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then proposes the reasons of this title, still speaking of the author in the third person, without owning himself
to have had any
hand in those books. I need not now mention particularly those reasons; but I would make a few remarks upon this passage.
1. We see here the meaning of the word • apocryphal ;' it is much the same as spurious, or supposititious; at least the word was so used sometimes. A book with the name of Timothy, which was not bis, Salonius thought should be placed in the number of apocryphal books.
2. Here is an instance of the vigilance and caution of christians about the books which they received as written by apostles, or apostolical men. The books against covetousness, named Timothy's, are good books; nevertheless, since they were not his, Salonius was for having them called by the disadvantageous title of apocryphal, or spurious. So far from receiving them as canonical, he would not admit them into the rank of ecclesiastical writings. Indeed here is inserted a modest “ perhaps, which, it is likely, he thought necessary in writing to his master Salvian, whose opinion upon the point he did not yet know. Otherwise he seems to have expressed himself positively enough, and desires a good reason to be given him of the name put to these books.
3. It is a dangerous thing to assume the names of great men n;
consequence may be worse than we imagine. Salvian did not intend that these books should be thought to be really written by Timothy; he was a man of more virtue, and particularly of more modesty, than to incur the suspicion of such a design. Nevertheless, he acted indiscreetly, and Salonius justly demanded a clear reason of this title; otherwise these books were to be branded as apocryphal, lest they should be supposed, by some people, to be really Timothy's. We are certainly indebted to the circumspection and care of Salonius, and perhaps of others likewise, in this affair. If no notice had been taken at that time of this ambiguous title, these books might have been reputed, by many, a genuine work of Timothy, the disciple and fellow-labourer of the apostle Paul; and notwithstanding this notice, they seem to have been published as his, in the first printed edition of them.
VIII. I now conclude my extracts out of christian writers of the second century. If any miss some authors,
e Vid. Steph. Baluz. not. ad Salvian. p. 416. et Centuriatores Magdeburg. cent. v. c. 10. p. 1325.
which they expected to have seen mentioned here, it is likely they will find them in the following century.
I do not sum up the several testimonies which have been already taken: we are as yet collecting evidence, and expect more. As a general review of the whole will be made at the end, that may be sufficient.
It ought to be observed, that we have not here the whole remaining evidence of the first two centuries, because I bave hitherto insisted chiefly on catholic authors. I suppose that the sentiments of those called Heretics, will give some confirmation to the testimonies of catholic christians. Possibly some heathen authors may afford us some evidence. Celsus the Epicurean, who within this period wrote professedly against the christian religion, will be a considerable witness in behalf of the books, as well as facts, of the New Testament. But these are to be considered hereafter in distinct articles.
MARCUS MINUCIUS FELIX has left us an excellent defence of the christian religion written in the form of a dialogue or conference between Cæcilius Natalis, a heathen, and Octavius Januarius, a christian, in which Minucius sits as judge. Cæcilius first objects, and then Octavius answers. When he has finished, after a short interval of silence, Cæcilius owns himself convinced and overcome, and declares his readiness to become a christian.
This piece had been long reckoned an eighth book of • Arnobius against the Gentiles;' but for some while has a been restored by the critics to Minucius, to whom it is ascribed by ancient christian authors who have quoted it; not to mention any other reasons, why it ought not to be esteemed a part of Arnobius's work.
It is difficult to determine with exactness the age of Minucius. The generality of learned men have placed him between Tertullian and St. Cyprian. Cave,b in par. Vid. imprimis Dissert. Fr. Balduini in M. Minucii Felicis Octavium.
