Imatges de pàgina
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table, those which were apocryphal might be found under; and accordingly, as they prayed, it came to pass. Such accounts are not only very false and fabulous, but plainly ridiculous and incredible.

CHAP. IX. How we are to judge of the canonical authority of any book, by its being cited by any Christian writers.

PROP. V. Those books are justly esteemed canonical, which the first

writers of Christianity have cited in their writings as scrip

ture; and those apocryphal, which they have not. THE truth of each part of the proposition necessarily follows from Prop. III. For if we are to receive what they received as canonical, we are infallibly sure of this, by observing what books they cited as scripture in their works, and what they did not. An universal agreement of writers in the most remote countries, in quoting the same books as scripture, and no other as such, is, if the fact be true, a very plain and demonstrative indication of the true canon. It is not at all necessary I should bere go about to prove the fact, viz. that the writers of the first four centuries have cited such and such books, and universally omitted others; this I hope to make good hereafter. All that I contend for now is, that if they have done so, it is a proof to us, that the books cited are canonical, and the books not cited are apocryphal; and that will appear thus: Their universal agreement to cite some books, and omit others, must necessarily proceed from one of these two causes, viz. either,

1. Because they had not yet seen or known any other books claiming divine authority, besides those which they did cite; or,

2. Because if they did know them, they did not esteem them of equal authority with those which they did cite.

Besides these, I cannot conceive any other reason assignable. Now if the last be assigned, the matter is given up, and the proposition at once established; for what the ancients looked upon as canonical and apocryphal, we are (by Prop. III.) to judge so too. If the first be said, viz. That these books are cited, and no other, because these had the good fortune to be

known, and the others had not; this will be no less giving up the cause; for their not being known, is to us (by Prop. III.) the same as not being canonical; inasmuch as this their obscurity proceeded from their wanting that public testimony of their being wrote by the apostles, which the other books had given them by the churches. The proposition therefore holds good; and I cannot but think it worth observing, that Eusebius (to whom, above all besides, we are indebted for our helps to establish the canon) makes frequent use of the very same proposition, to distinguish between those books which are, or are not to be received. So, for instance, he proves the first Epistle of Peter to be genuine, “ because the most ancient “ writers of Christianity before his time made continual use of “ it in their writings, as an undoubted books;" and a little afterwards, proves the Acts of Peter, the Gospel, the Preaching, and the Revelation of Peter, to be apocryphal, “ because 6 none of the writers of the Christian church have in their “ writings taken any testimonies out of these books.” And elsewherey, having mentioned several spurious books under the apostles' names, such as the Gospels of Peter, Thomas, Matthias, the Acts of Andrew and John, and others, he rejects them, because “no ecclesiastical writer hath made any use of " them in his writings."

This argument does so directly prove and establish our present canon, that those who attempt to weaken the canon, have always made it their main work to shew, that “the first writers “ were wont indifferently or promiscuously to quote the scrip“ tures we now receive, and others, in their works." So Mr. Dodwell in the famous passage above cited~; and Mr. Toland in his Amyntor has done little else but paraphrased upon this thought, which he borrowed from Mr. Dodwell. I am sorry to say, that several learned men have too unguardedly dropped expressions of the like nature; as has been observed in the beginning of the Dissertation prefixed to this volume. In answer to this opinion of Mr. Dodwell and Mr. Toland, several things have been well urged by Mr. Nyey, and after him by Mr. Richardson 2: but it appears to me impossible to give a due answer to it any other way, than by a particular survey of all the places in the fathers, where they are supposed to have quoted any other books as scripture, beside those now received; which is proposed as the work of the second part of this volume. In the mean time, for the better explaining and establishing my proposition, I must observe three or four things.

Οι πάλαι πρεσβύτεροι ως αναμφιλέκσω εν τοϊς σφών αυτών κατακέχρηνται συγypeéprecos. Hist. Eccl. 1. 3. c. 3.

* "Οτι μήτε αρχαίων, μήτε των καθ' ημάς τις εκκλησιαστικός συγγραφεύς, ταϊς εξ αυτών συνεχρήσατο μαρτυρίαις. Ιbid.

Η "Ων ουδέν ουδαμώς έν συγγράμμασι των κατά διαδοχές εκκλησιαστικών τις ανήρ εις μνήμην αγαγείν ήξίωσεν. Ιbid. 1. 3. C. 25.

* Dissert. 1. in Iren. $. 38, 39.

1. That the proposition does not mean a bare citing of a book, but citing it as scripture. St. Paul has cited Aratus, Menander, and Epimenides; the first Christian writers have cited a thousand heathen authors, which, I hope, no one would have made part of the canon.

2. That the proposition does not determine the authority of any book or books, upon the credit of any one or two particular writers, but the whole body of the writers of the primitive church: and therefore if one or two particular persons should appear to be imposed upon, either in rejecting or receiving any book, we are not from their single testimony to argue against the book; especially,

3. If it appear from other parts of their writings, by the most undoubted evidence, that they did not receive the book they seem to receive, or reject the book they seem to reject, in this particular place.

