صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

of all who were collected about him afterward, writing about. The argument is also strengthen. from different quarters.

ed by the following considerations :XLI. (Lardner's Jewish and Heathen Testi 1. That these agreements appear, not only in monies, vol. iii.p. 21.) Acts xvii. 22." Then Paul articles of public history, but sometimes, in mistood in the midst of Mars-hill, and said, Ye men nute, recondite, and very peculiar circumstances, of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too in which, of all others, a forger is most likely to superstitious; for as I passed by and beheld your have been found tripping: devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, That the destruction of Jerusalem, which TO THE UNKNOW'N GOD. Whom there took place forty years after the commencement of fore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” the Christian institution, produced such a change

Diogenes Laërtius, who wrote about the year in the state of the country, and the condition of 210, in his history of Epimenides, who is sup- the Jews, that a writer who was unacquainted posed to have flourished nearly six hundred years with the circumstances of the nation before that before Christ, relates of him the following story: event, would find it difficult to avoid mistakes, in that being invited to Athens for the purpose, he endeavouring to give detailed accounts of transacdelivered the city from a pestilence in this man- tions connected with those circumstances, forasner;—" Taking several sheep, some black, others much as he could no longer have a living exemplar white, he had them up to the Areopagus, and to copy from. then let them go where they would, and gave or III. That there appears, in the writers of the ders to those who followed them, wherever any of New Testament, a knowledge of the affairs of them should lie down, to sacrifice it to the god to those times, which we do not find in authors of whom it belonged; and so the plague ceased.— later ages. In particular, " many of the Christian Hence," says the historian, “it has come to pass, writers of the second and third centuries, and of that to this present time, may be found in the bo- the following ages, had false notions concerning roughs of the Athenians ANONYMOUS altare : a the state of Judea, between the nativity of Jesus memorial of the expiation then made."* These and the destruction of Jerusalem."* Therefore altars, it may be presumed, were called anony- they could not have composed our histories, mous, because there was not the name of any par Amidst so many conformities, we are not to ticular deity inscribed upon them.

wonder that we meet with some difficulties. The Pausanias, who wrote before the end of the prineipal of these I will put down, together with second century, in his description of Athens, the solutions which they have received. But in having mentioned an altar of Jupiter Olympius, doing this, I must be contented with a brevity adds, TM And nigh unto it is an aliar of unknown better suited to the limits of my volume than to gods.”+ And in another place, he speaks “of the nature of a controversial argument. For the altars of gods called unknown.”+

historical proofs of my assertions, and for the Philostratus, who wrote in the beginning of Greek criticisms upon which some of them are the third century, records it as an observation of founded, I refer the reader to the second volume Apollonius Tyanæus, “ That it was wise to speak of the first part of Dr. Lardner's large work. well of all the gods, especially at Athens, where I. The taxing during which Jesus was born, altars of unknown demons were erected."'S was first made," as we read, according to our

The author of the dialogue Philopatris, by translation, in Saint Luke, “whilst Cyrenius was many supposed to have been Lucian, who wrote governor of Syria.”+ Now it turns out that Cyabout the year 170, by others some anonymous renius was not governor of Syria until twelve or, Heathen writer of the fourth century, makes at the soonest, ten years after the birth of Christ; Critias swear by the unknown god of Athens; and that a taxing, census, or assessment, was and, near the end of the dialogue, has these words, made in Judea in the beginning of his govern“ But let us find out the unknown god of Athens, ment. The charge, therefore, brought against ard, stretching our hands to heaven, offer to him the evangelist is, that, intending to refer to this our praises and thanksgivings."!!

taxing, he has misplaced the date of it by an error This is a very curious and a very important of ten or twelve years. coincidence. It appears beyond controversy, that The answer to the accusation is found in his altars with this inscription were existing at using the word " first :"-"And this taxing was Athens, at the time when Saint Paul is alleged first made;" for according to the mistake imputed to have been there. It seems also (which is very to the evangelist, this word could have no signifiworthy of observation), that this inscription was cation whatever; it could have had no place ir. peculiar to the Athenians. There is no evidence his narrative: because, let it relate to what it will, that there were altars inscribed" to the unknown taxing, census, enrolment, or assessment, it im god” in any other country. Supposing the his- ports that the writer had more than one of those tory of Saint Paul to have been a fable, how is it in contemplation. It acquits him therefore of the possible that such a writer as the author of the Acts charge: it is inconsistent with the supposition of of the Apostles was, should hit upon a circumstance his knowing only of the taxing in the beginning so extraordinary, and introduce it by an allusion of Cyrenius's government. And if the evangelist so suitable to Saint Paul's office and character ? knew (which this word proves that he did) of

