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they thought would serve for the advancement of " their cause.' Vol. ii. p. 100. 289.
Le Clerc was inclined to the same opinion, as appears from many passages in his writings. See Bibl. Anc. et Mod. xxvii. p. 175.
In his Bibl. Chois. xiii. p. 179. there are Remarks on Fontenelle, &c. Le Clerc gave this as a foundling, but it looks very much like his own child, and in all probability it must be laid to him, as well as the Letters on Inspiration, which, as he never owned, so he never denied. He there endeavours to prove, that the ejecting of devils by the Christians after the apostolical age, and the wonders of that kind done by the sign of the cross, deserve no credit.
In his Ecclesiastical History, speaking of the miracles related by Irenæus, he concludes : quibus quidem nemo fidem prorsus negare sustineat ; sed tamen quæcumque
boni viri, ab alüs audita et facile credita, üs temporibus quibus credulitas virtus hubebatur, narrabant, vera propterea esse consequens non est. In honorem Dei salutemque hominum hyperbolica oratione uti nemo tunc temporis religioni ducebat.
Le Clerc gives some account in his Bibliotheques, of the life and writings of Van Dale, and of the works of Moyle. Of the former he says, “ His conversation " was lively and entertaining, and he delivered his " sentiments without reserve. Sworn enemy to su
perstition and hypocrisy, he ridiculed them openly, " which hurt him, as I have been told, on some oc
casions. He died physician to the poor, and to the hospital of Harlem, which office he exercised with great application and assiduity, though he was extremely attached to his studies."
After speaking favourably of Moyle's works, particularly of his Dissertation against the Thundering Legion, and recommending them to all lovers of truth, he adds: “ I have heard this learned and worthy man “ censured as one who was inclined to free-thinking “ and unbelief: but in his writings I can discern no
thing that tends that way, and therefore, till I see * evident proofs of it, I shall always think that great
injustice is done to the character of a person of his penetration and abilities.”
Le Clerc himself fared no better than Moyle, and heretic and free-thinker were compliments often paid to him, and to which he was accustomed, which made bim the more disposed to defend his fellow-sufferers.
The Christian miracles may be referred to four periods :
The first period contains those which are recorded in the New Testament, and reaches to about A. D. 70. Of these there can be no doubt among Chris, tians.
The next period may be of thirty-seven years, and ends about A. D. 107. There is reason to think it probable that some miracles were then performed by those who preached and planted the gospel in pagan countries,
The third reaches from thence to Constantine. For some of the miracles in these ages, in the second and third centuries, so much should be alledged as should restrain us from determining too positively against them, and denying them all.
The last period is from Constantine to where you please, and abounds with miracles, the defence of which shall be left to those who are inclined to undertake it, at the hazard of misapplying their pains. One
sort of miracle seems to have been much wanted, and that was to cast the romantic devil out of the Christians of those times; but this kind goeth not out so easily, and stands in awe of no exorcisms.
Some few miracles indeed are said to have been wrought in the days of Constantine, and in remote regions where the gospel was then first propagated, which, though for certain reasons one cannot rely upon them, yet may require a suspense of judgment.
If it be asked when miraculous powers ceased in the church ? the proper answer seems to be, that these miracles cease to us, when we cease to find satisfactory evidence for them.
Some of the post-apostolical miracles shall be considered in the course of this work, and what may be fairly urged in their favour shall not be omitted ; but it may not be amiss to declare, once for all, that I would not engagé for the truth of any of them, after A. D. 107, and that I desire to be ranked, as to this point, not amongst the denyers and rejectors, but amongst the doubters.
EUSEBIUS, i. 13. relates, that Abgarus, prince of Edessa, in Mesopotamia, wrote to Christ, and received a letter from him, and that Thaddæus was sent to Edessa, who cured this prince, wrought other miracles, and converted his people. Eusebius translated this account, or got it translated from the archives of E. dessa. There is no room to suspect him of forging it, but there is abundant reason to account it a forgery, and a foolish one too. Many indeed have received and defended it, from Ephraim Syrus down to Cave, and to writers of yesterday : but if they were twice or ten times as many, their united labours can
never efface its indelible characters of puerility and improbability. See Le Clerc, Hist. Eccl. p. 332.
However, though this be a mere fable, and though Eusebius was to blame for not testifying a dislike or a doubt of it, yet there are some things implied in it concerning Edessa which cannot fairly be denied, as that the gospel was preached there long before the time of Eusebius, and that it was preached when Christianity was in a low and afflicted condition, when neither worldly hope, nor fear, nor the vanity of imitating great nations, nor any motive of that kind could induce this people to receive it. It will therefore be no easy matter to account for their conversion, unless by supposing that the preaching and the miracles of some Christians prevailed with them to leave their own religion delivered to them by their ancestors.
This happened in all probability in early times, and those dwellers in Mesopotamia, who were in Jerusalem at Pentecost, and heard the apostles speak with tongues, might assist in planting the gospel at Edessa, or in preparing the way for it.
It is an ancient, and not an improbable tradition, that the Ethiopian Eunuch preached and spread the gospel in his own country.
Ipse Eunuchus credens,—missus est in regiones Æthiopie, prædicaturus huc quod ipse crediderut. Irenæus iii. 12.
Philippus docuit Æthiopem et baptizavit, atque in Ethiopinm usque Christi preconem misit. Cyrillus Hieros. Catech. xvii. p. 204.
Eunuchus-Apostolus genti Æthiopum missus est. Hieronymus in Esai. c. 53.
Eusebius iii. 37. speaking of the successors of the apostles, at the latter end of the first, and the beginning of the second century, says, that several at that time went into various and remote countries, converting multitudes, and working many miracles.
The words of Eusebius intimate, that he thought those extraordinary powers to be, at least, not very common afterwards. They went ubout, says he, with God's co-operating grace, for EVEN THEN the divine Spirit performed many miracles by them.-Cor Tŷ Ti O:8 xí ρι και ζυνεργία έπει και το θείο Πνεύματος εισέτι τότε δι' αυτών σλάκαι παράδοξοι δυνάμεις ενήγγεν. .
It were to be supposed, though Eusebius had not said it, that these evangelists and apostolical men, and founders of uncorrupted Christianity in various places, had the power of working miracles, to introduce themselves to strangers, and to conciliate their regard and respect; and indeed, without such credentials, it is difficult to be conceived how disciples of the apostles could have succeeded in their attempts. It would have been very natural for the Pagans, when they had heard their story, to have said to them ; If Christ and his apostles not long ago wrought such wonders as you relate, to convert men, we have reason to expect some from you ; for you tell us that some of these powers were communicated to the disciples of the apostles. How comes it to pass then that you are without them ? and if you have them not, why do you address yourselves to us?
What could they do amongst strangers, without miracles, without force, without singular dexterity and subtilty, without the aid of arts and sciences ? Will you suppose the people to whoin they went to have been colts and wild asses? and yet, if they were, stupidity and stubbornness often go together.