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M E T H O D
SETTLING THE CANON
A general Dissertation, or Proof, concerning the Canonical Hx
thority of the Four Gospels.
rity of each of the Gospels in particular, it will be very ferviceable to my design to observe and shew, that the primi. tive Christians bave expressly acknowledged only four Gospels; and those four Gospels which we now receive under the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, to be genuine and Canonical. I shall produce the several testimonies which I have observed, according to the order of time in which the writers lived ; and among these it will not be amiss to place,
1. St. John. 1. The testimony of St. John the Apostle ; concerning whom we are told by Eusebius a, That when the three Gospels (of Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were published and known to every body, St. John at length saw them, approved them, and confirmed the truth of them; but (owned) that they were defective as to the account of those things which were done by our Saviour at the beginning of his ministry-For which reason John, being desired by his friends, supplied the defects of the three others, and wrote his Gospel to inform us of that time, and the things which were done by our Saviour in it, viz. before the imprisonment of John the Baptist. Now hence it follows;
1. That before St. John wrote his Gospel, the Christians of that first age owned and received no other than the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; although it is certain there were many other false Gospels extant at that time, as I have elsewhere proved.
2. That these three were universally received and approved.
3. That they were with just reason fo approved, because St. John also did approve them.
Besides this testimony of Eusebius, I find in a very old book, intitled, Μαρτύριον Τιμοθέα του Αποσόλε, i. e. The Martyrdom of Timothy the Apostle, of which we have an extract in Photius (Cod. ccliv.); ".That when, after the death of Domitian, “ Nerva became Emperor, John returned to Ephesus, from “ which place he had been banished by Domitian, he then “ took the several books which contained the history of our " Saviour's sufferings and miracles and doctrines, and were “ now translated into several different languages, reviewed 66 them, rectified them, and joined himself to the former three " Evangelists (by writing his Gospel).” I confess I cannot
• Το 1ο προαναγραφέντων τριών εις εν τούτων ένεκα φησί τον απόσυλον τωντας ήδη και εις αυτόν Αέα δεδο- 'Ιωάννην, τον υπο των προτέρων ευαμένων, αποδεξαθα μέν φασιν αλή- γελιών παρασιωπηθέντα χρόνον, και θειαν αυτούς επιμαρτυρήσαντα μό- τα κατά τέτον πεπραγμένα τω Σω
άρα λείπεθαι τη γραφή την τήρι (ταύτα δ' ήν τα προ της του περί των εν πρώτοις και κατ' αρχήν τα Βαπτισού καθείρξεως) το κατ' αυτόν κηρύγματος υπο του Χρισέ πεπραγ- ευαγγελίω παραδεναι. Ηift. Eccl. μένων διήγησιν -- Παρακληθελα δή 1. 3. c. 24.
certainly determine the age of this book. There is a book extant, intitled The Martyrdom of Timothy, which goes under the name of Polycrates, a Bishop of Ephesus, in the latter end of the second century, out of which Photius seems to have made this extract; and if this be true, it makes the history more valid: but it must be owned that several learned men are of opinion this book was not made by Polycrates, into which it is not my business here to enquire.
2. St. POLYCARP. II. The testimony of Polycarp, who, according to Trenæus, was not only instructed by the Apostles, and acquainted with many who had seen Christ, but placed by the Apostles in Afia, as Bishop of Smyrna, whom, says he, I also saw when I was young. He (Polycarp) expressly mentions together our four Gospels and their authors thus : « b It was not without “ reason that the Evangelists began their Gospels different
ways; though the design of each of them was the fame. « Matthew, because he wrote to the Hebrews, began with the
genealogy of Christ, that he might evidence Christ to be « descended of that family, which all the Prophets had foretold " he should descend from. John being fixed among the “ Ephesians, who as Gentiles were ignorant of the law, began
his Gospel with an account of the cause of our redemption, viz. that God would have his Son become incarnate
* Και Πολύκαρπος δε ου μόνον qua eum nafcitturum univerfi Proεπό αποστόλων μαθητευθείς, και συν
phetæ cecinerant. Joannes autem αναγραφείς πολλούς τους τον Χριςόν
ad Ephesum conftitutus, qui legem
tanquam ex Gentibus ignorabant, a έωρακόσιν, αλλά και υπό αποστόλων
caufa noftræ redemptionis Evange. καταναθείς εις την Ασίαν εν τη εν lii sumpfit exordium ; quæ caufa ex Σμύρνη εκκλησία επίσκοπος, ον και
eo apparet, quod filium suum Deus ημείς έωράκαμεν εν τη πρώτη ημών pro noftra falute voluit incarnari. inoxią. `Adv. Hærei. l. 3. c. 3.
Lucas vero a Zachariæ facerdotio et apud Eufeb. l. 4. C. 14.
incipit, ut ejus filii miraculo nativi• Rationabiliter Evangeliftæ prin
tatis, et tanti prædicatoris officio, cipiis diverfis utuntur, quarnvis una
Divinitatem Christi gentibus declaeademque evangelizandi eorum pro
raret. Unde et Marcus antiqua probetur intentio. ' Matthæus, ut He
phetici mysterii competentia advenbræis fcribens, genealogiæ Christi
tui Christi declarat, ut non nova, ordinem texuit, ut oftenderet ab ea
sed antiquitus prolata ejus PrædiChriftum descendisse progenie, de
catio probaretur. B 2