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selves with an imperfect representation. They state nothing more than what is true, but they do not state the truth correctly. In the number, variety, and early date of our testimonies, we far exceed all other ancient books. For one, which the most celebrated work of the most celebrated Greek or Roman writer can allege, we produce many. But then it is more requisite in our books, than in theirs, to separate and distinguish them from spurious competitors. The result, I am convinced, will be satisfactory to every fair inquirer: but this circumstance renders an inquiry necessary.
In a work, however, like the present, there is a difficulty in finding a place for evidence of this kind. To pursue the detail of proofs throughout, would be to transcribe a great part of Dr. Lardner's eleven octavo volumes ; to leave the argument without proofs, is to leave it without effect; for the persuasion produced by this species of evidence depends upon a view and induction of the particulars which compose
it. The method which I propose to myself is, first, to place before the reader, in one view, the propositions which comprise the several heads of our testimony, and afterwards, to repeat the same propositions in so many distinct sections, with the necessary authorities subjoined to each. *
The following, then, are the allegations upon the subject, which are capable of being established by proof :
I. That the historical books of the New Testament, meaning thereby the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, are quoted, or alluded to, by a series of Christian writers, beginning with those who were contemporary with
* The reader, when he has the propositions before him, will observe that the arguinent, if he should omnit the sections, proceeds connectedly froin this point.
the apostles, or who immediately followed them, and proceeding in close and regular succession from their time to the present.
II. That when they are quoted, or alluded to, they are quoted or alluded to with peculiar respect, as books sui generis ; as possessing an authority which belonged to no other books, and as conclusive in all questions and controversies amongst Christians.
III. That they were, in very early times, collected into a distinct volume.
IV. That they were distinguished by appropriate names and titles of respect.
V. That they were publickly read and expounded in the religious assemblies of the early Christians.
VI. That commentaries were written upon them, harmonies formed out of them, different copies carefully collated, and versions of them made into different languages.
VII. That they were received by Christians of different sects, by many hereticks as well as catholicks, and usually appealed to by both sides in the controversies which arose in those days.
VIII. That the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, thirteen epistles of St. Paul, the first epistle of John, and the first of Peter, were received, without doubt, by those who doubted concerning the other books which are included in our present canon.
IX. That the Gospels were attacked by the early adversaries of Christianity, as books containing the accounts upon which the religion was founded.
X. That formal catalogues of authentick scriptures were published ; in all which our present sacred histories were included.
XI. That these propositions cannot be affirmed of any other books claiming to be books of scripture ; by which are meant those books which are commonly called apochryphal books of the New Testament.
The historical books of the New Testament, meaning there
by the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, are quoted, or alluded to by a series of Christian writers, beginning with those who were contemporary with the apostles, or who immediately followed them, and proceeding in close and regular succession from their time to the present. The medium of proof stated in this proposition is, of all others, the most unquestionable, the least liable to any practices of fraud, and is not diminished by the lapse of ages. Bishop Burnet, in the History of his own Times, inserts various extracts from Lord Clarendon's history. One such insertion is a proof, that Lord Clarendon's history was extant at the time when Bishop Burnet wrote, that.it had been read by Bishop Burnet, that it was received by Bishop Burnet as a work of Lord Clarendon, and also regarded by him as an authentick account of the transactions which it relates ; and it will be a proof of these points a thousand years hence, or as long as the books exist. Quintilian having quoted as Cicero's*, that well-known trait of dissembled vanity ;“Si quid est in me ingenii, Judices, quod sentio quam sit exiguum ;~" the quotation would be strong evidence, were there any doubt, that the oration, which opens with this address, ac
Quint. lib. xi. c. i.
tually came from Cicero's pen. These instances, however simple, may serve to point out to a reader, who is little accustomed to such researches, the nature and value of the argument.
The testimonies which we have to bring forward under this proposition, are the following:
I. There is extant an epistle ascribed to Barnabas*, the companion of Paul. It is quoted as the epistle of Barnabas, by Clement of Alexandria, A. D. cxciv; by Origen, A. D. ccxxx. It is mentioned by Eusebius, A. D. cccxv, and by Jerome, A. D. cccÝCII, as an ancient work in their time, bearing the name of Barnabas, and as well known and read amongst Christians, though not accounted a part of scripture. It purports to have been written soon after the destruction of Jerusalem, during the calamities which followed that disaster ; and it bears the character of the age to which it professes to belong.
In this epistle, appears the following remarkable passage: “Let us, therefore, beware lest it come upon us, as it is written, There are many called, few chosen.” From the expression,“ as it is written,” we infer with certainty, that, at the time when the author of this epistle lived, there was a book extant, well known to Christians, and of authority amongst them, containing these words :-“Many are called, few chosen.” Such a book is our present Gospel of St. Matthew, in which this text is twice foundt, and is found in no other book now known. There is a farther observation to be made upon the terms of the quotation. The writer of the epistle was a Jew. The phrase " it is writ
Lardner, Cred. edit. 1755, vol. I. p. 23, et seq. The reader will ob. serve from the references, that the materials of these sections are almost entirely extracted from Dr. Lardner's work; my office consisted in arrangement and selection. † Matt. xx. 16. xxii. 14. VOL. II.
ten,” was the very form in which the Jews quoted their scriptures. It is not probable, therefore, that he would have used this phrase, and without qualification, of any books but what had acquired a kind of scriptural authority. If the passage remarked in this ancient writing had been found in one of St. Paul's epistles, it would have been esteemed by every one a high testimony to St. Matthew's gospel. It ought, therefore, to be remembered, that the writing in which it is found was probably by very
few years posteriour to those of St. Paul.
Beside this passage, there are also in the epistle before us several others, in which the sentiment is the same with what we meet with in St. Matthew's gospel, and two or three in which we recognize the same words. In particular, the author of the epistle repeats the precept, “Give to every one that asketh thee*:" and saith that Christ chose as his apostles, who were to preach the gospel, men who were great sinners, that he might shew that he came “not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentancet.”
II. We are in possession of an epistle written by Clement, Bishop of Romet, whom ancient writers, without any doubt or scruple, assert to have been the Clement whom St. Paul mentions, Phil. iv. 3 ; “ With Clement also, and other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life.” This epistle is spoken of by the ancients as an epistle acknowledged by all ; and, as Irenæus well represents its value," written by Clement, who had seen the blessed apostles and conversed with them, who had the preaching of the apostles still sounding in his ears, and their traditions before his eyes.” It is addressed to the Church of Corinth ; and what alone may seem almost decisive of its
* Matt. v. 42 Ibid. ix. 13. * Lardner, Cred. vol. i. p. 62. et seq.