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LARDNER has taken the same side, and adduces several arguments in favour of Lampe's opinion. Titman adopts the same opinion. But the probable reasonings of ingenious men, when opposed to such a weight of ancient testimony, in relation to a matter of fact, which occurred at no long distance before their time, deserve very little consideration. And indeed, after reading Lardner's arguments, I must say, that they appear to me to have no high degree of plausibility.
That CERINTHUS lived in the time of the Apostle John, and was known to him, is evident from another testimony of IRENÆUS, which has been often quoted. It is a story which, he says, some persons in his time had from POLYCARP, the disciple of John; which is as follows:-“ John going to a certain bath at Ephesus, and perceiving that Cerinthus, that noted arch-heretic, was in the bath, immediately leaped out, and said, “Let us go home, lest the bath should fall down upon us, having in it such a heretic as Cerinthus, that enemy of truth.”
AUGUSTINE, moreover, asserts, “ That John is the last of the Evangelists."
CHRYSOSTOM supposes that John did not write his Gospel till after the destruction of Jerusalem.
PAULINUS says, “ It had been handed down by tradition, that John survived all the other Apostles, and wrote the last of the four Evangelists, and so as to confirm their most certain history.” Again, he observes, “ That in the beginning of John's Gospel all heretics are confuted.”
Cosmas, of Alexandria, informs us, “ That when John dwelt at Ephesus, there were delivered to him by the faithful, the writings of the other three Evangelists. Receiving them, he said, that what they had written, was well written; but some things were omitted by them, which were needful to be related. And being desired by the faithful, he also published his writing, as a kind of supplement to the rest.”
Isidore, of Seville, says, “ That John wrote the last in Asia."
THEOPHYLACT computed, that John wrote about two-andthirty years after Christ's ascension.
EUTHYMIUS says, “ That this Gospel was not written until long after the destruction of Jerusalem.”
NICEPHORUS, “ That John wrote last of all, about six-andthirty years after our Lord's ascension to heaven.”
Having exhibited the testimonies of the ancients, it may not be amiss to set down the opinions of some of the moderns, relative to the time when this Gospel was written.
Mill, Fabricius, LE CLERC, Jones, and many others, agree that John wrote his Gospel about the year of our Lord, 97.
Wetstein thinks it might have been written about thirtytwo years
after the ascension. BASNAGE and LAMPE are inclined to believe that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Whiston and LARDNER adopt the same opinion.
The Gospel of St John is cited by CLEMENT of Rome; by BARNABAS; by IGNATIUS; by Theophilus of Antioch; by IRENÆUS; and by Clement of Alexandria, in more than forty instances. And by all those writers who lived with, or immediately after, the Apostles, this Gospel is appealed to, as inspired Scripture; and the same is the fact, in regard to ORIGEN, JEROME, AUGUSTINE, and all the Fathers who came after this period. Nearly the whole of this Gospel could be made up from the citations of the writers of the first four centuries. It was never excluded from any church, or any catalogue of the books of the New Testament, and therefore possesses every evidence of being Canonical, which any reasonable man could demand.
THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES--LUKE THE AUTHOR-CANONICAL AUTHORITY
UNDISPUTED BY THE FATHERS-REJECTED ONLY BY HERETICS.
That the Acts of the Apostles is the writing of Luke the Evangelist, is manifest from the dedication to Theophilus, in which reference is made to his Gospel, which was first written. And it is also evident, from the uniform testimony of all antiquity; the fact never having been once questioned by any member of the Catholic church.
But it is pleasant to read the explicit testimonies of the Fathers to the sacred books of the New Testament: I will, therefore, bring forward the most important.
Irenæus repeatedly cites passages from this book, saying, “ Luke, the disciple and follower of Paul, says thus. “ Luke, the inseparable companion and fellow-labourer of
Paul, wrote thus." He takes particular notice of Luke's using the first person plural,
we endeavoured—we camewe went—we sat down—we spoke,” &c.; and enters into some discussion to prove
“ Luke's fitness for writing a just and true history."
In another place he shows, “ That St Luke's Acts of the Apostles ought to be equally received with his Gospel; for that in them he has carefully delivered to us the truth, and given to us a sure rule for salvation.” Again he says, “ Paul's account of his going to Jerusalem exactly agrees with Luke's, in the Acts.
CLEMENT, of Alexandria, citing Paul's speech at Athens, introduces it thus: “So Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, relates.'
TERTULLIAN cites several passages out of the Acts of the Apostles, which he calls, Commentarius Luce, The Commentary of Luke.
