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Does not this imply an acknowledgment, or at least a supposition, of the christians’ innocence 2 Their dangers resembled those of the philosophers. But Socrates did not deserve the capital punishment inflicted upon him. The like may be said of many other of the philosophers: they did not deserve banishment or other like punishment. They recommended the principles of philosophy, or religion, in a peaceable manner, in the way of reason and argument. 7. We saw before & how Celsus ridiculed the christians, saying: “But now you die with him.’ Afterwards, in another place he thus insults them. “Do” you not see, good ‘Sir, how any man that will, may not only blaspheme your ‘ demon, but drive him away from the earth, and the sea, “[or from every quarter of the world under heaven:] and ‘ binding you, his sacred image, has you away, and crucifies “you ? And your demon, or as you say, the Son of God, ‘gives you no help.” And afterwards. ‘If any one of “you absconds, and hides himself, he is sought for to be ‘ punished with death.’ But these sufferings of christians are no objection against their faith, or the doctrine received by them. If the chris– tians were good men, and alleged weighty reasons for their belief, their sufferings are no reproach to them; the dishonour falls upon those who oppose and abuse them. There might be good reasons for God's permitting the followers of Jesus to endure great trials for a while; the" truth of his religion is the more established by their patience and fortitude. And Celsus himself says, “That" he ‘ who has once embraced the truth, ought not to forsake it, * nor pretend to forsake it, or deny it, through fear of suf‘ferings from men.” Insomuch that, as Origen says, “he ‘might be understood to be a strenuous defender of those ‘ who persevere even to death in their testimony to chris“tianity.’ What has been just alleged may be sufficient to satisfy
& See before, p. 238. * L. viii. sect. 39. p. 803.
* L. viii. sect. 69. p. 424. * Tunc enim Porphyrius erat in rebus humanis, quando ista liberandae animae universalis via quae non estalia, quam religio christiana, oppugnari permittebatur ab idolorum daemonumque cultoribus, regibusque terremis, propter asserendum et consecrandum martyrum numerum hoc est, testium veritatis, per quos ostenderetur, omnia corporalia mala pro fide pietatis, ct commendatione veritatis esse toleranda. Aug. de Civ. Dei. l. x. cap. 32. n. 1.
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us, that the christians had very bad treatment, and had few or no worldly inducements to follow Jesus, and profess his name: they had therefore some other reasons, of a different kind; they were overcome by the force of truth, “and loved not their lives unto the death:” as it is said of some, Rev. xii. 11. They obeyed our Lord’s command, Rev. ii. 10, “Be thou faithful unto death, in hope of receiving from him a crown of life.” At this very time, when Celsus wrote against them, they underwent a grievous persecution; but they were able to endure and withstand his sharp-pointed pen, and also the sword of the magistrate. 8. We go on. ‘The" Jews therefore,’ says Celsus, ‘ being a distinct nation, and having the proper laws of their country, which they still carry about with them, together with a religion, such as it is, however those of their country act like other men; forasmuch as all follow the institutions of their own country, whatever they are. And that is reasonable enough, because different laws have been framed by different people; and it is fit that those things should be observed which have been established by public authority; nor would it be just to abrogate those laws, which have been enacted from the beginning in every country. But" if another appears, I should ask them, whence they came, and what country-laws they have for their rule 2 They will answer, None at all. For they descend from the same original ; and they have received ‘their master and leader from the same country; and yet “ they have revolted from the Jews.’ Thus deplorable was the condition of the christians at that time ! So obnoxious were they to the resentment and displeasure of their neighbours, above and beyond all other men, without any just reason . The Jewish people were very troublesome subjects of the Roman empire; the christians were the most peaceable subjects upon the face of the earth; and yet they were looked upon with a worse eye than the Jews themselves; and were judged unworthy of the common rights and privileges allowed to all other men I This was the disposition of Celsus himself toward them. It is not to be much wondered at, that many others were in the same way of thinking. Celsus allegeth not, as a ground of this treatment of them, any crimes in action, or wicked principles in belief; but only a singularity of institution, not established by the laws of any country. The reason of this particular enmity to the christians, be" I. v. sect. 25. p 247 * L. v. sect. 33. p. 253.
yond the Jews, though they were also worshippers of the one God alone, and condemned all idolatry, I suppose to have been this; christianity made much greater progress than judaism, and threatened the utter ruin and overthrow of Gentilism. This is a passage which I would recommend to the consideration of those who deny men the freedom of judging personally for themselves in things of religion; and found all right of professing religious principles upon the consent and authority of the magistrate, and civil laws and constitutions. Such may observe, how exactly they agree with Celsus; and they may easily discern, that if they had lived in his time, they must, according to their own principles, have sided with him against christianity itself.
