Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

in that portion of the faithful record of his word. He does it in defiance of all the foregoing evidence; and to deny the whole volume of inspiration would not require the adoption of any other principle than that on which he is proceeding." Pp. 42

44.

The origin of the Books of the NEW TESTAMENT is thus related :

"After their doctrine had every where attracted attention, and, in spite of the most violent opposition, had forced its way through the civilized world; and when churches or societies of Christians were collected, not only in Judea, but in the most celebrated cities of Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor; the Scriptures of the New Testament were written by the Apostles, and other inspired men, and intrusted to the keeping of these churches.

The whole of the New Testament was not written at once, but in different parts, and on various occasions. Six of the Apostles, and two inspired disciples who accompanied them in their journeys, were employed in this work. The histories which it contains of the life of Christ, known by the name of the Gospels, were composed by four of his contemporaries, two of whom had been constant attendants on his public ministry." P. 46.

"From the manner in which these Scriptures were at first circulated, some of their parts were necessarily longer of reaching certain places than others. These, of course, could not be so soon received into the canon as the rest. Owing to this circumstance, and to that of a few of the books being addressed to individual believers, or to their not having the name of their writers affixed, or the designation of Apostle added, a doubt for a time existed among some respecting the genuineness of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle of James, the 2d Epistle of Peter, the 2d and 3d Epistles of John, the Epistle of Jude, and the Book of Revelation. These, however, though not universally, were generally acknowledged; while all the other books of the New Testament were without dispute received from the beginning. This discrimination

proves the scrupulous care of the first churches on this highly important subject.

At length these books, which had not at first been admitted, were, like the rest, universally received, not by the votes of a council, as is sometimes asserted, but after deliberate and free enquiry by many separate churches, under the superintending providence of God, in different parts of the world. It is at the same time a certain fact, that no other books, besides those which at present compose the volume of the New Testament, were admitted by the churches. Several Apocryphal writings were published under the name of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, which are mentioned by the writers of the first four centuries, most of which have perished, though some are still extant. Few or none of them were composed before the second century, and several of them were forged so late as the third century. But they were not acknowledged as authentic by the first Christians, and were rejected, by those who have noticed them, as spurious and heretical.* Histories, too, as might have been expected, were written of the life of Christ, and one forgery was attempted, of a letter said to be written by Jesus himself to Abgarus, King of Edessa; but of the first, none were received as of any authority, and the last was universally rejected. Besides our Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles,' says Paley, 'no Christian history claiming to be written by an apostle, or apostolical man, is quoted within 300 years after the birth of Christ, by any writer now extant or known; or if quoted, is quoted with marks of censure and rejection.'

This agreement of Christians respecting the Scriptures, when we consider their many differences in other respects, is the more remarkable, since it took place without any public authority being interposed. We have no knowledge,' says the above author, of any interference of authority in the question before the council of Laodicea, in the year 363.'" Pp.48-50.

[ocr errors]

"But unless the whole manner of communicating the revelation of God, in these Scriptures, had been altered, it is not possible, that, excepting the accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, they could have been

++ "These forged writings," says Lardner, "do not oppose, but confirm, the account given us in the canonical Scriptures. They all take for granted the dignity of our Lord's person, and his power of working miracles; they acknowledge the certainty of there having been such persons as Matthew and the other Evangelists, and Peter and the other Apostles. They authenticate the general and leading facts contained in the New Testament. They pre-suppose that the Apostles received from Christ a commission to propagate his religion, and a supernatural power to enforce its authority. And thus they indirectly establish the truth and divine original of the Gospel."

earlier committed to writing. The history of the Acts of the Apostles, being carried down to about the year 63 of the Christian era, could not, it is evident, have been published sooner. The Epistles are not addressed to men of the world, or to the whole inhabitants of particular countries, but exclusively to believers. The truth conveyed in them is not delivered in an abstract form, but in the way of immediate application to existing cases and circumstances. This particular method of communicating the doctrine, and of recording the laws of the kingdom of Christ, which commends itself to every reflecting mind, could not, it is manifest, have been adopted till societies of Christians were in existence, and till they had existed for some considerable time. In this way, too, we have undeniable proof of the success of the Apostles in the rapid progress of the Gospel. We are made acquainted, as we could not otherwise have been, with their zeal, resolution, self-denial, disinterestedness, patience, and meekness, and have the most convincing evidence of the extraordinary gifts they possessed. We are also put in possession of indubitable evidence of the miraculous gifts conferred on the first Christians, as well as of their sincerity, courage, and patience.

Thus were the Scriptures, as we now possess them, delivered to the first churches. By the concurrent testimony of all antiquity, both of friends and foes, they were received by Christians of dif. ferent sects, and were constantly appealed to on all hands, in the controversies that arose among them. Commentaries upon them were written at a very early period,

and translations made into different languages. Formal catalogues of them were published, and they were attacked by the adversaries of Christianity, who not only did not question, but expressly admitted, the facts that they contained, and that they were the genuine productions of the persons whose names they bore.

In this manner the Scriptures were also secured from the danger of being in any respect altered or vitiated. 'The books ' of Scripture,' says Augustine, 'could not ' have been corrupted. If such an attempt 'had been made by any one, his design 'would have been prevented and defeated. 'His alterations would have been immedi

ately detected by many and more ancient copies. The difficulty of succeeding in 'such an attempt is apparent hence, that the Scriptures were early translated into 'divers languages, and copies of them

[ocr errors]

were numerous.

The alterations which

6

any one attempted to make would have 'been soon perceived; just even as now, in fact, lesser faults in some copies are 'amended by comparing ancient copies or 'those of the original. If any one, (continues Augustine,) should charge you 'with having interpolated some texts alleged by you as favourable to your cause, what would you say? Would you not immediately answer, that it is impossible for 'you to do such a thing in books read by 'all Christians? And that if any such attempt had been made by you, it would 'have been presently discerned and de'feated by comparing the ancient copies? 'Well, then, for the same reason that the Scriptures cannot be corrupted by you, 'neither could they be corrupted by any ' other people.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Accordingly, the uniformity of the manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures that are extant, which are incomparably more numerous than those of any ancient author, and which are dispersed through so many countries, and in so great a variety of languages, is truly astonishing. It demonstrates both the veneration in which the Scriptures have been held, and the singular care that has been taken in transcribing them." Pp. 52-54.

[ocr errors]

He next cites the whole series of the Fathers, from Barnabas the companion of Paul down to Athanasius, all consenting to the Canon as now received, acknowledging it to be of divine authority, and rejecting spurious books. He afterwards ably refutes the notion, advanced by some, that an inspired list of the canonical Books would have been more satisfactory; and proceeds in page 77 to notice the assertion," that the ques

tion of the canon is not a point of revelation;" on which he has the following important remarks :

"The integrity of the canon of the Old Testament is a matter of revelation as much as anything contained in the Bible. This is attested, as has been shown, by the whole nation of the Jews, to whom it was committed, and their fidelity to the truth has been avouched by the Lord and his Apostles. Is not this revelation? The integrity of the canon of the New Testament is equally a point of revelation. As God had

said to the Jews, Ye are my witnesses,' and as they'received the lively oracles to give unto us,' Acts vii, 38; so the Lord Jesus said to the Apostles, 'Ye shall be 'witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.' The first churches received the New Testament Scriptures from these witnesses of the Lord, and thus had inspired authority for those books. It was not left to erudition or reasoning to collect, that they were a revelation from God. This the first Christians knew from the testimony of those who wrote them. They could not be more assured that the things taught were from God, than they were that the writings which contained them were from God. The integrity of the sacred canon is, then, a matter of revelation, conveyed to us by testimony, like every thing contained in the Scriptures.

While it has been denied, that the question of the canon is a point of revelation, it has been asserted that it is a point of erudition. But erudition has nothing further to do with the question, than as it may be employed in conveying to us the testimony. Erudition did not produce the revelation of the canon. If the canon had not been a point of revelation, erudition could never have made it so; for erudition can create nothing; it can only investigate and confirm truth, and testify to that which exists, or detect error." Pp. 77, 78.

