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a large and formal treatise against the Christian re. ligion, is not extant. We must be content there. fore to gather his objections from Christian writers, who have noticed in order to answer them; and enough remains of this species of information, 10 prove completely, that Porphyry's animadversions were directed against the contents of our present Gospels, and of the Acts of the Apostles ; Porphyry considering that to overthrow them was to over. throw the religion. Thus he objects to the repetition of a generation in Saint Matthew's genealogy: to Matthew's call; to the quotation of a text from Isaiah, which is found in a psalm ascribed to Asaph; to the calling of the lake of Tiberias a sea; to the expression in Saint Matthew, “ the abomination of desolation; to the variation in Matthew and Mark upon the text,,
“ The voice of one crying in the wilderness,” Matthew citing it from Isaias, Mark from the Prophets ; to John's application of the term “ Word;" to Christ's change of intention about going up to the feast of tabernacles ; (John vii. 8.); to the judgment denounced by Saint Peter upon Ananias and Sapphira, which he calls an imprecation of death.*
The instances here alleged, serve, in some measuri -o show the nature of Porphyry's objections, and prove that Porphyry had read the Gospels with that sort of attention which a writer would employ who regarded them as the depositaries of the religion which he attacked. Besides these specifications, there exists, in the writings of ancient Christians, general evidence, that the places of Scripture upon which Porphyry had remarked were very numerous.
In some of the above-cited examples, Porphyry, speaking of Saint Matthew, calls him your evange, list : he also uses the term evangelists in the plural number. What was said of Celsus, is true likewise of Porphyry, that it does not appear that he considered any history of Christ, except these, as having authority with Christians.
III, A third great writer against the Christian religion was the emperor Julian, whose work was composed about a century after that of Porphyry.
Jewish and Heathen Test, vol. iji. p. 166, &c.
In various long extracts, transcribed from this work by Cyril and Jerome, it appears,* that Julian noticed by name Matthew and Luke, in the difference between their genealogies of Christ ; that he objected to Matthew's application of the prophecy, “Out of Egypt have I called my son," (11. 15.) and to that of A virgin shall conceive;" (i. 23.) that he recited sayings of Christ, and various passages of his history, in the very words of the evangelists ; in particular, that Jesus healed lame and blind people, and exercised demoniacs, in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany; that he alleged, that none of Christ's disciples ascribed to him the creation of the world, except John ; that neither Paul, nor Matthew, nor Luke, nor Mark, have dared to call Jesus, God; that John wrote later than the other evangelists, and at a time when a great number of men in the cities of Greece and Italy were converted; that he alludes to the conversion of Cor. nelius and of Sergius Paulus, to Peter's vision, to the circular letter sent by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, which are all recorded in the Acts of the Apostles: by which quoting of the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, and by quoting no other, Julian shows that these were the historical books, and the only historical books, received by Christians as of authority, and as the authentic memoirs of Jesus Christ, of his apostles, and of the doctrines taught by them. But Julian's testimony does something more than represent the judgment of the Christian church in his time. It discovers also his own. He himself expressly states the early date of these records ; he calls them by the names which they now bear. He all along sup. poses, he nowhere attempts to question their ge. nuineness.
The argument in favour of the books of the New Testament, drawn from the notice taken of their contents by the early writers against the religion, is very considerable. It proves that the accounts which Christians had then, were the accounts which we have now; that our present Scriptures were theirs. It proves, moreover,
that neither * Jewish and Heatken Test. vol. iv. p. 77, &c.,
Celsus in the second, Porphyry in the third, nor Julian in the fourth century, suspected the authenticicy of these books, or even insinuated that Christians were mistaken in the authors to whom they ascribed them. Not one of them expressed an opinion upon this subject different from that which was holden by Christians. And when we consider how much it would have availed them to have cast a doubt upon this point, if they could : and how ready they showed themselves to be, to take every advantage in their power : and that they were all men of learning and inquiry ; their concession, or rather their suffrage, upon the subject, is extremely valuable.
