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indeed the name of critic) and who offered no reason for his determination. What St. Jerome says of him intimates this, and is befide founded in good sense; speaking of him and Basilides, “ if they had assigned any rea“ fons,” says he, “ why they did not reckon “ these epistles,” viz. the first and second to Timothy and the epistle to Titus, “ to be " the apostle's, we would have endeavoured

to have answered them, and perhaps

might have satisfied the reader; but when " they take upon them, by their own au

thority, to pronounce one epistle to be « Pauls, and another not, they can only be

replied to in the same manner*" Let it be remembered, however, that Marcion received ten of these epistles. His authority therefore, even if his credit had been better than it is, forms a very small exception to the uniformity of the evidence. Of Basilides we know still less than we do of Marcion. The same observation however belongs to him, viz. that his objection, as far as appears from this passage of St. Jerome, was con

* Lardner, vol. xiv. p. 458.

2

fined

fined to the three private epistles. . Yet is this the only opinion which can be said to difturb the consent of the two first centuries of the Christian æra; for as to Tatian, who is reported by Jerome alone to have rejected some of St. Paul's epistles, the extravagant or rather delirious notions into which he fell, take away all weight and credit from his judgment. If, indeed, Jerome's account of this circunstance be correct; for it appears from much older writers than Jerome, that Tatian owned and used many of these epistles*.

II. They, who in those ages disputed about so many other points, agreed in acknowledging the scriptures now before us. Contending fects appealed to them in their controversies with equal and unreserved submission. When they were urged by one side, however they might be interpreted or misinterpreted by the other, their authority was not questioned: Reliqui omnes," says Irenæus, speaking of Marcion, 66 falfo fci" entiæ nomine inflati, scripturas quidem

* Lardner, vol. i. p. 313.

I

66 confi

“ confitentur, interpretationes vero con66 vertunt*.”

III. When the genuineness of some other writings which were in circulation, and even of a few which are now received into the canon, was contested, these were never called into dispute. Whatever was the objection, or whether, in truth, there ever was any real objection to the authenticity of the second epistle of Peter, the second and third of John, the epistle of James, or that of Jude, or to the book of the Revelations of St. John, the doubts that appear to have been entertained concerning them, exceedingly strengthen the force of the testimony as to those writings, about which there was no doubt; because it shows, that the matter was a subject, amongst the early Christians, of examination and difcussion; and that, where there was any room to doubt, they did doubt.

What Eusebius hath left upon the subject is directly to the purpose of this dbservation. Eufebius, it is well known, di

was

* Iren. advers. Hær. quoted by Lardner, vol. xv. P. 425

vided the ecclesiastical writings which were extant in his time into three clafles; the $ aravtippnta, uncontradicted,” as he calls them in one chapter; or “ scriptures uni66 versally acknowledged,” as he calls them in another; the “ controverted, yet well • known and approved by many;" and ** the spurious." What were the shades of difference in the books of the second, or in those of the third class; or what it was precisely that he meant by the terın spurious, it is not necessary in this place to enquire. It is sufficient for us to find, 'that the thirteen epistles of St. Paul are placed by him in the first class without any sort of hesitation or doubt.

It is farther also to be collected from the chapter in which this distinction is laid down, that the method made use of by Eusebius, and by the Christians of his time, viz. the close of the third century, in judging concerning the sacred authority of any books, was to enquire after and consider the testimony of those who lived near the age of the apostles*. * Lardner, vol. viii. p. 106.

IV. That

IV. That no ancient writing, which is attested as thefe epistles are, hath had its authenticity disproved, or is in fact queftioned. The controversies which have been moved concerning suspected writings, as the epistles, for instance, of Phalaris, or the eighteen epistles of Cicero, begin by showing that this attestation is wanting. That being proved, the question is thrown back upon internal marks of spuriousness or authenticity ; and in these the dispute is occupied. In which disputes it is to be oba ferved, that the contested writings are commonly attacked by arguments drawn from some opposition which they betray to "au“thentic history,"to"true epistles,” to the 66 real sentiments or circumstances of the au“ thor whom they personate*;" which alim thentic history, which true epistles, which real sentiments themselves, are no other than ancient documents, whose early existence and reception can be proved, in the manner in which the writings before us

* See the tracts written in the controverfy between Tunstal and Middleton upon certain suspected epitles ascribed to Cicero.

are

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