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was for this that the Jews persecuted him; and ended by appealing to Cæsar. Wben yet he knew that this was not the reason of the hatred of the Jews against him; but that it was because he taught that circumcision, and the Law of Moses were abolished, and no longer binding : which is evident to any one who will read the Acts, and the Epistle to the Galatians. So you see by what mancuvre he got out of the difficulty: first, by at least equivocating, and then by refusing to be tried by his own countrymen, and appealing to Cæsar; thus securing himself a safe conduct out of Judea, which was too dangerous for him. Among the Gentiles, their doctrine had a better chance of success, for they taught them marvellous doctrines, such as they had been accustomed to listen to, viz. how the Son of God was born of a virgin, and was cruelly put to death; and that his Divine Father raised him from the dead. The idea of God's having a son of a woman did not shock them, for all their demigods they believed had been su begotten; and a great part of their poems are filled with the exploits and the sufferings of these heroes, who are at length rewarded by being raised from earth to heaven, as Jesus is said to have been. These doctrines were not disrelished by the common people, but were rejected by the wise and learned. Accordingly we see that Paul could make nothing of the philosophers of Athens, who derided him, and considered him as telling them a story similar to those of their own mythology, when he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And in revenge we see Paul railing against both the stubborn Jews, and the incorrigable philosophers, as being unworthy of knowing " the hidden wisdom," which was to the one 66 a stumbling block,” and to the other, “ foolishness,” and which he thought fit only for 6 the babes," and "the devout women," with whom he principally dealt.
That the New Testament inculcates an excellent mo. rality, cannot be denied; for its best moral precepts were taken from the Old Testament. And if the Apostles had not preached good morals, how could they have expected to be considered by the Gentiles as messengers from God? For if they had inculcated any immoralities, such as rebellion, murder, adultery, robbery, revenge,
their mission would not only have been disbelieved, but they would liave undergone capital punishment by the sentence of the judge, which it was their business to avoid. Mahomet, throughout the Koran, inculeates all the virtues, and pointedly reprobates vice of all kinds. His morality is merely the precepts of the Old and New Testaments, modified a little, and expressed in Arabic. They are good precepts, and always to be listened to with respect wherever, and by whomsoever inculcated. But sirrely that will not prove Islamism to be from God, por that Mahomet was his prophet!
That the Apostles suffered death on account of their preaching the gospel, if allowed to be fact, as said before, proves noihing. Many have suffered death for false and absurd doctrines. But whether any of the Apostles, (besides James wlio was slain by Herod,) died a natural, or a violent death, the learned Christians do not certainly know. For there is extant 10 authentick history of the Apostles besides the Acts. There are indeed many fabulous narrations published by the Papists, called Martyrologies, stuffed with the most extravagant lies, which no learned inan now regards; and who therefore will credit what such books say of the Apostles ? Peter is said in them to have been put to death at Rome by Nero, nevertheless most of the learned men of the Protestants assert, that Peter never was in Rome, and as for Paul, no one certainly knows where, when, or how he finished his days. So that if we were even to allow the feeble argument of Martyrdom all the influence, and weight given to it, it would not apply to the Apostles; who, we are sure derived some benefit by preaching the gospel, and are not sure that they came to any harm by it.
I will conclude this long chapter, by laying before my reader some extracts from the book written by Celsus, a Heathen philosopher, against Christianity, preserved by Origen in his work against Celsus. That the entire work of Celsus is lost, is to be regretted; as he appears to have been a man of observation, though too sarcastic to please a fair enquirer; and from the picture given by him of the first Christians, their maxims, and their modes of teaching, and the subjects they chose for converts, it appears, that they were the exact protetypes of the Methodists and Shakers of the present day, both sects which contain excellent people, with hardly any fault but credulity.
66 If they (i, e. the teachers of Christianity,) say 6 do not examine," and the like: it is however incumbent on them to teach what those things are which they assert, . and whence they are derived."
66 Wisdom in life is a bad thing, but folly is good.” - 6 Why should Jesus when an infant be carried into Egypt, lest he should be murdered ? God should not fear being put to death.".
66 You say that God was sent to sinners: but why not to those who are free from sin ? What harm is it not to have sinned ?
6 You encourage sinners, because you are not able to persuade any really good men : therefore you open the doors to the most wicked and abandoned.”
66 Some of them say do not examine, but believe, and thy faith shall save thee.”
“ These are our institutions, say they, let not any man of learning come here, nor any wise man, nor any man of prudence : for these things are reekoned evil by us. But whoever is. unlearned, ignorant, and silly, let him come without fear! Thus they own that they can gain only the foolish, the vulgar, the stupid slaves, women, and children."
