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to the piety which was mingled with the deception. In many instances the deception had a greater influence over its first subject than it did over any of his successors. We should be far from the mark, did we suppose that the communication of Christianity to the mind of an ignorant, a sophistical, or a superstitious Gentile, was accompanied with intelligence, with a superiority to all comrnon prejudices, or with an ability to take wide and lofty views concerning any subject. Far otherwise. Christianity took its converts as it found them with their superstition and their ignorance. This being the case, we may well imagine what scope was afforded them for the invention of legends and for self-deception. The difference between the Scriptures of the New Testament and the subsequent early Christian writings, in respect of depth and strength of mind, is remarkable. A spirit of emulation might be excited amongst the early Fathers and Preachers to follow the example of the Apostles in leaving letters behind them. Their own converts or hearers might be tempted to write down the substance of their advice or discourses, and in process of time, a sentence in such a writing, which gave to the document all the life and interest which it possessed, might give it likewise the name of an Apostle. To some such cause we are to attribute the existence of several spurious compositions which are often mentioned by early writers. Most of these we know only by name, for they were suffered to fall into an early forgetfulness. Many traditions likewise would find their way into history. Our evidence for the divine origin of Christianity must be found in the religion itself, and in the history, character, and actions of its teachers. We must not seek for such evidence to be afforded in the total change of the heart and mind of every early convert, whatever his natural character. Nothing then is more natural than that legends and traditions should be mingled with early Christian history. It is impossible now to distinguish between them in some cases, which, however, are of no importance to the interests of our faith. We shall always find our advantage in allowing something to the tendencies and infirmities of the human mind. Nor are we to charge fraud upon

one who first tells, or who afterwards repeats a story, which we either know to be false or have not sufficient evidence to authenticate. It is hard in some cases to draw the line between fraud and error, or mistake. Some early writers say that Ignatius,

the martyred Bishop of Antioch, was the child whom Jesus took in his arms. There is nothing improbable in the story ; it may

be true. It is natural that some individual should have been so designated. All we can say is, that we can neither verify nor disprove this and some other similar stories. We meet with a statement that the Apostles, before setting out upon their journeys, cast lots as to their destination. This however is improbable ; for we may well suppose that, instead of leaving such a matter to chance, they would have been guided by occasions, and by their individual qualifications. The superiority of the New Testament Scriptures above such idle, random assertions, constitutes no feeble argument for their high authority. Of a similar character are the pretensions of different countries, that certain Apostles, or individuals named in the New Testament, are buried within their territories, — Peter and Paul in Rome, Mary Magdalene in Florence, Lazarus in France, James in Spain, Andrew in Russia, Simon and Joseph of Arimathea in England. It is of no consequence whether the stories are true or false.

Many Christians believe that the Apostles, assembled in council, composed the creed which passes under their name. There is nothing improbable on the face of this story, but it is wholly destitute of evidence. There is nothing in the creed repugnant to Scripture, for its sentiments may all be found there. Here seems to be the proper place to mention a pretended correspondence between Jesus and Abgarus, prince of Edessa in Mesopotamia. Eusebius, in the year 315, makes the first mention of this correspondence. He says that it existed among the public records and antiquities of the city of Edessa, that it was in the Syriac language, and that he procured it to be translated for him. * The copy of the letter which was written by Abgarus the

Toparch to Jesus, and sent to him at Jerusalem by the courier Ananias.

“Abgarus, Toparch (or Prince) of Edessa, to Jesus, the good Saviour, who has appeared at Jerusalem, sendeth greeting : I have heard of thee, and of thy cures, performed without herbs or other medicines. For it is reported that thou makest the blind to see, and the lame to walk; that thou cleansest lepers, and castest out unclean spirits and demons, and healest those who are tormented with diseases of a long standing, and raisest the dead. Having heard of all these things concerning thee, I

concluded in my mind one of these two things, either that thou art God come down from Heaven to do these things, or else that thou art the Son of God, and so performest them. Wherefore, I now. write unto thee, entreating thee to come to me, and to heal my distemper. Moreover, I hear that the Jews murmur against thee, and plot to do thee mischief. I have a city, small indeed, but neat, which may suffice for both.”

“ Now let us attend,” says Eusebius, "to the letter which Jesus returned by the same courier, short indeed, but very powerful. It is in these words."

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The rescript of Jesus to the Toparch Abgarus, sent by the

courier Ananias. “Abgarus, thou art happy, forasmuch as thou hast believed in me, though thou hast not seen me.” John xx. 29. is written concerning me, that they who have seen me should not believe in me, that they who have not seen me might believe and live. As for what thou hast written to me, desiring me to come to thee, it is necessary that all those things for which I am sent, should be fulfilled by me here: and that, after fulfilling them, I should be received up to him that sent me. When, therefore, I shall be received up, I will send to thee some one of my disciples, that he may heal thy distemper, and give life to thee, and to those who are with thee.”

