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                                      THE  CANON OF THE

 

         OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS

 

                              ASCERTAINED,

             

                                        OR

 

               THE BIBLE COMPLETE

 

                                 WITHOUT THE

 

     APOCRYPHA AND UNWRITTEN TRADITIONS.

 

 

                                A NEW EDITION,

 

         Revised for the Presbyterian Board of Publication.

 

                BY ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER, D. D.

 Professor in the Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey.

 

 

 

 

 

        Digitized by Ted Hildebrandt, Gordon College, 2006.

 

 

 

 

                                   PHILADELPHIA:

             PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF PUBLICATION,

                           No. 265 CHESTNUT STREET.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1851,

 

                      BY A. W. MITCHELL, M. D.

 

In the office of the Clerk of the District Court for the

                     Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      Stereotyped by SLOTE & MOONEY, Philadelphia.

                   Printed by Wm. S. MARTIEN.

 


 

 

 

 

                                  CONTENTS.

 

                                     PART. I.

                                                                                                              PAGE

INTRODUCTION--The importance of ascertaining the true

          Canon of the Holy Scriptures,                                                        9

 

                                    SECTION I.

Early use and import of the word Canon,                                                            17

 

                                     SECTION II.

Constitution of the Canon of the Old Testament by Ezra—

          The Canon of the Old Testament as it now exists, sanc-

          tioned by Christ and his Apostles—Catalogues of the books

          by some of the early Fathers—Agreement of Jews and

          Christians on this subject,                                                             21

 

                                     SECTION III.

Apocryphal books—Their origin—Importance of distinguish-

          ing between canonical and apocryphal books—Six books of

          the latter class pronounced canonical by the Council of

          Trent—Not in the Hebrew, nor received by the Jews,

          ancient or modern,                                                                       36

 

                                     SECTION IV.

Testimonies of the Christian Fathers, and of other learned

          men, down to the time of the Council of Trent, respecting

          the Apocrypha,                                                                             46

                                     SECTION V.

Internal evidence that these books are not canonical—The

          writers not prophets, and do not claim to be inspired,                      66

                                  SECTION VI.

No canonical book of the Old Testament has been lost,                            84

                                    SECTION VII.

The Oral Law of the Jews without foundation,                                          94

 

                                        PART II.

                                          SECTION I.

Method of settling the Canon of the New Testament,                                113

                                      SECTION II.

Catalogues of the books of the New Testament—Canonical

          books only cited as authority by the Fathers, and read in

          the churches as Scripture,                                                              124


4                                    CONTENTS.

 

                                         SECTION III.

Order of the books of the New Testament—Time of the gos-

            pels being written—Notice of the Evangelists,                                             144

                                        SECTION IV.

Testimonies to Matthew's gospel—Time of publication—Lan-

            guage in which it was originally composed,                                                 154

                                        SECTION V.

Gospel of Mark—On what occasion published—Ascribed to

            the dictation of Peter by all the Fathers,                                                        165

                                         SECTION VI.

Gospel of Luke—Testimonies of the Fathers respecting it,                                     173

                                         SECTION VII.

The objections of J. D. Michaelis to the canonical authority

            of the gospels of Mark and Luke, considered and answered,                        179

                                          SECTION VIII.

The gospel of John--Life of this Evangelist—Occasion and

            time of his writing—Canonical authority indisputable,                               192

                                           SECTION IX.

The Acts of the Apostles—Luke the author—Canonical au-

            thority undisputed by the Fathers — Rejected only by

            heretics,                                                                                                          200

                                           SECTION X.

Testimonies to the canonical authority of the fourteen epis-

            tles of Paul,                                                                                                     205

                                            SECTION XI.

Canonical authority of the seven Catholic Epistles,                                                 228

                                           SECTION XII.

Canonical authority of the book of Revelation,                                                        236

                                          SECTION XIII.

The titles given to the sacred Scriptures by the Fathers —

            These books not concealed, but partially known and refer-

            red to by enemies as well as friends—Citations—Ancient

            manuscripts—Remarks of Rennell,                                                               245

                                          SECTION XIV.

No canonical book of the New Testament has been lost,                                          258

                                           SECTION XV.

Rules for determining what books are Apocryphal—Some

            account of the Apocryphal books which have been lost—All

            of them condemned by the foregoing rules--Reason of the

            abounding of such books,                                                                               270

                                           SECTION XVI.

Apocryphal books which are still extant—Letter of Abgarus,

            King of Edessa, to Jesus, and his answer—Epistle to the

            Laodiceans—Letters of Paul to Seneca—Protevangelion of

            James—The gospel of our Saviour's infancy—The Acts of

            Pilate—The Acts of Paul and Thecla,                                                            281

                                         SECTION XVII.

No part of the Christian Revelation handed down by un-

            written tradition,                                                                                            301

APPENDIX-NOTES,                                                                                     343


 

 

 

 

 

 

                                      PREFACE.

 

IN this edition, the work has been carefully revised by the

author, and many additions made to the testimonies adduced

in the former editions; and also several important docu-

ments not contained in the former editions have been placed

in the appendix. Some alterations have also been made in

particular passages, but not of sufficient importance to require

specification.

          In the London edition of this work by the Rev. Doctor

Morison, some complaint was made of the want of re-

ferences sufficiently distinct, to the authors from which the

testimonies have been taken. In most cases, the works from

which they have been derived are mentioned; and in a

popular treatise of this kind, which has more the character

of a compilation than of a work of original research, it is

not deemed important to burden the margin with many

notes of reference; which indeed are seldom used when

most abundant.

 

                                         ( v )

 


vi                               PREFACE.

 

          The author has freely availed himself of all the informa-

tion within his reach; but the authors to whom he is espe-

cially indebted are, Cosins's Scholastic History of the Canon,

of the Old Testament—Jones's New Method of Settling the

Canon of the New Testament—and Lardner's Credibility

of the Gospel History—The Isagoge of Buddaeus— The The-

saurus Philologicus of Hottinger, and Prideaux's Connection.

Dr. Wordsworth's work on the Canon of the Old and New

Testaments, and Routh's Reliquiae have also been consulted.

Several valuable works on the Canon have been published

in Great Britain, and also in this country, since the first

edition of this work; but, though more valuable for the

scholar, none of them, in the judgment of the author, are

such as to supersede this as a popular treatise, which can

be read with advantage by the unlearned as well as the

learned. In a Scotch edition of this work, a copy of which

the author has seen, there is an important error in giving

the author's Christian name in the title page. Instead of

Archibald, they have put Alexander; making the first and

second name the same. The only reason for mentioning

this is, lest some doubt should hereafter arise respecting the

genuine authorship of the volume.

          As the design of this work is to ascertain where the

revelation of God is to be found, it is assumed usually

that the whole of divine revelation has been committed to

writing. But there are many under the Christian name

who strenuously maintain, that an important part of the

 


                                 PREFACE.                                      vii

 

revealed will of God has been handed down through the

Church by tradition. It therefore seemed necessary, in

order to render the work complete, to examine the claims

of tradition; in which the author has departed from the

common method of treating this subject. And as the Jews,

as well as the Romanists, pretend to have received an Oral

Law, handed down from Moses by tradition, a chapter has

been devoted to this subject, and another to the traditions

of the Church of Rome.

          As the inspiration of the gospels of Mark and Luke had

been called in question by John David Michaelis and others,

and the author could find no satisfactory answer to the

objections of this learned writer, he felt it to be a duty to

endeavour to vindicate these books of the New Testament,

and to prove that they have a right to a place in the Canon;

where in fact they had always stood. And he has been

gratified to learn that his arguments on this subject have

received the approbation of learned and pious men. The

Rev. Dr. T. H. Horne has inserted the substance of

them in his "INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT,"

and the Rev. Richard Watson has extracted a part of

them and inserted them in his Theological Dictionary.

There never was a time when the friends of the Bible as

an inspired volume had a more important duty to perform

in its defence, than at the present. The assaults upon the

plenary inspiration of the sacred Scriptures are, perhaps,

more dangerous, because more plausible and insidious, than

 


viii                            PREFACE.

 

when divine inspiration is openly denied. On this subject

the friends of revelation must be firm, and not yield an

inch of the ground hitherto occupied by the orthodox. "If

the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

          If this volume may be in any measure useful in the

defence of divine revelation, the author will not regret the

labour bestowed upon it. With an humble prayer for its

success he commits it to the Christian public.

       

                                                                 A. ALEXANDER.

      Princeton, N. J., Jan. 1, 1851.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                           INTRODUCTION.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF ASCERTAINING THE TRUE CANON

                        OF HOLY SCRIPTURE.

 

THE Bible includes a large number of separate books,

published in different ages, during a space of more

than fifteen hundred years. Each of these books

when first published formed a volume; or at least,

the writings of each author were, in the beginning,

distinct; and if they had continued in that separate

form, and had been transmitted to us in many vo-

lumes instead of one, their authority would not, on

this account, have been less, nor their usefulness di-

minished. Their collection into one volume is merely

a matter of convenience; and if any persons choose

now to publish these books in a separate form, they

cannot with propriety be charged with casting any

indignity on the word of God.

          Hence it appears that besides general arguments

to demonstrate that the Bible contains a divine revela-

tion, there is need of special proofs to evince that

each of the books now included in that sacred volume,

has a right to the place which it occupies; or does in

reality contain a part of that revelation which God

has given.

          If, therefore, it could be shown (which however it

never can) that some particular book, now included in

                                                                   (9)


10                     INTRODUCTION.

 

the Bible, is not authentic, the conclusion thence

derived would only affect that single production; unless

it were recognized as divine by the writers of the other

books. The credit of the whole volume would not be

destroyed, even if it could be proved that one half

the books of which it consists are spurious. Infidels

have much more to effect in overthrowing the Bible

than they commonly suppose. It is incumbent on

them to demonstrate, not only that this or that book

is false, but that every one of these productions is

destitute of evidence, that it has been derived from

the inspiration of God.

          On the other hand, it is manifest that the advocate

of divine revelation is bound to defend the claims of

every separate portion of this volume; or to reject

from it that part which has no evidence of a divine

origin. It is necessary that he should be able to ren-

der a good reason why he admits any particular book,

to form a part of the inspired volume.

          It is true that the antiquity of this collection claims

for it a high degree of respect. The transmission of

this volume to us, through so many centuries, as HOLY

SCRIPTURE, should teach us to be cautious how we

question what is so venerable for its antiquity. But

this only furnishes one presumptive argument in favour

of each book. It by no means renders all further

investigation unnecessary; much less, impious.

          It is easy to conceive that books not written by the

inspiration of God, might, by some casualty or mis-

take, find a place in the sacred volume. In fact, we

have a striking example of this very thing, in the

Greek and Latin Bibles which are now in use, and held

to be sacred by a large majority of those who are de-

 


                           INTRODUCTION.                            11

 

nominated Christians. These Bibles, besides the books

which have evidence of being truly inspired, contain

a number of other books, the claim of which to inspi-

ration cannot be sustained by solid and satisfactory

reasons. This inquiry, therefore, is far from being

one of mere curiosity: it is in the highest degree prac-

tical, and concerns the conscience of every man capa-

ble of making the investigation. We agree, in the

general, that the Bible is the word of God, and an

authoritative rule; but the momentous question imme-

diately presents itself, What belongs to the Bible? Of

what books does this sacred volume consist? And it

will not answer, to resolve to take it as it has come

down to us, without further inquiry; for the Bible has

come down to us, in several different forms. The Vul-

gate Latin Bible, which alone was in use for hundreds

of years before the era of the Reformation, and also

the Greek version of the Old Testament, contain many

books not in the copies of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Now, to determine which of these contains the whole

of the inspired books given to the Jews before the

advent of Christ and no more, requires research and

accurate examination. The inquiry, therefore, is not

optional, but forces itself upon every conscientious

man; for as no one is at liberty to reject from the

sacred volume one sentence, much less a whole book,

of the revelation of God, so no one has a right to

add anything to the word of God; and of conse-

quence, no one may receive as divine what others have,

without authority, added to the HOLY SCRIPTURES.

Every man, therefore, according to his opportunity

and capacity, is under a moral obligation to use his

best endeavours to ascertain what books do, really, and

 


12                        INTRODUCTION.

 

of right, belong to the Bible. An error here, on either

side, is dangerous; for, on the one hand, if we reject

a part of divine revelation, we dishonour God, and

deprive ourselves of the benefit which might be de-

rived from that portion of divine truth; and on the

other hand, we are guilty of an equal offence, and may

suffer an equal injury, by adding spurious productions

to the Holy Scriptures; for thus we adulterate and

poison the fountain of life, and subject our consciences

to the authority of mere men.

          I think, therefore, that the importance and neces-

sity of this inquiry must be evident to every person

of serious reflection. But to some it may appear that

this matter has been long ago settled on the firmest

principles; and that it can answer no good purpose to

agitate questions, which have a tendency to produce

doubts and misgivings in the minds of common Chris-

tians, rather than a confirmation of their faith. In

reply to the first part of this objection, I would say,

that it is freely admitted that this subject has been

ably and fully discussed long ago, and in almost every

age until the present time; and the author aims at

nothing more, in this short treatise, than to exhibit to

the sincere inquirer, who may not enjoy better means

of information, the subject of those discussions and

proofs, which ought to be in the possession of every

Christian. His object is not to bring forth anything

new, but to collect and condense in a narrow space,

what has been written by the judicious and the learned,

on this important subject. But, that discussion tends

to induce doubting is a sentiment unworthy of Chris-

tians, who maintain that their religion is founded on

the best reasons, and who are commanded "to give to

 


 

                         INTRODUCTION.                           13

 

every man a reason of the hope that is in them." That

faith which is weakened by discussion is mere preju-

dice, not true faith. They who receive the most im-

portant articles of their religion upon trust from

human authority, are continually liable to be thrown

into doubt; and the only method of obviating this

evil is to dig deep and lay our foundation upon a rock.

If this objection had any weight, it would discourage

all attempts to establish the truth of our holy religion

by argument; and would also damp the spirit of free

inquiry on every important subject. It is true, how-

ever, that the first effect of free discussion may be to

shake that easy confidence which most men entertain,

that all their opinions are correct: but the beneficial

result will be, that instead of a persuasion, having no

other foundation than prejudice, it will generate a faith

resting on the firm basis of evidence.

          There is, undoubtedly, among Christians, too great

a disposition to acquiesce, without examination, in the

religion of their forefathers. There is too great an

aversion to that kind of research, which requires time

and labour; so that many who are fully competent to

examine the foundation on which their religion rests,

never take the pains to enter on the investigation;

and it is to be regretted, that many who are much

occupied with speculations on abstruse points of the-

ology, waste the energies of their minds on subjects

which can yield them no manner of profit, while they

neglect entirely, or but superficially attend to, points

of fundamental importance.

          The two great questions most deserving the atten-

tion of all men, are: first, whether the Bible and all

that it contains is from God: secondly, what are

 


14                          INTRODUCTION.

 

those truths which the Bible was intended to teach us.

These two grand inquiries are sufficient to give occu-

pation and vigorous exercise to intellectual faculties of

the highest order; and they are not removed entirely

out of the reach of plain uneducated Christians.

From the fountain of divine truth every one may

draw according to his capacity. But these inquiries

are neglected, not so much for want of time and capa-

city, as because we take no pleasure in searching for

and contemplating divine truth. Just in proportion

as men love the truth and value the Bible, they will

take an interest in all inquiries which relate to the

authenticity, canonical authority, and correct inter-

pretation of the sacred books. The time will come, I

doubt not, when these studies will occupy the minds of

thousands, where they now engage the attention of

one. The Bible will grow into importance in the esti-

mation of men, just in the same proportion as true

religion flourishes. It will not only be the fashion

to associate for printing and circulating the Holy

Scriptures; but it will become customary for men of

the highest literary attainments, as well as others, to

study the sacred pages with unceasing assiduity and

prayer. And, in proportion as the Bible is understood

in its simplicity and momentous import, the mere doc-

trines of men will disappear; and the dogmas of the

schools and the alliance with philosophy being re-

nounced, there will be among sincere inquirers after

truth, an increasing tendency to unity of sentiment,

as well as unity of spirit. The pride of learning and

of intellect being sacrificed, and all distinctions counted

but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of

Christ, a thousand knotty questions, which now cause

 


                       INTRODUCTION.                                15

 

divisions and gender strifes, will be forgotten; and

the wonder of our more enlightened posterity will be,

how good men could have wasted their time and their

talents in such unprofitable speculations; and, more

especially, how they could have permitted themselves

to engage in fierce and unbrotherly contentions about

matters of little importance.

          Then also men will no more neglect and undervalue

the Scriptures, on pretence of possessing a brighter

light within them, than that which emanates from the

divine word. That spurious devotion which affects a

superiority to external means and ordinances, will be

exchanged for a simple, sincere reliance on the re-

vealed will of God; and those assemblies from which

the sacred volume is now excluded, while the effusions

of every heated imagination are deemed revelations

of the Spirit, will become, under the influence of di-

vine truth, churches of the living God.

          In those future days of the prosperity of Zion, the

service of the most high God will be considered by

men, generally, as the noblest employment; and the

best talents and attainments will be consecrated on the

altar of God; and the enterprises, and the la-

bours which they now undertake to gratify an ava-

ricious, ambitious, or voluptuous disposition, will be

pursued from love to God and man. The merchant

will plan, and travel, and traffic, to obtain the means

of propagating the gospel in foreign parts, and pro-

moting Christian knowledge at home; yea, the com-

mon labourer will cheerfully endure toil and privation,

that he may have a mite to cast into the treasury of

the Lord.

          Now, many consider all that is given to circulate


16                        INTRODUCTION.

 

the Bible, and to send missionaries and tracts for the

instruction of the ignorant, as so much wasted; but

then, all expenditures will be considered as profuse

and wasteful, which terminate in mere selfish gratifi-

cation; and those funds will alone be reckoned useful,

which are applied to promote the glory of God and the

welfare of men.

          These, however, may appear to many as the visions

of a heated imagination, which will never be realized;

but if the same change in the views and sentiments of

men which has been going on for thirty years past,

shall continue to advance with the same steady pace,

half a century will not have elapsed from the present

time, before such a scene will be exhibited to the ad-

miring eyes of believers, as will fully justify the fore-

going anticipations.

          But I have wandered wide of my subject—I will

now recall the attention, of the reader to the consid-

eration of the exceeding great importance of ascer-

taining, the true Canon of Holy Scripture. This inves-

tigation may, indeed, appear and unentertaining,

but every thing which bears any relation to the great

Charter of our privileges and our hopes, ought to be

interesting to us. It has been my object, to bring

this subject not only more conveniently within the

reach of the theological student, but also to a level

with the capacity of the common Christian. That

this work may in some humble degree subserve the

cause of the Bible, is the sincere prayer of

 

                                                             THE AUTHOR.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                  SECTION I.

 

EARLY USE AND IMPORT OF THE WORD CANON.

 

 

THE word Canon properly signifies a rule: and it is

used in this sense several times in the New Testament,

as Gal. vi. 16; "As many as walk according to this

rule." Phil. iii. 16; "Let us walk by the same rule."*

But in these passages there is no reference to the

Scriptures as a volume.

          The word Canon, however, was early used by the

Christian Fathers to designate the inspired Scriptures.

IRENAEUS, speaking of the Scriptures, calls them "the

Canon of truth." CLEMENT of Alexandria, referring

to a quotation of the gospel according to the Egyp-

tians, says, "But they follow anything, rather than

the true canonical gospels."†

          EUSEBIUS says of Origen, "But in the first book of

his commentaries on the gospel of Matthew, observing

the ecclesiastical Canon, he declares that he knew of

four gospels only."

          ATHANASIUS, in his Festal Epistle, speaks of three

sorts of books; the canonical—such as were allowed to

 

            * The word Kanwn literally signifies a reed, by which the di-

mensions of anything were measured; and hence it came figura-

tively to signify a RULE.

            The word was used by the Greek grammarians to designate

those authors who were considered as authority in matters of

criticism: Vid. Wordsworth on the Canon, p. 5.

            † Strom. Lib. iii. p. 453.

                                                                                                (17 )

 


18          EARLY USE OF THE WORD CANON.

 

be read—and such as were Apocryphal. By the first

he evidently means such as we now call canonical.

          The Council of Laodicea ordained, "that none but

canonical books should be read in the church; that is,

the books of the Old and New Testaments."

          RUFIN, after enumerating the books of the Old and

New Testaments, goes on to mention three classes of

books. 1. Such as were included in the Canon. 2.

Ecclesiastical, or such as were allowed to be read. 3.

Apocryphal, such as were not permitted to be publicly

read.*

          JEROME often speaks of the Canon of Scripture,

and mentions books which might be read, but did not

belong to the Canon.†

          The third Council of Carthage ordained, "That

nothing beside the canonical Scriptures be read in the

church, under the name of the divine Scriptures."

          AUGUSTINE often makes mention of the canonical

Scriptures, and the whole Canon of Scripture, meaning

to designate all the sacred books of the Old and New

Testaments. "We read of some," says he, "that they

searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things

were so. What Scriptures, I pray, except the canoni-

cal Scriptures of the Law and the Prophets? To

them have been since added, the Gospels, the Epistles

of the Apostles, the Acts of the Apostles, and the

Revelation of John."‡

 

            * Expositio in Symbolum Apostolorum, p. 26.

            After giving a catalogue both of the books of the Old and New

Testaments, he says, " Haec sunt quae patres inter Canonem con-

cluserunt."

            † Prolog. Gal. in multis locis.

            De Doctrina Christiana, vol. iii. Lib. ii. pl. 1, p. 47. Ed.

Paris. Epist. ad Hieron, 19.  Ad Paulinum", 112.

 


                EARLY USE OF THE WORD CANON.                     19

 

          CHRYSOSTOM says, "They fall into great absurdi-

ties, who will not follow the Canon of the divine Scrip-

ture, but trust to their own reasoning."

          ISIDORE of Pelusium observes, "That these things

are so, we shall perceive, if we attend to the Canon of

truth— the divine Scriptures."

          And LEONTIUS of Constantinople, having cited the

whole catalogue of the books of sacred Scripture,

from Genesis to Revelation, concludes, "These are the

ancient and the new books, which are received in the

church as canonical."

          EUSEBIUS informs us that Origen, in his Exposition

on Matthew, "enumerates the books of Scripture ac-

cording to the Canon of the Church."*

          EPIPHANIUS, speaking of certain heretics, says,

"They received the apocryphal Acts of Andrew and

Thomas, rejecting the Canon received by the Church."†

          PHILASTRIUS speaks of the distinction of Canonical

and Apocryphal as well known in his time.‡

          From the authorities cited above, it will evidently

appear, that at an early period the sacred Scriptures

were carefully distinguished from all other writings,

and formed a rule, which all Christians considered to

be authoritative: and that this collection of sacred

writings received the name of Canon.||

          The division of the sacred books which is most an-

cient and universal, is, into the Old Testament, and

the New Testament. The apostle Paul himself lays

 

            * Eus. Hist. Lib. VI. c. 25.    † Hares. 61.     ‡ De Haeresibus, 40.

            || It cannot be denied, however, that the word Canon is not

always used by the Fathers in the same definite sense. Some-

times, under this name, they include books not inspired, and this

has given some plausibility to the Popish doctrine respecting the

Apocrypha.

