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though it is certain he published commentaries or homilies upon all or most of those which are now esteemed canonical.
3. The many passages we have alleged, containing Ori en’s general divisions of the books of scripture, assure us, e received no other as divine and sacred, in the highest sense, but those we do: his expressions suit these and no other. I need not recollect them here; the reader cannot but remember that common division of ‘ Gospels and A ostles:’ sometimes he is more articular, and mentions ‘ Gospels, Acts, Epistles of Apost es :’ ‘ Gospels, Apostles, and their Revelation.’ The ecclesiastical and apocryphal books sometimes cited by him for the sake of illustration, cannot be com rehended in these divisions of sacred scripture which were 0 authority.
Mr. Richardson, speaking of this matter, and particularly of the Shepherd of Hermas, the piece cited by Origen more frequently, and sometimes with greater marks of respect, than any ether ecclesiastical writing, says: i‘ We ‘ find Origen several times distinguishing the books of the ‘ New Testament into the writin s of the Evangelists and ‘ Apostles. Now it is certain t at the Pastor of Hermas ‘ can be reducedtoneither of these heads,~and therefore, in ‘ the judgment of Origen, was not canonical.’ This observation is easily and rightly applied to all the writings of this kind. ‘
I shall add here another passage not yet transcribed, which likewise may be reckoned full to our purpose. It is in Origen’s Greek Gommentaries upon St. Matthew’s glospel, particularly these Words: ff Again, the kingdom of eaven 1s like unto a net that was cast into 'the sea, and gathered of every kind,” Matt. xiii. '47. wBeside; other things, Origen here says, ‘ Thatk the kingdom of heaven is compared to a net of various texture, on account of the several parts of the ancient and new scripture: that the sea into which the net is cast, is the whole world; and that some men are taken by one part of the net, some by another; some by the words of Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Daniel; some by the law, others by the gos els, others b the apostles: and that this net was not com etely finishe before the coming of our. Saviour Jesus C rist; for he was wanting to the texture of the law and the prophets, who said, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matt. v. 17. And the texture of the net was completed in the gospels, and the words of Christ spoken] by the apostles.’ »
i Mr. Richardson's Canon of the New Testament vindicated, p. 30. .
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4. T ere is a passage of Origen which I shall put1 in the margin, though somewhat obscure, where hermakes a great difference between apostles and their disciples; allowing the apostles only to be ‘ the light of the} world,’ after Christ, and capable of ‘ enlightening others,’ though their disciplesialso had been ‘ enlightened.’ I think it may be hence ar ued, that Origen would scarce receive any doctrinal an preceptive work as of authority, unless, it ,were dictated or written by an apostle; though he might well ' receive the historical writings of a companion of apostles, containing an account of their preaching; as he undoubtedl y received the gospels of Mark and‘Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles, written also by the latter of these two.
Here it will be-objected that Origen received the epistle to the Hebrews, though not written by an apostle, which is inconsistent with the just-mentioned observation. But I do not perceive it to be so; for Origen always quotes the epistle to the Hebrews as Paul’s: and in the passage preserved in Eusebius, he sa s it has been handed down to his time by the ancients as aul's; and though he says the phrase and composition are not the apostle’s, he affirms that the thoughts or sentiments are ‘ admirable, and not inferior to the acknowledged writings of the'apostle :’ which is enough to show that he thought the apostle's sentiments had been exactly represented by the writer or composer of this epistle, whoever he was; otherwise it was impossible that the thoughts of this epistle should be equal to those of the acknowledged writings of the apostle'Paul. According to this opinion of Origen, the epistle to the Hebrews will be
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of the‘like authority with the ospels of Mark and Luke, who record the discourses of hrist, which they had heard . and received from apostles; or with the book of the Acts of the Apostles, where are discourses of apostles in the style of the historian St. Luke. Just so Luke or Clement, or whoever was the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews, has there recorded, in his own phrase and style, the sense or thoughts of the apostle Paul.
However, there can be no ground to conclude from Origen’s quotations of the epistle to the Hebrews, that he would receive as of authority the epistle, or any other doctrinal work, of an apostolic man; since, whenever he qpuotes that epistle to prove any thing, he always calls it
aul’s. ‘ ‘
5. Ori en’s quotations of ecclesiastical and apocryphal books, wTiieh I have transcribed so largely, show he did not receive those books as scripture. The citations of them are few in comparison of the numerous passages taken out of the commonly received books of the New Testament: and usually those citations are accompanied with some expressions, that show the books from whence they are taken were not received b himself or others as of authorit .
