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We read in the Acts of the Apostles that many of the persons converted by the apostles, on receiving Christianity, received extraordinary gifts, whence it is reasonable to think that they were also enabled, when they went about preaching the gospel; to confirm it by signs and wonders at some times, and on some occasions ; else they would have done better in staying at home, lest they should discredit their cause by having no power of this kind when they wanted it most.
Le Clerc would have been of the same opinion, if he had considered this point more particularly, for he says, The Christian Church not only supported itself, but increased considerably during the second century, by means of the miracles which the last disciples of the apostles still wrought, fc. Bibl. A. et M. vi.
336. The Pagans indeed, at that juncture, wanted the testimony of miracles more than the Jews, for this reason, that the Jews had the predictions of their own prophets, and saw, or might see the completion of many of them in the person of Christ : but the Pagans would be less affected by that argument, till they were better acquainted with the history of the Jews and of their sacred books. He who in those early times preached to the Jews, might also appeal to the miracles of Christ and of the apostles, which they or their fathers had seen ; but the remoter Gentiles were stran. gers to these things, and a few sensible proofs of the extraordinary powers of the Holy Spirit would to them have been more satisfactory.
We have not any pretence to reject the testimony of Eusebius as to the fact, that the gospel was preached by disciples of the apostles, and we have this to confirm it, that, according to all ancient history, Christi
anity after the death of the apostles continued to ide crease and to get ground in various regions.
This brimgs the probability of miraclés down to the beginning of the second century, in the middle of which Justin Martyr says, There are prophetic gifts amongst us EVEN UNTIL NOW. σαρα και ημϊν και μέχρι Būv a populoxeć zapíqueloé ésiv. and amongst these gifts he reckons up miraculous powers, as healing the sick, casting out evil spirits, fc. p. 315, 330. His words imply an opinion that such gifts were not only exercised in his time, but had been continued doxo'n to his time, and he
may be justly supposed to speak the sense of his contemporary Christians; and that is all that I cite him for.
It seems probablc that if we had a full and authentic history of the propagation of the gospel from the time of the apostles to the middle of the second century, composed by eye-witnesses and by the preachers of Christianity, we should find miracles wrought for the conversion of the Pagans. But from A. D. 70, to 150. is a dark interval, and we have very short accounts of the transactions of those days, unless we should accept of groundless rumours and frivolous tales.
St John was banished by Domitian, A. D. 94. Tertullian, and others upon his credit, say, that he was put into a vessel of boiling oil, which story Jerom repeats with a few embellishments of his own. See Le Clerc Hist. Eccl. p. 508. The apostle came out unhurt, says Tertullian; he came out stronger und healthier than he went ini, says Jerom, who perhaps had in his thoughts Æson coming out of Medca's kettle ;
Canitie posita, nigrum rapuere colorem.
Adjectoque cavæ supplentur sanguine vence ;
Ovid. Met. vii. 288. Eusebius not only mentions not this tradition in his Eccl. History, or in his Chronicon, but in his Demonstratio Evangelica, speaking of the sufferings of the apostles, of the death of Stephen, of James the brother of John, of James the brother of Christ, of Peter and of Paul, he only says of John, Ιωάννης τι νήσω παραδίδοθαι, and John is banished and sent into an island. iii. p. 116.
Christ had said to James and John, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I om haptized with, which possibly gave occasion to the invention of this punishment. The caldron (as a kind of scyphus Herculeus) represented the cup, and the oil the baptism, especially as oil was used in baptism in the days of Tertullian.
The anointing of the baptized person began about his time; it was not practised when Justin Martyr wrote, as appears from the account which he hath given of this religious rite ; and the story of St John's caldron might be made in Tertullian's days, to represent a figurative or metaphorical cup; and baptism, or afflictions and martyrdom. Joannes Ciampini published an explication of an ancient marble monument, which he thinks to have been of the sixth century. It represents in Basso Relievo an huge caldron, or vessel, in which are a king and a queen, and a man standing by it pours water upon the head of the king, who is praying with his hands joined. This he supposes to describe the baptism of some prince, perforined by
immersion and superinfusion. See Act. Erudit. 1698.
Tertullian had no small share of credulity; he proves that the soul is corporeal, from the visions of an illuminated sister, who told him that she had seen a soul. De Anima, p. 311. He affirms roundly, constat, says hè, Ethnicis quoque testibus, that a fine city was seen for forty days, suspended in the air over Jerusalem. This report of some crazy pilgrim or idle stroller, he adopted, as a proof that the millennium was at hand. Contra Marc. iii. 24. How can one depend upon his testi: mony in things which are of the preternatural and miraculous kind?
St John is called a martyr by some ancient Christians; and so he was, when he was banished to an island, and suffered
A. D. 107. Contemporary with Ignatius was Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, the father of traditions, and å man of small judgment, who wrote an exposition of the discourses of Christ. He was extremely diligent in enquiring what the ancients, what Andrero, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John, Matthew, and the rest of the Lord's disciples had said or taught, Apud Euseb. iii. 39.
Mr Whiston has somewhere observed, that Papias takes no notice of Paul, and therefore probably was of the sect of the Ebionites, who hated that apostle. His remark is, like many other of his remarks, ingenious; and Papias is said to have made use of the gospel according to the Hebrews, which was received by the the Ebionites. Euseb. But yet, in behalf of poor Papias, whom one would rather rank amongst the simpletons than amongst the heretics, it might be urged,
that as his design was to collect all the unwritten sayings and actions of Christ, he thought that 'nothing of that kind could be learned from St Paul, who had not conversed with the Lord, as Peter, Matthew, &c. And indeed it is scarcely conceivable how Papias could reverence St John, and yet be an Ebionite, since the gospel of that apostle is so directly against the no: tions of the Ebionites,
A, D. 116. We have an epistle of Tiberianus, governor of part of Palestine, and called Palestince primæ Præses, to Trajan, in which he speaks of the invincible obstinacy of the Galilæans, or Christians, under his jurisdiction, with punishing and destroying whom he declares himself quite tired. Pearson, in his Vindic, Ignat, and some late writers, and Dr Middleton also, treat this epistle as genuine ; which is an oversight, since there are so many reasons to think it spurious, as Dodwell has shewed Dissert. Cypr. xi,
We have it only from Suidas and Malela, two sorry vouchers, and Eusebius knew nothing of it, See Middleton, Inquiry, p. 201, S, Basnage Annal. ü.
p. 38, and particularly Tillemont, who fairly gives it up,
and informs us that V. lesius accounted it the work of a blockhead and an impustor. Eccl. Hist. ii. p. 170. 571. Le Clerc also, though he lets it pass uncensured in his Apostolical Fathers, ii. p. 181, rejects it, where he gives an account of that edition : Il y aune Relation supposée de Tiberien Gouverneur de la premiere Palestine à Trajan.. Bibl. A, et M. xxi. 304, So I hope we shall hear no more of it henceforward, ei. ther for or against the behaviour of the martyrs.
Quadratus and Aristides wrote apologies for the Christian religion, and addressed and delivered them