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2. The same learned man says, likewise, the b canonical scriptures of the New Testament “lay hid in the cabinets of ‘particular churches and private persons, till the reign of * Trajan, and perhaps till the reign of Adrian.”
But I presume we have now sufficiently shown the falsehood of this, and that the gospels, and other books of the New Testament, were written and published with a design to be read and made use of, and that they were soon divulged abroad, and not purposely hid by any. w
3. Farther says Mr. Dodwell ; ‘Thee epistles of Paul “were well known soon after they were written. His many ‘travels, and the mark of his hand at the end of them, oc‘ casioned this.”
We readily acknowledge it. It is very true. We think also, that the gospels, the Acts, and other books of the New Testament, were well known soon after they were written: and that in a short space of time many copies were taken of them, and thus they were divulged abroad. The first three gospels were well known to St. John, and to many others, before he wrote his gospel. Which must have been written before the end of the first century, and, probably, a good while before the end of it.
4. The same learned writer, speaking of the apostolical fathers, Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, Polycarp, says, they " several times quote apocryphal books. And he so expresseth himself, as if he intended to affirm this of all of them.
To which I must answer, that so far as I am able to perceive, after a careful examination, there are not any quotations of apocryphal books in any of the apostblical fathers. They who are desirous of farther satisfaction therein, are referred to their several chapters in the second volume of this work, and to * some additional observations in the Recapitulation of the second part of the Credibility, which is in the fifth volume.
* Latitabant enim usque ad recentiora illa Seu Trajani, seu etiam fortasse Hadriani tempora, in privatarum ecclesiarum, Seu etiam hominum scriniis, scripta illa canonica, ne ad ecclesiae catholicae notitiam pervenirent. Ibid. num. 38. p. 66. * Sequuntur epistolae Paulinae, quas a primâ usque scriptione celeberrimas fecere ipsius apostoli tam crebrae peregrinationes, et nota ejus in omni epistolà manus.-Proinde meminit eorum et Petrus, meminitS. Clemens, meminit Ignatius, et Polycarpus. Ibid. num. 41. p. 73. * Habemus hodieque horum temporum scriptores ecclesiasticos luculentissimos, Clementem Romanum, Barnabam, Herman, Ignatium, Polycarpum.—Sed, et apocrypha adhibent iidem aliquoties, qua, certum estin hodiernis non haberi evangeliis, Ibid. n. 39, p. 67,
* See Vol. v. p. 188,244, &c.
5. Once more. The same learned writer says, “that “ ‘before the reign of Trajan, the pseudepigraphal books of “heretics had not been rejected. Nor had the faithful ‘ been cautioned not to make use of them.’
Which appears to me an observation of little or no importance. If those pseudepigraphal books were not in being before the reign of Trajan, how should they be rejected before that time? That they were not sooner in being, has been & sufficiently shown. They are the productions of heretics, who arose in the second century: who asserted two principles, had a disadvantageous opinion of marriage, and denied the real humanity of our Saviour. In that second century many pseudepigraphal gospels, Acts, travels, or circuits of apostles, were composed. Which were afterwards made use of by the Manichees, the Priscillianists, and some others.
But those pseudepigraphal books of heretics never were joined with the genuine writings of the apostles and evangelists. They were always distinguished from them, and were esteemed by all catholic christians in general to be of little value, and no authority. As appears from our collections out of ancient authors, and particularly from the accounts given of those books by " the learned bishop of Caesarea at the beginning of the fourth century.
CHA P. XXV.
The question considered, whether any sacred Books of the New Testament have been lost.
THERE is a question which has been proposed by some learned men: whether any sacred books of the New Testament, or any epistles of apostles and evangelists, written by divine inspiration, have been lost 2 And some have taken the affirmative, particularly Mr. John Ens,
f See before, p. 350, note *. & Vol. v. p. 247, 248.
* See Vol. iv. p. 97,98; and Vol. v. p. 244, 245.
