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Origen. Miltiades likewise wrote an excellent book ' against the Gentiles. Hippolytus and Apollonius, senators of Rome, published some works suitable to their cha⚫racter. There are also the works of Julius Africanus the chronologer, and of Theodore, afterwards called Gregory, a man of apostolical gifts and virtues, and of Dionysius bishop of Alexandria; as also of Anatolius bishop of the church of Laodicea; likewise of the presbyters Pamphi 'lus, Pierius, Lucian, Malchion; Eusebius bishop of Cæsarea, Eustathius bishop of Antioch, Athanasius bishop ' of Alexandria, Eusebius of Emesa, Triphyllius of Cyprus, 'Asterius, and Serapion, Titus bishop of Bostra, and the
Cappadocian bishops, Basil, Gregory, Amphilochius; who 'all have so filled their books with sentiments of the 'philosophers, and quotations from them, that it is not easy to say, which is more conspicuous and admirable in them, whether skill in profane learning, or the knowledge of 'the scriptures.
I come now to the Latins. Who more learned, who more acute than Tertullian? His Apology and book ' against the Gentiles are filled with all manner of learning. 'Minucius Felix a Roman advocate, author of the book entitled Octavius, has left untouched no part of human, literature. Arnobius wrote seven books against the Gentiles, and his disciple Lactantius as many, beside two ' other volumes Of the Wrath of God, and the Creation of 'the World; which whoever reads, will see in them an ' epitome of the Dialogues of Cicero. If Victorinus was 'not learned, he did not want a good will to learning, as
appears from his works. Cyprian demonstrated the vanity of idols in a concise manner, showing great knowledge of history, and good sense; after whom follow Hilary and Juvencus: and he omits others,' he says, 'both living and dead, whose performances manifest the like abilities."
So writes Jerom about the year 400, in defence of himself, and in answer to a question put to him by Magnus, at the instigation of Rufinus, Why he often quoted heathen authors in his works?
Jerom, in vindication of himself, was led to such writers of the church as were remarkable for learning, and had made use of their learning in their writings: he therefore here begins with Quadratus and Aristides. We have written the history of some more early christian writers, which
Quod autem quæris in calce epistolæ tuæ, cur in opusculis nostris secularium literarum interdum ponamus exempla, et candorem ecclesiæ ethnicorum sordibus polluamus. Ead. Ep. sub in.
also are in Jerom's catalogue; and we have likewise proceeded lower, and have taken in Jerom himself, his contemporary Rufinus, and Augustine, Chrysostom, Theodoret, and many others, all joining in the same testimony, and some way or other doing honour to christianity. Moreover we have taken a good number of others in several ages, who, in some respects, differed from the catholics: some of which deserve to be here mentioned, a large account having been given of them; such as Noetus, Paul of Samosata, Sabellius, Marcellus, Photinus, the Novatians, Donatists, Manichees, Priscillianists, beside Artemon, the Audians, the Aërians, and divers others, of whom a brief notice has been taken; all receiving most, or all the same books of the New Testament, which the catholics received, and agreeing in a like respect for them, as written by apostles, or their disciples and companions.
2. The next thing fit to be observed here, in the review of our work, is, that all along great care has been taken to distinguish genuine and supposititious writings, and to assign the true time of the authors and writings that have been alleged.
Thus, for instance, we have separated the epistle written by Clement to the Corinthians, in the name of the church of Rome, from a fragment sometimes ascribed to him. If that fragment is not Clement's, nor written before the third century, (which seems very probable,) the alleging it as his might have been of bad consequence, and have led us into divers mistakes.
And how many mistakes might have been made upon receiving the Apostolical Constitutions, as they are called, as a work of the same bishop of Rome, who died before the end of the first century? Certainly they are better spoken of near the end of the fourth century, as we have done.
We have also supposed the smaller, and not the larger or interpolated epistles of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, to be genuine. The admitting these to be genuine, and alleging them as such, would have made a great alteration in the testimony of the most early ages, and the apostolical fathers themselves, which must have had a very bad effect.
It is no small pleasure to me to find that, beside others d formerly mentioned, Mr. Jortin also, who has been lately examining the writings of the first ages, approves the smaller epistles and rejects the larger. A part of what he says may be very pertinently alleged here for confirming the observation just made: Thus the shorter epistles of
d See vol. ii. p. 76. e Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, vol. i. [1751.] p. 61–63. See also p. 361.
'Ignatius allude to the writings of the apostles; but in the larger epistles, which are generally supposed to be inter'polated, the passages of the Old and New Testament are ' more numerous, and are cited more accurately and dis'tinctly, and sometimes impertinently, as in the Constitu'tions, and are introduced with," Thus saith the Lord, thus 'says Paul, and Peter, and Luke, and thus say the scrip⚫tures." The apostolical fathers rather allude than cite; and therefore the hand of the forger discovers itself in these epistles.'
Ignatius wrote his letters, when he was condemned, and 'chained, and guarded, and conducted by soldiers, who ' were brutes, and used him ill.-Therefore it is more pro'bable that the shorter epistles should be genuine than the larger, with their pomp and parade of passages from the Old and New Testament, which secessum scribentis et otia quærunt.'
