Page images

can we have ?) though written without the remotest design of transmitting the history of Christ, or of Christianity, to future ages, or even of making it known to their contemporaries, incidentally disclose to us the following circumstances :--Christ's descent and family ; his innocence; the meekness and gentleness of his character (a recognition which goes to the whole Gospel history); his exalted nature; his circumcision'; his transfiguration; his lifeof opposition and suffering; his patience and resignation; the appointment of the eucharist, and the manner of it; his agony; his confession before Pontius Pilate; his stripes, crucifixion, and burial ; his resurrection; his appearance after it, first to Peter, then to the rest of the apostles; his ascension into heaven ; and his designation to be the future judge of mankind ;-the stated residence of the

apostles at Jerusalem ; the working of miracles by the first preachers of the Gospel, who were also the hearers of Christ* ;—the successful propagation of the religion ; the persecution of its followers; the miraculous conversion of Paul; miracles wrought by himself, and alleged in his controversies with his adversaries, and in letters to the persons amongst whom they were wrought; -finally, that MIRACLES were the signs of an apostle *.

* Heb. ii. 3. " How shall we escape, if we neglect so great sal vation, which, at the first, began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that keard him, God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost ?I allege this epistle without hesitation ; for, whatever doubts may have been raised about its author, there can be none concerning the age in which it was written. No epistle in the collection carries about it more indubitable marks of antiquity than this does. It speaks, for instance, throughout, of the temple as then standing, and of the wor, ship of the temple as then subsisting.-Heb. viii. 4. “ For, if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing there are priests that offer according to the law."-Again, Heb. xiii. 10. 66 We have an altar whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle."

In an epistle bearing the name of Barnabas, the companion of Paul, probably genuine, certainly , belonging to that age, we have the sufferings of Christ, his choice of apostles and their number, his passion, the scarlet robe, the vinegar and gall, the

* “ Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs and wonders, and mighty deeds." 2 Cor. xii. 12.

[ocr errors]

mocking and piercing, the casting lots for his coat *, his resurrection on the eighth fi. e. the first day of the week †), and the commemorative distinction of that day, his manifestation after his resurrection, and lastly his ascension. We have also his miracles generally but positively referred to in the following words : “ finally teaching the people of Israel, and doing many wonders and signs among them, he preached to them, and showed the exceeding great love which he bare towards them I."

In an epistle of Clement, a hearer of Saint Paul, although written for a purpose remotely connected with the Christian history, we have the resurrection of Christ, and the subsequent mission of the apostles, recorded in these satisfactory terms : “ The apostles have preached to us from our Lord Jesus Christ from God;

-For, having received their command, and being thoroughly assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, they went abroad, publishing that the kingdom of God was at hand *. We find noticed also, the humility, yet the power of Christ , his descent from Abraham, his crucifixion. We have Peter and Paul represented as faithful and righteous pillars of the church; the numerous sufferings of Peter ; the bonds, stripes, and stoning of Paul, and more particularly his extensive and unwearied travels.

* Ep. Bar. c. vii.

+ Ibid. c. vi,

# Ibid. c. v.

In an epistle of Polycarp, a disciple of Saint John, though only a brief hortatory letter, we have the humility, patience, sufferings, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, together with the apostolic character of Saint Paul, distinctly recognised... Of this same father we are also assured by Irenæus, that he (Irenæus) had heard him relate, 6 what he had received from eye-witnesses concerning the Lord, both concerning his miracles and his doctrine 8.”

* Ep. Clem. Rom. c. xlii. + Ep. Clem. Rom. c. xvi. # Pol. Ep. ad Phil. c. V. viii. ii. iii. § Ir. ad Flor. ap. Euscb. l. y. c. 20.

In the remaining works of Ignatius, the contemporary of Polycarp, larger than those of Polycarp (yet, like those of Polycarp, treating of subjects in nowise leading to any recital of the Christian history), the occasional allusions are proportionably more numerous. The descent of Christ from David, his mother Mary, his miraculous conception, the star at his birth, his baptism by John, the reason assigned for it, his appeal to the prophets, the ointment poured on his head, his sufferings under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, his resurrection, the Lord's day called and kept in commemoration of it, and the eucharist, in both its parts,--are unequivocally referred to. Upon the resurrection, this writer is even circumstantial. He mentions the apostles' eating and drinking with Christ after he had risen, their feeling and their handling him ; from which last circumstance Ignatius raises this just reflection ;—“ They believed, being convinced both by his flesh and spirit'; for this cause, they despised death, and were found to be above it*.”

* Ad Smyr. c. iii.

« PreviousContinue »