Page images

graphs which were sent severally to the churches named, to all of which Paul addressed Epistles; the second opinion is, that Tertullian meant to refer his readers to the original Greek of these Epistles, which they had been accustomed to read in a Latin version; and the third is, that this phrase means, well authenticated letters; epistles, which, by application to these churches, could be proved to be genuine writings of the Apos


Now, that the first of these is the true sense of Tertullian's words, will, I think, appear very probable, if we consider, that if those autographs were preserved, even with common care, they would have been extant in the time of Tertullian, who reckons only 160 years from the time of Paul's writing to his own time.

And again, unless he meant this, there is no reason why he should direct his readers only to those cities which had received Epistles; for doubtless many other churches, which might be more accessible, had authentic copies in the Greek language. Such copies undoubtedly existed in Africa, where Tertullian lived. They need not, however, have been directed to go to Rome, or Corinth, or Ephesus, or Philippi, or Thessalonica, to see the Epistles of Paul in Greek.

Neither was it necessary to take a journey to these cities to be fully convinced, that the letters which had been received by them were genuine; for the evidence of this fact was not confined to these distinguished places, but was diffused all over the Christian world.

From these considerations, I conclude, that in Tertullian's time, these churches had in their possession, and preserved with care, the identical Epistles sent to them by Paul. This sense is confirmed by what he says, of their being able to hear the voice, and behold the countenance, of the Apostles, and see the very seats on which they had been accustomed to sit when they presided in the church. These seats were still occupied by the bishops, and seemed to preside, as they were venerable from having been once occupied by the Apostles.

Tertullian was acquainted with the Epistle to the Hebrews, for he quotes several passages from the sixth chapter, but he ascribes it to Barnabas, and not to Paul. In this opinion, I believe, he is singular.

ORIGEN quotes Paul's Epistles, as expressly and frequently, as is done by almost any modern writer. To transcribe all the passages cited by him, would be to put down a large portion

of the writings of this Apostle. A few instances will be sufficient.

In one passage, in his work against Celsus, he mentions several of Paul's Epistles together, in the following manner:"Do you, first of all, explain the Epistles of him who says these things, and having diligently read, and attended to the sense of the words there used, particularly in that to the Ephesians; to the Thessalonians; to the Philippians; to the Romans, &c." The Epistle to the Ephesians is elsewhere quoted by Origen, with the inscription which it now bears.

After employing an argument, founded on a passage quoted from the Epistle to the Hebrews, he observes:-"But possibly some one, pressed with this argument, will take refuge in the opinion of those who reject this Epistle, as not written by Paul. In answer to such, we intend to write a distinct discourse, to prove this to be an Epistle of Paul." In his citations of this Epistle, therefore, he constantly ascribes it to Paul, in such expressions as these" Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews,"*" In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the same Paul



But Origen not only expresses his own opinion on this subject, but asserts that, by the tradition received by the ancients, it was ascribed to Paul. His words are " For it is not without reason, that the ancients have handed it down to us as Paul's." Now, when we take into view that Origen lived within one hundred years of the time of the Apostles, and that he was a person of most extraordinary learning, and that he had travelled much through different countries, his testimony on this point is of great weight; especially, since his opinion is founded on the testimony of the ancients, by whom he must mean the contemporaries of the Apostles. At the same time, however, he mentions, that some ascribed it to Luke, and others to Clement of Rome.

CYPRIAN often quotes the Epistles of Paul. " According," says he, "to what the blessed Apostle wrote in his Epistle to the Romans, "Every one shall give account of himself to God; therefore, let us not judge one another."* In his First book of Testimonies, he says "In the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, it is said, Moreover, brethren, I would not ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were baptized unto Moses, in the cloud, and in the sea.'t Likewise, in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, it is written, Their minds were blinded until this day.' In like manner, blessed Paul, + I Cor. x, 1. 2 Cor. iii, 14, 15.

* Rom. xiv, 12.


[ocr errors]

by the inspiration of the Lord, says, 'Now he that ministereth seed to the sower, minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness, that ye may be enriched in all things." Likewise Paul to the Galatians, says, 'When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman.'"†

CYPRIAN expressly quotes the Epistle to the Ephesians under that title. "But the Apostle Paul, speaking of the same thing more clearly and plainly, writes to the Ephesians, and says, 'Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water.'‡ So also, Paul to the Philippians, says, 'Who being appointed in the form of God, did not earnestly affect to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking on him the form of a servant; and being made in the likeness of man, and found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.'§ In the Epistle of Paul to the Colossians, it is written, 'Continue in prayer, watching in the same.' Likewise, the blessed Apostle Paul, full of the Holy Ghost, sent to call and convert the Gentiles, warns and teaches, Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy, &c."" He also quotes both the Epistles to the Thessalonians. In his book of Testimonies, he says, "If the Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, said, 'Let no man despise thy youth, much more may it be said of you and your colleagues, 'Let no man despise thy age."" "Therefore the Apostle writes to Timothy, and exhorts, 'that a bishop should not strive, but be gentle, and apt to teach." These two Epistles are elsewhere quoted distinctly, as the First and Second to Timothy. He also quotes, from the Epistle to Titus, the passage, "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition, reject."