Passages of Celsus, in which he chargeth the christians with magical practices.
WE saw before" how Celsus says, that Jesus had Îearned the Egyptian arts, and valuing himself upon them, had set up himself for a god. And in some other places he has been ready to have recourse to magic, in order to account for the works said to have been done by our Saviour. Now I would observe what he says of christians to the like purpose. “After" this,” says Origen, ‘I do not know for what reason ‘Celsus says, that the christians seem to be well skilled [or ‘ very mighty] in the names and invocations of certain ‘ demons.” Origen supposeth, that Celsus there refers to those who exorcised, or expelled demons: but says, that in so doing christians made use of no other name but that of Jesus, and the rehearsal of some parts of his history. ‘Celsus' says, he had seen with some presbyters of our ‘religion, books, in a barbarous language, containing the “names of demons, and other charms. And he says, that
‘ those presbyters of our religion professed nothing good, ‘ but every thing hurtful to mankind.”
This, as well as somewhat else said before, Origen says, is downright fiction. And he says, that all those stories are confuted by all who have conversed with christians, who never heard of any such things practised by them.
However, this charge of magic against the christians may be reckoned an argument that there were some uncommon things done by them at this time, and is often affirmed by" Origen, as well as by other ecclesiastical writers; but not to the detriment of mankind, as Celsus insinuates, but for their benefit.
Of christian worship, and their assemblies.
WE have just now seen mention made of christian presbyters, the only place, so far as I remember, where Celsus has taken any notice of them. But though there were then persons of that denomination, who taught the christian doctrine, and officiated in the worship of God, it does not appear that christians had at that time any temples, or sumptuous buildings for public worship. Celsus rather intimates that they had none. “They cannot,’ he says, “so ‘ much as endure the sight of temples, altars, statues.’ However, he adds: “Nor do the Persians erect temples.’ In another place Origen observes; Celsus" says, “we erect * no statues, altars, or temples.’ And that christians declined joining with heathen people in their public worship, Celsus bears witness. “God,” says he, “is the common Lord of all; he is good to all; he ‘ needeth not any thing, and therefore is free from envy. “What then should hinder the most devoted to him from ‘partaking in the public festivals?’ And afterwards, says Origen, ‘Celsus" endeavours to persuade us to eat things “sacrificed to idols, and to join in the public sacrifices of ‘the solemn festivals, saying; If these idols are nothing, ‘what harm can there be to partake in the public solem‘nities . If they are demons, then for certain they are gods, ‘ in whom we ought to trust; and sacrifices ought to be * offered to them, and they ought to be prayed to, that they * may be propitious to us.” To all which Origen makes a sufficient answer; but it needs not to be transcribed. However, I am induced to take here a passage of Origen, in the third book against Celsus. He is speaking of the great benefit of the christian religion. “And * God,” says he, “who sent Jesus, having defeated all the artifices of demons, has so ordered it, that the gospel of Jesus should prevail every where for reforming mankind; and that there should be every where churches governed by different laws from the churches of superstitious, intemperate, and unrighteous men; for such are the manners of most of those who belong to the churches of the cities. But the churches of God, instructed by Christ, compared with the churches of the people among whom they live, are as “lights in the world,” Matt. v. 14; Phil. ii. 15. And who is there, who must not acknowledge that the worst of those who are in the church, and are inferior to the rest, are better than most of those who are in the churches of the people.’ “For instance, the church of God at Athens is quiet, mild, and well behaved, being desirous to approve itself to God who is over all. But the church of the Athenians is turbulent, and by no means comparable to the church of God there. The same you must also acknowledge of the church of God at Corinth, and the church of the people of the Corinthians; as you must also allow of the church of God at Alexandria, and the church of the people of the Alexandrians. Every one who is candid, and diligently attends to these things, with a mind open to conviction, will admire him who formed this design, and has accomplished it; that there should be every where churches of God, dwelling together with the churches of the people in every city. And if you will observe the senate of the church of God, and the senate in every city, you will find some senators of the church worthy to govern in the city of God, all over the world, if there were such a thing. And on the other hand, you will find, that the senators of the cities have nothing in their behaviour to render them worthy of the distinction allotted to them. And if you
* L. i. Sect. 2. p. 5. L. i. Sect. 46. p. 34. L. iii. sect. 24. p. 124.
at 8s avexovrat vsøg povrég, kat 8wpag, kat ayaMuara. L. vii. Sect. 62. p. 373. * ——huac Bopac, cat ayaMuara, cat vewc töpv60a, psvyetv. L. viii. sect. 17. p. 389. ° L. viii. sect. 21. p. 392.
* L. viii. sect. 24, et 25. p. 393.