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ing, that it is impossible to serve two masters ? ; of the purple robe, the crown of thorns, and the reed in his hand; of the blood that flowed from the body of Jesus upon the cross, which circumstance is recorded by John alone; and (what is instar omniuṁ for the purpose for which we produce it) of the difference in the accounts given of the resurrection by the evangelists, some mentioning two angels at the sepulchre, others only one'.
It is extremely material to remark, that Celsus not only perpetually referred to the accounts of Christ contained in the four Gospels 19, but that he referred to no other accounts; that he founded none of his objections to Christianity upon any thing delivered in spurious Gospels.
II. What Celsus was in the second century, Porphyry became in the third. His work, which was a large and formal treatise against the Christian religion, is not extant. We must be content therefore to gather his objections from Christian writers, who have noticed in order to answer them; and enough remains of this species of information to prove completely, that Porphyry's animadversions were directed against the contents of our present Gospels, and of the Acts of the Apostles; Porphyry considering that to overthrow them was to overthrow the religion. Thus he objects to the repetition of a generation in St. Matthew's genealogy; to Matthew's call; to the quotation of a text from Isaiah, which is found in a psalm ascribed to Asaph; to the calling of the lake of Tiberias a sea; to the expression in St. Matthew, “ the abomination of
? Lardner, vol. ii. p. 277. 8 Ib. p. 280, 281. 9 [b. p. 283.
10 The particulars, of which the above are only a few, are well collected by Mr. Bryant, p. 140.
desolation;" to the variation in Matthew and Mark upon the text, “ The voice of one crying in the wilderness,” Matthew citing it from Isaias, Mark from the Prophets; to John's application of the term “Word;" to Christ's change of intention about going up to the feast of tabernacles (John vii. 8); to the judgment denounced by St. Peter upon Ananias and Sapphira, which he calls an imprecation of death 11.
The instances here alleged serve, in some measure, to show the nature of Porphyry's objections, and prove that Porphyry had read the Gospels with that sort of attention which a writer would employ who regarded them as the depositaries of the religion which he attacked. Beside these specifications, there exists, in the writings of ancient Christians, general evidence that the places of Scripture upon which Porphyry had remarked were very numerous.',
In some of the above-cited examples, Porphyry, speaking of St. Matthew, calls him your evangelist ; he also uses the term evangelists in the plural number. What was said of Celsus is true likewise of Porphyry, that it does not appear that he considered any history of Christ, except these, as having authority with Christians.
III. A third great writer against the Christian religion was the emperor Julian, whose work was composed about a century after that of Porphyry.
In various long extracts, transcribed from this work by Cyril and Jerome, it appears 12 that Julian noticed by name Matthew and Luke in the difference between their genealogies of Christ; that he objected to Matthew's application of the prophecy, “ Out of Egypt
have I called my son,” (ii. 15), and to that of “ A virgin shall conceive,” (i. 23); that he recited sayings of Christ, and various passages of his history, in the very words of the evangelists; in particular, that Jesus healed lame and blind people, and exorcised demoniacs, in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany; that he alleged that none of Christ's disciples ascribed to him the creation of the world, except John; that neither Paul, nor Matthew, nor Luke, nor Mark, have dared to call Jesus, God; that John wrote later than the other evangelists, and at a time when a great number of men in the cities of Greece and Italy were converted; that he alludes to the conversion of Cornelius and of Sergius Paulus, to Peter's vision, to the circular letter sent by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, which are all recorded in the Acts of the Apostles: by which quoting of the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, and by quoting no other, Julian shows that these were the historical books, and the only historical books, received by Christians' as of authority, and as the authentic memoirs of Jesús Christ, of his apostles, and of the doctrines taught by them. But Julian's testimony does something more than represent the judgment of the Christian church in his time. It discovers also his own. He himself expressly states the early date of these records; he calls them by the names which they now bear. He all along supposes, he no where attempts to question, their genuineness.
The argument in favour of the books of the New Testament, drawn from the notice taken of their contents by the early writers against the religion, is very considerable. It proves that the accounts, which
Christians had then, were the accounts which we have now: that our present Scriptures were theirs. It proves, moreover, that neither Celsus in the second, Porphyry in the third, nor Julian in the fourth century, suspected the authenticity of these books, or ever insinuated that Christians were mistaken in the authors to whom they ascribed them. Not one of them expressed an opinion upon this subject different from that which was holden by Christians. And when we consider how much it would have availed them to have cast a doubt upon this point, if they could; and how ready they showed themselves to be, to take every advantage in their power; and that they were all men of learning and inquiry; their concession, or rather their suffrage, upon the subject, is extremely valuable.
In the case of Porphyry, it is made still stronger by the consideration, that he did in fact support himself by this species of objection when he saw any room for it, or when his acuteness could supply any pretence for alleging it. The prophecy of Daniel he attacked upon this very ground of spuriousness, insisting that it was written after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and maintains his charge of forgery by some farfetched indeed, but very subtle criticisms. Concerning the writings of the New Testament, no trace of this suspicion is any where to be found in him 13.”
13 Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament, vol. i. p. 43, Marsh's Translation,
SECT. X. Formal catalogues of authentic Scriptures were pub
lished, in all which our present sacred histories were
included. This species of evidence comes later than the rest; as it was not natural that catalogues of any particular class of books should be put forth until Christian writings became numerous; or until some writings showed themselves, claiming titles which did not belong to them, and thereby rendering it necessary to separate books of authority from others. But, when it does appear, it is extremely satisfactory; the catalogues, though numerous, and made in countries at a wide distance from one another, differing very little, differing in nothing which is material, and all containing the four Gospels. To this last article there is no exception.
I. In the writings of Origen which remain, and in some extracts preserved by Eusebius, from works of his which are now lost, there are enumerations of the books of Scripture, in which the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles are distinctly and honourably specified, and in which no books appear beside what are now received ?. The reader, by this time, will easily recollect that the date of Origen's works is A. D. 230.
II. Athanasius, about a century afterwards, delivered a catalogue of the books of the New Testament in form, containing our Scriptures and no others; of which he says, “ In these alone the doctrine of Religion is
'Lardner, Coed, vol. iii. p. 234, et seq. vol. viii. p. 196.