Page images

sion to John, xiv. 6; x. 7. 9. There is also a probable allusion to Acts, v. 32.

This piece is the representation of a vision, and has by many been accounted a weak and fanciful performance. I therefore observe, that the character of the writing has little to do with the purpose for which we adduce it. It is the age in which it was composed, that gives the value to its testimony.

IV. Ignatius, as it is testified by ancient Christian writers, became bishop of Antioch about thirty-seven years after Christ's ascension; and therefore, from his time, and place, and station, it is probable that he had known and conversed with many of the apostles.Epistles of Ignatius are referred to by Polycarp, his contemporary. Passages found in the epistles now extant under his name, are quoted by Irenæus, A.D. 178: by Origen, A. D. 230: and the occasion of writing the epistles is given at large by Eusebius and Jerome. What are called the smaller epistles of Ignatius are generally deemed to be those which were read by Irenæus, Origen, and Eusebius 14.

[ocr errors]

In these epistles are various undoubted allusions to the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John: yet so far of the same form with those in the preceding articles, that, like them, they are not accompanied with marks of quotation.

Of these allusions the following are clear specimens: "Christ was baptized of John, that all

Matt. is righteousness might be fulfilled by him." Be ye wise as serpents in all things, and harmless as a dove."


14 Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 147.


Chap. iii. 15, "For thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteous


Chap. x. 16, "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

"Yet the Spirit is not deceived, being from God: for it knows whence it comes, and whither it goes."

"He (Christ) is the door of the Father, by which enter in Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the apostles, and the church.” As to the manner of quotation, this is observable:Ignatius, in one place, speaks of St. Paul in terms of high respect, and quotes his Epistle to the Ephesians by name; yet, in several other places, he borrows words and sentiments from the same epistle without mentioning it; which shows, that this was his general manner of using and applying writings then extant, and then of high authority.

John 16

V. Polycarp had been taught by the apostles; had conversed with many who had seen Christ; was also by the apostles appointed bishop of Smyrna. This testimony concerning Polycarp is given by Irenæus, who in his youth had seen him:-" I can tell the place," saith Irenæus, " in which the blessed Polycarp sat and taught, and his going out and coming in, and the manner of his life, and the form of his person, and the discourses he made to the people; and how he related his conversation with John, and others who had seen the Lord, and how he related their sayings, and what he had heard concerning the Lord, both concerning his miracles and his doctrine, as he had received them from the eye-witnesses of the Word of Life; all which Polycarp related agreeably to the Scriptures."

16 Chap. iii. 8, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

Chap. x. 9, "I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved."

17 Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 192.

Of Polycarp, whose proximity to the age and country and persons of the apostles is thus attested, we have one undoubted epistle remaining. And this, though a short letter, contains nearly forty clear allusions to Books of the New Testament; which is strong evidence of the respect which Christians of that age

bore for these books.

Amongst these, although the writings of St. Paul are more frequently used by Polycarp than any other parts of Scripture, there are copious allusions to the Gospel of St. Matthew, some to passages found in the Gospels both of Matthew and Luke, and some which more nearly resemble the words in Luke

I select the following, as fixing the authority of the Lord's Prayer, and the use of it amongst the primitive Christians: "If therefore we pray the Lord that he will forgive us, we ought also to forgive."

"With supplication beseeching the all-seeing God not to lead us into temptation."

And the following, for the sake of repeating an observation already made, that words of our Lord, found in our Gospels, were at this early day quoted as spoken by him; and not only so, but quoted with so little question or consciousness of doubt about their really being his words, as not even to mention, much less to canvass, the authority from which they were taken:

"But remembering what the Lord said, teaching, Judge not, that ye be not judged; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven; be ye merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again 18.7

Supposing Polycarp to have had these words from the books in which we now find them, it is manifest that these books were considered by him, and, as he 18 Matt. vii. 1, 2; v. 7. Luke, vi. 37, 38.

thought, considered by his readers, as authentic accounts of Christ's discourses; and that that point was incontestable.

The following is a decisive, though what we call a tacit, reference to St. Peter's speech in the Acts of the Apostles:-" whom God hath raised, having loosed the pains of death 19."


VI. Papias 20, a hearer of John, and companion of Polycarp, as Irenæus attests, and of that age, as all agree, in a passage quoted by Eusebius, from a work now lost, expressly ascribes the respective Gospels to Matthew and Mark; and in a manner which proves that these Gospels must have publicly borne the names of these authors at that time, and probably long before; for Papias does not say that one Gospel was written by Matthew, and another by Mark; but assuming this as perfectly well known, he tells us from what materials Mark collected his account, viz. from Peter's preaching; and in what language Matthew wrote, viz. in Hebrew. Whether Papias was well informed in this statement, or not; to the point for which I produce this testimony, namely, that these books bore these names at this time, his authority is complete.

The writers hitherto alleged, had all lived and conversed with some of the apostles. The works of theirs which remain are in general very short pieces, yet rendered extremely valuable by their antiquity; and none, short as they are, but what contain some important testimony to our historical Scriptures 21.

19 Acts, ii. 24.

Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 239.

21 That the quotations are more thinly strown in these than in the writings of the next and of succeeding ages is, in a good measure, accounted for by the observation, that the Scriptures of the New Testament had not yet nor by their recency hardly could have become


VII. Not long after these, that is, not much more than twenty years after the last, follows Justin Martyr 22. His remaining works are much larger than any that have yet been noticed. Although the nature of his two principal writings, one of which was addressed to heathens, and the other was a conference with a Jew, did not lead him to such frequent appeals to Christian books as would have appeared in a discourse intended for Christian readers; we, nevertheless, reckon up in them between twenty and thirty quotations of the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, certain, distinct, and copious: if each verse be counted separately, a much greater number; if each expression, a very great one 23.

We meet with quotations of three of the Gospels within the compass of half a page: "And in other words he says, Depart from me into outer darkness, which the Father had prepared for Satan and his angels" (which is from Matthew, xxv. 41). "And again he said in other words, I give unto you power to tread upon serpents, and scorpions, and venomous beasts, and upon all the power of the enemy." (This from Luke, x. 19.) "And before he was crucified, he said, The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the Scribes and Pharisees, and be cru

a general part of Christian education; read as the Old Testament was by Jews and Christians from their childhood, and thereby intimately mixing, as that had long done, with all their religious ideas, and with their language upon religious subjects. In process of time, and as soon perhaps as could be expected, this came to be the case. And then we perceive the effect, in a proportionably greater frequency as well as copiousness of allusion*.

22 Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 258.

23 "He cites our present canon, and particularly our four Gospels, continually, I dare say, above two hundred times." Jones's New and Full Method. Append. vol. i. p. 589. ed. 1726.

* Mich. Introd. c. ii. sect. 6.

« PreviousContinue »