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is of various kinds. The point, however, to which I shall confine myself, at present, will be to prove, from the testimony not of the friends, but of the most inveterate enemies of Christianity who were nearly contemporary with the religion itself, that at the very time, when there was a general expectation in the world, of some extraordinary personage making his appearance, Jesus Christ did actually appear upon earth; that he accordingly founded a religion, which after his name was called the Christian religion, and that this religion hath been embraced, and professed by many, from that time to the present.
That there was, about the time of our Saviour's birth, a general expectation spread over the eastern world, that some extraordinary would personage is evident from pagan appear, writers, as well as from Josephus, the Jewish historian. Suetonius, and Tacitus, who flourished in the first century, particularly allude to this expectation. Suetonius testifies, that "there was an ancient, and general opinion famous throughout the eastern parts, that the fates had determined, there should come out of
Judea, those that should govern the world." The testimony of Tacitus is, "that a great many were possessed with a persuasion, that it was contained in the ancient books of the priests, that at that very time the east should prevail; and that they, who should govern the world, were to come out of Judea." Josephus also alludes to the same circumstance. tells us, that "the Jews rebelled against the Romans, being encouraged thereto, by a celebrated prophecy in their scriptures, that about that time, a famous prince should be born among them, that should rule the world." Such are the testimonies, to the general expectation that prevailed, of some extraordinary personage making his appearance. appearance. I shall now proceed to show, from similar testimonies, that at that very time, during the prevalence of this opinion, when Augustus Cæsar was Emperor of Rome, Jesus Christ was born in Judea; that he founded a religion, which from his name, was called the Christian religion; and that he had many followers.
Josephus, who was born only four years after the death of our Saviour, in the eighteenth
book of his Antiquities, giving an account of what happened under the government of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea, thus mentions. our Saviour. Now there was, about this time, Jesus, a wise man; if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as had a veneration for truth: he drew over to him both many. of the Jews and many of the Gentiles; he was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at first did not forsake him; for he appeared unto them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had spoken of these and many other wonderful things concerning him; whence the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day." The same historian mentions also the preaching of John the baptist; the death of St. James, the brother of our Lord; and many other facts alluded to in the New Testament.
Tacitus, the Roman historian, who lived about forty years after the death of Christ, speaking of the fire which happened at Rome,
in the time of Nero, one of the Roman Emperors, and of the suspicions which were entertained, that the Emperor himself was concerned in causing it, thus proceeds: "But neither these exertions, nor his largesses to the people, nor his offerings to the gods, did away the infamous imputation under which Nero lay, of having ordered the city to be set on fire. To put an end therefore to this report, he laid the guilt, and inflicted the most cruel punishments, upon a set of people, who were holden in abhorrence for their crimes, and called by the vulgar Christians. The founder of that name was Christ, who suffered death in the reign of Tiberius, under his procurator Pontius Pilate. This pernicious superstition, thus checked for a while, broke out again, and spread not only over Judea, where the evil originated, but through Rome also, whither every thing bad upon the earth finds its way, and is practised. Some who confessed their sect were first seized; and afterwards, by their information, a vast multitude were apprehended; who were convicted, not so much of the crime of burning Rome, as of hatred to mankind. Their suffer
ings at their execution were aggravated by insult and mockery; for some were disguised in the skins of wild beasts and worried to death by dogs; some were crucified; and others were wrapped round with combustible matter and set on fire when the day closed, that they might serve as lights to illuminate the night. Nero lent his own gardens for these executions, and exhibited at the same time a mock Circensian entertainment; being a spectator of the whole in the dress of a charioteer ; sometimes mingling with the crowd on foot, and sometimes viewing the spectacle from his car. This conduct made the sufferers pitied; and though they were criminals and deserving the severest punishment, yet they were considered as sacrificed, not so much out of a regard to the public good, as to gratify the cruelty of one man."
To these testimonies I shall only add the celebrated letter of Pliny, the proconsul of Pontus and Bithynia, in Asia Minor, written about seventy years after the death of Christ to the Emperor Trajan, with the answer of the Emperor to the same. The letter is as