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and he was not ignorant of any thing that was to come afterwards.” (Wars of the Jews, book i. c. 2.) "A regular succession" of prophets cannot mean one.” Would Prof. Stuart use the expression of his own country, "After the Declaration of Independence there was no accurate succession of kings in America”? Many quaint phrases may be met with in his introduction, many strange idioms, many shallow glosses; but any thing so obscure and unmeaning as this can hardly be found in the whole work. There is an exact succession of seasons, of men, of leaves, &c.; but surely not of comets, though appearing from time to time; nor of great wars, though they too often curse the earth ; nor of tempests, famine, or pestilence, evils of proverbially rare occurrence. The future historian may state with propriety, that after the first Revolution there was no regular succession of kings in France, because some did reign now and then, after various intervals,-not, as before, continuously. In the same way might a Jew, seeing through the long space of 400 years,-a most eventful period in the annals of the chosen race,-only two or three inspired documents, lament the absence of that regular succession of prophets which manifested hitherto the special providence of God over his country.
This is exactly what the Jewish apologist has done. "Up to the reign of Artaxerxes the history of our nation hath been written by men endowed with prophetic wisdom, succeeding in an uninterrupted series from the first great lawgiver: since that time the gift of prophecy hath been rare, and the succession of prophets not so exact and continuous; and therefore all our historical documents, though compiled with much care, have not been regarded by our forefathers as of equal authority.” This interpretation, the only one the words will admit of, plainly implies there have been prophets, but not in exact succession.
Not content, however, with the testimony of Josephus, because "it derives its principal importance from the agreement with the results obtained from the book of Sirach” (Ecclesiasticus), Hävernick appeals to the authority of the laiter as one “ whose word is sufficient to remove all doubt as to the canon having been then closed," and the gift of prophecy therefore no longer recognised (p. 30). In his zeal the learned author has lost sight of another fact, quite opposed to this inference; for there it was asserted truly that Ecclesiasticus “ claims to have been inspired, and to have produced a canonical book.” The two statements are as contradictory as "yes and no." “I could not produce a canonical book—the canon is already closed. I do produce a canonical book.”
The first cannot be extracted by any ingenuity from the 47th chapter of Ecclesiasticus, the only one referred to; but the second is made expressly in chapter l., v. 29-31. There could not have been, therefore, a universal belief with regard to the canon being closed; for if so, the writer, well aware of its existence, could never indulge these lofty pretensions, which would only expose him to public ridicule.
Much stress is also laid on other expressions in the deuterocanonical books, 1 Macc. iv. 16; ix. 27, &c. Without dwelling at great length on the various meanings in which the word may be used, it is merely necessary to observe, that the word
prophet" designates one who, by foreknowledge from God, predicts future contingent events; and in this sense Malachias is admitted by Catholic interpreters to have been the last remarkable person of the class, or one inspired by God to communicate His will or to record past events under the influence of the Holy Ghost; and in this sense we hold the author of Ecclesiasticus to have been worthy of the title, as well as the author of Chronicles. Between such prophets and merely inspired agents there is not only a difference of degree but of kind. To contend that the gift of inspiration ceased with prophecy is a glaring and palpable equivocation. Malachias was the last of the prophets; therefore of the inspired writers. Wellington was the last English general; therefore the last English soldier. How candid and sensible men allow themselves to be deceived by fallacies of this kind surpasses comprehension; and yet the specimen exhibited here is supported by a vast display of erudition, squeezed out of Rabbinical fables and proverbs,-all having one object, to show the common impression among the Jews that prophecy expired with the “last of the prophets,”—a truism evident of itself, without the support of so much refined reasoning. More than enough has been said, we trust, to show how little there is to justify the flippant assumption of Mr. Wordsworth, "Josephus here enumerates and describes the books which his countrymen, the Jews, received in the time of Christ as inspired; and therefore the books which all the Jews received as inspired are precisely the same as are received by ourselves” (p. 46). These bold assertions, without a shadow of proof, are unhappily the staple of English pulpit oratory on the Bible, its origin, its use, and its sanction; copied from tract to tract as received axioms, as though they had never been questioned, as though the seal of truth had been impressed on them by universal consent. Let us admit, however, all that is clearly stated in the pro
. Consult A Lapide on 1 Cor. xiv.
position before us—that Josephus does enumerate the inspired writings of the Jews—the same in number as sanctioned by the Church of England; is the authority of the deuterocanonical books therefore excluded for ever? In the first place, he merely refuses equal authority to the latter, thereby explicitly avowing his belief in a lower authority on their part. The learned Walton—the greatest name in biblical criticism this country can boast of-proves from this very passage that Josephus regarded the disputed books as sacred : Proleg. ix. n. 11, Lond. p. 319.
We know from the treatise against Apion, b. i. c. 10, such must have been the conviction of the whole people: “I have translated the Antiquities out of our sacred books, which I easily could do, since I was a priest by my birth."
So confident an appeal, intended to show the veracity of all the facts recorded by the historian, would never have been made if all the sources whence they were drawn were not generally recognised as trustworthy and sacred; but he cannot have referred to what Protestants call the “holy books," merely because the defence would in that case be confined to about half the entire work-little more than ten books of the Antiquities, embracing the whole period up to the return from captivity. The remaining ten books must have been compiled from sources that were also “sacred,” and other than those received in the Protestant Bible.
