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days to see the value of written documents in conserving the faith, and they wade desperate efforts to destroy these titledeeds of the Christian hope. Not a few of the early disciples suffered death for refusing to deliver up their sacred books. Some, indeed, overcome by the terrors of a fierce persecution, did, in the hour of temptation, consent to surrender their treasures, but they bore ever afterward the odious name, traditores ; and it was with the utmost difficulty that any of them could be received again into the communion of the Church, even after a long repentance and the most humbling confession of their fault. We may, therefore, well believe that the effort of Diocletian failed as entirely as did that of Antiochus Epiphanes, who, centuries before, sought to accomplish a similar purpose in respect to the sacred volume of the Jews. In neither case did threats and tortures succeed. Neither the Old Testament nor the New, nor any portion of them, was obliterated. We have all that our gracious God intended us to have nothing more, nothing less.
Our existing Canon of the New Testament is, then, a complete whole, varied indeed in its parts, but all bound together in a harmonious unity, and it thoroughly merits the encomium which its chief penman pronounced upon the Old Testament: “Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.” This admirable excellence is perceived whenever the book is faithfully studied; it is demonstrated by its influence in all the past upon individuals, families, and nations; it is shown yet more convincingly by comparison with any or all of the apocryphal writings. These are many and various. Not all of them have come down to us, but enough have survived to satisfy us that the early Church did not accept whatever oftered
itself as apostolic and divine, but employed a wise and discriminating criticism, and was as distinctly guided from abore in what it rejected as in what it adopted. There is a number of gospels intended to fill supposed gaps in the works of the four evangelists, but not one of them can for a moment stand a comparison with the canonical record. They are pnerile in style and substance, make no addition to our real knowledge, and are every way worthless. The same is true of the Acts of Pilate, the Letters of Paul to Seneca, the Letter of Abgarus to Jesus, and of all the rest. It would seem as if they were allowed to be produced and to survive in order to furnish all coming time a convenient test by which to determine the distance between the genuine productions of an apostolic pen and those that are spurious. A similar remark may be made concerning other productions written in good faith, but of simply human origin, which yet, in more than one case, were temporarily mistaken for apostolic, and classed with the legitimate Scripture. Such are the Shepherd of IIermas, the Epistle of Barnabas, etc. These are not silly and superstitious like the apocryphal books, but serious, and having a definite purpose. Yet they are written on a low, human, earthly plane, without any definite grasp of revealed truth and wholly destitute of the intense spiritual power of the genuine Word. IIence it is not strange that after being for a time mixed up with the genuine accents of inspiration their true character became known, and they were quietly dropped from the position to which they had no claim, and now serve no purpose save that of showing how great is the difference between a religious teacher who writes in dependence upon his own resources and one who is under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. There is nothing in the whole range of antiquity which any competent authority would wish to add to the existing Canon, nothing which, if so added, would be anything
else than a drawback- something that had to be explained and apologized for.
It may then be said in conclusion, that the external evidence is fully corroborated by the internal, leaving us no room to doubt that the existing Canon of Scripture as recognized by Protestant Christendom is strictly accurate, having nothing superfluous and nothing lacking, but containing the whole mind of the Spirit so far as it has been revealed. God, having been pleased to make a revelation of Ilimself to our race and to inspire holy men to make an exact record of that revelation, has also seen fit in His wise and holy Providence to guard the transmission of it down through the ages so that it comes to us in all its original integrity, and we believe and are sure that we are not following cunningly-derised fables, but possess the living oracles of the living God. The external evidence and the internal combine to justify this conclusion in which the Church of God has calmly rested for centuries. From time to time portions of the Canon have been violently attacked, and the assailants often raised a shout of triumph, but the triumph was short. After the smoke had cleared away it was seen that the foundations of revealed truth had not suffered in the least, but only displayed anew their immorable solidity.
PREACH THE WORD.
ONE of the latest injunctions of the aged Paul, just before his martyrdom, was that to Timothy, which constitutes the text of my address—“ Preach the Word.” Thirty years of Christian experience, fifteen years of apostolic survey, and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, all spoke in those words. It was a command from heaven itself, not to Timothy only, but to all who fill the office of evangelists or preachers in the New Testament Church. The order, thus succinctly given, is a condensation of all that Paul had said to Timothy or to the Church on the subject of preaching. The sound or healthy doctrine on which he lays so much stress, and the avoidance of fables and the world's wisdom, are both included in this curt cominand. There has been a tendency from the very begin. ning to conform the doctrine of Christ to the philosophy of man, to fuse the two together, and to show that all religions bave the same divine element at their roots. This was seen in Gnosticism, in the Alexandrian school of Clement and Origen, and in a score of heresies that sprang up within the later Church. The distinctive character of Christianity has displeased the philosophic mind, and men have sought to explain away many of its features from the stand-point of the human consciousness and by an appeal to the teachings of nature. These efforts have certain marks in common. They diminish the heinousness of sin, they exaggerate the powers of man, and they suggest a uniformity of destiny. Sin is a defect, perhaps a disease. The defect can be supplied, the disease can be cured by
human applications, the divine help being valuable as encouragement to the human effort. High civilization and moral reform are what man needs, and these can be obtained by the use of general principles common to our race, of which Christianity is only one of the forms.
It is natural and inevitable that, with this teaching, the written Word of God should be neglected, if not ignored. No one can study that Word and then use it for so broad and undiscriminating a purpose. No one can study that Word and then. be contented with a superficial polish of society, and a universal brotherhood founded on such a scheme. Paul saw this tendency in his own day, and he warns the Church earnestly against it. “Beware” is his language_“ Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rndiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. ii. 8). The evil principle is ever at work. Human nature is ever the same. The Church is always subject to the same efforts of human nature within itself to remove the foundations of grace and substitute the inventions of pride. Whether it appear in the forın of hierarchical assumption, or in the character of rational inquiry and scientific research, the evil principle hides, mutilates, or contradicts the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures, as they are, with their divine claim and their uncompromising teachings, it cannot endure, and the appeal to Scripture it counts as a mark of credulity and an exhibition of igno
One of the saddest sights in the Church of Christ is the yielding to this spirit of pride on the part of the ordained preachers of the Word. Many modern Timothys use the pulpit for discourses on art and literature, others take the opportunity for the display of rhetoric and oratory, others proclaim an ethics of expediency, while still others seek only to tickle the ears of an audience that desire to be amused. In all this you look in rain for the Gospel.