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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 agreeable to the scriptures.”
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 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
Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p 192.
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 being really 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*.”
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 thought, considered by his readers, as authentick accounts of Christ's discourses ; and that that point was incontestible.
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 deatht.”
VI. Papiast, 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 publickly 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
Matt. vii. 1, 2. v.7. Luke vi. 37, 38. † Acts ii. 24. Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 239. Vol. II. 15
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.*
VII. Not long after these, that is, not much more than twenty years after the last, follows Justin Martyrt. 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 onet.
* 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 håd not yet, nor by their recency hardly could have, become 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 allusions.
† Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 258.
* " 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. vi.
We meet with quotations of three of the gospels within the compass of half a page :
16 and in other words he says, Depart from me into outer darkness, which the Father hath 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 crucified, and rise again the third day.” (This from Mark viii. 31.)
In another place, Justin quotes a passage in the history of Christ's birth, as delivered by Matthew and John, and fortifies his quotation by this remarkable testimony: “as they have taught, who have written the history of all things concerning our Saviour Jesus Christ; and we believe them.”
Quotations also are found from the Gospel of St. John.
What, moreover, seems extremely material to be observed, is, that in all Justin's works, from which might be extracted almost a complete life of Christ, there are but two instances, in which he refers to any thing as said or done by Christ, which is not related concerning him in our present gospels : which shews, that these gospels, and these, we may say, alone, were the authorities from which the Christians of that day drew the information upon which they depended. One of these instances is of a saying of Christ, not met with in any book now extant*. The other, of a
* “ Wherefore also our Lord Jesus Christ has said, in whatsoever I shall find you, in the same I will also judge you." Possibly Justin designed not to quote any text, but to represent the sense of many of our Lord's sayings. Fabricius has observed, that this saying has been quoted by inany writers, and that Justin is the only one who ascribes it to our Lord, and that perhaps by a slip of his memory.
Words resembling these are read repeatedly in Ezekiel ; "I will
circumstance in Christ's baptism, namely, a fiery, or luminous appearance upon the water, which, according to Epiphanius, is noticed in the gospel of the Hebrews; and which might be true; but which, whether true or false, is mentioned by Justin, with a plain mark of diminution, when compared with what he quotes as resting upon scripture authority. The reader will advert to this distinction; "and then, when Jesus came to the river Jordan, where John was baptizing, as Jesus descended into the water, a fire also was kindled in Jordan; and when he came up out of the water, the apostles of this our Christ have written, that the Holy Ghost lighted upon him as a dove.”
All the references in Justin are made without mentioning the author ; which proves that these-books were perfectly notorious, and that there were no other accounts of Christ then extant, or, at least, no others so received and credited as to make it necessary to distinguish them from the rest.
But although Justin mentions not the author's name, he calls the books, “ Memoirs composed by the apostles ;" “ Memoirs composed by the apostles and their companions ;" which descriptions, the latter especially, exactly suit with the titles which the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles now bear.
VIII. Hegesippus* came about thirty years after Justin. His testimony is remarkable only for this particular ; that
judge them according to their ways.”. (Chap. vii. 3. xxxiii. 20.) It is remarkable that Justin had but just before expressly quoted Ezekiel. Mr. Jones upon this circumstance founded a conjecture, that Justin writ only “the Lord hath said,” intending to quote the words of God, or rather the sense of those words, in Ezekiel, and that some transcriber, įmagining these to be the words of Christ, inserted in his copy the ad dition “ Jesus Christ.” Vol. i.