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which could be laid to the charge of was not adopted by all; and that the first Christians was their reli the testimony of those who were gion. The greater number of the converts is the testimony of interfirst converts were indeed of an in ested individuals. But it is obvious, ferior condition in life ; for the lower that, if all had become converts, the orders compose
great proportion same objection might have been of mankind. But it is not true that made to the united testimony of there were no Christians from any Jews and Gentiles, adherents of the other class. From the very first new faith,--that it comes with a preaching of the Gospel, we find suspicion annexed to it, as proceedmen yielding their assent to the ing from interested parties. And Christian faith, of learning, of rank, we have the testimony of men who of reputation, and who would have were Heathens, and who embraced done credit to any cause.
We have the Christian faith, not from interNicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews ; ested motives, but under a deep Joseph of Arimathea, a man of for conviction of its truth.f tune, and
a Counsellor; several There is another aspect in which Rulers of synagogues, and Centu. the subject may be considered. The rions, and Lawyers; Apollos, a man evidence upon which our religion of learning and eloquence; Diony chiefly rests is, the truth of statesius, a member of the Areopagus; ments contained in the New Testaand Sergius Paulus, a man of pro, ment, as to certain events which are consular authority.* At a period there reported to have taken place, somewhat later, we find a philoso at a strictly defined period of time, pher of Athens addressing an Apo within the liinits of Palestine. If logy for Christianity to the Emperor these events really took place, our Hadrian ; though not so late but religion must be true; while, on that even then a reference could be the other hand, if the evangelical made to those upon whom miracles narrative is proved to be a fabricahad been wrought by Jesus, who tion, our religion can be little differwere still alive. And, by the mid ent from many of the superstitions dle of the second century, those that have appeared on the face of who wrote in defence of Christianity the earth. The positive evidence in are acknowledged to exhibit equal favour of the truth of the Gospel learning, and zeal, and talent, with record is of the strongest nature. the other writers of the age. We We have competent witnesses offerhave the strongest external evidence for the accuracy of the statements
† The argument is admirably put by Dr. as to the matters of fact that are Chalmers. “A direct testimony to the miracles contained in the New Testament. of the New Testament from the mouth of a We find, from the very commence
Heathen is not to be expected. We cannot
satisfy this demand of the infidel ; but we can ment, men of learning, of talents, of
give him a host of much stronger testinionieg high station, uniting themselves with
than he is in quest of,--the testimony of those the lowly and despised, but pure men who were Heathens, and who embraced a and holy, followers of the Lord hazardous and a disgraceful profession, under a Jesus. But, on the other hand, we deep conviction of those facts to which they gave
their testimony. "O, but you now land us in find men of undoubted ability and
the testimony of Christians!' This is very true; learning, and some of them of high
but it is the very fact of their being Christians in reputation for virtue, making no which the strength of the argument lics. In the inention of Christianity, or speaking Christian Fathers we see men who, if they had of it disrespectfully, or arguing pro
not been Christians, would have risen to a high
eminence in the literature of the times; and fessedly, against it. How, then,
whose direct testimony in that case would have does this bear upon the question as been most impressive, even to the mind of an to the truth of our religion? Many infidel
. And are those testimonies to be less adopted it, but many also rejected impressive, because they were preceded by conit. The defect in the evidence, ac
viction and sealed by martyrdom? And yet, by
a delusion common to the infidel with the be. cording to unbelievers, is, that it
liever, the argument is held to be weakened by
the very circumstance which imparts greater * Watson's Apology, p. 65.
force to it.” (Chalmers's Evidences.)
