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Old Testament: they received the New Testament, and had a great deal of respect for it. They seemed to have received all the books of the New Testament, generally received by other christians at that time, excepting the book of the Acts, which may have been rejected by some, but not by all of them. See vol. iii. sect. vi. They said, that the books of the New Testament had been corrupted and interpolated; but they never produced any copies different from those in the hands of the catholics. They likewise made use of apocryphal books; but it does not appear that they forged any books; they only made use of such apocryphal books as they found written before by some others of like sentiments with themselves.
Here also is an account of the Paulicians in the seventh century, a branch of the same sect. They likewise rejected the Old Testament, and used only the gospels and the apostles. In particular they are said to have received the four gospels, and the fourteen epistles of Paul, and the epistle of James, and the three epistles of John, and the epistle of Jude, and the Acts of the Apostles, without making any alteration in them; but they admitted not the two epistles of the chief of the apostles.. What was their sentiment concerning the Revelation we cannot say. One thing more should be observed of this people: they greatly respected the scriptures of the New Testament, and approved that all the laity, and even women, should read, study, and understand them.
In the inquiries that have been made concerning the scriptures received by the Manichees, and the respect they had for them, there are many observations concerning the genuineness and authority of the books of the New Testament, and concerning the apocryphal books made use of by the Manichees, and by some other sects of a more early original.
Moreover in this chapter is an account of two learned catholic bishops, who wrote against the Manichees: one of which is Serapion, bishop of Thmuis in Egypt about the year 347. He quotes the gospels, the Acts, divers of St. Paul's epistles, particularly that to the Hebrews. See vol. iii. p. 271.
The other is Titus bishop of Bostra, about 362. frequently quotes the gospels and the epistles of St. Paul, particularly that to the Hebrews: he likewise quotes the Acts of the Apostles: he has little or nothing out of the catholic epistles, or the Apocalypse. See vol. iif. p. 272, 273. Some remarkable quotations of the Acts made by him may be seen, vol. iii. p. 400.
We have been likewise induced to give here an account of Hierax, about 302, a native of Egypt, falsely supposed to have been a Manichee. Though he had some errors, he received the Old and New Testament. He was in divers respects a very extraordinary person: he had the scriptures of the Old and New Testament by heart, and wrote Commentaries upon several parts of them. He received the epistle to the Hebrews as Paul's. See vol. iii. p. 286-288. Ch. LXIV. Arnobius, once a heathen, who in the time of Dioclesian taught rhetoric at Sicca in Africa with great reputation; and when converted composed a work in seven books, Against the Gentiles, or an Apology for the Christian Religion. As Arnobius's work is very curious, the extracts out of him cannot but afford entertainment to intelligent readers. He seems not to have judged it proper to quote the books of the New Testament in an argument with Gentiles: nevertheless he has enumerated our Saviour's miracles in such a manner, as shows him to have been well acquainted with our gospels, and to have had a great regard for them. He seems likewise to refer to the Acts of the Apostles, and some of St. Paul's epistles.
At the end of this chapter is also an account of another Arnobius, who about the year 460 wrote a Commentary upon the book of Psalms. He quotes the commonly received books of the New Testament, particularly the Acts of the Apostles, and also the epistle to the Hebrews, the epistle of James, and the Revelation; and he recommends the frequent reading of the scriptures.
Ch. LXV. Lactantius, the most learned Latin of his time, and as polite and elegant a writer as any among the christians, and therefore sometimes called, the Christian Cicero,' expressly quotes St. John's gospel, and the book of the Revelation; and has allusions to many other books of the New Testament. He plainly had a collection of scriptures, consisting of the Old and the New Testament, which he esteemed sacred and divine, and of the highest authority. If he had not purposely restrained himself from quoting the christian scriptures in his arguments with heathens, his testimony would have been much more full and particular. For, notwithstanding the reservedness which he imposed upon himself in that respect, there are many allusions and references to them; which seems to show, that the christians of that time were so habituated to the language of scripture, that it was not easy for them to avoid the use of it, whenever they discoursed upon things of a religious nature. There are in him likewise quotations of the Sibyl
line books, and some other writings; but it is evident that he was far from esteeming them of canonical authority. Besides, there are in this chapter extracted many passages of Lactantius upon divers subjects; which must be allowed to be an ornament to this work.
Ch. LXVI. Of burning the scriptures, and of traitors in the time of Dioclesian's persecution.
Eusebius assures us, that in the Imperial edict in 303, it was expressly ordered, not only that the christian churches should be demolished, but likewise, that their scriptures should be burned. This was one of the affecting scenes of that persecution, that he had seen the sacred and divine scriptures burned in market places. Notice is taken of the same thing by other writers. A farther account of it may be seen in that chapter.
Ch. LXVII. The Donatists, a large body of men, who, about the year 312, separated from the catholics in Africa, under pretence that Caecilian bishop of Carthage had been ordained by bishops who in the time of the persecution had betrayed the scriptures and other sacred things into the hands of the heathens, received the same scriptures which other christians received, particularly the book of the Revelation, and had a like respect for them.
In this chapter may be seen a brief account of several Donatist authors and their works; by which it appears, that the Donatists were not concerned for the interest of their own party only, but employed themselves likewise in the defence of the common cause of christianity against its enemies.
