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collection of writings, it is probable that he meant the same by the gospel, the two terms standing in evident parallelism with each other.
This interpretation of the word “ Gospel,” in the passage above quoted from Ignatius, is confirmed by a piece of nearly equal antiquity, the relation of the martyrdom of Polycarp by the church of Smyr.
“ All things (say they) that went before, were done, that the Lord might show us a martyrdom according to the gospel, for he expected to be delivered up as the Lord also did."* 'And in another place, “We do not commend those who offer themBelves, forasmuch as the gospel teaches'us no such thing." In both these places, what is called the Gospel, seems to be the history of Jesus Christ, and of his doctrine.
If this be the true sense of the passages, they are not only evidences of our proposition, but strong and very ancient proofs of the higii esteem in which the books of the New Testament were holden.
II. Eusebius relates, that Quadratus and some others, who were the immediate successors of the apostles, travelling abroad to reach Christ, carried the Gospels with them, and delivered them to their converts. The words of Eusebius are: " Then travelling abroad, they performed the work of evangelists, being ambitious to preach Christ, and deliver the Scripture of the divine Gospels.'' Eusebius had before him the writings both of Quadratus himself, and of many others of that age, which are now lost. It is reasonable, therefore, to believe, that he had good grounds for his assertion, What is thus recorded of the Gospels, took place within sixty, or, at the most, seventy years after they were published : and it is evident, that they must, before this time (and, it is probable, long before this time,) have been in general use, and in high esteem in the churches planted by the nose tles, inasmuch as they were now, we find, collect. ed into a volume ; and the immediate successors of the apostles, they who preached the religion of Christ to those who had not already heard it, carrjed the volume with them, and delivered it to their converts.
* Igoat. Ep. c. 1. mol. i. p. 236.
* 1. c. 1v.
III. Irenæus, in the year 178, puts the evangelic and apostolic writings in connexion with the Law and the Prophets, manifestly intending b: the one a code or collection of Christian sacred writings, as the other ex; ressed the code or collection of Jewish sacred writings. And,
IV. Melito, at this time bishop of Sardis, writing to one Onesimus, tells his correspondent,t that he had procured an accurate account of the books of the Old Testament. The occurrence, in this passage, of the term Old Testament, has been brought to prove, and it certainly does prove, that there was then a volume or collection of writings called the New Testament.
V. In the time of Clement of Alexandria, about fifteen years after i he last quoted testimony, it is apparent that the Christian Scriptures were divi. ded into parts, under the general titles of the Gospels and Apostles; and that both these were regarded as of the highest authority. One, out of many expressi ns oi Clement, alluding to this distribution, is the to luwing :-" Th re is a consent and harmony between the Law and the Prophets, the Apostles and the Gospel.”
vi. The same division, “ Prophets, Gospels, and Apostles," appears in Tertullian,|| the contemporary of Clement. The collection of the Gospels is likewise called by this writer the “ Evangelic Instrument;'T the whole volume, the New Testament;” and the two parts, the" Gospels and Apos
VII. From many writers also of the third centul'y, and especially from Cyprian, who lived in the middle of it, it is collected, that the Christian Scriptures were divided into two codes or volumes, one called the “Gospels, or Scriptures of the Lord,” the other, the “ Apostles, or Épistles of the Apos. tles.”It
VIII. Eusebius, as we have already seen, takes
* Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 383.
| Ib. p. 331. Ib. vol. ii. p. 516.
l Ib. p. 631. 17 16. 5:4.
** Ib. p. 632. Ib. rol. iv. p. 846.
some pains to show, that the Gospel of St. John had been justly placed by the ancients “the fourth in order, and after the other three."* These are the terms of his proposition: and the very introduction of such an argument proves incontestably, that the four Gospels had been collected into a volume, t) the exclusion of every other ; that their order in the volume had been adjusted with much consideration ; and that this had been done by those who were called ancients in the time of Eusebius.
In the Diocletian persecution, in the year 303, the Scriptures were sought out and burnt :t many suffered death rather than deliver them up; and those who betrayed them to the persecutors, were accounted as lapse and apostate. On the other hand, Constantine, after his conversion, gave directions for multiplying copies of the divine oracles, and for magnificently adorning them, at the expense of the imperial treasury. What the Christians of that age so richly embellished in their prosperity, and which is more, so tenaciously preserved under persecution, was the very volume of the New Testament which we now read.
