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logy, which appeals to this record, was presented to a learned emperor, and to the whole body of the Roman senate. This father in his apology, speaking of the death and suffering of our Saviour, refers the emperor for the truth of what he says to the acts of Pontius Pilate, which I have here mentioned. Tertullian, who wrote his apology about fifty years after Justin, doubtless referred to the same record, when he tells the governor of Rome, that the Emperor Tiberius, having received an account out of Palestine in Syria of the Divine Person who had appeared in that country, paid hiin à particular regard, and threatened to punish any who should accuse the Christians; nay, that the emperor would have adopted him among the deities, whom they worshipped, had not the senate refused to come into his proposal. Tertullian, who gives us this history, was not only one of the most learned men of his age, but, what adds a greater weight to his authority in this case, was eminently skilful and well read in the laws of the Roman empire. Nor can it be said, that Tertullian grounded his quotation upon the authority of Justin Martyr, because we find he mixes it with matters of fact which are not related by that author. Eusebius mentions the same ancient record, but, as it was not extant in his time, I shall not insist upon his authority in this point. If it be objected that this particular is not mentioned in any Roman historian, I shall use the same argument in a parallel case, and see whether it will carry any force with it. Ulpian, the great Roman lawyer, gathered together all the imperial edicts that had been made against the Christians. But did any one ever say that there had been no such edicts, because they were not mentioned in the histories of those emperors ? Besides, who knows but this circumstance of Tiberius was mentioned in other historians that have been lost, though not to be found in any still extant? Has not Suetonius many particulars of this emperor omitted by Tacitus, and Herodian many
that are not so inuch as hinted at by either? As for the spurious acts of Pilate, now extant, we know the occasion and time of their writing; and bad there not been a true and authentic record of this nature, they would never have been forged.
VIII. The story of Agbarus, king of Edessa, relating to the letter which he sent to our Saviour, and to that which he received from him, is a record of great authority; and though I will not insist upon it, may venture to say, that had we such an evidence for any fact in Pagan history, an author would be thought very unreasonable who should reject it. I believe you will be of my opinion, if you will peruse, with other authors who have appeared in vindication of these letters as genuine, the additional arguments which have been made use of by the late famous and learned Dr. Grabe, in the second volume of his Spicilegium.
I. What facts in the history of our Saviour might be tuken notice of by
Pagan author's. II. What particular facts are taken notice of, and by what Pagan authors. III. How Celsus represented our Saviour's miracles. IV. The same representations made of them by other unbelievers, and
proved unreasonable. V. What facts in our Saviour's history not to be expected from Pagan
1. We now come to consider what undoubted authorities are extant among Pagan writers; and here we must premise, that some parts of our Saviour’s history may be reasonably expected from Pagans. I mean such parts as might be known to those who lived at a distance from Judea, as well as to those who were the followers and eye-witnesses of Christ.
II. Such particulars are most of these which follow, and which are all attested by some one or other
of those heathen authors, who lived in or near the age of our Saviour and his disciples. " That Augustus Cæsar had ordered the whole 'empire to be censed, or taxed,” which brought our Saviour's reputed parents to Bethlehem: this is mentioned by several Roman historians, as Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dion. " That a great light, or a new star, appeared in the east, which directed the wise men to our Saviour:” this is recorded by Chalcidius. “That Herod, the king of Palestine, so often mentioned in the Roman history, made a great slaughter of innocent children, being so jealous of his successor, that he put to death his own sons on that account: this character of him is given by several historians, and this cruel fact mentioned by Macrobius, a Heathen author, who tells it as a known thing, without any mark or doubt upon it.
That our Saviour had been in Egypt:" this Celsus, though he raises a monstrous story upon it, is so far from denying, that he tells us our Saviour learned the arts of magic in that country. “That Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; that our Saviour was brought in judgment before him, and by him condemned and crucified:” this is recorded by Tacitus. “That many miraculous cures and works, out of the ordinary course of
nature, were wrought by him:” this is confessed by Julian the apostate, Porphyry, and Hierocles, all of them not only Pagans, but professed enemies and per-, secutors of Christianity. “That our Saviour foretold several things, which came to pass according to his predictions:" this was attested by Phlegon in his Annals, as we are assured by the learned Origen against Celsus. “ That at the time when our Saviour died, there was a miraculous darkness, and a great earthquake:” this is recorded by the same Phlegon the Trallian, who was likewise a Pagan, and freeman to Adrian the Emperor. We may here observe, that a native of Trallium, which was not situate at so great a distance from Palestine, might very probably be informed of such remarkable events as had passed among
the Jews in the age immediately preceding his own times, since several of his countrymen with whom he had conversed, might have received a confused report of our Saviour before his crucifixion, and probably lived within the shake of the earthquake, and the shadow of the eclipse, which are recorded by this author. " That Christ was worshipped as a God among the Christians; that they would rather suffer death than blaspheme him; that they received a sacrament, and by it entered into a vow of abstaining from sin and wickedness,” conformable to the advice given by St. Paul; “ that they had private assemblies of worship, and used to join together in hymns.” This is the account which Pliny the younger gives of Christianity in his days, about seventy years after the death of Christ, and which agrees in all its circumstances with the accounts we have in holy writ, of the first state of Christianity after the crucifixion of our blessed Saviour. “ That St. Peter, whose miracles are many of them recorded in holy writ, did many wonderful works,” is owned by Julian the apostate, who therefore represents him as a great magician, and one who had in his possession a book of magical secrets left him by our Saviour. “That the devils, or evil spirits, were subject to them,” we may learn from Porphyry, who objects to Christianity, that since Jesus had begun to be worshipped, Æsculapius and the rest of the gods did no more converse with men. Nay, Celsus himself affirms the same thing in effect, when he says, that the power which seemed to reside in Christians, proceeded from the use of certain names, and the invocation of certain demons. Origen remarks on this passage, that the author doubtless hints at those Christians who put to flight evil spirits, and healed those who were possessed with them; a fact which had been often seen, and which he himself had seen, as he declares in another part of his discourse against Celsus. But at the same time, he assures us, that this miraculous power was exerted by the use of no other name but that of Jesus, to which were added several passages in his history, but nothing like any invocation to demons.
III. Celsus was so hard set with the report of our Saviour's miracles, and the confident attestations concerning him, that though he often intimates he did not believe them to be true, yet, knowing he might be silenced in such an answer, provides himself with another retreat, when beaten out of this: namely, that our Saviour was a magician. Thus he compares the feeding of so many thousands at two different times, with a few loaves and fishes, to the magical feasts of those Egyptian impostors, who would present their spectators with visionary entertainments that had in them neither substance nor reality: which, by the way, is to suppose, that a hungry and fainting multitude were filled by an apparation, or strengthened and refreshed with shadows. He knew very well that there were so many witnesses and actors, if I may call them such, in these two miracles, that it was impossible to refute such multitudes, who had doubtless sufficiently spread the fame of them, and was therefore in this place forced to resort to the other solution, that it was done by magic. It was not enough to say that a miracle which appeared to so many thousand eye-witnesses. was a forgery of Christ's disciples, and therefore, supposing them to be eye-witnesses, he endeavours to show how they might be deceived.
IV. The unconverted Heathens, who were pressed by the many authorities that confirmed our Saviour's miracles, as well as the unbelieving Jews, who had actually seen them, were driven to account for them after the same manner: for, to work by magic in the Heathen way of speaking, was, in the language of the Jews, to cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. Our Saviour, who knew that unbelievers in all ages would put this perverse interpretation on his miracles, has branded the malignity of those men, who, contrary to the dictates of their own hearts started