There is no good reason for doubting that such documents did exist in Edessa, but there is less doubt that they were an absolute forgery. It was the common opinion of antiquity that Jesus wrote nothing. Such remarkable documents could not have escaped the notice of the writers before Eusebius ; his successors likewise take but little notice of the matter, and when they refer to it, it is without respect. Jesus is made to refer to John's Gospel, which was not then written. The probability is, that some Christian fabricated the documents before the time of Eusebius, with a mixture of ignorant reverence and fraud, which soon became too common.

A word likewise may be said concerning the pretended likenesses of the Saviour to be seen in Catholic countries. We hear of no marble or pictorial representations of him until after the fourth century, when it was allowed there was no authentic likeness of him. Before that time he imagined, in strict conformity with prophecy, to have been without beauty or comeliness. Thus he was held up

for

was

imitation before his suffering and persecuted followers. After that period we find mention of stones, coins, and paintings on which he was represented. But then the original idea of his appearance had given place to the imagination of a countenance full of beauty, glory, and majesty. And thus in the earliest paintings we find the delicate oval face, the fine thin beard, and the mild expressive eyes. Of course superstition and fraud combined to attribute great antiquity to certain pictures of him, as those on the handkerchief of St. Veronica, and in the Lateran Sanctum at Rome. In the cemetery of Callixtus was a very ancient painting of him.

Neander very justly remarks, that between the writings of the Apostles, and those attributed to the Apostolical Fathers, there is no gradual transition, but a sudden bound. The era of the first miraculous utterances of the Holy Spirit was in course followed by the free operation of human nature upon Christianity : here, as in other of its operations, Christianity was of necessity trammeled, until it could gradually work its way higher, and pierce deeper, and enlist on its side the more exalted intellectual powers of man. Neander thinks that some spurious writings were counterfeited under the names of the Companions of the Apostles, and that some of their genuine writings were adulterated by professed believers, to subserve the interests of the Judaizing party in the Church, whose main object it was to continue its hierarchy. Let the readers make all the allowances we have suggested.

As we pursue our readings in early Christian literature, under the guidance, as we hope, of maturer lessons of wisdom, and a larger knowledge of human infirmities, we are above all things impressed with the strict conformity between the facts which we have verified and the theories and expectations which appear to be most reasonable. Where man's work mingles with the work of his Maker, the infirmities of human imperfection transfer their blemishes to the operations of the Almighty as they first meet our view. We learn the wisdom which we seek for, full as much in the process of attaining it, as when we rest from the task and pursuit. And then the sweet repose of mind which rewards the conflict with error, which follows the patient search, of laborious toil, how does it differ from lethargic indifference, how infinite is its superiority above the disquietude and the annoyances of skepticism.

There is a document which is known by the name of the “Shepherd of Hermas.” Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (xvi. 14.) sends his salutation to an early Christian of this name, and this document has been without sufficient evidence attributed to that friend of the Apostle. But the character 'of the work itself, and the kind of notices which we find of it, leave it almost if not wholly impossible to decide as to its date or author ; that is, men of equal learning, candor, and judgment might disagree concerning it. The early writers who speak of it express doubts concerning it. Weighing the testimony concerning it in the best manner we are able, we should be led to dispute its alleged authorship and date, and to attribute it to another Hermas, brother of Pius, Bishop of the Church at Rome, about A. D. 150. Eusebius speaks with uncertainty concerning it, and approves of it in the instruction of those who are learning the rudiments of religion. In that light we ourselves may properly regard it, as having done service of that kind when first written. The work bears a strong resemblance in general character to Bunyan's Prilgrim's Progress. It is divided into three parts, the first consisting of four visions, the second of twelve commands, the third of ten similitudes. The title of the work is derived from the appearance of an angel under the form of a shepherd to the author. As far as we know, it is the first specimen which literature ever afforded of that kind of allegory ; and we might imagine it would have been read with interest by those to whom its imagery, its figures, and its whole subjectmatter were new. Indeed it is far above some later examples of the same kind of composition. It is manifestly the work of one who was familiar with the Christian Scriptures. Its morality is pure and high ; its philosophy is by no means bad; and there is much ingenuity displayed in some of its imagery. It probably was never used in the worship of Christian assemblies. It was originally written in Greek, but remains to us, with the bare exception of a few quotations, only in the Latin language. The Greek Fathers appear to have valued it highly : Irenæus gives it the title of “ Scripture.”

There are seven Epistles ascribed to Ignatius, who was Bishop of Antioch at the close of the first century, and soon after its termination suffered martyrdom. These Epistles are addressed to the Ephesians, the Magnesians, the Trallians,

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