De ætate ejus quâ vixit, nil habeo quod pro certo affirmare ausim : si
ticular, thinks he flourished about the year 220; but without being positive that he has hit his exact age. David Blondell thought Minucius wrote under Marcus Antoninus the philosopher, about the year 170. The late most ingenious d and critical Mr. Moyle too thought, that the age of Minucius, though not certain, had been fixed, with great probability, to the latter end of the reign of the same emperor, by Mr. Dodwell. And it is true, Mr. Dodwell declared that to be his opinion, in his Dissertationes Cyprianicæ, published in 1684. But in a book entitled, À Discourse concerning the use of Incense in Divine Offices,' published in 1711, he brings Minucius down a good deal later. But,' says he,f what then shall
we think of the aræ nullæ in Minucius Felix? He wrote ' a little after Tertullian, as mentioning & the representation 6 of the God of the christians with an ass's head, which was “a calumny newly invented h when Tertullian wrote his Apology; yet before St. Cyprian, who transcribes some passages out of him verbatim in his book De Vanitate • İdolorum.
It may be farther observed, that the internal characters of time in this work are not unsuitable to the latter part of the second, or the beginning of the third century. The christians are in afflictive circumstances, without altars and temples; and are loaded by Cæcilius, in his part of the dispute, with all manner of reproaches. Lastly, St. Jerom, in his book of Illustrious Men, where he has some regard to the order of time, has placed Minucius between Tertullian and St. Cyprian; and in the chapter of Tertul
!; lian says, that Tertullian was then generally reckoned the
, first of the Latin writers of the church, after Victor and Apollonius.
I think, upon the whole, that if this Dialogue was written after Tertullian's Apology, yet it may be allowed to have soon followed it; and these two christian apologists may be reckoned contemporaries. I therefore place Minucius
tamen in re obscurâ dubiâque hariolari licet, conjiciam illum, utpote Tertulliano supparem, Cypriano antiquiorem, circa an. 220, claruisse. "Cave, Hist. Lit. P. i. p. 66.
· David Blondellus in Apologiâ de Episcop. et Presbyt. Vid. Testimonia præfixa Minuc. Felic. ex editione Jacob. Gronov. Ludg. Bat. 1709.
d Works of Walter Moyle, Esq. vol. ii. p. 84. See also vol. i. p. 389. e Diss. iii. sect. 16. p. 35. f See Discourse, &c. sect. 20. p. 56.
8. Audio eos turpissimæ pecudis caput asini consecratum, nescio quâ persuasione, venerari. Minuc. Fel. cap. 9. p. 55. et cap. 28. p. 143. ed. Davis
. Cantabr. 1712.
h Vid. Tertullian, Apolog. cap. 16. p. 17. D.
at the year 210, near the end of the reign of Septimius Severus; which is agreeable to the opinion of Baronius and others.
It is thought probable, by many learned k men, that Minucius was an African. However, Trithemius, in the fifteenth century, calls' Minucius a Roman. To which we may add, likewise, that he says, Minucius flourished in the reign of the emperor Alexander, at the year 230.
Lactantius has twice mentioned this writer. In the m first place he quotes a passage from him, and gives his book the title of Octavius. In the other he says,
• that • Minucius " was an eminent pleader, and that his book, • entitled Octavius, shows how able a defender of the truth • he might have been, if he had given up himself entirely 'to that work. Lactantius here speaking of several christian apologists, first mentions Minucius, then Tertullian, and last of all St. Cyprian.
• Minucius Felix,' says St. Jerom in his book of Illustrious Men, an eminent pleader of Rome, wrote a dialogue • between a christian and a heathen, which is entitled Octavius.
There is another book, which goes under his • name, Of Fate, or against astrologers: which though it be • likewise the work of an eloquent man, does not appear to ' me agreeable to the style of the fore-mentioned' book. · Lactantius, in his writings, makes mention of this Minuļ cius.'
The book Of Fate, which is not now extant, is mentioned much after the same manner, in another work, by P St.
i Baron. Ann. 211. sect. 2, 3. Vid. et Tillemont, Note sur Minuce Felix. Mem. Ecc. T. iii. P. i. p. 513. ed. de Bruxelles.
k Cave, Hist. Lit. Tillemont, Minuce Fel. Basnage, Annal. Pol. Ec. 210. n. iii. Fr. Balduin. Diss. in Min. Fel. Oct. Rigaltius in notis.