some other taxing beside that, it is too much, for

the sake of convicting him of a mistake, to lay it The examples here collected will be sufficient, down as certain that he intended to refer to that. I hope, to satisfy us, that the writers of the Chris The sentence in Saint Luke may be construed tian history knew something of what they were thus: “This was the first assessment (or enrol

ment) of Cyrenius, governor of Syria ;"+ the words * In Epimenide, I. i. segm. 110. + Paus. I. v. p. 412.

Paus. I. 1. p. 4. § Philos. Apoll, Tyan. 1. vi. c. 3. * Lardner, part i. vol. ii. p. 960. † Chap. jí. v. 2 (Lucian. in Philop loin. ii. Græv. p. 767, 780,

If the word which we render "first," be rendered

governor of Syria” being used after the name of III. Acts v. 36. "For before these days rose Cyrenius as his addition or title. And this title up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to belonging to him at the time of writing the ac- whom a number of men, about four hundred, count, was naturally enough subjoined to his joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as name, though acquired after the transaction which many as obeyed him, were scattered and brought the account describes. A modern writer who to nought.” was not very exact in the choice of his expres Josephus has preserved the account of an imsions, in relating the affairs of the East Indies, postor of the name of Theudas, who created some might easily say, that such a thing was done by disturbances, and was slain; but according to the Gorernor Hastings; though, in truth, the thing date assigned to this man's appearance (in which, had been done by him before his advancement to however, it is very possible that Josephus may have the station from which he received the name of been mistaken, *) it must have been, at least, seven governor. And this, as we contend, is precisely years after Gamaliel's speech, of which this text the inaccuracy which has produced the difficulty is a part, was delivered. It has been replied to in Saint Luke.

the objection, † that there might be two impostors At any rate, it appears from the form of the of this name: and it has been observed, in order expression, that he had two taxings or enrolments to give a general probability to the solution, that in contemplation. And if Cyrenius had been the same thing appears to have happened in other sent upon this business into Judea, before he be- instances of the same kind. It is proved from Jocame governor of Syria (against which supposi- sephus, that there were not fewer than four pertion there is no proof, but rather external evidence sons of the name of Simon within forty years, of an enrolment going on about this time under and not fewer than three of the name of Judas some person or other, * ) then the census, on all within ten years, who were all leaders of insurhands acknowledged to have been made by him rections: and it is likewise recorded by the histoin the beginning of his government, would form rian, that, upon the death of Herod the Great, a second, so as to occasion the other to be called (which agrees very well with the time of the the first.

commotion referred to by Gamaliel, and with his II. Another chronological objection arises upon manner of stating that time, “before these days,") a date assigned in the beginning of the third there were innumerable disturbances in Judea. Í chapter of Saint Luke.t "Now in the fifteenth Archbishop Usher was of opinion, that one of the year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar,"—Jesus three Judases above-mentioned was Gamaliel's began to be about thirty years of age : for, sup- Theudas; $ and that with a less variation of the posing Jesus to have been born, as Saint Mat- name than we actually find in the Gospels, where thew, and Saint Luke also himself, relate, in the one of the twelve apostles is called," by Luke, time of Herod, he must, according to the dates Judas; and by Mark, Thaddeus. li Origen, given in Josephus and by the Roman historians, however he came at his information, appears to have been at least thirty-one years of age in the have believed that there was an impostor of the fifteenth year of Tiberius. If he was born, as name of Theudas before the nativity of Christ. TT Saint Matthew's narrative intimates, one or two IV. Matt. xxiii. 34. “ Wherefore, behold I years before Herod's death, he would have been send unto you prophets, and wise men, and thirty-two or thirty-three years old at that time. scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and cru

This is the difficulty: the solution turns upon cify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your an alteration in the construction of the Greek. synagogues, and persecute them from city to Saint Luke's words in the original are allowed, city; that upon you may come all the righteous by the general opinion of learned men, to signify, blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of not “that Jesus began to be about thirty years of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, sor, age,” but “that he was about thirty years of age of Burachias, whom ye slero between the temple when he began his ministry." This construction and the altar." being admitted, the adverb “about" gives us all There is a Zacharias, whose death is related in the latitude we want, and more, especially when the second book of Chronicles, ** in a manner applied, as it is in the present instance, to a deci- which perfectly supports our Saviour's allusion. mal number; for such numbers, even without But this Zacharias was the son of Jehoiada. this qualifying addition, are often used in a laxer There is also Zacharias the prophet; who was sense, than is here contended for.

