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could afterwards declare, or make any books Canonical? If it had been deem'd proper, and suited to the state of christianity, to have given or declar'd a new canon or digest of laws; it should seem most proper to have been done by Jesus; or his apostles, and not left to any after them to do; but especially not left to be settled long after their times, by weak, fallible, factious, and interested men, who were disputing with one another about the genuinness of all books bearing the names of the Apostles, and contending with one another about the autority of very diffes rent books:
I have given these short hints concerning the true canon of Scripture of christians; not only as they relate to my argument; but as confiderations, which put an end to all the controverfies of christians about the car non of Scripturë, and which may also serve to set Mr. WHIston right; who (8) adds, to the present books of the New Testament, the two epistles of CLEMENT to the Corinë thians; (both which; after having been wholly loạt for several hundred years, were but lately recover'd, and that but imperfe&ly, especially the fecond); the do&trinë of the apostles (a book lost, which Mr. W. (b) ima
(8) Whifton's Essay on the Apoftol. Constit. P. 33, 34, 67, (1) ib. Advertisement before Primitive Chriftianity:
gin'd he had found); the epistle of BARNAS BAS; the pastor of HERMAS; the (i) second book of apocryphal ESDRAS; the .epistle of PolyCARP; and the larger epistles of IGNATIUS ; and who seeing plainly, that the books of the New Testament are no fyStem of laws for the governing the church, nor design’d for that purpose; and being perswaded, that christians ought to have such a Syftem, sets up that manifestly forg’d modern book of the apostolick constitutions, as containing that fystem, tho' (k) doubtful as to the antiquity of some of its parts, interpolated in others, and first published in the middle of the fourth century. Which book has, indeed, the form of a law, and pretends it self to be the work of all the apostles afSembled together at Jerusalem ; tho' (1) inconsistent in many instances with the books of the New Testament, and that by the confession of Mr. WAISTON (m) himself, who says that such inconsistency is a plain charatter, peculiar to the original and genuline records of christianity, and at least
(i) See Floyer's Preface to Prophefies of Esdras, p. 3.
(k) Whiston's Esay on Afoft. Conft. p. 233- 236. 122, 673, &c. 150.
(1) Sinalbroke's Pretended Authority of the Apostol. Con. stitut, confuted.
(m) Whiston's St. Clement, and St. Irenæus's Vind. of the Apost. Conft. p. s. See also Proceedings in Convor, P. 103.
equally true of the four gospels, and the rest of our present canonical books, compar'd with one another; and that the constitutions are the moft authentick and exact of the two, and that the present copies of the Gospels are rather to be corrected by them than the contrary.
I will finish this article with observing that tho' Mr. Whiston calls the books of the New Testament scriptures, and canonical scriptures, according to the common language of christians: yet it is apparent that he cannot think them divinely inspired books, or of that autority which other christians do. For he not only thinks them to have been (12) alter'd and chang’d, and to be contradictory to one another, but that the .authors themselves may be (0) mistaken: and he corrects a disorder of Luke's making ; wherein he acts like the famous JuRIEU, who (o) puts in order, as he says: those things which the Holy Ghost had placed in disorder. Nor does Mr. WhisC 2
(n) Whifton'Proceedings in Coriv. p. 87, 99. Id Pref. to Letter to Earl of Nott. p. 35, 36. Id. Chron. and Harmony, p. ioo. Id. St. Clement and St. Irenæus's Vind. &c. p. 5. Id. Proceed. in Conv. p. 1og. Id. Esay towards Reftor. &c. p. 119. and Essay on Revelations; p. 129, 139.
(0) Id. Cbron. and Harné. p. too.
TON herein much differ from many other great divines; who seem to pay little deference to the books of the New Testament, the text whereof they are perpetually mending in their fermons, commentaries, and writings, to serve purposes ; who pretend (pp) we mould have more of the true text by being less tenacious of the printed one, and in consequence thereof, prelume to correct by critical (9) emendations, several capital places in the sacred writers ; and who, by requiring men's assent to, and urging the belief of, traditionary explications of scripture, and of catechifms, creeds, confessions of faith, and such like compositions, which men, under penalties every where, are oblig'd to believe the scripture supports, do virtually fet aside the autority of the scripture, and place those compositions in its stead.
new revelations to be built and grounded on
THIS method of introducing christia
l' nity into the world by building and grounding it on the Old Testament, is agree
(pp) Hare’s Clergyman's Thanks to Phil. Lipfienfis, &c. 11) Id. Scripture Vindicated, &c. p. 150.
able to the (r) common method of introducing new revelations (whether real or pretended) or any changes in religion, and also to the nature of things. For if we consider the various revelations, and changes in religion, whereof we have any tolerable history, in their beginning, we shall find them for the most part to be grafted on some old stock, or founded on some preceding revelations, which they were either to fupply, or fulfil, or retrieve from corrupt glosses, innovations, and traditions, with which by time they were incumber'dand this, which may seem matter of surprize to those, who do not reflect on the changeable state of all things, has happen'd; tho the old revelations, far from intending any change, engraftment, or new difpenfation, did for the most part declare they were to last for ever, and did forbid al and innovations, they being the last dispensa, tions intended.
This grafting on old stocks, we see by experience to be the case of all the feets, which alike and according to the natural course of things, rise up in the several great and domineering religions of the world. Nor is it less true of the domineering religions themselves; some of which
(v) Stanhope's Clarron of Wisdom, l. 2. Ga S. p. 103, &c.'