« AnteriorContinuar »
Churches, where the Apostles had before laid the Foundation, and preaching the Faith of Christ in Places, that had never heard of it before; who carried the Copies of the Gospels to all the Churches, whither they went, and, not improbably, took along with them other Parts of the New Testament besides, because they were own'd and admitted every where loon after. ° Tertullian, who ftourisiVd at the end of the second Century, tells us expreftly, that the Law and the Prophets, the Gospels and apoflolick Writings, were the Books, from whence we were to learn our Faith; and, that we may know what he meant by apojlolick Writings, he appeals, as occasion offers, not only to the four Gospels, but to the Acts of the Apostles, to all the Epistles of St. Waal, (except that to the Hebrews,) to the first of St. Peter, and the first of St. John, as the Writings of the Persons, to whom they aie ascribed. Nay, Irenceus, P who liv'd before him, and convers'd (as himself tells us) with Polycarp, and others, that had been instructed by the Apostles, and immediate Disciples of our Lord, mentions the Code of the New Testament, as well as of the Old, and
•De Præ scrip. Heret. c. %6. r Vid. Ricbardfcn's , Canon Qf the New Testament vindicated.
calls the one, as well as the other', the Oracles of God, and Writings dictated by his Word and Spirit. And what wonder indeed, if the first Fathers of the Church did so, when we find the greatest Adversaries of the Christian Name, even 1 Julian and * Celfus, acknowledging their Genuinenels, by quoting their Words, and referring us to them upon all Occasions.
We readily grant indeed., that the Why Authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews, J^TM£. the second of St. Peter, the second and were at third of St. John, and the Epistles of first 1*'St. James, and St. Jude, and of the^oa'dBook of the Revelation, were, atjirst, doubted of j but for this many good Reasons may be alledg'd. The Epistle to the Hebrews had no Name prefix'd to it, which St. Paul, out of a Principle . of Modesty, might do, as not seeming to assume the Office of an Jpojlle to the Hebrews, which was St. Jeter's immediate Province, but for this Reason it went under some Suspicion of not being his. The second Epistle of St. Peter was thought to differ in Stile from the first; that of St. James, to maintain the Doctrine of Faith and good Works, contrary to St. Paul to the Romans;. and E 1 that
'Vid. Cyril Alex, cjritia Ju'.i. L. law 'Jost* Mart. Dial.
that of St. "fude to quote a Passage from • an Apocryphal Book, (call'd the Apocalyps of Enoch,) for which Causes they might, for some time, be rejected. The second and third Epistles of St. John were too much levelled against the Hereticks of that Age, not to provoke their Endeavours to hinder their Reception'; and the Book of Revelation contain'd some Things, which aim'd so directly at Rome and the Empire, that it might not be thought prudent, at first, to admit it into the Canon.
Besides this, s some of these Books were so short, and others so obscure, as made it improper for them to be read in publick Assemblies, which, together with their being omitted in the Syriack Version, in those Days, in great Vogue and Esteem, might give some particular Persons (for they were never call'd in Question by any Council) an Umbrage of Suspicion; which the Distance of the . Places, whereunto they were sent, making theirTranfmission to other Churches, (especially in times of Persecution,) extremely difficult, might be a means to Allow'd improve. But, even while they lay to be ge- un(3er tnis Censure from particular PersomcFa- sens, some of the greatest Names i« thersof Antiquity gave them their Sanction. St. Paul's Epistles to the Hebrews is • mention'd by Clemens Romanus, in his fiust Epistle, which was it self of such Authority, as to be read in the Church. The second of St. 'Peter and that of St. "James are cited by the lame Author, not verbatim indeed, but under the Title of a 'Prophesy, because both the Apostles foretel what is to befal those, who live not according to their Exhortations. That of St. Jude is aserib'd to him by Clemens Ahxandrinus; the second and third of St. John by Irenteus and Tertullian ', who, together with Juflin Martyr, acknowledges his Revelation to be genuine.
f Jalin's Reasonableness, Vol. x,
I^ot can it in the least diminish the And adCredk and Authority of the New Testa- TMfe*he ment, to alledge, that the first Rccog- canon nition of its controverted Books, was sooner, by the Council of Laodicea9 330 Years phre"ensd. after our Lord's Ascension; ' since it is ed. plain, that the Busineft of that Council was, to declare, not so much which were the aUthentick Books of Scripture, as which were not: The growth of heretical Books having made it necessary then, though not before, for the better Information of the People, to distinguish the true from the fal/e. For that the true were known long before this E 5 Council
Council made their Declaration, u is manifest from the j^th Canon, -which appoints, that no Books, which were extra Canonem, i. e. none, but such as were Canonical, should be read in Christian Assemblies; which title of Canonical they had, because they were inserted in the Apostles Canons, and the Apostles Canons, according to the Opinion of the best Criticks, were the Canons of Councils, assembled before the Council of Nice, because we find them referr'd to in that Council; and were very probably stiled Apostolical, because they were made by Men, who liv'd next to the Apostles Days, and who declar'd, in thole Canons, what they had received from them. Their But allowing these disputed Books
Uu Ad- to be of later Admittance, than we have mission p-jven them, yet the only tuft Inference mcnt for that we can deduce irom thence, is, 1 hat them. since these Books were not every where admitted upon their first appearing, this shews that the Church did not proceed rashly and carelessly in the Affair; and since they were every where admitted afterward, this shews, that upon Examination, clear Proof and Evidence was found of their Genuineness; and accordingly they have ever since been
"Jenkins Reasonableness, Vol. z.