Ch. LXVIII. Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, in whose time arose the Arian controversy, upon that occasion wrote several epistles. He quotes expressly St. John's gospel, and several of St. Paul's epistles, particularly that to the Hebrews, and the second epistle of St. John.
Ch. LXIX. Arius, presbyter of Alexandria, well known in the world, about the year 316. He and his followers received the same scriptures with other christians, and showed them a like regard.
In this chapter is an account of several writers of the fourth and fifth centuries, who went under the denomination of Arians, eminent men, and remarkable for their learning and their works, particularly their Commentaries upon the scriptures. But here I can do little more than mention their names: 1. Acacius, who succeeded Eusebius in the see of Cæsarea in 340, and died about the year 366. 2. Aëtius. 3. An anonymous author of a Commentary upon
the book of Job. 4. An author of a Discourse in Augustine's works. 5. Asterius. 6. Basil of Ancyra. 7. Eunomius, bishop of Cyzicum about 360: concerning whom it may be here taken notice of to his honour, though omitted formerly, that he opposed the extreme veneration which was then begun to be shown to the reliques of martyrs; as we learn from Jerom in his book against Vigilantius. 8. Eusebius, bishop of Emesa, about 340. 9. Eusebius, at first bishop of Berytus, about 324, then of Nicomedia, the chief city of Bithynia, afterwards of Constantinople in 338 or 339, died about 341. 10. Euzoius, bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine, about 366. 11. George, bishop of Laodicea, about the year 340. 12. Lucius, bishop of Alexandria, after Athanasius, in 373. 13. Maximin, an Arian bishop in Africa, with whom Augustine had a public conference, about 428. 14. Philostorgius, about 425, well known for his Ecclesiastical History. 15. Sabinus, about 380, author of a History of Councils. 16. Theodore, bishop of Heraclea in Thrace, about 334, author of Commentaries upon the Psalms, the gospels of Matthew and John, and divers if not all of St. Paul's epistles. 17. Ulphilas, about 365, bishop of the Goths, who translated into their language the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, excepting only, as is said, the books of the Kingdoms.
Ch. LXX. Constantine the Great, the first christian emperor, son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, surnamed Chlorus, was born at Naissus in Illyricum, in 273 or 274, and succeeded his father in 306. Having reigned above thirty years, he died, May 22, 337. About the year 312 he embraced the christian religion, of which he continued ever after to make an open profession, and educated his children in the same belief. I forbear to rehearse here his several edicts in favour of the christians. Besides other marks of respect for the scriptures, when he had enlarged the city of Byzantium, and consecrated it by the name of Constantinople, he wrote a letter to Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, requiring him to send him fifty copies of the scriptures for the use of the churches there, and to take care that they should be written upon fine parchment by such as were skilful in the art of fair writing, and that they should be portable and fit for use.
Ch. LXXI. In 325 was assembled the council of Nice,
Rides de reliquiis martyrum, et cum auctore hujus hæreseos Eunomio, ecclesiis Christi calumniam struis; nec tali societate terreris, ut eadem contra nos loquaris, quæ ille contra ecclesiam loquitur. Adv. Vigilant. T. iv. p. 285. in.
of which a brief history has been given, with divers free observations. There is not any catalogue of the books of scripture in their canons.
Ch. LXXII. Eusebius was born about the year 270, and probably at Cæsarea in Palestine, of which place he was made bishop in 315, and died in 339 or 340. From him it appears, that the number of the books of the New Testament was not then settled by any authority that was universally allowed of. But the books following were universally received the four gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, thirteen epistles of Paul, one epistle of Peter, and one epistle of John. These were universally received by christians in his time, and had been all along received by the elders and churches of former times. Beside these, we now generally receive also an epistle to the Hebrews, an epistle of James, a second epistle of Peter, a second and third of John, an epistle of Jude, and the Revelation. And we perceive from this learned writer, that these books or epistles were then well known, and next in esteem to those before mentioned as universally acknowledged, and were more generally received as of authority, than any other controverted writings. Beside these, there was the gospel according to the Hebrews, made use of by the Jewish believers; being, probably, a translation of St. Matthew's gospel, with some additions, and, as it seems, containing little or nothing contrary to the genuine doctrine of Christ and his apostles. The book, called the Doctrine or Doctrines of the Apostles, (first mentioned by Eusebius, and by no other writer before him,) we have not now a distinct knowledge of; but, probably, it was a small book, containing the rudiments of the christian religion, and fitted for the use of young people and new converts, and never esteemed a part of sacred scripture. Some others there were which were reckoned useful, as the epistle of Barnabas, the epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, and the Shepherd of Hermas; but they were not esteemed to be of authority, and a part of sacred and canonical scripture. Beside these, he mentions also the gospels of Peter, Thomas, and Matthias, Acts of Peter, Acts of Paul, Acts of Andrew and John, the Preaching of Peter, and Revelation of Peter, which, he says, vol. iv. p. 98, are the forgeries of heretics, and are to be rejected as altogether spurious and impious: nor have any of the ecclesiastical writers, as he adds, vouchsafed to make mention of them in their writings. He farther bears witness, that to the books of the Old and New Testament, universally received, the greatest respect was shown. They