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culcating, and appeals to it in the same way and for the same purposes as he appeals to the most acknowledged parts of Scripture; the fact, too, that Clement was the companion and fellow laborer of Paul, and was also bishop of the church at Rome, the metropolis of the world, that he wrote in the name of the church there to the church at Corinth, and that he addressed to them passages from the epistle to the Hebrews, in such a way as to imply that this epistle was already well known and familiar to them; these facts, taken all together, make on my own mind a strong impression, that the evidence is as clear and convincing, that in the age of Clement our epistle was considered a part of the sacred writings, as it is that any other book of the New Testament was considered as a part of them."
Here, then, we have external evidence, confirming the internal evidence already adduced, of the early existence of the epistle to the Hebrews. We have also advanced a step further, and shown by a witness,-the friend and companion of Paul,—the early bishop of Rome,—a witness, inferior only to an apostle, that this epistle was not only known to the church at Rome, but was received by them as Scripture. Still further : It is quoted as Scripture in a letter to the Corinthian Christians more frequently than any other book of the New Testament, and in a way that implies the knowledge and reception of it in the church at Corinth. The Christians, then, of Rome and of Greece, received this episile as Scripture, before the close of the first century.
The epistle to the Hebrews, according to the uniform voice of antiquity, and the opinion of the most respectable modern critics, was directed to the Jewish Christians in Palestine. But the distance from Jerusalem or Cesarea to Rome was great. Facilities of intercourse were comparatively few. In the early ages of the church, the press was unknown. Thus situated, the early churches in different districts were scrupulously watchful in examining and receiving gospels or epistles as of sacred authority. Even those, which contained the names of the writers, were admitted, only on the fullest evidence of their genuineness. How, then, we ask, should Clement, and the church at Rome, and the church at Corinth, unite to receive an epistle as canonical, unless there was full evidence of this ? Especially, how should they, who were thus inquisitive and scrupulous as to the origin of epistles containing the writers' names, unite to receive an anonymous epistle, sent to distant churches ? It becomes those, who prosess to be rational in their belief, to give a reason for so anomalous a procedure. Unless Clement, the companion and friend of Paul, the early bishop of Rome, whose name was written in the book of life, and with him, " the saints of the Lord,” the churches at Rome and at Corinth, were guilty of a most presumptuous and unhallowed procedure, unless they conspired to deceive all coming ages, and palm upon the world a deception of man for the truth of God, we
must acknowledge the epistle to the Hebrews to be, what they accounted it, canonical.
We have already stated the fact, that Clement, in a letter from the Roman to the Corinthian church, made frequent quotations from the epistle to the Hebrews. Eusebius, who flourished about two centuries after Clement, and whose predilections were Arian, in speaking of monuments preserving apostolic doctrines, says, “We count also the epistle of Clement, acknowledged by all, which he wrote in behalf of the church at Rome to the church at Corinth, in which, exhibiting many of the sentiments of the epistle to the Hebrews, he makes use of some expressions taken from it in the very words of the epistle, by which he most clearly shows that this epistle is no recent composition ; whence it seems likely, that it is to be reckoned among the other writings of the apostle.” i.e. Paul. His. Ecc. 111. 38. Let us now take another view of this subject, and suppose, for a moment, that the first epistle of Clement, as we now have it, is a forgery. Will that affect the testimony of Clement? Very little. It is admitted on all bands that the epistle to the Hebrews existed in the time of Eusebius, as it now exists, that is, in all important, essential particulars. It has suffered as little alteration as any other book of the New Testament. It is also admitted that the testimony of Eusebius, above quoted, came really from the pen of that early and great ecclesiastical bistorian. Allowing, then, the present epistle of Clement to have been forged, and the epistle, really written by him, to have perished, still it remains a fact, attested by the intelligent and impartial Eusebius, that Clement, writing in bebalf of the church at Rome to the church at Corinth, did make use of expressions, taken from the epistle to the Hebrews, such, so many, and in such ways, that Eusebius not only inferred the canonical authority of the epistle, but also that it seemed likely to him that this epistle was to be reckoned among the other writings of Paul. The main and only important fact would, then, still remain, even supposing the present epistle of Clement to be a forgery; to wit, that Clement, writing in the name of the early Christians at Rome 10 the Corinthian Christians, appealed to this epistle as of sacred authority.
