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of the books of the New Testament, none in the primitive ages, whether heretics or open enemies, ever denied that this volume contained the genuine writings of the original apostles and disciples of Christ. On the contrary, all received, argued, and acted upon it as unquestionably authentic. Thus we have the same evidence that the books of the New Testament were written by those whose names they bear, as that Paradise Lost was written by the man whose name it bears. The force of this evidence is in no wise diminished by the consideration that the apostles lived in the first, and Milton in the seventeenth century.
Thus have you received a general outline of the argument. We proceed to a more particular view.
THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT ARE QUOTED OR ALLUDED TO BY A SERIES OF WRITERS WHO MAY BE FOLLOWED UP IN UNBROKEN SUCCESSION FROM THE PRES
ENT AGE TO THAT OF THE APOSTLES. In proof of this, it is unnecessary for the satisfaction of any person of ordinary information to trace the line of testimony from the present time, or from any point of departure lower down than the fourth century. Whoever has the least acquaintance with the history of the civilized world as far upward as the fourth century, must know that the acknowledgment of the New Testament, as composed of authentic writings, is interwoven with all the literature, science, and political as well as religious institutions of every subsequent age. We begin, therefore, the chain of testimony at the fourth century.
It is a very impressive evidence of the high estimate in which the New Testament was universally held at this period, that besides innumerable quotations in various writings, no less than eleven distinct, formal catalogues of its several books were composed at various times during the fourth century by different hands; and two of them by large and solemn councils of the heads of the Christian church. All of these are still extant; and all agree in every particular important to the present argument, with the list of the New Testament writings as at present received. In the year 397 a national or provincial council assembled at Carthage, consisting of forty-four bishopsAugustine, bishop of Hippo, was a member. The forty-seventh canon of that council is thus written: "It is ordained that nothing besides the canonical Scriptures be read in the church under the name of divine Scriptures; and the canonical Scriptures are these," etc. In the enumeration we find precisely our New Testament books, and no more.*
About the same time Augustine wrote a book entitled, "Of the Christian Doctrine," in which is furnished a catalogue of what he considered the authentic writings of the evangelists and apostles, agreeing entirely with ours. "In these books," saith he, "they who fear God, seek his will."+
A short time before this, Rufinus, a presbyter of Aquileia, published an "Explication of the Apostle's Creed," in which he includes a catalogue of the Scrip
* Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel History, vol. 2, p. 574. + Ibid. vol. 2, p. 578.
tures. It commences thus: "It will not be improper to enumerate here the books of the Old and New Testament, which we find by the monuments of the fathers to have been delivered to the churches, as inspired by the Holy Spirit." This list differs in nothing from ours.*
Jerome, a contemporaneous writer, universally allowed to have been the most learned of the Latin fathers, in a letter concerning the study of the Scriptures, enumerates the books of the New Testament in precise correspondence with our volume. With regard to the epistle to the Hebrews, he states that by some it was not considered as the work of Paul; though it is evident, from other places of his writings, that he was satisfied of its authenticity, and numbered it among the canonical scriptures.*
In the year 380, wrote Philastrius, bishop of Brescia. In a book "Concerning Heresies," he gives a catalogue agreeing entirely with ours, except that it omits the epistle to the Hebrews, and the book entitled the Revelation of St. John. But it does not follow that these were not considered canonical. The object of his catalogue is to enumerate the books appointed to be read in the churches. The epistle to the Hebrews, he says, was read in the churches "sometimes." "Some pretend," he writes, "that additions have been made to it by some heterodox persons, and that for that reason it ought not to be read in the churches, though it is read by some." Philastrius himself received it, and frequently quoted + Ibid, 2, 548.
* Lardner, vol. 2, p. 573.
it as the work of St. Paul, and reckoned it a heresy to reject it. He received also the Revelation as the work of John the evangelist, mentioning its rejection. by some as among the heresies of the age. "There are some," he writes, "who dare to say that the Revelation is not a writing of John the apostle and evangelist."
About the year 370, flourished Gregory Nazianzen, bishop of Constantinople, who in a work "On the True and Genuine Scriptures," enumerates all the present books of the New Testament except that of Revelation. This, however, he has quoted in his other works.†
At the same time wrote Epiphanius, bishop of Constantia, in Cyprus; "a man of five languages." He wrote against heresies, and gave a list of the New Testament books which agrees exactly with ours."
About the year 350, another catalogue was published by the council of Laodicea, differing in nothing from ours but in the omission of Revelation. The decrees of this council were, in a short time, received into the canons of the universal church; so that as early as about the middle of the fourth century, we find a universal agreement, in all parts of the world in which Christianity existed, as to the constituent parts of the New Testament, with the single exception of the book of Revelation. That this was also generally received, and why any doubted its authenticity, will appear in our subsequent progress.'
# Lardner, 2, 522. + Ibid. 470, 471.
+ Ibid. 416.
- Athanasius and Cyril, the latter being bishop of Jerusalem, a little earlier in the century, have furnished catalogues: that of the former agreeing entirely with ours; that of the latter in every thing but the omission of the Revelation of St. John.
The last catalogue to be mentioned in the fourth century, is that of Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, who flourished about the year 315. "A man," says Jerome, "most studious in the divine Scriptures, and very diligent in making a large collection of ecclesiastical writers." In his Ecclesiastical History, he mentions, as belonging to the canon of Scripture, all our present books. While he speaks of the epistle of James, the second of Peter, the third of John, and the book of Revelation, as questioned by some, he states that they were generally received, and declares his own conviction that they ought not to be doubted."
The above testimonies, though capable of great multiplication, are amply sufficient to exhibit the universal confidence of Christians, of the fourth century, in the authenticity of the New Testament.
Let us proceed to the third. In this, among other important names, we find that of the celebrated Origen, who flourished about the year 230, having been born A. D. 184. Jerome speaks of him as the greatest doctor of the churches since the apostles; that he had the Scriptures by heart, and labored day and night in studying and explaining them. Great numbers of all descriptions of men attended his lec* Lardner, 2, 368, etc. ↑ Ibid. 1, 527.