CHAP. X. Concerning the reading of the sacred books in the primitive churches, as a proof of their canonical authority.

PROP. VI. Those books are canonical, which the primitive Christians read

in their churches, or public assemblies, as the scriptures, or

word of God. THE evidence of this proposition is the same as of the two foregoing, from Prop. III. As it was the constant practice of the Jewish church in their synagogues, so it was of the Chris

y Defence of the Canon, p. 57, &c.'

z Canon Vindicated, p. 23, &c. and

73, &c.

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tians in their religious meetings, to read the sacred scriptures. This practice is clearly proved from Col. iv. 16. where St. Paul mentions the reading publicly in the church of the Colossians and Laodiceans, his Epistle to the former, as also an Epistle from the latter in the church of the former. This we find in the beginning of the second century, from Justin Martyra. “ On the day,” says he, “ which is called Sunday, there is a “ meeting of all [the Christians] who live either in cities or “ country places, and the memoirs of the apostles, and writ

ings of the prophets are read.” So Tertullian, giving an account of the Christians' meetings, saysb, They assembled “ to read the scriptures, and to offer up prayers.” And in another place, “ among the solemn exercises of the Lord's “ day, he reckons reading the scriptures, singing psalms,” &c. The same account we have in Cypriand, the ancient book under the name of Dionysius the Areopagite ®, and several other ancient writers, cited by Pamelius in his learned notes on Tertullian's Apologyf. Now, I say, these books are to be received by us as canonical, forasmuch as this practice of reading the scriptures was so very early, that it is hardly possible to suppose the churches imposed upon by any spurious or forged pieces. Hence Cyril of Jerusalem, instructing his catechumen concerning the scriptures, tells him , “ to avoid apocryphal “ books, and study carefully those scriptures only, which were “publicly read in the church;” and a little after, having given him a catalogue of the sacred books, he adds, “ let all “ others be rejected; and such as are not read in the churches, “ neither do you read in private.” Hence, in the middle of the fourth century, it was decreed by the council of Laodicea, in their fifty-ninth canon, that “no private psalms should be

a

Τη του ηλίου λεγομένη ημέρα πάντων κατά πόλεις ή αγρούς μενόντων επί το αυτό συνέλευσις γίνεται, και τα απομνημονεύματα των αποστόλων, και τα συγγράμματα των προφητών, αναγινώσκεται. Αpol. 2. p. 98.

tiones delegantur. De Anima, c. 9.

b Cogimur ad divinarum literarum commemorationem. ' Apol. adv. gent.

d Cypr. Epist. 38, 39.
e Hierarch. Eccles. c. 3. juxt. init.
f Scil. in Apolog. c. 39.

8 Προς δε τα απόκρυφα μηδέν έχε κοινόν· ταύτας μόνας μελέτα σπουδαίως, ας και εν εκκλησία μετά παρρησίας αναγινώxosy

τα δε λοιπά πάντα έξω κείσθω εν δευτέρω, και όσα μεν εν εκκλησίαις μη αναγινώσκεται, ταύτα μηδέ κατά σαυTòy dvezivmors. Catech. IV. §. 35, 36.

C. 39:

€ Inter Dominica solennia-Scripturæ leguntur, aut Psalmi canuntur, aut allocutiones proferuntur, aut peti

“ read in the church, nor any books without the canon, but

only the canonical ones of the Old and New Testament.”

But notwithstanding this and the subsequent decree of the third council of Carthage, Canon XLVII. it is certain some other pieces were read in the churches, both as of the Old and New Testament, beside those which we now receive, long before they were made, as well as about that time. Thus, for instance, among the books of the New, Dionysius, a bishop of Corinth in the second century, in a letter to the church of Rome h, tells them, “ they read on the Lord's day Clement's “ Epistle to them in their assemblies;" and Eusebiusi declares it to have been “universally received, and read in most “ churches," both in his and former times. The same he says of the Shepherd of Hermask, that "it was read in many “ churches;” which is confirmed by Athanasius 1 and Ruffinus m both concerning this and some other books.

Besides, the book of the Revelation was not read in the churches, according to Cyril; nor commanded to be read by the council of Laodicea: and so it may be objected, that if the proposition we are discussing be true, as the former books which were read (such as Clemens, Hermas, &c.) should be received by us into the canon, as they are by Mr. Whiston; so the Revelation should be left out. · But, as was said on a like account, (Prop. ult.) the full answer to this cannot be till the books are particularly examined ; nevertheless, I would observe,

First, That the proposition speaks only of books that were read in churches as scripture; and that there is a vast difference between being read in a church, and being of divine inspiration. For it is certain, there were many books read, which were not looked upon as infallible and canonical scripture, but only as pious and useful books, which might be of service to the common people. These books, in contradistinction to the other, they were wont to call ecclesiastical. “ There are other books,” says Ruffin”, “which are not called

by our ancestors canonical, but ecclesiastical,” among which

66

h Apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 1. 3. c. 16.
i Id. l. 4. C. 23.
k Id. l. 3. C. 3•

| Epist. Paschal.
m Exposit. in Symbol. Apost. §. 36.
# Ibid.

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