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TESTIMONIES OF THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS, AND OF OTHER LEARNED MEN DOWN TO THE TIME OF THE COUNCIL OF TRENT, RESPECTING THE APOCRYPHA.
THE fourth argument is, that these books were not received as canonical by the Christian Fathers, but were expressly declared to be apocryphal.
Justin Martyr does not cite a single passage, in all his writings, from any apocryphal book.
The first catalogue of the books of the Old Testament which we have, after the times of the apostles, from any Christian writer, is that of Melito, bishop of Sardis, before the end of the second century, which is preserved by Eusebius. The fragment is as follows: “Melito to his brother Onesimus, greeting. Since you have often earnestly requested of me, in consequence of your love of learning, a collection of the Sacred Scriptures of the Law and the Prophets, and what relates to the Saviour, and concerning our whole faith; and since, moreover, you wish to obtain an accurate knowledge of our ancient books, as it respects their number and order, I have used diligence to accomplish this, knowing your sincere affection towards the faith, and your earnest desire to become acquainted with the word; and that striving after eternal life, your love to God induces you to prefer these to all other things. Wherefore, going into the East, and to 47the very place where these things were published and transacted, and having made diligent search after the books of the Old Testament, I now subjoin and send you the following catalogue:—“Five books of Moses, viz., Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Chronicles, the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, or Wisdom,1818Whether Melito, in his catalogue, by the word Wisdom, meant to designate a distinct book; or whether it was used as another name for Proverbs, seems doubtful. The latter has generally been understood to be the sense; and this accords with the understanding of the ancients; for Rufin, in his translation of this passage of Eusebius renders παροιμιαι η σοφάα Salomonis Proverbia, quæ est sapientia; that is, The Proverbs of Solomon, which is Wisdom. Pineda, a learned Romanist, says, “The word Wisdom should here be taken as explicative of the former, and should be understood to mean, The Proverbs.” Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Twelve [prophets] in one book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra.”1919Euseb. Hist. Ecc. Lib. v. c. 24.
Origen also says, “We should not be ignorant, that the canonical books are the same which the Hebrews delivered unto us, and are twenty-two in number, according to the number of letters of the Hebrew alphabet.” Then he sets down, in order, the names of the books, in Greek and Hebrew.2020Origen’s catalogue of the books of the Old Testament is presented by Eusebius, in his Ecc. Hist. Lib. vi. c. 25.
Athanasius, in his Synopsis, says, “All the Scriptures of us Christians are divinely inspired; neither are they indefinite in their number, but determined, and reduced into a Canon. Those of the Old Testament are, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, 48Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Job, the twelve prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel.”2121It is a matter not agreed among the learned whether the “Synopsis” which has been ascribed to Athanasius was written by him. It is, however, an ancient work, and belongs to that age.
Hilary, who was contemporary with Athanasius, and resided in France, has numbered the canonical books of the Old Testament, in the following manner: “The five books of Moses, the sixth of Joshua, the seventh of Judges, including Ruth, the eighth of first and second Kings, the ninth of third and fourth Kings; the tenth of the Chronicles, two books; the eleventh, Ezra (which included Nehemiah;) the twelfth, the Psalms. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth; the twelve Prophets the sixteenth; then Isaiah and Jeremiah, including Lamentations and his Epistle, Daniel, Ezekiel, Job, and Esther, making up the full number of twenty-two.” And in his preface he adds, that “these books were thus numbered by our ancestors, and handed down by tradition from them.”2222Proleg in Psalmos.
Gregory Nazianzen exhorts his readers to study the sacred books with attention, but to avoid such as were apocryphal; and then gives a list of the books of the Old Testament, and according to the Jewish method, makes the number two-and-twenty. He complains of some that mingled the apocryphal books with those that were inspired, “of the truth of which last,” says he, “we have the most perfect persuasion; 49therefore it seemed good to me to enumerate the canonical books from the beginning; and those which belong to the Old Testament are two-and-twenty, according to the number of the Hebrew alphabet, as I have understood.” Then he proceeds to say, “Let no one add to these divine books, nor take any thing away from them. I think it necessary to add this, that there are other books besides those which I have enumerated as constituting the Canon, which, however, do not appertain to it; but were proposed by the early Fathers, to be read for the sake of the instruction which they contain.” Then, he expressly names as belonging to this class, the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, and Tobit.2323Epist. ad Theod. et Lib. Carm.
