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my endeavour to come to you again : therefore, brethren, ' you may expect me shortly. And we, brethren, have • found what was the heresy of Marcianus, and that he • contradicted himself, not understanding what he said : as
you may perceive from what is here written to you. For we have obtained the sight of that Gospel from others that • make use of it; that is, from the successors of those who were the authors of that opinion, whom we call e Docetæ (for the chief sentiments of it belong to that sect). Having therefore obtained it of them to read it over, we have • found that the main part of the book is agreeable to the
right doctrine of our Saviour. Nevertheless there are * some other things added, which we have noted down, and • sent to you.”'
Jerom, in his book of Illustrious Men, 5 says : Serapion • was ordained bishop of Antioch in the eleventh year of • Commodus,' or the year of our Lord 191. His catalogue of Serapion's works is agreeable to that in Eusebius. He says, particularly, 'That b he wrote a book concerning the Gospel, that goes under the name of Peter, which he sent to the church of Rhossus in Cilicia, which had been led • into heresy by reading of it.'
The fragment of this book deserves some remarks.
1. We see the great respect paid by christians to the writings of the apostles. Serapion assures us, the church received the apostles as Christ; that is, their writings, as the very words and doctrine spoken and preached by Christ himself.
2. We see his method of judging of the genuineness and authority of any books of scripture : those which had been delivered with an authentic tradition, as the apostles, he received : others he rejected.
3. The book called the Gospel of Peter was no part of canonical scripture, nor any writing of Peter: it had not been delivered as such.
4. We learn the obscurity of this book, called the Gospel of Peter. Here is a bishop of the large and celebrated church of Antioch, about the end of the second century, who had never read it, or seen it: and who, as far as we are able to judge, was not unworthy of his high office. He
They denied that Jesus Christ had a true human body.
Χρησαμενοι παρ' αυτων διελθειν και ευρειν μεν τα πλειονα τα ορθο λογα τα Σωτηρος τινα δε προσδιεςαλμενα, α και υπεταξαμεν υμιν. Ιbid. 8 Cap. 41.
h Et alium de evangelio, quod sub nomine Petri fertur, librum ad Rhossensem Ciliciæ ecclesiam, quæ in hæresim ejus lectione diverterat. Ibid.
seems to have been a learned man, and a vigilant pastor. He wrote divers treatises and epistles. This book concerning the Gospel of Peter, which he composed for the benefit of the christians at Rhossus, is a good proof of his ability and diligence. Nothing could be more to the purpose, to demonstrate the obscurity and insignificance of the book called, the Gospel of Peter, than this letter or treatise of Serapion. It is plain, it was in no repute with the catholic christians : nor could Serapion find a copy of it among thein. In order to procure a sight of it, he was obliged to send to some of those called Docetæ, and borrow it of them.
5. It may at first appear somewhat strange, that he should consent to the use of this writing: but really there is nothing at all strange or improper in it. Serapion supposed the people of Rhossus had all held the right faith : and not having read the book complained of by some, he took it for granted, it was a pious orthodox book, which christians might read with edification. Being also a lover of peace, and unwilling to deliver unnecessary precepts, he
, consented to their use of it. However, he prudently took an opportunity to procure and examine this writing : and having perceived there were in it some false and absurd notions, mixed with those which are true and right, he was at the pains of collecting the several errors of it in a distinct treatise, which he immediately sent away to Rhossus : and promises them a second visit upon this occasion, if needful. Thus acted this christian bishop of Antioch. Grabe,' and Beausobre, suppose this Gospel of Peter to
k have been a composition of Leucius, the famous forger of apocryphal pieces.
Evangelium Petri fuisse reor figmentum Leucii hæretici, seculo ii. plura ejusmodi cud eaque nominibus apostolorum supponentis. Grabe, Spic. T. i. p. 58.
k Hist. de Manich. T. i. p. 349, 350, 358, 375, et 458.
