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is concerned, the tradition preserved in the Church is the only ground on which the genuineness of the books of Scripture can be established. .. What our reformers opposed was the notion that men must, upon the mere authority of tradition, receive as necessary to salvation doctrines not contained in Scripture. Against this notion in general, they urged the incredibility of the supposition that the apostles, when unfolding in their writings the principles of the gospel, should have entirely omitted any doctrines essential to man's salvation. The whole tenor, indeed, of those writings, as well as of our blessed Lord's discourses, runs counter to the supposition that any truths of fundamental importance would be suffered long to rest upon so precarious a foundation as that of oral tradition. With respect to the particular doctrines, in defence of which the Roman Catholics appeal to tradition, our reformers contended that some were directly at variance with Scripture; and that others, far from being supported by an unbroken chain of tradition from the apostolic age, were of very recent origin, and utterly unknown to the early Fathers. Such was the view of this important question taken by our reformers. In this, as in other instances, they wisely adopted a middle course; they neither bowed submissively to the authority of tradition, nor yet rejected it altogether. We in the present day must tread in their footsteps, and imitate their moderation, if we intend to combat our Roman Catholic adversaries with success. We must be careful that, in our anxiety to avoid one extreme, we run not into the other, by adopting the extravagant language of those who, not content with ascribing å paramount authority to the written word on all points pertaining to eternal salvation, talk as if the Bible--and that, too, the Bible in our English translation—were, independently of all external aids and evidence, sufficient to prove its own genuineness and inspiration, and to be its own interpreter." 1
II. The Canon of Holy Scripture. There are so many different topics claiming attention under this head that it will be convenient to subdivide it and consider the following points separately
(a) The meaning of the terms canon and canonical. (b) The method of determining what books are canonical.
(c) The question at issue between England and Rome concerning the canon of the Old Testament.
(d) The canon of the New Testament.
(a) The meaning of the terms canon and canonical.The Greek word kávwv means primarily a straight rod, and so generally a carpenter's rule. Hence it is applied metaphorically, like the Latin regula and norma to anything which serves to regulate or determine other things, i.e. a rule or standard. In this sense it is used by S. Paul in 2 Cor. x. 13, 15, 16 and Gal. vi. 16, as by other early Christian writers, such as S. Clement of Rome. But it very soon came to have a definite meaning stamped upon it in the Church as the “rule of truth or faith ” (ó κάνων της αληθείας, της πίστεως), that by which the faith of Christians was regulated, the standard by which their orthodoxy was measured; and so it is applied especially to the creed as containing this rule or standard. From this the transition is natural to that use of the word which is very familiar to us in the expression “ Canons of Councils," namely, decisions on particular points which were thus ruled by the Church. The substantive kávwv being so used, the adjective kavovikós and the verb kavovíçelv also came into familiar use in connection with what was so ruled. And it is in these derivatives that we meet with the earliest application of the word to the Scriptures, the books of which are spoken of by so early a writer as Origen, if we may trust the Latin translation of his works, as Scripturae Canonicæ, Canonizatoe Scripturæ, and Libri Canonizati, i.e. the books which have been admitted by rule. Not till towards the close of the fourth century does the substantive "canon ” occur of the Holy Scriptures, but from its appearance then, in a number of different writers, it must already have been a recognised term for some little time. The earliest instance of its occurrence that has been traced is in the catalogue of the Scriptures by Amphilochius (circa 380). After giving a list of the books this writer proceeds to say, “This would be the most unerring rule (kávwv) of the inspired Scriptures,” 2 i.e. the standard or measure by which all books claiming divine authority might be tested. Hence the word came to be used of the whole collection of books thus admitted by rule—the books accepted by the Church were said to be “ in the canon.” So the phrase is used by Rufinus S and other writers of the close of the fourth century. And, finally, the adjective "canonical” was used no longer in a passive sense, meaning that the books were authorised, or ruled to be accepted by the Church, but rather in an active sense, of the same books, regarded as authoritative, or giving the rule of faith, the sense in which the term is
1 Bishop Kaye, Tertullian, pp. 299-304.
2 In Phil. iii. 16 it is an interpolation. In the Septuagint the word is only found three times, namely, in Micah vii. 4 ; Judith xiii. 6 ; 4 Maccabees, vii. 21; Aquila has it also in Job xxxviii. 5; Ps. xviii. (xix.) 5.
