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churches which had been founded by Paul, at Co rinth, in Galatia, at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Ephesus; the church of Rome established by Peter and Paul, and other churches derived from John; he proceeds thus:-"I say then, that with them, but not with them only which are apostolical, but with all who have fellowship with them in the same faith, is that Gospel of Luke received from its first publication, which we so zealously maintain :" and presently afterward adds; "The same authority of the apostolical churches will support the other Gospels, which we have from them, and according to them, I mean John's and Matthew's; although that likewise which Mark published may be said to be Peter's, whose interpreter Mark was." In another place Tertullian affirms, that the three other Gospels were in the hands of the churches from the beginning, as well as Luke's. This noble testimony fixes the universality with which the Gospels were received, and their antiquity: that they were in the hands of all, and had been so from the first. And this evidence appears not more than one hundred and fifty years after the publication of the books. The reader must be given to understand, that when Tertullian speaks of maintaining or defending (tuendi) the Gospel of Saint Luke, he only means maintaining or defending the integrity of the copies of Luke received by Christian churches, in opposition to certain curtailed copies used by Marcion against whom he writes.
This author frequently cites the Acts of the Apostles under that title, once calls it Luke's Com mentary, and observes how Saint Paul's epistles confirm it.
After this general evidence, it is unnecessary to add particular quotations. These, however, are so numerous and ample, as to have led Dr. Lardner to observe," that there are more, and larger quotations of the small volume of the New-Testament in this one Christian author, than there are of all the works of Cicero in writers of all characters for several ages.
Tertullian quotes no Christian writing as of equal
Lardner, vol. ih p. 647.
We may again likewise remark the wide extent through which the reputation of the Gospels, and of the Acts of the Apostles, had spread, and the perfect consent, in this point, of distant and independent societies. It is now only about one hundred and fifty years since Christ was crucified; and within this period, to say nothing of the apostolical fathers who have been noticed already, we have Justin Martyr at Neapolis, Theophilus at An3 tioch, Irenæus in France, Clement at Alexandria, Tertullian at Carthage, quoting the same books of historical Scriptures, and, I may say, quoting thesc
authority with the Scriptures, and no spurious books at all; a broad line of distinction we may once more observe, between our sacred books and all others.
XIII. An interval of only thirty years, and that occupied by no small number of Christian writers,* whose works only remain in fragments and quotations, and in every one of which is some reference or other to the Gospels (and in one of them, Hippolytus, as preserved in Theodoret, is an abstract of the whole Gospel history,) brings us to a name of great celebrity in Christian antiquity, Origent of Alexandria, who, in the quantity of his writings, exceeded the most laborious of the Greek and Latin authors. Nothing can be more peremptory upon the subject now under consideration, and, from a writer of his learning and information, more satisfactory, than the declaration of Origen, preserved, in an extract from his works, by Eusebius; "That the four Gospels alone are received without dispute by the whole church of God under heaven" to which declaration is immediately subjoined, a brief history of the respective authors, to whom they were then, as they are now, ascribed. The language holden concerning the Gospels, throughout the works of Origen which remain, entirely corresponds with the testimony here cited. His attestation to the Acts of the Apostles is no less posi
Minucius Felis, Apollonius, Caius, Asterius, Urbanus, Alexander bishop of Jerusalem, Hippolytus, Ammonius, Julius Africann.
Lardner, vol. iii. p. 234.j
tive; "And Luke also once more sounds the trun pet, relating the acts of the apostles." The univer sality with which the Scriptures were then read, is well signified by this writer, in a passage in whi h he has occasion to observe against Celsus, "That it is not in any private books, or such as are rend by a few only, and those studious persons, but in books read by every body, that it is written, The invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by things that are made." It is to no purpose to single out quotations of Scripture from such a writer as this. We might as well make a selection of the quota, tions of Scripture in Dr. Clarke's Sermons. They are so thickly sown in the works of Origen, that Dr. Mill says, "If we had all his works remaining, we should have before us almost the whole text of the Bible."*
Origen notices, in order to censure, certain apocryphal Gospele. He also uses four writings of this sort; that is, throughout his large works he once or twice at the most, quotes each of the four; but always with some mark, either of direct reprobation or of caution to his readers, manifestly es teeming them of little or no authority.
