« PreviousContinue »
What he says of the Revelation of Peter and the Revela. tion of Paul, was taken notice of formerly.
IV. THEODORET wrote, in five books, the history of things from the rise of the Arian controversy, or where Eusebius left off, to the death of Theodore, bishop of Mopsuestia, that is, from the year of Christ 324 to 429, being the space of one hundred and five years.
Theodoret's testimony to the scriptures was exhibited * formerly.
See vol. iv. p. 132. w Vid. Theodoret. H. E. J. i. cap. 1. et 2. et I. v. cap. ult. * See p. 14, &c. of this volume.
THE design of this work, from the beginning, and all along, has been, to show the truth of the evangelical bistory, and thereby the truth of the christian religion ; for if the facts related in the gospels, and confirmed by the epistles of the New Testament, may be relied upon, the christian religion. is from Heaven.
The things there related to have been done by Jesus, and by his disciples by virtue of powers derived from him, must be allowed to afford good proof that he came from God, and that his doctrine is true and divine : and as Jesus, in the circumstances of his birth, life, and death, and exaltation, and in the success and progress of the principles taught by him, answers the description of the great person foretold and promised in the Old Testament, he is at the same time shown to be the Messiah.
In the former part of this work the facts occasionally mentioned in the New Testament were confirmed by passages of ancient authors; and a long deduction there is in that part of various particulars concerning the estate and character of the princes and governors, in whose time these things are said to have happened, and concerning the state of the Jews at that time in Judea, and out of it, and their religious opinions, customs, and practices, as also of other people to whom the apostles went; all found to be agree- . able to the accounts of Josephus and Philo, and many heathen authors of the best note, and contemporary with our Saviour and his apostles, or living very near their time.
We bave supposed this to be a very cogent argument, that the books of the New Testament were written before, or soon after, the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in the 70th year of the christian æra.
And if these books were written by persons who lived before the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, if they were written at the time in which they are supposed to have been written, the things related in them are true and incontestable. The force of this argument may be seen represented in the conclusion of that part.
Consequently, the former part of this work, though it immediately and directly concerned only those facts which are occasionally mentioned in the New Testament, affords a very forcible argument for the truth of the principal facts of the New Testament; by which all know to be intended the miraculous though mean birth of Jesus, and all the wonders of his life and ministry, his death, resurrection, and ascension; the effusion of the Holy Ghost upon his apostles afterwards, their preaching in his name the doctrine received from him, and confirming it by miraculous works, and planting the gospel, and forming, in a short space of time, churches of disciples at Jerusalem, and in all the parts of Judea, and in many other cities and countries.
In this second part we have proceeded to show more directly the truth of the evangelical bistory, by producing · testimonies to the antiquity, genuineness, and authority of
the books of the New Testament, now generally received by christians, as containing an authentic account of the religion taught by Christ and his apostles.
And in this book is a history of all, or almost all, the catbolic writers of the first four centuries, and of the principal christian writers of the following centuries, to the beginning of the twelfth; with an article, by way of conclusion, from Nicephorus Callisti, a learned author at the beginning of the fourteenth century, containing a summary account of all that has been said, and representing what was to be proved; wbicb, I hope, has been proved.
And whoever is desirous to know what books were received as sacred scripture, by any writers of the church in past ages, may here find a distinct account of it in the chapters that bear their names.
1. As we are now to review this book, the first observation which offers is this : We have seen a goodly catalogue
of eminent men, who have believed in Jesus as the Christ, and their Lord and Master, whose religion was not set up with worldly allurements. Says Jerom, in the prologue to his book of Ecclesiastical writers, • Let the enemies of our * religion, who say the church had no pbilosophers, nor · eloquent and learned men, observe who and what they • were who founded, established, and adorned it: let them • cease to accuse our faith of rusticity, and confess their mis
take.' So said Jerom with regard to Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian, who had been the most noted adversaries of the christian religion in the first four centuries. The same may be still said to those called deists in our time. And may I not add, Let those conceited christians, who unmeasurably despise the primitive times of christianity, learn to pay some respect to their christian ancestors, in whom both learning, and an honest, fervent zeal, were united. They are not the rule of our faith, but they have directed us to the sacred scriptures, where it may be found ; and they have borne testimony to the truth of the things contained therein, by an open and stedfast profession, amidst a great variety of difficulties and discouragements, reproaches and sufferings.
And though every one who has read this work is able to supply a fuller catalogue, I shall here also rehearse in part the names of eminent christians of the early ages, from an epistle of the same masterly hand to Magnus, a Roman orator, upon a different occasion. • Jerom, having at the begin
a Discant ergo Celsus, Porphyrius, Julianus, rabidi adversus Christum canes; discant eorum sectatores, qui putant ecclesiam nullos philosophos, et eloquentes, nullos habuisse doctores, quanti et quales viri eam fundaverint, exstruxerint, et adornaverint, et desinant fidem nostram rusticæ tantum simplicitatis arguere, suamque potius imperitiam agnoscant. Proleg. in. libr. de Scr. Ec.