In the case of Porphyry, it is made still stronger , by the consideration that he did in fact support himself by this species of objection when he saw any room for it, or when his acuteness could supply any pretence for alleging it. The prophecy of Daniel he attacked upon this very ground of spuriousness, insisting that it was written after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and maintains his charge of forgery by some far-fetched indeed, but very subtle criticisms. Concerning the writings of the New Testament, no trace of this suspicion is any where to be found in him.
SECT. X. Formal catalogues of authentic Scriptures were published, in all which our present sacred histories were included.
This species of evidence comes later than the rest ; as it was not natural that catalogues of any particular class of books should be put forth until Christian writings became numerous; or until some writings showed themselves, claiming titles which did not belong to them, and thereby rendering it necessary to separate books of authority from others. "But, when it does appear, it is exiremely
* Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament, vol. i. p. **
satisfactory; the catalogues, though numerous, and made in countries at a wide distance from one another, differing very little, differing in nothing which is material, and all containing the four Gospels. To this last article there is no exception.
I. In the writings of Origen which remain, and in some extracts preserved by Eusebius, from works of his which are now lost, there are enumerations of the books of Scripture, in which the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles are distinctly and honourable specified, and in which no books appear beside what are now received.* The reader, by this time, will easily recollect that the date of Origen's works is A. D. 230.
II. Athanasius, about a century afterward, delivered a catalogue of the books of the New Testament in form, containing our Scriptures and no others; of which he says,
“ In these alone the doctrine of religion is taught; let no man add to them, or take any thing from them.”+
III. About twenty years after Athanasius, Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, set forth a catalogue of the books of Scripture, publicly read at that time in the church of Jerusalem, exactly the same as ours, ex. cept that the “ Revelation” is omitted. I
IV. And fifteen years after Cyril, the council of Laodicea delivered an authoritative catalogue of canonical Scripture, like Cyrills, the same as ours, with the omission of the “ Revelation.”
V. Catalogues now became frequent. Within thirty years after the last date, that is, from the year 363 to near the conclusion of the fourth cen. tury, we have catalogues by Epiphanius,|| by Gre. gory Nazianzen,sl by Philaster bishop of Brescia in Italy,** by Amphilochius bishop of Iconium, ail, as they are sometimes called, clean catalogues (that is, they admit no books into the number beside what we now receive,) and all, for every purpose of historic evidence, the same as ours.tt
* Lardner, Cred. vol. iii. p. 234, &c. vol. viii. p. 196. Ib. vol. viii. p. 223.
11b. 270. Lardner, Cred. vol. viii. p. 368. T Ib. vol. ix. p. 132
tr Epiphanius omits the Acts of the Apostles. Tbis must bave been an accidental mistake, either in him or in some copyist of his
** Ib. p. 373.
VI. Within the same period, Jerome, the most learned Christian writer of his age, delivered a catalogue of the books of the New Testament, recognising every book now received, with the intimation of a doubt concerning the Epistle to the Hebrews alone, and taking not the least notice of any book which is not now received.*
VII. Contemporary with Jerome, who lived in Palestine, was Saint Augustine, in Africa, who pub lished likewise a catalogue, without joining to the Scriptures, as books of authority, any other ecclesiastical writing whatever, and without omitting one which we at this day acknowledge.t
VIII. And with these concurs another contempo. rary writer, Rufen, presbyter of Aquileia, whose catalogue, like theirs, is perfect and unmixed, and concludes with these remarkable words : “ These are the volumes which the fathers have included in the canon, and out of which they would have us prove the doctrine of our faith.”!
SECT. XI. These propositions cannot be predicated of any of those books which are commonly called th: Apocryphal Books of the New Testament.
I do not know that the objection taken from apocryphal writings is at present much relied upon by scholars. But there are many, wko, hearing that various Gospels existed in ancient times under the names of the apostles, may have taken up a notion, that the selection of our present Gospels from the rest, was rather an arbitrary or acciden. tal choice, than founded in any clear and certain cause of preference. To these it may be very useful to know the truth of the case. I observe, there. fore,
I. That, beside our Gospels and the Acts of the
k, and ascribes
work ; for be elsewhere expressly refers to this at to Luke.
* Lardner, Cred. vol. 2. p. 77 $ 16, p. 187.
| Ib. p. 213.,