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power, upon luxury and pleasure, upon bufinefs or learning. They thought, and they had reafon to think, that the religion of their country was fable and forgery, an heap of inconfiftent lies, which inclined them to suppose that other religions were no better. Hence it came to pass, that when the Apoftles preached the gospel, and wrought miracles in confirmation of a doctrine every way worthy of God, many Gentiles knew little or nothing of it, and would not take the leaft pains to inform themselves about it. This appears plainly from ancient hiftory *."
I think it by no means unreasonable to fuppofe, that the heathen public, especially that part which is made up of men of rank and education, were divided into two classes; those who despised Christianity beforehand, and those who received it. In correfpondency with which divifion of character, the
Jortin's Dif. on the Chrif. Rel. p. 66, ed. 4th.
writers of that age would also be of two claffes; those who were filent about Christianity, and those who were Chriftians. “A good man, who attended fufficiently to the Chriftian affairs, would become a Chriftian; after which his teftimony ceafed to be Pagan, and became Chriftian *."
I must also add, that I think it fufficiently proved, that the notion of magic was reforted to by the heathen adversaries of Christianity, in like manner as that of diabolical agency had before been by the Jews. Justin Martyr alledges this as his reason for arguing from prophecy, rather than from miracles. Origen imputes this evafion to Celfus; Jerome to Porphyry; and Lactantius to the heathen in general. The several paffages, which contain these testimonies, will be produced in the next chapter. It being difficult however to afcertain in what degree this notion prevailed, especially
Hartley, Obf. p. 119.
amongst the superior ranks of the heathen communities, another, and I think an adequate, cause has been affigned for their infidelity. It is probable that in many cafes the two causes would operate together.
That the Chriftian miracles are not recited, or appealed to, by early Chriftian writers themselves, fo fully or frequently as might have been expected.
I SHALL confider this objection, first, as it applies to the letters of the Apostles, preferved in the New Teftament; and fecondly, as it applies to the remaining writings of other early Chriftians.
The epiftles of the apostles are either hortatory or argumentative. So far as they were occupied in delivering leffons of duty, rules of public order, admonitions against certain prevailing corruptions, against vice, or any particular species of it, or in fortifying and encouraging the conftancy of the disciples under the trials to which they were expofed, there appears to be no place or occafion
occafion for more of these references than we actually find.
So far as the epiftles are argumentative, the nature of the argument which they handle, accounts for the infrequency of these allufions. These epiftles were not written. to prove the truth of Chriftianity. The fubject under confideration was not that which the miracles decided, the reality of our Lord's miffion; but it was that which the miracles did not decide, the nature of his perfon or power, the defign of his advent, its effects, and of those effects the value, kind, and extent. Still I maintain, that miraculous evidence lies at the bottom of the argument. For nothing could be fo prepofterous as for the difciples of Jefus to dispute amongst themselves, or with others, concerning his office or character, unlefs they believed that he had fhewn, by fuperna fural proofs, that there was fomething extraordinary in both. Miraculous evidence, therefore, forming not the texture of these