Minucius Felix, causidicus, patriâ Romanus, vir in secularibus literis eruditissimus, et in divinis lectionibus studiosus, -claruit Romæ sub Alexandro imperatore, anno Domini ccxxx. Trithem. de Script. Eccl. cap. 34.
m Minucius Felix, in eo libro qui Octavius inscribitur, sic argumentatus est.-Lactant. de Divin. Inst. I. i. c. 11. p. 67. Lugd. Bat. 1660.
Minucius Felix non ignobilis inter causidicos loci fuit. Hujus liber, cui Octavio titulus est, declarat, quam idoneus veritatis assertor esse potuisset, si se totum ad id studii contulisset. Id. l. v. cap. i. p. 459.
• Minucius Felix, Romæ insignis causidicus, scripsit dialogum christiani et'ethnici disputantium, qui Octavius inscribitur. Sed et alius sub nomine ejus fertur, De Fato, vel contra 'mathematicos : qui, cum sit et ipse diserti hominis, non mihi videtur cum superioris libri stilo convenire. "Meminit hujus Minucii et Lactantius in libris suis. De Vir. Ill. сар.
58. P Minucius Felix, causidicus Romani ori, in libro cui titulus Octavius est, et in altero contra mathematicos, (si tamen inscriptio non mentitur auctorem,) quid Gentilium scripturarum dimisit intactum ? Id. ad Magnum, ep. 83. al. 84.
Jerom, who, upon several 9 occasions, has commended the learning of this author. Minucius is also reckoned with the most eloquent christian writers, by' Eucherius, bishop of Lyons in the fifth century. I forbear to allege any more testimonies.
That Minucius pleaded at Rome, appears from the Dialogue itself; in which the author mentions: the vintage season, when there was vacation at the courts of justice. We know likewise, from the book itself, that both Minucius and his friend Octavius were originally heathens : it is also intimated, that Minucius did not embrace christianity beforet he was of mature age, and able to judge for himself. Asu for Octavius, he seems to have pleaded against the christians, or to have sat in judgment upon them, in the foriner part of his life; when he treated them with the severity and injustice common with other heathen judges at that time.
This work is a monument of the author's ingenuity, learning, and eloquence. And the conversion of a man, of his great natural and acquired abilities, to the christian religion, and his public and courageous defence of it, notwithstanding the many worldly temptations to the contrary which he must have met with at that time, especially in his station; as they give an advantageous idea of his virtue, so they likewise afford a very agreeable argument in favour of the truth of our religion.
Here are no express quotations of the books of scripture. But as it may be expected I should not entirely omit the hints or allusions to them, found in so polite and elegant a
9 Taceo de Latinis scriptoribus, Tertulliano, Cypriano, Minucio, Victorino, Lactantio, Hilario. Hieron. Apologeticus ad Pammachium, ep. 30. al. 50. Atque in hunc modum erudition is famam declinando eruditissimus habebatur; istud Cypriani, hoc Lactantii, illud Hilarii est: sic Minucius Felix, ita Victorinus, in hunc modum locutus est Arnobius. Ad Heliodorum, Epitaph. Nepotianii, ep. 35. al. 3.
Et quando clarissimos facundiâ Firmianum, Minucium, Cyprianum, Hilarium, Joannem, Ambrosium, ex illo volumine numerositatis evolvam. Eucher. in Ep. ad Valerianum.
* Sane et ad vindemiam feriæ judiciarum curam relaxaverant. M. Minucii Octav. cap. 2.
24. Utpote, cum diligentur in utroque vivendi genere versatus, repudiaris alterum, alterum comprobâris. Cap. 5. p. 31.
" Et nos idem fuimus, et eadem vobiscum quondam adhuc cæci et hebetes sentiebamus.- -Nos tamen cum sacrilegos aliquos et incestos, parricidas etiam defendendos et tuendos suscipiebamus, hos nec audiendos in totum putabamus : nonnunquam etiam miserentes eorum crudelius sæviebamus, ut torqueremus confitentes ad negandum, videlicet ne perirent; exercentes in his perversam quæstionem, non quæ verum erueret, sed quæ mendacium cogeret. Vid. et quæ sequuntur, cap. 28. p. 141.