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But the passage
and the Second of Peter, and the Second and Third of John, whether they are written by the evangelist, or another of the same name.” He then proceeds to reckon
five others, not in our canon, which he calls in one place spurious, in another controverted; meaning, as appears to me, nearly the same thing by these two words
It is manifest from this passage, that the four Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles (the parts of Scripture with which our concern principally lies), were acknowledged without dispute even by those who raised objections, or entertained doubts about some other parts of the same collection. proves something more than this. The author was extremely conversant in the writings of Christians which had been published from the commencement of the institution to his own time; and it was from these writings that he drew his knowledge of the character and reception of the books in question. That Eusebius recurred to this medium of information, and that he had examined with attention this species of proof, is shown, first, by a passage in the very chapter we are quoting, in which, speaking of the books which he calls spurious, “ None,” he says, “ of the ecclesiastical writers, in the succession of the apostles, have vouchsafed to make any mention of them in their writings ;” and, secondly, by another passage of the same work, wherein, speaking of the First Epistle of Peter, “ This,” he says, “ the presbyters of ancient
? Lardner, vol. vii. p. 39.
8 That Eusebius could not intend, by the word rendered “spurious,” what we at present mean by it, is evident from a clause in this very chapter, where, speaking of the Gospels of Peter, and Thomas, and Matthias, and some others, he says, “They are not so much as to be reckoned among the spurious, but are to be rejected as altogether absurd and impious." Vol. viii. p. 98.
times have quoted in their writings as undoubtedly genuine 9:" and then, speaking of some other writings bearing the name of Peter, “We know,” he says, “that they have not been delivered down to us in the number of Catholic writings, forasmuch as no ecclesiastical writer of the ancients, or of our times, has made use of testimonies out of them.” " But in the progress of this history,” the author proceeds, shall make it our business to show, together with the successions from the apostles, what ecclesiastical writers, in every age, have used such writings as these which are contradicted, and what they have said with regard to the Scriptures received in the New Testament, and acknowledged by all, and with regard to those which are not such 10."
After this it is reasonable to believe, that when Eusebius states the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles as uncontradicted, uncontested, and acknowledged by all: and when he places them in opposition, not only to those which were spurious, in our sense of that term, but to those which were controverted, and to those which were well known and approved by many, yet doubted of by some; he represents not only the sense of his own age, but the result of the evidence which the writings of prior ages, from the apostles' time to his own, had furnished to his inquiries. The opinion of Eusebius and his contemporaries appears to have been founded upon the testimony of writers whom they then called ancient: and we may observe, that such of the works of these writers as have come down to our times entirely confirm the judgment and support the distinction which Eusebius proposes. The books which he calls “books universally acknow9 Lardner, vol. viii. p. 99.
10 Ibid. p. 111,
ledged,” are in fact used and quoted in the remaining works of Christian writers, during the 250 years between the apostles' time and that of Eusebius, much more frequently than, and in a different manner from those, the authority of which, he tells us, was disputed.
SECT. IX. Our historical Scriptures were attacked by the early
adversaries of Christianity, as containing the ac
counts upon which the Religion was founded. . NEAR the middle of the second century, Celsus, a heathen philosopher, wrote a professed treatise against Christianity. To this treatise, Origen, who came about fifty years after him, published an answer, in which he frequently recites his adversary's words and arguments. The work of Celsus is lost; but that of Origen remains. Origen appears to have given us the words of Celsus, where he professes to give them, very faithfully; and, amongst other reasons for thinking so, this is one, that the objection, as stated by him from Celsus, is sometimes stronger than his own an
I think it also probable, that Origen, in his answer, has retailed a large portion of the work of Celsus: “That it may not be suspected,” he says, " that we pass by any chapters, because we have no answers at hand, I have thought it best, according to my ability, to confute every thing proposed by him, not so much observing the natural order of things as the order which he has taken himself 1."
Celsus wrote about one hundred years after the Gospels were published; and therefore any notices of these
Orig. Cont. Cels. 1. i. sect. 41.
books from him are extremely important for their antiquity. They are, however, rendered more so by the character of the author; for the reception, credit, and notoriety of these books must have been well established amongst Christians to have made them subjects of animadversion and opposition by strangers and by enemies. It evinces the truth of what Chrysostom, two centuries afterwards, observed, that the Gospels, when written, were not hidden in a corner or buried in obscurity, but they were made known to all the world, before enemies as well as others, even as they are now ?.”
1. Celsus, or the Jew. whom he personates, uses these words :-“I could say many things concerning the affairs of Jesus, and those, too, different from those written by the disciples of Jesus; but I purposely omit them ?." Upon this passage it has been rightly observed, that it is not easy to believe that if Celsus could have contradicted the disciples upon good evidence in any material point, he would have omitted to do so, and that the assertion is, what Origen calls it, a mere oratorical flourish.
It is sufficient, however, to prove that, in the time of Celsus, there were books well known, and allowed to be written by the disciples of Jesus, which books contained a history of him. By the term disciples, Celsus does not mean the followers of Jesus in
general; for them he calls Christians, or believers, or the like; but those who had been taught by Jesus himself, i.e. his apostles and companions.
2. In another passage, Celsus accuses the Christians of altering the Gospel *. The accusation refers
In Matt. Hom. 1. 7.
to some variations in the readings of particular passages; for Celsus goes on to object, that when they are pressed hard, and one reading has been confuted, they disown that, and fly to another. We cannot perceive from Qrigen that Celsus specified any particular instances, and without such specification the charge is of no value. But the true conclusion to be drawn from it is that there were, in the hands of the Christians, histories which were even then of some standing; for various readings and corruptions do not take place in recent productions.
The former quotation, the reader will remember, proves that these books were composed by the disciples of Jesus, strictly so called; the present quotation shows that, though objections were taken by the adversaries of the religion to the integrity of these books, none were made to their genuineness.
3. In a third passage, the Jew, whom Celsus introduces, shuts up an argument in this manner:“ These things then we have alleged to you out of your own writings, not needing any other weapons“. It is manifest that this boast proceeds upon the supposition, that the books, over which the writer affects to triumph, possessed an authority by which Christians confessed themselves to be bound.
4. That the books to which Celsus refers were no other than our present Gospels is made out by his allusions to various passages still found in these Gospels. Celsus takes notice of the genealogies, which fixes two of these Gospels; of the precepts, Resist not him that injures you, and, If a man strike thee on the one cheek, offer to him the other also ®; of the woes denounced by Christ; of his predictions; of his say5 Lardner, vol. ii. p. 276.
Ibid, p. 276.