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The true Value and Credit of the Book.
THE foregoing observations on its contents and history, lead us to the following decision on the book of Rea velation. It is undoubtedly very old; it was known as early as the beginning of the second century after Chrift. But, it may be asked, what led so many : and creditable men to receive it as an apoftolical and divine Scripture ? To this it may be answered, that its author was called John; and this,' as appears probable, was the cause of its having been placed by these men among the divine Scriptures of the New Testament; they mistook him for the Apostle of the same name. Who he was, and where he lived, we know not: but the contents of the book clearly evince that he was a Christian teacher and a
pious man. It contains also many passages distinguished both for matter and compofition; it has always been, and will always continue to be read by many with real advantage, as an excitement to virtue, and as affording means of confolation. But as we neither understand its contents, nor can depend with certainty on the prefent text as genuine, the use of it is only so far safe, as its contents agree with the other writings of the New Testament. Whether, lastly, the book was written by the Apostle St. John, or even by any Apostle, cannot be pofitively either asserted or denied.
CHAP. VI. .
Conclusions drawn from the above-men
tioned Testimonies. AFTER having heard fo many clear and weighty testimonies of antiquity, how is it possible for any intelligent and impartial man to assert, that the present Scriptures of the New Testament were not declared to be genuine and divine before the Council of Laodicea, which was held about the year 364 ?' The' enemies of Christianity, for these only make the assertion, would consequently wish to infinuate to the world, that before the fourth century Christians were entirely divided in their opinions concerning the genuine Scriptures of the Apostles and Evangelists, and that at one time more, at another, fewer books were received under this title, until at length the de
cisive sentence of the Council of Laodicea established the present Canon. The author of the 'Dictionnaire philofophique portatif' has lately brought this story again into notice. But if our adversaries would cast only a flight glance over the writings of the abovementioned teachers of the firft two centuries and a half, they would undoubtedly blush at their own ignorance and boldness.—Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, prove their tenets by authorities taken from these scriptures; and indeed from thefe only, rejecting all others as either, forged, or merely human compositions. Many teachers of the first and second centuries mention a collection of the evangelical and apoftolical writings as already existing. All the ancient writers whom Eusebius has cited, pronounce either unani.' monfly or with a great majority of voices, these writings and only these,
to have been genuine works of the Evangelists and Apostles. Notwith : standing these circumstances, it is pretended that the first centuries were quite undecided and uncertain on this subject ! Notwithstanding these circumcumstances, it is asserted, that the
Council of Laodicea first established • our present Canon!
All the Seriptures of our New Tertament, it is confessed, have not been received with universal consent as genuine works of the Evangelists and Apostles. But that man must have predetermined to oppose the most palpable truths, and must reject all hiftory, who will not confess, that the greater part of the New Testament has been universally received as authentic, and that the remaining books have been acknowledged as such by
& This Canon of the Council is moreover fpurious, See Prof. Spittler on this subject.
See above, p. 170.