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and their labours, to notice the number of Christian writers who flourished in these ages. Saint Jerome's catalogue contains sixty-six writers within the first three centuries, and the first six years of the fourth; and fifty-four between that time and his own, viz. A. D. 392. Jerome introduces his catalogue with the following just remonstrance:-“ Let those who
the church has had no philosophers, nor eloquent and learned men, observe who and what they were who founded, established, and adorned it: let them cease to accuse our faith of rusticity, and confess their mistake*.” Of these writers, several, as Justin, Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Bardesanes, Hippolitus, Eusebius, were voluminous writers. Christian writers abounded particularly about the year 178. Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, founded a library in that city, A. D. 212. Pamphilus, the friend of Origen, founded a library at Cesarea, A. D. 294. Public defences were also set forth, by various advocates of the religion, in the course of its first three centuries. Within one hundred years after Christ's ascension, Quadratus and Aristides, whose works, except some few fragments of the first, are lost; and about twenty years afterwards, Justin Martyr, whose works remain ; presented apologies for the Christian religion to the Roman
* Jer. Prol. in Lib. de Scr. Eccl.
emperors ; Quadratus and Aristides' to Adrian, Justin to Antoninus Pius, and a second to Marcus Antoninus. Melito, bishop of Sardis, and Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis, and Miltiades, men of great reputation, did the same to Mar'cus Antoninus, twenty years afterwards* : and ten years after this, Apollonius, who suffered martyrdom under the emperor Commodus, composed an apology for his faith, which he read in the senate, and which was afterwards publishedt. Fourteen years after the apology of Apollonius, Tertullian addressed the work which now remains under that name to the governors of provinces in the Roman empire ; and about the same time, Minucius Felix com
* Euseb. Hist. lib. iv. c. 26. See also Lardner, vol. ii.
+ Lardner, vol. ii. p. 687.
posed a defence of the Christian religion, which is still extant; and, shortly after the conclusion of this century, copious defences of Christianity were published by Arnobius and Lactantius.
Reflections upon the preceding account.
In viewing the progress of Christianity, our first attention is due to the number of converts at Jerusalem, immediately after its Founder's death; because this success was a success at the time, and
the spot, when and where the chief part of the history had been transacted.
in the next place, called upon to attend to the early establishment of numerous Christian societies in Judea and Galilee; which countries had been the scene of Christ's miracles and ministry, and where the memory of what had passed, and the knowledge of what was alleged, must have yet been fresh and certain.
We are, thirdly, invited to recollect the success of the apostles and of their com
panions, at the several places to which they came, both within and without Judea; because it was the credit given to original witnesses, appealing for the truth of their accounts to what themselves had seen and heard. The effect also of their preaching strongly confirms the truth of what our history positively and circumstantially relates, that they were able to exhibit to their hearers supernatural attestations of their mission.
We are, lastly, to consider the subsequent growth and spread of the religion, of which we receive successive intimations, and satisfactory, though general and occasional, ac-. counts until its full and final establishment.
In all these several stages, the history is without a parallel : for it must be observed, that we have not now been tracing the progress, and describing the prevalency, of an opinion, founded upon philosophical or critical arguments, upon mere deductions of reason, or the construction of ancient writings (of which kind are the several theories which have, at different times,