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speed. There is no reason to doubt of the probity and sincerity of those who opposed Alexander and the Nicene Fathers; for what did they get by it besides obloquy and banishment? Many good men were engaged on both sides of the controversy. So it was in the fourth century, and so it hath been ever since. Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Eusebius the historian, endeavoured to pacify Alexander, and persuade him to make up the quarrel; and Constantine sent a letter by the illustrious Hosius of Corduba to Alexander and Arius, in which he reprimanded them both for disturbing the church with their insignificant disputes. But the affair was gone too far to be thus composed, and Socrates represents both sides as equally contentious and refractory. To settle this and other points, the Nicene council was summoned, consisting of about three hundred and eighteen bishops
-a mystical number* of which many profound remarks have been made. The first thing they did was to quarrel, and to express their resentments, and to present accusations to the emperor against one another. So say Socrates,. Sozomen, and Rufinus. Theodoret favours his brethren in this affair, and seems to throw the fault upon the laity. But the whole story, as it is related by them all, and even by Theodoret, shows that the bishops accused one another. The emperor burnt all their libels, and exhorted them to peace and unity; so that if they had not been restrained by his authority, and by fear and respect, they would probably have spent their time in altercations. * Barnabus, viii. 11, 12, 13.
This council of Nice is one of the most famous and interesting events presented to us in ecclesiastical history; and yet, what is surprising, scarcely any part of the History of the Church has been unfolded with such negligence, or rather passed over with such rapidity. The ancient writers are neither agreed with respect to the time nor place in which it was assembled, the number of those who sat at council, nor the bishop who presided in it. No authentic acts of its famous sentence have been committed to writing, or at least none have been transmitted to our time.*
Although it is uncertain whether the books of the New Testament were declared canonical by the Nicene Council, or by some other, or when or by whom they were collected into a volume, it is certaint that they were considered genuine and authentic (with a few variations of opinion as to some of them) by the most early Christian writers; and that they were selected from various other Gospels and Epistles, the titles of which are mentioned in the works of the Fathers and the early historians of the church.‡ The books that exist, of those not included in the canon, are carefully brought together in the present volume. They naturally assume the title of the Apocryphal New Testament; and he who possesses this and the New Testament, has in the two volumes, a collection of all the historical records relative to Christ and His Apostles, now in existence, and considered sacred by Christians during the first four centuries after His birth.
Mosheim, Eccl Hist., c. v. § 12.
† See Table II. at the end of this work.
See Table I. at end.
In a complete collection of the Apocryphal writings the Apostles' Creed is necessarily included, and as necessarily given, as it stood in the fourth and until the sixth century, (from Mr. Justice Bailey's edition of the Common Prayer Book), without the article of Christ's Descent into Hell;-an interpolation concerning which the author of the Preface to the Catalogue of the MSS. of the King's Library thus expresses himself: “I wish that the insertion of the article of Christ's Descent into Hell into the Apostles' Creed could be as well accounted for as the insertion of the said verse (1 John, v. 7*).
*Catalogue of MSS. of the king's library, by David Casly, 4to, in Pref. p. xxiv. For large particulars of Christ's Descent into IIell, see the Gospel of Nicodemus, chap. xiii. to xx.
The verse above alluded to by Mr. Casly is 1 John, v. 7. This spurious passage, in the authorized version of the New Testament, printed by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the King's Printers, and appointed to be read in churches, stands thus. "For there ar three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the lord, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." This verse, Mr. Casly says, is now generally given up; being in no Greek MS. save one at Berlin, which is discovered to have been transcribed from the printed Biblia Complutensia; and another modern one at Dublin, probably translated or corrected from the Latin Vulgate. It is conjectured that it may have been inserted by the mistake of a Latin copyist: for the owners of MSS. often wrote glosses or paraphrases of particular passages between the lines, and ignorant transcribers sometimes mistook these notes for interlined omissions by the original scribes, and accordingly in re-copying the MSS. incorporated these glosses or paraphrases into the body of the text. For instance, Jerome, in one of his letters, says that an explanatory note which he himself had made in the margin of his Psalter had been incorporated by some transcriber into the text; and Dr. Bentley, in the 96th page of his Epistle, annexed to Malala's Chronicle, has proved Eu a ορος EσTIV EV Tη Apaßɩa, in Galatians iv. 25, to be of the same stamp.†
It is scarcely necessary to tell the reader, that in 1516 and 1519 Erasmus published his first and second editions of the Greek Testament, both which omitted the three heavenly witnesses. That having promised
+ Cat. King's Libr. Pref. p. xxi.