To the first class we may refer Baruch, Tobias, and any other book said to have been written before the building of the second temple ; to the second, the writings of Gad, Iddo, and Nathan, prophets ; to the third, Ecclesiasticus and the Maccabees; and to the fourth, whatever is now formally rejected by Protestants. Thus, on any hypothesis, whether lost for a time, or not composed as yet, or not unanimously received, the deuterocanonical books, far from being condemned, may have been revered by the supreme council, and may be still the divinely-inspired Word of God. * Only reflect on the absurd consequence of the opposite theory. Had the prophecy of Joel been lost for a time during the captivity,—a supposition by no means improbable, since that of Nathan was lost about the same time, according to the best critics (2 Chron. ix. 29),—then the Jewish canon, once completed by Esdras, was for ever closed against its admission; so that if discovered even by miracle in the next century, and its authenticity established clearly, neither the Sanhedrim, nor our Lord, nor His Apostles, nor the Christian Church, could ever after declare it to be canonical Scripture.*
* On any hypothesis, too, the dilemma of all Protestant controversialists is clearly refuted. Either the Apocrypha are inspired or not; if inspired, the Jews would have been condemned by our Lord for rejecting them; but they never were : if not, the Roman Church has erred. Let us suppose any one of the reasons assigned for their not being received to be true that they were formally rejected is altogether false-namely, because they were not written when the canon was closed, or lost for a time, or not unanimously received. Why should the meek Redeemer condemn the prudence of the synagogue? If He gave authority to receive them, and removed every doubt of their inspiration,--and that He did so we can believe on the faith of an infallible Church, though we had no other ground, how does the silence of the Jewish Council affect their canonicity ?
In a subsequent article we shall examine the decrees of the Church in primitive times, while the doctrine was still clear and fresh from the source; and in this inquiry, as well as the following, we shall observe the order of time, taking care not to pass over one authority quoted in the lectures of Mr. Wordsworth. In name at least the so-called " Apostolic Canons” and “ Constitutions” are the oldest records extant produced in evidence. The date of the former is quite uncertain.
" All now concede,” according to Mosheim, c. ii. p. 2, “ that they were fraudulently ascribed to St. Clement by some deceiver, for the purpose of procuring them greater authority.” As they exhibit the discipline of the Eastern Church in the second and third centuries, the collection cannot have been made before the close of that period. In the eighty-fifth canon, the books of the Old and New Testament are enumerated thus: “ Five of Moses . . Ruth, one . . . Judith, one . .. of the Maccabees, besides these, remember to teach the young
the Wisdom of the erudite Sirach. Our books," that is of the New Testament, "are: Four Gospels, and ... two letters of Clement, and the Constitutions, in eight books, addressed by me Clement to you Bishops.". No mention is made of the Apocalypse.
On the authority of these canons Mr. Wordsworth may, if he will, give a new Bible for the use of some proselytising society, with Judith, three books of Maccabees, Ecclesiasticus, two letters of St. Clement, and the Apostolic Constitutions, leaving out the Apocalypse as a profane addition.
The above translation is literal, from the text given in the copious appendix to the “ Lectures on Inspiration.'
* Let us apply their own reasoning to the Council of Laodicea. It omitted, as we shall see just now, Revelations. Either this book is inspired or not; if inspired, then there was error in its rejection ; if not, then there was error in its subsequent admission. The Fathers of Laodicea were not aware of its existence, or not assured of its canonicity, or they prudently did not force their own convictions on weaker ethren. What more satisfactory answer
† Stuart, Cosin, Whitaker, and all, give the same extracts.
Canones Apostolici, Patr. Apos. Coteler. i. p. 453. Amst. 1724. Words. worth, p. 374 (our edit. is Antverpiæ, 1798, tom. i. p. 418).
are not genuine, and the sense of one word ambiguous, we will forego any advantage from the discussion of these points, and rely on what is indisputable,—the omission of the Apocalypse, and the insertion of the Letters and Constitutions.
1. The “ Apostolic Constitutions" were corrupted by Arian hands, after the condemnation of that baneful heresy in the Council of Nice. Hence they must have been compiled late in the fourth century.
“Let the reader, standing on some elevated place in the centre, read the books of Moses .. those of the return besides, those of Solomon, and of the sixteen prophets : the lessons being thus read ultimately, let some other person sing the Psalms of David, and the people join in the last verses. Let our Acts be then recited, and the letters of Paul, our helper, addressed by him to the churches, at the suggestion of the Holy Ghost; and afterwards let the deacon and priest read the Gospels."* Are we not to receive the letters to St. Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, the seven Catholic epistles, and the Apocalypse ? Is Esther one of “ those of the return" from captivity, and Wisdom one of “ those of Solomon”?
A New Testament with the Gospels, Acts, and two or three or more Epistles of St. Paul, would be a valuable compendium indeed!
2. The provincial council of Laodicea met at the city of that name—the capital of Phrygia, on the river Lycus, about the middle of the fourth century. From its antiquity, as well as from the respect in which it has been always held, its decrees merit great attention. In the two last canons it ordains that “private hymns and uncanonical books should not be used in the Church, but only the canonical books of the Old and New Testament: of the Old, should be read Genesis ... Jeremias, Baruch, Lamentations, and the Letter; of the New, Four Gospels ... and one Letter to Philemon.”+ Again is the Apocalypse unnoticed, while Baruch and the Letter are named expressly. Why does Mr. Wordsworth, on the same authority, receive the former as inspired, and reject the latter as apocryphal ? After the publication of the Laodicean canons, not one council-general, national, or provincial, in communion with the Church, in schism or heresy, in the East or in the West-is quoted in favour of the primitive and Protestant canon. The glory of defining it, after the lapse of twelve centuries, was reserved for the Convocation of London, 1562, and the Synod
• Can. Apost. tom. i. p. 264 (ours p. 257). Our space would not admit of transcribing the names when Protestants and Catholics agree ; nor is it at all necessary. The catalogues are supposed to give the titles of the generally-received books, and to omit those disputed, if the contrary be not noticed in italics.
| Wordsworth, p. 365.