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• beautiful vessel of the body, be wanting in none of these things.' And still nearer the conclusion. " Wherefore 'I have endeavoured to write to you, according to my ability, that you might rejoice.

Upon the whole, this epistle well answers the character given of Barnabas in the Acts, particularly, ch. xi. 24. “ He was full of the Holy Ghost.” The writer of this epistle had the gift of the spirit, though not that measure, which was peculiar to apostles. “ He was full of faith.” The writer of this epistle had an earnest zeal for the truth and simplicity of the gospel. He was also “ a good man.” In this epistle we observe the mildness and gentleness, by which Barnabas seems to have been distinguished: but we do not discern here the dignity and authority of an apostle.

Consequently, this epistle may afford edification, and may be read with that view. But it ought not to be esteemed by us, as it was not by the ancients, a part of the rule of faith.


Of the Method in which the Canon of the New Testament has been formed.


He canon of the New Testament is a collection of books, written by several persons, in several places, and at different times. It is, therefore reasonable to think, that it was formed gradually. At the rise of the Christian religion there were no written systems or records of it. It was first taught and confirmed by Christ himself in his most glorious ministry; and was still farther confirmed by his willing death, and his resurrection from the dead, and ascension to heaven: afterwards it was taught by word of mouth, and propagated by the preaching of his apostles and their companions. Nor was it fit, that any books should be written about it, till there were converts to receive and keep them, and deliver them to others.

If St. Paul's two epistles to the Thessalonians were the first written books of the New Testament, and not written till the year 51, or 52, about twenty years after our Saviour's ascension, they would be for a while the only sacred books of the new dispensation.

As the Christians at Thessalonica had received the doctrine taught by Paul, “ not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God," 1 Thess. ii. 13, they would receive his epistles, as the written word of God. And himself taught them so to do, requiring, that they should be solemnly “ read unto all the holy brethren,” i Thess. v. 27. He gives a like direction, but more extensive, at the end of his epistle to the Colossians, iv. 16, requiring them, after they had read it “amongst themselves, to cause it to be read also in the church of the Laodiceans: and that they likewise read the epistle, that would come to them from Laodicea.”

All the apostle Paul's epistles, whether to churches or particular persons, would be received with the like respect by those to whom they were sent, even as the written word of God, or sacred scriptures: and in like manner the writings of all the apostles and evangelists.

They who received them would, as there were opportunities, convey them to others. They who received them, were fully assured of their genuineness by those who delivered them. And before the end of the first century, yea not very long after the middle of it, it is likely, there were collections made of the four gospels, and most of the other books of the New Testament, which were in the hands of a good number of churches and persons.

From the quotations of Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and other writers of the second century, of Origen in the third, and Eusebius in the fourth century, it appears, that the greatest part of the books, which are now received by us, and are called canonical, were universally acknowledged in their times, and had been so acknowledged by the elders and churches of former times. And the rest now received by us, though they were then doubted of, or controverted by some, were well known, and approved by many. And Athanasius, who lived not long after Eusebius (having flourished from the year 326, and afterwards) received all the same

* Διο μαλλον εσπεδασα γραψαι, αφ' ων ηδυνήθην, εις το ευφραναι υμας. Ιbid.

See Eusebius, Vol. iv. p. 217, 218.

books, which are now received by us, and no other. Which has also been the prevailing senti. ment ever since.

This canon was not determined by the authority of councils: but the books, of which it consists, were known to be the genuine writings of the apostles and evangelists, in the same way and manner that we know the works of Cæsar, Cicero, Virgil

, Horace, Tacitus, to be theirs. And the canon has been formed upon the ground of an unanimous, or generally concurring testimony and tradition.

In the course of this long work we have had frequent occasion to observe, that the canon of the New Testament had not been settled by any authority universally acknowledged, particularly not in the time of - Eusebius, nor of Augustine, nor of Cosmas, nor ofCassiodorius : but that nevertheless there was a general agreement among Christians upon this head.

