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cred authority of the divine writings."-"The divine scripture easily detects and confutes the frauds of hereticks."" It is not by the fault of the heavenly scriptures, which never deceive." Stronger assertions than these
could not be used.
VII. At the distance of twenty years from the writer last cited, Anatolius*, a learned Alexandrian, and bishop of Laodicea, speaking of the rule for keeping Easter, a question at that day agitated with much earnestness, says of those whom he opposed, "They can by no means prove their point by the authority of the divine scripture."
VIII. The Arians, who sprung up about fifty years after this, argued strenuously against the use of the words consubstantial and essence, and like phrases; because they were not in scripture.” And in the same strain, one of their advocates opens a conference with Augustine, after the following manner: "If you say what is reasonable, I must submit. If you allege any thing from the divine scriptures, which are common to both, I must hear. But unscriptural expressions (quæ extra scripturam sunt) deserve no regard."
Athanasius, the great antagonist of Arianism, after having enumerated the books of the Old and New Testament, adds, "these are the fountains of salvation, that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the oracles contained in them. In these alone the doctrine of salvation is proclaimed. Let no man add to them, or take any thing from them‡.”
IX. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem§, who wrote about twenty years after the appearance of Arianism, uses these remarkable words: "concerning the divine and holy mysteries of faith, not the least article ought to be delivered
*Lard. Cred. vol. v. p. 146. Ibid. vol. xii. p. 182.
† Lard. vii. p. 283, 284.
without the divine scriptures." We are assured, that Cyril's scriptures were the same as ours, for he has left us a catalogue of the books included under that name.
X. Epiphanius*, twenty years after Cyril, challenges the Arians, and the followers of Origen, "to produce any passage of the Old or New Testament, favouring their sentiments."
XI. Pœbadius, a Gallick bishop, who lived about thirty years after the council of Nice,testifies,that "the bishops of that council first consulted the sacred volumes, and then declared their faith†.”
XII. Basil, bishop of Cæsarea, in Cappadocia, contemporary with Epiphanius, says, "that hearers instructed in the scriptures, ought to examine what is said by their teachers, and to embrace what is agreeable to the scriptures, and to reject what is otherwise."
XIII. Ephraim, the Syrian, a celebrated writer of the same times, bears this conclusive testimony to the proposition which forms the subject of our present chapter: "The truth written in the sacred volume of the gospel, is a perfect rule. Nothing can be taken from it, nor added to it, without great guilt§."
XIV. If we add Jerome to these, it is only for the evidence which he affords of the judgment of preceding ages. Jerome observes, concerning the quotations of ancient Christian writers, that is, of writers who were ancient in the year 400, that they made a distinction between books; some they quoted as of authority, and others not which observation relates to the books of scripture, compared with other writings, apocryphal or heathen¶.
* Lard. Cred. p. 314. † Ibid. vol. ix. p. 52. Ibid. vol. ix. p. 124. § Ib. vol. ix. p. 202. Ib. vol. x. p. 123, 124.
The Scriptures were in very early times collected into a distinct volume.
IGNATIUS, who was bishop of Antioch within forty years after the ascension, and who had lived and conversed with the apostles, speaks of the gospel and of the apostles, in terms which render it very probable, that he meant by the gospel, the book or volume of the gospels, and by the apostles, the book or volume of their epistles. His words in one place are,* "fleeing to the gospel as the flesh of Jesus, and to the apostles as the presbytery of the church;" that is, as Le Clerc interprets them, "in order to understand the will of God, he fled to the gospels, which he believed no less than if Christ in the flesh had been speaking to him; and to the writings of the apostles, whom he esteemed as the presbytery of the whole Christian church." It must be observed, that about eighty years after this we have direct proof, in the writings of Clement of Alexandriat, that these two names, "Gospel" and " Apostles," were the names by which the writings of the New Testament, and the division of these writings, were usually expressed.
Another passage from Ignatius is the following:-" But the Gospel has somewhat in it more excellent, the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, his passion and resurrection‡."
*Lard. part ii. vol. i. + Ibid. p. 182.
And a third; "Ye ought to hearken to the prophets, but especially to the Gospel, in which the passion has been
manifested to us, and the resurrection perfected." In this last passage, the prophets and the gospels are put in conjunction; and as Ignatius undoubtedly meant by the prophets a collection of writings, it is probable that he meant the same by the gospel, the two terms standing in evident parallelism with each other.
This interpretation of the word "Gospel" in the passages above quoted from Ignatius, is confirmed by a piece of nearly equal antiquity, the relation of the martyrdom of Polycarp by the church of Smyrna. "All things," say they, "that went before, were done, that the Lord might shew us a martyrdom according to the Gospel, for he expected to be delivered up as the Lord also did*." And in another place, "We do not commend those who offer themselves, forasmuch as the Gospel teaches us no such thingt." In both these places, what is called the Gospel, seems to be the history of Jesus Christ, and of his doctrine.
If this be the true sense of the passages, they are not only evidences of our proposition, but strong and very ancient proofs of the high esteem in which the books of the New Testament were holden.
II. Eusebius relates, that Quadratus and some others, who were the immediate successors of the apostles, travelling abroad to preach Christ, carried the gospels with them, and delivered them to their converts. The words of Eusebius are: "Then travelling abroad, they performed the work of evangelists, being ambitious to preach Christ, and deliver the scripture of the divine gospels‡.” Eusebius had before him the writings both of Quadratus himself, and of many others of that age, which are now
Ignat. Ep. c. i.
Lard. Cred. p. ii. vol. i. p. 236.
Ignat. Ep. c. iv.
lost. It is reasonable, therefore, to believe, that he had good grounds for his assertion. What is thus recorded of the gospels took place within sixty, or at the most seventy, years after they were published: and it is evident,that they must, before this time, (and, it is probable, long before this time,) have been in general use, and in high esteem in the churches planted by the apostles, inasmuch as they were now, we find, collected into a volume: and the immediate successors of the apostles, they who preached the religion of Christ to those who had not already heard it, carried the volume with them, and delivered it to their con
III. Irenæus, in the year 178*, puts the evangelick and apostolick writings in connexion with the law and the prophets, manifestly intending by the one a code or collection of Christian sacred writings, as the other expressed the code or collection of Jewish sacred writings. And,
IV. Melito, at this time bishop of Sardis, writing to one Onesimus, tells his correspondentf, that he had procured an accurate account of the books of the Old Testament. The occurrence, in this passage, of the term Old Testament, has been brought to prove, and it certainly does prove, that there was then a volume or collection of writings called the New Testament.
V. In the time of Clement of Alexandria, about fifteen years after the last-quoted testimony, it is apparent that the Christian scriptures were divided into two parts, under the general titles of the Gospels and Apostles; and that both these were regarded as of the highest authority. One, out of many expressions of Clement, alluding to this distribution, is the following:-" There is a consent and harmony
* Ib. vol. i. p. 383.
Lard. Cred. p. 331.