Curram per singulos. Quadratus, apostolorum discipulus, et Atheniensis pontifex ecclesiæ, nonne Adriano principi, Eleusinæ sacra visenti, librum pro nostrâ religione tradidit ? et tantæ admirationi omnibus fuit, ut persecutionem gravissimam illius sedaret ingenium. Aristides philosophus, vir eloquentissimus, eidem principi apologeticum pro christianis obtulit, contextum philosophorum sententiis. Quem imitatus postea Justinus, et ipse philosophus, Antonino Pio et filiis ejus senatuique librum contra Gentiles tradidit, defendens ignominiam crucis, et resurrectionem Christi totâ prædicans libertate. Quid loquar de Melitone Sardensi episcopo? Quid de Apollinario Hieropolitana ecclesiæ sacerdote, Dionysioque Corinthiorum episcopo, et Tatiano, et Bardesane, et Irenæo, Pothini Martyris successore, qui origines hæreseôn singularuin, et ex quibus philosophorum fontibus emanârint, multis voluminibus explicârunt ? Pantænus Stoicæ sectæ philosophus, ob præcipuæ eruditionis gloriam, a Demetrio Alexandriæ episcopo missus est in Indiam, ut Christum apud Brachmanas et istius gentis philosophos prædicaret. Clemens, Alexandrinæ ecclesiæ presbyter, meo judicio omnium eruditissimus, octo scripsit Stromatum libros.Quid in illis indoctum, imo quid non de mediâ philosophiâ est? Hunc imitatus Origines decem scripsit Stromateas, christianorum et philoso
ning of his epistle observed the learning of Moses, Solo* mon, and Paul, in the next place mentions two apologists • for the christian religion in the time of Adrian, Quadratus, • and Aristides. The next to them is Justin, also a philo• sopher, who presented an apology to Antoninus the Pious, • and his sons, and the whole senate, against the Gentiles, • warding off the ignominy of the cross, and with full free• dom and undaunted courage asserting the resurrection of • Christ. Why should I speak of Melito bishop of Sardis, . and Apollinarius bishop of Hierapolis, and Dionysius • bishop of Corinth, and Tatian, and Bardesanes, and Ire. næus successor of Pothinus the martyr; who, in many • volumes, have detected the origin of every heresy, and • showed from what philosophers they were derived ? Next, • Pantænus a philosopher of the Stoic sect, and a man of • great reputation for learning. Clement, presbyter of the • church of Alexandria, in my opinion the most learned of • all men, wrote eight books of Stromata, or Miscellanies,
and other works, in which there is nothing unlearned, no· thing which is not fetched from the depths of philosophy; ! who was also followed and imitated by his disciple
phorum inter se sententias comparans et omnia nostræ religionis dogmata de Platone, et Aristotele, Numenio, Cornuto que confirmans. Scripsit et Mil. tiades contra Gentes volumen egregium. Hippolytus quoque et Apollonius, Romanæ urbis senatores, propria opuscula condiderunt. Extant et Julii Africani libri, qui temporum scripsit historias, et Theodori, qui postea Gregorius appellatus est, viri apostolicorum signorum atque virtutum, et Dionysii Alexandrini episcopi; Anatolii quoque Laodicenæ ecclesiæ sacerdotis, necnon presbyterorum Pamphili, Pierii,' Luciani, Malchionis, Eusebii Cæsariensis episcopi, et Eustathii Antiocheni, et Athanasii Alexandrini; Eusebii quoque Emesseni, et Triphyllii Cyprii, et Asterii Scythopolitæ, et Serapionis confessoris ; Titi quoque Bostrensis episcopi, Cappadocumque Basilii, Gregorii, Amphilochii. Qui omnes in tantum philosophorum doctrinis atque sententiis suos refarciunt libros, ut nescias quid in illis primum admirari debeas, eruditionem seculi, an scientiam scripturarum.
Veniam ad Latinos. Quid Tertulliano eruditius, quid acutius ? Apologeticus ejus, et contra Gentes liber, cunctam seculi obtinent disciplinam. Minucius Felix, causidicus Romani fori, in libro, cui titulus Octavius est, quid gentilium literarum reliquit intactum ? Septem libros adversus Gentes Arnobius edidit, totidemque discipulus ejus Lactantius, qui de Irâ quoque et Opificio Dei duo volumina condidit. Quos si legere volueris, Dialogorum Ciceronis in eis emitounu reperies. Victorino Martyri in libris suis, licet desit eruditio, tamen non deest eruditionis voluntas. Cyprianus, quod idola dii non sunt, quâ brevitate, quâ historiarum omnium scientiâ, quorum verborum et sensuum splendore perstrinxit? Hilarius, meorum confessor temporum et episcopus, duodecim Quintiliani libros et stylo imitatus est et numero. Juvencus presbyter sub Constantino historiam Domini Salvatoris versibus explicavit; nec pertimuit evangelii majestatem sub metri leges mittere. De cæteris vel mortuis vel viventibus taceo, quorum in scriptis suis et vires mani. festæ sint et voluntas. Ad Mag. Orat. ep. 83. [al. 84.] T. 4.