That the number of books to be received as sacred and canonical had not been determined by the authority of any council

, or councils, universally acknowledged, is apparent from the different judgments among Christians, in several parts of the world, concerning divers books, particularly, the epistle to the Hebrews, and the Revelation: which were received by some, rejected, or doubted of by others : not now to mention any of the catholic epistles. There was no catalogue of the books of scripture in any canon of the council of Nice. Augustine o giving directions to inquisitive persons, how they might determine what books are canonical, and what not, refers not to the decisions of any councils. Cassiodorius, in the sixth century, has three catalogues, one called Jerom's, another Augustine's, another that of the ancient version : but he refers not to the decree of any council, as decisive. And it seems to me that in all times, Christian people and churches have had a liberty to judge for themselves according to evidence. And the evidence of the genuineness of most of the books of the New Testament has been so clear and manifest, that they have been universally received.

The genuineness of these books, as before said, is known in the same way with others, by testimony or tradition. The first testimony is that of those who were cotemporary with the writers of them : which testimony has been handed down to others.

That in this way the primitive Christians formed their judgment concerning the books proposed to be received as sacred scriptures, appears from their remaining works. Says Clement of Alexandria : This 3 we have not in the four gospels, which have been delivered to us, but in • that according to the Egyptians.' Tertullian may be seen largely to this purpose, Vol. I. p. 419—421. I pass on to Origen, who says : • As. I have learned by tradition concerning the * four gospels, which alone are received without dispute by the whole church of God under • heaven.' So Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, often observes, what books of the New Testament had been quoted by the ancients, and what not. And having rehearsed a catalogue of books universally received, and of others controverted, he says: 'It' was needful to put • down these also; distinguishing the scriptures, which according to ecclesiastical tradition are • true, genuine, and universally acknowledged, from those which are controverted, and yet appear • to have been known to many: that by this means we may know them from such as have been • published by heretics, under the names of apostles. Which books none of the ecclesiastical

writers in the succession from the times of the apostles have vouchsafed to mention in their • writings.' I may not transcribe, but only refer to * Athanasius in his Festal Epistle, to' Cyril of Jerusalem," Rufinus, and" Augustine.

However, beside observing the testimony of writers in former times, they criticised the books which were proposed to them : examining their style and contents, and comparing them with those books, which had been already received as genuine upon the ground of an unanimous testimony, and undoubted tradition. Says honest Serapion, bishop of Antioch, in an epistle to some, who had too much respect for a writing, entitled the Gospel of Peter: · We, o brethren, • receive Peter, and the other apostles, as Christ ; but as skilful men, we reject those writings, · which are falsely ascribed to them: well knowing, that we have received no such.' And he adds, that upon perusing that work, he had found the main part of it agreeable to the right doctrine of our Saviour: but there were some other things of a different kind. And Eusebius

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adds in the place transcribed above : • The style also of these books is entirely different from . that of the apostles. Moreover the sentiments and doctrine of these writings differ from the • true orthodox Christianity. All which things plainly show, that they are the forgeries of 6 heretics.'

It has been sometimes said, that the council of Laodicea first settled the canon of the New Testament. But it may be justly said to have been settled before. At least there had been long before a general agreement among Christians, what books were canonical, and what not: what were the genuine writings of apostles and evangelists, and what not. From the decree of the council itself it appears, that there were writings already known by the title of canonical. That council does nothing in their last canon, but declare, • That private psalms ought not to be * read in the church, nor any books not canonical, but only the canonical books of the

Old and • New Testament. After which follows a catalogue or enumeration of such books. may be said of the third council of Carthage, whose forty-seventh canon is to this purpose : • Moreover it is ordained, that nothing beside the canonical scriptures be read in the church, under the name of divine scriptures.'