3 Clem. Rom. Ad Cor. i. i. vii. xli.
* Clem. Alex. Strom. vi. p. 676; Tertullian, regula (=kávwv); De Monog. ii. ; Apol. xlvi. etc.
Origen, De Principiis, iv. 33; Com. in Matt. § 28 cf. § 117. The phrase haberi in canone also occurs in the Latin translation (Prol. in Cant.), but it is thought to be only the translator's version of kavovlseo Bac. ? Amphiloch, vii.
* Rufinus in Symb. Apost. $ 37.
familiarly used by us when we speak of a book as “canonical”—the “canonical books” being those books to which the ultimate appeal lies in matters of necessary doctrine, and the “Canon of Scripture” representing the collection of such books, It is probably owing to their use in the writings of Jerome and Augustine 1 that both canon ” and “
canonical” passed into the common language of Western Christendom.2
(6) The method of determining what books are canonical. -On this matter the language of the Article is perfectly clear. In the name of Holy Soripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church. The Church of England appeals to the historical evidence of reception by the visible Church, which, as Article XX. states, is “ a witness and keeper of Holy Writ.” This method of determining the canonicity of the books is in complete accordance with the general appeal which the Church of England makes to antiquity. It stands in sharp contrast to the method adopted by most of the Protestant communities in the sixteenth century, who preferred to base their acceptance of the books of Scripture on the “inner witness of the Spirit,” 3 a witness which, however comforting and assuring to the believer who is conscious of
* Jerome, Præf. in Libr. Salom. Prol. Galeatus ; cf. Augustine, Do Civitate Dei. xvii. 24 ; xviii. 38.
? See on this subject Westcott's Bible in the Church, p. 110, and Bishop Ellicott's New Testament for English Readers, vol. i. p. xii.
* See the Gallic Confession, Art. iv. : "Nous connoissons ces livres estre canoniques et reigle tres certaine de nostre Foy non tant par le commun accord et consentement de l'Eglise, que par le tesmoionage et intérieure persuasion du S. Espirit, qui les nous fait discerner d'avec les autres livres Ecclésiastiques, sur lesquels (encore qu'il soyent utiles) on ne peut fonder ancun Article de Foy.” So the Belgic Confession, ch. v.: "Hos libros solos recipimus tanquam sacros et canonicos, quibus fides nostra inniti, confirmari et stabiliri possit. Itaque absque ulla dubitatione ea omnis
feeling it in himself, is yet scarcely likely to convinco any who still need convincing, and which is practically useless as a test for deciding what books are to be accounted canonical. Indeed, as Alford points out, “any reasoning must be not only in itself insufficient, but logically unsound, which makes the authority of a book which is to set us our standard of doctrine, the result of a judgment of our own respecting the doctrine inculcated in it.” 1
But the question may be, and has been, raised, How does this appeal to the authority of the Church in settling what is Holy Scripture agree with the teaching of the Article itself that Holy Scripture "contains all things necessary to salvation ?” The question was one which was apparently often put to the Anglican apologists in the sixteenth century. Accordingly, it is touched upon by Hooker in the first book of the Ecclesiastical Polity. “ It may be, and oftentimes hath been, demanded, how the books of Holy Scripture contain in them all necessary things, when, of things necessary, the very chiefest is to know what books we are bound to esteem holy; which point is confessed impossible for Scripture to teach.” The question thus fairly proposed by Hooker is by him as fairly answered. After pointing out that in every art or science something must be taken for granted to start with, he proceeds as follows:-“Albeit Scripture do profess to contain in it all things which are necessary to salvation; yet the meaning cannot be simply of all things which are necessary, but all things that are necessary in some certain kind or form; as all things which are neces
credimus, quæ in illis continentur. Idque non tam quod ecclesia illos pro canonicis recipiat et comprobet; quam quod Spiritus Sanctus nostris conscientiis testetur illos a Deo emanasse ; et eo maxime quod ipsi etiam per se sacram hanc suam authoritatem et sanctitatem testentur atque comprobent; quum etipsicæci rerum omnium, quæ in illis scriptis prædictæ fuerunt, impletionem et executionem clare conspicere et veluti sensibus percipere possint.'
* Greek Testament, vol. iv. p. 85.