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JANUARY, 1822. [No. 1. Vol. XXII.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer,
OUR readers cannot be ignorant, that among the various modes of attack levelled against the authority of the sacred Scriptures, in the late campaign of infidelity and blasphemy, great success was augured by the anti-Christian party from the republication of certain uncanonical books, under the title of the Apocryphal, or I would rather call it the counterfeit, New Testament. The proverbially polluted press from which the work issued-for the publisher is no other than the parodist Honeit might have been hoped would have checked its circulation, and I trust has done so in a great measure it is however certain that a very considerable number of copies have been disposed of, and their poison is no doubt actively at work. The Quarterly Reviewers have thought the publication of sufficient importance to devote to it a considerable article in one of their late Numbers (No. 50, for Oct. 1821), in which they express a wish that some person competent to the task would draw up a small supplement to Larduer and Paley, "containing distinct evidence of the spuriousness of these compositions, and stating the principles by which their spuriousness is proved." This, they add, "would answer every objection." Scholars may indeed find ample information on the subject in Lardner, Paley, Jones on the Canon, and other accredited works: but as this apocryphal book is now thrown on the world in a cheap and portable form, and in the vernacular tongue, the CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 241.
refutation ought to be equally accessible; and it occurs to me that a few pages of your miscellany cannot be better employed than in such a service.
The task proposed by the Quarterly Reviewer had, it appears, been anticipated by the Rev. T. H. Horne, in the second edition of his valuable" Introduction to the critical Study of the Holy Scriptures" just published; and it has been so ably performed by him that I could earnestly wish to see the greater part of his paper reprinted in the Christian Observer, where it would meet with immediate and extensive circulation, and be more accessible to general readers, than in Mr. Horne's voluminous publication. The disquisition would be very curious and entertaining, were it not for the extreme pain which must accompany its perusal, by every person who has a reverence for the genuine oracles of God, and who reflects upon the awful woe denounced upon all who shall add to, or diminish from, the book of Divine inspiration. I have only to add, that the author has courteously permitted me to transcribe his paper for the present purpose. Earnestly
I say anticipated; because, though Mr. Horne's work did not appear till two months after the publication of No. 50. of the Quarterly Review, his chapter on the Apocryphal New Testaof his work, was, I understand, printed ment, which occurs in the first volume off (indeed it must necessarily have been so) many months before that Number of the Quarterly Review appeared. It seems but just to Mr. Horne to mention this circumstance. B
do I wish that this brief refutation were bound up with every copy of the Apocryphal New Testament; but as the publisher of that work is not likely to do this measure of justice, it only remains for every individual to supply the antidote where he finds the poison, and in this view, if your readers will excuse the paronomasia Anglicé, pun
VICE FUNGAR COTIS.
ON THE WRITINGS USUALLY
1. Enumeration of these apocryphal writings.-II. External evidence,
to shew that they were never considered as inspired or canonical.
-III. Internal Evidence.-IV. These apocryphal books are so far from affecting the credibility of the genuine books of the New Testament, that the latter are confirmed by them.
I. The spurious and apocryphal books composed in the early days of Christianity, which were published under the names of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, their companions, &c., and which are mentioned by the writers of the first four centuries under the names of Gospels, Epistles, Acts, Revelations, &c., are very numerous. Most of these have long since perished; though some few are still extant, which have been collected (together with notices of the lost pieces), and published by John Albert Fabricius, in his Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, the best edition of which appeared at Hamburgh, in 1719-1743, in three parts, forming two volumes 8vo. Of this work the Rev. and Learned Mr. Jones made great use, and in fact translated the greater part of it, in his "New and Full Method of settling the Canonical Authority of the New Testament." The apocryphal books extant are, An Epistle from Jesus Christ to Abgarus; his Epistle,
which (it is pretended) fell down
This is a misnomer; for all the apocryphal writings are not included in the publication in question.
apostolical fathers, therefore, have no claim to be considered as apocryphal writings.
As the external form of the Apocryphal New Testament harmonises with that of the larger octavo editions of the Authorised English Version of the New Testament, the advocates of infidelity have availed themselves of it, to attempt to undermine the credibility of the genuine books of the New Testament. The preface to the compilation entitled "The Apocryphal New Testament," is, certainly, so drawn up as apparently to favour the views of the opposers of Divine Revelation; but as its editor has DISCLAIMED any sinister design in publishing it, the writer of these pages will not impute any such motives to him.