* Et certe, pace et incolumi amicitiã dissentientium id dictum sit, affirmativa nobis eligi debere videtur sententia, et concedi, quod multi divini libri perierint. Joh. Ens, Bibliotheca Sacra, cap. 4. sect. iv. p. 19. Amst. 1710.
and v Mr. C. M. Pfaff, in a work published by him in the early part of his life. Hermam Witsius likewise * has argued on the same side in several of his works. I. Here, in the first place, I observe, that some suppositions have been made, and propositions laid down by learned men, which may form a prejudice in favour of the affirmative side of the question, but afford no proof. Such things should not be advanced by fair disputants. As first, that ' the apostles of Christ were ever ready to serve all the exigences of the church ; which is very true. And yet it does mot follow that any epistles, or other writings, were composed by them for the general use of christians, beside those which we have. And, secondly, that • it is umlikely that all the apostles of Christ should have written mo more letters than now remain : as it is also, that f Paul should have written no more than fourteen epistles. These, and such like observations, though adopted by 5 Witsius, as well as some others, I choose to dismiss without
Itaque hoc misso, inspiciamus et rite perpendamus, quid probationi inserviat, ad evincendum, quod apostoli plura exaràrint scripta vere θεοτνενsa et divina, quam nunc extant. Id. ib. sect. vi. p. 22. P Chr. Matth. Pfaffii Dissertatio TCritica de genuinis Librorum N. T. Lectionibus. p. 46—48. Amst. 1709. ° Coccejus asseveranter dicit, Judam, præter hanc epistolam, non scripsisse, neque necesse habuisse scribere, neque a Spiritu Sancto impulsum fuisse ut scriberet. Id mihi non videtur certum, imo nec probabile. Apostoli enim, quum universalis ecclesiæ doctores et directores essent, et corpore ubique præsentes esse non possent, et frequenter sine dubio ab ecclesiis consulerentur, necesse habuerunt frequenter scribere. Non autem Imagis opus fuit omnes apostolorum epistolas superstites manere, quam omnes sermones Christi. Sufficiunt quos habemus, ad perfectum canonem. Wits. Comment. in Ep. S. Jud. sect. xii. p. 463. Vid. Id. De Vitâ Pauli apostoli. sect. 7. n. xi. Sect. 8. n. xxi. et sect. 12. m. xvi. . * Prima observatio est, quod alacres et paratissimi fuerint apostoli ad omnia conferenda, quæ usui et utilitati ecclesiæ inservire poterant. Ens, ubi supr. Sect. XX. p. 35. * Porro attendamus, secundo, quod quatuordecim habeamus epistolas a solo Paulo conscriptas : et judicet unusquisque, an sibi probabile videatur, Bartholomæum, Thomam, Jacobum, Alphæi Andream, Philippum, et Simonem Zelotem, quorum nulla habemus Scripta, ne unicam quidem ad ecclesiæ ædificationem epistolam Scripsisse, atque Jacobum et Judam unicam tantum, Petrum duas, et Joannem tres exarâsse ; quum Paulus toties scripserit. Ens, ib. Sect. xxxiii. p. 38. f Immo nec illud veritatis speciem habet, ipsum Paulum non plures quam quatuordecim epistolas scripsisse. Quod tertio observari velim. Id. sect. xxv. p. 41. 5 Nullus equidem dubito, quin apostoli omnes pro singulari suâ diligentiâ frequentissimas literas ad ecclesias curæ suæ commissas dederint: quibus præsentes semper adesse non licebat, et quibus multa tamen identidem habebant inculcanda. Wits. De Vitâ Pauli, sect. 7. num. xi. p. 98. Laudanda profecto Dei benignitas est, quod ex tot Paulinis epistolis, quæ perierunt, hanc tamen [ad Philem.] mole exiguam, et de re domesticâ agentem, superare voluerit. Id. ib. Sect 12. num. xvi.
