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promised Messiah: and, if he was, what were the consequences, what was the object and benefit of his mission?
The general observation which has been made upon the apostolic writings, namely, that the subject of which they treated, did not lead them to any direct recital of the Christian history, belongs ålsc to the writings of the apostolic fathers. The epistle of Barnabas is, in its subject and general composition, much like the epistle to the Hebrews; an allegorical application of divers passages of the Jewish history, of their law and ritual, to those parts of the Christian dispensation in which the author perceived a resemblance. The epistle of Clement was written for the sole purpose of quieting certain dissensions that had arisen amongst the members of the church of Corinth, and of reviving in their minds that temper and spirit of which their predecessors in the Gospel had left them an example. The work of Hermas is a vision; quotes neither the Old Testament nor the New and merely falls now and then into the language, and the mode of
speech, which the author had read in our Gospels. The epistles of Polycarp and Ignatius had for their principal object the order and discipline of the churches which they addressed. Yet, under all these circumstances of disadvantage, the great points of the Christian history are fully recognised. This hath been shown in its proper place*.
There is, however, another class of writers, to whom the answer above given, viz. the unsuitableness of any such appeals or references as the objection demands, to the subjects of which the writings treated, does not apply; and that is, the class of ancient apologists, whose declared design it was, to defend Christianity, and to give the reasons of their adherence to it. It is necessary, therefore, to inquire how the matter of the objection stands in these.
The most ancient apologist, of whose works we have the smallest knowledge, is Quadratus. Quadratus lived about seventy
* Vol. i. P. 118-123.
years after the Ascension, and presented his apology to the emperor Adrian. From a passage of this work, preserved in Eusebius, it appears that the author did directly and formally appeal to the miracles of Christ, and in terms as express and confident as we could desire. The passage (which has been once already stated) is as follows: "The works of our Saviour were always conspicuous, for they were real; both they that were healed, and they that were raised from the dead, were seen, not only when they were healed or raised, but for a long time afterwards; not only whilst he dwelled on this earth, but also after his departure, and for a good while after it; insomuch as that some of them have reached to our times*." Nothing can be more rational or satisfactory than this.
Justin Martyr, the next of the Christian apologists whose work is not lost, and who followed Quadratus at the distance of about thirty years, has touched upon passages of Christ's history in so many places, that a
*Euseb. Hist. 1. iv. c. 3.
tolerably complete account of Christ's life might be collected out of his works. In the following quotation, he asserts the performance of miracles by Christ, in words as strong and positive as the language pos"Christ healed those who from their birth were blind, and deaf, and lame; causing, by his word, one to leap, another to hear, and a third to see: and having raised the dead, and caused them to live, he, by his works, excited attention, and induced the men of that age to know him. Who, however, seeing these things done, said that it was a magical appearance, and dared to call him a magician, and a deceiver of the people*."
In his first apology, Justin expressly assigns the reason for his having recourse to the argument from prophecy, rather than alleging the miracles of the Christian history which reason was, that the persons with whom he contended would ascribe these miracles to magic; "lest any of our
*Just. Dial. p. 258, ed. Thirlby.
opponents should say, What hinders, but that he who is called Christ by us, being a man sprung from men, performed the miracles which we attributed to him, by magical art?" The suggestion of this reason meets, as I apprehend, the very point of the present objection; more especially when we find Justin followed in it, by other writers of that age. Irenæus, who came about forty years after him, notices the same evasion in the adversaries of Christianity, and replies to it by the same argument: "But, if they shall say, that the Lord performed these things by an illusory appearance (avraciadas), leading these objectors to the prophecies, we will show from them, that all things were thus predicted concerning him, and strictly came to pass*." Lactantius, who lived a century lower, delivers the same sentiment, upon the same occasion: "He performed miracles; we might have supposed him to have been a magician, as ye say, and as the Jews then supposed, if all the prophets had not with one spirit foretold that Christ should perform these very things.”
*Iren. 1. ii. c. 57.
+ Lactant. v. 3.