II. In order, however, that the reader may see how little the sacred writings of the New Testament can suffer from this publicationt, a
The title-page is surrounded with a broad black rule, similar to that found in many of the large 8vo. editions of the New Testament, printed in the last century and the different books are divided into chapters and verses, with a table of contents, drawn up in imitation of those which are found in all edi. tions of the English Bible,
+ In 1698 Mr. Toland published his Amyntor, in which he professed to give a catalogue of books, attributed in the primitive times to Jesus Christ, his Apostles, and other eminent persons, "together with remarks and observations relating to the canon of Scripture." He there raked together whatever he could find relating to the spurious gospels, and pretended sacred books, which appeared in the early ages of the Christian church. These he produced with great pomp, to the number of eighty and upwards; and though they were most of them evidently false and ridiculous, and carried the plainest marks of forgery and imposture, of which, no doubt, he was very sensible, yet he did what he could to represent them as of equal authority with the four Gospels, and other sacred books of the New Testament, now received amoug Christians. To this end, he took advantage of the unwary and ill-ground
brief statement shall be given, of the very satisfactory reasons for which the apocryphal (or rather spurious) writings, ascribed to the Apostles, have been deservedly rejected from the canon of Scripture.
1. In the first place, they were NOT acknowledged as authentic, nor were they much used by the primitive Christians.-There are no quotations of these apocryphal books in the genuine writings of the apostolical fathers: that is, of Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, and Hermas, whose writings reach from about the year of Christ 70 to 108; nor are they found in any antient catalogues of the sacred books. Some of them indeed are mentioned, but not cited by Ire
ed hypotheses of some learned men, and endeavoured to prove that the books of the present canon lay concealed in the coffers of private persons, till the latter times of Trajan or Adrian, and were not known to the clergy or churches of those times, nor distinguished from the spurious works of heretics; and that the Scriptures, which we now receive as canonical, and others which we now reject, were indifferently and promiscuously cited and appealed to by the most ancient Christian writers. His design in all this, manifestly was to shew, that the Gospels and other sacred writings of the New Testament, now acknowledged as canonical, really deserve no greater credit, and are no more to be depended upon, than those books which are rejected and exploded as forgeries. And yet he had the confidence to pretend, in a book he afterwards published, that his intention in his Amyntor, was not to invalidate, but to illustrate and confirm, the canon of the New Testament. This may serve as one instance out of many that might be produced of the insincerity of this opposer of revelation, whose assertions have been adopted by infidels of the present day. Many good and satisfactory refutations of Toland were published at that time by Dr. Samuel Clarke, Mr. Nye, and others; and especially by the learned Mr. Jeremiah Jones, in his "New and Full Method of settling the Canonical Authority of the New Testament," in 2 vols. 8vo. reprinted at Oxford in 1798, in 3 vols. 8vo.
næus and Tertullian, who lived in the second century. Indeed the apocryphal books above mentioned are expressly, and in so many words, rejected by those who have mentioned them, as the forgeries of heretics, and consequently as spurious and heretical.
2. Few or none of these productions, which (it is pretended) were written in the apostolic age, were composed before the second century, and several of them were forged so late as the third century, and were rejected as spurious at the time they were attempted to be imposed upon the heathen world.-A brief statement of the dates of the pieces contained in the Apocryphal New Testament (with the exception of the writings of the apostolic fathers which are omitted for the reason already stated) will demonstrate this fact.
Thus, the pseudo-Epistles of Abgarus Prince of Edessa, and of Jesus Christ, which were never heard of, until published by Eusebius in the fourth century. Though an Epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans was extant in the second century, and was received by Marcion the heretic, who was notorious for his mutilations and interpolations of the New Testament, yet
that now extant is not the same with the antient one under that title in Marcion's Apostolicon, or collection of apostolical epistles. It never was extant in Greek, and is a production of uncertain, but unquestionably very late, date. Mr. Jones conjectures it to have been forged by some monk not long before the Reformation; and, as will be shewn in a subsequent page, it was compiled from several passages of St. Paul's Epistles. The six Epistles of Paul to Seneca, and eight of the philosopher to him, were never heard of, until they were mentioned by Jerome and Augustine, two writers who lived at the close of the fourth century; and who do not appear to have considered them as genuine. In
the third, or perhaps in the second,