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their authenticity. Should we acknowledge them to be spurious, no point of Christian doctrine or duty would be removed; no gospel truth would be shaken; no evidence of divine revelation would be diminished. To vindicate their authenticity cannot, therefore, be required of a lecturer on the evidences of Christianity. It is the appropriate office of the biblical critic, and belongs to discussions on the canon of Scripture, and to the prolegomena of a commentary, instead of the course we are now pursuing. But lest the mere statement of the fact that doubts were once entertained as to the authenticity of these writings, should leave on some minds an impression unfavorable to their character as inspired Scriptures, it will be well to bestow a moment's attention on the amount of im

portance to which those doubts are justly entitled.

With regard to the epistle to the Hebrews, no question was entertained as to its being the work of St. Paul, among the churches of the earlier centuries, except those of the Latin Christians. The fact that the Arians were the first in the Greek churches who are said to have denied that it was written by St. Paul, is an important testimony in its favor. The objections of the Latins did not pretend to any ecclesiastical tradition, or any authority of earlier churches, in opposition to its Pauline origin; but were based entirely on its internal character, and especially on the handle which the fourth and fifth verses of the sixth chapter seemed to afford the sect of the Montanists, in vindication of their prominent doctrine, that those guilty of grievous transgressions should be irre

vocably cut off from the church. Hence it was that Jerome and Augustine, though of the Latins, could not adopt the opinions held by many of their contemporaries, being convinced of their incorrectness by the testimony of the ancient churches to the authenticity of the epistle.

It should be remarked, that all those who questioned the canonical authority of this epistle, treated it with high respect as a Christian and very ancient writing of the apostolic age, if not by an apostle's hand. They ascribed it either to Barnabas or Clement. But for this they had no testimony to appeal to. On the contrary, the testimony of the earliest Christian writers is very decidedly for St. Paul. The fathers of the Greek church unanimously ascribed it to him. Jerome, of the fourth century, testifies that it was received as a production of that apostle, not only by the eastern churches, but by all the Greek ecclesiastical writers. "I receive it," said he, "as genuine-guided by the, authority of the ancient writers." Eusebius, the historian of the church of the fourth century, quotes it as the work of St. Paul, and says it had, not without reason, been reckoned among the other writings of the apostle. Theodoret positively asserts that Eusebius received this epistle as St. Paul's, and that he manifested that almost all the ancients were of the same opinion. Augustine said "he followed the opinion of the churches of the East, who received it among the canonical Scriptures." Origen, born A. D. 184, expresses his opinion that "it was not without cause that the ancients,”

that is, the immediate successors of the apostles, "regarded this as an epistle of Paul." The internal evidence is decidedly in favor of its having been written by that apostle. The salutation from the Jewish Christians who had been driven out of Italy, Heb. 13:24, and the mention of Timothy as his fellowtraveller, Heb. 13:23, are very applicable to Paul. Not only does the general scope of this epistle tend to the same point on which so much stress is laid in his other writings, that we are justified only by faith in Christ, and that the works and institutions of the law are of no avail to our salvation; but there are also various propositions found in it which are conspicuous in his other works. The same characteristic warmth and energy of expression appear in this as in all writings ascribed in the New Testament to the pen of St. Paul. Hebraisms abound in it as in his other epistles. It contains particular expressions, phrases, and colocations of words, which are either peculiar to him, or are most frequent in his compositions. But as this is not the place to do justice to a question of so much importance, and yet not material to the argument of these lectures, I must refer you, for further knowledge and satisfaction, to the learned work of professor Stuart of Andover, on the epistle to the Hebrews, or to an excellent article in the "Biblical Notes and Dissertations," recently from the pen of Joseph John Gurney, of the society of Friends in England.

The epistle of James, being addressed to Jewish

Smucker's translation of Storr and Flatt's Bib. Theo.

[graphic]

believers, was for some time, to a considerable extent unknown to the gentile Christians. While this was the case, its authenticity was questioned, or rather was not certified among the Gentiles. As soon as this ceased to be the case, its authenticity was undoubted. It is of great importance to the character of this epistle, that in the Syriac version, made at the end of the first or the beginning of the second century, while the second epistle of Peter, the second and third of John, and the Apocalypse, are omitted, the epistle of James, written particularly to the people for whom the version was made, is included and placed on an equality with all those books about which there was never a question in the church. In proportion as it became known among the gentile Christians, it passed through a severe and accurate scrutiny, till in a short time it was universally received, and has ever since been universally honored as an authentic and inspired portion of the oracles of God.

With regard to the remaining epistles, concerning the authenticity of which doubts were for a while entertained, it will suffice to remark in this place, that the fact of their not having been immediately recognized throughout the church as the works of the apostles, only shows that the persons who were in doubt had not yet received sufficient information to make up their judgment; and that the primitive Christians, so far from being so greedy after additions to the sacred canon as to be easily deceived by a plausible pretension to apostolic origin, were ex

tremely deliberate and cautious in examining every candidate for admission into the catalogue of Scripture. Such being the case, the subsequent reception of these epistles, as soon as full time was given them to be universally circulated and known, is perfect proof that they were capable of enduring the most trying investigation of their inspired origin, and were honored with a unanimous verdict as the veritable writings of those to whom they were ascribed, and as part and parcel of the word of God. The reader may find abundant satisfaction with regard to them, in Dr. A. Alexander's excellent work on the canon of Scripture.

It has been stated, that at one period doubts were entertained in the churches as to the authenticity of the book of Revelation. Those doubts imply no deficiency of testimony. Until the fourth century, the character of this book was undoubted, and its authority was universally acknowledged; only one writer questioning whether John the evangelist was its author, and even he admitting that it was written by inspiration of God. About the commencement of the fourth century, the Millenarian controversy having arisen and distracted the churches, and the mysterious character of the book having been extensively employed in the support of new and extravagant doctrines, its character declined; and without any reference to testimony in the case, its authenticity was by some, though by no means universally or for a long time, brought into question. Thus Eusebius, of that century, after having given a catalogue of the

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