It will be seen that we are arguing here on a concession, which we are neither disposed nor at liberty to make. The epistle of Clement remains, to speak for itself, as to the quotations it contains, and the method of these quotations. It is an authentic and invaluable relic of the primitive church.
It deserves to be more distinctly noticed, that the testimony of Clement is not that of an individual merely. In this latter view it would be highly important, considering his relation to the apostle Paul, his opportunities of acquiring information, bis piety, general intelligence, and sobriety of character. A better witness, an apostle excepted, is not to be had. Yet the value of his testimony is
greatly enhanced, by the fact that in bis epistle he wrote officially; and, as its accredited organ, expressed the general sentiment of the existing Roman church. This is no new thought. It is at least fisteen hundred years old. Eusebius is careful to inform us that this epistle was written by Clement, “ in behalf of the church at Rome to the church at Corinth.” Clement is himself also careful to inform us of this fact. His very first sentence points out this communication as an official and general epistle, and not as a private personal letter of the bishop himself. He begins thus: 6. The church of God, dwelling at Rome, to the church at Corinth," &c. For ourselves we want no other, we need no better witness than this. We rest with perfect confidence on testimony thus early given, thus explicit in its import, thus authoritative in its character. What the fellow laborer and bosom friend of Paul, what the intelligent, cautious and pious primitive bishop of Rome, what those who received their instructions from the apostles, and from Luke and Timothy and other companions of the apostles, accounted as the word of God, will survive all the assaults of open enemies and professed friends; will reprove the wicked, instruct the ignorant and the inquiring, console the afflicted, and animate the desponding, when the learning and the ingenuity of its assailants shall have perished in the lapse of time.
The genuine remains of the writers generally known as “apostolical fathers,” who flourished in the age immediately succeeding \the apostles, are few and meagre. Barnabas, Hermas, Polycarp, and Ignatius afford passages that much resemble passages in this epistle. Professor Stuart, however, does not place much reliance upon them, thinking that these resemblances may be accidental. Multitudes of theory-mongers have constructed theories, and spent years in their defence, relying for support on passages less numerous and far more irrelevant and uncertain, than those which the Professor almost entirely disregards. Lardner, judicious as he is, allows them more weight. It should, however, be stated, that the searching examination of modern criticism has rejected, as spurious, some passages on which he relied. We think Professor Stuart has not made so much of the testimony of the apostolical fathers as he might have done, consistently with the soundest critical canons. But he shows the strength of his cause, by not relying at all on a questionable witness or an uncertain testimony. In the construction of bis argument, be judged both as a logician and a critic.
The first considerable writer, after Clement of Rome, whose works have reached us, is Justin Martyr. He fourished in Samaria, about A. D. 140. In his Dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, this passage occurs ; “ This is be, who after the order of Melchizedek, is king of Salem, and eternal priest of the Most High." In another place, he says of Christ, “ he is called both angel and apostle ;" the latter of which terms, (apostle) is given him only in
the epistle to the Hebrews. From these two passages, without referring to any other, it is evident that Justin was familiar with our epistle, and accounted it Scripture. The works of Justin, which have reached us, were addressed to the enemies of our religion. Of course, they did not admit of so full or frequent an appeal to the Scriptures, as those which were addressed to friends,-as the epistle of Clement, for instance, or as his own work, De monarchia Dei, which unhappily, is not extant. Still his testimony is explicit to the canonical authority of our epistle.
The Peshito,* or old Syriac version, made, according to the opinion of the most judicious and intelligent critics, in the second century, contains this epistle. The Itala, and old Latin versions, made during the same period, and, most probably, in the first half of the second century, also contain it. These versions were in common use and of great authority among the churches of the East and the West. It is not pretended that either of them, at this period, comprised any book, which is now known to be apocryphal. Undoubtedly they did not contain any that were then deemed apocryphal. Here then is palpable evidence, that the epistle to the Hebrews was widely circulated among Christians, and received by them as a part of the inspired Word of God, a short time after the apostolic age. We use the expression “inspired word of God” as synonymous with canonical. This we shall assume, till our rationalists deny it.