I. IIis history, works, time, and character. II. His testi
mony to the scriptures of the N. T. particularly the four gospels. IJI. The integrity of St. Luke's gospel. IV. Upon what grounds he receives the gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke. V. More passages concerning the four gospels. VI. Of the Acts of the Apostles. VII. St. Paul's epistles. VIII. The meaning of authentic letters. IX. Of the epistle to the Hebrews. X. He received thirteen epistles of St. Paul. XI. Of the Catholic epistles. XII. The Revelation. XIII. A summary of the books received by him. XIV. The integrity of the Scriptures. XV. Their authority. XVI. General titles and divisions. XVII. T'he order of the books of the N. T. XVIII. Of chapters. XIX. A Latin transla
. tion in his time. XX. T'he Scriptures of the N. T. open to all men. XXI. Whether he cites apocryphal books. XXII. A book forged in the name of St. Paul. XXIII. The conclusion.
1. QUINTUS SEPTIMIUS FLORENS •
TERTULLIANUS,' or Tertullian, generally reckoned the most ancient Latin father now remaining, was born at Carthage, the capital city of Africa, not long after the middle of the second century. His father a was a proconsular centurion, that is, a military officer under the proconsul of Africa, which is not reckoned to have been a post of any great consideration. Tertullian was well acquainted with the Roman laws; but it does not appear that he went to the bar, or any other way practised the law as a profession. He had besides read the Greek and Roman poets, historians, orators, philosophers, and other heathen writers of all sorts, as his works show abundantly. His skill in Greek was so considerable, that heb wrote several books in that language. a Vid. Tertull. Apol. cap. 9. p. 10. A. et Hieron. in Chron. et De Vir. Ill.
b Sed et huic materiæ propter suaviludios nostros Græco quoque stilo satisfecimus. De Coronâ, c. 6. ad fin. p. 123. D. Sed de isto plenius jam nobis, in Græco digestum est. De Baptismo, cap. 15. p. 262. D. At ego, si quid utriusque linguæ præscripsi. Adv. Praxeam, cap. 3. p. 636. A Paris. 1634.
From diverso expressions of Tertullian in his works, it is concluded by learned men that he was once a heathen: whether they afford full proof of this, may be disputed. They inay be however allowed, together with his father's profession of a soldier, to be sufficient to render it probable. We have no particular account of the time, or circumstances, of his conversion. He was a man of a lively fancy, as well as extensive knowledge, but of a severe temper. The character of his style given byd Lactantius may be allowed by all : that it is . rugged and unpolished, and * very obscure :' and yet, as e Cave observes, it is lofty • and masculine, and carries a kind of majestic eloquence
along with it, that gives a pleasant relish to the judicious • and inquisitive reader. He wrote a multitude of books,
' some of which are lost : but there still remains a good number, some composed before, others after he embraced the errors of Montanism. His apology is a master-piece ; and his other performances are written with wit and force, and are edifying and instructive. Though he had a great deal of vehemence and positiveness in his constitution, there appear in his writings frequent tokens of true unaffected humility and modesty ; virtues in which the primitive christians were generally so very eminent.
The ecclesiastical writers mentioned by him (not to insist on any reputed heretical authors) are 5 Hermas, h Justin
c Hæc et nos risimus aliquando; de vestris fuimus. Apol. cap. 18. Pænitentiam, hoc genus hominum, quod et ipsi retro fuimus, cæci sine Domini luce, naturâ tenus norunt, &c. De Pænit. c. i. Vid. et De Spectaculis, c. xix. p. 99. A. De Resurrectione, c. xlix. p. 427. A. Septimius quoque
Tertullianus fuit omni genere literarum peritus, sed in cloquendo parum facilis, et minus comptus, et multum obscurus fuit. Divin. Inst. 1. v. c. 1.
