Page images

Order of Lessons among the early Christians.


Ch. xx. 6.

[ocr errors]

account a thing most necessary. We dare not admit any such form of liturgy as either appointeth no Scripture at all, or very little, to be read in the church. And therefore the thrusting of the Bible out of the house of God is rather there to be feared, where men esteem it a matter so indifferent * whether the same be by solemn appointment read publicly, or not read, the bare text excepted which the preacher haply chooseth out to expound.

[6.] But let us here consider what the practice of our fathers before us hath been, and how far forth the same may be followed. We find that in ancient times there was publicly read first the Scripture t, as namely, something out of the books of the Prophets of God which were of old I; something out of the Apostles' writings $ ; and lastly out of the holy Evangelists, some things which touched the person of our Lord Jesus Christ himself ||. The cause of their reading first the Old Testament, then the New, and always somewhat out of both, is most likely to have been that which Justin Martyr and St. Augustin observe in comparing the two Testaments. “ The Apostles,” saith the one,“ have taught us “as themselves did learn, first the precepts of the Law, and " then the Gospels. For what else is the Law but the Gos“pel foreshewed? What other the Gospel, than the Law full “ filled T?" In like sort the other, “What the Old Testament

hath, the very same the New containeth; but that which “ lieth there as under a shadow is here brought forth into

* Τ. C. lib. i. p. 381. « It is un- γίνεται, και τα απομνημονεύματα των “ true that simple reading is neces- 'Αποστόλων ή τα συγγράμματα των

sary in the church. A number of Προφητών αναγινώσκεται. Justin. “ churches which have no such or- Apol. 2. p. 162. [98.] “ Factum est “ der of simple reading, cannot be “'ut ista die Dominica, prophetica “ in this point charged with breach “ lectione jam lecta, ante altare ad“ of God's commandment, which “stante qui lectionem S. Pauli pro

they might be if simple reading “ ferret, beatissimus antistes Àm

were necessary." (By simple read- “ brosius,” &c. Sulpit. Sever. lib. ing, he meaneth the custom of bare iii. de Vita S. Mart. (rather Greg. reading more than the preacher at Turon. de Mirac. S. Mart. lib. i. the same time expoundeth unto the c.5. col. 1006. ed. Ruinart.] people.)

| Vid. Concil. Vasens. ii. habit“ Coimus ad divinarum litera- tum an. D. 444, to. Concil. ii. pag. rum commemorationem.” Tertull. 19. [p. 20, ed. Nicolin. Venet. 1585.] Apol. p. 692. [c. 39.]

Item Synod. Laod. c. 16. t. i. 1500.] 1 “Judaicarum historiarum libri Cypr. lib. ii. ep. 5. [al. t. č. p. 75.] “ traditi sunt ab Apostolis legendi Et lib. iv. ep. 5. Čal. t. ii. 77.) Am“ in Ecclesiis.” Origen. in Jog. bros. lib. i. Ofic. c. 8. et Epist. 75. Hom. 15. [init. t. ii. 431.]

[ed. Bened. 80.] et lib. de Helia και Πάντων κατά πόλεις ή αγρούς atque Jejunio, cap. 20. [t. i. 559. Α.] μενόντων επί το αυτό συνέλευσις | Just. quæst. 101. [p. 456.]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Ch. xx. 7,8.


480 Ecclesiastical Books : now called Apocryphal. BOOK V: “ the open sun. Things there prefigured are here performed.

Again, “In the Old Testament there is a close comprehension “ of the New, in the New an open discovery of the Old.” To be short, the method of their public readings either purposely

did tend, or at the leastwise doth fitly serve, “ That from (“smaller things the mind of the hearers may go forward to

“ the knowledge of greater, and by degrees climb up from the “ lowest to the highest things t."