Professor Stuart sums up his argument thus : which is also the amount of what we have said.
“The sum of what has been shown, under the present head of discussion, is, that the epistle to the Hebrews was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, probably but a short time before this event; that in about thirty years, at most, it had acquired such currency and credit, that the church at Rome, the metropolis of the world, in a letter addressed by their bishop to the church at Corinth, made repeated appeals to it as a book of divine authority, and in such a way as to imply a knowledge and acknowledgment of it by the Corinthian church, similar to their own ;--that Justin Martyr, about A. D. 140, has evidently appealed to its contents as sacred ;--that about this time, or not long after, it was inserted among the canonical books of the New Testament, by the churches of the East and the West ; and that, consequently, it must have hd, at a period very little after the apostolic age, a currency and a credit not at all, or at most very little, inferior to that of other acknowledged books of the New Testament. Better evidence than this of early and general reception by the churches, it would be difficult to find, in respect to a considerable number of books in the New Testament; with less than this we are obliged to content ourselves, respecting several of them.”
* The Peshito means eract version. Michaelis, a very competent judge, calls it the best translation he was acquainted with. It comprises the four Gospels, the Acts, all the epistles of Paul, including ihat to the Hebrews, the first episile of Jobn, the first epistle of Peter, and the epistle of James. It would seem that this version was made betore the other parts of ihe New Testament were universally known and received. The translators were evidently cautious in the works they admitted. Nothing of a doubtful or questionable character was circulated in the Peshito for the early Syrian Christians. It should be remembered that the epis'le to the Hebrews was directed to the Eastern Christians. This version testifies to its early reception by them.
If Clement of Rome, together with the church over wbich he presided, and the Corinthian church, received this epistle as canonical and of sacred authority, before the close of the first century, while many were living in both those cities, who had been converted from Paganism to Christianity under the preaching of Paul, it surely is not uncritical to argue that the churches of Palestine, •to which this epistle was sent, received it as such much eurlier. But what stronger evidence can we have or desire for the sacred authority of any portion of the New Testament than that the first Christians in Palestine, in Greece, and in Rome, universally and unanimously received it as canonical ? Was there any apocryphal book ever thus received? NEVER.— Here then we might rest. We are under no necessity of starting or of heeding the question, who wrote this epistle? Still we do not shrink from such an inquiry. We believe, and we hold ourselves responsible to show, not only that the epistle to the Hebrews is canonical, but that it is apostolical, of Pauline origin and authority. This brings us to our third general inquiry.
After having argued the main and most important position at such length, viz. the canonical authority of this epistle, we are not disposed to go very fully into the question of its authorship. Our principal object, with reference to this epistle, has been to give a condensed view of the evidence on which our belief in its canonical, sacred, divine authority rests. We have only stated those pos tions which are fundamental, and adduced or referred to that evidence which is most pertinent and conclusive. It will be seen by the arguments already advanced, that, even if it could be proved that Paul did not write the epistle to the Hebrews, it would not follow that it is not of sacred authority. Yet those among us, who impugn the authority of this epistle, set out with the assumption, that if Paul did not write it, it can have no claim to be considered Scripture. This, in logical language, is a complete non sequitur. The conclusion is vastly broader than the premises. Suppose we admit that Luke wrote it. Is it to be rejected, at once? Do the biblical critics in this vicinity reject the Gospel and the Acts of the Aposiles by Luke? If so, we have not been informed of it. If they do not reject those books, but allow that they are inspired and of divine authority, why can they not allow that an epistle written by "the beloved physician” is also inspired and of divine authority, especially since this was so admitted by the primitive Syrian, Roman, Corinthian, and Egyptian Christians, and has been admitted by the church universal for seventeen centuries ?-We submit it to the