Jerome, in his Epistle to Paulinus, gives us a catalogue of the books of the Old Testament, exactly corresponding with that which Protestants receive: “Which,” says he, “we believe agreeably to the tradition of our ancestors, to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit.”
Epiphanius, in his book concerning Weights and Measures, distributes the books of the Old Testament into four divisions of five each. “The first of which contains the law, next five poetical books, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs; in the third division he places Joshua, Judges, including Ruth, first and second Chronicles, four books of Kings. The last five, the twelve prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Then there remain two, Ezra and Esther.” Thus he makes up the number twenty-two.
Cyril of Jerusalem, in his Catechism, exhorts his 50catechumen diligently to learn from the church, what books appertain to the Old and New Testaments, and he says, “Read nothing which is apocryphal. Read the Scriptures, namely, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, which were translated by the seventy-two interpreters.” And in another place, “Meditate, as was said, in the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, and if you wish it, I will give you their names.” Here follows a catalogue, agreeing with those already given, except that he adds Baruch to the list. When Baruch is mentioned as making one book with Jeremiah, as is done by some of the Fathers, it is most reasonable to understand those parts of Jeremiah, in the writing of which Baruch was concerned, as particularly the lii. chapter; for, if we understand them as referring to the separate book now called Baruch, the number which they are so careful to preserve will be exceeded. This apocryphal Baruch never existed in the Hebrew, and is never mentioned separately by any ancient author, as Bellarmine confesses. This book was originally written in Greek, but our present copies differ exceedingly from the old Latin translation.
The Council of Laodicea forbade the reading of any books in the churches but such as were canonical; and that the people might know what these were, a catalogue was given, answering to the Canon which we now receive.
Origen barely mentions the Maccabees. Athanasius takes no notice of these books. Eusebius, in his Chronicon, speaks of the History of the Maccabees, and adds, “These books are not received as divine Scriptures.”51
Philastrius, an Italian bishop, who lived in the latter part of the fourth century, in a work on Heresy says, “It was determined by the apostles and their successors, that nothing should be read in the Catholic church but the law, prophets, evangelists,” &c.—And he complains of certain Heretics, “That they used the book of Wisdom, by the son of Sirach, who lived long after Solomon.”
Chrysostom, a man who excelled in the knowledge of the Scriptures, declares, “That all the divine books of the Old Testament were originally written in the Hebrew tongue, and that no other books were received.” Hom. 4. in Gen.
But Jerome, already mentioned, who had diligently studied the Hebrew Scriptures, by the aid of the best Jewish teachers, enters into this subject more fully and accurately than any of the rest of the Fathers. In his general Preface to his version of the Scriptures, he mentions the books which he had translated out of Hebrew into Latin; “All besides them,” says he, “must be placed among the apocryphal. Therefore, Wisdom, which is ascribed to Solomon, the book of Jesus the son of Sirach, Judith, Tobit and Pastor, are not in the Canon. I have found the first book of Maccabees in Hebrew, (Chaldee;) the second in Greek, and, as the style shows, it must have been composed in that language.” And in his Preface to Ezra and Nehemiah, (always reckoned one book by the Jews,) he says, “Let no one be disturbed that I have edited but one book under this name; nor let any one please himself with the dreams contained in the third and fourth apocryphal books ascribed to this author; 52for, with the Hebrews, Ezra and Nehemiah make but one book; and those things not contained in this are to be rejected, as not belonging to the Canon.” And in his preface to the books of Solomon, he speaks of “Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus; the former of which,” he says, “he found in Hebrew, (Chaldee,) but not the latter, which is never found among the Hebrews, but the style strongly savours of the Grecian eloquence.” He then adds, “As the church reads the books of Judith, Tobit, and the Maccabees, but does not receive them among the canonical Scriptures, so, also, she may read these two books for the edification of the common people, but not as authority to confirm any of the doctrines of the church.”
Again, in his preface to Jeremiah, he says, “The book of Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah, is not read in Hebrew, nor esteemed canonical; therefore, I have passed it over.” And in his preface to Daniel, “This book among the Hebrews has neither the history of Susanna, nor the Song of the three Children, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which we have retained lest we should appear to the unskilful to have curtailed a large part of the Sacred Volume.”