ing an account of what they saw, in of dislike to the Christian cause ; circumstances of all others best cal. satirical descriptions of peculiari. culated to give us the assurance that ties, or supposed peculiarities, in they would speak nothing but the the character or conduct of india truth. So strong is the evidence vidual Christians; and reasonings that we are thus in possession of, of a general nature against the truth that it is difficult to conceive of any of our religion. This being the amount of counter evidence that case, the eariy adversaries of Chriswould warrant us in setting it aside. tianity are entitled to no peculiar We might, however, be reduced to a authority in the judgment that is painful state of scepticism, if, among formed upon the subject. They did the philosophers who flourished soon not avail themselves of their opporafter the first preaching of the Gos tunities ; they brought forward no pel, any had thoroughly examined facts that might throw new light the whole circumstances connected upon the subject; the evidence is with the propagation of Christianity, open to us as it was to them; and and brought forward facts affecting their opinion is entitled to no more the credibility of the Gospel wito weight than the opinion of unbe. nesses as men, or inconsistent with lievers in any later age. The posisome of their averments. Those tive testimony of an individual who who lived near the time in which examines and believes, is surely not our Saviour appeared, may be sup to be set aside by the mere opinion posed to have possessed facilities, of one who does not examine and which we cannot enjoy, of sifting disbelieves ; nor by him who ques. all the statements which were made tions not the fact, but the conclurespecting the character, and mira. sions to which the fact leads. cles, and doctrine of Christ and his These considerations weaken the Apostles. Now, is there any thing objection against the Gospel from of this description to be found in the scepticism or opposition of many the works referred to ? Did Pliny, of the ancient philosophers. It or Tacitus, or Plutarch, or any other must also be taken into account, of those illustrious men whose that a considerable time often names are so ostentatiously brought elapses ere those remote from the forward as the lovers of truth, as scene of events fully credit them, the practisers of virtue,-did they and deduce from them their proper institute an inquiry while the events consequences.
Often aversion to were yet recent ? did they shake consequences prolongs doubts as to the credit due to the Apostles by the facts and reasonings from whence detected instances of falsehood, or they are deduced.* Even in phydid they bring forward other wit- sical or moral science, when any nesses who bore a contrary testi. discovery is made that overturns mony? Did even those who, at a long-established systems, or that later period, professedly attacked interferes with the fame of rival phi. Christianity, make any attempt of losophers, we see that, while some this description ? Did Celsus, or readily admit the truth, others as Lucian, or Porphyry, deny that there obstinately reject it. Scepticism is was such an individual as Jesus long maintained on the part of many, Christ, or impeach the general cor as to the accuracy of the observa. rectness of the account of his life? tions which have been made, or as Nothing of this description is to be to the conclusiveness of the reasonfound in any of these writers. We ing founded upon them. And nohave from heathen testimony, dur- thing but the weight of public opiing the first and second centuries, a nion at last forces attention to facts confirmation of the general history which, when attended to, lead to of the New Testament; no endea- conviction. We know that there vour is made to set aside the facts was not a Physician in England, upon which our religion rests its above the age of forty, at the time claim upon our acceptance ; and we And nothing more than expressions
of Harvey's discovery, who believed their philosophical education afterin his doctrine as to the circulation wards in the cause of religion. But of the blood; and there were philo, others struggled more earnestly sophers of great eminence, forty against the new doctrines of Chrisyears after the death of Newton, tianity, because, in what they once who were believers in the vortices possessed, they had the complete of Descartes. And if prejudice has advantage over the rest of the Hea80 much influence in matters of thens. It would be a bitter draught mere science, can we wonder that to them to drink the waters of humi. its power should be greater in ques- lity and self-denial, as they must tions affecting our religious belief? have done, had they consented to Is it to be wondered at, that men form their habits of thought on a trained up in scepticism should look revelation given as a matter of hisupon Christianity as one of the tory. But there were, besides, deforms of religious delusion that craft cided differences in their habits of or superstition was imposing upon thought, and those which the Gos. mankind? The report of miracles pel requires. They must renounce performed at a distance would at their superiority in religion, and tract little notice in an age when uniie themselves with the multitude there were so many pretenders to whom they despised in one faith ; magical arts. It was a considerable and they must limit their love of time ere the books of the New Tes. speculation by the definite facts of tuent were collected together; and a revelation. They must find pure they might never come under the truth in one only religion, and give notice of the philosophers of the up their fanciful Heathenism, open first century, who would know as it was to speculation, and decked Christianity, therefore, only from with all the graces