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FOUR

DISSERTATIONS.

1. The Authority of the Second Epistle of St.

Peter.

II. The Sense of the Ancients before Christ

upon the Circumstances and Consequences of the Fall. With an APPENDIX.

III. The Blefsing of Judah, Gen. xlix.

IV. Christ's Entry into Jerusalem.

DISSERTATION I.

The Authority of the Second Epistle of

St. Peter.

THE occafion I had, in the first of the foregoing Discourses, to consider and compare together the two Epistles of St. Peter, led me to inquire into the grounds and reasons of the ancient doubt concerning the authority and genuineness of the second Epistle. It will be worth while to examine the fact, and state it fairly ; which will enable us to judge whether this doubt is well founded or no.

The learned Grotius, in his Annotations on this Epistle, obferves, " That many of the ancients were “of opinion that this was not an epistle of St. Peter “the Apostle, induced thereunto by the difference “ of style between this and the first Epistle, (acknow

ledged by Eufebius and Jerom,) and by this Epi“stle's having been rejected by many churches." Huetius a reports the case more accurately, and tells us, that this second Epistle was “ inter dubias collo

cata ab aliquibus—propter styli cum priore discre“pantiam ;" “ reckoned doubtful by some, because

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Demonftratio Evang. p. 21.

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“ the style of it was different from that of the firft

Epistle.” This is the truth of the case, and this the only reason to be found in antiquity of the doubt concerning this Epistle. Grotius's second reason, “ that this Epistle was not received in many “ churches,” is too strongly expressed, and not sufficiently warranted. Origen is the first, as far as appears, who mentions the doubt about this Epistle : “ St. Peter," he tells us, “ left one Epistle confessedly “ his; perhaps too a second; for of this there is “ doubth." Eusebius informs us, “ That there never “ was any doubt of St. Peter's first Epistle: but as “ to the second, the tradition was, that it was not o canonical : nerertheless appearing to many (or to “ the generality) to be a useful piece, it was used “ jointly with the other Scriptures.” That this second Epistle was received and used by the church in Eusebius's time, appears I think from this very paffage: he says it was “ used with the other Scrip“ tures," and that all the ground there was to doubt of its authority, was an ancient tradition, which probably was no other than the authority and report of Origen, before cited. That this doubt ever affected whole churches, or that there were churches which rejected this Epistle, does not appear : if this had been the case, it would have been a stronger objection against the authority of the Epistle than the

6 Πετρος-μίαν επιστολή, ομολογουμένην καταλίλοισεν, έτω δε και diutiparámccannotat váp. Origen. apud Euseb, lib. vi. cap. 25.

Την δε φερομένων αυτού δευτέραν, ούκ ενδιάθετον μεν είναι παρειλήφαμεν' όμως δε πολλούς χρήσιμος φανείσα, μετα των άλλων εσπισsáo In ypação. Lib. iii. cap. 3. vide cap. 25.

ancient suspicion, and more worthy of the historian's notice.

What submission is due to the doubts of antiquity, when we have only the doubt transmitted to us, without the reasons upon which it was grounded, I need not inquire ; but surely, when we have the reasons of the doubt preserved, we have a very good right to judge and inquire for ourselves. And this happens to be the case here : St. Jerom takes notice of this doubt, and tells us the reason of it: “ the "second Epistle,” says he, “ is rejected by many, (or

by most, a plerisque,) because it differs in style from “ the first d.''

The whole doubt, you see, is founded upon a piece of criticism, started at first probably by some man of learning and figure, and followed implicitly by others. The usage and authority of the church, for aught that appears to the contrary, were on the side of the Epistle, and prevailed at last against the learned obfervation : which was the very case of St. Jude's Epistle, which, for a like reason, was rejected by many, but the general authority of the church prevailed to establish it ; “autoritatem vetustate " et usu meruit, et inter fanctas Scripturas compa“ rature.”

That there is a difference in the style of the first and second Epistle of St. Peter, is allowed; but it is not such a difference as ought to create any doubt of the genuineness of the Epistle. One reason is, be

Qdarum fecunda a plerifque rejicitur, propter ftyli cum priore diffonantiam. Catal. Script. Ecclef. • Hieron. Catal. Script. Eccl.

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