In the preface to Tobit, he says, “The Hebrews cut off the book of Tobit from the catalogue of Divine Scriptures.” And in his preface to Judith, he says, “Among the Hebrews, Judith is placed among the Hagiographa, which are not of authority to determine controversies.”
Rufin, in his Exposition of the Creed, observes, “That there were some books which were not called canonical, but received by our ancestors, as the Wisdom 53of Solomon, and another Wisdom of the Son of Sirach; of the same order are the books of Tobit, Judith, and the Maccabees.”
Gregory the First, speaking of the testimony in the Maccabees, respecting the death of Eleazer, says, “Concerning which thing we do not act inordinately, although we bring our testimony from a book which is not canonical.”
Augustine is the only one among the Fathers who lived within four hundred years after the apostles, who seems to favour the introduction of these six disputed books into the Canon. In his work On Christian Doctrine, he gives a list of the books of the Old Testament, among which he inserts Tobit, Judith, the two books of Maccabees, two of Esdras, Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus. These two last mentioned, he says, “are called Solomon’s, on account of their resemblance to his writings; although it is known that one of them was composed by the son of Sirach: which deserves to be received among the prophetical books.” But this opinion he retracted afterwards.2424See Note B.
Augustine was accustomed to the Greek and Latin Bibles, in which those books had been introduced, and we must suppose, unless we would make him contradict himself, that he meant in this place merely to enumerate the books then contained in the sacred volume; for in many other places he clearly shows that he entertained the same opinion of the books of the Old Testament as the other Fathers.
In his celebrated work of “The City of God,” he expresses this opinion most explicitly—“In that whole 54period, after the return from the Babylonish captivity, after Malachi, Haggai, Zachariah and Ezra, they had no prophets, even until the time of the advent of our Saviour. As our Lord says, the law and the prophets were until John. And even the reprobate Jews hold that Haggai, Zachariah, Ezra, and Malachi, were the last books received into canonical authority.”
In his commentary on the xl. Psalm, he says, “If any adversary should say you have forged these prophecies, let the Jewish books be produced—The Jews are our librarians.” And on the lvi. Psalm, “When we wish to prove to the Pagans that Christ was predicted, we appeal to the writings in possession of the Jews; they have all these Scriptures.”
And again, in the work first cited, “The Israelitish nation, to whom the oracles of God were entrusted, never confounded false prophecies with the true, but all these writings are harmonious.” Then in another work, in speaking of the books of the Maccabees, he says, This writing the Jews never received in the same manner as the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, to which the Lord gave testimony as by his own witnesses.” And frequently in his works, he confines the canonical books to those properly included in this threefold division. He also repeatedly declares that the canonical Scriptures, which are of most eminent authority, are the books committed to the Jews. But in the eighteenth book of the City of God, speaking of Judith, he says, “Those things which are written in this book, it is said, the Jews have never received into the Canon of Scripture.” And in the seventeenth book of the same work, “There are three books of Solomon, which have been received into canonical 55authority, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles; the other two, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, have been called by his name, through a custom which prevailed on account of their similarity to his writings; but the more learned are certain that they are not his; and they cannot be brought forward with much confidence for the conviction of gainsayers.”
He allows that the Book of Wisdom may be read to the people, and ought to be preferred to all other tracts; but he does not insist that the testimonies taken from it are decisive. And respecting Ecclesiasticus, he says when speaking of Samuel’s prophesying after his death, “But if this book is objected to because it is not found in the Canon of the Jews,” &c. His rejection of the books of Maccabees from the Canon is repeated and explicit. “The calculation of the times after the restoring of the temple is not found in the Holy Scriptures, which are called canonical, but in certain other books, among which are the two books of Maccabees. The Jews do not receive the Maccabees as the Law and the Prophets.”
It may be admitted, however, that Augustine entertained too high an opinion of these apocryphal books, but it is certain that he did not put them on a level with the genuine canonical books. He mentions a custom which prevailed in his time, from which it appears that although the apocryphal books were read in some of the churches, they were not read as Holy Scripture, nor put on a level with the canonical books; for he informs us that they were not permitted to be read from the same desk as the Canonical Scriptures, but from a lower place in the church.