 


20         EARLY USE OF TIIE WORD CANON.

 

a foundation for this distinction; for, in his second

epistle to the Corinthians, 2 Cor. iii. 14, he uses the

phrases Old Testament and New Testament; and in

one instance, designates the Scriptures of the Law,

by the former title: "For until this day," says he,

"remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading

of the Old Testament."

          It is our object, in this work, to inquire into the

Canon, both of the Old and New Testament, and to

discuss all the principal questions connected with this

subject.

 


 

                       OLD TESTAMENT CANON.                             21

 

 

 

                                  SECTION II.

 

CONSTITUTION OF THE CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT BY

          EZRA--THE CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, AS IT NOW

          EXISTS, SANCTIONED BY CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES--

          CATALOGUES OF THE BOOKS BY SOME OF THE EARLY FA-

          THERS--AGREEMENT OF JEWS AND CHRISTIANS ON THIS

          SUBJECT.

 

          The five books of Moses were, when finished, care-

fully deposited by the side of the ark of the Covenant,

Deut. xxxi. 24-26. "And it came to pass, when

Moses had made an end of writing the words of this

law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses

commanded the Levites which bore the ark of the cove-

nant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law,

and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of

the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness

against thee."

          No doubt, copies of the sacred volume were made

out, before it was deposited in the most holy place;

for as it was there inaccessible to any but the priests,

the people generally must have remained ignorant,

had there been no copies of the law. But we know

that copies were written, for it was one of the laws

respecting the duty of a king, when such an officer

should be appointed, that he should write out a copy

of the law with his own hand. Deut. xvii. 18-20,

"And it shall be when he sitteth upon the throne of

 


22          OLD TESTAMENT CANON.

 

his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this

law in a book, out of that which is before the priests,

the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall

read therein, all the days of his life; that he may

learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words

of this law and these statutes to do them; that his

heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he

turn not aside from the commandment to the right

hand or to the left: to the end that he may prolong

his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the

midst of Israel." It is related by Josephus, that by

the direction of Moses, a copy of the law was prepared

for each of the tribes of Israel.

          It seems that the book of Joshua was annexed to

the volume of the Pentateuch; for we read that

"Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of

God." See Josh i. 8; xxiv. 26. And the matters

contained in this book were of public concern to

the nation, as well as those recorded in the law.

For, as in the latter were written statutes and or-

dinances, to direct them in all matters sacred and

civil; so in the former was recorded the division

of the land among the tribes. The possession of

each tribe was here accurately defined, so that this

book served as a national deed of conveyance. When

other books were added to the Canon, no doubt, the

inspired men who were moved by the Holy Spirit to

write them, would be careful to deposit copies in the

sanctuary, and to have other copies put into circula-

tion. But on this subject we have no precise informa-

tion. We know not with what degree of care the sa-

cred books were guarded, or to what extent copies

were multiplied.

 


 

          A single fact shows that the sacred autograph of

Moses had well nigh perished, in the idolatrous reigns

of Manasseh and Amon, but was found, during the

reign of the pious Josiah, among the rubbish of the

temple. It cannot, however, be reasonably supposed,

that there were no other copies of the law scattered

through the nation. It does indeed seem that the

young king had never seen the book, and was igno-

rant of its contents, until it was now read to him; but

while the autograph of Moses had been misplaced, and

buried among the ruins, many pious men might have

possessed private copies.

          And although at the destruction of Jerusalem and

of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, this precious vo-

lume was, in all probability, destroyed with the ark

and all the holy apparatus of the sanctuary; yet we

are not to credit the Jewish tradition, too readily re-

ceived by the Christian Fathers, that, on this occa-

sion, all the copies of the Scriptures were lost, and

that Ezra restored the whole by a miracle. This is a

mere Jewish fable, depending on no higher authority

than a passage in the fourth book of Esdras, and is

utterly inconsistent with facts recorded in the sacred

volume. We know that Daniel had a copy of the

Scriptures, for he quotes them, and makes express

mention of the prophecies of Jeremiah. And Ezra

is called "a ready scribe in the law;" and it is said,

in the sixth chapter of Ezra, that when the temple

was finished, the functions of the priests and Levites

were regulated, "as it is written in the book of Moses."

And this was many years before Ezra came to Jeru-

salem. And in the eighth chapter of Nehemiah, it is

said that Ezra, at the request of the people, "brought

 


24                  CANON BY EZRA.

 

the law before the congregation, and he read therein

from the morning until mid-day. And Ezra opened

the book in the sight of all the people." It is evi-

dent, therefore, that all the copies of the Scriptures

were not lost during the captivity. This story, no

doubt, originated from two facts: the first, that the

autographs in the temple, had been destroyed with that

sacred edifice; and the second, that Ezra took great

pains to have correct copies of the Scriptures prepared

and circulated.

          It seems to be agreed by all, that the forming of

the present Canon of the Old Testament should be

attributed to Ezra. To assist him in this work, the

Jewish writers inform us, that there existed in his

time a great synagogue, consisting of one hundred

and twenty men, including Daniel and his three

friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; the pro-

phets Haggai and Zechariah; and also Simon the

Just. But it is very absurd to suppose that all these

lived at one time, and formed one synagogue, as they

are pleased to represent it: for, from the time of

Daniel to that of Simon the Just, no less than two

hundred and fifty years intervened.

          It is, however, not improbable that Ezra was as-

sisted in this great work, by many learned and pious

men, who were cotemporary with him; and as pro-

phets had always been the superintendents, as well as

writers of the sacred volume, it is likely that the in-

spired men who lived at the same time as Ezra, would

give attention to this work. But in regard to this

great synagogue, the only thing probable is, that the

men who are said to have belonged to it, did not live

in one age, but successively, until the time of Simon

 


 

the Just, who was made high priest about twenty-five

years after the death of Alexander the Great: This

opinion has its probability increased, by the considera-

tion that the Canon of the Old Testament appears

not to have been fully completed; until about the time

of Simon the Just. Malachi seems to have lived after

the time of Ezra, and therefore his prophecy could

not have been added to the Canon by this eminent

scribe; unless we adopt the opinion of the Jews, who  

will have Malachi to be no other than Ezra himself;

maintaining, that while Ezra was his proper name, he

received that of Malachi, from the circumstance of

his having been sent to superintend the religious con-

cerns of the Jews; for the import of that name a

messenger, or one sent.

          But this is not  the book of Nehemiah,* men-

tion is made of the high priest Jaddua, and of Darius

Codomannus, king of Persia, both of whom lived at

least a hundred years after the time of Ezra.  In the

third chapter of the first book of Chroncles, the gene-

alogy of the sons of Zerubbabel is carried down, at

least to the time of Alexander the Great.  This book,

therefore, could not have been put into the Canon by,

Ezra; nor much earlier than the time of Simon the

Just. The book of Esther, also, was probably added  

during this interval. 

          The probable conclusion therefore, is that Ezra

began this work, and collected and arranged all the

sacred books which belonged to the Canon before his

time, and that a succession of pious and learned men

continued to pay attention to the  Canon, until the  

whole was completed, about the time of Simon the

 

                        * Nehemiah xii. 22.

 


26      CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

 

Just. After which, nothing was added to the Canon

of the Old Testament.

          Most, however, are of opinion that nothing was

added after the book of Malachi was written, except

a few names and notes; and that all the books be-

longing to the Canon of the Old Testament, were col-

lected and inserted in the sacred volume by Ezra him-

self. And this opinion seems to be the safest, and is

not incredible in itself. It accords also with the uni-

form tradition of the Jews, that Ezra completed the

Canon of the Old Testament; and that after Malachi

there arose no prophet who added anything to the

sacred volume.*

          Whether the books were now collected into a single

volume, or were bound up in several codices, is a ques-

tion of no importance. If we can ascertain what books

were received as canonical, it matters not in what

form they were preserved. It seems probable, how-

ever, that the sacred books were at this time distri-

buted into three volumes, the Law; the Prophets,

and the Hagiographa. This division, we know to be

as ancient as the time of our Saviour, for he says,

"These are the words which I spake unto you while I

was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled

which are written in the law, and in the prophets,

and in the psalms, concerning me." Luke xxiv. 44.

Josephus also makes mention of this division, and it is

 

            * The Jews are accustomed to call Malachi the "seal of the

Prophets." Jerome says: "Post Haggaeum et Zachariam nul-

los alios Prophetas usque ad Johannem Baptistam videram." That

is, "After Haggai and Zacharias, even to the time of John the

Baptist, I have found no other prophets." In Esaiam xlix. 2.

 


SANCTIONED BY CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES.        27

 

by the Jews, with one consent, referred to Ezra, as its

author.

          In establishing the Canon of the Old Testament,

we might labour under considerable uncertainty and

embarrassment, in regard to several books were it not

that the whole of what were called "the Scriptures,"

and which were included in the threefold division

mentioned above, received the explicit sanction of our

Lord. He was not backward to reprove the Jews for

disobeying, misinterpreting, and adding their tradi-

tions to the Scriptures, but he never drops a hint that

they had been unfaithful or careless in the preserva-

tion of the sacred books. This argument for the in-

tegrity of the books of the Old Testament was used

by Origen, as we are informed by Jerome, who says:

"Si aliquis dixerit Hebraeos libros, a Jutaeis esse fal-

satos, audiat Origenem: Quod nunquam Dominus

et Apostoli, qui caetera crimina in Scribis, de hoc

crimine quad est maximum, reticuissent."  In Esai.

cvi, tom. iii. p. 63. So far from this, he refers to

the Scriptures as an infallible rule, which "must

be fulfilled," Mark xiv. 49, and "could not be bro-

ken." John x. 35. "Search the Scriptures," John

v. 39, said he, "for in them ye think ye have eter-

nal life, and they are they which testify of me." The

errors of the Sadducees are attributed to an igno-

rance of the Scriptures: and they are never men-

tioned but with the highest respect, and as the un-

erring word of God. The apostle Paul, also, referring

principally, if not wholly, to the Scriptures of the Old

Testament, says, "And that from a child thou hast

known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make

thee wise unto salvation. All Scripture is given by

 


 

28       CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

 

inspiration of God." 2 Tim. iii. 15, 16. They are also

called by this apostle, "the oracles of God;" "the

lively oracles," "the word of God;" and when

quotations are made from David, it is represented as

"the Holy Ghost speaking by the mouth of David."

Acts i. 16; iv. 25. The testimony of Peter is not

less explicit, for he says, "The prophecy came not

in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God

spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Pet.

i. 21. And the apostle James speaks of the Scrip-

tures with equal confidence and respect: "And re-

ceive with meekness," says he, “the ingrafted word

which is able to save your souls." James i. 21-23.

"And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith," &c.

"Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain?" James

iv. 5, &c.

         


We have, therefore, an important point established

with the utmost certainty, that the volume of Scrip-

ture which existed in the time of Christ and his apos-

tles was uncorrupted, and was esteemed by them an

infallible rule. Now, if we can ascertain what, books

were then included in the Sacred Volume, we shall

be able to settle the Canon of the Old Testament

without uncertainty.

          But here lies the difficulty. Neither Christ nor, any

of his apostles has given us a catalogue of the books

which composed the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

They have distinctly quoted a number of these books,

and, so far, the evidence is complete. We know that

the law, and the Prophets, and the Psalms were

included in their Canon.  But this does not ascertain,

particularly, whether the very same books which we

now find in the Old Testament were then found in it


SANCTIONED BY CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES.        29

 

and no others. It is necessary then, to resort to other

sources of information. And, happily, the Jewish

historian Josephus furnishes us with the very informa-

tion which we want; not, indeed, as explicitly as we

could wish, but sufficiently so to lead us to a very sa-

tisfactory conclusion.  He does not name the books

of the Old Testament, but he numbers them, and so

describes them that there is scarcely room for any

mistake. The important passage to which we refer is

in his first book against Apion. “We have,” says he,

“only-two-and-twenty books, which are justly believed

to be of divine authority---of which five are the books of

Moses. From the death of Moses to the reign of  

Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, king of Persia, the

Prophets, who were the successors of Moses, have

written in thirteen books. The remaining four books 

contain hymns to God, and precepts for the regulation

of human life." Now, the five books of Moses are uni-

versally agreed to be Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,

Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The thirteen books

written by the prophets will include Joshua, Judges,

with Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah with La-

mentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, the twelve minor Pro-

phets, Job, Ezra, Esther, and Chronicles. The four

remaining books will be, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesias-

tes, and the Song of Solomon, which make the whole

number twenty-two. The Canon then existing proved

to be the same as that which we now possess. It

would appear, indeed, that these books might more

conveniently be reckoned twenty-four; and this is the

present method of numbering them by the modern

Jews; but formerly the number was regulated by that

of the Hebrew alphabet, which consists of twenty-two


30          TESTIMONY OF JOSEPHUS.

 

letters: therefore they annexed the small book of Ruth

to Judges; and probably it is a continuation of this

book by the same author. They added, also, the La-

mentations of Jeremiah to his prophecy, and this was

natural enough. As to the minor prophets, which

form twelve separate books in our Bibles, they were,

anciently, always reckoned one book, so they are con-

sidered in every ancient catalogue, and in all quota-

tions from them. Josephus adds, to what is cited

above, the following: "But as to the books which have

been written since the time of Artaxerxes until our

times they are not considered worthy of the same

credit as the former, because they do not contain ac-

curate doctrine sanctioned by the prophets."*

          It will not be supposed that any change could have

occurred in the Canon from the time of our Saviour

and his apostles, to that in which Josephus wrote.

Indeed, he may be considered the contemporary of the

apostles, as he was born about the time of Paul's con-

version to Christianity, and was therefore grown up

to man's age long before the death of this apostle;

and the apostle John probably survived him. And it

must be remembered that Josephus is here giving his

testimony to a public fact: he is declaring what books

were received as divine by his nation; and he does it

without hesitation or inconsistency. "We have,"

says he, “only twenty-two books which are justly be-

lieved to be of divine authority."

          We are able also to adduce other testimony to prove

the same thing. Some of the early Christian Fathers,

who had been brought up in Paganism, when they em-

 

            * Contra Apionem; Euseb. iii. 10.


CATALOGUES BY THE EARLY FATHERS.             31

 

braced Christianity, were curious in their inquiries

into the Canon of the Old Testament; and the result

of the researches of some of them still remains. ME-

LITO, bishop of Sardis, travelled into Judea, for the

very purpose of satisfying himself, on this point. And

although his own writings are lost, Eusebius has pre-

served his catalogue of the books of the Old Testa-

ment; from which it appears, that the very same books

were, in his day, received into the Canon, as are now

found in our Hebrew Bibles. In the catalogue of

Melito, presented by Eusebius, after Proverbs, the

word Wisdom occurs, which nearly all commentators

have been of opinion is only another name for the same

book, and not the name of the book now called "The

Wisdom of Solomon." There is however, an omis-

sion of Esther and Neheiniah.  As to the latter, it

creates no difficulty for Ezra and Nehemiah are com-

monly counted as one book; and some learned men

are of opinion that Ezra being the author of Esther,

this book also is included under the name Esdras.

The interval between Melito and Josephus is not

a hundred years, so that no alteration in the Canon

can be reasonably supposed to have taken place in this

period.

          Very soon after Melito, ORIGEN furnishes us with a

catalogue of the books of the Old Testament, which

perfectly accords with our Canon, except that he omits

the Minor Prophets; which omission must have been

a mere slip of the pen, in him or his copyist, as it is

certain that he received this as a book of Holy Scrip-

ture: and the number of the books of the Old Testa-

tament, given by him in this very place, cannot be



 

completed without reckoning the twelve Minor Pro-

phets as one.

          After Origen, we have catalogues in succession, not

only by men of the first authority in the church, but

by councils, consisting of numerous bishops, all which

are perfectly the same as our own. It will be sufficient

merely to refer to these sources of information. Cata-

logues of the books of the Old Testament have been

given by ATHANASIUS; by CYRIL; by AUGUSTINE;

by JEROME; by RUFIN; by THE COUNCIL OF LAODI-

CEA, in their LX. Canon; and by the THE COUNCIL OF

CARTHAGE. And when it is considered, that all these

catalogues exactly correspond with our present Canon

of the Hebrew Bible, the evidence, I think must ap-

pear complete to every impartial mind that the Canon

of the Old Testament is settled, upon the clearest his-

torcal grounds.  There seems to be nothing to be

wished for further in the confirmation of this point.

          But if all this testimony had been wanting, there is

still a source of evidence to which we might refer with

the utmost confidence, as perfectly conclusive on this

point; I mean the fact that these books have been

ever since the time of Christ and his apostles in the

keeping of both Jews and Christians, who have been

constantly arrayed in opposition to each other; so that

it was impossible that any change should have been

made in the Canon, by either party, without being

immediately detected by the other. And the conclu-

sive evidence that no alteration in the Canon has oc-

curred is the perfect agreement of these hostile parties

in regard to the books of the Old Testament at this

time. On this point, the Jew and Christian are har-

monious. There is no complaint of addition to, or


AGREEMENT OF JEWS AND CIIRISTIANS.         33

 

diminution of, the sacred books on either side. The

Hebrew Bible of the Jew is the Bible of the Christian.

There is here no difference. A learned Jew and a

Christian have even been united in publishing an excel-

lent edition of the Hebrew Bible.* Now, if any alter-

ation in the Canon has occurred, it must have been by

the concert or collusion of both parties; but how

absurd this idea is must be manifest to all.

          I acknowledge what is here said of the agreement

of Christians and Jews can only be said in relation to

Protestant Christians. For as to those of the Romish

and Greek communions they have admitted other books

into the Canon, which Jews and Protestants hold to

be apocryphal; but these books will form the subject

of a particular discussion, in the sequel of this work.

          The fact is important, that a short time after the

Canon of the Old Testament was closed, a translation

was made of the whole of the books into the Greek

language. This translation was made at Alexandria,

in Egypt, at the request, it is said, of Ptolemy Phila-

delphus, king of Egypt, that he might have a copy of

these sacred books in the famous library which he was

engaged in collecting. It is called the Septuagint,

from its being made, according to the accounts which

have been handed down, by seventy, or rather seventy-

two men; six from each of the tribes of Israel. So

many fabulous things have been reported concerning

this version, that it is very difficult to ascertain the pre-

cise truth. But it is manifest from internal evidence,

that it was not the work of one hand, nor probably of

one set of translators: for, while some books are ren-

dered with great accuracy, and in a very literal manner,

 

            * See the Biblia Hebraica, edited by Leusden and Athias.


34        THE SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH.

 

others are translated with little care, and the meaning

of the original is very imperfectly given. The proba-

bility is that the Pentateuch was first translated, and

the other books were added from time to time by

different hands; but when the work was once begun,

it is not likely that it would be long before the whole

was completed. Now this Greek version contains all

the books which are found in our common Hebrew

Bibles. It is a good witness therefore to prove that

all these books were in the Canon when this version

was made. The apocryphal books, which have long

been connected with this version, will furnish a subject

for consideration hereafter.

          There is, moreover, a distinct and remarkable testi-

mony to the antiquity of the five books of Moses in

the Samaritan Pentateuch, which has existed in a form

entirely separate from the Jewish copies, and in a

character totally different from that in which the

Hebrew Bible has been for many ages written. It has

also been preserved and handed down to us by a people

who have ever been hostile to the Jews. This Penta-

teuch has, without doubt, been transmitted through a

separate channel ever since the ten tribes of Israel

were carried captive. It furnishes authentic testimony

to the great antiquity of the books of Moses, and

shows how little they have been corrupted during the

lapse of nearly three thousand years. The Samaritans

were the people transplanted from other countries into

the places vacated by the captivity of the ten tribes of

Israel. At first, they were all idolaters; but being

annoyed by wild beasts, they supposed it was because

they knew not how to worship the God of the country.

They, therefore, requested that a priest should be sent


         THE SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH.                35

 

to them of the Israelitish nation to instruct them.

Their request was granted; and this priest, no doubt,

brought with him a copy of the law. At one time it

was doubted whether a Samaritan Pentateuch was in

existence, but a learned man going into Palestine,

obtained several copies. And they have also a trans-

lation of the whole into the Samaritan language.

The Pentateuch, though Hebrew, is written in Sama-

ritan characters, which many learned men think was

the original Hebrew character.


36                            THE APOCRYPHA.

 

 

 

 

 

                                     SECTION III.

 


APOCRYPHAL BOOKS, THEIR ORIGIN—IMPORTANCE OF DIS-

          TINGUISHING BETWEEN CANONICAL AND APOCRYPHAL

          BOOKS—SIX BOOKS OF THIS CLASS PRONOUNCED CA-

          NONICAL BY THE COUNCIL OF TRENT —NOT IN THE

          HEBREW, NOR RECEIVED BY THE JEWS, ANCIENT OR

          MODERN.

 

THE word Apocrypha signifies concealed, obscure,

without authority. In reference to the Bible, it is

employed to designate such books as claim a place in

the sacred volume, but which are not canonical. It

is said to have been first used by MELITO, bishop of

Sardis.

          An inquiry into this subject cannot be uninteresting

to the friends of the Bible; for it behoves them to

ascertain, on the best evidence, what books belong to

the sacred volume, and also, on what grounds other

books are rejected from the Canon. This subject as-

sumes a higher importance from the fact, that Chris-

tians are much divided on this point; for, some re-

ceive as of canonical authority, books which others

reject as spurious, or consider merely as human com-

positions. On such a point every Christian should


        THE APOCRYPHAL CONTROVERSY.                37

 

form his opinion upon the best information which he

can obtain.

          In controversy with the Romanists this subject

meets us at the very threshold. It is vain to dispute

about particular doctrines of Scripture until it de-

termined what books are to be received as Scripture.

          This subject gave rise to a very unpleasant contro-

versy between the British and Foreign. Bible Society

and some of the leading ministers of Scotland. The

principle adopted at the beginning by the Bible So-

ciety was, to circulate nothing but the text of the

Holy Scriptures, without note or comment. But

in order to get the Scriptures into the hands of the

Romanists, Bibles containing the Apocrypha were

circulated, which proceeding gave just offence to the

ministers of the Church of Scotland, and, to the effi-

cient auxiliaries of that country.

          A strong remonstrance was therefore made to the

Managers of the British and Foreign Bible Society,

and their answer not being entirely satisfactory, the

Scotch ministers withdrew from the Society in Lon-

don, and established one independent of the mother

Society; and this breach has never been healed. But.

it is due to the British and Foreign Bible Society to

state, that in consequence of the discussion, they

adopted a correct principle for their future proceedings.

          The whole subject was referred to a select and

learned sub-committee; who, after mature delibera-

tion, brought in a report which was adopted, and led

to the following wise resolution in the General, Com-

mittee, viz. "That the funds of the Society be ap-

plied to the printing and circulation of the canonical

books of Scripture to the exclusion of those books


38           APOCRYPHAL CONTROVERSY.

 

which are termed apocryphal; and that all copies

printed, either entirely or in part, at the expense of

the Society, and whether such copies consist of the

whole or of any part of such books, be invariably is-

sued bound, no other book whatever being bound with

them; and further, that all money grants to societies

or individuals be made only in conformity with the

principle of this regulation."

          "In the sacred volume, as it is to be hereafter

distributed by the Society, there is to be nothing but

divine truth, nothing but what is acknowledged by all

Christians to be such. Of course all may unite in the

work of distribution, even should they regard the vo-

lume as containing but part of the inspired writings;

just as they might in the circulation of the Pentateuch

or the Book of Psalms, or the Prophets, or the New

Testament. Such harmonious operation would not,

however, be possible, if the books of the apocrypha

were mingled or joined with the rest; and besides,

those who have the strongest objection to the apocry-

pha, are, ordinarily, those who are most forward in

active and liberal efforts to send the word of God to

all people."

