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The relation of St. Polycarp’s martyrdom ; and general observations on the testimony of the Apostolical Fathers.
I NOW proceed to give a brief account of the notice taken of the books of the N. T. by the church of Smyrna, in their epistle concerning Polycarp’s martyrdom. Though it was not written until a considerable time after the epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, (as we have before shown,) yet it will very properly stand here. For the testimony of Polycar is also the testimony of his church: and their testimony is likewise to be considered as his, the epistle having been written presently after his death.
I. sect. I. They say at the beginning: ‘ All things that ‘ went before were done, that3 the Lord might show us ‘ from above [or from the very first] a martyrdom accord‘ ing to the os el. For be ex ected to be delivered up,
as the Lor a so did, that we likewise might be imitators ‘ of him.’
Undoubtedly here is a reference to the history of our Lord’s sufferings, and to his being betrayed an apprehended, as shown at the latter end3 of the several gospels. But as Polycarp had retired from Smyrna for a while, and was taken in the place of his retreat; I think it likely, that there is also a reference to Matt. x. 23, “ But when they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another." And sect. 4, speaking of a christian who had offered himself to the proconsul, and afterwards was afl‘righted at the sight of the wild beasts, they say: ‘ We do not commendb those who ‘ offer themselves: forasmuch as the ospel teaches us no ‘ such thing.’ Referring perhaps to t e same text, as well as to other things: however, in both these places calling the history of Jesus Christ and his doctrine ‘ the gospel.’
II. sect. 7. They say: ‘ The serjeants and other ofiicers ‘ who went to look for Polycarp, wentc with their usual ‘ arms, as against a thief.’ Referring perhaps to Matt. xxvi. 55.
Ill. sect. 2. They make use of the words of 1 Cor. ii. 9. ‘ And with the eyes of the soul looked to those good things
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‘ which are reserved for those that endure, which neither ‘ear has heard, nor eye seen, nor have entered into the ‘ heart of man.’ And though the like sense is also in Isa. lxiv. 4, yet I think it plain they refer to the epistle to the Corinthians.
IV. sect. 10. There seems to be a reference to Rom. xiii. l, and Tit. iii. 1.
V. sect. l4. Polycarp, in a prayer of his there inserted, says: ‘ I praise and glorify thee‘1 through the eternal high priest, Jesus Christ, thy well-beloved Son.’ This character may be thought to be borrowed fi'om the epistle to the Hebrews, where Christ is said to be “ made an high priest for ever,” ch. vi. 20, and to have an “unchangeable priesthood," ch. vii. 24. Indeed, in the Greek copy of this epistle in Cotelerius, this place stands thus: ‘ I" glorify thee with the eternal and heavenly Jesus Christ.’ But in Eusebius it is as I have given the lace at first. And with him the old Latin version, publis ed by Usher, agrees in the main, saying: ‘ Byf the eternal high priest, the all‘ powerful Jesus Christ.’
VI. sect. 17. When they say, ‘Christg suffered, who ‘ was without spot, for sinners,’ they may be thought to refer to 1 Pet. iii. 19. But I think the place not very material. Nor are th0se words in Eusebius, or his translator Rufinus, or the ancient Latin version, as Usher observes.
VII. In the salutation at the beginnin of this epistle are these words: ‘ Mercyh and peace, and ove from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied.’ This is very a reeable to Jude, ver. 2, “ Mercy unto you, and peace, an love be multiplied.” However, corn are I Pet. I. 2, “ Grace unto you and peace be multiplie .” 2 Pet. i. 2, “ Grace and peace be multiplied unto you.”
VIII. Any one is able to add this testimony to that of Polycarp in his epistle, of which we there gave a summary view. he principal thing to be observed here is, that the church of Smyrna has more lainly given the title of ‘ gos‘ pel’ to the history of our Lord by the evangelists :i and perhaps in thek second place, where that word was used by them, they intend the New Testament in general. They
' 21:11 my awwup mt are avtqi 1mm Xpt€tp. ’ Per aaternum pontificem omnipotcntem esum Christum. Vid. Notas Usser in too. apud Coteler. Patr. APOSL 3 pr'tov r'nrrp dpaprwhwv.
" Eksoc, “pm/1|, mt aya'in) a1ro 6w Harper not re KUPR! imam Inna Xptsu rhrfivveem. ’ Numb. I. k In sect. 4. in the remark on Ntunb. I.
may be reckoned likewise to give some confirmation to the supposition that St. Polycarp was acquainted1 with the epistle to the Hebrews.
IX. Having now gone through all the apostolical fathers, it will not be disagreeable to conclude our extracts out of them with some general observations. Le Clerc's Dissertation on the Four Gospels, already mentioned, will afford us several. He speaks of these fathers in this order: Clement, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, Polyca . I shall however put down his observations in the miller I have quoted these writers, which is not very different from his. I shall take no particular notice here of the fragment called St. Clement’s Second Epistle; because we have shown it does not belong to this time.
1. ‘ Barnabas,’ saysm Le Clerc, ‘ has many more passages ‘ out of the Old Testament than the New: but then almost ‘ throughout that epistle he argues against the Jews, against ‘ whom it was in vain to allege the New.’
I think there is another very obvious reason of this, arising from the time and character of the writer, as I have shown in my remarks upon him.