[7.] Now besides the Scripture, the books which they called Ecclesiastical were thought not unworthy sometime to be brought into public audience, and with that name they entitled the books which we term Apocryphal. Under the selfsame name they also comprised certain no otherwise annexed unto the New than the former unto the Old Testament, as a Book of Hermas, Epistles of Clement, and the like. According therefore to the phrase of antiquity, these we may term the New, and the other the Old Ecclesiastical Books or Writings. For we, being directed by a sentence (I suppose) of St.Jerome, who saith, “ that all writings not canonical are apocryphal I," use not now the title apocryphal as the rest of the Fathers ordinarily have done, whose custom is so to name for the most part only such as might not publicly be read or divulged. Ruffinus therefore having rehearsed the selfsame books of canonical Scripture, which with us are held to be alone canonical, addeth immediately by way of caution, “ We must know

6 “ that other Books there are also, which our forefathers have “ used to name not canonical but ecclesiastical books, as the “ Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Toby, Judith, the Macca“ bees, in the Old Testament ; in the New, the Book of Her“mes, and such others. All which books and writings they “ willed to be read in churches, but not to be alleged as if “ their authority did bind us to build upon them our faith. “ Other writings they named Apocryphal, which they would “not have read in churches. These things delivered unto us “ from the Fathers we have in this place thought good to set “ down.” So far Ruffinus $.

[8.] He which considereth notwithstanding what store of


August. quæst. 33. in Num. Hieron. in Prolog. Galeat. [t. in. [$. 1. t. ii. 541.]

† Walaf. Strab. de Rebus Eccle- $ Ruffinus in Symbol. Apost. [$. siast. cap. 22. [in Biblioth. Patr. 38.] apud Cypr. [p. 26. ad calc. Colon. Agrip. t. ix. pars 1, 960. C. ed. Fell.]

Ch. xx. 9.

Preaching by Reading of Homilies and Acts of Martyrs. 481 false and forged writings dangerous unto Christian belief, BOOK V. and yet bearing* glorious inscriptions, began soon upon the Apostles' times to be admitted into the Church, and to be honoured as if they had been indeed apostolic, shall easily perceive what cause the provincial synod of Laodiceat might have as then to prevent especially the danger of books made newly Ecclesiastical, and for fear of the fraud of heretics to provide, that such public readings might be altogether taken out of Canonical scripture. Which ordinance respecting but that abuse that grew through the intermingling of lessons human with sacred, at such time as the one both affected the credit and usurped the name of the other (as by the canon of a later council I providing remedy for the selfsame evil, and yet allowing the old ecclesiastical books to be read, it doth more plainly and clearly appear,) neither can be construed nor should be urged utterly to prejudice our use of those old ecclesiastical writings; much less of Homilies, which were a third kind of readings usual in former times, a most commendable institution, as well then § to supply the casual, as now the necessary defect of sermons.

[9.] In the heat of general persecution, whereunto Christian belief was subject upon the first promulgation thereof throughout the world, it much confirmed the courage and constancy of weaker minds, when public relation was made unto them after what manner God had been glorified through the sufferings of Martyrs, famous amongst them for holiness during life, and at the time of their death admirable in all men's eyes, through miraculous evidence of grace divine assisting them from above. For which cause the virtues of some being thought expedient to be annually had in remembrance above the rest, this brought in a fourth kind of public reading, whereby the lives of such saints and martyrs had at the time of their yearly memorials solemn recognition in the Church


* Vide Gelas. Decret. tom. Con- Ś Concil. Vasen. ii. habitum an. cil. 2. p. 462. [t. iv. 1264. A. D. Dom. 444. tom. Concil. ii. p. 19.

" Si presbyter aliqua infirmitate † Circa an. Dom. 366.

prohibente per seipsum non poI Concil

. Carthag. iii. c. 47; “ tuerit prædicare, sanctorum Pa“ Præter Scripturas canonicas nihil “trum Homiliæ a diaconibus reci“ in ecclesiis legatur sub nomine“ tentur.” [Labh. Concil. t. iv. “divinarum scripturarum.” Circa 1680.] an. Dom. 401.



[ocr errors]


Acts of Martyrs why not now read in the Church.

('h. xx. 10.


BOOK V. of God *. The fond imitation of which laudable custom

being in later ages resumed, when there was neither the like cause to do as the Fathers before had done, nor any care, conscience, or wit, in such as undertook to perform that work, some brainless men have by great labour and travel brought to pass, that the Church is now ashamed of nothing more than of saints. If therefore Pope Gelasiust did so long sithence see those defects of judgment, even then, for which the reading of the acts of Martyrs should be and was at that time forborne in the church of Rome ; we are not to marvel that afterwards legends being grown in a manner to be nothing else but heaps of frivolous and scandalous vanities, they have been even with disdain thrown out, the very nests which bred them abhorring them ļ. We are not therefore to except only Scripture, and to make confusedly all the residue of one suit, as if they who abolish legends could not without incongruity retain in the church either Homilies or those old Ecclesiastical books.