          This judicious decision of the Committee of the

British and Foreign Bible Society depends for its cor-

rectness on the supposition that the books of the apo-

crypha are not canonical; for, whatever may be said

about circulating a part of the Bible, it was undoubt-

edly the original object of this Society to print and

circulate the whole of the sacred volume. Hence

appears the practical importance of the inquiry which

we have here instituted, to ascertain whether these


       THE APOCRYPHA CANONIZED BY TRENT.             39

 

books have any claim whatever to a place in the sa-

cred Canon.

          At a very early period of the Christian church,

great pains were taken to distinguish between such

books as were inspired and canonical, and such as

were written by uninspired men.  It has never been

doubted among Christians, that the canonical books

only were of divine authority, and furnished an infal-

lible rule of faith and practice; but it has not been

agreed what books ought to be considered canonical

and what apocryphal. In regard to those which have

already been enumerated, as belonging to the Old

Testament, there is a pretty general consent of Jews

and Christians, of Romanists and Protestants; but in

regard to some other books there is a wide difference

of opinion.

          The council of Trent, in their fourth session, gave

a catalogue of the books of the Old Testament, among

which are included Tobit, Judith Wisdom Ecclesi-

asticus, Baruch, and two books of the Maccabees.*

Besides, they include under the name Esther and

Daniel, certain additional chapters, which are not

found in the Hebrew copies. The book of Esther is

made to consist of sixteen chapters; and prefixed to

the book of Daniel, is the History of Susannah; the

Song of the Three Children is inserted in the third

chapter; and the History of Bel and the Dragon is

added at the end of this book. Other books which

are found in the Greek or Latin Bibles, they rejected

as apocryphal; as the third and fourth books of

 

            * See Note A.


40      THE APOCRYPHA IN ENGLISH BIBLES

 

Esdras;* the third book of Maccabees; the cli. Psalm;

the Appendix to Job; and the Preface to Lamenta-

tions.

          Both these classes of books, all denominations of

Protestants consider apocryphal; but as the English

church, in her Liturgy, directs that certain lessons

shall be read from the former, for the instruction of

the people, but not for confirmation of doctrine, they

are retained in the larger copies of the English Bible,

but are not mingled with the canonical books, as in

the Vulgate, but placed at the end of the Old Testa-

ment, under the title of Apocrypha. It is certainly to

be regretted that these books are permitted to be in-

cluded in the same volume which contains the lively

oracles,—the word of God,—the Holy Scriptures; all

of which were given by inspiration; and more to be

regretted still, that they should be read in the church

promiscuously with the lessons taken from the cano-

nical books; especially as no notice is given to the

people, that what is read from these books is apocry-

phal; and as in the Prayer Book of the Episcopal

church the tables which refer to the lessons to be read,

 

            * The first and second books of Esdras are very frequently

called the third and fourth; in which case the two canonical

books, Ezra and Nehemiah, are reckoned the first and second:

for both these books have been ascribed to Ezra as their author;

but these are not included in the list of canonical books sanc-

tioned by the Council of Trent, and therefore they do not come

into controversy. Indeed, the second of these books is not found

even in the Greek, but only in the Latin Vulgate, and is so

replete with fables and false statements that it has never been

esteemed of any value. They are both, however, retained in

our larger English Bibles, and are honoured with the foremost

place in the order of the apocryphal books.

 

 

 


41                     NOT IN THE HEBREW.

 

have this title prefixed—"Tables of lessons of Holy

Scripture to be read at Morning and Evening Prayer,

throughout the year." The Rev. Doctor Wordsworth,

in his work on the Canon, defends the practice of re-

taining in the Bible, and publicly reading in the church,

certain lessons from the apocryphal books, principally

because this was done by the ancient church; and he

apologizes for the practice by saying, that these les-

sons are never read on the Lord's day. But as he

acknowledges that they are not inspired, and are not

canonical, the inference is plain, that they ought not

to be included in the same volume with canonical

books, and ought not to be read as Scripture in the

churches. Now, however good and instructive these

apocryphal lessons may be, it never can be justified,

that they should thus be put on a level with the word

of God.*

         


But it is our object at present to show, that none of

these books, canonized by the Council of Trent, and

inserted in our larger English Bibles, are canonical.

          1. The first argument by which it may be proved

that these books do not belong to the Canon of the

Old Testament, is, that they, are not found in the

Hebrew Bible. They are not written in the Hebrew

language, but in the Greek which was not known to

the Jews, until long after inspiration had ceased, and

the Canon of the Old Testament was closed. It is ren-

dered probable, indeed, that some of them were written

originally in the Chaldaic. Jerome testifies this to be

the fact, in regard to 1 Maccabees and Ecclesiasticus;

 

            * See Tables prefixed to the Book of Common Prayer; also,

the Sixth Article of Religion of the Episcopal Church.

 


42              REJECTED BY THE JEWS.

 

and he says, that he translated the book of Tobit out

of Chaldee into Latin; but this book is now found in

the Greek, and there is good reason for believing that

it was written originally in this language. It is cer-

tain, however, that none of these books were composed

in the pure Hebrew of the Old Testament.

          Hottinger, indeed, informs us, that he had seen the

whole of the apocrypha in pure Hebrew, among the

Jews; but he entertains no doubt that it was translated

into that language, in modern times: just as the whole

New Testament has recently been translated into pure

Hebrew.

          It is the common opinion of the Jews, and of the

Christian Fathers, that Malachi was the last of the

Old Testament prophets. Books written by uncertain

authors afterwards, have no claim to be reckoned ca-

nonical, and there is good reason for believing that

those books were written long after the time of Ezra

and Malachi, and some of them perhaps later than the

commencement of the Christian era.

          2. These books, though probably written by Jews,

have never been received into the Canon by that peo-

ple. In this, the ancient and modern Jews are of the

same mind. Josephus declares, "That no more than

twenty-two books were received as inspired by his

nation."  Philo, who refers often to the Old Testa-

ment in his writings, never makes the least mention of

them; nor are they recognized in the Talmud as ca-

nonical. Not only so, but the Jewish Rabbies expressly

reject them.

          RABBI AZARIAH, speaking of these books, says,

"They are received by Christians, not by us."

          R. GEDALIAH, after giving a catalogue of the books

 


                 REJECTED BY THE JEWS.                      43

 

of the Old Testament, with some account of their

authors, adds these words, "It is worth while to know,

that the nations of the world wrote many other books,

which are included in their systems of sacred books,

but not in our hands." To which he adds, "They say

that some of these are found in the Chaldee, some in

the Arabic, and some in the Greek language."

         


R. AZARIAH ascribed the book called the Wisdom

of Solomon to Philo; and R. GEDALIAH, in speaking

of the same book, says, "That if Solomon ever wrote

it, it must have been in the Syriac language, to send

it to some of the kings in the remotest parts of the

East. "But," says he, "Ezra put his hand only to

those books which were published by the prophets,

under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and written in

the sacred language; and our wise men prudently and

deliberately resolved to sanction none, but such as were

established and confirmed by him."

          "This book," says he, "the Gentiles (i. e. Chris-

tians) have added to their Bible." "Their wise men,"

says Buxtorf, "pronounced this book to be apocry-

phal."

          The book called Ecclesiasticus, said to be written

by the son of SIRACH, is expressly numbered among

apocryphal books in the Talmud. "In the book of

the Son of Sirach, it is forbidden to be read."

          MANASSEH BEN ISRAEL has this observation, "Those

things which are alleged from a verse in Ecclesiasticus

are nothing to the purpose, because that is an apocry-

phal book." Another of their writers says, "The

book of the son of Sirach is added to our twenty-four

sacred books by the Romans." This book also they

call extraneous, which some of the Jews prohibit to be

 


44              REJECTED BY THE JEWS.

 

read. With what face then can the Romanists pre-

tend that this book was added to the Canon not long

before the time of Josephus?

          "BARUCH," says one of their learned men, "is re-

ceived by Christians," (i. e. Romanists,) "but not by us."

Of TOBIT, it is said in Zemach David, "Know, then,  

that this book of Tobias is one of those which Chris-

tians join with the Hagiographa." A little afterwards,

it is said, "Know then, that Tobit, which is among us

in the Hebrew tongue, was translated from Latin into

Hebrew by Sebastian Munster." The same writer

affirms of the history of Susannah, "That it is received

by Christians but not by us."

          The Jews, in the time of Jerome, entertained no

other opinion of these books than those who came after

them; for, in his preface to Daniel, he informs us,

"That he had heard one of the Jewish doctors deriding

the history of Susannah, saying, ‘It was invented

by some Greek, he knew not whom.’"*

          The same is the opinion of the Jews respecting the

other books, which we call apocryphal, as is manifest

from all the copies of the Hebrew Bible extant; for,

undoubtedly if they believed that any of these books

were canonical, they would give them a place in their

sacred volume. But will any ask, what is the opinion

of the Jews to us? I answer, much on this point.

The oracles of God were committed to them; and they

preserved them with a religious care until the advent

of Messiah. Christ never censures them for adding

to the sacred Scriptures, nor detracting from them.

Since their nation has been in dispersion, copies of the

Old Testament in Hebrew have been scattered all over

 

            * See the Thesaurus Philologicus of Hottinger.

 


                  NEVER QUOTED BY CHRIST.                      45

 

the world, so that it was impossible to produce a uni-

versal alteration in the Canon. But it is needless to

argue this point, for it is agreed by all that these books

never were received by the Jewish nation.

          3. The third argument against the canonical autho-

ity of these books is derived from the total silence

respecting them in the New Testament. They are

never quoted by Christ and his apostles. This fact,

however, is disputed by the Romanists, and they even

attempt to establish their right to a place in the Canon

from the citations which they pretend have been made

from these books by the apostles. They refer to Rom.

xi. and Heb. xi., where they allege that Paul has cited

passages from the Book of Wisdom. "For who hath

known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his

counsellor?"  "For before his translation he had this

testimony that he pleased God." But both these pas-

sages are taken directly from the canonical books of

the Old Testament. The first is nearly in the words

of Isaiah; and the last from the book of Genesis;

their other examples are as wide of the mark as these,

and need not be set down.

          It has already been shown that these books were not

included in the volume quoted and referred to by Christ

and his apostles, under the title of the Scriptures, and

and are entirely omitted by Josephus in his account of

the sacred books. It would seem, therefore, that in

the time of Christ, and for some time afterwards, they

were utterly unknown or wholly disregarded.


46         THE APOCRYPHA DISOWNED.

 

 

                              SECTION IV.

 

 

TESTIMONIES OF THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS, AND OF OTHER

          LEARNED MEN DOWN TO THE TIME OF THE COUNCIL OF

          TRENT, RESPECTING THE APOCRYPHA.

 

THE fourth argument is, that these books were not

received as canonical by the Christian Fathers, but

were expressly declared to be apocryphal.

          JUSTIN MARTYR does not cite a single passage, in

all his writings, from any apocryphal book.

          The first catalogue of the books of the Old Testa-

ment which we have, after the times of the apostles,

from any Christian writer, is that of MELITO, bishop

of Sardis, before the end of the second century, which

is preserved by Eusebius. The fragment is as follows:

"MELITO to his brother ONESIMUS, greeting. Since

you have often earnestly requested of me, in conse-

quence of your love of learning, a collection of the

Sacred Scriptures of the Law and the Prophets, and

what relates to the SAVIOUR, and concerning our whole

faith; and since, moreover, you wish to obtain an accu-

rate knowledge of our ancient books, as it respects

their number and order, I have used diligence to ac-

complish this, knowing your sincere affection towards

the faith, and your earnest desire to become acquainted

with the word; and that striving after eternal life,

your love to God induces you to prefer these to all

other things. Wherefore, going into the East, and to


            BY THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS.                    47

 

the very place where these things were published and

transacted, and having made diligent search after the

books of the Old Testament, I now subjoin and send

you the following catalogue:—"Five books of Moses,

viz., Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuter-

onomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings,

two of Chronicles, the Psalms of David, the Pro-

verbs of Solomon, or Wisdom,* Ecclesiastes, the Song

of Songs, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Twelve [prophets] in

one book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra."

          ORIGEN also says, "We should not be ignorant, that

the canonical books are the same which the Hebrews

delivered unto us, and are twenty-two in number,

according to the number of letters of the Hebrew

alphabet." Then he sets down, in order, the names

of the books, in Greek and Hebrew.

          ATHANASIUS, in his Synopsis, says, " All the

Scriptures of us Christians are divinely inspired;

neither are they indefinite in their number, but deter-

mined, and reduced into a Canon. Those of the Old

Testament are, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,

 

            *Whether Melito, in his catalogue, by the word Wisdom,

meant to designate a distinct book; or whether it was used as

another name for Proverbs, seems doubtful. The latter has gene-

rally been understood to be the sense; and this accords with the

understanding of the ancients; for Rufin, in his translation of

this passage of Eusebius renders paroimiai h sofi<a Salomonis Pro-

verbia, quae est sapientia; that is, The Proverbs of Solomon, which

is Wisdom. PINEDA, a learned Romanist, says, "The word

Wisdom should here be taken as explicative of the former, and

should be understood to mean, The Proverbs."

            Euseb. Hist. Ecc. Lib. v. c. 24.

            Origen's catalogue of the books of the Old Testament is

presented by Eusebius, in his Ecc. Hist. Lib. vi. c. 25.


48          THE APOCRYPHA DISOWNED

 

Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, Chroni-

cles, Ezra, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles,

Job, the twelve prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel,

Daniel."*

          HILARY, who was contemporary with Athanasius,

and resided in France, has numbered the canonical

books of the Old Testament, in the following manner

"The five books of Moses, the sixth of Joshua, the

seventh of Judges, including Ruth, the eighth of first

and second Kings, the ninth of third and fourth

Kings; the tenth of the Chronicles, two books; the

eleventh, Ezra (which included Nehemiah;) the

twelfth, the Psalms. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the

Song of Songs, the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth;

the twelve Prophets the sixteenth; then Isaiah and

Jeremiah, including Lamentations and his Epistle,

Daniel, Ezekiel, Job, and Esther, making up the full

number of twenty-two." And in his preface he adds,

that "these books were thus numbered by our ances-

tors, and handed down by tradition from them."

          GREGORY NAZIANZEN exhorts his readers to study

the sacred books with attention, but to avoid such as

were apocryphal; and then gives a list of the books

of the Old Testament, and according to the Jew-

ish method, makes the number two-and-twenty. He

complains of some that mingled the apocryphal

books with those that were inspired, "of the truth of

which last," says he, "we have the most perfect per-

 

            * It is a matter not agreed among the learned whether the

"Synopsis" which has been ascribed to Athanasius was written

by him. It is, however, an ancient work, and belongs to that

age.

            Proleg in Psalmos.


             BY THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS.                     49

 

suasion; therefore it seemed good to me to enumerate

the canonical books from the beginning; and those

which belong to the Old Testament are two-and-

twenty, according to the number of the Hebrew al-

phabet, as I have understood." Then he proceeds to

say, "Let no one add to these divine books, nor take

any thing away from them. I think it necessary to

add this, that there are other books besides those

which I have enumerated as constituting the Canon,

which, however, do not appertain to it; but were pro-

posed by the early Fathers, to be read for the sake

of the instruction which they contain." Then, he

expressly names as belonging to this class, the Wisdom

of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith,

and Tobit.*

          JEROME, in his Epistle to Paulinus, gives us a cata-

logue of the books of the Old Testament, exactly cor-

responding with that which Protestants receive:

"Which," says he, "we believe agreeably to the tra-

dition of our ancestors, to have been inspired by the

Holy Spirit."

          EPIPHANIUS, in his book concerning Weights and

Measures, distributes the books of the Old Testament

into four divisions of five each. "The first of which

contains the law, next five poetical books, Job, Psalms,

Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs; in the third

division he places Joshua, Judges, including Ruth,

first and second Chronicles, four books of Kings.

The last five, the twelve prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah,

Ezekiel, Daniel. Then there remain two, Ezra and

Esther." Thus he makes up the number twenty-two.

          CYRIL of Jerusalem, in his Catechism, exhorts his

 

            * Epist. ad Theod. et Lib. Carm.


50           THE APOCRYPHA DISOWNED

 

catechumen diligently to learn from the church, what

books appertain to the Old and New Testaments, and

he says, "Read nothing which is apocryphal. Read

the Scriptures, namely, the twenty-two books of the

Old Testament, which were translated by the seventy-

two interpreters." And in another place, "Meditate,

as was said, in the twenty-two books of the Old Tes-

tament, and if you wish it, I will give you their

names." Here follows a catalogue, agreeing with

those already given, except that he adds Baruch to

the list. When Baruch is mentioned as making

one book with Jeremiah, as is done by some of the

Fathers, it is most reasonable to understand those

parts of Jeremiah, in the writing of which Baruch

was concerned, as particularly the lii. chapter; for, if

we understand them as referring to the separate book

now called Baruch, the number which they are so

careful to preserve will be exceeded. This apocry-

phal Baruch never existed in the Hebrew, and is never

mentioned separately by any ancient author, as Bel-

larmine confesses. This book was originally written

in Greek, but our present copies differ exceedingly

from the old Latin translation.

          The Council of Laodicea forbade the reading of any

books in the churches but such as were canonical; and

that the people might know what these were, a cata-

logue was given, answering to the Canon which we

now receive.

          ORIGEN barely mentions the Maccabees. ATHA-

NASIUS takes no notice of these books. EUSEBIUS, in

his Chronicon, speaks of the History of the Macca-

bees, and adds, "These books are not received as di-

vine Scriptures."


              BY THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS.                   51

 

          PHILASTRIUS, an Italian bishop, who lived in the

latter part of the fourth century, in a work on Heresy

says, "It was determined by the apostles and their

successors, that nothing should be read in the Catho-

lic church but the law, prophets, evangelists,"

And he complains of certain Heretics, "That they

used the book of Wisdom, by the son of SIRACH, who

lived long after Solomon."

          CHRYSOSTOM, a man who excelled in the knowledge

of the Scriptures, declares, "That all the divine books

of the Old Testament were originally written in the

Hebrew tongue, and that no other books were re-

ceived." Hom. 4. in Gen.

          But JEROME, already mentioned, who had diligently

studied the Hebrew Scriptures, by the aid of the best

Jewish teachers, enters into this subject more fully

and accurately than any of the rest of the Fathers.

In his general Preface to his version of the Scrip-

tures, he mentions the books which he had translated

out of Hebrew into Latin;  "All besides them," says

he, "must be placed among the apocryphal. There-

fore, Wisdom, which is ascribed to Solomon, the book

of Jesus the son of Sirach, Judith, Tobit and Pastor,

are not in the Canon. I have found the first book of

Maccabees in Hebrew, (Chaldee;) the second in Greek,

and, as the style shows, it must have been com-

posed in that language." And in his Preface to Ezra

and Nehemiah, (always reckoned one book by the

Jews,) he says, "Let no one be disturbed that I have

edited but one book under this name; nor let any one

please himself with the dreams contained in the third

and fourth apocryphal books ascribed to this author; 

 

 


52            THE APOCRYPHA DISOWNED

 

for, with the Hebrews, Ezra and Nehemiah make but

one book; and those things not contained in this are

to be rejected, as not belonging to the Canon." And

in his preface to the books of Solomon, he speaks of

"Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus; the former of which,"

he says, "he found in Hebrew, (Chaldee,) but not the

latter, which is never found among the Hebrews, but

the style strongly savours of the Grecian eloquence."

He then adds, "As the church reads the books of Ju-

dith, Tobit, and the Maccabees, but does not receive

them among the canonical Scriptures, so, also, she

may read these two books for the edification of the

common people, but not as authority to confirm any

of the doctrines of the church."

          Again, in his preface to Jeremiah, he says, "The

book of Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah, is not read in

Hebrew, nor esteemed canonical; therefore, I have

passed it over." And in his preface to Daniel, "This

book among the Hebrews has neither the history of

Susanna, nor the Song of the three Children, nor the

fables of Bel and the Dragon, which we have retained

lest we should appear to the unskilful to have curtailed

a large part of the Sacred Volume."

          In the preface to Tobit, he says, "The Hebrews

cut off the book of Tobit from the catalogue of Di-

vine Scriptures." And in his preface to Judith,

he says, "Among the Hebrews, Judith is placed among

the Hagiographa, which are not of authority to deter-

mine controversies."

          RUFIN, in his Exposition of the Creed, observes,

"That there were some books which were not called

canonical, but received by our ancestors, as the Wis-


                  BY THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS.                       53

 

dom of Solomon, and another Wisdom of the Son of

Sirach; of the same order are the books of Tobit,

Judith, and the Maccabees."

          GREGORY the First, speaking of the testimony in

the Maccabees, respecting the death of Eleazer, says,

"Concerning which thing we do not act inordinately,

although we bring our testimony from a book which is

not canonical."

          AUGUSTINE is the only one among the Fathers who

lived within four hundred years after the apostles, who

seems to favour the introduction of these six disputed

books into the Canon. In his work On Christian Doc-

trine, he gives a list of the books of the Old Testa-

ment, among which he inserts Tobit, Judith, the two

books of Maccabees, two of Esdras, Wisdom, and

Ecclesiasticus. These two last mentioned, he says,

"are called Solomon's, on account of their resem-

blance to his writings; although it is known that one

of them was composed by the son of Sirach: which

deserves to be received among the prophetical books."

But this opinion he retracted afterwards.*

          AUGUSTINE was accustomed to the Greek and La-

tin Bibles, in which those books had been introduced,

and we must suppose, unless we would make him

contradict himself, that he meant in this place merely

to enumerate the books then contained in the sacred

volume; for in many other places he clearly shows

that he entertained the same opinion of the books of

the Old Testament as the other Fathers.

          In his celebrated work of "The City of God," he ex-

presses this opinion most explicitly—"In that whole

 

            * See Note B.


54         THE APOCRYPHA DISOWNED

 

period, after the return from the Babylonish captivity,

after Malachi, Haggai, Zachariah and Ezra, they had

no prophets, even until the time of the advent of our

Saviour. As our Lord says, the law and the pro-

phets were until John. And even the reprobate Jews

hold that Haggai, Zachariah, Ezra, and Malachi, were

the last books received into canonical authority."

          In his commentary on the xl. Psalm, he says, "If

any adversary should say you have forged these pro-

phecies, let the Jewish books be produced—The Jews

are our librarians." And on the lvi. Psalm, "When

we wish to prove to the Pagans that Christ was pre-

dicted, we appeal to the writings in possession of the

Jews; they have all these Scriptures."

          And again, in the work first cited, "The Israelitish

nation, to whom the oracles of God were entrusted,

never confounded false prophecies with the true, but

all these writings are harmonious." Then in another

work, in speaking of the books of the Maccabees, he

says, "This writing the Jews never received in the

same manner as the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms,

to which the Lord gave testimony as by his own wit-

nesses." And frequently in his works, he confines the

canonical books to those properly included in this three-

fold division. He also repeatedly declares that the

canonical Scriptures, which are of most eminent autho-

rity, are the books committed to the Jews. But in the

eighteenth book of the City of God, speaking of

Judith, he says, "Those things which are written in

this book, it is said, the Jews have never received into

the Canon of Scripture." And in the seventeenth

book of the same work, "There are three books of

Solomon, which have been received into canonical


            BY THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS.                        55

 

authority, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles; the

other two, Wisdom and Ecelesiasticus, have been called

by his name, through a custom which prevailed on

account of their similarity to his writings; but the

more learned are certain that they are not his; and

they cannot be brought forward with much confidence

for the conviction of gainsayers."

