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of the New Testament were publicly read in Christian congregations; and the fifty-ninth canon of the council of Laodicea expressly orders that the books of the canon, and no others, should be read in the churches (c). Copies of these books were dispersed every where. Christians of every denomination appealed to them in all their various controversies as authentic testiniony; and both the Jewish and Pagan enemies of the Gospel understood, that they contained the faith of Christians. This publicity of the books of the New Testament rendered designed corruption utterly impracticable; it is however to be expected that the purity of these books, like that of the Old Testament, should have suffered, in a long series of years, from the negligence of transcribers (d). The most minute care and attention have been employed in collating the


(c) Some few works of the apostolical fathers were also read in the churches of some places, but nevertheless they were not received as sacred Scripture. In like manner we read certain parts of the apocryphal books in our churches, although we do not adınit those books into our canon. They are read “ for example of life and instruction of manners, but are not applied to establish any doctrine." Art. 6. of our Church.

(d) Origen, Hom. 8 in Mat. complains of the negligence of transcribers, and so does Jerome, Præf, in 4 Evang

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remaining manuscripts of the whole and of every part of the New Testament, and a considerable number of various readings has been discovered; but they are not of such a nature as to affect any essential article of our faith, or any

or any indispensable rule of life (e). It seems indeed to have been wisely ordered by a kind Providence, that no important doctrine or precept should rest upon a single text of Scripture, nor even upon the credit of one writer; and therefore we are never compelled to have recourse to a disputed passage in support of any fundamental principle of our religion; and while we contend, that a single inspired authority is a sufficient proof of any proposition in theology or morals, we acknowledge that the different writers of the New Testament, by their perfect agreement in all material points, confirm and strengthen each other; and that the Gospel derives great advantages from the number and consistency of the witnesses to its truth.

(e) Et sane (ut dicum quod res ést) ex præstantissima hâc Novi Testamenti editione Millianâ, (ad quam nunc nostrâ operâ accessio haud spernenda facta est) vel hic præcipue fructus in ecclesiam redundat, quod nunc deinum scire liceat, plerasque tot codicum MSS. lectiones variantes ita comparatas esse, ut parum vel nihil inter eas intersit. Kusteri Præf.




The respective testimonies to the genuineness of the several books of the New Testament will be stated when we treat of them separately; at present it will be sufficient to observe, that the four Gospels (f), the first thirteen Epistles of St. Paul, the first Epistle of St. Peter, and the first Epistle of St. John, were always acknowledged to be written by the persons whose names they bear, and the Acts of the Apostles by St. Luke; and that the genuineness of the other seven books, namely, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle of St. James, the second Epistle of St. Peter, the second and third Epistles of St. John, the Epistle of St. Jude, and the Revelation, was never denied by the Catholic church; doubts only were

entertained (f) Irenæus, lib. 3. cap. 2, is the carliest author who expressly mentions all the four Gospels, and he names them in the order in which they stand in our New Testaments. Tatian, about the same time, namely, between the middle and end of the second century, composed a Harmony of the Gospels, the first attempt of the kind, which he called “ Diatessaron," “ Of the Four," and which demonstrates that there were then four Gospels, and no more, of established authority in the church. Eus. Hist. Eccl. lib. 4. cap. 29. Early in the third century, Ammonius also wrote a Harmony of the Four Gospels. Tertullian, adv. Marc, lib. 4. cap. 1, at the end of the second century, and Origen, in the beginning of the third century, both mention our present four Gospels, and no other. Vide Eus. Hist. Eçcl. lib. 6. cap. 25, and lib. 3. cap. 24.

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entertained, at a very early period, concerning the right of these books to be admitted into the canon, because sufficient evidence had not been received at all places that they were really apostolical writings. It is possible that they might not come into general circulation so soon as the Gospels and other Epistles, and there might be some difficulty in obtaining testimony concerning them at places remote from the countries where they were first published; but as soon as there was time and opportunity for making the necessary inquiries, and for ascertaining the authors of these books, the genuineness of them all was universally allowed; and therefore this circumstance of temporary doubt, instead of invalidating the authority of these books, gives a sanction to the whole collection, by proving the caution with which any book was admitted into the sacred canon. Indeed, the early Christians had such means of knowing the truth, and exercised so much care and judgment in settling the canon of the New Testament, that no writing, which was pronounced by them genuine, has been found to be spurious, nor any genuine which they rejected. Celsus, Porphyry, Julian, and all the other early adversaries of Christianity, admitted that the books of the New Testament were all written by the persons


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whose names they bear; and that circumstance is itself a sufficient proof of the genuineness of these books.

The books of the New Testament have been arranged differently, by different persons, and at different periods; nor is the order of them the same in the manuscripts which are now remaining (f). Dr. Lardner contends, that the order in which they stand in our Bibles is the most antient; and it seems very proper in itself, and free from every objection. These books may be divided into four parts, namely, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Revelation.

The four Gospels (g) contain, each of them, the history of our Saviour's life and ministry;


(f) Very few of the MSS. now remaining contain the whole of the New Testament, and the most valuable of these are the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Alexdrinus, both written in uncial or large letters, which is a mark of their great antiquity. In the Greek MSS. the Gospels are generally placed in the order in which they stand in onr Bibles, but the Codex Bezæ has them in this order, Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark, which is also the order observed by the Latin Church.

(g) The Greek word Evayyencov, and our English word Gospel, have nearly the same signification. Evayyerov is derived from £ù bene, and áyyenaw nuncio. The word Gospel is of Saxon origin, and is compounded of God,

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