SECT. IV. Our present sacred writings were soon distinguished
by appropriate names and titles of respect. POLYCARP. “I trust that ye are well exercised in the Holy Scriptures ;-as in these Scriptures it is said, “ Be ye angry and sin not, and lei not the the sun go down upon your wrath."|| This passage is extremely important; because it proves that, in the time of Polycarp, who had lived with the apostles, there were Christian writings distinguished by the name of “ Holy Scriptures," or Sacred Wri. tings. Moreover, the text quoted by Polycarp is a text found in the collection at this day. What also the same Polycarp hath elsewhere quoted in the
* Lardner, Cred. Fol_viii. p. 90. 110. vel. ri. p. 432
| Ib. vol. vii. p. 214, & 11 Ib. rob in p. 203.
same manner, may be considered as proved to belong to the collection ; and this comprehends Saint Matthew's, and probably Saint Luke's Gospel, the Acts of the Apostles, ten epistles of Paul, the First Epistle of Peter, and the Frst of John.* In another place, Polycarp has these words : “Whoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts, and says there is neither resurrection nor judgment, lie is the first-born of Satan."1-It does not appear what else Polycarp could mean by the" oracles of the Lord,” but those same “ Holy Scriptures," or Sacred Writings, of which he had spoken before.
II. Justin Martyr, whose apology, was written about thirty years after Polycarp's epistle, expressly cites some of our present histories under the title of GOSPEL, and that not as a name by him first ascribed to them, but as the name by which they were generally known in his time. His words are these :-“For the apostles in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered it, that Jesus commanded them to take bread, and give thanks." There exists no doubt, but 'that, by the memoirs above mentioned, Justin meant our present historical Scriptures ; for throughout his works he quotes these, and no others.
III. Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, who came thirty years after Justin, in a passage preserved in Eusebius (for his works are lost,) speaks “ of the Scriptures of the Lord.”ll
IV. And at the same time, or very nearly so, by Irenæus bishop of Lyons in France, they are called “ Divine Scriptures,”—“ Divine Oracles,”
Scriptures of the Lord,”—“Evangelic and Apostolic writings."** The quotations of Irenæus prove decidedly, that our present Gospels, and these alone, together with the Acts of the Apostles, were the historical books comprehended by him under these appellations.
* Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 223.
† Ib. p. 222. Ib. p. 271.
|| Ib. p. 298. The reader will observe the remoteness of these two wrifero ni country and situation. ** Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 343, km
V. Saint Matthew's Gospel is quoted by Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, contemporary with Irenæus, under the title of the “ Evangelic Voice ;'* and the copious works of Clement of Alexandria, published within fifteen years of the same time, ascribe to the books of the New Testament the various titles of “Sacred Books,"-Divine Scriptures,”—“Divinely inspired Scriptures,”—“Scriptures of the Lord," - "the true Evangelical Canon.”+
VI. Tertullian, who joins on with Clement, beside adopting most of the names and epithets above noticed, calls the Gospels “our Digesta,” in allusion, as it should seem, to some collection of Roman laws then extant.I
VII. By Origen, who came thirty years after Tertullian, the same, and other no less strong titles, are applied to the Christian Scriptures : and in ad. dition thereunto, this writer frequently speaks of the “ Old and New Testaments," –" the Ancient and New Scriptures,”—" the Ancient and New Ora. cles.”'ll
VIII. In Cyprian, who was not twenty years later, they are “ Books of the Spirit,”—“Divine Fountains,"_" Fountain of the Divine Fulness.”'T
The expressions we have thus quoted, are evi. dences of high and peculiar respect. They all occur within two centuries from the publication of the books. Some of them commence with the companions of the apostles, and they increase in number and variety, through a series of writers touching one upon another, and deduced from the first age of the religion.
the religious assemblies of the early Christians. Justin MARTYR, who wrote in the year 140, which was seventy or eighty years after some, and * Lardner, Cred. sol. i. p. 427.
1 Ib. vol. ii. p. 513. Ib. p. 630. || Tb. vol. iii. p. 230. Ib. vol. iv. p. 844.