2. ‘ Clement“ has more passages out of the Old Testa‘ ment, and oftener alludes to it than the New. But yet he ‘ quotes this more than once, and often refers to it.— ‘ Indeed, he does not mention the names of the writers of ‘ the New Testament. Nor is it his custom to mention the ‘ names of the books or writers of the Old Testament.’
3. ‘ Hermaso quotes neither the Old nor the New Testa‘ ment. The reason is, because he only relates his visions, ‘ and delivers precepts as received from angels.’ "
4. ‘ IgnatiusP does not quote the Old Testament oftener ‘ than the New. Nay, he seems to refer or allude to this ‘ oftener than to the other.’
‘ See here Numb. V. and compare it with Polycarp in the foregoing ch. Numb. XXX. "‘ Barnabas multo plum habet ex Vetere Testamento quam ex Novo; sed per totam ferme epistolam contra Judaeos ratiocinatur; contra quos Novum proferre non potuit, nisi illis ludibrium debere vellet. Dissertat. iii. de Quatuor Evang. p. 543. b.
" Ex hisce autem [scriptoribus] Clemens saapius quidem attulit loca deprompta e Veteri Testamento, atque ad id allusit, quarn ad libros Novi, ex quo etiam pauciora profert. Sed tamen non semel posterius hoe laudat, nec raro ad id respicit. Non profert quidem nomina scriptorum Novi Testamenti ; sed nec Veteris librorum aut scriptorum nomina solet proferre. Ibid.
° Hermas nee Vetus nec Novum Testamentum laudat, quia visiones suas narrat, et praecepta, veluti ab angelis accepta, exponit. Ibid.
P Ignatius non frequentius laudat Vetus Testamenturn quam Novam, atque ad hoc crebrius respicere videtur. Ibid.
Le Clerc speaks of the smaller e istles, the same we have made use of, without any regar to the larger or interpolated, which be utterly rejects. But he speaks modestly. For I think that Ignatius has alluded much oftener to the New Testament than to the Old.
5. ‘ Polycarpq has alluded above twenty times to texts ‘ of the New Testament, or recited the very words of them, ‘ and scarce once refers to any passage of the Old Testa‘ ment.’
These are Le Clerc’s observations, which appear to me very much to our purpose.
X. I would observe farther, first, that all these are but short pieces. The largest is the Shepherd of Hermas, which is as large as several of the other, and almost as large as all the rest put together. But it was inconsistent with the nature of that work for the writer to quote books.
2. All these pieces, except the Shepherd of Hermas, are epistles written to christlans; who, it is likely, needed not at that time to be particularly informed what books they ou ~ht to receive; but only to be admonished to attend to the t ings contained in them, and to maintain their respect for them, as is here often done.
3. Considering the shortness and the nature of these pieces, it is reasonable to suppose that most, or all of these writers, and those they write to, received more books or writings of the New Testament as sacred or canonical, than those expressly named, or clearly alluded to by them. For as these several pieces are short, so they never design to give a list or catalogue of the books, either of the Old or the New Testament, received by christians. All the mention made of either is only occasional. Beside that, we have lost divers letters written by St. Polycarp, both to churches and particular persons. It cannot therefore by any means be concluded that his one remaining epistle to the Philippians gives us full information of all the books received by him. It is most reasonable to su p0se, it contains quotations or allusions to a part only 0 those books which he received and owned, as the rule of christian belief and ractice.
4. In t e writings of these apostolical fathers, there is all the notice taken of the books of the New Testament that could be ex ected. Barnabas, though so early a writer, appears to ave been acquainted with the ospel of St.
atthew. Clement, writing in the name of t e church of
‘4 Polycarpus pluries quam vigesies alludit ad loca Novi Testamenti, aut ea verbo tenus audat: vix Semel respicit ad locum Veteris. lbid.
VOL. 1!. I
Rome to the church of Corinth, on occasion of some dissension there, desires them to ‘ take into their hands the ‘ eyistle of the blessed apostle Paul,’ written to them; and re ers them particularly to a part of that epistle, in which he admonished them a ainst strife and contention. He has likewise in his epistle givers clear and undeniable allusions to St. Paul’s epistle written to the church over which he presided, and in whose name he wrote. Not to mention at present other thin .
5..Quotations t ere could not be, as we have often observed, in the book of Herma. But allusions there are to the books of the New Testament, such as were suitable to his design.
6. Ignatius, writin to the church of Ephesus, takes n0tice of the epistle 0% Paul written to them, in which he ‘ makes mention of them in Christ Jesus.’
7. Lastly, Polycarp, writing to the Philippians, refers them to the epistle of the ‘ blessed and renowned Paul,’ written to them: if not also, as I imagine, to the epistles sent to the Thessalonians, christians of the same province. Not to mention now his expres quotations of other books of the New Testament, or his numerous and manifest allusions to them.
8. From these particulars here mentioned, it is a parent that they have not omitted to take notice of any book of the New Testament which, as far as we are able to judge, their design led them to mention. Their silence therefore about any other books can be no prejudice to their genuineness, if we shall hereafter meet with credible testimonies to them. And we may have good reason to believe that these apostolical fathers were some of those persons from whom succeeding writers received that full and satisfactory evidence which the appear to have had concerning the several books of the ew Testament.
9. And though I do not here desi n to sum up the whole evidence given by these writers, rom their allusions, and other particulars, but only to mention some general observations ; Yet it ought to be here remembered that Ignatius has made use 0? terms denoting a code or collection of ‘ gospels ’ and ‘ epistles.’