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of all ages,
thus to his prince:-“This affair seemed “ to me worthy of your consideration, on “ account of the multitude of those who " are involved in this danger ; for a con“ siderable number of persons, of all “ orders and sexes, are, and will be every " day included in this accusation. This "contagion has not only infected the “ towns; it spreads into the villages, and " into the country:—This is most certain, " that the temples are almost deserted, the “sacrifices neglected, and the victims “ without purchasers.”
Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Phi. lippi, Colossus, and a number of towns, more or less considerable, exhibit crowds of citizens who embrace this new doctrine. I find the history of the foundation of these particular societies, not only in the historian of the great society of which they were a part, but also in the letters of that indefatigable disciple who founded them.
I see the oral and written tradition cor. respond in this respect perfectly together, and both of them concur to preserve and strengthen the evidence. I see the disciples of the second century go hand in hand with those of the first; I see Iræneus * receiving from Polycarp † that which this last had received from one of the first ocular £ witnesses ; and this chain of tradi.
* One of the most learned of the Greek fathers. He was born in Greece, according to some, in the year 97 ; and according to others, in the year 120 or 140. In his youth he had been a disciple of Polycarp, was bishop of Lyons, and is supposed to have died in 202. “ The tradition of the apostles (this father says) has spread itself over the whole universe ; and all they who search after the sources of truth, will find this tradition to be held sacred in every church. We might enumerate all those who have been appointed bishops to these churches by the apostles, and all their successors up to our days. It is by this uninterrupted succession, that we have received the tradi. tion which actually exists in the church, as also the doctrine of truth, such as it was preached by the apostles.” --Vide note ch. i. part iv.
+ Bishop of Smyrna, and the head of the churches in Asia. He had been a disciple of St. John, and took great pleasure in reciting the discourses which he had heard from the mouth of that apostle. “ Polycarp" (says Iræneus) “ teaches the same
things which the disciples have taught; he has discoursed " with several of those who have seen Christ. I have seen him « in my youth, for he lived a great while, and suffered the most • glorious martyrdom in a very advanced age.”
“ I could” (says Iræneus again) “ mark out the very place “ where Polycarp taught ; I could describe his manner of life, “and whatever characterized his person; I could still rehearse “ the discourses which he held to the people, and whatever hc “ related concerning his conversations with John, and with ** others who had seen the Lord. Every thing he says of his -
tional testimonies is lengthened, without interruption, through the following ages, &c.
Princes, and their ministers, exercise cruelties, unheard of in the most barbarous nations, on this innocent, this harmless society; and it is in the midst of these horrid persecutions that the society takes root, and propagates itself more and more.
And yet, it is not this natural effect of persecution which engages my attention, so much as this new species of martyrs. Violent contradictions may irritate and exalt the soul. But these thousands of martyrs, who expire in the most cruel tor. tures, are not martyrs of opinion ; they die voluntarily to attest facts.—I know there have been martyrs to opinion. Such have existed almost in every age, in every country. There are even now some unhappy regions, where the wildest superstition ty
• person, miracles, and doctrine, he gives as he had received it « from the ocular witnesses of the word of life. Every word “ of the holy man on this subject, was exa&ly consonant to our m scriptures."-Eusebius, B. v. chap. xv. and xx. Vide the notes of Mr. Seigneux on Addison's work, pages 228, 229, vol. 1. of the first edition.
rannizes; but the disciples of the Messiah are the only persons whom I ever heard had given up their lives for the attestation of facts.
I still further observe, that those who die so courageously in support of these facts, are not attached to their belief either by birth, education, authority, or any temporal interest. On the contrary, this belief shocks every principal they had received from birth, education, and authority, and affects still more their temporal interests. There is nothing, then, but the strongest conviction of the certainty of the facts, that can furnish me with an adequate cause for such unexampled fortitude, in voluntarily submitting to torments, and frequently to a most cruel death.
Finally; after three centuries of painful toils, trials, and tortures; after having, for three centuries, combated with the arms of patience and charity, this society triumphs; the new religion ascends the throne of the Cesars; the idols are overthrown; and Paganism expires.
CONTINUATION OF THE SAME SUBJECT.-WAYS OF PROVIDENCE IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CHRISTIANITY.
HAT an astonishing revolution has
been the subject of my contemplation! Who are the men who have effected it? What obstacles have they had to surmount ? A poor man who had not where to lay his head, who passed for the son of a carpenter, who ended his life by an ignominious death, was the founder of this re. ligion, which triumphs over Paganism and all its monsters.
This man chose his disciples from amongst the lowest class of people; the chief part of them from simple plain fisher. men: and it is such men as these that he commissioned to publish his religion over