Графични страници
PDF файл


for what seems, at first sight, a strange omission in the popu. lar manuals on this subject. Our controversialists accept the challenge of Anglicans to meet them on their own ground; and there securing an easy victory, they rarely pursue their opponents beyond the battle-field of their own choice. The cause of truth, always impregnable on every side, gains a complete triumph at the very outset; why, then, strike a fallen foe? If we adopt a different course, it is not that we dissent from this view, as is clear from our first argument; but partly because the external evidence has been, for the reason signed, comparatively neglected ; and much more, because we are convinced that, as the inquiry embraces a wider field, the truth of the canon of Trent will become more conspicuous and more irresistible.

The external arguments must be sought either from Jewish or Christian sources; if the former, then they are decisions of the Jewish synagogue, or the testimony of private individuals professing the Jewish faith; if the latter, the decrees of councils, or the assertions of primitive Fathers, or Christian writers —witnesses of the teaching of the Apostolic Church. We will examine each class apart, particularly the extracts adduced in the two Protestant works placed at the head of this article.

1. The Jewish synagogue never gave, that we know, any decision on the canon; and though it did, Protestants do not admit its infallibility.

2. The Jewish authorities individually are Philo, Josephus, and the authors of the Talmud.

The most ingenious advocate will hardly rely on the following garbled extract from Philo,--the only one that is adduced, disguised in an unfaithful and barbarous translation in order to spell out of it the number and names of the Jewish canonical books.*

“In every house is a sanctuary, which is called' sacred place or monastery, in which, being alone, they perform the mysteries of a holy life; introducing nothing into it, neither drink, nor bread-corn, nor any of the other things which are necessary for the wants of the body; but the laws, and oracles predicted by the prophets, and hymns, and other (writings) by which knowledge and piety are increased and perfected.”

* Philo-Judæus, Op. ii. p. 475, ed. Mangey. The translation is from Moses Stuart's Old Testament Canon, by Samuel Davidson, D.D. London, 1841, p. 400. I have marked in italics the article when it should be omitted-though inserted for a manifest purpose. The last clause properly rendered would be, " but laws, and wise sayings proclaimed by prophets, and hymns, and whatever else there is by which learning and piety are increased and perfected.” After writing the observations in the text, and even this note, we consulted Dr. Lardner, for apother purpose, stated in a subsequent part. “ Philo, the Jew,'' he says, “ speaks of laws and oracles delivered by prophets, and hymns, and other things conducive to piety and knowledge; ... but Philo being an obscure writer, and here, as it seems to me, not quite clear, I am afraid to make any remarks, or to determine whether he speaks of sacred and canonical books of Scripture only, or ef them and some others." Lardner, vol. iv. p. 427.

The whole history of the sect of Easei, or Eagenes, is clothed in that mystical language for which the writings of the Alexandrine Jew are remarkable. After a minute description of their peculiar dress and diet, their austerities and other habits of life, the origin of the name and the object of their association,--he seems to us to allude, in this passage, to the rules of discipline for spiritual guidance, the wise maxims sanctioned by men of piety among them, and hymns composed in various metres by the president of the assembly, or some more zealous enthusiast for the praise and worship of God. Supposing, however, that the hymns mean the inspired songs of the prophet king; and, moreover, that we have here traces of the national belief,-how very indistinct are our impressions after reading this exact canon of the Jewish Church! To rely on such evidence for proof of doctrine of the deepest interest, is to betray the cause we must defend at all hazards.* Philo does not supply us with a list of sacred writings sanctioned in Palestine or elsewhere. Mr. Wordsworth is asked to show the titles and contents of the inspired books of the Jews, undertaking on our part to receive as the Word of God whatever they received, and to reject as apocryphal whatever they rejected. How does he apply the evidence of his second witness, Philo? By assuming that his scriptural canon was identical with that of his brethren in Jerusalem. Be it so: let us assume the fact, however much it wants confirmation. But then his testimony is of no avail till we determine what they held. But could we rely on the authority of Philo? We answer, unhesitatingly–No. We are reminded of his Levitical extraction, of his profound study of the sacred books, of his exquisite taste, &c.; but we cannot forget his love of allegory, mysticism, and fable-his vain effort to combine the dreamy tenets of Plato with the simple narrative of Moses. The evidence of such a witness, if it were as explicit as it is vague, would never bring conviction to our minds.

“ Philo, mystes potius quam theologus, totam legis Mosaicæ faciem fode inquinavit.” Cave.

We pass on to Josephus—"the son of a priest, a Pharisee, the most able and learned historian of his time, and thoroughly acquainted with the religious principles and prejudices of the Jewish nation." No amount of praise can now exceed the merits of this unexceptionable witness. He is the standard of Jewish orthodoxy and historic truth. When it serves another purpose, Protestants are not slow to convict him of ignorance, of gross anachronisms, of wilful suppression of the truth when it clashed with his prejudices, and of perverting it for the sake of attaining some unworthy end.*

* Stuart, p. 284, acknowledges that quotations are not found in Pbilo from Ruth, Esther, Chronicles, Daniel, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles ; and Dr. Davidson admits his friend has had recourse to much special pleading to make out any allusion to each of the other inspired records. With his own ad

The Christian apologist can never vindicate the character of Josephus. Though he esteemed the favour of a prince above the interests of religion, and the applause of the people above the honour of God, base servility is not his greatest crime. His studied silence on almost all the leading events of our Blessed Redeemer's life will ever be the worst stain on his memory, and with the sincere Christian deprive his testimony of that paramount authority which unthinking zealots would feign attach to it on this question.

Again we say emphatically, we would not rely on the unsupported evidence of Josephus, especially regarding an article of faith.

