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38.

work as it ought to be." 2 Macc. 15,

After these, and other decisive testimonies which might be alleged, the difficulty seems to be, not to determine whether the Apocryphal Books should be received as canonical, but how to account for their having been admitted as such, by the Latin Church. The solution of the difficulty is this: it appears that these writings, composed, as is probable, by Alexandrine Jews, had been early intermixed, as works of high historical authority, and as containing excellent moral and religious instruction, with the sacred books of the Septuagint version. Thence, in common with the undoubted Books of inspiration, they had been transferred into the Latin Vulgate The Latin Fathers, with the exception of Jerom, were unacquainted with Hebrew, and possessed not the critical skill necessary for distinguishing between those compositions which alone were in the Hebrew original, and those which had been incorporated with the Greek version of it. It is probable, however, that the distinction in authority, between these Apocryphal writings and the genuine Hebrew Scriptures, was at first well understood; and that as little danger was apprehended from presenting them to the public in this blended state, as is now felt by ourselves, in binding up the Scriptures and the Apocrypha in the same volume. But it is, also, probable, that without due caution, those, who were used only to the Latin version, would by degrees consider all the

works which it contained, as of equal authority. The preface of Jerom was expressly in tended to rectify the growing error. It is a

notice similar to that which is found in our own Bibles, and to the declaration contained in our 6th Article. His endeavour was, to reduce the canon of the Old Testament to what he calls, "the Hebrew verity."

Notwithstanding the caution given by this learned father, St. Austin, and the council of Carthage, in the beginning of the fifth century, appear to have admitted most of the Apocryphal Books into their canon. Still it is not certain, that they thereby intended to assign to them the same kind, or degree, of authority, as was possessed by the undoubted Jewish Scriptures: at any rate, on a question like that before us, the opinion of Augustin, and of the African Church, in the beginning of the fifth century, is of little weight, compared with that of Jerom, and of the earlier Fathers; it is of no weight at all, when opposed to the uniform testimony of the Jewish Church itself. Augustin was conversant only with books written in his own tongue. Jerom was profoundly skilled in Hebrew literature. On the credit of Augustin, which was deservedly great on other points in the Latin Church, the Apocryphal Books appear to have been continually acquiring more and more of a sacred character; still, however, not without the occasional protests of many, especially among the learned, who declared for the au

thority of Jerom's canon; until at length, the Council of Trent, in despite of the suffrages of Jewish antiquity, and contrary to the opinion of the Primitive Christian Church, thought fit to class them amongst the genuine productions of inspiration, That Council was in fact placed, says Bishop Marsh, under the necessity of coming to some decision. "The Canon of Augustin was the Canon of the ruling party." The Apocryphal Books possessed intrinsic value, and from the custom of reading them in the churches, were consecrated in the eyes of the people; they were, moreover, important, on on account of the sanction they seemed to give to certain of the Romish tenets, and their credit was connected with that of the Latin Vulgate.Luther and the Protestants had openly declared for Jerom. The Council of Trent sided with Augustin; adopting all the Apocryphal Books as divine, which were found in his catalogue, and omitting the prayer of Manasses, and the third and fourth Books of Esdras, because they happened not to form a part of it.We learn, however, from the report transmitted by the Papal Legates to the Court of Rome, that opinions in that Council were very much divided on this point : " that not only the heretics, but the Catholics, and what was worse, Cardinals themselves, called in question the canonical authority of some books of the Old and New Testament, received by the Council of Carthage, by the Popes Innocent I. and Gelasius I., by the Council of Trullo, and by that of

Florence."-Histoire du Concile de Trente, trad. par Courayer, liv. 2. s. 58.

By the maxims of the Church of Rome, the decrees of the council of Trent are irreversible; and thus the compositions, as is probable, of Egyptian Jews, which bear on their face the undoubted marks of human error and invention, have been irrevocably established as a part of the Romish Rule of faith, chiefly from the circumstance of their having been intermixed for the purposes of historical illustration and moral instruction, with the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures. The pretence of apostolical authority alleged by the Church of Rome in support of their canon, is one of the most striking proofs of the little dependence that is to be placed on her partial traditions.

It will suffice for my purpose, to have given the foregoing imperfect outline of an argument, which has been copiously treated by all our writers on the canon, and recently placed in the strongest and clearest point of view, by Bishop Marsh, in his Comparative View of the two churches. It may not, however, be uninteresting to notice the concessions, which the Sorbonne divines, were willing to make respecting the canonicalness of the Apocrypha, in their correspondence with Archbishop Wake, relative to the union of the English and Gallican churches. Dr. Dupin was at that time authorised to state, in the name of his brethren, that, as to the latter part of our 6th Article, respecting the canon of Scripture," the apo

cryphal books would not occasion much difficulty. He thought, indeed, that they ought to be deemed canonical, as those books concerning which there were doubts for some time. Yet since they are not in the first, or Jewish canon, he would allow them to be called deutero-canonical." The distinction is familiar to the Romish divines; but, as it is generally employed by them, it implies no doubt of the inspiration of the books in question, serving merely to separate them from those, respecting which there has existed no controversy. Their inspired authority has, in fact, been formally established by the Council of Trent. That Dr. Dupin and the Sorbonne Divines paid no great reverence to the critical infallibillity of that council, may be fairly conjectured. Still it is not easy to say, in what precise sense they understood the term, " deutero-canonical,” in offering it as an expedient for concord. Charity may lead us to hope, that in appearing, as their words import, to surrender the point of inspiration, which could alone occasion any difficulty, and in proposing this verbal distinction, as equally expressive of the opinions of both parties, they had no dishonest reservation of meaning. But, whatever value may be set upon the concessions of the Sorbonne Divines, and whatever explanations of the same equivocal character, Dr. Doyle may be prepared to offer, the avowal of a member of the Romish communion, eminent for his learning and candour, although not on all points to be com

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