reign of his successor (Numa), has these words :ft-"Ab * before," which it has been strongly contended that illo enim profectis viribus datis tantum valuit, ut, in the Greek idiom allows of, the whole difficulty va- quadraginta deinde annos, lutam pacem haberet :" yet nishes : for then the passage would be,—“Now this afterward, in the same chapter, “ Romulus (he says) taxing was made before Cyrenius was governor of septem et triginta regnavit annos. Numa tres et qua. Syria :" which corresponds with the chronology. But I draginta." rather choose to argue, that however the word first" * Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament be rendered, to give it a ineaning at all, it militates (Marsh's Translation,) vol. i. p. 61. with the objection. In this I think there can be no † Lardner, parti. vol. ii. p. 922. mistake.

| Antiq. I. xvii. c. 12. seci. 4. § Annals, p. 797. * Josephus (Antiq. xvii. c. 2. sect. 6.) has this re. Like vi. 16. Mark iji. 18. markable passage: " When therefore the whole Jewish Orig. cont. Cels. p. 44. nation took an oath to be faithful to Cæsar, and the ** " And the Spirii of God came upon Zechariah, the interests of the king." This transaction corresponds son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the in the course of the history with the time of Christ's people, and said unto them. Thus saith God, Why birth. What is called a census, and which we render transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye taxing, was delivering upon oath an account of their cannot prosper? Because ye have forsaken the Lord, he property. This might be accompanied with an oath of hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against fidelity, or might be mistaken by Josephus for it. him, and stoned him with stones, at the commandment of | Lardner, part i. vol. ii. p. 768.

the king, in the court of the house of the Lord!—2 Chron i Livy, speaking of the peace which the conduct of xxiv. 20, 21. Romulus bad procured to ihe state, during the whole Liv. Hist. c. 1. sect. 16. 2 Y

30*

"*

'the son of Barachiah, and is so described in the are too close and numerous to be accounted for by superscription of his prophecy, but of whose death accidental concurrences of fiction, must necessari we have no account.

ly have truth for their foundation. I have little doubt, but that the first Zacharias This argument appeared to my mind of so was the person spoken of by our Saviour; and much value (especially for its assuming nothing that the name of the father has been since added, beside the existence of the books,) that I have or changed, by some one, who took it from the pursued it through Saint Paul's thirteen epistles, title of the prophecy, which happened to be better in a work published by me four years ago, under known to him than the history in the Chroni- the title of Horæ Paulinæ. I am sensible how cles.

feebly any argument which depends upon an inThere is likewise a Zacharias, the son of Ba- duction of particulars, is represented without ruch, related by Josephus to have been slain in examples. On which account, I wished to have the temple a few years before the destruction of abridged my own volume, in the manner in which Jerusalem. It has been insinuated, that the words I have treated Dr. Lardner's in the preceding put into our Saviour's mouth contain a reference chapter. But, upon making the attempt, I did to this transaction, and were composed by some not find it in my power to render the articles inwriter, who either confounded the time of the telligible by fewer words than I have there used. transaction with our Saviour's age, or inadvert- I must be content, therefore, to refer the reader to ently overlooked the anachronism.

the work itself. And I would particularly invite Now suppose it to have been so; suppose these his attention to the observations which are made words to have been suggested by the transaction in it upon the first three epistles. I persuade related in Josephus, and to have been falsely as- myself that he will find the proofs, both of agree cribed to Christ; and observe what extraordinary ment and undesignedness, supplied by these epis coincidences (accidentally, as it must in that case tles, suíficient to support the conclusion which is have been attend the forger's mistake.

there maintained, in favour both of the genuineFirst, that we have a Zacharias in the book of ness of the writings and the truth of the narraChronicles, whose death, and the manner of it, tive. corresponds with the allusion.

It remains only, in this place, to point out how Secondly, that although the name of this per- the argument bears upon the general question of son's father be erroneously put down in the Gos- the Christian history. pel, yet we have a way of accounting for the error, First, Saint Paul in these letters affirms in by showing another Zacharias in the Jewish unequivocal terms, his own performance of miraScriptures, much better known than the former, cles, and, what ought particularly to be rememwhose patronymic was actually that which ap- bered, That miracles were the signs of an pears in the text.

apostle." If this testimony come from Saint Every one who thinks upon this subject, will Paul's own hand, it is invaluable. And that it find these to be circumstances which could not does so, the argument before us fixes in my mind have met together in a mistake, which did not a firm assurance. proceed from the circumstances themselves. Secondly, it shows that the series of action re

I have noticed, I think, all the difficulties of this presented in the epistles of Saint Paul, was real; kind. They are few: some of them admit of a which alone lays a foundation for the proposition clear, others of a probable solution. The reader which forms the subject of the first part of our will compare them with the number, the variety, present work, viz. that the original witnesses of the closeness, and the satisfactoriness, of the in- the Christian history devoted themselves to lives stances which are to be set against them; and he of toil, sutlering, and danger, in consequence of will remember the scantiness, in many cases, of their belief of the truth of that history, and for the our intelligence, and that difficulties always attend sake of communicating the knowledge of it to imperfect information.

others.

Thirdly, it proves that Luke, or whoever was the author of the Acts of the Apostles (for the ar

gument does not depend upon the name of the CHAPTER VII.

author, though I know no reason for questioning it,) was well acquainted with Saint Paul's history;

and that he probably was, what he professes himUndesigned Coincidences.

self to be, a companion of Saint Paul's travels;

which, if true, establishes, in a considerable deBETWEEN the letters which bear the name of gree, the credit even of his Gospel, because it Saint Paul in our collection, and his history in shows, that the writer, from his time, situation,

the Acts of the Apostles, there exist many notes and connexions, possessed opportunities of inof correspondency. The simple perusal of the forming himself truly concerning the transactions writings is sufficient to prove, that neither the his- which he relates. I have little difficulty in ap tory was taken from the letters, nor the letters plying to the Gospel of Saint Luke what is from the history. And the undesignedness of proved concerning the Acts of the Apostles, conthe agreements (which undesignedness is gather-sidering them as two parts of the same history; ed from their latency, their minuteness, their ob- for, though there are instances of second parts liquity, the suitableness of the circumstances in being forgeries, I know none where the second which they consist, to the places in which those part is genuine, and the first not so. circumstances occur, and the circuitous references I will only observe, as a sequel of the argument, by which they are traced out) demonstrates that though not noticed in my work, the remarkable they have not been produced by meditation, or by similitude between the style of Saint John's Gosany fraudulent contrivance. But coincidences, from which those causes are excluded, and which * Rom. xv. 18. 19. 2 Cor. xii. Il

pel, and of Saint John's Epistle. The style of the resurrection, no such discussion is necessary, Saint John's is not at all the style of Saint Paul's because no such doubt can be entertained. The Epistles, though both are very singular; nor is it only points which can enter into our consideration the style of Saint James's or of Saint Peter's are, whether the apostles knowingly published a Epistle : but it bears a resemblance to the style of falsehood, or whether they were themselves dethe Gospel inscribed with Saint John's name, so ceived; whether either of these suppositions be far as that resemblance can be expected to appear, possible. The first, I think, ir pretty generally which is not in simple narrative, so much as in given up. The nature of the undertaking, and of reflections, and in the representation of discourses. the men; the extreme unlikelihood that such men Writings, so circumstanced, prove themselves, should engage in such a measure as a scheme ; and one another, to be genuine. This corres- their personal toils, and dangers, and sufferings, pondency is the more valuable, as the epistle in the cause; their appropriation of their whole itself asserts, in Saint John's manner indeed, but time to the object; the warm, and seemingly unin terms suíficiently explicit, the writer's personal affected, zeal and earnestness with which they knowledge of Christ's history; " That which was profess their sincerity; exempt their memory from from the beginning, which we have heard, which the suspicion of imposture. The solution more we have seen with our eyes, which we have look deserving of notice, is that which would resolve ed upon, and our hands have handled, of the word the conduct of the apostles into enthusiasm ; of life; that which we have seen and heard, de- which would class the evidence of Christ's resurclare we unto you."* Who would not desire-rection with the numerous stories that are extant who perceives not the value of an account, delivers of the apparitions of dead men. There are cired by a writer so well informed as this? cumstances in the narrative, as it is preserved in

our histories, which destroy this comparison entirely. It was not one person, but many, who

saw him; they saw him not only separately but CHAPTER VIII.

together, not only by night but by day, not at a Of the History of the Resurrection.

distance but near, not once but several times ;

they not only saw him, but touched him, conThe history of the resurrection of Christ is a versed with him, ate with him, examined his perpart of the evidence of Christianity: but I do not son to satisfy their doubts. These particulars are know, whether the proper strength of this passage decisive: but they stand, I do admit, upon the of the Christian history, or wherein its peculiar credit of our records. I would answer

, therefore, value, as a head of evidence, consists, be generally the insinuation of enthusiasm, by a circumstance understood. It is not that, as a miracle, the re- which arises out of the nature of the thing; and surrection ought to be accounted a more decisive the reality of which must be confessed by all who proof of supernatural agency than other miracles allow, what I believe is not denied, that the reare; it is not that, as it stands in the Gospels, it surrection of Christ, whether true or false, was is better attested than some others; it is not, for asserted by his disciples from the beginning ; and either of these reasons, that more weight belongs that circumstance is, the non-production of the to it than to other miracles, but for the following, dead body. It is related in the history, what inviz. That it is completely certain that the apostles deed the story of the resurrection necessarily of Christ, and the first teachers of Christianity, implies, that the corpse was missing out of the asserted the fact. And this would have been cer- sepulchre: it is related also in the history, that tain, if the four Gospels had been lost, or never the Jews reported that the followers of Christ had written. Every piece of Scripture recognises the stolen it away.* And this account, though loaded resurrection. Every epistle of every apostle, every with great improbabilities, such as the situation author contemporary with the apostles, of the age of the disciples, their fears for their own safety immediately succeeding the apostles, every writing at the time, the unlikelihood of their expecting to from that age to the present, genuine or spurious, succeed, the difficulty of actual success, and the on the side of Christianity or against it, concur in inevitable consequence of detection and failure, representing the resurrection of Christ as an was, nevertheless, the most credible account that article of his history, received without doubt or could be given of the matter. But it proceeds disagreement by all who call themselves Chris entirely upon the supposition of fraud, as all the tians, as alleged from the beginning by the pro- old objections did. What account can be given pagators of the institution, and alleged as the of the body, upon the supposition of enthusiasm ? centre of their testimony. Nothing, I apprehend, It is impossible our Lord's followers could believe which a man does not himself see or hear, can be that he was risen from the dead, if his corpse more certain to him than this point. I do not

"And this saying (Saint Matthew writes) is commean, that nothing can be more certain than monly reported amongst the Jews until this day," chap. that Christ rose from the dead; but that nothing xxviii, 15. The evangelist may be thought good au. can be more certain, than that his apostles, and thority as to this point, even by those who do not admit the first teachers of Christianity, gave out that he his evidence in every other point: and this point is suf

ficient to prove that the body was missing. did so. In the other parts of the gospel narrative, It has been rightly, I think, observed by Dr. Towns. a question may be made, whether the things re- hend, (Dis. upon the Res. p. 126,) that the story of the lated of Christ be the very things which the apos- guards carried collusion upon the face of it :-" His distles and first teachers of the religion delivered conciples, came by night and stole him away, while we

slept." Men in their circumstances would not have made cerning him? And this question depends a good such an acknowledgment of their negligence, without deal upon the evidence we possess of the genuine- previous assurances of protection and impunity: ness, or rather, perhaps, of the antiquity, credit, [ "Especially at the full moon, the city full of people, and reception, of the books. On the subject of many

probably passing the

whole nighi, as Jesus and his disciples had done, in the open air, the sepulchre so

near the city as to be now enclosed within the walls." • Chap. i. ver. 1-3.

-Priestley on the Resurr. p. 24.

was lying before them. No enthusiasm ever into any order; that it was at this time even reached to such a pitch of extravagancy as that: understood that a new religion (in the sense which a spirit may be an illusion; a body is a real thing, that term conveys to us) was to be set up in the an object of sense, in which there can be no mis- world, or how the professors of that religion were take. All accounts of spectres leave the body in to be distinguished from the rest of mankind. The the grave. And, although the body of Christ death of Christ had left, we may suppose, the might be removed by fraud, and for the purposes generality of his disciples in great doubt, both as of fraud, yet, without any such intention, and by to what they were to do, and concerning what sincere but deluded men (which is the representa- was to follow. tion of the apostolic character we are now exa This meeting was holden, as we have already mining,) no such attempt could be made. The pre- said, a few days after Christ's ascension: for, ten sence and the absence of the dead body are alike days after that event was the day of Pentecost, inconsistent with the hypothesis of enthusiasm ; when, as our history relates,* upon a signal disfor, if present, it must have cured their enthusiasm play of Divine agency attending the persons of at once; if absent, fraud, not enthusiasm, must the apostles, there were added to the society “about have carried it away.

three thousand souls.”+ But here, it is not, I But farther, if we admit, upon the concurrent tes- think, to be taken, that these three thousand were timony of all the histories, so much of the account as all converted by this single miracle; but rather states that the religion of Jesus was set up at Jeru- that many, who before were believers in Christ, salem, and set up with asserting, in the very place became now professors of Christianity ; that is to in which he had been buried, and a few days after say, when they found that a religion was to be he had been buried, his resurrection out of the grave, established, a society formed and set up in the it is evident that, if his body could have been found, name of Christ, governed by his laws, avowing the Jews would have produced it, as the shortest their belief in his mission, united amongst themand completest answer possible to the whole story. selves, and separated from the rest of the world by

The attempt of the apostles could not have sur-visible distinctions; in pursuance of their former vived this refutation a moment. If we also admit, conviction, and by virtue of what they had heard upon the authority of Saint Matthew, that the and seen and known of Christ's history, they pub Jews were advertised of the expectation of Christ's licly became members of it. followers, and that they had taken due precaution We read in the fourth chapter of the Acts, in consequence of this notice, and that the body that, soon after this, "the number of the men," was in marked and public custody, the observa- i.e. the society openly professing their belief in tion receives more force still. For, not withstand-Christ,“ was about five thousand.” So that here ing their precaution, and although, thus prepared is an increase of two thousand within a very short and forewarned; when the story of the resurrec- tine. And it is probable that there were many, tion of Christ came forth, as it immediately did ; both now and afterward, who, although they bewhen it was publicly asserted by his disciples, and lieved in Christ, did not think it necessary to made the ground and basis of their preaching in join themselves to this society; or who waited to his name, and collecting followers to his religion, see what was likely to become of it. Gamaliel, the Jews had not the body to produce: but were whose advice to the Jewish council is recorded obliged to meet the testimony of the apostles by an Acts v. 34, appears to have been of this descripanswer, not containing indeed any impossibility tion; perhaps Nicodemus, and perhaps also Join itself

, but absolutely inconsistent with the sup- seph of Arimathea. This class of men, their position of their integrity; that is, in other words, character and their rank, are likewise pointed out inconsistent with the supposition which would re- by Saint John, in the twelfth chapter of his Gossolve their conduct into enthusiasm.

pel: "Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also, many believed on hiin: but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him, lest they should

be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the CHAPTER IX.

praise of men more ihan the praise of God.” Per

sons, such as these, might admit the miracles of The Propagation of Christianity. Christ, without being immediately convinced that

they were under obligation to make a public pro In this argument, the first consideration is the fession of Christianity, at the risk of all that was fact; in what degree, within what time, and to dear to them in life, and even of life itself.s what extent, Christianity was actually propagated. The accounts of the matter, which can be col

* Acts ii. 1. † Acts ij. 41.

1 Ver. 4. lected from our books, are as follow: A few days ed and opposed, Christianity, there were, in all proba

§ “Beside those who professed, and those who reject. after Christ's disappearance out of the world, bility, muliitudes between both, neither perfect Chris. we find an assembly of disciples at Jerusalem, to tians, por yet unbelievers. They had a favourable the number of about one hundred and twenty;"* opinion of the Gospel, but worldly considerations made which hundred and twenty were, probably, a lit-them unwilling to own it. There were many circum. tle association of believers, met together, not

stances which inclined them to think that Christianity

was a Divine revelation, but there were many inconmerely as believers in Christ, but as personally veniences which attended the open profession of it: and connected with the apostles, and with one another. they could not find in themselves courage enough 10 Whatever was the number of believers then in their fortunes, to lose their reputation, their liberty, and Jerusalem, we have no reason to be surprised that their life, for the sake of the new religion. Therefore 60 small a company should assemble : for there is they were willing to hope, that if they endeavoured 10 no proof, that the followers of Christ were yet observe the great principles of morality, which Christ formed into a society; that the society was reduced stance, of religion : if they thought honourably of the

gospel, if they offered no injury to the Christians, if Aots i. 15.

they did them all the services that they could safely

« السابقةمتابعة »