e Lives of the Primitive Fathers, p. 211. f Literæ ad hoc seculares necessariæ: de suis enim instrumentis secularia probari necesse est. Quantulas attigi, credo sufficient. De Coronâ, cap. vii. Nec tantus ego sum, ut vos alloquar; et quæ sequuntur. Ad. Martyres, cap. i. Confiteor ad Dominum Deum, satis temere me, si non etiam impudenter de patientiâ componere ausum, cui præstandæ idoneus non sim, ut homo nullius boni. De Patientiâ, cap. i. It seems that Tertullian had convinced Praxeas that he had been in an error, and brought him to a recantation ; yet he expresseth himself in this modest manner: Fruticaverant avenæ Praxeanæ, hic [Carthagine] quoque superseminatæ,-~traductæ dehinc per quem Deus voluit, etiam avulsze videbantur. Contr. Prax. cap. i. p. 634. D. Vid. Tillemont, Mem. Ecc. Tertullien, artic. iii. Pagi, Crit. in Baron. 171. sect. 3. Tho. Ittig. de Hæresiarchis, sect. ii. cap. 16. p. 237.
8 De Oratione, cap. 12. p. 154. A. De Pudicitiâ, cap. 10. p. 727. A. B. et cap. 20. p. 741. C.
h Ut Justinus philosophus et martyr, ut Miltiades ecclesiarum sophista, ut Irenæus omnium doctrinarum curiosissimus explorator, ut Proculus noster, virginis senectæ, et christianæ eloquentiæ dignitas : quos in omni opere fidei, quemadmodum in isto, optaverim assequi. Adv. Valent. cap. v. p. 291. B.
Martyr, Miltiades, Proculus, once a catholic, afterwards a Montanist: of all whom (excepting Hermas) he speaks together, with great respect. And ini another place he makes a general mention of divers christian authors who had written learned defences of their religion against the Gentiles.
Having given this general account of Tertullian, I shall next put down some of the testimonies of the ancients, and then proceed to the observations of the moderns.
Lactantius, in the place just cited, where he censures Tertullian's style, says, he was well skilled in all parts of
learning ; and, in another place, that k • he had fully de• fended the_christian cause in his Apology.' Eusebius says, in his Ecclesiastical History, where he several times quotes Tertullian's Apology, that he was extremely well acquainted with the Roman laws: eminent likewise on * other accounts, and especially celebrated at Rome;' or, as Valesius renders it, • and most renowned among the Latin 6 writers.'
I believe we may do well to take here entire St. Jerom's history of this father, in his book of lllastrious Men. • Tertullian, am presbyter, is now reckoned, after Victor . and Apollonius, the first of the Latins. He was born in • the province of Africa, in the city of Carthage. His • father was a proconsular centurion. He was a man of . eager and vehement temper: flourished chiefly in the time • of the emperors Severus and Antoninus Caracalla : and ' wrote a great number of books, which, because they are ' generally known, I omit. I have seen one Paul of Con
cordia, which is a small town in Italy, then an old man, • who said, that when he was very young, he had seen the
secretary of the blessed Cyprian, then of a great age : • ando that he was wont to tell him, that not a day passed .but Cyprian read something in Tertullian: and that he • 'would often say to him, “ Bring me my master," intend
Nonnulli quidem, quibus de pristina literatura et curiositatis labor et memoriæ tenor perseveravit, ad gentes opuscula penes nos condiderunt. De Testimon. Animæ, cap. i. p. 80. B.
k Quamquam Tertullianus eandem causam plene peroraverit in eo libro, cui Apologetico nomen Divin. Instit. lib. v. cap. 4.
1 Ταυτα Τερτουλλιανος τες Ρωμαιων νομος ηκριβωκως ανηρ τα τε αλλα ενδοξος, και των μαλισα επι “Ρωμης λαμπρων. Η. Ε. 1. ii. cap. 2. p. 41. Β.
in Tertullianus presbyter nunc demum primus post Victorem et Apollonium Latinorum ponitur.
Hic acris et vehementis ingenij. Referreque sibi solitum, nunquam Cyprianum absquc Tertulliani lcctione unum diem præteriisse, ac sibi crebro dicere, ' Da magistrum;' Tertullianum videlicet significans.