Innocent the first, who lived about the same 56time, is also alluded to as a witness to prove that these disputed books were then received into the Canon. But the epistle which contains his catalogue is extremely suspicious. No mention is made of this epistle by any writer for three hundred years after the death of Innocent. But it is noways necessary to our argument to deny that in the end of the fourth and beginning of the fifth century, some individuals, and perhaps some councils, received these books as canonical, yet there is strong evidence that this was not the opinion of the universal church; for in the council of Chalcedon, which is reckoned to be œcumenical, the Canons of the council of Laodicea which contain a catalogue of the genuine books of the Old Testament, are adopted. And it has been shown already that these apocryphal books were excluded from that catalogue.
But it can be proved that even until the time of the meeting of the Council of Trent, by which these books were solemnly canonized, the most learned and judicious of the Popish writers adhere to the opinions of Jerome and the ancients; or at least make a marked distinction between these disputed books and those which are acknowledged to be canonical by all. A few testimonies from distinguished writers, from the commencement of the sixth century down to the era of the Reformation, shall now be given.
It deserves to be particularly observed here that in one of the laws of the Emperor Justinian, concerning ecclesiastical matters, it was enacted, “That the Canons of the first four general councils should be received and have the force of laws.”
Anastasius, patriarch of Antioch, in a work on the Creation, makes “the number of books which God 57hath appointed for his Old Testament” to be no more than twenty-two; although he speaks in very high terms of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus.
Leontius, a learned and accurate writer, in his book against the Sects, acknowledges no other canonical books of the Old Testament, but those which the Hebrews received; namely, twelve historical books, five prophetical, four of Doctrine and Instruction, and one of Psalms; making the number twenty-two as usual; and he makes not the least mention of any others.
Gregory, who lived at the beginning of the seventh century, in his book of Morals, makes an apology for alleging a passage from the Maccabees, and says, “Though it be not taken from the canonical Scripture, yet it is cited from a book which was published for the edification of the church.”
Isidore, bishop of Seville, divides the canonical books of the Old Testament into three orders, the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa; and afterwards adds—“There is a fourth order of books which are not in the Hebrew Canon of the Old Testament.” Here he names these books, and says, “Though the Jews rejected them as apocryphal, the church has received them among the canonical Scriptures.”
John Damascene, a Syrian Presbyter, who lived early in the eighth century, adheres to the Hebrew Canon of the Old Testament, numbering only two-and-twenty books. Of Maccabees, Judith and Tobit, he says not one word; but he speaks of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as “elegant and virtuous writings, yet not to be numbered among the canonical books of 58Scripture, never having been laid up in the ark of the Covenant.”
Venerable Bede follows the ancient method of dividing the books of the Old Testament into three classes; but he remarkably distinguishes the Maccabees from the canonical books by classing them with the writings of Josephus and Julius the African.
Alcuin, the disciple of Bede, says, “The book of the son of Sirach was reputed an apocryphal and dubious Scripture.”
Rupert, a learned man of the twelfth century, expressly rejects the book of Wisdom from the Canon.
Peter Mauritius, after giving a catalogue of the authentic Scriptures of the Old Testament, adds the six disputed books, and says, “They are useful and commendable in the church, but are not to be placed in the same dignity with the rest.”
Hugo de S. Victore, a Saxon by birth, but who resided at Paris, gives a catalogue of the books of the Old Testament, which includes no others but the two-and-twenty received from the Jews. Of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit and Judith, he says, “They are used in the church but not written in the Canon.”
Richard de S. Victore, also of the twelfth century, in his Books of Collections, explicitly declares, “That there are but twenty-two books in the Canon; and that Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, and the Maccabees, are not esteemed canonical although they are read in the churches.”
Peter Lombard, in his Scholastic History, enumerates the books of the Old Testament, thus—Five books of Moses, eight of the prophets, and nine of the Hagiographa, which leaves no room for these six disputed 59books; but in his preface to Tobit he says expressly, that it is “in no order of the Canon;” and of Judith, that “Jerome and the Hebrews place it in the apocrypha.” Moreover, he calls the story of Bel and the Dragon a fable, and says that the history of Susannah is not as true as it should be.