The best that can be said for it is, that it might possibly have come in, in like manner, not long before, from a
to insert them in his text, if they were found in a single Greek MS.; he was soon informed of the existence of such a MS. in England, and consequently inserted 1 John, v. 7, in his third edition, 1522. 'l'hat this MS., after a profound sleep of two centuries, has at last been found in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. That the Complutension edition, which was not published till 1522, though it professes to be printed in 1514, has the seventh and eighth verse patched up from the modern Latin MS., and the final clause of the eighth verse, which is omitted in its proper place, transferred to the end of the seventh. That Colinæus, in 1534, omitted the verse on the faith of MS. That R. Stephens, in his famous edition of 1550, inserted the verse, and marked the words ev Twi ovpavw as wanting in seven MSS. That Beza, suspecting no mistake, concluded that these seven MSS. contained the rest of the seventh verse, and the eighth with the words ev tŋi ynı.*
Sir Isaac Newton wrote a Dissertation upon this passage, wherein he gave a clear, exact, and comprehensive view of the whole question, and wherein he says, that when the adversaries of Erasmus had got the date.t
The text is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifteenth century. 2. Nor in any Latin manuscript earlier than the ninth century. 3. It is not found in any of the ancient versions. 4. It is not cited by any of the Greek ecclesiastical writers, though, to prove the doctrine of the Trinity, they have cited the words both before and after this. 5. It is not cited by any of the early Latin Fathers, even when the subjects upon which they treat would naturally have led them to appeal to its authority. 6. It is first cited by Vigilius Tapsensis, a Latin writer of no credit, in the latter end of the fifth century, and by him it is suspected to have been forged. 7. It has been admitted as spurious in many editions of the New Testament since the reformation :-in the two first of Erasmus, in those of Aldus Colinæus, Zwinglius, and lately of Griesbach. S. It was omitted by Luther in his German Version: in the old English Bibles of Henry VIII., Edward VI., and Elizabeth, it was printed in small types, or included in brackets:
Porson's Letters to Travis. Preface.
+ Newton's works by Horsley, 4to, vol v. p. 549.-Bishop Horsley, in his edition of Sir Isaac Newton's works, has not included several MSS. on theological subjects for the reasons which perhaps induce the nobleman in whose possession they remain to withold them still from publication. His Lordship's judgment in this respect is said to be influenced by a prelate whose notions do not accord either with Sir Isaac's opinions of criticism. They are fairly transcribed, in the illustrious author's own hand-writing, ready for the press; and it is to be regretted that the production of his luminous mind be suppressed by any censorship, however respectable.
gloss or paraphrase, that was at first put in the margin or between the lines."
but between the years 1566 and 1580, it began to be printed as it now stands by whose authority is not known.-See Travis's Letters to Gibbon, and Purson's to Travis. Also Griesbach's excellent Dissertation on the Text at the end of his second volume. Archbishop Newcome omits the text, and the Bishop of Lincoln expresses his conviction that it i spurious. (Elem. of Theol. vol. ii. p. 90, note.)*
In a sumptuous Latin MS. of the Bible, written so late as the thirteenth century, formerly belonging to the Capuchin Convent at Montpelier, afterwards in the possession of Harley, Earl of Oxford, and now deposited in the British Museum, the verse of the three heavenly witnesses is wanting, as appears by the following literal extract from it:
Wie est qui uenit per aquam (I sanguinem. the rpe. Non in aq solum, sed in aqua (I sanguinem (I spu. spe est qui testificatur. quoniam rpe est heritas. Quoniam tres sunt. qui testimonium dant in tra. Spr. aqua. (I sanguis. Et tres unum sunt.†
The following Greek and Latin authors HAVE NOT QUOTED THE TEXT:+
Greek authors:-Irenæus-Clemens Alexandrinus-Dionysius Alexandrinus, (cr the writer against Paul of Samosata under his name)— Athanasius-The Synopsis of Scripture-The Synod of Sardica-Epiphanius-Basil-Alexander of Alexandria-Gregory Nyssen-Nazianzen, with his two commentators, Elias Cretensis and Nicetas-Didymus de Spiritu Sancto-Chrysostome-An author under his name de sancta et consubstantiali Trinitate-Cæsarius-Proclus-The Council of Nice, as it is represented by Gelasius Cyzicenus-Hyppolytus-Andrias-Six catena quoted by Simon-The marginal scholia of three MSS.— Hesychius John Damascenus-Oecumenius-Euthymius Zigabenus.
Latin authors:-The author de Baptismo Hæreticorum, among Cyprian's works-Novatian Hilary-Lucifer Calazitanus-Jerome—Augus tine—Ambrose—Faustinus—Leo Magnus-The author de Promissis— Encherius-Facundus-Cerealis-Rusticus-Bede-Gregory-Philastrius -Arnobius, junior-Pope Eusebius.
It is evident that if the text of the heavenly witnesses had been known
· Improved version of the New Testament, 1808. HARL. COLL. MSS. Cod. 4773.
Porson's Letters to Travis, p 363