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such an unreasonable objection, as a blasphemy against, the Holy Ghost, and declared not only the guilt, but the punishment of so black a crime. At the same time he condescended to show the vanity and emptiness of this objection against his miracles, by representing that they evidently tended to the destruction of those powers, to whose assistance the enemies of his doctrine then ascribed them. An argument, which, if duly weighed, renders the objection so very frivolous and groundless, that we may venture to call it even blasphemy against common sense. Would magic endeavour to draw off the minds of men from the worship which was paid to stocks and stones, to give them an abhorrence of those evil spirits who rejoiced in the most cruel sacrifices, and in offerings of the greatest impurity; and, in short, to call upon mankind to exert their whole strength in the love and adoration of that one Being, from whom they derived their existence, and on whom only they were taught to depend every moment for the happiness and continuance of it? Was it the business of magic to humanise our natures with compassion, forgiveness, and all the instances of the most extensive charity? Would evil spirits contribute to make men sober, chaste, and temperate, and in a word to produce that reformation, which was wrought in the moral world by those doctrines of our Saviour, that received their sanction from his miracles? Nor is it possible to imagine, that evil spirits would enter into a combination with our Saviour to cut off all their correspondence and intercourse with mankind, and to prevent any for the future from addicting themselves to those rites and ceremonies, which had done them so much honour. We see the early effect which Christianity had on the minds of men in this particular, by that number of books, which were filled with the secrets of magic, and made a sacrifice to Christiạnity by the converts mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. We have likewise an eminent instance of the inconsistency of our religion with magic, in the history of the famous Aquila. This person, who was kinsman of the Emperor Trajan, and likewise a man of great learning, notwithstanding he had embraced Christianity, could not be brought off from the studies of magic, by the repeated admonitions of his fellow Christians: so that at length they expelled him tlieir society, as rather chusing to lose the reputation of so considerable a proselyte, than communicate with one who dealt in such dark and infernal practices. Besides we may observe, that all the favourers of magic were the most professed and bitter enemies to the Christian religion. Not to mention Simon Magus and many others, I shall only take notice of those two great persecutors of Christianity, the Emperor Adrian and Julian the apostate, both of them initiated in the mysteries of divination, and skilled in all the depths of magic. I shall only add, that evil spirits cannot be supposed to have concurred in the establishment of a religion, which triumphed over them, drove them out of the places they possessed, and divested them of their influence on mankind; nor would I mention this particular, though it be unanimously reported by all the ancient Christian authors, did it not appear from the authorities above cited, that this was a fact confessed by Heathens themselves.
V. We now see what a multitude of Pagan testimonies may be produced for all those remarkable passages, which might have been expected from them: and indeed of several, that, I believe, do more than answer your expectation, as they were not subjects in their own nature so exposed to public notoriety. It cannot be expected they should mention particulars, which were transacted amongst the disciples only, or among some few even of the disciples themselves; such as the transfiguration, the agony in the garden, the appearance of Christ after his resurrection, and others of the like nature. It was impossible for a Heathen, , author to relate these things; because if he had believed them, he would no longer have been a Heathen,
and by that means his testimony would not have been thought of so much validity. Besides, his very report of facts, so favourable to Christianity, would have prompted men to say that he was probably tainted with their doctrine. We have a parallel case in Hecatæus, a famous Greek historian, who had several passages in his book conformable to the history of the Jewish writers, which, when quoted by Josephus, as a confirmation of the Jewish history, when his heathen adversaries could give no other answer to it, they would needs suppose that Hecatæus was a Jew in his heart, though they had no other reason for it, but because his history gave greater authority to the Jewish than the Egyptian records.
I. Introduction to a second list of Pagan authors, who gave testimony of
our Saviour. II. A passage concerning our Saviour, from a learned Athenian. III. His conversion from Paganism to Christianity makes his evidence
stronger than if he had continued a Pagan. IV. Of another Athenian philosopher converted to Christianity. V. Why their conversion, instead of weakening, strengthens their evidence
in defence of Christianity. VI. Their belief in our Saviour's history founded at first upon the princi
ples of historical faith. VII. Their testimonies extended to all the particulars of our Saviour's
history. VIII. As related by the four Evangelists. 1. To this list of Heathen writers, who make mention of our Saviour, or touch upon any particulars of his life, I shall add those authors who were at first Heathens, and afterwards converted to Christianity; upon which account, as I shall here show, their testimonies are to be looked upon as the more authentic. And in this list of evidences, I shall confine myself to such learned Pagans as came over to Christianity in the three first centuries, because those were the times in VOL. V.
which men had the best means of informing themselves of the truth of our Saviour's history, and because among the great number of philosophers who came in afterwards, under the reigns of Christian emperors, there might be several who did it partly out of worldly motives.
II. Let us now suppose, that a learned heathen writer who lived within sixty years of our Saviour's crucifixion, after having shown that false miracles were generally wrought in obscurity, and before few or no witnesses, speaking of those which were wrought by our Saviour, has the following passage:
" but his works were always seen, because they were true, they were seen by those who were healed, and by those who were raised from the dead. Nay, these persons, who were thus healed, and raised, were seen not only at the time of their being healed and raised, but long afterwards. Nay they were seen not only all the while our Saviour was upon earth, but survived after his departure out of this world, nay some of them were living in our
III. I dare say you would look upon this as a glorious attestation for the cause of Christianity, had it come from the hand of a famous Athenian philosopher. These forementioned words however are actually the words of one who lived about sixty years after our Saviour's crucifixion, and was a famous philosopher in Athens: but it will be said, he was a convert to Christianity. Now, consider this matter impartially, and see if his testimony is not much more valid for that reason. Had he continued a Pagan philosopher, would not the world have said, that he was not sincere in what he writ, or did not believe it? for, if so, would not they have told us he would have embraced Christianity? This was indeed the case of this excellent man: he had so thoroughly examined the truth of our Saviour's history, and the excellency of that religion which he taught, and was so entirely convinced of both, that he became a proselyte, and died a martyr.
IV. Aristides was an Athenian philosopher, at the same time, famed for his learning and wisdom, but converted to Christianity. As it cannot be questioned that he perused and approved the apology of Quadratus, in which is the passage just now cited, he joined with him in an apology of his own, to the same emperor, on the same subject. This apology, though now lost, was extant in the time of Ado Vinnensis, A. D. 870, and highly esteemed by the most learned Athenians, as that author witnesses. It must have contained great arguments for the truth of our Saviour's history, because in it he asserted the divinity of our Saviour, which could not but engage him in the proof of his miracles.
V. I do allow that, generally speaking, a man is not so acceptable and unquestioned an evidence in -facts, which make for the advancement of his own party. But we must consider that, in the case before us, the persons to whom we appeal, were of an opposite party, till they were persuaded of the truth of those very facts which they report. They bear evidence to a history in defence of Christianity, the truth of which history was their motive to embrace Christianity. They attest facts which they had heard while they were yet Heathens, and had they not found reason to believe them, they would still have continued Heathens, and have made no mention of them in their writings.
VI. When a man is born under Christian parents, and trained up in the profession of that religion from a child, he generally guides himself by the rules of Christian faith in believing what is delivered by the Evangelists; but the learned Pagans of antiquity, before they became Christians, were only guided by the common rules of historical faith: that is, they examined the nature of the evidence which was to be met with in common fame, tradition, and the writings of those persons who related them, together with the number, concurrence, veracity, and private characters