In this century also lived John of Salisbury, an Englishman, a man highly respected in his time. In one of his Epistles, he treats this subject at large, and professes to follow Jerome and undoubtedly to believe that there are but twenty-two books in the Canon of the Old Testament, all which he names in order, and adds, “That neither the book of Wisdom, nor Ecclesiasticus, nor Judith, nor Tobit, nor the Pastor, nor the Maccabees, are esteemed canonical.”
In the thirteenth century, the opinion of the learned was the same, as we may see by the Ordinary Gloss on the Bible, in the composition of which many persons were concerned, and which was high approved by all the doctors and pastors in the western churches. In the preface to this gloss, they are reproached with ignorance who hold all the books, put into the one volume of Scripture, in equal veneration. The difference between these books is asserted to be as great as between certain and doubtful works. The canonical books are declared, “To have been written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; but who were the authors of the others is unknown.” Then it is declared, “That the church permitteth the reading of the apocryphal books for devotion and instruction, but not for authority to decide matters of controversy in faith. And that there are no more than twenty-two canonical books of the Old Testament, and all besides are apocryphal.” 606Thus we have the common judgment of the church, in the thirteenth century, in direct opposition to the decree of the Council of Trent in the sixteenth. But this is not all, for when the writers of this Gloss come to the apocryphal books, they prefix a caution, as—“Here begins the book of Tobit, which is not in the Canon;”—“Here begins the book of Judith, which is not in the Canon,” and so of every one of them; and to confirm their opinion, they appeal to the Fathers.
Hugo, the Cardinal, who lived in this century, wrote commentaries on all the Scriptures, which were universally esteemed; in these he constantly keeps up the distinction between the canonical and ecclesiastical books: and he explicitly declares that “Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, Judith, Tobit, and the Maccabees, are apocryphal,—dubious,—not canonical,—not received by the church for proving any matters of faith, but for information of manners.”
Thomas Aquinas also, the most famous of the schoolmen, makes the same distinction between these classes of books. He maintains that the book of Wisdom was not held to be a part of the Canon, and ascribes it to Philo. The story of Bel and the Dragon, he calls a fable; and he shows clearly enough that he did not believe that Ecclesiasticus was of canonical authority.
In the fourteenth century no man acquired so extensive a reputation for his commentaries on the Bible, as Nicholas Lyra, a converted Jew. In his preface to the book of Tobit, he says, ” That having commented on all the canonical books, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, his intention now was to write on those books which are not canonical.” 61Here he enumerates Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobit, and the Maccabees; and then adds, “The canonical books are not only before these in time but in dignity and authority.” And again, “These are not in the Canon, but received by the church to be read for instruction in manners, not to be used for deciding controversies respecting the faith; whereas the others are of such authority that whatever they contain is to be held as undoubted truth.”
The Englishman, William Occam, of Oxford, accounted the most learned doctor of his age, in his Dialogues, acknowledges, “That that honor is due only to the divine writers of Scripture, that we should esteem them free from all error.” Moreover, in his Prologues, he fully assents to the opinion of Jerome and Gregory, “That neither Judith, nor Tobit, nor the Maccabees, nor Wisdom, nor Ecclesiasticus, is to be received into the same place of honour as the inspired books; “for,” says he, “the church doth not number them among the canonical Scriptures.”
In the fifteenth century, Thomas Anglicus, sometimes called the Angelical Doctor on account of his excellent judgment, numbers twenty-four books of the Old Testament, if Ruth be reckoned separately from Judges, and Lamentations from Jeremiah.
Paul Burgensis, a Spanish Jew, who, after his conversion to Christianity, on account of his superior knowledge and piety, was advanced to be bishop of Burgos, wrote notes on the Bible, in which he retains the same distinction of books which has been so often mentioned.
The Romanists have at last, as they suppose, found an authority for these disputed books in the Council 62of Florence, from the Acts of which they produce a decree in which the six disputed books are named and expressly said to be written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
Though this Canon were genuine, the authority of a council sitting in such circumstances, as attended the meeting of this, would have very little weight; but Dr. Cosins has shown that in the large copies of the acts of this council no such decree can be found, and that it has been foisted into the abridgment by some impostor who omitted something else to make room for it, and thus preserved the number of Canons unchanged, while the substance of them was altered.
