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dence comes under the denomination παραδοσις. Ιη this acceptation of the term, therefore, to say we have such a thing by tradition, is the same as to say, in English, “we have this account transmitted “ from former ages.'
." In Papias and Ireneus there is no mention of tradition. They spoke of what they knew, as they had immediate and most credible attestations from those who were acquainted with the writers of the Gospels, and with every circumstance relating to the publication. Their manner of expressing themselves on this head, is that of men who had the certain knowledge of what they affirm, and theres fore consider it as indisputable,
§ 9. It would be endless to bring authorities. Jerom, Augustin, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Eusebius, and many others, all attest the same thing, and attest it in such a manner as shows that they knew it to be uncontroverted, and judged it to be incontrovertible. But,' say some modern disputants, all the witnesses you can produce in support ' of this fact may, for aught we know, be reducible to one. Ireneus, perhaps, has had his informa* tion only from Papias; and Origen from Papias
and Ireneus; and so of all the rest downwards, 'how numerous soever; so that the whole evidence may be, at bottom, no more than the testimony of Papias.' But, is the positive evidence of witnesses, delivered as of a well-known fact, to be overturned by a mere supposition, à perhaps ? for that the case was really as they suppose, no shadow of evidence
is pretended. Papias is not quoted on this article by Ireneus, nor is his name mentioned, or his testimony referred to. Nor is the testimony of either urged by Origen. As to Ireneus, from the early period in which he lived, he had advantages for information little inferior to those of Papias, having been, in his younger years, well acquainted with Polycarp, the disciple of the Apostle John. Had there then subsisted any account or opinion, contradictory to the account given by Papias, Ireneus must certainly have known it, and would probably have mentioned it, either to confirm, or to confute, it. As the matter stands, we have here a perfect unanimity of the witnesses, not a single contradictory voice : no mention is there, either from those fathers, or from any other ancient writer, that ever another account of this matter had been heard of in the church. Shall we then admit a mere modern hypothesis, to overturn the foundations of all historic evidence ?
$ 10. Let it be observed that Papias, in the words quoted from him, attested two things; that Matthew wrote the Gospel ascribed to him, and that he wrote it in Hebrew. These two points rest on the same bottom, and are equally, as matter of fact, the subjects of testimony. As to both, the authority of Papias has been equally supported by succeeding authors, and by the concurrent voice of antiquity. Now there has not any thing been advanced to invalidate his testimony, in regard to the latter of these, that may not, with equal justice, be urged, to inva.
lidate his testimony, in regard to the former. This may be extended also to other points; for, that Mark was the writer of the Gospel commonly ascribed to him, rests ultimately on the same autho. rity. How arbitrary then is it, where the evidence is the same, and exposed to the same objections, to admit the one without hesitation, and to reject the other? Wetstein, for removing this difficulty, has suggested a distinction, insinuating, that the former may be the testimony of Papias, the latter only his conjecture. But if the words of Papias himself be attended to, no conjecture was ever worse founded than this of Wetstein. Papias speaks of both in the same affirmative tone, as of matters of public notoriety.
I shall conclude the argument with observing, that the truth of the report, that Matthew wrote in Hebrew, is the only plausible account that can be given of the rise of that report. Certain it is, that all the prejudices of the times, particularly among the Greek Christians, were unfavourable to such an opinion. Soon after the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem, the Hebrew chureh, distinguished by the name Nazarene, visibly declined every day; the attachment which many of them still retained to the ceremonies of the law, in like manner the errors of the Ebionites, and other divisions which arose among them, made them soon be looked upon, by the Gentile churches, as but half-christian, at the most. That an advantage of this kind would have been so readily conceded to them by the Greeks, in opposition to a
their own prejudices, can be attributed only to their full conviction of the fact.
Ś 11. DR. LARDNER's doubts (for I can discover none in Origen) are easily accounted for. Averse, on one hand, to admit that there is any book of Scripture whereof we have only a translation, and sensible of the danger of acquiescing in an argument which would unsettle the whole foundations of his system of credibility, he is inclinable to compromise the matter, by acknowledging both the Hebrew and the Greek to be originals, an opinion every way improbable, and so manifestly calculated to serve a turn, as cannot recommend it to a judicious and impartial critic. In this way of compounding matters, Whitby also, and some other disputants on the same side, seem willing to terminate the difference. Nay, even Beausobre and Lenfant, who have treated the question at more length, and with greater warmth, than most others, conclude, somewhat queerly, in this manner.
66 As there is no dispute affecting the foundation, that is, the autho"rity of St. Matthew's Gospel, such as we have it, "the question about the language ought to be re
garded with much indifference 17.»
17 Ainsi n'y ayant point de dispute sur le fond de la chose même, c'est-à-dire, sur l'autorité de l'evangile de S. Matthieu, tel que nous l'avons, la question de la langue doit être regar. dée avec beaucoup d'indifference. Preface sur S. Matthieu, iii. 5.
$ 12. HAVING said so much on the external evi. dence, I shall add but a few words, to show, that the account of this matter, given by the earliest ecclesiastical writers, is not so destitute, as some may think, of internal probability. In every thing that concerned the introduction of the new dispensation, a particular attention was for some time shown, and the preference, before every other nation, given to the Jews. Our Lord's ministry upon the earth was among them only. In the mission of the Apostles, during his own life, they were expressly prohibited from going to the Gentiles, or so much as entering any city of the Samaritans 18 ; and when, after our Lord's resurrection, the apostolical commission was greatly enlarged, being extended to all nations throughout the world, still a sort of precedency was reserved for God's ancient people. It behoved the Messiah, said Jesus , in his last instructions to the Apostles, to suffer, and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, BEGINNING AT JERUSALEM.
The orders then given were punctually executed. The Apostles remained some time in Jerusalem, preaching, and performing miracles in the name of the Lord Jesus, with wonderful success. Peter, in the conclusion of one of his discourses, without flattering his countrymen, that this dispensation of grace would, like the law, be confined to their nation, takes notice of their pre