XIV. Gregory bishop of Neocæsarea, and Diony sius of Alexandria, were scholars of Origen. Their testimony, therefore, though full and particular, may be reckoned a repetition only of his. The series, however, of evidence is continued by Cy prian bishop of Carthage, who flourished within twenty years after Origen. "The church," says this father, "is watered, like Paradise, by four rivers, that is, by four Gospels." The Acts of the Apostles is also frequently quoted by Cyprian under that name, and the name of the "Divine Scriptures." In his various writings are such constant and copious citations of Scripture, as to place this part of the testimony beyond controversy. Nor is there, in the works of this eminent African bishop, one quotation of a spurious or apocryphal Christian writing.
* Mill. Proleg. cap. vi. p. 66.
XV. Passing over a crowd* of writers following Cyprian at different distances, but all within forty years of his time; and who all, in the imperfect remains of their works, either cite the historical Scriptures of the New Testament, or speak of them in terms of profound respect; I single out Victorin, bishop of Pettaw in Germany, merely on account of the remoteness of his situation from that of Origen and Cyprian, who were Africans; by which circumstance his testimony, taken in conjunction with theirs, proves that the Scripture histories, and the same histories, were known and received from one side of the Christian world to the other. This bishopt lived about the year 290 and in a commentary upon this text of the Revelation, "The first was like a lion, the second was like a calf, the third like a man, and the fourth like a flying eagle," he makes out that by the four creatures are intended the four Gospels; and, to show the propriety of the symbols, he recites the subject with which each evangelist opens his history. The explication is fanciful, but the testimony positive. He also expressly cites the Acts of the Apostles.
XVI. Arnobius and Lactantius about the year 300, composed formal argum ts upon the credi bility of the Christian religa. As these arguments were addressed to Get 8, the authors abstain from quoting Christian Books by name; one of them giving this very reason for his reserve; but when they come to state, for the information of their readers, the outlines of Christ's history, it is apparent that they draw their accounts from our Gospels, and from no other sources; for these statements exhibit a summary of almost every thing which is related of Christ's actions and miracles by the four evangelists. Arnobius vindicates, without mentioning their names, the credit of these historians; observing, that they were eye-witnesses of the facts which they relate, and that their ignorance of the arts of composition was rather a con
*Novatus, Rome, A. 1. 251 Dus, R.. A. D. 259; Commodian, A. D. 270, As at es, Laodicea, A 270; The ognostus, A. D. 282; Methodius, Lycia, A. D 20; Philess, Egypt, A. D. 296.
t. Eardner, vol. v. p. 214.
Ibid. vol. vii. p. 43. 201⁄4,
firmation of their testimony, than an objection to it. Lactantius also argues in defence of the religion, from the consistency, simplicity, disinterestedness, and sufferings, of the Christian historians, meaning by that term our evangelists.
XVII. We close the series of testimonies with that of Eusebius,* bishop of Cæsarea, who flourished in the year 315, contemporary with, or posterior only by fifteen years to, the two authors last cited. This voluminous writer, and most diligent collector of the writings of others, beside a variety of large works, composed a history of the affairs of Christianity from its origin to his own time. His testimony to the Scriptures is the testimony of a man much conversant in the works of Christian authors, written during the first three centuries of its era, and who had read many which are now lost. In a passage of his Evangelical Demonstation, Eusebius remarks, with great nicety, the delicacy of two of the evangelists, in their manner of noticing any circumstance which regarded themselves; and of Mark, as writing under Peter's direction, in the circumstances which regarded him. The illustration of this remark leads him to bring together long quotations from each of the evangelists; and the whole passage is a proof, that Eusebius, and the Christians of those days, not only read the Gospels, but studied them with attention and exactness. In a passage of his Ecclesiastical History, he treats, in form, and at large, of the occasions of writing the four Gospels, and of the order in which they were written. The title of the chapter is, "Of the Order of the Gospels," and it begins thus: "Let us observe the writings of this apostle John, which are not contradicted by any : and, first of all, must be mentioned, as acknowledged by all, the Gospel according to him, well known to allt he churches under heaven; and that it has been justly placed by the ancients the fourth in order, and after the other three, may be made evident in this manner." Eusebius then proceeds to show that John wrote the last of the four, and that his Gospel was intended to supply the omis
Lardner, vol. viii. p. 33.