Alphonso Tostatus, bishop of Avila, who, on account of his extraordinary learning, was called the wonder of the world, has given a clear and decisive testimony on this subject. This learned man declares, “That these controverted books were not canonical, and that the church condemned no man for disobedience who did not receive them as the other Scriptures, because they were of uncertain origin, and it is not known that they were written by inspiration.” And again, “Because the church is uncertain whether heretics have not added to them.” This opinion he repeats in several parts of his works.”
Cardinal Ximenes, the celebrated editor of the Complutensian Polyglot, in the preface to that work, admonishes the reader that Judith, Tobit, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Maccabees, with the additions to Esther and Daniel, which are found in the Greek, are not canonical Scriptures.
John Picus, the learned count of Mirandula, adhered 63firmly to the opinion of Jerome and the other Fathers on the subject of the Canon.
Faber Stapulensis, a famous doctor of Paris, acknowledges that these books are not in the Canon.
Ludovicus Vives, one of the most learned men of his age, in his commentaries on Augustine’s City of God, rejects the third and fourth books of Esdras, and also the history of Susannah, and Bel, as apocryphal. He speaks in such a manner of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus as to show that he did not esteem them canonical; for he makes Philo to be the author of the former, and the son of Sirach of the latter, who lived in the time of Ptolemy about an hundred years after the last of the Prophets; and of the Maccabees, he doubts whether Josephus was the author or not; by which he sufficiently shows that he did not believe that they were written by inspiration.
But there was no man in this age who obtained so high a reputation for learning and critical skill as Erasmus. In his exposition of the Apostles’ Creed and the Decalogue, he discusses this question respecting the canonical books, and after enumerating the usual books of the Old Testament, he says, “The ancient Fathers admitted no more;” but of the other books afterwards received into ecclesiastical use, (naming the whole which we esteem apocryphal,) “It is uncertain what authority should be allowed to them; but the canonical Scriptures are such as without controversy are believed to have been written by the inspiration of God.” And in his Scholia on Jerome’s preface to Daniel, he expresses his wonder that such stories as Bel and the Dragon should be publicly read in the churches. In his address to students of the 64Scriptures, he admonishes them to consider well, “That the church never intended to give the same authority to Tobit, Judith and Wisdom, which is given to the five books of Moses or the four Evangelists.”
The last testimony which we shall adduce to show that these books were not universally nor commonly received, until the very time of the Council of Trent, is that of Cardinal Cajetan, the oracle of the church of Rome. In his commentaries on the Bible, he gives us this as the rule of the church—“That those books which were canonical with Jerome should be so with us; and that those which were not received as canonical by him should be considered as excluded by us.” And he says, “The church is much indebted to this Father for distinguishing between the books which are canonical and those which are not, for thus he has freed us from the reproach of the Hebrews, who otherwise might say that we had framed a new Canon for ourselves.” For this reason he would write no commentaries on these apocryphal books; “for,” says he, “Judith, Tobit, Maccabees, Wisdom, and the additions to Esther are all excluded from the Canon as insufficient to prove any matter of faith, though they may be read for the edifying of the people.”
From the copious citations of testimonies which we have given, it is evident that the books in dispute are apocryphal, and have no right to a place in the Canon; and that the Council of Trent acted unwisely in decreeing, with an anathema annexed, that they should be received as divine. Surely no council can make that an inspired book which was not written by inspiration. Certainly these books did not belong to the Canon while the apostles lived, for they were unknown 65both to Jews and Christians. Sixtus Sinensis, a distinguished Romanist, acknowledges that it was long after the time of the apostles, that these writings came to the knowledge of the whole Christian church. But while this is conceded, it does not terminate the controversy, for among the many extraordinary claims of the Romish church, one of the most extraordinary is the authority to add to the Canon of Holy Scripture. It has been made sufficiently manifest that these apocryphal books were not included in the Canon during the first three centuries; and can it be doubted whether the Canon was fully constituted before the fourth century? To suppose that a Pope or a Council can make what books they please canonical, is too absurd to deserve a moment’s consideration. If, upon this principle, they could render Tobit and Judith canonical, upon the same they might introduce Herodotus, Livy, or even the Koran itself.66
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