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"But his works were always seen, because they were true; they were seen by those who were healed, and by those who were raised from the dead. Nay, these persons who were thus healed and raised, were seen not only at the time of their being healed and raised, but long afterwards they were not only seen all the while Jesus Christ was upon earth, but survived after his departure from this world. Nay, some of them were living in our days.”—Ap. Eus. H. E. lib. iv. cap. 3.
Although a most important evidence in favour of Christianity arises from its overcoming every obstacle after the death of its divine author, by the exertions of simple and unlettered men; yet it is favourable to Christianity that many of the followers of Christ were also men of acknowledged importance for their wealth, and for their known wisdom and learning: among whom we' may reckon Joseph of Arimathea, who was of the Jewish sanhedrim; Dionysius, a member of the Athenian areopagus; and Flavius Clemens, who was not only a Roman senator, but at the time of his death consul of Rome. These were so thoroughly satisfied of the truth of the Christian religion, that the first of them is said to have died a martyr to it; as did the second, according to the report of Aristides, his fellow
citizen and cotemporary; and also the third, as we are informed, both 'by Christian and Roman authors.
To these may be added Sergius Paulus, proconsul of Cyprus; Erastus, treasurer of Corinth; and even the emperor's domestics. And in Judea the sacred historians inform us that great numbers of the most eminent and illustrious of that nation believed Jesus to be a divine messenger, though they did not choose publicly to avow their belief.
Athenagoras, an Athenian philosopher, had entertained so unfavourable an opinion of the Christian religion, that he was determined to write against it; but upon a close examination into the facts on which it was supported, in the course of his collecting materials for his intended publication, he was convinced by the blaze of evidence in its favour, and turned his designed invective into an elaborate apology.Dr. Lardner's Gospel History, vol. i. p. 401. Arnobius, a man of great learning and excellent judgement, who embraced Christianity in the reign of Diocletian, speaking of the amazing rapidity with which the Christian religion spread its triumphs in the world, observes: "That persons of the first abilities and learning, orators, professors of the belles lettres,
rhetoricians, lawyers, physicians, who had penetrated all the secret recesses of philosophy, despising the principles in which they had once confided, took up their rest in the philosophy of Jesus."-Vide Arnobius adversus Gentes, lib. ii. p. 44. ed. 1651.
Josephus gives this remarkable testimony: "About this period there arose to notice one Jesus, a man of consummate wisdom, if indeed he may be deemed a man. He was eminently celebrated for his power of working miracles; and those who were curious and desirous to learn the truth, flocked to him in abundance; he was followed by an immense number of people, as well Jews as Gentiles: this was that Christ whom the princes and great men of our nation accused. He was delivered up to the eross by Pontius Pilate; notwithstanding which, those who originally adhered to him never forsook him. On the third day after his cruci fixion he was seen alive, agreeably to the prediction of several prophets; he wrought a great number of marvellous acts ; and there remains even to this day a sect of people who bear the name of Christians, who acknowledge this Christ for their head *."
* Many of the opposers of Christianity have pretended that the above is an interpolation in Josephus's History of
Many of the ancient apologists were persons of learning, and well acquainted with the heathen writers and the heathen philosophy. The account they give of themselves is, that they were brought up in the belief of that religion which was transmitted down to them by their ancestors; that they had entertained the strongest prejudices in favour of Paganism, and the prin ciples on which this system was erected: that being trained up in the schools of philosophy,. and in early life imbued with the love of truth and inquiry; being habituated to this exercise, they had carefully canvassed and examined the nature, doctrine, and tendency of the Gospel ; and, upon such deliberate and impartial examination, were firmly persuaded it was a divine reve lation Justin Martyr, Apol. 2. p. 30, edit.
Tatian, in his address to the Greeks, tells them, "That he had travelled through many countries; had been an admirer of the Greek philosophy; had studied the arts and sciences, and lived in Rome; but that now he had bidden an everlasting farewell to the ostentation of the
the Jews; but I shall not out of compliment to dissatisfied minds, to whom every proof of the divinity of Christ is unpleasant, omit the testimony of so valuable and respectable an author.
Romans, and to the frigid and visionary reveries of the Athenians, and embraced that form of philosophy they affected so much to despise.”. Tatian. Oratio ad Græcos, p. 123, edit. Ox. 1700. -Lat. p. 142, he says: "That he was first instructed in the Pagan religion, but afterwards in that doctrine he now publicly professed *."
Enough has been said to convince the candid reader that the Scriptures are established on far greater authority than any other book of that time to which infidels and deists give credit; that Moses and the prophets were men actually maintaining the characters imputed to them; and that the account of their having worked miracles is worthy of credit; also that the account in the New Testament concerning Christ and his miracles is true, even the gainsayers acknowledging as much: these certainly prove Christ a divine teacher. That the Scriptures contain many things hard to be understood, cannot be denied
there are also many things in
* These matters are, treated of more copiously in the authors themselves. See also Addison's Evidence of Christian Religion. Harwood's Introd. to the New Testament. Paley's View of Christianity. Dr. Lardner, Dr. S. Clarke, &c. &c. Age of Revelation, by Elias Bondinot, LL. D. Philadelphia: &c. &c.