VOL. VI. 2 A
a particular discussion, as they contain not any real arguInent. A man who thinks of our Lord’s great character and the unparalleled excellence of his discourses, and the great number of his miraculous works, and that he had twelve apostles, and seventy other disciples, employed by him, all zealous for the honour of their Master, and the good of his people, might be disposed to say: Certainly, there were many gospels, or authentic histories of his life, written before the destruction of Jerusalem. And yet, if there is any credit to be given to ecclesiastical history, when John was desired to write his gospel, about the time of that event, or after it, there were brought to him no more than three gospels, to be confirmed by him, or to have some additions made to them. One of which only had been written by an apostle, even Matthew’s. And it is the concurrent testimony of all christian antiquity, that there were but four gospels, written by apostles, and apostolical men. And yet we have no reason to say that the true interest of mankind has not been duly consulted. II. I observe, secondly : it is generally allowed by learned men, and by " Mr. Ens, and Witsius, that the epistles to the Thessalonians are among the first of St. Paul’s epistles that remain, or were written by him. And I think, that the conclusion of the first epistle to the Thessalonians suggests a very probable argument, that it is the first epistle which was written by him with divine and apostolical authority for the edification of christians. The words intended by me, are those of 1 Thess. v. 27, “I charge you by the Lord, that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.” This, ask was formerly observed, I take to be the first instance of enjoining the reading of a christian writing in their religious assemblies, as a part of their worship. Christian people had before now, very probably, read in that manner the books of the Old Testament. St. Paul, who knew the fulness of the apostolical inspiration, asserts his authority, and requires that the same respect should be now shown to his epistle, and that it should be publicly read among them for their general edification. If any such thing had been done before, there would not have been occasion for so much earnestness as is expressed in this direction. This epistle is supposed to have been written in
* Ens, ubi supra, sect. xxviii. p. 45. i At nobis de Paulinis epistolis nunc est agendum; quarum, quae Supersunt, primas esse constat utramgue ad Thessalonicenses, Corinthi, ut initio dixi, scriptas. Ubi supra, sect. 7. num. xii. p. 99. * See before, p. 6.
the year 52, consequently not till near twenty years after our Lord's ascension. If this be the first epistle of Paul, written with apostolical authority, there were no sacred writings of his of a more ancient date to be lost. And his other remaining epistles are as many as could be reasonably expected. III. There are many considerations, tending to satisfy us that no sacred writings of the apostles of Christ are lost. 1. The four gospels, which we have, were written for the sake of those who certainly would receive them with respect, keep them with care, and recommend them to others. And if any other such authentic histories of Jesus Christ had been written by apostles, or apostolical men, they would have been received, and preserved in the like manner, and would not have been lost. 2. We can perceive from the testimony of divers ancient christian writers, that " the book of the Acts, which we still have, was the only authentic history of the preaching of the apostles after our Lord's ascension, which they had in their hands, or had heard of; consequently, there was no other such history to be lost. 3. The epistles of Paul, James, Peter, John, Jude, were sent to churches, people, or particular persons, who would show them great regard, when received, and would carefully preserve them, and readily communicate them to others, that they might take copies of them, and make use of them, for their establishment in religion and virtue. If those apostles had written other epistles, and if other apostles hosent epistles to churches planted by them, or to particular persons, their disciples, or christian friends, the case would have been much the same. Those epistles would have been esteemed, preserved, and frequently copied, and could not easily have been lost. 4. Moreover, the apostles and evangelists, who drew up any writings for the instruction or confirmation of christian people, must have been careful of them. The same principle of zeal for the doctrine taught by them, and for the welfare of christian people, which induced them, amidst their many labours, fatigues, and difficulties, to compose any writings, would lead them to take due care that they should answer the ends for which they were composed. Proofs of such care we evidently discern in divers of the epistles of apostles, which we have. A like care, probably, was taken of the rest, and would be taken of epistles written by any
! See Vol. iv. p. 109, 110.