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are not specifically referred to. There is no design in the references made to provide materials of proof for a future age. The testimony is unintentional, incidental, given in the simplicity of the heart for direct practical purposes, and therefore far more decisive to us of the authentic origin of our books, than a professed dissertation would have been. The quotations and allusions, however, in the six apostolical fathers amount to more than two hundred and twenty, and recognize nineteen or twenty of the sacred books.
In the second century the testimony is more express, more full, more in the way of defence of the gospel against heretics or open adversaries. The quotations are so numerous, that a large part of the New Testament might be collected from them. We have thirty-six writers of this age, part of whose works have come down to us. In Justin Martyr (born A. D. 89, died 164) there are about two hundred citations. In Irenæus (A. D. 97—202) “ there are (says Dr. Lardner) more and larger quotations from the small volume of the New Testament, than of all the works of Cicero, though of such uncominon excellence for thought and style, in the writers of all characters for several ages.” The list of quotations in Tertullian occupy nearly thirty folio pages. The testimony of this age begins also to widen by the public reading of the sacred books in the churches, by the collection of them into volumes, by the construction of harmonies, and towards the close of the century, by translations into other languages, as the Latin and Syriac.
In the third and fourth centuries the progress of the testimony brings us to the settlement of the canon. We have more than a hundred authors, whose works, or parts of them, have come down to us, and who bear witness to the genuineness of the books. The quotations are so numerous, that in one Christian Father, Athanasius, there are more than twelve hundred. Catalogues of the books of the New Testament, expressly drawn up to distinguish them from unauthentic writings, are given. Harmonies are formed. Critical examinations of ancient testimony are executed with care. The public reading of the books, and versions of them into all the languages of mankind, are multiplied with the propagation of the gospel. Commentaries are composed. The sacred writings are distinguished by a still more deep veneration, and called by solemn and accustomed names of honour, as the fountains of divine truth. Collations of different manuscripts are undertaken, and public libraries are devoted to the preservation of copies. Martyrs and confessors
cling to the sacred books with ardent affection. Councils acknowledge and bow to their authority.
During these two centuries, so long as any doubt was entertained about the authenticity of any particular book, (arising from the brevity of the writing, as the Second and Third Epistle of St. John and the Epistle of Jude, or from the sacred author having concealed his name, as in the Epistle to the Hebrews, or from the partial abuse made of any particular book, as the Revelation of St. John,) such doubt was openly avowed. We have the grounds of evidence laid before us in Eusebius, (A. D. 315,) and can form a judgment upon the question for ourselves.
The books, concerning which any hesitation prevailed, are seven, and those the precise ones which, from circumstances, might be expected to be thus doubted of and which do not, in fact, touch the general truth of the gospel doctrine. The rest were “universally received as genuine,” Eusebius calls them : 'Ouódoyovuéval ypapai. And these very seven were received by the vast majority of Christians, though a few doubted of their authenticity. Eusebius
5 They are the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistles of James and Jude, the Second Epistle of St. Peter, the Second and Third of John, and the Book of the Revelation.
expressly speaks of them as γνώριμων όμως τους Tolloiç—“writings acknowledged by most to be genuine.” And he distinguishes them from the spurious writings which form his third class. All hesitation was however gradually dissipated; so that by the time of Jerome and Augustine (A. D. 342—420) many catalogues are given with all our present books, but including none other. This deliberation in the ancient Christians, strengthens exceedingly the weight of the attestations which they give, because it marks simplicity of intention, care, uprightness, that discrimination which is productive of confidence of mind in those who are called to examine and compare testimonies. I proceed to another argument.
F INTEGRITY AND TRUTH.
III. Wherever you take A SPECIMEN out of this mass of evidence, whether from the first or any following century, THERE ARE ALL THE MARKS OF INTEGRITY AND TRUTH.
What can be more simple and yet more satisfactory, than the language of Clement, Bishop of Rome, from A. D. 91 to 110, in his Letter addressed to the Corinthians, in which he refers to the Epistle of the apostle Paul to that church, with the perfect familiarity and confidence of one who knew that every Corinthian Christian was acquainted with that sacred writing. “ Take into your hands the Epistle of the blessed apostle Paul; what has he written to you in the beginning of Christianity? Truly by divine inspiration he gave you directions concerning himself and Cephas and Apollos?”
To the age of this Epistle of Clement, we have the testimony of Irenæus, (A.D. 97—202,) who says, “ It was written by Clement, who had seen the blessed apostles and conversed with them.” Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, (A. D. 170,) states that this Epistle of Clement was accustomed to be read in that church. Eusebius, the faithful ecclesiastical historian, (A. D. 315,) also bears witness to it. Can any person then doubt the truth and importance of Clement's testimony? He has fifty or sixty quotations from the New Testament, or allusions to the language of it, from nineteen of the sacred books.
Shall I stop to refer to Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, in the year 70 ? Shall I remind you that he is spoken of by Irenæus, Origen (A. D. 230) and Eusebius and Jerome ? (A. D. 315 and 420.) Shall I tell you that he speaks of the gospels and epistles as already collected into volumes; how complete the volumes were we know not; but the familiarity with which he speaks of them, supposes the acknowledged au