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ment of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Bardesanes, Hippolitus, Eusebius, were voluminous writers.. Christian writers abounded particularly about the year 178. Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, founded a library in that city, A. D. 212. Pampbilus, the friend of Origen, founded a library at Cesarea, A. D. 294. Public defences were also set forth, by various advocates of the religion, in the course of its three first centuries. * Within one hundred years after Christ's ascension, Quadratus and Aristides, whose works, except some few fragments of the first, are lost; and about twenty years afterwards, Justin Martyr, whose works remain, presented apologies for the Christian religion to the Roman emperors ; Quadratus and Aristides's to Adrian, Justin to Antonius Pius, and a second to Marcus Antonius. Melito, bishop of Sardis, and Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis, and Miltiades, men of great reputation, did the same to Marcus Antonius twenty years afterwards :* and ten years after this, Apollonius, who suffered martyrdom under the emperor Commodus, composed an apology for his faith, which he read in the senate, and which was afterwards published. Fourteen years after the apology of Apollonius, Tertullian addressed the work, which now remains under that name, to the governors of provinces in the Roman empire; and, about the same time, Minnucius Felix composed a defence of the Christian religion, which is still extant; and, shortly after the conclusion of this century, copious defences of Christianity were published by Arnobius and Lactantius.
SECT. II. Reflections upon the preceding Account. IN viewing the progress of Christianity, our first attention is due to the number of converts at Jerusalem, immediately after its founder's death; because this success was a suecess at the time, and upon the spot, when and where the chief part of the history had been transacted.
We are, in the next place, called upon to attend to the early establishment of numerous Christian societies in Judea and Galilee, which countries had been the scene of Christ's miracles and ministry, and where the memory of what had passed, and the knowledge of what was alleged, must have yet been fresh and certain.
We are, thirdly, invited to recollect the success of the apostles and of their companions, at the several places to Euseb. Hist. 1. iv. c. 26. See also Lardner, vol. II. p. 686.
t Lard. vol. II. p. 687.
which they came, both within and without Judea; because it was the credit given to original witnesses, appealing for the truth of their accounts to what themselves had seen and heard. The effect also of their preaching, strongly confirms the truth of what our history positively and circumstantially relates, that they were able to exhibit to their hearers supernatural attestations of their mission.
We are, lastly, to consider the subsequent growth and spread of the religion, of which we receive successive intimations, and satisfactory, though general and occasional accounts, until its full and final establishment.
In all these several stages, the history is without a parallel; for it must be observed, that we have not now been tracing the progress, and describing the prevalency of an opinion, founded upon philosophical or critical arguments, upon mere deductions of reason, or the construction of ancient writings, (of which kind are the several theories which have, at different times, gained possession of the public mind in various departments of science and literature; and of one or other of which kind are the tenets also which divide the various sects of Christianity) but that we speak of a system, the very basis and postulatum of which, was a supernatural character ascribed to a particular person ; of a doctrine, the truth whereof depended entirely upon the truth of a matter of fact then recent, 66 To establish a new religion, even amongst a few people, or in one single nation, is a thing in itself exceedingly difficult. To reform some corruptions which may have spread in a religion, or to make new regulations in it, is not perhaps so hard, when the main and principal parts of that religion are preserved entire and unshaken ; and yet this very often cannot be accomplished, without an extraordinary concurrence of circumstances, and may be attempted a thousand times without success. But to introduce a new faith, a new way of thinking and acting, and to persuade many nations to quit the religion in which their ancestors had lived and died, which had been delivered down to them from time immemorial, to make them forsake and despise the deities which they had been accustomed to reverence and worship; this is a work of still greater difficulty.* The resistance of education, worldly policy, and superstition, is almost invincible.".
If men, in these days, be Christians in consequence of their education, in submission to authority, or in compliance
** Jortin's Dis, on the Cbrist. Rel. p. 167.ed. IV.
e ri te vt Carstians, as well as mil- LS 64 siltu gen. ecame sich in formal opposiinside and mures oiae vnoie power and strength
Erery rumenttheretore, and every la vu ses 20 de prejudice of education, and
teistessitule eieces of that prejudice and no perSure ou spalang ipon this subject than es ruer: 12 cunurns the evidence of Christi2 vrver.o e ci che renment which is drawn
Proguen i Christianity. I know no obedeucise tras to compare what we have
je uccess si Christian missions Vuczne de Easidua mission, supported by events: 2 roue Lansman snowiedge, we hear
1. Dades des vi zorty, being baptized in 1 week's alte nese principais children. swives is super w caites, asi duits voluntarily ewwaste pumver is extremely small.
avuar vi missionaries for upwards cu suruita cikls inu je stavusiments of different istih naslous !te support dem, dere vre not twelve
Ikuidas arstils abu Dose aimust entirely mutta
willetten Smuci is. tus, de ittie progress which
Slatiti pas jueuses vertinimtes with the inconsidsaved CTE de las viveu ne avours of its missiona.