of poetry and the false representations of its ene rhetoric; and exchange an imagimies. The self-indulgent witlings native polytheism for a dry and of an irreligious age would see no einpty monotheism. Uninstructed thing, in the high and self-denying Jews must become more to thein virtues of the professors of the new than their god-like Plato. Instead religion, but a system of severity of the god of their contemplative abhorrent to all their maxims, that conception, from which all existence afforded a popular subject of their eternally flows by the principles of mockery and derision; and in the philosophical necessity, they were to humbling doctrines of the Cross, recognise a personal Deity, who the philosophers, whether of the created and who guides all things Porch or of the Academy, would by his own free will; and who looks see nothing but foolishness. The not on the vast whole alone, but on causes of the opposition of both each individual portion of it. these sects are well explained by Notice has already been taken of Neander.* As for the self-righteous all the references to Christianity in Stoice, the advocates of an apathy the rescripts and other writings of founded on philosophical persuasion, the Emperors, and in the works of they saw in the religion of the peo- the chief heathen authors, till the ple nothing but a blind fanaticism, middle of the second century; and because the influence which it ex in none of them do we find even the erted over man's spirit did not re attempt to substantiate any thing to pose on philosophical grounds of the disadvantage of the new faith ; demonstration. The Platonists were on the contrary, Pliny bears testi. nearest of all philosophers to Chris mony to their unexceptionable contianity; and they might find in their duct as citizens; while from these religious notions and their psycho sources we have evidence of the Jogy many points of union with fact, that the Christians were known Christianity. Many Platonists accordingly became converts, and used
† Upon the same principle, I may remark, we find both Epictetus and Marcus Antoninus dis.
pleased with the Christians for exceeding their * See vol. i., p. 165, Rose's Translation. own sect in patience and fortitude. VOL. XXIII. Third Series. JUNE, 1844.
as a sect before the end of the first degree favourable to a doubtful century; and that, amidst terrible cause. St. Austin * thus accounts persecution, their numbers were for his silence: If he had comrapidly increasing
mended the Christians, he might The silence of Seneca upon the have seemed unfriendly to the ansubject of the Christian religion has cient rites of his country. If he been differently viewed.
had blamed them, his censure would intimately connected with the court have been contrary to the dictates of Nero; where, from various causes,
of his own heart. It was no wonthe changes and commotions in der that, under a bad Prince, and Judea must have been much talked an intriguing court, the philosopher of. He was a Minister of State in judged caution to be necessary. 61, when Paul was brought a pri The only notice of the Christians soner to Rome; and it is not impro- by Epictetus, who Hourished about bable that he might be present, if the time of Trajan, is that in the the Apostle pleaded his cause be- passage where he inquires, whether fore ihe Emperor.
There were a inan could not, by the inquiries of saints in Cæsar's household, the reason into the laws and order of Apostle's bonds were known in the the world, obtain ihat fearlessness palace, and there were disturbances which the Galileans obtained by occasioned in Rome among the Jews habit and mad enthusiasm. Many on account of Christianity ; bis bro- authors have considered that alluther Gallio might inform him of the sion is made to the Christians in proceedings against Paul in Corinth; another part of the works of this and from these circumstances it is philosopher; but it appears doubtscarcely possible but that he should ful whether he confounded the Jews have known something of the new
with the Christians; nor is it, pero sect. It has been conjectured by haps, of much importance. The some, that Paul's Epistle to the passage is as follows (he is blaming Romans might be communicated to those who assume any character him by some of the members of the without acting up to it) :-“ Why,” royal household; and that all the says be, “ do you call yourself a things which have been mentioned Stoic? Why do you deceive the might contribute to the compara- multitude ? Why should you pretively favourable treatment which tend to be a Greek, when you are a Paul experienced. This, however, Jew? Do you not perceive upon is mere conjecture. There is an what terms a man is called a Jew, a ancient tradition, that there was an Syrian, an Egyptian? When we epistolary correspondence between see a man inconstant to his princiPaul and Seneca. Even this is not ples, we say, 'He is not a Jew, but impossible. The letters, however, only pretends to be so ;' but when that have come down to us are cer he has the temper of a man dipped I taiuly spurious ; though this by no
* De Civ. Dei, cap. vi. means proves that a genuine corre + Mrs. Carter remarks upon this passage: spondence may not at one time have “Epictetus probably means, not any remaining been in existence. Had Seneca disciples of Juda: of Galilee, but the Christians, been impressed with favourable sen
whom Julian afterwards affected to call Galitiments towards the Christians, his
leans. It helps to confirm this opinion, that
M. Antoninus (lib. ii., sect. 3) mentions thern by silence would not be extraordinary. their proper name of Christians, as suffering With all his admiration of virtue, death out of mere obstimacy. It would have he wanted firmness of mind to act been more reasonable, and more worthy the chaup to his own ideas of excellence.
