Romans,) although I observe, that in two ancient manuscripts which Cotelerius (in Constit. Apostol. 1. 2. c. 63.) has published out of the French king's library, No. 1789. and 1026. which recite the country and parents of the twelve apostles, there is the following account of Matthew, Ματθαίος ο και Λευϊς, τελώνης το επιτηδευμα, εκ πατρός Ρούκου, μητρός δε Χαιρoθείας, από της Γαλιλαίας, i. e.“ Matthew, called also Levi, a publican, whose father was “ Rucus, and mother Chærotheia, born in Galilee;" both which are plainly Gentile names.
After he was called to be an apostle, he continued in that office till our Saviour's ascension in Judæa; and if there be any credit to be given to the accounts of the ancients, he continued there eight years afterward; whither he then went is not certain: Ruffin n affirms that he went into Ethiopia, and in this he is followed by the writers of succeeding ages, Socrates, Simeon Metaphrastes, Abdias Babylonicus, &c. which last has given us a very particular account of his preaching, miracles, and success in the conversion of multitudes there; his building a church there, (viz. at Nadabbar, the capital city,) and calling it the Resurrection, because the raising of the son of king Æglippus from the dead was the occasion of it. "He preached Christ in Hierapolis, a city of Syria, and suffered martyrdom there, according to a Greek manuscript under the name of Dorotheus, bishop of Tyre, (who lived in the beginning of the fourth century,) which was transcribed by Mr. Dodwell, and k Annot. in Constit. Apost. I. 8. c. Dr. Mill on Mark ii. 14.
n Hist. Eccl. 1. 1. C. 9. I Dissert. 1. in Iren. §. 24.
o Vid. Abdiæ Histor. Certam. Apom Annot. on Luke v. 27. See also stol. 1. 7. per tot.