          He allows that the Book of Wisdom may be read

to the people, and ought to be preferred to all other

tracts; but he does not insist, that the testimonies

taken from it are decisive. And respecting Ecclesias-

ticus, he says when speaking of Samuel's prophesying

after his death, "But if this book is objected to be-

cause it is not found in the Canon of the Jews," &c.

His rejection of the books of Maccabees from the

Canon is repeated and explicit. "The calculation of

the times after the restoring of the temple is not found

in the Holy Scriptures, which are called canonical, but

in certain other books, among which are the two books

of Maccabees. The Jews do not receive the Macca-

bees as the Law and the Prophets."

          It may be admitted, however, that AUGUSTINE

entertained too high an opinion of these apocryphal

books, but it is certain that he did not put them on a

level with the genuine canonical books. He mentions

a custom which prevailed in his time, from which it

appears that although the apocryphal books were read

in some of the churches, they were not read as Holy

Scripture, nor put on a level with the canonical books;

for he, informs us that they were not permitted to be

read from the same desk as the Canonical Scriptures,

but from a lower place in the church.

          INNOCENT the first, who lived about the same


56              THE APOCRYPHA DISOWNED

 

time, is also alluded to as a witness to prove that these

disputed books were then received into the Canon.

But the epistle which contains his catalogue is ex-

tremely suspicious. No mention is made of this epistle

by any writer for three hundred years after the death

of INNOCENT. But it is noways necessary to our

argument to deny that in the end of the fourth and

beginning of the fifth century, some individuals, and

perhaps some councils, received these books as canon-

ical, yet there is strong evidence that this was not the

opinion of the universal church; for in the council

of Chalcedon, which is reckoned to be oecumenical, the

Canons of the council of Laodicea which contain a

catalogue of the genuine books of the Old Testament,

are adopted. And it has been shown already that these

apocryphal books were excluded from that catalogue.

          But it can be proved that even until the time of the

meeting of the Council of Trent, by which these books

were solemnly canonized, the most learned and judi-

cious of the Popish writers adhere to the opinions of

JEROME and the ancients; or at least make a marked

distinction between these disputed books and those

which are acknowledged to be canonical by all. A

few testimonies from distinguished writers, from the

commencement of the sixth century down to the era

of the Reformation, shall now be given...

          It deserves to be particularly observed here that in

one of the laws of the Emperor JUSTINIAN, concerning

ecclesiastical matters, it was enacted, "That the Canons

of the first four general councils should be received

and have the force of laws."

          ANASTASIUS, patriarch of Antioch, in a work on the

Creation, makes "the number of books which God


                BY THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS.                      57

 

hath appointed for his Old Testament" to be no more

than twenty-two; although he speaks in very high

terms of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus.

          LEONTIUS, a learned and accurate writer, in his

book against the SECTS, acknowledges no other canoni-

cal books of the Old Testament, but those which the

Hebrews received; namely, twelve historical books,

five prophetical, four of Doctrine and Instruction, and

one of Psalms; making the number twenty-two as

usual; and he makes not the least mention of any

others.

          GREGORY, who lived at the beginning of the seventh

century, in his book of Morals, makes an apology for

alleging a passage from the Maccabees, and says,

"Though it be not taken from the canonical Scripture,

yet it is cited from a book which was published for the

edification of the church."

          ISIDORE, bishop of Seville, divides the canonical

books of the Old Testament into three orders, the

Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa; and after-

wards adds," There is a fourth order of books which

are not in the Hebrew Canon of the Old Testament."

Here he names these books, and says, "Though the

Jews rejected them as apocryphal, the church has re-

ceived them among the canonical Scriptures."

          JOHN DAMASCENE, a Syrian Presbyter, who lived

early in the eighth century, adheres to the Hebrew

Canon of the Old Testament, numbering only two-and-

twenty books. Of Maccabees, Judith and Tobit, he

says not one word; but he speaks of Wisdom and

Ecclesiasticus, as "elegant and virtuous writings, yet

not to be numbered among the canonical books of


58           TESTIMONY OF LEARNED MEN.

 

Scripture, never having been laid up in the ark of the

Covenant."

          VENERABLE BEDE follows the ancient method of

dividing the books of the Old Testament into three

classes; but he remarkably distinguishes the Macca-

bees from the canonical books by classing them with

the writings of Josephus and Julius the African.

          ALCUIN, the disciple of Bede, says, "The book of

the son of Sirach was reputed an apocryphal and

dubious Scripture."

          RUPERT, a learned man of the twelfth century, ex-

pressly rejects the book of Wisdom from the Canon.

          PETER MAURITIUS, after giving a catalogue of the

authentic Scriptures of the Old Testament, adds the

six disputed books, and says, "They are useful and

commendable in the church, but are not to be placed

in the same dignity with the rest."

          HUGO DE S. VICTORE, a Saxon by birth, but who

resided at Paris, gives a catalogue of the books of the

Old Testament, which includes no others but the two-

and-twenty received from the Jews. Of Wisdom,

Ecclesiasticus, Tobit and Judith, he says, "They are

used in the church but not written in the Canon."

          RICHARD DE S. VICTORE, also of the twelfth cen-

tury, in his Books of Collections, explicitly declares,

"That there are but twenty-two books in the Canon;

and that Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, and

the Maccabees, are not esteemed canonical although

they are read in the churches."

          PETER LOMBARD, in his Scholastic History, enume-

rates the books of the Old Testament, thus—Five books

of Moses, eight of the prophets, and nine of the Ha-

giographa, which leaves no room for these six disputed


                 TESTIMONY OF LEARNED MEN.              59

 

books; but in his preface to Tobit he says expressly,

that it is "in no order of the Canon;" and of Judith,

that "Jerome and the Hebrews place it in the apocry-

pha." Moreover, he calls the story of Bel and the

Dragon a fable, and says that the history of Susannah

is not as true as it should be.

          In this century also lived John of Salisbury, an

Englishman, a man highly respected in his time. In

one of his Epistles, he treats this subject at large, and

professes to follow Jerome and undoubtedly to believe

that there are but twenty-two books in the Canon of

the Old Testament, all which he names in order, and

adds, "That neither the book of Wisdom, nor Eccle-

siasticus, nor Judith, nor Tobit, nor the Pastor, nor

the Maccabees, are esteemed canonical."

          In the thirteenth century, the opinion of the learned

was the same, as we may see by the Ordinary Gloss on

the Bible, in the composition of which many persons

were concerned, and which was high approved by all the

doctors and pastors in the western churches. In the

preface to this gloss, they are reproached with igno-

rance who hold all the books, put into the one volume

of Scripture, in equal veneration. The difference be-

tween these books is asserted to be as great as between

certain and doubtful works. The canonical books are

declared, "To have been written by the inspiration of

the Holy Ghost; but who were the authors of the

others is unknown." Then it is declared, "That the

church permitteth the reading of the apocryphal books

for devotion and instruction, but not for authority to

decide matters of controversy in faith. And that

there are no more than twenty-two canonical books of

the Old Testament, and all besides are apocryphal."


60            TESTIMONY OF LEARNED MEN.

 

Thus we have the common judgment of the church, in

the thirteenth century, in direct opposition to the de-

cree of the Council of Trent in the sixteenth. But

this is not all, for when the writers of this Gloss come

to the apocryphal books, they prefix a caution, as--

"Here begins the book of Tobit, which is not in the

Canon;"—"Here begins the book of Judith, which is

not in the Canon," and so of every one of them; and

to confirm their opinion, they appeal to the Fathers.

          HUGO, the Cardinal, who lived in this century, wrote

commentaries on all the Scriptures, which were uni-

versally esteemed; in these he constantly keeps up the

distinction between the canonical and ecclesiastical

books: and he explicitly declares that "Ecclesiasticus,

Wisdom, Judith, Tobit, and the Maccabees, are apoc-

ryphal,—dubious,—not canonical,—not received by the

church for proving any matters of faith, but for in-

formation of manners."

          THOMAS AQUINAS also, the most famous of the school-

men, makes the same distinction between these classes

of books. He maintains that the book of Wisdom

was not held to be a part of the Canon, and ascribes

it to Philo. The story of Bel and the Dragon, he

calls a fable; and he shows clearly enough that he did

not believe that Ecclesiasticus was of canonical autho-

rity.

          In the fourteenth century no man acquired so exten-

sive a reputation for his commentaries on the Bible, as

Nicholas Lyra, a converted Jew. In his preface to

the book of Tobit, he says, "That having commented

on all the canonical books, from the beginning of

Genesis to the end of Revelation, his intention now

was to write on those books which are not canonical."


               TESTIMONY OF LEARNED MEN.                           61

 

Here he enumerates Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith,

Tobit, and the Maccabees; and then adds, "The ca-

nonical books are not only before these in time but in

dignity and authority." And again, "These are not

in the Canon, but received by the church to be read

for instruction in manners, not to be used for deciding

controversies respecting the faith; whereas the others

are of such authority that whatever they contain is to

be held as undoubted truth."

          The Englishman, WILLIAM OCCAM, of Oxford, ac-

counted the most learned doctor of his age, in his

Dialogues, acknowledges, "That that honor is due only

to the divine writers of Scripture, that we should esteem

them free from all error." Moreover, in his Prologues,

he fully assents to the opinion of Jerome and Gregory,

"That neither Judith, nor Tobit, nor the Maccabees,

nor Wisdom, nor Ecclesiasticus, is to be received into

the same place of honour as the inspired books; "for,"

says he, "the church doth not number them among

the canonical Scriptures."

          In the fifteenth century, THOMAS ANGLICUS, some-

times called the Angelical Doctor on account of his

excellent judgment, numbers twenty-four books of the

Old Testament, if Ruth be reckoned separately from

Judges, and Lamentations from Jeremiah.

          PAUL BURGENSIS, a Spanish Jew, who, after his

conversion to Christianity, on account of his superior

knowledge and piety, was advanced to be bishop of

Burgos, wrote notes on the Bible, in which he retains

the same distinction of books which has been so often

mentioned.

          The Romanists have at last, as they suppose, found

an authority for these disputed books in the Council




62           TESTIMONY OP LEARNED MEN.

 

of Florence, from the Acts of which they produce a

decree in which the six disputed books are named and

expressly said to be written by the inspiration of the

Holy Ghost.

          Though this Canon were genuine, the authority of a

council sitting in such circumstances, as attended the

meeting of this, would have very little weight; but Dr.

Cosins has shown that in the large copies of the acts

of this council no such decree can be found, and that

it has been foisted into the abridgment by some impos-

tor who omitted something else to make room for it,

and thus preserved the number of Canons unchanged,

while the substance of them was altered.

          ALPIIONSO TOSTATUS, bishop of Avila, who, on

account of his extraordinary learning, was called the

wonder of the world, has given a clear and decisive

testimony on this subject. This learned man declares,

"That these controverted books were not canonical,

and that the church condemned no man for disobedi-

ence who did not receive them as the other Scriptures,

because they were of uncertain origin, and it is not

known that they were written by inspiration." And

again, “Because the church is uncertain whether

heretics have not added to them.”  This opinion he

repeats in several parts of his works."

          Cardinal XIMENES, the celebrated editor of the

Complutensian Polyglot, in the preface to that work,

admonishes the reader that Judith, Tobit, Wisdom,

Ecclesiasticus, Maccabees, with the additions to Esther

and Daniel, which are found in the Greek, are not

canonical Scriptures.

          JOHN Pious, the learned count of Mirandula, ad-


            TESTIMONY OF LEARNED MEN.                  63

 

hered firmly to the opinion of Jerome and the other

Fathers on the subject of the Canon.

          FABER STAPULENSIS, a famous doctor of Paris,

acknowledges that these books are not in the Canon.

          LUDOVICUS VIVES, one of the most learned men of

his age, in his commentaries on Augustine's City of

God, rejects the third and fourth books of Esdras, and

also the history of Susannah, and Bel, as apocryphal.

He speaks in such a manner of Wisdom and Ecclesi-

asticus as to show that he did not esteem them canoni-

cal; for he makes Philo to be the author of the former,

and the son of Sirach of the latter, who lived in the

time of Ptolemy about an hundred years after the last

of the Prophets; and of the Maccabees, he doubts

whether Josephus was the author or not; by which he

sufficiently shows that he did not believe that they

were written by inspiration.

          But there was no man in this age who obtained so

high a reputation for learning and critical skill as

ERASMUS. In his exposition of the Apostles' Creed

and the Decalogue, he discusses this question respect-

ing the canonical books, and after enumerating the

usual books of the Old Testament, he says, "The

ancient Fathers admitted no more;" but of the other

books afterwards received into ecclesiastical use,

(naming the whole which we esteem apocryphal,) "It

is uncertain what authority should be allowed to them;

but the canonical Scriptures are such as without con-

troversy are believed to have been written by the

inspiration of God." And in his Scholia on Jerome's

preface to Daniel, he expresses his wonder that such

stories as Bel and the Dragon should be publicly read

in the churches. In his address to students of the


64         TESTIMONY OF ROMANISTS.

 

Scriptures, he admonishes them to consider well,

"That the church never intended to give the same

authority to Tobit, Judith and Wisdom, which is given

to the five books of Moses or the four Evangelists."

          The last testimony which we shall adduce to show

that these books were not universally nor commonly

received, until the very time of the Council of Trent,

is that of Cardinal CAJETAN, the oracle of the church

of Rome. In his commentaries on the Bible, he gives

us this as the rule of the church—"That those books

which were canonical with Jerome should be so with

us; and that those which were not received as canoni-

cal by him should be considered as excluded by us."

And he says, "The church is much indebted to this

Father for distinguishing between the books which are

canonical and those which are not, for thus he has

freed us from the reproach of the Hebrews, who other-

wise might say that we had framed a new Canon for

ourselves." For this reason he would write no com-

mentaries on these apocryphal books; "for," says he,

"Judith, Tobit, Maccabees, Wisdom, and the additions

to Esther are all excluded from the Canon as insuffi-

cient to prove any matter of faith, though they may

be read for the edifying of the people."

          From the copious citations of testimonies which we

have given, it is evident that the books in dispute are

apocryphal, and have no right to a place in the Canon;

and that the Council of Trent acted unwisely in de-

creeing, with an anathema annexed, that they should

be received as divine. Surely no council can make

that an inspired book which was not written by inspi-

ration. Certainly these books did not belong to the

Canon while the apostles lived, for they were unknown


              TESTIMONY OF ROMANISTS.                           65

 

both to Jews and Christians. SIXTUS SINENSIS, a

distinguished Romanist, acknowledges that it was long

after the time of the apostles, that these writings came

to the knowledge of the whole Christian church. But

while this is conceded, it does not terminate the con-

troversy, for among the many extraordinary claims of

the Romish church, one of the most extraordinary is

the authority to add to the Canon of Holy Scripture.

It has been made sufficiently manifest that these apoc-

ryphal books were not included in the Canon during

the first three centuries; and can it be doubted whether

the Canon was fully constituted before the fourth con-

tury?  To suppose that a Pope or a Council can make

what books they please canonical, is too absurd to de-

serve a moment's consideration. If, upon this princi-

ple, they could render Tobit and Judith canonical,

upon the same they might introduce Herodotus, Livy,

or even the Koran itself.


66    INTERNAL EVIDENCE AGAINST THE APOCRYPHA.

 

 

                                       SECTION V.

 

INTERNAL EVIDENCE THAT THESE BOOKS ARE NOT CANONI-

          CAL--THE WRITERS NOT PROPHETS, AND DO NOT CLAIM

          TO BE INSPIRED.

 

I COME now to the fifth argument to disprove the

canonical authority of these books, which is derived

from internal evidence. Books which contain mani-

fest falsehoods; or which abound in silly and ridiculous

stories; or contradict the plain and uniform doctrine

of acknowledged Scripture, cannot be canonical. Now

I will endeavour to show, that the books in dispute,

are all, or most of them, condemned by this rule.

          In the book of Tobit, an angel of God is made to

tell a palpable falsehood—"I am Azarias, the son of

Ananias the great, and of thy brethren;"* by which

Tobit was completely deceived, for he says, "Thou art

of an honest and good stock." Now in chapter xii.

this same angel declares, "I am Raphael, one of the

seven Holy Angels, which present the prayers of the

saints, and go in and out before the glory of the Holy

One."

          Judith is represented as speaking scarcely anything

but falsehood to Holofernes; but what is most incon-

sistent with the character of piety given her, is, that

she is made to pray to the God of truth, in the following

 

            * Tobit v. 12, 13.


INTERNAL EVIDENCE AGAINST THE APOCRYPHA.         67

 

words, "Smite by the deceit of my lips, the servant

with the prince, and the prince with the servant."

Who does not perceive, at once, the impiety of this

prayer? It is a petition that he who holds in utter

detestation all falsehood, should give efficacy to pre-

meditated deceit. This woman, so celebrated for her

piety, is also made to speak with commendation of

the conduct of Simeon, in the cruel slaughter of the

Shechemites; an act, against which God, in the

Scriptures, has expressed his high displeasure.

          In the second book of Maccabees, RAZIS, an elder

of Jerusalem, is spoken of with high commendation,

for destroying his own life, rather than fall into the

hands of his enemies; but, certainly, suicide is not,

in any case, agreeable to the word of God.

          The author of the book of Wisdom, speaks in the

name of Solomon, and talks about being appointed to

build a temple in the holy mountain; whereas it has

been proved by Jerome, that this book is falsely

ascribed to Solomon.

          In the book of Tobit, we have this story:  "And as

they went on their journey they came to the river

Tigris, and they lodged there; and when the young

man went down to wash himself, a fish leaped out of

the river, and would have devoured him. Then the

angel said unto him, Take the fish. And the young

man laid hold of the fish and drew it to land. To

whom the angel said, Open the fish, and take the heart,

and the liver, and the gall, and put them up safely.

So the young man did as the angel commanded him,

and when they had roasted the fish, they did eat it.

Then the young man said unto the angel, Brother

Azarias, to what use is the heart, and the liver, and the


68     INTERNAL EVIDENCE AGAINST THE APOCRYPHA.

 

gall of the fish? And he said unto him, Touching the

heart and the liver, if a devil, or an evil spirit trouble

any, we must make a smoke thereof before the man

or the woman, and the party shall be no more vexed.

As for the gall, it is good to anoint a man that hath

whiteness in his eyes; and he shall be healed."*  If this

story does not savour of the fabulous, then it would be

difficult to find anything that did.

          In the book of Baruch, there are also several

things which do not appear to be true. Baruch is

said to have read this book, in the fifth year after

the destruction of Jerusalem, in the ears of the

king, and all the people dwelling in Babylon, who

upon hearing it, collected money and sent it to Jeru-

salem, to the priests.  Now Baruch, who is here

alleged to have read this book in Babylon, is said, in the

canonical Scriptures, to have been carried captive into

Egypt, with Jeremiah, after the murder of Gedaliah.

Jer. xliii. 6. Again, he is represented to have read in

the ears of Jeconias the king, and of all the people; but

Jeconias is known to have been shut up in prison, at

this time, and it is nowise probable that Baruch would

have access to him, if he even had been in Babylon.

The money that was sent from Babylon was to enable

the priests to offer sacrifices to the Lord, but the tem-

ple was in ruins, and there was no altar.

          In the chapters added to the book of Esther, we

read, that "Mardocheus, in the second year of Ar-

taxerxes the Great, was a great man, being a servitor

 

            * Tobit c. vi.                             Baruch i. 1-6.

            Baruch i. 10. " And they said, Behold we have sent you

money to buy you burnt-offerings, and sin-offerings, and incense,

and prepare ye manna, and offer upon the altar of the Lord our

God."


INTERNAL EVIDENCE AGAINST THE APOCRYPHA       69

 

in the king's court." And in the same, "That he was

also one of the captives which Nabuchodonosor carried

from Jerusalem, with Jeconias, king of Judea." Now,

between these two periods, there intervened one hun-

dred and fifty years; so that, if he was only fifteen

years of age, when carried away, he must have been

a servitor in the king's court, at the age of one hun-

dred and seventy-five years!

          Again, Mardocheus is represented as being "a great

man in the court, in the second year of Artaxerxes,"

before he detected the conspiracy against the king's

life. Now, Artaxerxes and Ahasuerus were the same,

or they were not; if the former, this history clashes

with the Scriptural account, for there it appears, that

Mordecai was not, before this time, a courtier, or a

conspicuous man; if the latter, then this addition is

manifestly false, because it ascribes to Artaxerxes,

what the Scriptures ascribe to another person.

          Moreover, this apocryphal writing places the con-

spiracy against the king's life before the repudiation

of Yashti and the marriage of Esther; but this is

repugnant to the canonical Scriptures.

          It is also asserted, in this book, (see chap. xvi.) that

Mardocheus received honours and rewards for the

detection of the conspiracy; whereas, in the Canonical

book of Esther, it is declared, that he received no re-

ward. And a different reason is assigned, in the two

books, for Haman's hatred of Mordecai. In the

canonical, it is his neglect of showing respect to this

proud courtier; in the apocryphal, it is the punish-

ment of the two eunuchs, who had formed the con-

spiracy.

          And finally, Haman, in this spurious work, is called


70    INTERNAL EVIDENCE AGAINST THE APOCRYPHA.

 

a Macedonian; and it is said, that he meditated the

design of transferring the Persian kingdom to the

Macedonians. But this is utterly incredible. The

kingdom of Macedon must have been, at that time,

most obscure, and probably wholly unknown, at the

Persian court. But this is not all: he who is here

called a Macedonian, is in the canonical book said to

be an Agagite. The proof of the apocryphal charac-

ter of this addition to Esther, which has been adduced,

is in all reason sufficient.

          The advocates of these books are greatly perplexed

to find a place in the history of the Jewish nation, for

the wonderful deliverance wrought by means of Judith.

It seems strange that no allusion is made to this event

in any of the acknowledged books of Scripture; and

more unaccountable still, that Josephus, who was so

much disposed to relate everything favourable to the

character of his nation, should never make the least

mention of it. Some refer this history to the period

preceding the Babylonish captivity; while others are

of opinion, that the events occurred in the time of

Cambyses, king of Persia. But the name of the high

priest here mentioned, does not occur with the names

of the high priests contained in any of the genealogies.

From the time of the building of the temple of Solomon,

to its overthrow by the Assyrians, this name is not

found in the list of high priests, as may be seen by

consulting the vi. chapter of 1 Chronicles; nor, in the

catalogue given by Josephus, in the tenth chapter

of the tenth book of his Antiquities. That this history

cannot be placed after the captivity, is manifest, from

this circumstance, that the temple of Solomon was still


INTERNAL EVIDENCE AGAINST THE APOCRYPHA.     71

 

standing when the transactions which are related in

this book occurred.

          Another thing in the book of Judith, which is very

suspicious, is, that Holofernes is represented as saying,

"Tell me now, ye sons of Canaan, who this people

is, that dwelleth in the hill country, and what are the

cities that they inhabit." But how can it be reconciled

with known history, that a prince of Persia should be

wholly ignorant of the Jewish people?

          It is impossible to reconcile what is said, in the close

of the book, with any sound principles of chronology.