The same learned and ingenious writer rejects also the Apostolical Constitutions, which he considers as an imposture.
There is another work, which may be not improperly mentioned here, though we omit many others. I mean particularly a tract of St. Cyprian, entitled, Testimonies against
the Jews, to Quirinus,' in three books, in which many texts of the Old and New Testament are cited: I do not dispute the genuineness of that work; but I suppose it to be interpolated, and therefore have argued thats it ought to be quoted with caution.
Another thing, by which learned men, as I apprehend, suffer themselves to be sometimes misled, is ascribing too early a date to the Latin translation of the work of Irenæus concerning heresies. This also was taken notice of in some observations upon that tract of St. Cyprian; where we mentioned Mr. Dodwell's opinion, that it was not published till after the year 385; whilst some others have imagined that translation to have been made during the lifetime of Irenæus himself.
And I here cheerfully acknowledge the assistances received from Cave, Fabricius, Tillemont, Pagi, Basnage, and other learned critics among the moderns; whereby I have been enabled to produce authors in their true time, and to distinguish genuine and supposititious writings, which cannot but contribute to the value of their testimony, and I hope has rendered it irrefragable.
f Remarks as before, vol. i. p. 228-259. Vol. iii. p. 16-19.
Vol. iii. p. 23. See also p. 25. note §.
3. I mention another thing, as some compensation of the long labours of this inquiry, that we have observed several authors, so early as the third century, who received the epistle to the Hebrews, who have been generally overlooked by learned men, and even by those who have written dissertations upon that epistle. I intend Theognostus an Alexandrian, who flourished about the year 280, and1 Methodius, who flourished about 290, and the author of a poem against the Marcionites, whose age is uncertain, and probably Pamphilus. I suppose likewise, that there may be seen in this book more quotations of ancient authors, who speak of St. Peter's epistles as written to Gentiles, than in any work hitherto written upon the canon of the New Testament.
4. All along, where there has been occasion, we have carefully observed what notice has been taken of spurious and apocryphal books, (which might seem on account of their titles, or otherwise, to make a claim to be a part of the canon,) especially by the more ancient christian writers. And, if I mistake not, it has appeared, after a fair and careful examination, that though there were doubts about some of the books now generally received as canonical, yet there were no other beside them which those ancient writers received as part of the rule of faith, and that they alleged them by way of illustration only.
This was the great design of the late Mr. Jeremiah Jones, in the two first volumes of his New and full Method of 'settling the canonical Authority of the New Testament, in which the several apocryphal books are collected, with an • English translation of each of them; together with a particular proof, that none of them were ever admitted into 'the canon.' And, I presume, it will be allowed by all readers of this work, that the design of that diligent writer has been carried on by us, and that his argument has been confirmed.
5. Though our design has primarily led us to observe the testimony of christian writers to the books of the New Testament, we have not entirely overlooked their testimony to the Old Testament, and divers catalogues of the ancient scriptures may be seen in this book, with remarks upon them.
6. Beside showing in every age the books of scripture
i None of the authors there mentioned are in Fr. Spanhem. Dissert. de Auctore Epistolæ ad Hebræos. Opp. T. ii. p. 171, &c. or in Mr. Hallet's Introduction to the Epistle to the Hebrews. * See vol. iii. p. 152. "P. 226.
I Ibid. p. 195, 196.
m P. 171.
received by each writer, many passages have been alleged, testifying their great regard for the scriptures, assuring us, that they were publicly, and respectfully read in the assemblies of christians in the language generally understood by the people, and earnestly recommending the reading and studying them in private as the duty of all sorts of people, and what would be highly advantageous to them. I believe there may be in this book more passages of this kind, taken from early christian writers, than in the collection of A. B. Usher, de Scripturis, et Sacris Vernaculis,' and the Auctarium' of Henry Wharton, written purposely upon this one point.
7. In this book may be seen many observations, showing the credibility of the evangelical history, especially taken from Augustine, Chrysostom, and Theodoret; though some also from Eusebius of Cæsarea, and other writers: divers of which passages must be very acceptable to most readers, and perhaps will appear to some equal to the best arguments of the most learned modern defenders of the christian religion.
8. In this book are some passages, bearing express testimony not only to the scriptures, but also to divers of the principal facts of the New Testament; particularly to the miracles of our Lord's ministry, his death, resurrection, and ascension, and the extraordinary works performed by his apostles.
9. There are many passages, representing and expatiating upon the swift and wonderful progress of the gospel over the world, collected for the most part out of Jerom, Augustine, Chrysostom, Theodoret, and later writers.
Indeed these are very proper for the next book: but every thing of this kind could not be well passed over. Besides, our collections relating to this, and the last preceding article, are chiefly taken out of the writers of the fourth, fifth, and following centuries, reserving those of the more early ages for another time and the next book.
10. There are likewise in some chapters, select passages upon a variety of subjects, which cannot but afford entertainment to inquisitive readers of good taste, especially if they have any desire to judge rightly of the character of christian writers in past ages, and those the best and purest ages, on which we have principally enlarged.