[10.) Which books in case myself did think, as some others do, safer and better to be left publicly unread; nevertheless as in other things of like nature, even so ing this, my private judgment I should be loth to oppose against the force of their reverend authority, who rather considering the divine excellency of some things in all, and of all things in certain of those Apocrypha which we publicly read, have thought it better to let them stand as a list or marginal border unto the Old Testament, and though with divine yet as human compositions, to grant at the least unto certain of them public audience in the house of God. For inasmuch as the due estimation of heavenly truth dependeth wholly upon the known and approved authority of those famous oracles of God,

* Concil. Carthag. iii. can. 13. p: 477.] Melch. Can. Locor. Theol. (Labb. t. ii. 1644. Concil. vulgo lib. xi. [p. 650. ed. Lovan. 1569. dict. Afric. seu Collectio variorum Viv. (Lud. Vives] de Trad. Disc. Canonum. Capit. 13.] et Greg. lib. v. [Op. p. 510. ed. 1535.] Turon. de Gloria Mart. cap. 86. § “In errorum barathrum faci[p. 818. ed. Ruinart. et Hadrian. “ liter ruunt, qui conceptus proEpist. ad Carol. Magn. Concil. t. vi. prios patrum definitionibus antep. 1763.]

ponunt.” c. un. de relig. do. in † Gelas. circa an. Dom. 492. Tom. Extra. [i. e. capite unico (Tituli VII.) Concil. ii. p. 461. st. iv. 1263.] de Religiosis Domibus, in Extrava

Concil. Colonien. celebrat. an. gantibus (Joannis xxii.) Corp. Juris D. 1536. par. ii. cap. 6. [vid. supra, Canon. t. jii. App. 74. Lugd. 1584.]


. 11,

Apocrypha not apt to be confounded with Scripture. 483 it greatly behoveth the Church to have always most especial BOOK : care, lest through confused mixture at any time human usurp the room and title of divine writings. Wherefore albeit for the people's* more plain instruction (as the ancient use hath been) we read in our churches certain books besides the Scripture, yet as the Scripture we read them not. All men know our professed opinion touching the difference whereby we sever them from the Scripture. And if any where it be suspected that some or other will haply mistake a thing so manifest in every man's


there is no let but that as often as those books are read, and need so requireth, the style of their difference may expressly be mentioned, to bar even all possibility of error.

(11.] It being then known that we hold not the Apocrypha for sacred (as we do the holy Scripture) but for human compositions, the subject whereof are sundry divine matters ; let there be reason shewed why to read any part of them publicly it should be unlawful or hurtful unto the Church of God. I hear it said that “ many things” in them are very “ frivolous," and unworthy of public audience; yea many contrary,“ plainly contrary to the holy Scripture t." Which hitherto is neither sufficiently proved by him who saith it, and if the proofs thereof were strong, yet the very allegation itself is weak. Let us therefore suppose, (for I will not demand to what purpose it is that against our custom of reading books not canonical they bring exceptions of matter in those books which we never use to read,) suppose, I say, that what faults soever they have observed throughout the passages of all those books, the same in every respect were such as neither could be construed, nor ought to be censured otherwise than even as themselves pretend: yet as men through too much haste oftentimes forget the errand whereabout they should go; so here it appeareth that an eager desire to rake together whatsoever might prejudice or any way hinder the credit of apocryphal books, hath caused the collector's pen so to run as it were on wheels, that the mind which should guide it had no leisure to think, whether that which might haply serve to withhold from giving them the authority

* Hieron. Præf. ad Libros Salom. (Lugd. 1589, t. i.] et Lyr. ad Prol. [iii. 25. Aug. de Præd. Sanct. lib. i. Hieron. in 'Tob. [Ibid. t. ii. 1495.] č. 14. st. x. 807.] Præf. Gloss. ord. + T. C. lib. ii. p. 400, 401.

« PreviousContinue »