The following passage, from the treatise in defence of Jewish antiquities, contra Apionem, book i. $ 8, indicates in vague and general terms his own belief, if not that of the Jewish nation:


we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all past times, which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time was little short of 3000 years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their time in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history hath mission on the page before him, the consistent American professor argues that the silence of Philo may be taken as conclusive evidence against the inspiration of the deuterocanonical books. Esther is inspired, though not alluded to; and Judith is not, for the same reason.

* See Dr. William Smith's Classical Dictionary. Dr. Lardner's Works, in 10 vols. London, 1838. “Who, out of complaisance, or from self-interested views, or from a mistaken judgment, or some other cause, so deviated from the truth as to ascribe the fulfilment of the Jewish ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah to Vespasian, an idolatrous prince; who was not a Jew by descent nor by religion ; who was neither of the church nor of the seed of Israel.” Vol. vi. p. 505. The reader will find other animadversions, as just and more severe, in the passage referred to. “ This malicious Jew," writes Leclerc, “ as far as in him lay, wished to bury in eternal oblivion these facts, out of batred of the Christians."

been written since Artaxerxes very particularly; but hath not: been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our. forefathers, because there hath not been since that time an exact succession of prophets : and how firmly we have given credit to those books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add any thing to them or to make any change in them."* If our adversaries would rely on this extract in support of their canon, they must ascertain the names of the thirteen prophetical and four moral books. Can they do so ?

The Protestant author of the translation before us, once himself a professor in the University of Cambridge, well versed, if any one ever was, we may presume, in the writings of his author-observes in a note, “Which were these twenty-two sacred books of the Old Testament? Those we call canonical, all excepting the Canticles; but still with this further exception, that the first book of apocryphal Esdras be taken into the number instead of our canonical Ezra, which seems to be no more than a later epitome of the other; which two books of Canticles and Ezra it no way appears that our Josephus ever saw.” Dupin holds it“ very probable that Josephus did not look upon Esther as canonical.”+ Some exclude Job from the catalogue of twenty-two,—there is at least no reference to it in the Antiquities; others, with more reason, do not reckon Chronicles, Esdras, and Nehemias (2d Esdras). The facts recorded in these books do not synchronise with the reign of Artaxerxes. Many, in fine, with too much simplicity perhaps, imagine the description of the moral books,"containing hymns to God and precepts of human life," agrees better with the Wisdom than with the Song of Solomon.

Granted, therefore, that the Jewish canon contained twentytwo sacred books, written also before the time of Esdras; we are still left to conjecture the names of all, save the five books of Moses.

Is this, then, the precise catalogue of Holy Writ under the old dispensation, unclouded by doubt, so much extolled in every tract that issues from the English press, bearing the solemn sanction of our divine Redeemer and His Apostles, the unerring rule of faith for the true believer in every quarter of the globe? The grand principle of negation—the very essence

Josephus, translated by Whiston. Edinburgh, Brown, 1837, p. 787. + Dupin, Canon of Scripture, p. 5. See also Dr. Malon, vol. ii

. p. 26. De Wette, Einleit. p. 31, ed. 1833. He and his school refer Daniel to the Maccabean

“ There is scarcely a book in the Bible which, either in whole or in part, has not been treated as spurious by some one or other of the divines of Germany and Switzerland." Wordsworth, note, p. 9.

age !!

of Protestantism-is fully developed in the investigation of this fundamental doctrine. Catholics are convicted of error by this testimony. Protestants are not, therefore, in possession of the truth more than the deist or infidel, who flatters himself he too has gained a like victory. They are asked for positive reasons for their own belief, and they reply with objections ; they are invited to produce testimonials of character, and they assail the good name of others unsparingly.

Our canonical Scriptures, say they, must be all included, because some of yours are excluded by implication; for if there was no prophet since the reign of Artaxerxes, there is no inspired document after that period. Now Ecclesiasticus and the Maccabees have been written since that time. This argument, from the locus classicus against Apion, if not exactly in this form, at least in substance, has been urged with much confidence by Whitaker,* Cosin,t Stuart, Hävernick,I Schmid, Wordsworth, Lee; and' its worth as a proof is too apparent: as an objection only does it merit an answer.

1. If Chronicles, Esther, Esdras, and Nehemias, or any one of them, were written after the reign of Artaxerxes,--and that they were not has never been satisfactorily shown,—those who propose the difficulty recklessly must bring forward a conclusive answer. They wield a destructive




be turned against themselves with fatal effect.

2. Though all these writers come to the same conclusion on the value of the testimony, they differ widely as the poles as to its meaning. Hävernick, p. 32, insists that " a regular succession of prophets is necessary for the authentication of canonical writings,-so that one would not suffice.” This theory refutes itself; it is a palpable absurdity; for it is obvious one prophet would be as infallible as a countless number of prophets,-one is as competent to decide the canonicalness of any document as a million. Stuart, on the other hand, contends that, by denying "an accurate succession of prophets,” Josephus meant to convey that there did not appear even one whose claim to the title was unquestionable. Does not this view set aside for ever the genuineness of the testimonies concerning our Blessed Lord and St. John Baptist? Surely these were prophets according to Josephus. So was Hyrcanus, “who had three of the most desirable things in the world—the government of his nation, and the high priesthood, and the gift of prophecy; for the Deity conversed with him,

William Whitaker's Disputation on Scripture, question i. ch. 5. of Cosin's Scholastical History of the Canon, London, 1672, p. 16.

Introduction to the O.T.,-Clark's Foreign Theological Library, Edin. 1852, p. 31. The others are cited in the notes elsewhere.

« ПредишнаНапред »