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distinctxommunities existing in no external connection with each other; notwithstanding these writings were held in profound reverence and diligently studied; notwithstanding the opposite vigilance of heretics and orthodox—if, I lay, the writings of the Apostles and Evangelists had been falsified in all the . copies of the originals, and of the various translations, without the opposition of any one community, or of any single teacher.
In the beginning, it is true, the Orthodox and Heretics reciprocally accused each other of having falsified the holy scriptures. But even these very accusations evince the great attention with which the Christians watched over the purity of their sacred books, and the absolute impossibility of their universal corruption. An unknown author, noticed by Eusebiusp, accuses - t
t Hist. Eccks. lib. v. cap. xxviii. p. 153—55.
the the followers of Artemon with having introduced their heterodox system into the divine scriptures. In support of his assertion, he appeals to their own copies, and asserts that they were not only different from the copies of the orthodox, but also perfectly at variance with each other; and reproaches them with being unable to support these alterations by the authority of any ancient Manuscripts. It is by no means certain, that thele heretics, had really introduced those supposititious alterations into their copies of the New Testament; since the accuser seems to mean nothing more than the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which is called the Septuagint; produces no proofs of any such Corruptions; and, in short, speaks in a tone too declamatory, to be received on this subject as
an accurate relatorq. But should we i
<J See Lardner's Credibility of the G. H. voL iii, p. 43—48. 1st edit.
grant, grant, that the accusations against Artemon and his followers were justly preferred, yet even these prove, that in the earliest ages of Christianity it was impossible for any one to attempt a corruption of the evangelical and apostolical writings, without meeting public opposition, and without being openly branded for a deceiver. That we may perceive how much such an alteration of the sacred scriptures was abhorred, I will quote the fame author's sentiments on the subject. "What a daring crime this is (i. e. the corruption of the sacred books) possibly they themselves (the followers of Artemon) are not ignorant. For they must either not believe the divine Scriptures to have been inspired by the Holy Ghost; or else they must imagine themselves wiser than the Holy Ghost: On the first supposition they are infidels; on the second they are out of their senses."—The heretics retaliated, taliated, and accused the orthodox of a similar offence. The Manicheans pretended, that the books of the New Testament were not written by the Evangelists and Apostles, but were falsely attributed to them in latter times, or were at least violently mutilated and corrupted by the Christians*. But the Manicheans adopted this pretence, because the scriptures of the New Testament are evidently contradictory to their erroneous tenets concerning the Old Testament, the human nature of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and two eternal principles'. They have themselves refuted their own assertion, by quoting as genuine those passages of the New Testament which
'Faustus, one of the most learned among the Manicheans, had brought forward this accusation with the greatest mew of probability in the work, which was refuted by Augustine; Lib. xxxii. cap. ii. Lib. xxxiii. cap. iii. in Augustini Opera, vol. viii. p. 320, et p. 329, 330. edit. Benedictin.
• See the passages from Faustus quoted above.
treat treat of the discourses and miracles of Jesus, without any other proof than those by which we prove the authenticity of the whole1. Nor have they offered any historical argument as a proof of their assertion. 'There are absurdities in the writings of the New
f Testament. The Evangelists contradict themselves. The author of the Gospel attributed to St. Matthew speaks
I of Matthew in the third person V This was the whole proof which the learned Fauftus could advance in support of his supposition. Arguments, which in part are visibly false; and which, even if they were true, could determine nothing in an historical discussion, where every thing depends on the attestation of credible witnesses. In order to have establimed his assertion, Faustus ought to have demonstrated, that all the old writers and
* Loc. ck. • Loco cit.