Judith is represented as young and beautiful, when

she slew Holofernes; but here it is said, "That she

waxed old in her husband's house, being an hundred

and five" years old. And there was none that made

the children of Israel any more afraid, in the days of

Judith nor a long time after her death." In whose

reign, or at what period, we would ask, did the Jews

enjoy this long season of uninterrupted tranquillity?

          Some writers who are fully convinced that the his-

tory of Judith cannot be reconciled with authentic

history, if taken literally, are of opinion, that it contains

a beautiful allegory;—that Bethulia, (the virgin,)

represents the church of God; that the assault of

Nebuchadnezzar signifies the opposition of the world

and its prince; that the victory obtained by a pious

woman, is intended to teach, that the church's deli-

verance is not effected by human might or power, but

by the prayers and the piety of the saints, &c. This,

perhaps, is the most favourable view which we can

take of this history: but take it as you will, it is clear

that the book is apocryphal, and has no right to a place

in the sacred Canon.


72     INTERNAL EVIDENCE AGAINST THE APOCRYPHA.

 

          Between the first and second books of Maccabees,

there is a palpable contradiction; for in the first book

it is said, that "Judas died in the one hundred and

fifty-second year:" but in the second, "that in the one

hundred and eighty-eighth year, the people that were

in Judea, and Judas, and the council, sent greeting

and health unto Aristobulus." Thus, Judas is made

to join in sending a letter, six-and-thirty years after his

death! The contradiction is manifest. In the same

first chapter of the second book, there is a story inserted

which has very much the air of a fable. "For when

our fathers were led into Persia, the priests that were

then devout, took the fire of the altar privily and hid

it in a hollow place of a pit without water, where they

kept it sure, so that the place was unknown to all men.

Now after many years, when it pleased God, Nehe-

mias, being sent from the king of Persia, did send of

the posterity of those priests that had hid it, to the fire:

but when they told us they found no fire, but thick

water, then commanded he them to draw it up and

bring it, and when the sacrifice was laid on, Nehemias

commanded the priests to sprinkle the wood and things

laid thereon, with the water. When this was done

and the time came that the sun shone, which before

was hid in the clouds, a great fire was kindled." 2

Mac. ix. But the Jews were not carried to Persia but

to Babylon, and the rest of the story has no founda-

tion, whatever, in truth.

          In the second chapter we have another fabulous

story of Jeremiah's taking the ark and altar, and altar

of incense, to mount Pisgah, and hiding them in a

hollow cave, and closing them up. This place Jere-

miah declared should be unknown, "until the time


INTERNAL EVIDENCE AGAINST THE APOCRYPHA.      73

 

that God gathered his people again together, and re-

ceived them into mercy; when the cloud as it ap-

peared unto Moses, should appear again." 1 Mac.

viii. 16.

          There is another contradiction between these books

of Maccabees, in relation to the death of Antiochus

Epiphanes. In the first, it is said, that he died at

Elymais, in Persia, in the hundred and forty-ninth

year; but, in the second book, it is related, that after

entering Persepolis, with a view of overthrowing the

temple and city, he was repulsed by the inhabitants;

and while on his journey from this place, he was

seized with a dreadful disease of the bowels, and died

in the mountains. 1 Mac. vi.; 2 Mac. ix.

          Moreover, the accounts given of Nicanor, in the

seventh chapter of the first book, and in the fourteenth

and fifteenth chapters of the second book, are totally

inconsistent.

          In the first book of Maccabees an erroneous account

is given of the civil government of the Romans, where

it is said, "That they committed their government to

one man every year, who ruled over all their country,

and that all were obedient to that one." Whereas, it

is well known, that no such form of government ever

existed among the Romans.        

          Finally, it is manifest that these books were not

inspired, and therefore not canonical, because they

were not written by prophets; but by men who speak

of their labours in a way wholly incompatible with in-

spiration.

          Jerome and Eusebius were of opinion, that Josephus

was the author of the books of the Maccabees; but it

has never been supposed by any, that he was an in-

 


74           THE APOCRYPHA NOT WRITTEN

 

spired man; therefore, if this opinion be correct, these

books are no more canonical, than the Antiquities, or

Wars of the Jews, by the same author.

          It has been the constant tradition of Jews and

Christians, that the spirit of prophecy ceased with

Malachi, until the appearance of John the Baptist.

Malachi has, on this account, been called by the Jews,

"the seal of the prophets."

          Josephus, in his book against APION, after saying

that it belonged to the prophets alone, to write inspired

books, adds these words, "From the time of Artax-

erxes, there were some among us, who wrote books

even to our own times, but these are not of equal

authority with the preceding, because the succession

of prophets was not complete."

          EUSEBIUS, in giving a catalogue of the leaders of the

Jews, denies that he can proceed any lower than

Zerubbabel, "Because," says he, "after the return

from captivity until the advent of our Saviour, there

is no book which can be esteemed sacred."

          AUGUSTINE gives a similar testimony. "After Mala-

chi the Jews had no prophet, during that whole period,

which intervened between the return from captivity

and the advent of our Saviour."

          Neither does GENEBRARD dissent from this opinion.

"From Malachi to John the Baptist," says he, "no

prophets existed."

          DRUSIUS cites the following words, from the Com-

piler of the Jewish History, "The rest of the discourses

of Simon and his wars, and the wars of his brother,

are they not written in the book of Joseph, the son

of Gorion, and in the book of the Asmoneans, and in

the books of the Roman kings?" Here the books of


                      BY INSPIRED MEN.                             75

 

the Maccabees are placed between the writings of

Josephus and the Roman history.

          The book of Wisdom does indeed claim to be the

work of Solomon, an inspired man; but this claim

furnishes the strongest ground for its condemnation.

It is capable of the clearest proof from internal evi-

dence, that this was the production of some person,

probably a Hellenistic Jew, who lived long after the

Canon of the Old Testament was completed. It con-

tains manifest allusions to Grecian customs, and is

tinctured with the Grecian philosophy. The manner

in which the author praises himself is fulsome, and

has no parallel in an inspired writer. This book has

been ascribed to Philo Judaeus; and if this conjecture be

correct, doubtless it has no just claim to be considered

a canonical book. But whoever was the author, his

endeavouring to pass his composition off for the writ-

ing of Solomon, is sufficient to decide every question

respecting his inspiration. If Solomon had written

this book, it would have been found in the Jewish

Canon, and in the Hebrew language. The writer is

also guilty of shameful flattery to his own nation, which

is entirely repugnant to the spirit of all the prophets.

He has also, without any foundation, added many

things to the sacred narration, contained in the canoni-

cal history; and has mingled with it much which is of

the nature of poetical embellishment. And, indeed,

the whole style of the composition savours too much

of artificial eloquence, to be attributed to the Spirit

of God; the constant characteristic of whose produc-

tions is, simplicity and sublimity.

          Ecclesiasticus, which is superior to all the other

apocryphal books, was written by one Jesus the son


76        THE APOCRYPHA NOT WRITTEN

 

of Sirach. His grandfather, of the same name, it

seems, had written a book, which he left to his son

Sirach; and he delivered it to his son Jesus, who took

great pains to reduce it into order; but he no where

assumes the character of a prophet himself, nor does

he claim it for the original author, his grandfather.

In the prologue, he says. "My grandfather, Jesus,

when he had much given himself to the reading of the

law and the prophets, and other books of our fathers,

and had gotten therein good judgment, was drawn on

also himself to write something pertaining to learning

and wisdom, to the intent that those which are desir-

ous to learn, and are addicted to these things, might

profit much more, in living according to the law.

Wherefore let me entreat you to read it with favour

and attention, and to pardon us wherein we may seem

to come short of some words which we have laboured

to interpret. For the same things uttered in Hebrew,

and translated into another tongue, have not the same

force in them. For in the eight-and-thirtieth year,

coming into Egypt when Euergetes was king, and

continuing there for some time, I found a book of no

small learning: therefore I thought it most necessary

for me to bestow some diligence and travail to inter-

pret it; using great watchfulness, and skill, in that

space, to bring the book to an end," &c. Surely

there is no need of further arguments to prove that

this modest author did not claim to be inspired.

          The author of the second book of the Maccabees pro-

fesses to have reduced a work of Jason of Cyrene, con-

sisting of five volumes, into one volume. Concerning

which work, he says, "therefore to us that have

taken upon us this painful labour of abridging, it was


                      BY INSPIRED MEN.                         77

 

not easy, but a matter of sweat and watching." Again,

"leaving to the author the exact handling of every

particular, and labouring to follow the rules of an

abridgment—to stand upon every point, and go over

things at large, and to be curious in particulars,

belongeth to the first author of the story; but to use

brevity, and avoid much labouring of the work, is to

be granted to him that maketh an abridgment."  Is

any thing more needed to prove that this writer did

not profess to be inspired? If there was any inspira-

tion in the case, it must be attributed to Jason of

Cyrene, the original writer of the history;—but his

work is long since lost, and we now possess only the

abridgment which cost the writer so much labour and

pains. Thus, I think it sufficiently appears, that the

authors of these disputed books were not prophets;

and that, as far as we can ascertain the circumstances

in which they wrote, they did not lay claim to inspira-

tion, but expressed themselves in such a way, as no

man under the influence of inspiration ever did.

          The Popish writers, to evade the force of the argu-

ments of their adversaries, pretend that there was a

two-fold Canon; that some of the books of Scripture

are proto-canonical; and others deutero-canonical. If,

by this distinction, they only meant that the word

Canon was often used by the Fathers, with great lati-

tude, so as to include all books that were ever read in

the churches, or that were contained in the volume of

the Greek Bible, the distinction is correct, and signi-

fies the same, as is often expressed, by calling some

books sacred and canonical, and others, ecclesiastical.

But these writers make it manifest that they mean

much more than this. They wish to put their deute-


78        THE APOCRYPHA NOT WRITTEN

 

ro-canonical books, on a level with the old Jewish

Canon; and this distinction is intended to teach, that

after the first Canon was constituted, other books

were, from time to time, added:  but when these books

thus annexed to the Canon have been pronounced upon

by the competent authority, they are to be received

as of equal authority with the former. When this

second Canon was constituted, is a matter concern-

ing which they are not agreed; some pretend, that in

the time of Shammai and Hillel, two famous rabbies,

who lived before the advent of the Saviour, these

books were added to the Canon. But why then are

they not included in the Hebrew Canon? Why does

Josephus never mention them? Why are they never

quoted nor alluded to in the New Testament? And

why did all the earlier Fathers omit to cite them,

or expressly reject them? The difficulties of this

theory being too prominent, the most of the advocates

of the apocrypha, suppose, that these books, after hav-

ing remained in doubt before, were received by the

supreme authority of the church, in the fourth century.

They allege, that these books were sanctioned by the

council of Nice, and by the third council of Carthage,

which met A. D. 397. But the story of the method

pursued by the council of Nice, to distinguish between.

canonical and spurious books, is fabulous and ridiculous.

There is nothing in the Canons of that council relative

to these books; and certainly, they cited no authori-

ties from them, in confirmation of the doctrines estab-

lished by them. And as to the third council of Carthage,

it may be asked, what authority had this provincial

synod to determine anything for the whole church,

respecting the Canon? But there is no certainty that


                  BY INSPIRED MEN.                           79

 

this council did determine anything on the subject;

for in the same Canon, there is mention made of Pope

Boniface, as living at that time, whereas he did not

rise to this dignity, until more than twenty years after-

wards; in which time, three other popes occupied the

See of Rome; so that this Canon could not have been

formed by the third council of Carthage. And in

some copies it is inserted, as the fourteenth of the

seventh council of Carthage. However this may be,

we may be confident, that no council of the fourth cen-

tury had any authority to add to the Canon of Scrip-

ture, books which were not only not received before, but

explicitly rejected as apocryphal, by most of the

Fathers. Our opponents say, that these books were

uncertain before, but now received confirmation. How

could there be any uncertainty, in regard to these

books, if the church was as infallible, in the first three

ages, as in the fourth. These books were either

canonical before the fourth century, or they were not:

if the former, how came it to pass that they were not

recognized by the apostles? How came they to be

overlooked and rejected by the primitive Fathers?

But if they were not canonical before, they must have

been made canonical by the decree of some council.

That is, the church can make that an inspired book,

which was never given by inspiration. This absurdity

was mentioned before, but it deserves to be repeated,

because, however unreasonable it may be, it forms the

true, and almost the only ground, on which the doc-

trine of the Romish church, in regard to these apocry-

phal books, rests. This is, indeed, a part of the

Pope's supremacy, Some of their best writers, how-

ever, deny this doctrine; and whatever others may


80        THE APOCRYPHA NOT WRITTEN

 

pretend, it is most certain, that the Fathers, with one

consent, believed that the Canon of sacred Scripture

was complete in their time: they never dreamed of

books not then canonical, becoming such, by any

authority upon earth. Indeed, the idea of adding to

the Canon, what, did not, from the beginning, belong

to it, never seems to have entered the mind of any

person in former times. If this doctrine were correct,

we might still have additions made to the Canon, and

that too, of books which have existed for hundreds of

years.

          This question may be brought to a speedy issue,

with all unprejudiced judges. These books were

either written by divine inspiration for the guidance

of the church in matters of faith and practice, or they

were not; if the former, they always had a right to a

place in the Canon; if the latter, no act of a pope or

council could render that divine, which was not so

before. It would be to change the nature of a fact,

than which nothing is more impossible.

          It is alleged, with much confidence, that the Greek

Bibles, used by the Fathers, contained these books;

and, therefore, whenever they give their testimony to

the sacred Scriptures, these are included. This argu-

ment proves too much, for the third book of Esdras

and the Prayer, of Manasses were contained in these

volumes, but these are rejected by the Romanists.

The truth, however, is, that these books were not

originally connected with the Septuagint; they were

probably introduced into some of the later Greek ver-

sions, which were made by heretics. These versions,

particularly that of Theodotion, came to be used pro-

miscuously with that of the LXX; and to this day,


                   BY INSPIRED MEN.                                      81

 

the common copies contain the version of the book of

Daniel by Theodotion, instead of that by the LXX.

          By some such means, these apocryphal books crept

into the Greek Bible; but the early Fathers were

careful to distinguish them from the canonical Scrip-

tures, as we have already seen. That they were

read in the churches, is also true; but not as Scrip-

ture; not for the confirmation of doctrine, but for

the edification of the common people.

          Some of the Fathers, it is true, cited them as author-

ity, but very seldom, and the reason which rendered

it difficult for them to distinguish accurately between

ecclesiastical and canonical books has already been

given. These pious men were, generally unacquainted

with Hebrew literature, and finding all these books in

Greek, and frequently bound up in the same volume

with the canonical Scriptures, and observing that they

contained excellent rules for the direction of life and

the regulation of morals, they sometimes referred to

them, and cited passages from them, and permitted

them to be read in the church, for the instruction and

edification of the people.

          But the more learned of the Fathers, who examined

into the authority of the sacred books with unceasing

diligence, clearly marked the distinction between such

books as were canonical, and such as were merely hu-

man compositions. And some of them even disap-

proved of the reading of these apocryphal books by

the people; and some councils warned the churches

against them. It was with this single view that so

many catalogues of the canonical books were prepared

and published.

          Notwithstanding that we have taken so much pains


82        THE APOCRYPHA NOT WRITTEN

 

to show that the books called apocrypha, are not

canonical, we wish to avoid the opposite extreme of

regarding them as useless, or injurious. Some of these

books are important for the historical information

which they contain; and, especially, as the facts re-

corded in them, are, in some instances, the fulfilment

of remarkable prophecies.

          Others of them are replete with sacred, moral, and

prudential maxims, very useful to aid in the regulation

of life and manners; but even with these, are inter-

spersed sentiments, which are not perfectly accordant

with the word of God. In short, these books are of

very different value, but in the best of them there is so

much error and imperfection, as to convince us, that

they are human productions, and should be used as

such: not as an infallible rule, but as useful helps in

the attainment of knowledge, and in the practice of

virtue. Therefore, when we would exclude them from

a place in the Bible, we would not proscribe them

as unfit to be read; but we would have them published

in a separate volume, and studied much more carefully

than they commonly have been.

          And while we would dissent from the practice of

reading lessons from these books, as Scriptural lessons

are read in the church, we would cordially recommend

the frequent perusal, in private, of the first of Macca-

bees, the Wisdom of Solomon, and above all Ecclesias-

ticus.

          It is a dishonour to God, and a disparagement of his

word, to place other books, in any respect on a level

with the divine oracles; but it is a privilege to be

permitted, to have access to the writings of men, emi-

nent for their wisdom and piety. And it is also a


                        BY INSPIRED MEN.                              83

 

matter of curious instruction to learn, what were the

opinions of men, in ages long past, and in countries

far remote.

          The infallibility of the church of Rome is clearly

proved to be without foundation, by the decree of  the

Council of Trent, canonizing the apocrypha. If we

have been successful in proving that these books are

not canonical, the infallibility of both popes and coun-

cils is overthrown; for if they erred in one instance,

it proves that the doctrine is false. One great incon-

venience of this doctrine is, that when that church

falls into any error, she can never retract it; for

that would be to acknowledge her fallibility.

          Some allege that the church of Rome is not now

what she was in former years; but that she has laid aside

opinions formerly entertained. But this allegation.

inconsistent with her claim to infallibility. According

to this, the church of Rome has never erred; what she

has declared to be true at any time she must forever

maintain to be true; or give up her pretensions to in-

fallibility.  In regard to the Apocrypha, it is immate-

rial, whether the infallibility be supposed to reside in

the pope or in a council; or in the pope and council

united; for the council of Trent is considered to be an

oecumenical council regularly constituted; and all

its acts were sanctioned by the popes. Their error

in pronouncing the apocrypha canonical, is decisive

to the infallibility of the church.


84          NO CANONICAL BOOK IIAS BEEN LOST.

 

 

                                    SECTION VI.

 

NO CANONICAL BOOK OF THE OLD TESTAMENT HAS BEEN

                                         LOST.

 

ON this subject there has existed some diversity of

opinion. Chrysostom is cited by Bellarmine, as say-

ing, "That many of the writings of the prophets had

perished, which may readily be proved from the his-

tory in Chronicles. For the Jews were negligent, and

not only negligent but impious, so that some books

were lost through carelessness, and others were burned,

or otherwise destroyed."

          In confirmation of this opinion, an appeal is made

to 1 Kings iv. 32, 33, where it is said of Solomon,

"That he spake three thousand proverbs, and his

songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of

trees, from the cedar in Lebanon, even unto the

hyssop, that springeth out of the wall: he spake also

of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of

fishes." All these productions, it is acknowledged,

have perished.

          Again it is said in 1 Chron. xxix. 29, 30. "Now

the acts of David the king, first and last, behold they

are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the

book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad

the seer; with all his reign, and his might, and the

times that went over him, and over Israel, and over all


NO CANONICAL BOOK HAS BEEN LOST.          85

 

the kingdoms of the countries." The book of Jasher,

also, is twice mentioned in Scripture. In Joshua x.

13, "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed,

until the people had avenged themselves on their

enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher?"

And in 2 Sam. i. 18, "And he bade them teach the

children of Israel the use of the bow: behold it is

written in the book of Jasher."

          The book of the Wars of the Lord is referred to, in

Num. xxi. 14. But we have in the Canon no books

under the name of Nathan and Gad: nor any book

of Jasher; nor of the Wars of the Lord.

          Moreover, we frequently are referred, in the sacred

history, to other chronicles or annals, for a fuller ac-

count of the matters spoken of, which Chronicles are

not now extant.

          And in 2 Chron. ix. 29, it is said, "Now the rest of

the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not writ-

ten in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the

prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions

of Iddo the seer, against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?"

Now it is well known, that none of these writings of

the prophets are in the Canon; at least, none of them

under their names.

          It is said also in 2 Chron. xii. 15, "Now the acts

of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in

the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the

seer, concerning genealogies?" Of which works no-

thing remains, under the names of these prophets.

          1. The first observation which I would make on

this subject, is, that every book referred to, or quoted

in the sacred writings, is not necessarily an inspired,

or canonical book. Because Paul cites passages from


86               NO CANONICAL BOOK

 

the Greek poets, it does not follow that we must re-

ceive their poems as inspired.

          2. A book may be written by an inspired man, and

yet be neither inspired nor canonical. Inspiration

was not constantly afforded to the prophets, but was

occasional, and for particular important purposes. In

common matters, and especially in things noways

connected with religion, it is reasonable to suppose,

that the prophets and apostles were left to the same

guidance of reason and common sense, as other men.

A man, therefore, inspired to deliver some prophecy,

or even to write a canonical book, might write other

books, with no greater assistance than other good men

receive. Because Solomon was inspired to write some

canonical books, it does not follow, that what he wrote

on natural history, was also inspired. The Scrip-

tures, however, do not say, that his three thousand

proverbs, and his discourses on natural history, were

ever committed to writing. It only says, that he spake

these things. But supposing that all these discourses

were committed to writing, which is not improbable,

there is not the least reason for believing that they

were inspired, any more than Solomon's private letters

to his friends, if he ever wrote any. Let it be remem-

bered, that the prophets and apostles were only inspired

on special occasions, and on particular subjects, and all

difficulties respecting such works as these will vanish.

How many of the books referred to in the Bible, and

mentioned above, may have been of this description, it

is now impossible to tell; but probably several of them

belong to this class. No doubt there were many books

of annals, much more minute and particular in the

narration of facts, than those which we have. It was


                      HAS BEEN LOST.                            87

 

often enough to refer to these state papers, or public

documents, as being sufficiently correct, in regard to

the facts on account of which the reference was made.

There is nothing derogatory to the word of God, in

the supposition that the books of Kings and Chronicles,

which we have in the Canon, were compiled by the

inspired prophets from these public records. All that

is necessary for us, is, that the facts are truly related;

and this could be as infallibly secured on this hypo-  

thesis, as on any other.

          The book of the Wars of the Lord, might for aught

that appears, have been merely a muster roll of the

army. The word translated book has so extensive a

meaning in Hebrew, that it is not even necessary to

suppose, that it was a writing at all. The book of

Jasher, (or of rectitude, if we translate the word,)

might have been some useful compend taken from

Scripture, or composed by the wise, for the regulation

of justice and equity, between man and man.

          AUGUSTINE, in his City of God, has distinguished

accurately on this subject. "I think," says he, "that

those books which should have authority in religion

were revealed by the Holy Spirit, and that men com-

posed others by historical diligence, as the prophets did

these by inspiration. And these two classes of books

are so distinct, that it is only of those written by in-

spiration, that we are to suppose God, through them,

to be speaking unto us. The one class is useful for

fulness of knowledge; the other for authority in

in which authority the Canon is preserved."

          3. But again, it may be maintained, without any

prejudice to the completeness of the Canon, that there

may have been inspired, writings which were not in-

 


 


88                NO CANONICAL BOOK

 

tended for the instruction of the church in all ages,

but composed by the prophets for some special occasion.

These writings, though inspired, were not canonical.

They were temporary in their design, and when that

was accomplished, they were no longer needed. We

know that the prophets delivered, by inspiration, many

discourses to the people, of which we have not a trace

on record. Many true prophets are mentioned, who

wrote nothing that We know of; and several are men-

tioned, whose names are not even given. The same

is true of the apostles. Very few of them had any

concern in writing the canonical Scriptures, and yet

they all possessed plenary inspiration. And if they

wrote letters, on special occasions, to the churches

planted by them; yet these were not designed for the

perpetual instruction of the universal church. There-

fore Shemaiah, and Iddo, and Nathan, and Gad,

might have written some things by inspiration, which

were never intended to form a part of the Sacred

Volume. It is not asserted, that there certainly existed

such temporary inspired writings: all that is necessary

to be maintained, is, that supposing such to have ex-

isted, which is not improbable, it does not follow

that the Canon is incomplete, by reason of their loss.

As this opinion may be startling to some, who have

not thoroughly considered it, I will call in to its sup-

port the opinions of some distinguished theologians.

 

          "It has been observed," says Francis Junius, "that

it is one thing to call a book sacred, another to say

that it is canonical; for every book was sacred which

was edited by a prophet, or apostle; but it does not

follow that every such sacred book is canonical, and


                             HAS BEEN LOST.                           89

 

was designed for the whole body of the church.  For

example, it is credible that Isaiah the prophet wrote

many things, as a prophet, which were truly inspired,

but those writings only were canonical, which God

consecrated to the treasure of the church, and which

by special direction were added to the public Canon.

Thus Paul and the other apostles may have written

many things, by divine inspiration, which are not now

extant; but those only are canonical, which were

placed in the Sacred Volume, for the use of the uni-

versal church: which Canon received the approbation

of the apostles, especially of John, who so long pre-

sided over the churches in Asia."*

          The evangelical WITSIUS, of an age somewhat

later, delivers his opinion on this point, in the follow-

ing manner:  "No one, I think, can doubt, but that all

the apostles in the diligent exercise of their office, wrote

frequent letters to the churches under their care, when

they could not be present with them; and to whom

they might often wish to communicate some instruc-

tion necessary for them in the circumstances in

which they were placed. It would seem to me to

be injurious to the reputation of those faithful and

assiduous men, to suppose, that not one of them ever

wrote any epistle, or addressed to a church, any

writing, except those few, whose epistles are in the

Canon. Now, as Peter, and Paul, and James, and

John, were induced to write to the churches, on ac-

count of the need in which they stood of instruction,

why would not the same necessity induce the other

apostles to write to the churches under their care?

Nor is there any reason why we should complain of

 

            * Explic. in Numb. xxi.


90                   NO CANONICAL BOOK

 

the great loss which we have sustained, because these

precious documents have perished; it is rather matter

of gratitude, that so many have been preserved by the

provident benevolence of God towards us, and so

abundantly sufficient to instruct us, in the things per-

taining to salvation."*

          Although I have cited this passage from this excel-

lent and orthodox theologian, in favour of the senti-

ment advanced; yet I do not feel at liberty to go the

whole length of his opinion, here expressed. There is

no reason to think, that any of the other apostles com-

posed such works, as those which constitute the Canon

of the New Testament. If they had, some of them

would have been preserved, or at least, some memo-

rial of such writings would have been handed down,

in those churches to which they were addressed.

These churches received and preserved the canonical

books of those whose writings we have, and why should

they neglect, or suffer to sink into oblivion, similar

writings of apostles, from whom they first received

the gospel?

          Indeed, after all, this argument is merely hypotheti-

cal, and would be sufficient to answer the objections

which might be made, if it could be proved, that some

inspired writings had perished; but, in fact, there is

no proof that any such ever existed. It is, therefore,

highly probable, that we are in actual possession of all

the books penned under the plenary inspiration of the

Holy Spirit.

          The last remark which I shall make in relation to

the books of the Old Testament supposed to be lost,

is, that it is highly probable that we have several of

 

            * Meletem. De Vita Pauli.

 

 

 


                         HAS BEEN LOST.                        91

 

them now in the Canon, under another name. The

books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, were,

probably, not written by one, but by a succession of

prophets.

          There is reason to believe, that until the Canon of

the Old Testament was closed, the succession of pro-

phets was never interrupted.  Whatever was necessary

to be added, by way of explanation, to any book

already received into the Canon, they were competent

to annex; or, whatever annals or histories, it was the

purpose of God to have transmitted to posterity, they

would be directed and inspired to prepare. Thus,

different parts of these books might have been penned

by Gad, Nathan, Iddo, Shemaiah.

          That some parts of these histories were prepared by

prophets, we have clear proof, in one instance; for,

Isaiah has inserted in his prophecy several chapters,

which are contained in 2 Kings, and which, I think,

there can be no doubt, were originally written by

himself. See 2 Kings xviii. xix. xx., compared with

Isaiah xxxvi. xxxvii. xxxviii.

          The Jewish doctors are of opinion, that the book of

Jasher, is one of the books of the Pentateuch, or the

whole law.

          The book of the Wars of the Lord has by many

been supposed to be no other than the book of

Numbers.

          Thus, I think, it sufficiently appears, from an ex-

amination of particulars, that there exists no evidence,

that any canonical book of the Old Testament has

been lost. To which we may add, that there are

many general considerations of great weight, which go

 


92               NO CANONCAL BOOK

 

to prove, that no part of the Scriptures of the Old

Testament has been lost.

          The first is, that God by his providence would pre-

serve from destruction books given by inspiration, and

intended for the perpetual instruction of his church.

It is reasonable to think, that he would not suffer his

gracious purpose to be frustrated; and this argument,

a priori, is greatly strengthened by the fact, that a

remarkable providential care has been exercised in the

preservation of the Sacred Scriptures. It is truly

wonderful, that so many books should have been pre-

served unmutilated, through hundreds and thousands

of years; and during vicissitudes so great; and espe-

cially when powerful tyrants were so desirous of anni-

hilating the religion of the Jews, and used their utmost

exertions to destroy their sacred books.

          Another consideration of great weight is, the reli-

gious, and even scrupulous care, with which the Jews,

as far as we can trace the history of the Sacred Scrip-

tures, have watched over their preservation. There

can, I think, be little doubt, that they exercised the

same vigilance during that period of their history of

which we have no monuments.

          The translation of these books into Greek, is suffi-

cient to show, that the same books existed nearly three

hundred years before the advent of Christ.

And above all, the unqualified testimony to the

Scriptures of the Old Testament, by Christ and his

apostles, ought to satisfy us, that we have lost none

of the inspired books of the Canon.

          The Scriptures are constantly referred to, and quoted

as infallible authority, by them, as we have before

 


                      HAS BEEN LOST.                            93

 

shown. These oracles were committed to the Jews as

a sacred deposit, and they are never charged with un-

faithfulness in this trust. The Scriptures are de-

clared to have been written for our learning; and no

intimation is given that they had ever been mutilated,

or in any degree corrupted.


94             ORAL LAW OF TIIE JEWS

 

                            SECTION VII.

 

THE ORAL LAW OF THE JEWS WITHOUT FOUNDATION.

 

HOWEVER the Jews may seem to agree with us, in

regard to the Canon of the Old Testament, this con-

cord relates only to the written law; for they obsti-

nately persist in maintaining, that besides the law

which was engraven on tables of stone, and the other

precepts, and ordinances, which were communicated

to Moses, and were ordered to be written, God gave

unto him another Law, explanatory of the first, which

he was commanded not to commit to writing, but to

deliver down by oral tradition.

          The account which the Jewish doctors give of the

first communication and subsequent delivery of this

law, is found in the Talmud. It is there stated, that

during the whole day, while Moses continued on the

mount, he was learning the written law, but at night

he was occupied in receiving the oral law.

          When Moses descended from the mount, they say,

that he first called Aaron into his tent, and communi-

cated to him all that he had learned of this oral law;

then he placed him on his right hand. Next he called

in Eliezer and Ithamar, the sons of Akron, and re-

peated the whole to them; on which they also took

their seats, the one on his right hand, the other on his

left. After this the seventy elders entered, and re-

ceived the same instruction as Aaron and his sons.

 


                 WITHOUT FOUNDATION.                        95

 

And finally, the same communication was made to the

whole multitude of people. Then Moses arose and

departed, and Aaron, who had now heard the whole

four times, repeated what he had learned, and also

withdrew. In the same manner, Eliezer and Ithamar,

each in turn, went over the same ground, and departed.

And finally, the seventy elders repeated the whole to

the people; every one of whom delivered what he had

heard to his neighbour. Thus, according to MAIMO-

NIDES, was the oral law first given.

          The Jewish account of its transmission to posterity

is no less particular. They pretend that Moses,

when forty years had elapsed from the time of the

Israelites leaving Egypt, called all the people, and

telling them that his end drew near, requested that if

any of them had forgotten aught of what he had de-

livered to them, they should repair to him, and he

would repeat to them anew what they might have for-

gotten. And they tell us, that from the first day of

the eleventh month, to the sixth day of the twelfth, he

was occupied in nothing else than repeating and ex-

plaining the law to the people.

          But, in a special manner, he committed this law to

Joshua, by whom it was communicated, shortly before

his death, to Phineas, the son of Eliezer; by Phineas,

to Eli; by Eli, to Samuel; by Samuel, to David and

Ahijah; by Ahijah, to Elijah; by Elijah, to Elisha;

by Elisha, to Jehoiada; by Jehoiada, to Zechariah; by

Zechariah to Hosea; by Hosea, to Amos; by Amos,

to Isaiah; by Isaiah, to Micah; by Micah, to Joel;

by Joel, to Nahum; by Nahum, to Habakkuk; by

Habakkuk, to Zephaniah; by Zephaniah, to Jeremiah;

by Jeremiah, to Baruch; by Baruch, to Ezra, the pre-


96           ORAL LAW OF THE JEWS

 

sident of the great synagogue. By Ezra, this law was

delivered to the high priest Jaddua; by Jaddua, to

Antigonus; by Antigonus, to Joseph son of John, and

Joseph son of Jehezer; by these to Aristobulus, and

Joshua the son of Perechiah; by them to Judah son

of Tiboeus, and Simeon son of Satah. Thence to

Shemaiah—to Hillel—to Simeon his son, supposed

to have been the same who took our Saviour in his

arms, in the temple, when brought thither to be pre-

sented by his parents. From Simeon, it passed to

Gamaliel, the preceptor, as it is supposed, of Paul.

Then to Simeon his son; and finally, to the son of

Simeon, JUDAH HAKKADOSII, by whom it was com-

mitted to writing.

          But, although, the above list brings down an un-

broken succession, from Moses to Judah the Holy,

yet to render the tradition still more certain, the

Jewish doctors inform us, that this oral law was also

committed, in a special manner, to the high priests,

and handed down, through their line, until it was com-

mitted to writing.

          Judah Hakkadosh was the president of the Academy

at Tiberias, and was held in great reputation for his

sanctity, from which circumstance he received his

surname, Hakkadosh the Holy. The temple being

now desolate, and the nation scattered abroad, it was

feared lest the traditionary law might be lost; there-

fore it was resolved to preserve it by committing it to

writing. Judah the Holy, who lived about the middle

of the second century, undertook this work, and di-

gested all the traditions he could collect in six books,

each consisting of several tracts. The whole number

is sixty-three. But these tracts are again subdivided

 


              WITHOUT FOUNDATION.                   97

 

into numerous chapters. This is the famous Mishna

of the Jews. When finished, it was received by the

nation with the highest respect and confidence; and

their doctors began, forthwith, to compose commen-

taries on every part of it, These comments are called

the Gemara, or the Completion; and the Mishna

and Gemara, together, form the Talmud. But as this

work of commenting on the text of the Mishna was

pursued, not only in Judea, but in Babylonia, where a

large number of Jews resided, hence it came to pass,

that two Talmuds were formed; the one called the

Jerusalem Talmud, the other, the Babylonish Tal-

mud. In both these, the Mishna, committed to writing

by Judah, is the text; but the commentaries are widely

different. The former was completed before the close

of the third century of the Christian era; the latter

was not completed until towards the close of the fifth

century. The Babylonish Talmud is much the larger

of the two; for while that of Jerusalem has been

printed in one folio volume, this fills twelve folios.

This last is also held in much higher esteem by the

Jews than the other; and, indeed, it comprehends all

the learning and religion of that people, since they

have been cast off for their unbelief and rejection of

the true Messiah.

          MAIMONIDES has given an excellent digest of all

the laws and institutions enjoined in this great work.

          The Jews place fully as much faith in the Talmud

as they do in the Bible. Indeed, it is held in much

greater esteem, and the reading of it is much more

encouraged. It is a saying of one of their most

esteemed Rabbies, "That the oral law is the founda-

tion of the written; nor can the written law be ex-

 


98               ORAL LAW OF THE JEWS

 

pounded, but by the oral." Agreeably to this, in their

confession, called the Golden Altar, it is said, "It is

impossible for us to stand upon the foundation of our

holy law, which is the written law, unless it be by the

oral law, which is the exposition thereof." In the

Talmud it is written, "That to give attention to the

study of the Bible is some virtue; but he who pays

attention to the study of the Mishna, possesses a  

virtue which shall receive a reward; and he who occu-

pies himself in reading the Gemara, has a virtue, than

which there is none more excellent." Nay, they go

to the impious length of saying, "That he who is

employed in the study of the Bible and nothing else,

does but waste his time." They maintain, that if the

declarations of this oral law be ever so inconsistent

with reason and common sense, they must be received

with implicit faith—"You must not depart from them,"

says Rabbi Solomon Jarchi, "if they should assert that

your right hand is your left, or your left your right."

And in the Talmud it is taught, "That, to sin against

the words of the scribes, is far more grievous than to

sin against the words of the Law." "My son, attend

rather to the words of the scribes, than to the words

of the Law." "The text of the Bible is like water,

but the Mishna is like wine;" with many other similar

comparisons.

          Without the oral law, they assert, that the written

law remains in perfect darkness; for, say they, "There

are many things in Scripture, which are contradictory,

and which can in no way be reconciled, but by the

oral law, which Moses received on Mount Sinai." In

conformity with these sentiments, is the conduct of the

Jews until this day. Their learned men spend almost

 


                 WITHOUT FOUNDATION.              99

 

all their time in poring over the Talmud; and he,

among them, who knows most of the contents of this

monstrous farrago of lies and nonsense, is esteemed the

most learned man. In consequence of their implicit

faith in this oral law, it becomes almost useless to

reason with the Jews out of the Scriptures of the Old

Testament. It is a matter of real importance, there-

fore, to show that this whole fabric rests on a sandy

foundation; and to demonstrate that there is no evi-

dence whatever that any such law was ever given to

Moses on Sinai. To this subject, therefore, I would

now solicit the attention of the reader.

          Here, then, let it be observed, that we have no con-

troversy with the Jews concerning the written law,

Moral, Ceremonial, or Political; nor do we deny that

Moses received from God, on Mount Sinai, some

explication of the written law. But what we main-

tain is, that this exposition did not form a second dis-

tinct law; that it was not the same as the oral law of

the Jews, contained in the Talmud; that it was not

received by Moses in a distinct form from the written

law, and attended with a prohibition to commit it to

writing.

          In support of these positions, we solicit the attention

of the impartial reader to the following arguments:

          1. There is not the slightest mention of any such

law in all the sacred records; neither of its original

communication to Moses, nor of its transmission to

posterity, in the way pretended by the Jews. Now,

we ask, is it probable, that if such a law had been

given, there should never have been any hint of the

matter, nor the least reference to it, in the whole

Bible? Certainly, this total silence of Scripture is

 


100              ORAL LAW OF THE JEWS

 

very little favourable to the doctrine of an oral law.

Maimonides does indeed pretend to find a reference

to it in Exodus xxiv. 12.  "I will give you, saith the

Lord, a law and commandment;" by the first of these

he understands the written law, and by the last the

oral. But if he had only attended to the words next

ensuing, he would never have adduced this text in con-

firmation of an oral law; "which I have written that

thou mayst teach them." And we know that it is

very common to express the written law by both these

terms, as well as by several others of the same import.

Now, if no record exists of such a law having been

given to Moses, how can we, at this late period, be

satisfied of the fact? If it was never heard of for

more than two thousand years afterwards, what evi-

dence is there that it ever existed?

          2. Again, we know that in the time of king Josiah,

the written law, which had been lost, was found again.

How great was the consternation of the pious king

and his court, on this occasion! How memorable the

history of this fact! But what became of the oral

law during this period? Is it reasonable to think, that

this would remain uninjured through successive ages

of idolatry, when the written law was so entirely for-

gotten? If they had lost the knowledge of what was

in their written law, would they be likely to retain

that which was oral? If the written law was lost,

would the traditionary law be preserved? And if this

was at any time lost, how could it be recovered? Not

from the written law, for this does not contain it; not

from the memory of man, for the supposition is, that

it was thence obliterated. If, then, this law, by any

chance, was once lost, it is manifest that it could never

 


             WITHOUT FOUNDATION.                         101

 

be recovered, but by divine revelation. And when we

survey the history of the Jews, is it conceivable, that

such a body of law, as that contained in the Talmud,

immensely larger than the written law, could have

been preserved entire, through so many generations,

merely by oral communication? The Jews, indeed,

amuse us with a fable on this subject. They tell us

that while the Israelites mourned on account of the

death of Moses, they forgot three thousand of these

traditions, which were recovered by the ingenuity of

Othniel the son of Kenaz. This is ridiculous enough.

What a heap of traditions must that have been, from

which three thousand could be lost at once! And how

profound the genius of Othniel, which was able to

bring to light such a multitude of precepts, after they

had been completely forgotten! But the proof of this

fact is more ludicrous still. It is derived from Joshua

xv. 16, 17. "And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-

Sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my

daughter to wife. And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the

brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah

his daughter to wife." The unlearned reader should

he informed that Kirjath-Sepher, means the city, of

the book.

          But who retained the oral law safely preserved in

his memory during the long reign of Manasseh, and

during the reign of Amon, and of Josiah? Where

was that law, during the seventy years captivity in

Babylon? Have we not a word to inform us of the

fate of this law in all the histories of those times?

What! is there not a hint concerning the preservation

of a deposit so precious as this law is pretended to be?

We must say again, that this continued silence of

 


102            ORAL LAW OF THE JEWS

 

Scripture, through a period of so many hundred years,

speaks little in favour of the unwritten law.

          3. The Jews again inform us, that this law was

prohibited to be written; but whence do they derive

the proof of the assertion? Let the evidence, if there

be any, be produced. Must we have recourse to the

oral law itself, for testimony? Be it so. But why

then is it now written, and has been, for more than

fifteen hundred years? In the Talmud, it is said,

"The words of the written law, it is not lawful for you

to commit to oral tradition; nor the words of the oral

law to writing."  And SOL. JARCHI says, "Neither is

it lawful to write the oral law." Now we say, there

was a law containing such a prohibition, or there was

not. If the former, then the Talmudists have trans-

gressed a positive precept of this law, in committing

it to writing; if the latter, then their Talmud and

their rabbies speak falsely. Let them choose in this

dilemma.

          4. But it can be proved, that whatever laws Moses

received from God, the same he was commanded to

write. It is said, "And Moses came and told the

people all the words of the Lord. And Moses wrote

all the words of the Lord." Exod. xxiv. 3, 4.

          And again, it is said, "And the Lord said to Moses,

Write these words, for according to these words have I

made a covenant with you and with Israel." Exod.

xxxiv. 27, 28. And it is worthy of particular obser-

vation, that whenever the people are called upon to

obey the law of the Lord, no mention is made of any

other than the written law. Thus Moses, when his

end approached, made a speech unto the people; after

which, it is added, "And Moses wrote this law, and

 


                   WITHOUT FOUNDATION.                  103

 

delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which

bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all

the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them

saying, At the end of every seven years, in the

solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of taber-

nacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the

Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose,

thou shalt read it before all Israel in their hearing."

Deut. xxxi. 9, 24.

          Here, observe, there is no mention of any other but

the written law. There is no direction to repeat the

oral law, at this time of leisure; but surely it was

more necessary to command the people to do this, if

there had been such a law, than to hear the written

law which they might read from time to time.

In the time of Ahaz, the sacred historian informs

us, "That the Lord testified against Israel, and

against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the

seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep

my commandments and statutes, according to all the

law which I commanded your fathers, and which I

sent unto you by my servants the prophets." 2 Kings

xvii. 13, 37.

          Now, it is very manifest that the law which they

are reproved for breaking, was the written law; for in

the same chapter we have the following exhortation:

"And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law,

and the commandments which he wrote for you, ye

shall observe to do for evermore."

          The prophets continually refer the people "to the

law and to the testimony," and declare, "if they

speak not according to this word, it is because there

is no light in them."

 


104        ORAL LAW OF THE JEWS

 

When Jehoshaphat set about reforming and instruct-

ing the people, and set on foot an important mission,

consisting of princes and Levites, to teach them, they

confined themselves to what was written in the Scrip-

tures, "And they taught in Judah, and had the book

of the law of the Lord with them, and went about

through all the cities of Judah, and taught the peo-

ple." 2 Chron. xvii. 9.

          So also Ezra, when he instructed the people who

had returned from Babylon, made use of no other than

the written law; "And Ezra the priest brought the

law before the congregation, both of men and women,

and all that could hear with understanding. And he

read therein before the street, that was before the

water-gate, from the morning until mid-day, before

the men and the women, and those that could under-

stand: and the ears of all the people were attentive

unto the book of the law. And Ezra stood upon a

pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose;

and Ezra opened the book in sight of all the people,

and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And

the priests and the Levites caused the people to un-

derstand the law; and they read in the book, in the

law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused

the people to understand the reading." Neh. viii.

2-5, 7, 8.

          5. Besides, the written law is pronounced to be per-

fect, so that nothing need, or could be added to it;

therefore the oral law was superfluous. "The law of

the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." Psa. xix. 8.

"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command

you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye

 


               WITHOUT FOUNDATION.                     105

 

may keep the commandments of the Lord your God,

which I command you." Deut. iv. 1, 2.

          It is not a valid objection which they bring against

this argument, that Christians add the gospel to the

law; for this is not, properly speaking, a new law.

The gospel is a promise of grace and salvation. The

precepts of the law are, indeed, specially employed in

the gospel, to a purpose for which they were not origi-

nally intended; but the gospel, in whatever light it

may be viewed, is committed to writing, and no part

of it left to depend on oral tradition.

          6. In the numerous exhortations and injunctions of

Almighty God, recorded in the Old Testament, there

is not an instance of any one being commanded to do

anything not contained in the written law, which

proves, that either there was no other law in existence,

or that obedience to it was not required; and if obe-

dience was not required, then, certainly, there was no

law.*

          Moreover, many of the Jews themselves concur with

us in rejecting the oral law. The chief advocates of

traditions were the Pharisees, who arose out of the

schools of Hillel and Shammai, who lived after the

times of the Maccabees. On this subject, we have the

testimony of Jerome, who says, "Shammai and Hillel,

from whom arose the Scribes and Pharisees, not long

before the birth of Christ; the first of whom was

called the Dissipator, and the last, Profane; because,

 

            * It would be tedious to refer to all the texts in which com-

mands and exhortations are given, but the reader may consult

the following:—Deut. x. 12, 13; xi. 32; xxviii. 1; xxx. 20. xi;

xxix. 9, 20; xxxii. 45, 46. Josh. i. 7; xxiii. 6. 2 Kings xiv. 6.

2 Chron. xxv. 4; xxx. 16.

 


 

106          ORAL LAW OF THE JEWS

 

by their traditions, they destroyed the law of God."

Isai. viii. But on this point, the Sadducees were

opposed to the Pharisees, and, according to Josephus,

rejected all traditions, adhering to the Scriptures

alone. With them agreed the Samaritans, and Es-

senes. The Karaites, also, received the written word,

and rejected all traditions; although in other respects,

they did not agree with the Sadducees. And in con-

sequence of this, they are hated and reviled by the

other Jews, so that it is not without great difficulty

that they will receive a Karaite into one of their

synagogues. Of this sect, there are still some re-

maining in Poland, Russia, Turkey, and Africa.

          It now remains to mention the arguments by which

the Jews attempt to establish their oral law. These

shall be taken from MANASSEH BEN ISRAEL,* one of

their most learned and liberal men. He argues from

the necessity of an oral law, to explain many parts of

the written law. To confirm this opinion, he adduces

several examples, as Exodus xii. 2. "This month

shall be unto you the beginning of months, it shall be

the first month of the year." On this text he remarks,

"That the name of the month is not mentioned. It

is not said, whether the months were lunar or solar,

both of which were in ancient use; and yet without

knowing this, the precept could not be observed. The

same difficulty occurs in regard to the other annual

feasts."

          "Another example is taken from Lev. xi. 13, where

it is commanded, that unclean birds shall not be eaten,

and yet we are not furnished with any criteria, by

 

            * Concil. in. Exod.

 


               WITHOUT FOUNDATION.                    107

 

which to distinguish the clean from the unclean, as in

the case of beasts. A third example is from Exod.

xvi. 29, ‘Let no man go out of his place on the

seventh day,’ and yet we are not informed, whether

he was forbidden to leave his house, his court, his city,

or his suburbs. So, in Lev. xxi. 12, the priest is for-

bidden ‘to go out of the Sanctuary,’ and no time is

limited; but we know that the residence of the priests

was without the precincts of the temple, and that they

served there in rotation."

          "Again, in Exod. xx. 10, all work is prohibited on

the Sabbath, but circumcision is commanded to be per-

formed on the eighth day; and it is nowhere declared,

whether this rite should be deferred, when the eighth

day occurred on the Sabbath. The same difficulty

exists in regard to the slaying of the paschal lamb,

which was confined by the law to the fourteenth day

of the month, and we are nowhere informed what was

to be done when this was the Sabbath." "In Deut.

xxiv. we have many laws relating to marriage, but we

are nowhere informed what was constituted a legal

marriage." "In the Feast of the Tabernacles, beau-

tiful branches of trees are directed to be used, but the

species of tree is not mentioned. And in the Feast

of Weeks, it is commanded, ‘That on the fiftieth day,

the wave-sheaf should be offered from their habita-

tions;’ but where it should be offered is not said.

and, finally, among prohibited marriages, the wife of

an uncle is never mentioned."

          In these, and many other instances, the learned Jew

observes, that the law could only be understood by

such oral tradition as he supposes accompanied the

written law.

 


108           ORAL LAW OP THE JEWS

 

          Now, in answer to these things, we observe first, in

the general, that however many difficulties may be

started respecting the precise meaning of many parts

of the law, these can never prove the existence of an

oral law. The decision on these points might have

been left to the discretion of the worshippers, or to the

common sense of the people. Besides, many things

may appear obscure to us, which were not so to the

ancient Israelites; so that they might have needed no

oral law to explain them.

          Again, it is one thing to expound a law, and another

to add something to it; but the oral law for which

they plead, is not a mere exposition, but an addi-

tional law.

          It is one thing to avail ourselves of traditions to

interpret the law, and another to receive them as

divine and absolutely necessary. We do not deny

that many things may be performed according to

ancient custom, or the traditions of preceding ages, in

things indifferent; but we do deny that these can be

considered as divine or necessary.

          But particularly, we answer, that the alleged diffi-

culty about the name of the month has no existence,

for it can be very well ascertained from the circum-

stances of the case; and in Exod. xiii. the month is

named. The civil year of the Jews began with the

month Tisri, but the ecclesiastical with Abib. There

is, in fact, no greater difficulty here, than in any other

case, where the circumstance of time is mentioned.

There was no need of understanding the method of

reducing solar and lunar years into one another, to

decide this matter. And if the Talmud be examined

on this point, where the oral law is supposed to be now

 


            WITHOUT FOUNDATION.                  109

 

contained, there will be found there no satisfactory

method of computing time. And, indeed, the Talmudic

doctors are so far from being agreed on this subject,

that anything else may be found sooner than a law

regulating this matter in the Talmud.

          And in regard to the unclean birds, why was it

necessary to have criteria to distinguish them, since a

catalogue of them is given in the very passage to

which reference is made? And I would ask, does the

pretended oral law contain any such criteria, to direct

in this case? Nothing less. The difficulty about the

people leaving their place on the Sabbath, and the

priests leaving the temple, is really too trifling to  

require any serious consideration. And as to what

should be done when the day of circumcising a child,

or of killing the passover, happened on the Sabbath,

it is a point easily decided. These positive institutions

ought to have been observed, on whatever day they

occurred.

          The question respecting matrimony should rather

provoke a smile, than a serious answer; for who is

ignorant what constitutes a lawful marriage? Or who

would suppose that the ceremonies attendant on this

transaction ought to be prescribed by the law of God;

or, that another law was requisite for the purpose?

As well might our learned Jew insist on the necessity

of an oral law, to teach us how we should eat, drink,

and perform our daily work.

          If the law prescribed beautiful branches of trees to

be used in the Feast of Tabernacles, what need was

there of an oral law to teach anything more? If such

branches were used, it was of course indifferent

whether they were of this or that species.

 


110          ORAL LAW OF THE JEWS, &C.

 

          Equally futile are the other arguments of the author,

and need not be answered in detail.

          It appears, therefore, that there is no evidence that

God ever gave any law to Moses, distinct from that

which is written in the Pentateuch. And there is good

reason to believe, that the various laws found in the

Mishna, were never received from God, nor derived

by tradition from Moses; but were traditions of the

fathers, such as were in use in the time of our Saviour,

who severely reprehends the Scribes and Pharisees, for

setting aside, and rendering of no effect, the word of

God, by their unauthorized traditions.

          The internal evidence is itself sufficient to convince

us that the laws of the Talmud are human inventions,

and not divine institutions; except that those circum-

stances of divine worship which were left to the dis-

cretion of the people, and which were regulated by

custom, may be often found preserved in this immense

work.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                    PART II.

 

 

 

 

       THE CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.

 

 


        CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.          113

 

 

 

                               SECTION I.

 

METHOD OF SETTLING THE CANON OF THE NEW TESTA-

                                   MENT.

 

AFTER what has been said, in the former part of this

work, respecting the importance of settling the Canon

on correct principles, it will be unnecessary to add any-

thing here on that subject, except to say, that this in-

quiry cannot be less interesting in regard to the Old

Testament than to the New. It is a subject which

calls for our utmost diligence and impartiality. It is

one which we cannot neglect with a good conscience;

for the inquiry is nothing less than to ascertain what

revelation God has made to us, and where it is to be

found.

          As to the proper method of settling the Canon of

the New Testament, the same course must be pursued

as has been done in respect to the Old. We must

have recourse to authentic history, and endeavour to

ascertain what books were received as genuine by the

primitive church and early Fathers. The contem-

poraries, and immediate successors of the apostles, are

the most competent witnesses in this case. If, among

these, there is found to have been a general agree-

ment, as to what books were canonical, it will go, far

to satisfy us respecting the true Canon; for it cannot

be supposed, that they could easily be deceived in a

 


114    METHOD OF SETTLING THE CANON

 

matter of this sort. A general consent of the early

Fathers, and of the primitive church, therefore, fur-

nishes conclusive evidence on this point, and is that

species of evidence which is least liable to fallacy or

abuse. The learned HUET, has, therefore, assumed it

as a maxim, “THAT EVERY BOOK IS GENUINE, WHICH

WAS ESTEEMED GENUINE BY THOSE WHO LIVED NEAREST

TO THE TIME WHEN IT WAS WRITTEN, AND BY THE

AGES FOLLOWING, IN A CONTINUED SERIES.”* The rea-

sonableness of this rule will appear more evident, when

we consider the great esteem with which these books

were at first received; the constant public reading of

them in the churches, and the early version of them

into other languages.

          The high claims of the Romish church, in regard to

the authority of fixing the Canon, have already been

disproved, as it relates to the books of the Old Testa-

ment; and the same arguments apply with their full

force to the Canon of the New Testament, and need

not be repeated. It may not be amiss, however, to

hear from distinguished writers of that communion,

what their real opinion is on this subject. HEUMAN

asserts, "That the sacred Scriptures, without the

authority of the church, have no more authority than

AEsop's Fables." And BAILLIE, "That he would

give no more credit to Matthew than to Livy, unless

the church obliged him." To the same purpose speak

PIGHIUS, ECKIUS, BELLARMINE, and many others of

their most distinguished writers.  By the authority

of the church, they understand a power lodged in the

church of Rome, to determine what books shall be

 

          * Demonstratio Evang.

 


           OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.                     115

 

received as the word of God; than which it is scarcely

possible to conceive of anything more absurd.

          In avoiding this extreme, some Protestants have

verged towards the opposite, and have asserted, that

the only, or principal evidence of the canonical au-

thority of the sacred Scriptures is, their internal evi-

dence. Even some churches went so far as to insert

this opinion in their public confessions.*

          Now it ought not to be doubted, that the internal

evidence of the Scriptures is exceedingly strong; and

that when the mind of the reader is truly illuminated,

it derives from this source the most unwavering con-

viction of their truth and divine authority; but that

every sincere Christian should be able, in all cases, by

this internal light, to distinguish between canonical

books and such as are not, is surely no very safe or

reasonable opinion. Suppose that a thousand books

of various kinds, including the canonical, were placed

before any sincere Christian, would he be able, without

mistake, to select from this mass the twenty-seven

books of which the New Testament is composed, if he

had nothing to guide him but the internal evidence?

Would every such person be able at once to determine,

whether the book of Ecclesiastes, or of Ecclesiasticus,

belonged to the Canon of the Old Testament, by inter-

nal evidence alone? It is certain, that the influence

of the Holy Spirit is necessary to produce a true faith

in the word of God; but to make this the only crite-

rion by which to judge of the canonical authority of a

book is certainly liable to strong objections. The

tendency of this doctrine is to enthusiasm, and the

consequence of acting upon it, would be to unsettle,

 

            * See the Confession of the Reformed Gallican Church.

 


116      METHOD OF SETTLING THE CANON

 

rather than establish, the Canon of Holy Scripture;

for it would be strange, if some persons, without any

other guidance than their own spiritual taste, would

not pretend that other books besides those long re-

ceived were canonical, or would not be disposed to reject

some part of these. If this evidence were as infallible

as some would have it to be, then the authenticity of

every disputed text, as well as the canonical authority

of every book, might be ascertained by it. But, it is

a fact, that some eminently pious men doubted for a

while respecting the canonical authority of some genu-

ine books of the New Testament.

          And if the internal evidence were the only criterion

of canonical authority to which we could resort, there

would remain no possibility of convincing any person

of the inspiration of a book, unless he could perceive

in it the internal evidence of a divine origin. In

many cases this species of evidence can scarcely be

said to exist, as when for wise purposes God directs or

inspires a prophet to record genealogical tables; or

even in the narration of common events, I do not see

how it can be determined from internal evidence, that

the history is written by inspiration; for the only cir-

cumstance in which an inspired narrative differs from

a faithful human history, is that the one is infallible,

and the other is not; but the existence of this infalli-

bility, or the absence of it, is not apparent from read-

ing the books. Both accounts may appear consistent,

and it is only, or chiefly, by external evidence that we

can know that one of them is inspired. Who could

undertake to say, that from internal evidence alone,

he could determine that the book of Esther, or the

Chronicles, were written by inspiration? Besides,

 


         OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.                     117

 

some books are obscure and not easily understood;

now, how could any one discern the internal evidence

of a book, the meaning of which he did not yet un-

derstand?

          The evidence arising from a general view of the

Scriptures, collectively, is most convincing, but is not

so well adapted to determine whether some one book,

considered separately, was certainly written by divine

inspiration.

          It is necessary, therefore, to proceed to our destined

point in a more circuitous way. We must be at the

pains to examine into the history of the Canon, and,

as was before said, to ascertain what books were

esteemed canonical by all those who had the best op-

portunity of judging of this matter; and when the

internal evidence is found corroborating the external,

the two, combined, may produce a degree of conviction

which leaves no room to desire any stronger evidence.

          The question to be decided is a matter of fact. It

is an inquiry respecting the real authors of the books

of the New Testament, whether they were written by

the persons whose names they bear, or by others under

their names. The inspiration of these books, though

closely allied to this subject, is not now the object of

inquiry. The proper method of determining a matter

of fact, evidently is to have recourse to those persons

who were witnesses of it, or who received their infor-

mation from others who were witnesses. It is only in

this way that we know that Homer, Horace, Virgil,

Livy, and Tully, wrote the books which now go under

their names.

          The early Christians pursued this method of deter-

mining what books were canonical. They searched

 


118     METHOD OF SETTLING THE CANON

 

into the records of the church, before their time, and

from these ascertained what books should be received,

as belonging to the sacred volume. They appeal to

that certain and universal tradition, which attested the

genuineness of these books. IRENAEUS, TERTULLIAN,

EUSEBIUS, CYRIL, and AUGUSTINE, have all made use

of this argument, in establishing the Canon of the New

Testament.

          The question is often asked, When was the Canon of

the New Testament constituted, and by what authority?

Many persons who write and speak on this subject,

appear to entertain a wrong impression in regard to

it; as if the books of the New Testament could not be

of authority, until they were sanctioned by some Eccle-

siastical Council, or by some publicly expressed opinion

of the Fathers of the church; and as if any portion of

their authority depended on their being collected into

one volume. But the truth is, that every one of these

books was of authority, as far as known, from the

moment of its publication; and its right to a place in

the Canon, is not derived from the sanction of any

church or council, but from the fact, that it was written

by inspiration. And the appeal to testimony is not to

prove that any council of bishops, or others, gave sanc-

tion to the book, but to show that it is indeed the

genuine work of Matthew, or John, or Peter, or Paul,

who we know were inspired.

          The books of the New Testament were, therefore,

of full authority, before they were collected into one

volume; and it would have made no difference if they

had never been included in one volume, but had re-

tained that separate form in which they were first pub-

lished. And it is by no means certain, that these

 


           OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.                  119

 

books were, at a very early period, bound in one

volume. As far as we have any testimony on the

subject, the probability is, that it was more customary

to include them in two volumes: one of which was

called the Gospel, and the other, the Apostles.

Some of the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament

extant, appear to have been put up in this form; and

the Fathers often refer to the Scriptures of the New

Testament, under these two titles. The question,

When was the Canon constituted? admits therefore of

no other proper answer than this,—that as soon as the

last book of the New Testament was written and pub-

lished, the Canon was completed. But if the question

relates to the time when these books were collected

together, and published in a single volume, or in two

volumes, it admits of no definite answer; for those

churches which were situated nearest to the place

where any particular books were published, would, of

course, obtain copies much earlier than churches in a

remote part of the world. For a considerable period,

the collection of these books, in each church, must

have been necessarily incomplete; for it would take

some time to send to the church, or people, with whom

the autographs were deposited, and to have fair copies

transcribed. This necessary process will also account

for the fact, that some of the smaller books were not

received by the churches so early, nor so universally,

as the larger. The solicitude of the churches to pos-

sess immediately the more extensive and important

books of the New Testament, would, doubtless, induce

them to make a great exertion to acquire copies; but,

probably, the smaller would not be so much spoken of,

nor would there be so strong a desire to obtain them,

 


120     METHOD OE SETTLING THE CANON

 

without delay. Considering how difficult it is now,

with all our improvements in the typographical art, to

multiply copies of the Scriptures with sufficient rapi-

dity, it is truly wonderful, how so many churches as

were founded during the first century, to say nothing

of individuals, could all be supplied with copies of the

New Testament, when there was no speedier method

of producing them than by writing every letter with

the pen! "The pen of a ready writer" must then,

indeed, have been of immense value.

          The idea entertained by some, especially by DOD-

WELL, that these books lay for a long time locked up

in the coffers of the churches to which they were ad-

dressed, and totally unknown to the world, is in itself

most improbable, and is repugnant to all the testimony

which exists on the subject. Even as early as the

time when Peter wrote his second Epistle, the writings

of Paul were in the hands of the churches, and were

classed with the other Scriptures.* And the citations

from these books by the earliest Christian writers,

living in different countries, demonstrate, that from

the time of their publication, they were sought after

with avidity, and were widely dispersed.  How intense

the interest which the first Christians felt in the

writings of the apostles can scarcely be conceived by

us, who have been familiar with these books from our

earliest years. How solicitous would they be, for ex-

ample, who had never seen Paul, but had heard of his

wonderful conversion, and extraordinary labours and

gifts, to read his writings! And probably they who

had enjoyed the high privilege of hearing this apostle

preach, would not be less desirous of reading his

 

          * 2 Pet. iii. 14, 15.

 


           OF THE NEW TESTAMENT                 121

 

Epistles. As we know, from the nature of the case,

as well as from testimony, that many uncertain ac-

counts of Christ's discourses and miracles had obtained

circulation, how greatly would the primitive Christians

rejoice to obtain an authentic history from the pen of

an apostle, or from one who wrote precisely what was

dictated by an apostle! We need no longer wonder,

therefore, that every church should wish to possess a

collection of the writings of the apostles; and knowing

them to be the productions of inspired men, they would

want no further sanction of their authority. All that

was requisite was, to be certain that the book was

indeed written by the apostle whose name it bore:

And this leads me to observe, that some things in

Paul's Epistles, which seem to common readers to be

of no importance, were of the utmost consequence;

Such as, "I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle," &c.-

"The salutation, with mine own hand."—"So I write

in every epistle."—"You see how large a letter I have

written unto you with mine own hand."—"The saluta-

tion by the hand of me, Paul."—"The salutation of

Paul with mine own hand; which is the token in

every Epistle."* This apostle commonly employed

an amanuensis; but that the churches to which he

wrote might have the assurance of the genuineness of

his Epistles, from seeing his own hand-writing, he con-

stantly wrote the salutation himself; so much care

was taken to have these sacred writings well authenti-

cated, on their first publication. And on the same

account it was, that he and the other apostles were so

particular in giving the, names, and the characters, of

those who were the bearers of their Epistles. And it

 

            * Rom. xvi. 22. 1 Cor. xvi. 21. Gal. vi. 11. 2 Thess. iii. 17.

 


122     METHOD OP SETTLING THE CANON

 

seems, that they were always committed to the care

of men of high estimation in the church; and com-

monly, more than one appears to have been intrusted

with this important commission.

          If it be inquired, what became of the autographs of

these sacred books, and why they were not preserved;

since this would have prevented all uncertainty re-

specting the true reading, and would have relieved the

Biblical critic from a large share of labour; it is

sufficient to answer, that nothing different has oc-

curred, in relation to these autographs, from that

which has happened to all other ancient writings. No

man can produce the autograph of any book as old as

the New Testament, unless it has been preserved in

some extraordinary way, as in the case of the manu-

scripts of Herculaneum; neither could it be supposed,

that in the midst of such vicissitudes, revolutions, and

persecutions, as the Christian church endured, this

object could have been secured by anything short of

a miracle. And God knew, that by a superintending

providence over the sacred Scriptures, they could be

transmitted with sufficient accuracy, by means of

apographs, to the most distant generations. Indeed,

there is reason to believe, that the Christians of early

times were so absorbed and impressed with the glory

of the truths revealed, that they gave themselves little

concern about the mere vehicle by which they were

communicated. They had matters of such deep in-

terest, and so novel, before their eyes, that they had

neither time, nor inclination, for the minutia of criti-

cism. It may be, therefore, that they did not set so

high a value on the possession of the autograph of an

inspired book as we should, but considered a copy,

 


              OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.                      123

 

made with scrupulous fidelity, as equally valuable with

the original. And God may have suffered these auto-

graphs of the sacred writings to perish, lest in process

of time, they should have become idolized, like the

brazen serpent; or lest men should be led supersti-

tiously to venerate the mere parchment and ink, and

form and letters, employed by an apostle. Certainly,

the history of the church renders such an idea far

from being improbable.

          But, although little is said about the originals of the

apostles' writings, we have a testimony in Tertullian,

that the Authentic Letters of the apostles might

be seen by any that would take the pains to go to the

churches to which they were addressed. Some, in-

deed, think that Tertullian does not mean to refer to

the autographs, but to authentic copies; but why then

send the inquirer to the churches to which the Epistles

were addressed? Had not other churches, all over the

world, authentic copies of these Epistles also? There

seems to be good reason, therefore, for believing, that

the autographs, or original letters of the apostles, were

preserved by the churches to which they were ad-

dressed, in the time of Tertullian.*

          But although the autographs of the books of the

New Testament are not extant, we have beautiful

copies of the whole penned as early as the fourth or

fifth century, and some think that our oldest manu-

scripts of the New Testament have a still earlier

origin; and we have versions which were made at a

period still earlier, so that we have lost nothing by the

disappearance of the autographs of the New Tes-

tament.

 

          * See Note C.

 


124         CATALOGUES OF THE BOOKS

 

 

 

 

 

 

                           SECTION II.

 

 

CATALOGUES OF THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT--

          CANONICAL BOOKS ALONE CITED AS AUTHORITY BY THE

          FATHERS, AND READ IN THE CHURCHES AS SCRIPTURE.

         

HAVING declared our purpose, to place the settling of

the Canon of the New Testament on the footing of

authentic testimony, we will now proceed to adduce

our authorities, and shall begin with an examination

of the ancient catalogues of the New Testament.

          The slightest attention to the works of the Fathers

will convince any one that the writings of the apostles

were held, from the beginning, in the highest estima-

tion; that great pains were taken to distinguish the

genuine productions of these inspired men from all

other books; that they were sought out with uncom-

mon diligence, and read with profound attention and

veneration, not only in private, but publicly in the

churches; and that they are cited and referred to,

universally, as decisive on every point of doctrine, and

as authoritative standards for the regulation of faith

and practice.

          This being the state of the case, when the books of

the New Testament were communicated to the churches,

we are enabled, in regard to most of them, to produce

testimony of the most satisfactory kind, that they

were admitted into the Canon, and received as inspired,

 


          OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.                    125

 

by the universal consent of Christians in every part

of the world. And as to those few books, concerning

which some persons entertained doubts, it can be

shown, that as soon as their claims were fully and im-

partially investigated, they also were received with

universal consent; and that other books, however

excellent as human compositions, were never put upon

a level with the canonical books of the New Testa-

ment; that spurious writings, under the names of the

apostles, were promptly and decisively rejected, and

that the churches were repeatedly warned against such

apocryphal books.

          To do justice to this subject, will require some de-

tail, which may appear dry to the reader, but should

be interesting to every person who wishes to know as-

suredly, that what he receives as sacred Scripture, is

no imposture, but the genuine, authentic productions

of those inspired men, whom Christ appointed to be

his witnesses to the world, and to whom was com-

mitted the sacred deposit of divine truth, intended for

the instruction and government of the church in all

future ages.

          In exhibiting the evidence of the canonical autho-

rity of these books, we shall first attend to some gene-

ral considerations, which relate to the whole volume,

and then adduce testimony in favour of each book now

included in the Canon. And here, as in the case of

the Old Testament, we find that at a very early period,

catalogues of these books were published, by most of

the distinguished Fathers whose writings have come

down to us; and that the same has been done, also, by

several councils, whose decrees are still extant.

These catalogues are, for the most part, perfectly

 


126       CATALOGUES OF THE BOOKS

 

harmonious. In a few of them, some books now in

the Canon are omitted, for which omission a satisfac-

tory reason can commonly be assigned. In the first

circulation of the sacred Scriptures, there was great

need of such lists; as the distant churches and com-

mon Christians were liable to be imposed on by spuri-

ous writings, which seem to have abounded in those

times. It was, therefore, a most important part of

the instruction given to Christians, by their spiritual

guides, to inform them accurately, what books belonged

to the Canon. Great pains were taken, also, to know

the truth on this subject. Pious bishops, for this single

purpose, travelled into Judea, and remained there for

some time, that they might learn, accurately, every cir-

cumstance relative to the authenticity of these writings.

          1. The first regular catalogue of the books of the New

Testament, which we find on record, is by ORIGEN,

whose extensive Biblical knowledge highly qualified

him to judge correctly in this case. He had not only

read much, but travelled extensively, and resided a

great part of his life on the confines of Judea, in a

situation favourable to accurate information from every

part of the church, where any of these books were

originally published. ORIGEN lived and flourished

about one hundred years after the death of the apostle

John. He was, therefore, near enough to the time of

the publication of these books, to obtain the most cer-

tain information of their authors. Most of the origi-

nal writings of this great and learned man have

perished, but his catalogue of the books of the New

Testament has been preserved by Eusebius, in his

Ecclesiastical History.* It was contained in Origen's

 

          * Lib. vi. c. 25.

 


            OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.                       127

 

Homilies on the gospel of Matthew; and was repeated

in his Homilies on the gospel of John.

          In this catalogue he mentions the four Gospels, the

Acts of the Apostles, fourteen Epistles of Paul, two

of Peter, three of John, and the Book of Revelation.

This enumeration includes all the present Canon, ex-

cept the Epistles of James and Jude, but these were

omitted by accident, not design; for in other parts of

his writings, he acknowledges these Epistles as a part

of the Canon. And while Origen furnishes us with

so full a catalogue of the books now in the Canon, he

inserts no others, which proves, that in his time the

Canon was well settled among the learned; and that

the distinction between inspired writings and human

compositions Was as clearly marked, as at any subse-

quent period.

          In the work entitled, Apostolical Constitutions,

ascribed to CLEMENT of Rome, there is a catalogue

of the books of the New Testament; but as this work

is not genuine, and of an uncertain author and age, I

not make use of it.

          There has been preserved a fragment of a very

ancient writing on the Canon, ascribed to CAUIS the

presbyter, which may be seen in Routh's Reliquiae,

an abridgment of which is here given in a literal ver-

sion from the Latin. What is said by the author con-

cerning the first two evangelists is lost. The fragment

commences by saying, "The third is the gospel ac-

cording to Luke. Luke was that physician who, after

the ascension, consorted with Paul . . . . Although

he had never seen Christ in the flesh, yet having

acquired a knowledge of his life, he commences his

narrative from the nativity of John.

 


128         CATALOGUES OF THE BOOKS

 

          "The fourth gospel was written by John, one of the

disciples. To his fellow disciples, and to the bishops,

who exhorted him [to write,] he said, ‘Fast with me

three days, from this day, and whatever shall be re-

vealed to any of us, we will declare to one another.’

The same night it was revealed to Andrew, that John,

under his own name should describe all things, so that

they might be recognized by all. And so, though

various elements are taught in the several gospels,

yet the faith of believers is not diverse, since with one

pervading spirit all things are declared by all concern-

ing the nativity, the Passover, the resurrection, and

concerning his conversation with his disciples, and his

double advent; the first, when he was seen in a state

of humiliation . . . . . in the second, with glorious

regal power, which is yet future. . . . But the Acts

of all the Apostles, Luke to Theophilus has compre-

hended in a single book. The Epistles of Paul de-

clare to all who wish to know, on what account, and

from what place they were written. Paul, following

the example of his predecessor John, wrote Epistles to

the following seven named churches:—First, to the

Corinthians; the second to the Ephesians; the third

to the Philippians; the fourth to the Colossians; the

fifth to the Galatians; the sixth to the Thessalonians;

and the seventh to the Romans. But to the Corin-

thians and the Thessalonians, he wrote, for the sake

of correction, a second time. One church is known,

diffused through the whole world.

          "And John, in the Apocalypse, although he addressed.

himself to seven churches, yet speaks to all. More-

over, there is one [epistle] to Philemon; one to Titus,

and two to Timothy, on account of his affection and

 


             OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.                129

 

care; which, however, are in honour of the Catholic

Church, and sanctified to the ordaining ecclesiastical

discipline.

          "There is one [epistle of Paul] carried about to the

Laodiceans, and one to the Alexandrians under the name

of Paul, forged to support the heresy of Marcion, and

many others which ought not to be received into the

Catholic Church. For it is unsuitable that gall should

be mixed with honey. Indeed, the Epistle of Jude

and two [smaller epistles] under the name of John are

in the possession of the church. Also the book of WIS-

DOM, written by the friends of Solomon in honour of him.

There is an Apocalypse of John, and one of Peter;

the church receives only the former, and some are un-

willing that this should be read in the church."

          From this ancient fragment of the second century,

we have nearly a complete catalogue of the canoni-

cal books of the New Testament, and the rejection

of some spurious books which, even at that early

age, were put into circulation. This fragment

is not noticed by Lardner. It was discovered

by Muratorius, and has been largely commented

on by several learned authors. Muratorius ascribes

it to the presbyter Caius; but others to Papias.

Routh considers it altogether uncertain who is the

author; but all agree in referring it to the second

century.

          The catalogue ascribed to the Council of Nice, is

not genuine, and is connected with a story which bears

every mark of superstitious credulity.* This, there-

 

            * The story is briefly this. The Fathers of the Council of Nice

put all the books which claimed a place in the sacred Canon un-

 


130      CATALOGUES OF THE BOOKS

 

fore, shall be likewise omitted. We stand in no need

of suspicious testimony on this subject. Witnesses of

the most undoubted veracity, and distinguished intelli-

gence, can be found in every successive age.

          2. The next catalogue of the books of the New

Testament to which I will refer, is that of EUSEBIUS,

the learned historian of the church; to whose dili-

gence and fidelity, in collecting ecclesiastical facts, we

are more indebted, than to the labours of all other

men, for that period which intervened between the

days of the apostles and his own times. EUSEBIUS

may be considered as giving his testimony about one

hundred years after ORIGEN. His catalogue may be

seen in his Ecclesiastical History.*  In it, he enumer-

ates every book which we have now in the Canon, and

no others; but he mentions that the Epistle of James,

the second of Peter, and second and third of John,

were doubted of by some; and that the Revelation was

rejected by some, and received by others; but Eusebius

himself declares it to be his opinion, that it should be

received without doubt.

          There is no single witness among the whole number

of ecclesiastical writers, who was more competent to

give accurate information on this subject than Euse-

bius. He had spent a great part of his life in search-

ing into the antiquities of the Christian church; and

 

der the communion table of the church, and then prayed that

such of them as were inspired might be found uppermost, and

the apocryphal below; whereupon, the event occurred agreeably

to their wishes; and thus a clear line of distinction was made be-

tween canonical books and such as were not canonical. This

story is related in the Synodicon of Popus, an obscure writer,

and is undeserving of the smallest credit.

            * Euseb. Ecc. Hist. lib. iii. c. 25. comp. with c. 3.

 


         OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.                      131

 

he had an intimate acquaintance with all the records

relating to the ecclesiastical affairs, many of which

are now lost; and almost the only information which

we have of them has been transmitted to us by this

diligent compiler. ( See Appendix Note D. )

          3. ATHANASIUS, so well known for his writings and

his sufferings in defence of the divinity of our Saviour,

in his Festal Epistle, and in his Synopsis of Scripture,

has left a catalogue of the books of the New Testa-

ment, which perfectly agrees with the Canon now in

use.

          4. CYRIL, in his Catechetical work, has also given

us a catalogue, perfectly agreeing with ours, except

that he omits the book of Revelation. Why that book

was so often left out of the ancient catalogues and

collections of the Scriptures, shall be mentioned here-

after. Athanasius and Cyril were contemporary with 

Eusebius; the latter, however, may more properly be

considered as twenty or thirty years later.

          5. Then, a little after the middle of the fourth cen-

tury, we have the testimony of all the bishops assem-

bled in the Council of Laodicea. The catalogue of

this council is contained in their sixtieth Canon, and

is exactly the same as ours, except that the book of

Revelation is omitted. The decrees of this council

were, in a short time, received into the Canons of the

universal church; and among the rest, this catalogue

of the books of the New Testament. Thus, we find,

that as early as the middle of the fourth century, there

was a universal consent, in all parts of the world to

which the Christian church extended, as to the books

which constituted the Canon of the New Testament,

with the single exception of the book of Revelation;

 


132       CATALOGUES OF THE BOOKS

 

and that this book was also generally admitted to be

canonical, we shall take the opportunity of proving in

the sequel of this work.

          6. But a few years elapsed from the meeting of this

council, before EPIPHANIES, bishop of Salamis, in the

island of Cyprus, published his work "on Heresies,"

in which he gives a catalogue of the canonical books

of the New Testament, which, in every respect, is the

same as the Canon now received.

          7. About the same time, GREGORY NAZIANZEN,

bishop of Constantinople, in a Poem, "on the True

and Genuine Scriptures," mentions distinctly all the

books now received, except Revelation.

          8. A few years later, we have a list of the books of

the New Testament in a work of PHILASTRIUS, bishop

of Brixia, in Italy, which corresponds in all respects

with those now received; except that he mentions no

more than thirteen of Paul's Epistles. If the omission

was designed, it probably relates to the Epistle to the

Hebrews.

          9. At the same time lived JEROME, who translated

the whole Bible into Latin. He furnishes us with a

catalogue answering to our present Canon, in all re-

spects. He does, however, speak doubtfully about the

Epistle to the Hebrews, on account of the uncertainty

of its author. But, in other parts of his writings, he

shows, that he received this book as canonical, as well

as the rest.*

          10. The catalogue of RUFIN varies in nothing from

the Canon now received.†

          11. AUGUSTINE, in his work on "Christian Doc-

trine," has inserted the names of the books of the

 

            * Epist. ad Paulinum.    † Expos. in Symbol. Apost.

 


               OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.              133

 

New Testament, which, in all respects, are the same

as ours.

          12. The Council of Carthage, at which Augustine

was present, have furnished a catalogue which per-

fectly agrees with ours. At this council, forty-four

bishops attended. The list referred to, is found in

their forty-eighth Canon.

          13. The unknown author, who goes under the name

of DIONYSIUS the Areopagite, so describes the books

of the New Testament, as to show that he received the

very same as are now in the Canon.

          Another satisfactory source of evidence, in favour of

the Canon of the New Testament, as now received, is

the fact, that these books were quoted as sacred Scrip-

ture by all the Fathers, living in parts of the world

the most remote from each other. The truth of this

assertion will fully appear, when we come to speak

particularly of the books which compose the Canon.

Now, how can it be accounted for, that these books,

and these alone, should be cited as authority in Asia,

Africa and Europe? No other reason can be assigned,

than one of these two; either, they knew no other

books which claimed to be canonical; or, if they did,

they did not esteem them of equal authority with those

which they cited.  0n either of these grounds the

conclusion is the same, that the books quoted as Scrip-

ture are alone the canonical books. To apply this

rule to a particular case—"the first Epistle of Peter"

is canonical, because it is continually cited by the most

ancient Christian writers, in every part of the world;

but the book called "The Revelation of Peter," is

apocryphal, because none of the early Fathers have

taken any testimonies from it. The same is true of

 


134         THE CANONICAL BOOKS ALONE

 

"the Acts of Peter," and "the Gospel of Peter."

These writings were totally unknown to the primitive

church, and are therefore spurious. This argument is

perfectly conclusive, and its force was perceived by

the ancient defenders of the Canon of the New Testa-

ment. Eusebius repeatedly has recourse to it, and,

therefore, those persons who have aimed to unsettle

our present Canon, as TOLAND and DODWELL, have

attempted to prove that the early Christian writers

were in the habit of quoting indifferently, and promis-

cuously, the books which we now receive, and others

which are now rejected as apocryphal. But this is not

correct, as has been shown by NYE, RICHARDSON, and

others. The true method of determining this matter,

is by a careful examination of all the passages in the

writings of the Fathers, where other books besides

those now in the Canon have been quoted. Some

progress was made in collecting the passages in the

writings of the Fathers, in which any reference is

made to the apocryphal books, by the learned Jere-

miah Jones, in his "New Method of settling the

Canon of the New Testament," but the work was left

incomplete.  This author, however, positively denies

that it is common for the Fathers to cite these books

as Scripture; and asserts, that there are only a very

few instances, in which any of them seem to have

fallen into this mistake.

          A third proof of the genuineness of the Canon of

the New Testament, may be derived from the fact,

that these books were publicly read as Scripture, in

all the Christian churches.

          As the Jews were accustomed to read the sacred

Scriptures of the Old Testament in their Synagogues,

 


              READ IN THE CHURCHES.                   135

 

so the early Christians transferred the same practice

to the church; and it seems to have been in use even

in the apostles' days, as appears by Col. iv. 16, where

Paul speaks of reading the Epistles addressed to the

churches, as a thing of course, "And when this Epis-

tle is read among you, cause that it be read also in

the church of the Laodiceans, and that ye likewise

read the Epistle from Laodicea."

          JUSTIN MARTYR explicitly testifies, that this was the

custom in the beginning of the second century. "On

the day," says he, "which is called Sunday, there is

a meeting of all (Christians) who live either in cities,

or country places, and the memoirs of the apostles,

and writings of the prophets, are read."*

          TERTULLIAN is equally explicit; for, in giving an

account of the meetings of Christians for worship, he

says, "They assemble to read the Scriptures, and

offer up prayers;" and in another place, among the

solemn exercises of the Lord's Day, he reckons, "Read-

ing the Scriptures, singing Psalms," &c.†

          The same account is given by CYPRIAN,‡ and by

the ancient author under the name of DIONYSIUS the

Areopagite; § and by several other ancient authors.

Now this practice of reading the sacred Scriptures in

the Christian churches, began so early that it is

scarcely possible that they could have been imposed

on by supposititious writings. A more effectual

method of guarding against apocryphal writings ob-

taining a place in the Canon, could not have been

devised. It afforded all the members of the church

an opportunity of knowing what books were acknow-

 

            * Apol. ii. p. 93.                        † Tertull. De Anima.

            ‡ Cyp. Epist. 36, 39.                 § Hierarch. Eco. c. 3.

 


136       THE CANONICAL BOOKS ALONE

 

edged as canonical, and precluded all opportunity of

foisting in spurious works; since, if this had been

done in some one church, the practice of all other

churches would quickly have exposed the imposture.

Accordingly, the Fathers often referred to this custom,

as the guide to the people, respecting the books which

they should read. "Avoid apocryphal books," says

CYRIL to his catechumen, "and study carefully those

Scriptures only which are publicly read in the church."

Again, having given a catalogue of the books of

Scripture, he adds: "Let others be rejected; and

such as are not read in the churches, neither do you

read in private."

          It was decreed in the Council of Laodicea, "That

no private Psalms should be read in the churches, nor

any books without the Canon; but only the canonical

writings of the Old and New Testament." The same

thing was determined in the Council of Carthage.

But notwithstanding these decrees, and the opinions

of learned Fathers, there were some pieces read in

some of the churches which were not canonical.

Thus, DIONYSIUS, bishop of  Corinth, in the second

century, in a letter to the church of Rome, tells them,

"That they read in their assemblies, on the Lord's

day, Clement's Epistle." And Eusebius declares,

"That in his, and the preceding times, it was almost

universally received, and read in most churches."  He

says also, "That the Shepherd of Hermas was read

in many churches," which is confirmed by Athanasius

and Rufin. Whilst these books, which are not now in

the Canon, were publicly read in many churches, the

book of Revelation was not, according to Cyril, read

in the churches; nor commanded to be read by the

 


            READ IN TILE CHURCHES.                 137

 

Council of Laodicea. It would seem, therefore, at

first view, that the application of this rule would

exclude the book of Revelation from the Canon, and

take in "the Epistle of Clement," and "the Shepherd

of Hermas." But the rule does not apply to every-

thing which was read in the churches, but to such

books as were read as sacred Scripture. It has ap-

peared in a former part of this work, that several

books, not in the Canon of the Old Testament, were

nevertheless read in the churches; but the Fathers

carefully distinguished between these and the canoni-

cal books. They were read for instruction and for

the improvement of manners, but not as authority in

matters of faith. They distinguished the books read,

in the churches, into Canonical and Ecclesiastical;

of the latter kind, were the books mentioned above,

and some others. The reason why the book of Reve-

lation was not directed to be read publicly, shall be

assigned, when we come to treat particularly of the

canonical authority of that book.

          A fourth argument to prove that our Canon of the

New Testament is substantially correct, may be de-

rived from the early versions of this sacred book into

other languages.

          Although the Greek language was extensively

known through the Roman empire, when the apostles

wrote, yet the Christian church was in a short time

extended into regions, where the common people, at

least, were not acquainted with it, nor with any lan-

guage except their own vernacular tongue. While

the gift of tongues continued, the difficulty of making

known the Gospel, would in some measure be obvia-

ted; but when these miraculous powers ceased, the

 


138                     EARLY VERSIONS

 

necessity of a version of the Gospels and Epistles into

the language of the people would become manifest.

As far, therefore, as we may be permitted to reason

from the nature of the case, and the necessities of the

churches, it is exceedingly probable, that versions of

the New Testament were made shortly after the death

of the apostles, if they were not begun before. Can

we suppose that the numerous Christians in Syria,

Mesopotamia, and the various parts of Italy, would be

long left without having these precious books trans-

lated into a language which all the people could un-

derstand? But we are not left to our own reasonings

on this subject. We know, that at a very early period,

there existed Latin versions of the New Testament,

which had been so long in use before the time of

Jerome, as to have become considerably corrupt, on

which account he undertook a new version, which

soon superseded those that were more ancient. Now,

although nothing remains of these ancient Latin

versions, but uncertain fragments, yet we have good

evidence that they contained the same books, as were

inserted in Jerome's version, now denominated the

Vulgate.

          But, perhaps, the Old Syriac version of the New

Testament, called Peshito, furnishes the strongest

proof of the canonical authority of all the books

which are contained in it. This excellent version has

a very high claim to antiquity; and, in the opinion

of some of the best Syriac scholars, who have pro-

foundly examined this subject, was made before the

close of the first century.

          The arguments for so early an origin, are not, in-

deed, conclusive, but they possess much probability,

 


            OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.                    139

 

whether we consider the external, or internal evidence.

The Syrian Christians have always insisted that this

version was made by the apostle THADDEUS; but

without admitting this claim, which would put it on a

level with the Greek original, we may believe that it

ought not to be brought down lower than the second

century. It is universally received by all the numer-

ous sects of Syrian Christians, and must be anterior

to the existence of the oldest of them. Manes, who

lived in the second century, probably had read the

New Testament in the Syriac, which was his native

tongue; and JUSTIN MARTYR, when he testifies that

the Scriptures of the New Testament were read in the

Assemblies of Christians, on every Sunday, probably

refers to Syrian Christians, as Syria was his native

place; where, also, he had his usual residence. And

MICHAELIS is of opinion, that MELITO, who wrote

about A. D. 170, has expressly declared, that a Syrian

version of the Bible existed in his time. JEROME

also testifies, explicitly, that when he wrote, the Syriac

Bible was publicly read in the churches; for, says he,

"Ephrem the Syrian is held in such veneration, that

his writings are read in several churches, immediately

after the Lessons from the Bible. It is also well

known that the Armenian version, which itself is

ancient, was made from the Syriac.

          Now, this ancient version contains the Four Gos-

pels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles of Paul

including that to the Hebrews, the First Epistle of

John, the First Epistle of Peter, and the Epistle of

James. Thus far, then, the evidence of the present

Canon is complete; and as to those books omitted in

this version, except Revelation, they are few, and

 


140        GENERAL EVIDENCE OF THE

 

small, and probably were unknown to the translator or

the evidence of their genuineness was not ascertained

by him. And as it relates to the book of Revelation,

the same reasons which excluded it from so many

ancient catalogues, probably operated here. It was

judged to be too mysterious to be read in the churches,

and by common Christians, and, therefore, was not

put into the volume which was read publicly in the

churches. The arguments for a Latin origin of this

version possess, in my judgment, very little force.*

 

          On the general evidence of the genuineness of our

Canon, I would subjoin the following remarks:

 

          1. The agreement among those who have given

catalogues of the books of the New Testament, from

the earliest times, is almost complete. Of thirteen

catalogues, to which we have referred, seven contain

exactly the same books, as are now in the Canon.

Three of the others differ in nothing but the omission

of the book of Revelation, for which they had a par-

ticular reason, consistent with their belief of its canoni-

cal authority; and in two of the remaining catalogues,

it can be proved, that the books omitted, or represented

as doubtful, were received as authentic by the persons

who have furnished the catalogues. It may be as-

serted, therefore, that the consent of the ancient

church, as to what books belonged to the Canon of the

New Testament, was complete. The sacred volume

was as accurately formed, and as clearly distinguished

from other books, in the third, fourth, and fifth cen-

turies, as it has ever been since.

 

            * On this whole subject consult Jones on the Canon, Mi-

chaelis's Introduction, Mill's Prolegomena.

 

 

 


               GENUINENESS OF THE CANON.                  141

 

          2. Let it be considered, moreover, that the earliest

of these catalogues was made by ORIGEN, who lived

within a hundred years after the death of the apostle

John, and who, by his reading, travels, and long resi-

dence in Palestine, had a full knowledge of all the

transactions and writings of the church, until his own

time. In connection with this, let it be remembered,

that these catalogues were drawn up by the most

learned, pious, and distinguished men in the church;

or by councils; and that the persons furnishing them

resided in different and remote parts of the world.

As, for example, in Jerusalem, Cesaraea, Carthage and

Hippo in Africa, Constantinople, Cyprus, Alexandria

in Egypt, Italy, and Asia Minor. Thus, it appears,

that the Canon was early agreed upon, and that it

was everywhere the same; therefore, we find the

Fathers, in all their writings, appealing to the same

Scriptures; and none are charged with rejecting any

canonical book; except heretics.

          3. It appears from the testimony adduced, that it

was never considered necessary, that any council, or

bishop, should "give sanction to these books, in any

other way, than as witnesses, testifying to the churches,

that these were indeed the genuine writings of the

apostles. These books, therefore, were never con-

sidered deriving their authority from the Church,

or from Councils, but were of complete authority as

soon as published; and were delivered to the churches

to be a guide and standard in all things relating to

faith and practice. The Fathers would have considered

it impious, for any bishop or Council, to pretend to

add anything to the authority of inspired books; or to

add other books to those handed claim the right


142        GENERAL EVIDENCE OF THE

 

down from the apostles. The church is founded on

"the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the

chief corner stone;" but the sacred Scriptures are no-

way dependent for their authority on any set of men

who lived since they were written.

          4. We may remark, in the last place, the benignant

providence of God towards his church, in causing

these precious books to be written, and in watching

over their preservation, in the midst of dangers and

persecutions; so that, notwithstanding the malignant

designs of the enemies of the church, they have all

come down to us unmutilated, in the original tongue

in which they were penned by the apostles.

 

          Our liveliest gratitude is due to the great Head of

the church for this divine treasure, from which we are

permitted freely to draw whatever is needful for our

instruction and consolation. And it is our duty to

prize this precious gift of divine revelation above all

price. On the Law of the Lord, we should meditate