Origen ascribes the Acts of the Apostles to Luke. Eusebius says, “ Luke has left us two inspired volumes, The Gospel and the Acts."
JEROME expressly asserts, " That the Acts was the composition of Luke.”
The Syriac version of the New Testament ascribes the Acts to Luke; and in some very ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, his name is prefixed to this book.
To this uniform body of ancient testimony, there is nothing which can be objected, except that the author of the Synopsis, commonly ascribed to ATHANASIUS, says, “ Peter dictated the Acts of the Apostles, but Luke wrote them.” But if this were true, it would not in the least detract from the authority of the book, but rather increase it. One testimony, however, can be of no avail against so many; and we know that Luke knew most of the facts recorded in this book, by his own personal observation, and needed no one to dictate them to him. Besides, Peter was not an eye-witness of the greater number of the facts related in this book.
The time when the Acts of the Apostles was written, may be determined pretty accurately, by the time when the history which it contains terminates; that is about A. D. 62; for, no doubt, he began to write soon after he left Rome.
That the Acts of the Apostles is of Canonical authority, is proved from its having a place in all the ancient catalogues of the books of the New Testament.
The same is evinced by the numerous citations from this book, by the early Fathers; who explicitly appeal to it, as of divine authority-as an inspired book.
It is plainly referred to in more instances than one, by CleMENT of Rome, the fellow-labourer of Paul.
POLYCARP, the disciple of John, also cites a passage from the Acts, in his Epistle to the Philippians.
It is cited by JUSTIN MARTYR in his Exhortation to the Greeks.
It is distinctly cited by Irenæus more than thirty times, in some of which instances it is expressly called Scripture; and the credit and authority of the book are largely discussed in his work against heretics.
The citations of TERTULLIAN from this book are two numerous to be particularized. He also quotes it expressly under the name of Scripture; “ Which part of Scripture," says he, , “they who do not receive, must deny the descent of the Holy Ghost, and be ignorant of the infant state of the Christian Church."*
This book was also constantly read as Scripture, in the weekly assemblies of Christians all over the world.
From the testimonies adduced above, it will appear, with convincing evidence, how unfounded is the opinion of some learned men, that the Acts, in the early period of the church, was very little known, comparatively, and very little esteemed. This opinion has been favoured by such men as Father Simon, and Dr Mill; and has no other foundation than a passage in the Prolegomena to the Acts, ascribed to ChrysOSTOM, the genuineness of which is very doubtful. But if CHRYSOSTOM was the author of this passage, how little can it weigh against such a host of witnesses. The passage referred to, is, " This book is not so much as known to many; they know neither the book, or by whom it was written.” Now, the same might be asserted, respecting all the books in the Canon. There are many persons ignorant of what they contain, and unacquainted with their object. But there is no need to dwell longer on this objection.
The Acts of the Apostles, therefore, has an indisputable claim to a place in the Sacred Canon. No better, or stronger evidence, can be desired. It is true that some of the earliest heretics did not receive this book as Canonical. TERTULLIAN informs us, that it was rejected by Cerdo, the master of Marcion, and some others whom he does not name, but whom he refutes.
Philastrius informs us, that the Cerinthians did not receive this book.
And AUGUSTINE tells us, that the Manichees did not, because they considered Manes to be the Paraclete, promised by the Saviour; but in the Acts, he is declared to have been the Holy Ghost, which descended on the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost.
“ But,” says Father Simon, “ let us leave these enthusiasts, who had no other reason for rejecting the books received by the whole church, except that they did not suit with the idea which they had formed of the Christian religion."
TESTIMONIES TO THE CANONICAL AUTHORITY OF THE FOURTEEN EPISTLES
On the subject of Paul's Epistles, there is a universal consent among the ancients, except as it relates to the Epistle to the Hebrews; which, having been published without the Apostle's name and usual salutation, many conjectured that it was the production of another person: and while some ascribe it to Barnabas, others thought that either Clement, or Luke, was the writer. There seems to have been a difference between the Eastern and Western churches on this subject; for the Greeks appear to have entertained no doubts in regard to Paul's being the author of this Epistle: it was only among the Latins, that its genuineness was a matter of uncertainty. And the most learned among these adopted the opinion, that it was the production of Paul; and by degrees, its authority was fully established in the West, as well as the East. The true state of the case will, however, appear more clearly, by citing the testimonies of the Fathers, than by any general representation.
Although CLEMENT, the fellow-labourer of Paul, frequently cites passages from the Gospels and Epistles, yet he never expressly mentions any book of the New Testament, except Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians; to whom also Clement's Epistle was addressed. His words are: “ Take into