CYPRIAN no where quotes the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is probable, therefore, that he, like some others of the Latin Fathers, did not believe it to be Paul's, or was doubtful respecting it.

Neither does he cite the Epistle to Philemon; of this no other reason need be sought, but its contents and brevity. How many Christian authors have written volumes, without any citation of that Epistle.

VICTORINUS, who lived near the close of the third century,

* 2 Cor. ix, 10, 11.

§ Philip. ii, 6-8.
** 1 Tim. iv, 12.

+ Gal. iv, 4.

| Col. iv, 2.
tt 2 Tim. ii, 24.

Eph. v, 25, 26.

¶ Col. ii, 8.

‡‡ Tit. iii, 10.

often quotes Paul's Epistles; and, among the rest, he cites the Epistle to the Hebrews, which he seems to have believed to be the production of Paul.

DIONYSIUS of Alexandria, also a contemporary of Origen, and a man of great learning, in the few fragments of his works which remain, often refers to Paul's Epistles.

NOVATUS, presbyter of the Church of Rome, who flourished about the middle of the third century, expressly cites from the Epistle to the Romans, that famous testimony to Christ's divinity, so often quoted by the Fathers, "Whose are the Fathers, of whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever." And it deserves to be recollected, that although so many, beginning with Irenæus, have cited this passage, yet none of them appear to have thought the words capable of any other meaning, than the plain, obvious sense, which strikes the reader at first. That it was a mere exclamation of praise, seems never to have entered their minds. NoVATUS also quotes the First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians, the Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, and to the Philippians. From this last Epistle, he cites these remarkable words: "Who being in the form of God,"* and interprets the following clause in exact accordance with another of the Fathers: "Did not earnestly seek to be like God, or to be equal with God." He quotes from the Epistle to the Colossians, these words: "Whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers, things visible and invisible, by him all things consist." The Epistles to Timothy, and to Titus, are also cited by this author.

METHODIUS, who lived in the latter part of the third century, quotes Paul's Epistle to the Romans, First and Second to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, the First to the Thessalonians, and the First to Timothy. He has also taken several passages from the Epistle to the Hebrews; and quotes it in such a manner, as to render it highly probable, that he esteemed it to be a part of Sacred Scripture, and ascribed it to Paul.

EUSEBIUS, the learned historian, undoubtedly received thirteen Epistles of Paul as genuine; and he seems to have entertained no doubt respecting the Canonical authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews; but he sometimes expresses himself doubtfully of its author, while at other times he quotes it as Paul's, without any apparent hesitation. In speaking of the universally-acknowledged Epistle of Clement of Rome, he observes:

* Phil. ii, 6.

+ Col. i, 16, 17.

"In which, inserting many sentiments of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and also using some of the very words of it, he plainly manifests that Epistle to be no modern writing. And hence it has, not without reason, been reckoned among the other writings of the Apostle; for Paul having written to the Hebrews in their own language, some think that the Evangelist Luke, others, that this very Clement translated it; which last is the more probable of the two, there being a resemblance between the style of the Epistle of Clement, and that to the Hebrews; nor are the sentiments of these two writings very different." In his Ecclesiastical History, he speaks "Of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and divers other Epistles of Paul." And Theodoret positively asserts, that Eusebius received this Epistle as Paul's, and that he manifested that all the ancients, almost, were of the same opinion. It seems, from these facts, that in the time of Eusebius, the churches with which he was acquainted, did generally receive the Epistle to the Hebrews, as the writing of Paul.

AMBROSE, Bishop of Milan, received fourteen Epistles of Paul.

JEROME received, as undoubted, all Paul's Epistles, except that to the Hebrews, concerning which he says, in his letter to Evangelius, "That all the Greeks, and some of the Latins, received this Epistle."

And in his letter to Dardanus, "That it was not only received, as Paul's, by all the churches of the East, in his time, but by all the Ecclesiastical writers in former times, though many ascribe it to Barnabas, or Clement." He also says, "That it was daily read in the churches: and if the Latins did not receive this Epistle, as the Greeks rejected the Revelation of John, he received both; not being so much influenced by present times, as the judgment of ancient writers, who quote both; and that not as they quote Apocryphal books, and even Heathen writings, but as Canonical and 'Ecclesiastical."

JEROME, in speaking of the writings of Paul, gives the following very full and satisfactory testimony: "He wrote," says he, "nine Epistles to seven churches. To the Romans, one; to the Corinthians, two; to the Galatians, one; to the Philippians, one; to the Colossians, one; to the Thessalonians, two; to the Ephesians, one; to Timothy, two; to Titus, one; to Philemon, one. But the Epistle called, to the Hebrews, is not thought to be his, because of the difference of argument and style; but rather Barnabas's, as Tertullian thought; or Luke's, according to some others; or Clement's, who was afterwards

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »