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Christianity, however, proceeded to increase in were at liberty to propose the religion to mankind Jerusalem by a progress equally rapid with its at large. That “mystery," as Saint Paul calls it, * first success; for, in the nexi* chapter of our his- and as it then was, was revealed to Peter by an tory, we read that " believers were the more added especial miracle. It appears to have beent about to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women. seven years after Christ's ascension, that the GosAnd this enlargement of the new society appears pel was preached to the Gentiles of Cesarea. A in the first verse of the succeeding chapter, where- year after this, a great multitude of Gentiles were in we are told, that, “ when the number of the converted at Antioch in Syria. The expressions disciples was multiplied, there arose a murinuring employed by the historian are these :-"A great of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because number believed and turned to the Lord;" “much their widows were neglected :"+ and, afterward in people was added unto the Lord;" " the apostles the same chapter, it is declared expressly, that Barnabas and Paul taught much people.” # Upon " the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusa- Herod's death, which happened in the next year, lemn greatly, and that a great company of the it is observed, that "the word of God grew and - priests were obedient to the faith."
i multiplied.”ll Three years from this time, upon This I call the first period in the propagation the preaching of Paul at Iconium, the metropolis of Christianity. It commences with the ascension of Lycaonia, "a great multitude both of Jews and of Christ, and extends, as may be collected from Greeks believed:"'1 and afterward, in the course incidental notes of time, I to something more than of this very progress, he is represented as “making one year after that event. During which term, many disciples" at Derbe, a principal city in the the preaching of Christianity, so far as our docu- same district. Three years** after this, which ments inform us, was contined to the single city brings us to sixteen after the ascension, the aposof Jerusalem. And how did it succeed there? tles wrote a public letter from Jerusalem to the The first assembly which we meet with of Christ's Gentile converts in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, disciples, and that a few days after his removal with which letter Paul travelled through these from the world, consisted of “one hundred and countries, and found the churches “established in twenty.” About a week after this, “ three thou- the faith, and increasing in number daily.”tt From sand were added in one day;" and the number of Asia the apostle proceeded into Greece, where Christians, publicly baptized, and publicly asso soon after his arrival in Macedonia, we find him ciating together, was very soon increased to “ five at Thessalonica; in which city, “some of the Jews thousand." “Multitudes both of men and wo believed, and of the devout Greeks a great multimen continued to be added ;" " disciples multiplied tude."It We meet also here with an accidental greatly,” and “ many of the Jewish priesthood, as hint of the general progress of the Christian miswell as others, became obedient to the faith;” and sion, in the exclamation of the tumultuous Jews this within a space of less than two years from of Thessalonica, “that they, who had turned the the commencement of the institution.
world upside down, were come thither also."S$ At By reason of a persecution raised against the Berea, the next city at which Paul arrives, the church at Jerusalem, the converts were driven historian, who was present, informs us that " many from that city, and dispersed throughout the re- of the Jews believed." The next year and a half gions of Judea and Samaria.§ Wherever they of Saint Paul's ministry was spent at Corinth. came, they brought their religion with them: for, of his success in that city, we receive the followour historian informs us,ll that “they, that were ing intimations; " that many of the Corinthians scattered abroad, went every where preaching the believed and were baptized;" and " that it was word.” The effect of this preaching comes after-revealed to the apostle by Christ, that he had ward to be noticed, where the historian is led, in much people in that city."*" Within less than a the course of his narrative, to observe, that then year after his departure from Corinth, and twenty(i. e. about three years posterior to this,) “ the five*** years after the ascension, Saint Paul fixed churches had rest throughout all Judea and Gali- his station at Ephesus, for the space of two yearsttt lee and Samaria, and were edified, and walking and something more. The effect of his ministry in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the in that city and neighbourhood drew from the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” This was the historian a reflection, how "mightily grew the work of the second period, which comprises about word of God and prevailed.”+11 And at the confour years.
clusion of this period, we find Demetrius at the Hitherto the preaching of the Gospel had been head of a party, who were alarmed by the progress confined to Jews, to Jewish proselytes, and to Sa- of the religion, complaining, that not only at maritans. And 'I cannot forbear from setting Ephesus, but also throughout all Asia (i. e. the down in this place, an observation of Mr. Bryant, province of Lydia, and the country adjoining to which appears to me to be perfectly well founded? Ephesus,) this Paul hath persuaded and turned -"the Jews still remain : but how seldom is it away much people."SSS Beside these accounts, that we can make a single proselyte! There is there occurs, incidentally, mention of converts at reason to think, that there were inore converted Rome, Alexandria, Athens, Cyprus, Cyrene, Maby the apostles in one day, than have since been cedonia, Philippi. won over in the last thousand years.''**
This is the third period in the propagation of It was not yet known to the apostles, that they Christianity, setting off in the seventh year after
the ascension, and ending at the twenty-eighth. perforin, they were willing to hope, that God would accept this, and that He would excuse and forgive the * Eph. iji. 3—6. rest."-Jortin's Dis. on the Chris. Rel p. 91. ed. 4. † Benson's History of Christ, book ii. p. 236.
| Acts xi. 21, 24, 26. $ Benson, book ii. p. 289. 1 Vide Pearson's Antiq. 1. xviii. c. 7. Benson's His | Acis xii. 24. tory of Christ, book i. p. 148.
** Benson, book iii. p. 50. 3. Bryant on the truth of the Eurisia ha religion,
11 Acts xvii. 4. $$ Acts xvij. 6.
*** Benson, book iii. p. 160. t1f Acts xix. 10. 111 Acts xix. 20. Søg Acts xix. 26.
• Acts v. 14.
Acts vi. 1.
IT Acts xiv. 1.
# Acts xvi. 5.
IT Acts xviij. 8-10.
Now lay these three periods together, and observe in fact a history of the twelve apostles only during how the progress of the religion by these accounts a short time of their continuing together at Jeru. is represented. The institution, which properly salem; and even of this period the account is very began only after its author's removal from the concise. The work afterward consists of a few world, before the end of thirty years had spread important passages of Peter's ministry, of the itself through Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, al speech and death of Stephen, of the preaching of most all the numerous districts of the Lesser Asia, Philip the deacon; and the sequel of the volume, through Greece, and the Islands of the Ægean that is, two thirds of the whole, is taken up with Sea, the sea-coast of Africa, and had extended it the conversion, the travels, the discourses and his
self to Rome, and into Italy. At Antioch in Sy- tory of the new apostle Paul; in which history, ria, at Joppa, Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica, also, large portions of time are often passed over Berea, Iconium, Derbe, Antioch in Pisidia, at with very scanty notice. Lydda, Saron, the number of converts is intimated III. That the account, so far as it goes, is for by the expressions, “ a great number," " great this very reason more credible. Had it been the multitudes, "much people.” Converts are men- author's design to have displayed the early protioned, without any designation of their number, gress of Christianity, he would undoubtedly have at Tyre, Cesarea, Troas, Athens, Philippi, Lys- collected, or, at least, have set forth, accounts of tra, Damascus. During all this time, Jerusalem the preaching of the rest of the apostles, who cancontinued not only the centre of the mission, but not, without extreme improbability, he supposed a principal seat of the religion; for when Saint to have remained silent and inactive, or not to Paul turned thither at the conclusion of the period have met with a share of that success which atof which we are now considering the accounts, tended their colleagues. To which may be added, the other apostles pointed out to him, as a reason as an observation of the same kind, for his compliance with their advice, " how many IV. That the intimations of the number of thousands (myriads, ten thousands) there were in converts, and of the success of the preaching of that city who believed.”+
the apostles, come out for the most part incidentUpon this abstract, and the writing from which ally; are drawn from the historian by the occait is drawn, the following observations seem ma- sion; such as the murmuring of the Grecian conterial to be made:
verts; the rest from persecution; Herod's death; I. That the account comes from a person, who the sending of Barnabas to Antioch, and Barna: was himself concerned in a portion of what he re- bas calling Paul to his assistance; Paul coming lates, and was contemporary with the whole of it; to a place, and finding there disciples; the clamour who visited Jerusalem, and frequented the society of the Jews; the complaint of artificers interested of those who had acted, and were acting, the chief in the support of the popular religion; the reason parts in the .transaction. I lay down this point assigned to induce Paul to give satisfaction to the positively; for had the ancient attestations to this Christians of Jerusalem. Had it not been for valuable record been less satisfactory than they these occasions, it is probable that no notice whatare, the unaffectedness and simplicity with which ever would have been taken of the number of conthe author notes his presence upon certain occa verts in several of the passages in which that no sions, and the entire absence of art and design tice now appears. All this tends to remove the from these notices, would have been sufficient
to suspicion of a design to exaggerate or deceive. persuade my mind, that whoever he was, he ac PARALLEL TESTIMONIES with the history, are tually lived in the times, and occupied the situa- the letters of Saint Paul, and of the other apostles, tion, in which he represents himself to be. When which have come down to us. Those of Saint I say, “whoever he was," I do not mean to cast a Paul are addressed to the churches of Corinth, doubt upon the name to which antiquity hath as- Philippi, Thessalonica, the church of Galatia, and, cribed the Acts of the Apostles (for there is no if the inscription be right, of Ephesus; his miniscause that I am acquainted with, for questioning try at all which places, is recorded in the history: it,) but to observe, that, in such a case as this, the to the church of Colosse, or rather to the churches time and situation of the author is of more import- of Colosse and Laodicea jointly, which he had not ance than his name; and that these appear from then visited. They recognise by reference the the work itself, and in the most unsuspicious form. churches of Judea, the churches of Asia, and "all
II. That this account is a very incomplete ac- the churches of the Gentiles."* In the Epistle to count of the preaching and propagation of Chris- the Romans,t the author is led to deliver a retianity; I mean, that, if what we read in the his-markable declaration concerning the extent of his tory be true, much more than what the history preaching, its efficacy, and the cause to which he contains must be true also. For although the ascribes it, -"to make the Gentiles obedient by narrative from which our information is derived, word and deed, through mighty signs and wonhas been entitled the Acts of the Apostles, it is ders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that
from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, * Considering the extreme conciseness of many parts
I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.”. In of the history, ine silence about the numbers of converts the Epistle to the Colossians, # we find an oblique is no proof of their paucity; for at Philippi, no mention but very strong signification of the then general whatever is made of the number, yet Saint Paul ad state of the Christian mission, at least as it apdressed an epistle to that church. The churches of Ga peared to Saint Paul:—" If ye continue in the able enough to be the subject of another letter, and of faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved much of Saint Paul's solicitude: yet no account is pre- away from the hope of the Gospel, which ye have served in the history of his success, or even of his heard, and which was preached to every creature preaching in that country, except the slight notice which which is under hearen;" which Gospel, he had ihese words convey :-"When they had gone throughout Phrygia, and the region of Galatia-they essayed to go into Bithynia."-Acts xvi. 6.
# 1 Thess. ii. 14.
† Rom. xv. 18, 19. tenis xxi. 20.
1 Col. i. 23.
reminded them near the beginning* of his letter, letter in which this application is contained, was "was present with them, as it was in all the written not quite eighty years after Christ's astorld." The expressions are hyperbolical; but cension. The president, in this letter, states the they are hyperboles which could only be used by measures he had already pursued, and then adds, & writer who entertained a strong sense of the as his reason for resorting to the emperor's counsubject. The First Epistle of Peter accosts the sel and authority, the following words :—"SusChristians dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, pending all judicial proceedings, I have recourse Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
to you for advice; for it has appeared to me a matter highly deserving consideration, especially on account of the great number of persons who are
in danger of suffering: for, many of all ages, and It comes next to be considered, how far these of every rank, of both sexes likewise, are accused, accounts are confirmed, or followed up by other and will be accused. Nor has the contagion of evidence.
this superstition seized cities only, but the lesser Tacitus, in delivering a relation, which has towns also, and the open country. Nevertheless already been laid before the reader, of the fire it seemed to me, that it may be restrained and which happened at Rome in the tenth year of corrected. It is certain that the temples, which Nero (which coincides with the thirtieth year were almost forsaken, begin to be more frequentafter Christ's ascension,) asserts, that the emperor, ed; and the sacred solemnities, after a long interin order to suppress the rumours of having been mission, are revived. Victims, likewise, are every himself the author of the mischief, procured the where (passim) bought up; whereas, for some Christians to be accused. Of which Christians, time, there were few to purchase them. Whence thus brought into his narrative, the following is it is easy to imagine, that numbers of men might so much of the historian's account as belongs to be reclaimed, if pardon were granted to those that our present purpose : " They had their denomina- shall repent.” tion from Christus, who, in the reign of Tiberius, It is obvious to observe, that the passage of was put to death as a criminal by the procurator Pliny's letter, here quoted, proves, not only that Pontias Pilate. This pernicious superstition, the Christians in Pontus and Bithynia were now though checked for a while, broke out again, and numerous, but that they had subsisted there for spread not only over Judea, but reached the city some considerable time. “It is certain," he says, also. At first, they only were apprehended who that the temples, which were almost forsaken confessed themselves of that sect; afterward a vast (plainly ascribing this desertion of the popular multitude were discovered by them.” This tes- worship to the prevalency of Christianity,) begin timony to the early propagation of Christianity is to be more frequented, and the sacred solemnities, extremely material. It is from an historian of after a long intermission, are revived." There great reputation, living near the time ; from a are also two clauses in the former part of the letstranger and an enemy to the religion ; and it ter which indicate the same thing; one, in which joins immediately with the period through which he declares that he had “never been present at the Scripture accounts extend. It establishes any trials of Christians, and therefore knew not these points: that the religion began at Jerusalem; what was the usual subject of inquiry and punishthat it spread throughout Judea; that it had reach- ment, or how far either was wont to be urged.” ed Rome, and not only so, but that it had there The second clause is the following: "Others obtained a great number of converts. This was were named by an informer, who, at first, confessabout six years after the time that Saint Pauled themselves Christians, and afterward denied wrote his Épistle to the Romans, and something it; the rest said, they had been Christians, some more than two years after he arrived there himself
. three years ago, some longer, and some about The converts to the religion were then so numer- twenty years. It is also apparent, that Pliny Jus at Rome, that, of those who were betrayed by speaks of the Christians as a description of men the information of the persons first persecuted, a well known to the person to whom he writes. great multitude (multitudo ingens) were discover- His first sentence concerning them is, “I have ed and seized.
never been present at the trials of Christians.” It seems probable, that the temporary check This mention of the name of Christians, withwhich Tacitus represents Christianity to have re-out any preparatory explanation, shows that it ceived (repressa in presens) referred to the perse was a term familiar both to the writer of the letcution at Jerusalem, which followed the death of ter, and the person to whom it was addressed. Stephen, (Acts viii;) and which, by dispersing the Had it not been so, Pliny would naturally have converts, caused the institution, in some measure, begun his letter by informing the emperor, that to disappear. Its second eruption at the same he had met with a certain set of men in the proplace, and within a short time, has much in it of vince, called Christians. the character of truth. It was the firmness and Here then is a very singular evidence of the perseverance of men, who knew what they relied progress of the Christian religion in a short space. upon.
It was not fourscore years after the crucifixion of Next in order of time, and perhaps superior in Jesus, when Pliny wrote this letter; nor seventy importance, is the testimony of Pliny the Younger. years since the apostles of Jesus began to mention Plíny was the Roman governor of Pontus and his name to the Gentile world. °Bithynia and Bithynia, two considerable districts in the north- Pontus were at a great distance from Judea, the ern part of Asia Minor. The situation in which centre from which the religion spread; yet in he found his province, led him to apply to the these provinces, Christianity had long subsisted, emperor (Trajan) for his direction as to the con- and Christians were now in such numbers as tó duct he was to hold towards the Christians. The lead the Roman governor to report to the emperor,
Cob i. 6
* a Plin. Trajano Imp lib. x. ep. xcvii.
that they were found not only in cities, but in vil- / were confined to Greece, and to their particular lages and in open countries ; of all ages, of every retainers; but the doctrine of the Master of Chrisrank and condition ; that they abounded so much, tianity did not remain in Judea, as philosophy as to have produced a visible desertion of the did in Greece, but it spread throughout the whole temples; that beasts brought to market for victims, world, in every nation, and village, and city, boib had few purchasers; that the sacred solemnities of Greeks and Barbarians, converting both whole were much neglected:-circumstances noted by houses and separate individuals, having already Pliny, for the express purpose of showing to the brought over to the truth not a few of the philoso emperor the effect and prevalency of the new in- phers themselves. If the Greek philosophy be stitution.
prohibited, it immediately vanishes; whereas, No evidence remains, by which it can be proved from the first preaching of our doctrine, kings that the Christians were numerous in and tyrants, governors and presidents, with their Pontus and Bithynia than in other parts of the whole train, and with the populace on their side, Roman empire ; nor has any reason been offered have endeavoured with their whole might to ex to show why they should be so. Christianity did terminate it, yet doth it flourish more and more. not begin in these countries, nor near them. I do Origen, who follows Tertullian at the distance of not know, therefore, that we ought to confine the only thirty years, delivers nearly the same acdescription in Pliny's letter to the state of Chris-count: “În every part of the world (says he,) tianity in those provinces, even if no other ac- throughout all Greece, and in all other nations, count of the same subject had come down to us; there are innumerable and immense multitudes, but certainly, this letter may fairly be applied in who, having left the laws of their country, and aid and confirmation of the representations given those whom they esteemed gods, have given of the general state of Christianity in the world, themselves up to the law of Moses, and the reliby Christian writers of that and the next succeed-gion of Christ : and this not without the bitterest
resentment from the idolaters, by whom they Justin Martyr, who wrote about thirty years were frequently put to torture, and sometimes to after Pliny, and one hundred and six after the death: and it is wonderful to observe, how, in so Ascension, has these remarkable words: “There short a time, the religion has increased, amidst is not a nation, either of Greek or Barbarian, or punishment and death, and every kind of torture."'t of any other name, even of those who wander in in another passage, Origen draws the following tribes, and live in tents, amongst whom prayers candid comparison between the state of Christiand thanksgivings are not offered to the Father anity in his time, and the condition of its more and Creator of the Universe by the name of the primitive ages: "By the good providence of God, crucified Jesus.”* Tertullian, who comes about the Christian religion has so flourished and infifty years after Justin, appeals to the governors creased continually, that it is now preached freely of the Roman empire in these terms: "We were without molestation, although there were a thoubut of yesterday, and we have filled your cities, sand obstacles to the spreading of the doctrine of islands, towns, and boroughs, the camp, the senate, Jesus in the world. But as it was the will of and the forum. They (the heathen adversaries God that the Gentiles should have the benefit of of Christianity) lament, that every sex, age, and it, all the counsels of men against the Christians condition, and persons of every rank also, are con were defeated : and by how much the more emverts to that name." + I do allow, that these ex. perors and governors of provinces, and the people pressions are loose, and may be called declamatory. every where, strove to depress them; so much the But even declamation hath its bounds : this public more have they increased, and prevajled exceedboasting upon a subject which must be known to ingly.” I every reader was not only useless but unnatural, It is well known, that within less than eighty unless the truth of the case, in a considerable de- years after this, the Roman empire became Chrisgree, correspond with the description; at least, tian under Constantine: and it is probable that unless it had been both true and notorious, that Constantine declared himself on the side of the great multitudes of Christians, of all ranks and Christians, because they were the powerful party; orders, were to be found in most parts of the for Arnobius, who wrote immediately before Con. Roman empire. The same Tertullian, in another stantine's accession, speaks of the whole world passage, by way of setting forth the extensive dif- as filled with Christ's doctrine, of its diffusion fusion of Christianity, enumerates as belonging throughout all countries, of an innumerable body to Christ, beside many other countries, the of Christians in distant provinces, of the strange “ Moors and Gætulians of Africa, the borders of revolution of opinion of men of the greatest geSpain, several nations of France, and parts of nius, orators, gramınarians, rhetoricians, lawyers, Britain, inaccessible to the Romans, the Sama- physicians, having come over to the institution, ritans, Daci, Germans, and Scythians;"and, and that also in the face of threats, executions, which is more material than the extent of the in- and tortures. $ And not more than twenty years stitution, the number of Christians in the several after Constantine's entire possession of the em countries in which it prevailed, is thus expressed pire, Julius Firmicus Maternus calls upon the by him: “Although so great a multitude, that in emperors Constantius and Constans to extirpate almost every city we form the greater part, we the relics of the ancient religion; the reduced and pass our time modestly and in silence. § Clemens fallen condition of which is described by our au. Alexandrinus, who preceded Tertullian by a few thor in the following words: “Licèt adhuc in years, introduces a comparison between the success quibusdam regionibus idololatriæ morientia palpi. of Christianity and that of the most celebrated philosophical institutions: “The philosophers
* Clem. Al. Strum. lib. vi. ad fin.
Orig. in Cels. lib. 1. t Orig. cont. Cels. lib. vii. * Dial. eum Tryph. † Tertull. Apol. c. 37. $ Arnob. in Gentes, l. 1. p. 27. & 24. 42. 44. edit. Lug. 1 Ad. Jud. c. 7.
§ Ad. Scap. a 111.
tent membra; tamen in eo reo est, ut à Christianis | Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, founded a library omnibus terris pestiferum hoc malum funditùs in that city, A. D. 212. Pamphilus, the friend of amputetur:" and in another place, “Modicum Origen, founded a library at Cesarea, A. D. 294. tantum superest, ut legibus vestris--extincta ido Public defences were also set forth, by various adlolatriæ pereat funesta contagio."* It will not be vocates of the religion, in the course of its first thought that we quote this writer in order to re- ) three centuries. Within one hundred years af. commend his temper or his judgment, but to show ter Christ's ascension, Quadratus and Aristides, the comparative state of Christianity and of Hea- whose works, except some few fragments of the thenism at this period. Fifty years afterward, first, are lost; and, about twenty years afterward, Jerome represents the decline of Paganism in Justin Martyr, whose works reinain, presented language which conveys the same idea of its ap- apologies for the Christian religion to the Roman proaching extinction : *Solitudinem patitur et in emperors; Quadratus and Aristides to Adrian, urbe gentilitas. Dii quondam nationam, cum bu- Justin to Antoninus Pius, and a second to Marbonibus et noctuis, in solis culminibus remanse cus Antoninus. Melito, bishop of Sardis, and runt."'+ Jerome here indulges a triumph, natural Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis, and Miltiades, and allowable in a zealous friend of the cause, but men of great reputation, did the same to Marcus which could only be suggested to his mind by the Antoninus, twenty years afterward:* and ten consent and universality with which he saw the years after this, Apollonius, who suffered martyrreligion received." But now (says he) the passion dom under the emperor Commodus, composed an and resurrection of Christ are celebrated in the apology for his faith, which he read in the senate, discourses and writings of all nations. I need not and which was afterward published. Fourteen mention, Jews, Greeks, and Latins. The Indians, years after the apology of Apollonius, Tertullian Persians, Goths, and Egyptians, philosophize, and addressed the work which now remains under firmly believe the immortality of the soul, and fu- that name to the governors of provinces in the ture recompenses, which, before, the greatest phi- Roman empire; and, about the same time, Minuosophers had denied, or doubted of, or perplexed cius Felix composed a defence of the Christian with their disputes. The fierceness of Thracians religion, which is still extant; and shortly after and Scythians is now softened by the gentle sound the conclusion of this century, copious defences of the Gospel; and every where Christ is all in of Christianity were published by Arnobius and all." Were therefore the motives of Constan- Lactantius. tine's conversion ever so problematical, the easy establishment of Christianity, and the ruin of Heathenism, under him and his immediate successors, is of itself a proof of the progress which
SECTION II. Christianity had made in the preceding period. It may be added also," that Maxentius, the rival of Reflections upon the preceding account. Constantine, had shown himself friendly to the Christians. Therefore of those who were con In viewing the progress of Christianity, our tending for worldly power and empire, one actual first attention is due to the number of converts at ly favoured and Nattered them, and another may Jerusalem, immediately after its Founder's death; be suspected to have joined himself to them, part- because this success was a success at the time, and ly from consideration of interest: so considerable upon the spot, when and where the chief part of were they become, under external disadvantages the history had been transacted. of all sorts."$ This at least is certain that through We are, in the next place, called upon to attend out the whole transaction hitherto, the great seein- to the early establishment of numerous Christian ed to follow, not to lead, the public opinion. societies in Judea and Galilee; which countries
It may help to convey to us some notion of the had been the scene of Christ's miracles and minisextent and progress of Christianity, or rather of try, and where the memory of what had passed, the character and quality of many early Chris- and the knowledge of what was alleged, must tians, of their learning and their labours, to notice have yet been fresh and certain. the number of Christian writers who flourished We are, thirdly, invited to recollect the success in these ages. Saint Jerome's catalogue contains of the apostles and of their companions, at the sirty-six writers within the first three centuries, several places to which they came, both within and the first six years of the fourth; and fifty- and without Judea ; because it was the credit four between that time and his own, viz. A. V. given to original witnesses, appealing for the truth 392. Jerome introduces his catalogue with the of their accounts to what themselves had seen and following just remonstrance:-“Let those who heard. The effect also of their preaching strongly say the church has had no philosophers, nor elo- confirms the truth of what our history positively quent and learned men, observe who and what and circumstantially relates, that they were able they were who founded, established, and adorned to exhibit to their hearers supernatural attestations it: let them cease to accuse our faith of rusticity, of their mission. and confess their mistake."'ll Of these writers, se We are, lastly, to consider the subsequent growth veral, as Justin, Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, and spread of the religion, of which we receive Tertullian, Origen, Bardesanes, Hippolitus, Eu successive intimations, and satisfactory, though sebius, were voluminous writers. Christian wri. general and occasional, accounts, until its full and ters abounded particularly about the year 178. final establishment.
In all these several stages, the history is withont • De Error. Profan. Relig. c. xxi. p. 172, quoted by a parallel: for it must be observed, that we have Lardner, vol. viii. p. 262. † Jer. ad Lect. ep. 5. 7. 1 Jer. ep. 8. ad Helind. * Euseb. Hist. Jib. iv. c. 26. See also Lardner, vol. ir.
Lardner, Cred. vol. vii. p. 300. Jer. Prol. in Lib. de Scr. Eccl.
| Lardner, vol. ir.