Pue see 2.5 i streg proui vi the divine origin of 20 Dimuth ulat lave de spusties to ssist them in propasaulle sadiiy, wüica che missionaries have not? If Die i miei ocat du een suācient, 1 joudt not but that our Zatesa wilaites Wen Des quantes n a high degree, for co
excepe Peiy mu zezzi, couie enyaye them in the unwertuszt if salty ut ille and manners was the allureeat De Lutuci of nese en is unbiameahle. If the ad
Ji calule tuon mu earning be looked to, there is not Vile vi ne nueint missionartes who is not in this respect, stipenetlu elibe apostles: anu that not only absolutely, but, widi auf irre importance. relucizely, in comparison, that Swin use anvuyst wbum they exercise their office. If the 'utriuse excelenty of the religion, the perfection of mattity, the purity orics preceps, the eloquence, or tenderness, or sublimity of various parts of its writings, were the recommendations by which it made its way, these remain the same. If the character and circumstances, under which the preachers were introduced to the countries in which they taught, be accounted of importance, this advantage is all on the side of the modern missionaries. They come from a country and a people, to which the Indian world look up with sentiments of deference. The apostles came forth amongst the Gentiles under no other name than that of the Jews, which was precisely the character they despised and derided. If it be disgraceful in India to become a Christian, it could not be much less so to be enrolled amongst those, “ quos per flagitia invisor, vulgus Christianos appellabat.” If the religion which they had to encounter be considered, the difference, I apprehend, will not be great.
rizong to site usters, learning, and DADDETT, of the Hindoos, P. 48. quot
souhlasu dis SWg imenc Ladiz, p. 336.
The theology of both was nearly the same, “ what is supposed to be performed by the power of Japiter, of Neptune, of Æolus, of Mars, of Venus, according to the mythology of the West, is ascribed in the East, to the agency of Agrio, the god of fire, Varoon, the god of oceans, Vayoo, the god of wind, Cama, the god of love."* The sacred rites of the western polytheism were gay, festive, and licentious; the rites of the public religion in the East partake of the same character, with a more avowed indecency. 6 In every function performed in the pagodas, as well as in every public procession, it is the office of these women (i. e. of women prepared by the Brahmins for the purpose) to dance before the idols, and to sing hymns in his praise ; and it is difficult to say, whether they trespass most against decency by the gestures they exhibit, or by the verses which they recite. The walls of the pagodas were covered with paintings in a style no less indelicate." I
On both sides of the comparison the popular religion had a strong establishment. In ancient Greece and Rome it was strictly incorporated with the state. The magistrate was the priest. The highest offices of government bore the most distinguished part in the celebration of the public rites. In India, a powerful and numerous cast possess exclusively the administration of the established worship ; and are, of consequence, devoted to its service, and attached to its interest. In both, the prevailing mythology was desti• Bagvat. Geeta. p. 94. quoted by Dr. Robertson. Ind. Dis. p. 306. + Others of the deities of the East are of an austere and gloomy character, to be propitiated by victims, sometimes by human sacrifices, and by voluntary corments of the most excrutiating kind.
| Voyage de Gentil.vol. I. p. 244-260. Preface to Code of Gentoo Laws, p. 57. quo ted by Dr. Robertson, p. 320,
tute of any proper evidence, or rather, in boih, the origin of the tradition is run up into ages, long anterior to the existesce of credible history, or of written language. The ladi in chronology computes eras by millions of years, and tse le of man by thousands ;* and in these, or prior to these, is placed the history or their divinities. In both, the estaba bed superstition held tbe same place in the public opinioa; that is to say, in both it was credited by the bulk of the people, but by the learned and philosophic part of the community, either derided, or regarded by them as only fit to be upholden for the sake of its political uses. I
Or if it should be allowed, that the ancient beathens believed in their religion less generally than the present Indinos do, I am far from thinking that this circumstance would atiord any facility to the work of the apostles, above that of modern missionaries. To me it appears, and I thick it material to be remarked, that a disbelief of the es. tablished religion of their country (I do not mean a rejection of some of its articles, but a radical disbelief of the whole) has no tendency to dispose men for the reception of another; but that, on the contrary, it generates a settled contempt of all religious pretensions whatever. General infidelity is the hardest soil which the propagators of a new religion can bave to work upon. Could a Methodist or Moravian promise himself a better chance of success with a French esprit fort, who had been accustomed to laugh at the popery of his country, than with a believing Mahometan or Hindoo ? Or are our modern unbelievers in Chris
** The Suffee Jogue, or age of purity, is said to have lasted three million two hund. red thousand years, and they hold that the life of man was extended in that age to one hundred thousand years; but there is a difference amongst the Indian writers of six millions of years in the computation of this era." Ib.
"How absurd soever the articles of faith may be, which superstition has adopted, or how unhallowed the rites which it preseribes, the former are received in every age and country with unhesitating assent, by the great body of the people, and the latter observed with scrupulous exactness. In our reasonings concerning opinions and pracrices, which differ widely from our own, we are extremtly apt tu err. Having been instructed ourselves in the principles of a religion, worthy, in every respect, of that divine wisdom by which they were dictated, we frequently express wonder at the credulity of nations, in embracing systems of belief which appear to us so directly repug. want to right reason: and sometimes suspect, that tenets so wild and extravagant do not really gain credit with them. But experienee may satisfy us, that neither cur wonder nor suspicions are well founded. No article of the public religion was calkd in ques. tion by these people of ancient Europe, with whose bistory we ar kt *crainted; and no practice which it enjoined, appeared improper to them. On the other hand, eva ery opinion that tended to diminish the reverence of men for the goes or their country, or to alienate then from their worship, excited among the Greeks and Romans, that indignant zeal,
which is natural to every people attached to their religion by a firm persuasion of its truth.” Ind. Dis. p. 321.
That the learned Brahmins of the East are rational theists, and secretly reject the established theory, and contemns the rites that were founded upon them, or rather consider them as contrivances to be supported for their political uses, see Dr. Robertson's
1. Dis. p. 324-334.