6. The distinction which we latelym observed to be ma e by Origen, of several sorts of books—some genuine, others spurious, others of a mixed nature—is of great use to satisfy us that he did not esteem all books cited by himself, or used and read by christians, as of equal authority; and there were different degrees of respect due to such writings, according to their several kinds: nor can it be doubted that Origen paid a just regard to writings, suitably to their real character. Another thing which shows the distinction made between writings, and that there were some of superior authority to all others, from whence the christian doctrines were to be learned, is that character frequently used by him, of scriptures ‘ received in the churches as divine.’
7. It is manifest from the whole strain and tenour of Origen’s numerous works, and from his arguments upon any points that come before him, and particu arly from his defence of the christian religion against Celsus, that our gospels, and the other books of our canon, are the books which Origen, and all catholic christians, relied upon. To give here one proof: In answer to some reflections of Celsus upon Christ’s disciples, whom he calls sailors and publicans, Origen, having observed that Matthew was a publican, and that James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
" See before in this chapter, num. xxiv. 4. p. 538.
and Peter and Andrew, were fishermen, adds: ‘ As“ for the rest of them, we have not learned what were the employments by which they subsisted before they became disciples of Jesus.’ Which shows that our gospels were 'the only histories of Christ and his disciples that were reckoned authentic: and that either there were no other pretending to give information about them; or, if there were any such, the were quite disregarded, or at least esteemed of no aut ority.
8. There is nothing extraordinary or unreasonable in Origen’s citations of books not in the canon : if those books were still extant, we should still now and thenoccasionallymake use of them. Sometimes we should remark a tradition preserved in them, without giving it more weight .than it deserved; sometimes we should quote a pious or a beautiful saying in them: sometimes we might think roper to take notice of an objection that might be formed rom some things contained in them; and yet all the while reserve that high and peculiar veneration which we now ave for the books of the present canon. The great number of books published in those early ages concerning Christ and his apostles, though they were many of them mean and trifling, are an argument of the vast extent and reputation of the christian doctrine. And so. long as there were men ,of judgment in the world to distin uish the real merit of books; and christians were extreme y cautious of receiving any book or epistle as written by an apostle, or an apostolical man, without good evidence of its genuineness; such compositions were of small conse uence, and could do no great harm. However, being in t emselves of little value, and not being much esteemed, most of them have been entirely lost, except a few fragments; whilst all the books of the New Testament, received from the beginning, have been carefully preserved, and frequently copied, because of their real worth, and the great respect paid them by all christians in general.
XXVII. Origen’s works afl'ord assurance of the integrity of our present copies of the New Testament. And, as° Dr. Mill says, if we had all his works remaining, who published scholia, or commentaries, or homilies upon almost all the books of the Old and New Testament, we should have before us almost the whole text of the Bible, as it was read in his time. Mr. Wetstein P has since. expressed him
self much after the same manner; and says, if we now had Origen’s copy, or all his works entire, we might expect, thence better help for an exact edition of the New Testament, thah from all the fathers besides.
There are in Origen several passages relatin particularly to the integrity or corruption of the text of t e New Testament: and there are in him divers readings different from ours. It is fit my readers should have some account of these matters.
I. Celsus charges the christians with having often designedly altered the text of the gospels. Origen answers, ‘~That‘1 hedid not know of any that had altered the text of the gospel, except thefollowers of. Marcion and Valentinus, and perhaps of Lucanusa’ therefore the catholics were innocent of this charge. Nor were all heretics guilt in this great respect, so far as Origen knew. And I thinlyi that, from the ingenuity of this, answer, it may be concluded-he spoke the truth, according to the best of his knowledge. ‘
2. Matth. xix. 19, “ And thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Origen argues that these words were not originally here, because .this precept is not found in the parallel places of St. Mark’s or St. Luke’s gospels, [see Mark x. 19; Luke xviii.‘20.] and for some other reasons which he there insists upOn: but he does not seem able to support his conjecture and reasonings by the authority of any copy; He has; howaver these words, which it is, proper for us to put down here at length : ‘ Itr would be impious,’ says he, ‘to suspect this commandment, “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” to have been inserted, thoughnot spoken by our Saviour to the rich man, if there were not many differences in the copies of Matthew’s and the other gospels. But indeed it is manifest that there is a'.diiference between copies, whatever it is owing to; wheth'er to. the negligence of transcribers, or to the wicked rashness of some in altering what is written, or to a liberty