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“of the Lord draweth nigh,” which he confirms in the next verse, by adding, “ behold “ the judge standeth before the door;” whereby he plainly shews that he was no Apostle of Christ, nor well instructed in the Gospel prophecies respecting our Lord's coming again : for Paul wrote expressly to the Thessalonians to correct their misapprehension upon that very point, and to assure them, that before that predicted period would arrive, true Christianity would be shamefully corrupted, and a lamentable, sinful apostasy from the faith of the Gospel would be established in the world; which John told them would continue to prevail for near thirteen centuries. At the tenth verse, he tells them, to “take the prophets who have spoken in “ the name of the Lord,” (without doubt meaning the Apostles) “for an example of “suffering affliction and patience;” which proves that he was not himself an Apostle. The origin also of extreme unction, for which a direction is given, v. 14, is a demonstration that the writer himself was not endowed with the gift of healing; and that he wrote after those miraculous powers had ceased in the Church. The shocking doctrine also, v. 15, that a wicked Christian, upon the bed of sickmess, may receive forgiveness of his sins by
means of the prayers of the Elders of the Church; and the institution of auricular con
fession, v. 16, afford much more convincing proofs that this Epistle is one of the many spurious writings of the third century, than it is possible to produce in favour of its authenticity.
V. THE Epistle called the first of Peter, is supposed also to have been addressed to the Jewish converts to Christianity, that were dispersed throughout the several countries of Asia Minor; and, if so, it is liable to the objections already urged against the two lastmentioned Epistles. But, in c. ii., v. 10, speaking of those to whom the Epistle is directed, the author says, “which, in time past, “were not a people, but are now the people “ of God;" words which, in the prophecy of Hosea, from whence they are quoted, are spoken particularly of the conversion of the Gentiles, and could never, with any propriety, be applied to the Jews. However, whether it be supposed to be written to the Jewish or the Gentile converts, since the countries mentioned are precisely those where it was peculiarly allotted to Paul to preach the Gospel, whilst the province of Judea and Palestine was as peculiarly allotted to Peter, it cannot be believed, without much better evidence than is produced in favour of this Epistle, that Peter wrote it; especially when we find the author professing himself, c. iv. v. 3, to have been, in the former part of his life, a lascivious, lustful, drunken, riotous, and abomimably idolatrous Gentile. Peter also could not have been so ignorant of the sense of the Christian prophecies as to affirm, as this writer does, c. iv. v. 7, that when he wrote, the end of all things was at hand. The author professes too to write from Babylon, where, whether we understand Assyrian or Egyptian Babylon, there is not the least reason to believe Peter ever went. Could any Apostle of Jesus Christ write such nonsense as we find, c. iii. v. 19 and 20, about Christ's going by the spirit, and preaching to the spirits in prison, who were disobedient at the time of Noah's flood? And what is said, c. ii. v. 12, of the Christians being accused as "evil-doers, which, we know from Pliny's testimony, was not the case in the beginning of the second century, is another proof that this Epistle also, was not the work of any man of the Apostolic age, but of the third century. Of the second Epistle of Peter, and the Epistle of Jude, which were both evidently written with the same view, viz. to condemn those who opposed the ambitious growth of Clerical power and authority, that advanced apace and to a very unchristian height, in the third century and beginning of the fourth, and both, as seems probable from the style and similarity of expressions, by the same author, it is sufficient to remark, that they have no one testimony of their authenticity, . of the least weight, either internal or external; and that they were generally rejected as spurious, from the time of their first appearance till the fifth century: that the author of the second epistle of Peter, c. iii. v. 15 and 16, speaks of Paul's Epistles as being collected together, and universally known in his time: professes to have read them all; and says, there are some things in them hard to be understood; not one of which circumstances can be reasonably supposed of Peter: that both these Epistles refer to the fabulous legend of the fallen angels, and the story of Balaam's ass; and to some apocryphal fiction of a con
test between Michael and the Devil about the body of Moses; for the truth of all which, whether any other person be able to find faith, I cannot tell; but I am sure such a belief is utterly out of my power.
VT THE three remaining canonical Epistles are attributed to the Apostle John, the author of the Apocalypse, although the style is very different. Of these, the two last are too insignificant to merit much attention; it is, therefore, sufficient to observe concerning them, that all the writers of the fourth century, who are the first that mention them, inform us they were spoken against, and by many rejected as spurious. As to the first and most important of the three, it is evidently the work of the same hand as the Gospel at
tributed to the same Apostle; for, like a
'staunch disciple of the Platonic School, he 'speaks of our Saviour in his introduction, as he had done before in the introduction to his Evangelical History, as the Divine Logos of Plato, manifested to the world in human form. But he very. satisfactorily discovers that he was not John; and that he did not write this Epistle till a considerable time after the Apostolic age; for, c. ii.v. 18, he says, “Little