66 At first, when they were but few, they agreed. But when they became a multitude, they were rent again, and again, and each will have their own factions : for factious spirits they had from the beginning.”
66 All wise men are excluded from the doctrine of their faith; they call to it only fools, and men of a servile spirit.”
56 The preachers of their Divine Word only attempt to persuade silly, mean, senseless persons, slaves, women, and children. What harm is there in being wellinformed ; and both in being, and appearing a man of knowledge? What obstacle can this be to the knowledge of God ? Must it not be an advantage ?"
“ We see these Itinerants shewing readily their tricks to the vulgar, but not approaching the assemblies of wise men, nor daring there to show themselves. But
wherever they see boys, a crowd of slaves, and ignorant men, there they thrust in themselves, and show off their doctrine.”
6. You may see weavers, taylors, and fullers, illiterate and rustic men, not daring to utter a word before persons of age, experience,and respectability; but when they get hold of boys privately, and silly women, they recount wonderful things ; that they must not mind their fathers, or their tutors, but obey them ; as their fathers, or guardians are quite ignorant, and in the dark; but themselves alone have the true wisdom. And if the children obey them, they pronounce them happy, and direct them to leave their fathers, and tutors, and go with the women, and their play-fellows, into the chambers of the females, or into a tailor's, or fuller's shop, that they may learn perfection.”
Celsus compares a Christian teacher to a quacksó who promises to heal the sick, on condition that they keep from intelligent practitioners, lest his ignorance be detected.”
6. If one sort of them introduces one doctrine, another another, and all join in saying, “ Believe if you would be saved, or depart:' what are they to do, who desire really to be saved ? Are they to determine by the throw of a die, where they are to turn themselves, or which of these demanders of implicit faith they are to believe ?”
Omitting what Celsus says reproachfully of the moral characters of the Apostles, and the first teachers of Christianity, for which we certainly shall not take his word; it is easy to perceive from the above quotations, that they had more success among simple, and credulous people, than among the intelligent, and well-informed. Their introductory lesson to their pupils, was, 6i Believe, but do not examine;" and their succeeding instructions seem to have been a continued repetition, and practice of the dogma of implicit faith.*
* Jerom, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, says, that “ The Church of Christ was not gathered from the Academy, or the Lyceum, but from the lowest of the People.” [Vili Plebecula.] And Cæcilius, in Minutias Felix, says, that the Christian assemblies were made up “de ultima fäce collectis, imperitioribus, et mulieribus credu'is sex is sur facilitate labertibus," i. e. “that they cousisted of
MATTYEW, ch. v. Jesus says, 6 ye have heard that it was said, “thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy." But this is no where said in the Law, or the Prophets; but, on the contrary, we read directly the reverse. For it is written, Ex. xxiii. “ If thou find the ox of thine enemy, or his ass going astray, thou shalt certainly bring him back to him.” “ If thou seest the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldst forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help him." Again, Levit. xix. 6 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart, rebuke thy neighbour, nor suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not revenge, nor keep anger, (or bear any grudge,) against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, I am the Lord.” So also in Prov. xxxiv. 66 When thine enemy falleth, do not triumph, and when he stumbleth, let not thine heart exult.” So also in ch. xxv. 6 If thy enemy hunger, give him food, if he thirst, give him to drink.” These precepts are to the purpose, and are practicable; but this command of Jesus, “ Love your enemies," if by loving he means, “ do them good,” it is commanded in the above passages in the Hebrew Law.
the lowest of the mob, simple and unlearned men, and credulous wo. men."
The president of a province is introduced by Prudentius as thus ad. dressing a martyr
“ Tu qui Doctor, ait, seris novellum
Damnes, si sapias, ANILE DOGMA.” The Christian Fathers confess, and glory in it, that the greater part of their congregations consisted of women and children, slaves, beggars, and vagabonds.
The Jewish Christians were, as appears evidently from the New Testament, exceedingly poor, and therefore there is frequent mention made of contributions for the poor Saints at Jerusalem.” From thence it was that the Jewish Christians got the name of Ebionites, i.e. Poor. The Jewish Christian Church consisted of the dregs of the Jewish people, simple and ignorant men, Samaritans, &c. No person in Judea of eminence, or learning, appears to have joined the sect of the Nazarenes, except Paul; after the destruction of Jerusalem they gradually dwindled in number, and became extinct.