I shall now transcribe below a long and fine passage of Mr. Le Clerc, wherein he says: We • no where read of a council of the apostles, or of any assembly of the governors of christian • churches, convened, to determine by their authority, that such a number of gospels, neither * more nor fewer, should be received. Nor was there any need of it, since it is well known to all • from the concurring testimony of cotemporaries, that these four gospels are the genuine • writings of those whose names they bear: and since it is also manifest, that there is in them * nothing unworthy of those to whom they are ascribed, nor any thing at all contrary to the • revelation of the Old Testament, nor to right reason. There was no need of a synod of gram

marians, to declare magisterially what are the works of Cicero, or Virgil... In like manner the • authority of the gospels has been established by general and perpetual consent, without any • decree of the governors of the church. We may say the same of the apostolical epistles, which

owe all their authority, not to the decisions of any ecclesiastical assembly, but to the concurring * testimony of all Christians, and the things themselves, which are contained in them.'

Mr. James Basnage has several chapters, showing how the canon of the New Testament was formed, without the authoritative decisions of councils. I likewise refer to Mr. Jones upon this subject. I must also remind my readers of Augustine's excellent observations, in his arguments with the Manichees, concerning the genuineness and integrity of the books of the New Testament. I shall transcribe froin him here a few lines only, which are very much to the present purpose. • We know the writings of the apostles, says he, as we know the works of Plato, Aristotle

Cicero, Varro, and others; and as we know the writings of divers ecclesiastical authors : foras* much as they have the testimony of cotemporaries, and of those who have lived in succeeding ages.'

Upon the whole, the writings of the apostles and evangelists are received, as the works of other eminent men of antiquity are, upon the ground of general consent and testimony. Nor does the canon of the scriptures of the New Testament owe its establishment to the decisions of councils : but it is the judgment of christian people in general: and so far as we are able to perceive, after a long and careful examination, it is a right and reasonable judgment. And it may induce us to believe, that if men were encouraged to think freely, in other matters also,

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b Ib.

• Vol. ii. p. 370.

p. 414. c Ib. p. 574.

. Nusquam quidem legimus, collegium Apostolicum, aut cætum ullum Rectorum Ecclesiarum Christianarum coactum esse, qui pro auctoritate definierint hunc numerum Evangeliorum esse admittendum, non majorem, nec minorem. Sed nec opus fuit, cum omnibus constaret, ex testimonio et consensu æqualium, quatuor hæc evangelia eorum vere fuisse, quorum nomina præferunt; cumque nihil in iis legatur quod scriptoribus dignum non sit, vel revelationi Veteris Testamenti, rectæve rationi, vel minimum adversetur ; aut quod inferius, ævum, recentiorumque manus ullo modo resipiat. Non opus fuit synodo Grammaticorum, qui, pro imperio, pronuntiarent ea scripta, verbi caussâ Ciceronis et Virgilii, quæ eorum esse non dubitamus, re verà tantorum ingeniorum fetus fuisse, et

posteritati eâ in re consulerent. Omniuni consensus, non quæsitus, non rogatus, sed sponte significatus, prout occasio tulit, resque ipsæ omnibus, qui postea vixere, dubitationem omnem anteverterunt. . . Sic et evangeliorum auctoritas merito constituta est, et invaluit, perpetuo consensu, sine ullo Rectorum ecclesiæ decreto.

Idem dixerimus de epistolis apostolicis, quæ nullius ecclesiastici conventûs judicio, sed constanti omnium Christiano. rum testimonio, rebusque ipsis, quas complectuntur, auctoritatem omnem suam debent. Cleric. H. E. ann. 100 num. iii. iv. Vid. et avn. 29. num. xcii.

• Hist. de l'Eglise. 1. 8. ch. v. vi. vii.
f New and full Method, Part I. ch. v. vi. vii.
& See Vol. ii. p. 225-227. " Ib. p. 226.

and to judge for themselves, according to evidence, and proper assistances were afforded them, , it would not be at all detrimental to the interests either of truth or virtue.




That the Gospels are not mentioned, nor referred to, in the Epistles of the New Testament.

Eusebius intimates, that ^ many before him supposed, that when Paul in his epistle speaks of his own gospel, he intended the gospel according to Luke. We will therefore consider those texts, and some others of a like kind.