racter of these great men, to have inquired into He amassed riches, but always gave worship heathen deities, and by which they were
the principles on which the Christians refused to the advice to live above them; and
enabled to support their sufferings with such while he urged others to benevo amazing constancy, than rashly to pronounce lence, he could forget its dictates
their behaviour the effect of obstinacy and liabit." himself. Such a man was not likely βεβαμμενου και ηρημενου, τοτε και εστι
+ Οταν δ' αναλαβη το σαθος, το του to subject himself to any hazard in proclaiming his attachment in any
τφ οντι, και καλειται Ιουδαιος. (Lib. ii., cap. 9.)
and professed, then he is indeed, story is not in Aulus Gellius ; nor and is called, a Jew. Even so we can it be considered as well authenare counterfeits, -Jews in name, but ticated. But, allowing that it were in reality something else."
true, how inferior is the display of There is an anecdote related of real moral dignity here, to that Epictetus, which has been employed which is recorded upon different by Celsus in his work against Chris- occasions of our Saviour ! + tianity. When this philosopher was in the condition of a slave, his mas
+ Where the disparity is so great, I feel that it ter one day amused himself in tor
is almost doing injustice to the character of our turing his leg. Epictetus smiling, divine Master to enter into a comparison. said, “You will break it.” And " When reviled, he reviled not again.” Insensiwhen it was broken, he said, “ Did bility to cruelty, however, he did not recomI not tell you, you would break
mend. When one of the officers of the High it?” This, Celsus pronounces to
Priest struck him with the palm of his hand,
Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, be superior to any thing recorded bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest of our Saviour's patience.* The thou me?" (John xviii. 23.) The arguments of
Origen are very striking. (Lib. vii.) * Τι τοιουτον δ υμετερος Θεος κολαζομενος εφθεγξατο; ;
1. Lectures delivered at Broadmead Chapel, Bristol. By John Foster.
pp. xii, 419. Jackson and Walford. 2. Contributions, Biographical, Literary, and Philosophical, to the Eclectic
Review. By John Foster. Two Volumes. 8vo. pp. riii, 570; iv, 527.
T. Ward and Co. Ar a very early period of Chris- followeth not us!” In the honest tian history did party spirit, with simplicity of his heart, John exhithat narrowness which is its unfail. bited the principle of his error. He ing, because natural, characteristic, thought not of saying, “ He follow-and by which, as a certain diag- eth not thee.” That was reserved Rostic, is this dangerous disease of for an age, as of greater malignity, the soul to be distinguished from 80 of greater cunning-an age when that healthy zeal which has all the falsehood not only assumed the garb expansiveness and generosity of of truth, but deliberated on the arChristian love,-make its appear. gumentation by which the hypocrisy ance among the disciples of our was to be supported. Christ, inLord. “Master, we saw one cast. deed, could not be, in plain terms, ing out devils in thy name, and he set on one side, that his place might followeth not us: and we forbade be taken by an unregenerate, though him, because he followeth not us.” baptized, society, bearing the halDevils were cast out; and it was lowed name of church ; but that not human might that could prevail society, merely in virtue of a ritual against that terrible mischief, and (in the stead of the Levitical lineal) rescue the prey from the very jaws descent, was assumed to be so idenof the ravening wolf. And it was tified with Christ, as to be the only done, not in that proud reliance on means of union with him, and to an arm of flesh which, above all hin- have the right to say, “He who is derances, separates from the power not united to us, is not united to which only doeth marvellous things, Christ.”
not John's but in the name of Christ. And error ; but its tendency was towards yet,-—" We forbade him, because he it. But our Lord at once put down