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books universally acknowledged, writes, "After these, if it be thought fit, may be placed the Revelation of John, concerning which we shall observe the different opinions at a proper time." And in another place, "There are, concerning this book, different opinions." "This is the first doubt expressed by any respectable writer, concerning the canonical authority of this book; and Eusebius did not reject it, but would have placed it next after those which were received with universal consent. And we find, at this very time, the most learned and judicious of the fathers received the Revelation without scruple, and annexed it to their catalogues of the books of the New Testament." It is of no small importance that a book so full of evidence against the heresies of the celebrated Dr. Priestley, should have received from his pen the following testimony: "This book of Revelation, I have no doubt, was written by the apostle John. Sir Isaac Newton, with great truth, says he does not find any other book of the New Testament so strongly attested, or commented upon so early as this. Indeed, I think it impossible for any intelligent and candid person to peruse it without being struck, in the most forcible manner, with the peculiar dignity and sublimity of its composition, superior to that of any other writing whatever; so as to be convinced that, considering the age in which it appeared, none but a person divinely inspired could have written it." It is true, and at first may seem surprising, that
* Alexander on the Canon.
+ Priestley's Notes on Scripture.
while a majority of the ancient catalogues contain this book, there are many in which it is omitted; though it is known that the authors of some of these acknowledged its authenticity. The omissions are satisfactorily explained by the consideration that the object of these catalogues was the guidance of the people in reading the Scriptures; and since the mysteriousness of this book, and the use made of it on the side of the Millenarian errors when the catalogues were chiefly composed, seemed to render it inexpedient that it should be as generally read as the other scriptures, its name was excluded from several lists of books for universal use, without any intention of pronouncing upon its canonical character.
Having now exhibited satisfactory evidence of the authenticity of all the books of the New Testament, be it remarked, that while every part of the sacred volume is of inspired authority, and therefore of such importance as that no man can take away from it or add unto it without heinous offence against God; still, the argument for the divine mission of Jesus and for the divine origin of Christianity depends chiefly upon the historical portions, and would exhibit no deficiency were no attention paid to the authenticity of the others. In what remains to be said, by way of addition to the various and unequalled evidence already adduced, we shall have a view particularly to the gospels and Acts of the Apostles.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE ADVERSARIES OF CHRIS
It may be said, with some appearance of a plau
sible objection to the testimony hitherto produced, that it is all derived either from the devoted friends of the gospel, or else from those who professed to be its disciples. Is there no testimony from enemies? The books of the New Testament were widely circulated; Christian advocates, in their controversies with the heathen, freely appealed to them; heathens, in their works of attack and defence, must have spoken of them. In what light did they regard them? Did they ascribe them to their reputed authors; or did they question their authenticity? Now we do not grant that the testimony already produced is justly liable to the least disparagement on account of its having been derived exclusively from the friends of Christ. That certain ancients believed the facts contained in Cæsar's Commentaries, has never been supposed to diminish the value of their testimony to the authenticity of that work. We will take occasion, by and by, to show that the very fact that an early witness to the New Testament history was not an enemy, but a friend, of the gospel, and had become a friend from having been once an enemy, is just the ingredient in his testimony that gives it peculiar conclusiveness. Still, however, we are under no temptation to undervalue the importance of an appeal to the opinions of adversaries. Let us inquire of enemies as well as friends-and first, of Julian.
Julian the emperor united intelligence, learning, and power, with a persecuting zeal, in a resolute effort to root out Christianity. In the year 361, he composed a work against its claims. We may be
well assured that if any thing could have been said against the authenticity of its books, he would have used it. His work is not extant; but from long extracts found in the answer by Cyril, a few years after, as well as from the statements of his opinions and arguments by this writer, it is unquestionable that Julian bore witness to the authenticity of the four gospels and of the Acts of the Apostles. He concedes, and argues from, their early date; quotes them by name as the genuine works of their reputed authors; proceeds upon the supposition, as a thing undeniable, that they were the only historical books which Christians received as canonical-the only authentic narratives of Christ and his apostles, and of the doctrine they delivered. He has also quoted, or plainly referred to, the epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians, and nowhere insinuates that the authenticity of any portion of the New Testament could reasonably be questioned. Let us ascend a little higher.
Hierocles, president of Bithynia, and a learned man of about the year 303, united with a cruel persecution of Christians the publication of a book against Christianity, in which, instead of issuing even the least suspicion that the New Testament was not written by those to whom its several parts were ascribed, he confines his effort to the hunt of internal flaws and contradictions. Besides this tacit acknowledgment, his work, or the extracts of it that remain, refer to at least six out of the eight writers of the
Lardner, vol. 4, p. 341.
books of the New Testament.* Let us ascend still higher.
Porphyry, universally allowed to have been the most severe and formidable adversary in all primitive antiquity, wrote, about the year 270, a work against Christianity. It is evident that he was well acquainted with the New Testament. In the little that has been preserved of his writings, there are plain references to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, the Acts of the Apostles, and the epistle to the Galatians. Speaking of Christians, he calls Matthew their evangelist. "He possessed every advantage which natural abilities or political situation could afford, to discover whether the New Testament was a genuine work of the apostles and evangelists, or whether it was imposed upon the world after the decease of its pretended authors. But no trace of this suspicion is anywhere to be found; nor did it ever occur to Porphyry to suppose that it was spurious." How well this ingenious writer understood the value of an argument against the authenticity of a book of Scripture, and how greedily he would have enlisted it in his war against Christianity, could he have found such a weapon, is evident from his well-known effort to escape the prophetic inspiration of the book of Daniel, by denying that it was written in the times of that prophet. We may ascend still higher.
Celsus, esteemed a man of learning among the
t Ibid. 4, 234.
Lardner, vol. 4, p. 259.