[ocr errors]

"The assertion is subversive of the

whole of revelation. We have no way of knowing, that the miracles related in the Scriptures were wrought, and that the doctrines inculcated were taught, but by testimony and the internal evidence of the books themselves. We have the evidence of miracles, as that evidence comes to us by the testimony which vouches the authenticity of the inspired books. As far as the genuineness and authenticity of any book are brought into suspicion, so far is every thing contained in it brought into suspicion. For it should always be remembered, that there is no greater absurdity, than to question the claim of a book to a place in the canon, and at the same time to acknowledge its contents to be a revelation from God. There can be no evidence that the doctrines of Scripture are revealed truths, unless we are certain that the books of Scripture are revelation. If the books which compose the canon are not matter of revelation, then we have no revelation. If the truth of the canon be

not established to us as matter of revelation, then the books of which it is composed are not so established; and if the books be not so, then not one sentence of them, nor one doctrine or precept which they contain, comes established to us as a revelation from God. If then the question of the canon be a point of erudition, not of divine revelation, so is every doctrine which the Scriptures contain. For the doctrine cannot be assured revelation, if the book that contains it be not assured revelation." Pp. 79, 80.

"When Paul says, that his handwriting of the salutation was the token in every epistle, he at once shows us the importance of the canon, and warrants us in receiving it as a divine revelation attested by ordinary means. Those to whom he wrote had no other means of knowing the handwriting of the Apostle than those by which they knew any other handwriting. Even at that time the churches knew the genuineness of the epistles sent to them by ordinary means; and Paul's authority warrants this as sufficient." Pp. 80, 81.

In his remarks on internal evidence grounded on John iv, 39 and 41, he has the following :

"In reading the Scriptures, we are often so struck with their evidence, that, independently of any other proof, we firmly believe that they come from God. We are often most forcibly convinced by evidence which we could hardly state intelligibly to others. The Apostles still commend themselves to every man's conscience, and we feel the force of the question, ' What is 'the chaff to the wheat,-is not my word 'like a fire ?' Must, then, the illiterate man receive the Scriptures as a question of erudition? Must the canonical authority of an epistle that recommends itself as the light of heaven, depend on questions of erudition?

Christians receive the Holy Scriptures on the authority of God, as declared by his inspired messengers, so that they are reThe ceived on the ground of revelation. illiterate are equally bound to receive them in this way, and interested in so doing, as the learned. As all are to be judged by them, it was necessary that all should have full assurance that they are from God; and it is matter of express revelation, that nothing but hatred of the light, and the love of darkness, prevents any man from receiving the truth."

"If we displace from the canon any of those books that have been sanctioned by the recognition of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles, we overturn the authority on which all the rest are held, and invite the evil propensities of our nature to quarrel with any thing in the Bible to which we find a disrelish. Those who hold that the question of the canon is open to discussion, and who set aside any part of it on the ground of either external or internal evidence, cannot be said to have a Bible. Their Bible will be longer or shorter, according to their researches ; and a fixed standard they can never have." Pp. 82-84.

lomon, coming, as it does, under the sanction of a first principle. Those persons who reject any books of the canon on such grounds, would show themselves much more rational, as well as more humble Christians, if, recognising the paramount authority of a first principle universally acknowledged, they would receive the Song of Solomon and the book of Esther, or any other of the books which they now reject, as parts of the Word of God, and humbly endeavour to gain from them the instruction and edification, which, as divine books, they must be calculated to give. This questioning of the canon, then, proceeds on infidel and irrational principles, which, if carried to their legitimate length, must end in complete unbelief.

6

According to your way of proceeding,' observes Augustine, in reference to those who supposed that the Scriptures had been interpolated or corrupted,—and the observation is equally applicable to all who add to, or reject, certain parts of the sacred. canon- According to your way of pro'ceeding, the authority of Scripture is

(

quite destroyed, and every one's fancy is to determine what in the Scriptures is to 'be received, and what not. He does not 'admit it, because it is found in writings ' of so great credit and authority; but it is rightly written, because it is agreeable to his judgment. Into what confusion and uncertainty must men be brought by such a principle.' Pp. 85, 86. On the Inspiration of Scripture in our next Number.

(

> ""

We conclude this part of the subject with an important extract:

If, then, in a book recognised by the canon, as the Song of Solomon, we find matter which to our wisdom does not appear worthy of inspiration, we may be assured that we mistake. For if that book is authenticated by testimony, as part of the sacred Scriptures which the Lord Jesus Christ sanctioned, it is authenticated by a first principle, to which God has bound us by the constitution of our nature to submit. If, in this instance, or any other particular instance, we reject it, our own conduct in other things will be our condemnation. There is no first principle in the constitution of man that can enable him to reject any thing in the Song of So

[ocr errors]

THE NICENE CREED.

As the passage quoted by ABDIEL in page 14 of our first number, containing the opinion of the Fathers of the Nicene Council, is also appealed to by Mede and others, we have deemed it important to have it carefully collated with the Greek text of Gelasius Cyzicenus de Actis Consilii Nicæni, from which work it was extracted; and through the kindness of an esteemed literary Friend we are enabled to assure our Readers of the correctness of the following.

¿

ó

Μικροτερος ὁ κοσμος εγενετο δια την προγνωσιν προεγνω γαρ ὁ Θεός ὁτι ἁμαρτήσει ὁ ανθρωπος. Δια τετο καινες ερανες και καινην γην προσδοκωμεν κατα τα ἱερα γραμματα, φαινομενης ήμιν της επιφάνειας και βασιλείας τε μεγαλε θες και σωτηρος ήμων Ιησε Χρισε. Και παραλήψονται τοτε, κατα φησι Δανιηλ, την βασιλειαν ἅγιοι Υψισε. Και εται ἡ γη καθαρα, ἅγια, γη ζωντων, και 8 νεκρων. Ην προεωρακως Δαβιδ τῳ της πιςεως οφθαλμῳ βοᾷ, Πιςεύω τε ιδειν τα αγαθα τε Κυριε εν γη ζωντων· γη πραέων και ταπείνων. ριοι γαρ φησιν [ὁ Χριςος] ὁι πραεις, ότι αυτοι κληρονομησεσι την γην. ὁ προφήτης φησι, και πατησεσι αυτην ποδες πραεων και ταπείνων.

Μακα

Και

52

INTELLIGENCE.

We are happy in being enabled to state, that MEETINGS for the discussion of Prophecy are now becoming of frequent occurrence. The proper way to arrive at TRUTH in this matter, and to give the doctrines connected with Prophecy their just and relative importance, is thus to look the subject fairly in the face. On such occasions, so far as our experience goes, objections are met in the meekness of wisdom," and either admitted or refuted; difficulties are considered; the propositions and statements brought forward are sifted and discussed; information is elicited; and by these means prejudice and misapprehension are removed.

tr

An interesting Meeting of this description was held last December at Birmingham; the Rector, the Rev. T. Moseley, presiding. The object of it was to establish a permanent annual Meeting for prophetical discussion, for the clergy residing north and west of London. Leicester was fixed upon for the second discussion, as being a more central and convenient situation; and the time of year for it was altered from Christmas to Midsummer. The Meeting was accordingly held on the 20th and 21st July, at

the Public Library, the use of which was kindly granted for the purpose by the Mayor and Corporation. The Hon. and Rev. H. D. Erskine, Incumbent of the Parish in which it was held, presided. About eighteen clergymen attended, and an interesting discussion was continued for two days on the following subjects: I. The Second Advent; II. The Restoration of the Jews; III. The Resurrection; IV. The Judgment.

By the Rules which govern the Meeting, no conclusion is arrived at expressive of the sentiments of the majority: each subject, after being opened by the person proposing it, goes round for the purpose of allowing to every individual present an opportunity of delivering his sentiments in rotation, without any interruption; and it is afterwards passed round a second time, for mutual explanation, interrogation, &c. So far as we can judge, on both these occasions the members were edified both in knowledge and in love.

to our

Similar meetings, though on a smaller scale, have come knowledge in various other places; some of which we may hereafter notice.

The following New Publications are announced.

NEW ILLUSTRATIONS OF PROPHECY, in five Dissertations, on an Infidel Power; the Abyss or Bottomless Pit; the Symbolic Dragon; the Millennium; and the Coming of Christ. To which is added ▲ SERMON on the Kingdom of Christ. By

the Rev. W. VINT, Tutor of Airdale College. 8vo. 10s. Sherwood and Co. London.

EIGHT LETTERS on the Prophecies relating to the Last Times; by J. 2s. 6d. Hatchard H. FRERE, Esq. A and Son.

*

** We shall be happy to receive and notice intelligence of new or intended publications. Letters and communications on this subject must be postage paid.

« AnteriorContinuar »