I. St. Paul says, Rom. ii. 16....“ in the day, when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel.” The same phrase occurs again, ch. xvi. 25, and 2 Tim. ii. 8, “ Remember, that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead, according to my gospel.” In all which places, I apprehend, it must be reasonable to understand, not any written gospel, or history of Jesus Christ : but the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which had been preached by Paul. Which is also the opinion of learned modern interpreters in general.

II. 2 Cor. viii. 18. “ And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel, throughout all the churches.” Many have been of opinion, that St. Luke is the brother here intended, and that St. Paul refers to Luke's written gospel. This is said to be Origen's interpretation ; but I do not clearly perceive it. Origen speaking of the four gospels, says: The

third is that according to Luke, the gospel commended by Paul.' I say, I do not perceive it to be clear, that Origen had an eye to 2 Cor. viii. 18. He might intend Rom. ii. 16. or xvi. 25. or 2 Tim. ii. 8. However, whether it be Origen's interpretation of that text or not, it is Jerom's; who writing the history of St. Luke in his book of Illustrious Men, says : He wrote a gospel of • which Paul makes mention, saying: “ And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is • in the gospel.' To the same purpose' also in the prologue to his Commentary upon St. Matthew : and likewise in his Commentary upon the epistle to Philemon.

Chrysostom upon the place speaks after this manner. « And " who is this brother ? Some say, Luke: and think, that the apostle refers to the history written by him. Others say • Barnabas. For by gospel he intends unwritten preaching. Theophylact' speaks to the like purpose. Theodoret

by the brother understood Barnabas : and therefore could not think of any written gospel, no such work having been ascribed to him by the ancients. Ecumenius's note is to this purpose. • Many say, this brother is Luke, mentioned upon account of the gospel

composed by him. Many others suppose him to be Barnabas : for, as they say, unwritten • preaching is here called gospel ; which is the more likely: for what follows is more suitable to • Barnabas: “whose praise is in the gospel.” As much as to say, he not only preaches, but com• mendably.' And afterwards. • The meaning is, he not only evangelizeth, and preacheth the 1 φασι δε, ως αρα τα κατ' αυτον ευαγγελια μνημονευειν και e See Vol. ii. p. 552.

{ Ib. p. 550. Παυλος ειωθεν, όπηνικα ως περι ιδιε τινος ευαγγελια γραφων ? De quo (Luca] et in alio loco: Misi, inquit, cum illo ελεγε, κατα το ευαγγελιον με. Εus. Η. Ε. 1. 3. c. 4. p. 73. D. fratrem, cujus laus est in evangelio per omnes ecclesias ...

b'. Who this brother was, is much contested. Antiquity &c. In Philem. T. IV. P. I. p. 454. • has carried it for St. Luke, worthy of praise in all the h Kαι τις ατος εσιν ο αδελφος και τινες μεν τον Λεκαν. Και

churches for the gospel which he wrote. The authority of φασι, δια την ισοριαν ηνπερ εγραψε. Τινες δε τον Βαρναβαν. • this assertion seems to rest upon the words of Origen, the Και γαρ το αγραφον κηρυγμα ευαγγελιον καλει. In 2 Epist.

interpolated Ignatius, and St. Jerom.' So Whitby upon ad Corinth, hom. 18. tom. X. the place.

i In loc. p. 389. • Και τριτον το κατα Λεκαν, το υπο Παυλο επαινέμενον * Τον τρισμακαριον Βαρναβαν τα ειρημενα χαρακτηριζει. EVGYynoy. Ap. Eus. 1. 6. cap. 25. p. 226. C.

Theod. in loc. T. III. p. 243. d' See Vol. i. p. 332.

! @cum. in loc. Tom. I. p. 663.

gospel admirably, and commendably, but he has been chosen to travel with us, with this grace • also. Such are the sentiments of the ancients upon this text.

Let us now observe the interpretations of some judicious moderns.

says: • hea does not dislike the opinion of those, who think Luke to be here intended : • but he does not think, that St. Paul refers to his book of the gospel, which was not then pub• lished: but to the office of an evangelist, which Luke had discharged in several places, or to • his preaching the gospel. And he

says, that in the gospel may be the same as by the gospel. So in ch. x. 14. of the same epistle.'

Estius likewise says, that by gospel is to be understood preaching: not St. Luke's gospel, which we are not certain was then published.

Le Clerc, in his French Testament, translates in this manner : “ one of our brethren, who is praised on account of the gospel in all the churches.” And in his notes says, “ that gene. • rally St. Luke is here supposed to be intended : though St. Paul refers rather to his preaching • the gospel, than to the book of his gospel.'

Beausobre translates after this manner : “ one of the brethren, who has made himself famous in all the churches by [preaching] the gospel.”. And says in his notes: " that though

some of the ancients have hereby understood St. Luke, and his gospel; he thinks, that by • the gospel is here intended the preaching of the gospel. Besides, there is no proof, that St. • Luke had as yet written his gospel : it is rather reasonable to think, he had not.

Upon the whole, though we cannot certainly say, who is the brother, whose praise was in the gospel: whether · Luke, or Barnabas, or Silas, or Apollos: I presume we are sufficiently warranted to say, that by gospel is here intended neither the gospel according to Luke, nor any other written gospel whatever. III. 1 Tim. vi

. 20, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust. Hereby some have been disposed to understand a written gospel : but they are not favoured by the best interpreters. Grotius says, that this deposit, or thing committed to Timothy's trust, is the sacred doctrine of the gospel. Estius says the same. I place below likewise a part of Beza's note upon

this text. Le Clerc in his notes explains it thus: the doctrine of the gospel, which • was a sacred deposit, committed by the apostles to their disciples.' And Beausobre thus : • the doctrine, which had been committed to, or entrusted with Timothy.' See also, says he, 1 Tim. i. 18, and 2 Tim. ii. 2. I say no more to this text.

IV. 2 Tim. i. 13, 14, “ Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me. ...That good thing, which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in us."

Hereby some may understand a written gospel, or history of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, I think, I need not add much here to what has been already said of the preceding text, it being nearly parallel. The meaning of both is much the same. Timothy is here again exhorted, and required, to retain with all fidelity those sound words, that pure doctrine of the gospel, which he had been taught by the apostle, and had often heard from him.

It does not appear, then, that there are in the apostolical epistles of the New Testament, any references to written gospels, or histories of Jesus Christ. I do not say this is a proof, that no such histories were then written. Nevertheless, I have thought it noť improper to show, that there is no notice taken of any such histories in these epistles : and therefore they cannot afford any evidence of their being then written and published. I think likewise, that it was not amiss to embrace this occasion to show the true meaning of some texts, which have been often misinterpreted.

a Mihi non displicet sententia illorum, qui hic Lucam designari putant: ita tamen ut per evangelium non intelligatur liber, qui tunc editus nondum erat, sed ipsum munus evangelistæ, quod Lucas Pauli vice multis in locis fideliter obierat, sive ipsa evangelii prædicatio, ut infra x. 14. Ev in,' pro dia • per. Grot. ad 2 Cor. viii. 18.

Neque enim Paulus de Evangelio scripto loquitur, sed, quo modo passim alibi, de evangelio prædicato. Deinde, nec satis constat, Evangelium Lucæ tum editum fuisse, quando Paulus hanc epistolam scripsit. Est. in loc.

¢ Vid. Est. in 2 Cor. yüji. 18. et Beausobr. in ver. 18. et 23.

d Vocat autem depositum sacram doctrinam evangelii, quia et res est alterius, nempe Christi, et pastoribus fida ejus custodia incumbit. Grot, ad i Tim. vi. 20.

e Iterum serio et graviter admonet, ut acceptam fidei doctrinam conservet, ne locum relinquat ulli peregrino dogmati. Nomine depositi metaphorice significatur doctrina successori credita ac per manus tradita. Est. in loc.

Depositum proculdubio vocat sanaın evangelii doctrinam, et dona quæcumque ad ecclesiæ ædificationem, veluti depositum, Deus commiserat Timotheo. Bez, in loc.

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