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(1.) This is plainly acknowledging the truth of the evangelical history, though he does not refer to the whole of it, nor 'specify all the great works that Jesus did, nor all the places in which they were performed. (2.) He acknowledgeth, that for three hundred years, or more, Jesus had been celebrated: which regard for him was founded upon the works done by him in his life-time; which works had been recorded by his disciples, eye-witnesses of those works: and the tradition had been handed down from the beginning to the time in which Julian lived. (3) Why should not ‘healing lame and blind men, and such as were afflicted with other distempers generally ascribed to daemons,’ be reckoned great works 2 All judicious and impartial men must esteem them great works when performed on the sudden, and coma pletely, as all our Lord’s works of healing were : greater works than founding cities, erecting an extensive monarchy, or subduing whole nations by slaughter, and the common methods of conquest; though such things have been often thought more worthy to be remembered and recorded by historians. (4.) If there were but a few only persuaded by Jesus during his abode on this earth, it was not for want of sufficient evidence: there was enough, it seems, to persuade some bad men, called in the gospels “publicans and sinners,” the ‘worst men,” as you say. But there were also some serious and pious men, thoughtful and inquisitive, as Nathaniel, Nicodemus, and others, who were persuaded, and fully satisfied, though for awhile they had been averse and prejudiced. And there were worse men than those whom you call ‘the worst, even scribes and pharisees, proud, covetous, ambitious men, whom no rational evidence, however clear and strong, could persuade to receive religious principles, contrary to their present worldly interests.
13. ‘But" you are so unhappy, as not to adhere to the things delivered to you by the apostles: but they have been altered by you for the worse, and carried on to yet greater impiety. For neither Paul, nor Matthew, nor Luke, nor Mark, have dared to call Jesus God. But honest John, understanding that a great multitude of men in the cities of Greece and Italy, were seized with this distemper; and hearing likewise, as I suppose, that the tombs of Peter and Paul were respected, and frequented, though as yet privately only, however, having heard of it, he then first presumed to advance that doctrine.’ In answer to this I inust, (1.) say again, as I have already said several times, that the doctrine of St. John, concerning our Saviour's person, is not different from that of the other apostles and evangelists, but the same. (2) Julian here acknowledgeth many things extremely prejudicial to his cause, and more so than he was aware of. For he here acknowledgeth the genuineness and authority of most of the books of the New Testament; the writings of Paul, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John ; and that these books contain the doctrine of Christ's apostles, the persons who accompanied him, and were the witnesses of his preaching, works, death, resurrection, and taught in his name afterwards. (3.) He acknowledgeth the early and wonderful progress of the gospel; for he supposeth, that there were in “many cities of Greece and Italy, multitudes of believers in Jesus before John wrote his gospel; which as he computes, was published soon after the death of Peter and Paul. (4.) Therefore the antiquity of the first three gospels is here evidently acknowledged : they were written and published before the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, that is, about the time now supposed by all christians in general. (5.) And in what he says of the time of John's writing his gospel, he speaks not disagreeably to the general opinion of christians at that time, and since. For it has been generally supposed, and indeed is manifest, that he did not write till after the other three evangelists, because he appears to have seen and read their gospels, and to have designed to make some additions to them in the way of a supplement. I think it highly probable, that though he did not write till after the other evangelists, his gospel was published before the destruction of Jerusalem, about the year of Christ 68, as was at large argued formerly. 14. ‘They “say they agree with Isaiah, who prophesieth : “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son,” ch. vii. 14. Let this be said of God, though it is not: for she was not a virgin, who was married, and cohabited with her husband before she brought forth. However, grant that this also is said of him : does he say, that God should be born of a virgin 3 But you are continually calling Mary mother of God.” “Geotokov 6e isvets ov Tavea.0e Mapuav ca)\ovvTes.” Matt. i. 18–25. We are not to be surprised, that the adversaries to chris* See Vol. v. ch. ix. sect. 9 * Contr. Julian, 1. viii. p. 262. D. tianity did contest, or deny the virginity of Mary. They who withstood the evidences of our Saviour's divine mission recorded in the gospels, might also dispute his miraculous conception and birth. But for the truth of it I have already said enough in the remarks upon Celsus. In another place" also Julian argues again upon that title given to Mary, ‘mother of God;’ and upon that expression * God of God.” But I have no reason to say any thing in defence of either, as they are not scripture phrases. 15. “But " you miserable people,’ says Julian, “at the same time that ye refuse to worship the shield that fell down from Jupiter, and is preserved by us, which was sent down to us by the great Jupiter, or our father Mars, as a certain pledge of the perpetual government of our city: you worship the wood of the cross, and make signs of it upon your foreheads, and fix it upon your doors. Shall we for this most hate the understanding, or most pity the simple and ignorant among you, who " are so very unhappy, as to leave the immortal gods, and go over to a dead Jew o' By a “ dead Jew, it is likely that Julian means still dead; but though Jesus died, and was buried, he rose again, and ascended to heaven: and of this there are other evidences than the heathen people had of the shield's coming down from heaven. Nor was it certain, it seems, whether it came from Jupiter or from Mars. Here is an instance of Julian's credulity and superstition. As for the extraordinary respect shown by some christians to the “wood,” or the ‘sign of the cross, I have no reason to defend it: the New Testament gives no encouragement to it that I know of. Julian blames christians for having destroyed temples and altars; and then goes on : ‘You P have killed not only our people who persisted in the ancient religion, but likewise heretics, equally deceived with yourselves; but who did not mourn the dead man exactly in the same manner that you do. But these are your own inventions: for Jesus has no where directed you to do such things; nor yet Paul. The reason is, that they never expected you would arrive at such power. They were contented with deceiving maid-servants and slaves, and by them some men and women, such as Cornelius and Sergius. If there were then any other men
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rig voga, K. A. Contr. Jul. l. x. p. 327. A. B.
of eminence brought over to you, I mean in the times of Tiberius and Claudius when these things happened, let me pass for a liar in every thing I say.” This is another very important passage. (1.) Julian acknowledgeth, that persecution and cruelty were the inventions of later christians: that neither Jesus, nor Paul, nor any other of the first preachers of the gospel, had taught men to kill others for being of a different religion, or for differing about lesser matters among themselves. (2.) But he is mistaken about the reason of this: for Jesus foresaw the vast success and speedy propagation of his doctrine, [Matt. viii. II, xvi. 18, xxviii. 19, and many other places, I though it would be opposed, and his apostles would be ill treated by many. [Matt. x. 16—26; xxiii. 34; xxiv. 9; John xx. 18, 19.] But the reason is, that his doctrine is a doctrine of universal virtue and goodness, and he “came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them,” Luke ix. 56. And the apostles knew this very well, when they began to preach publicly in his name, after his ascension, and after the effusion of the Holy Ghost upon them. So that the followers of Jesus Christ, who killed men for dissenting from them in things of religion, acted not only without orders from Christ or his apostles, but contrary to the commandment delivered by them. (3.) Julian does strongly confirm the evangelical history: for he owns, that the beginnings of christianity were in the times of the emperors Tiberius and Claudius. He speaks of the conversions of ‘maid-servants and slaves,” probably meaning the “maid possessed with a spirit of divination,” Acts xvi. 16, and Onesimus, servant to Philemon. He likewise speaks of the conversion of other men and women, particularly the conversion of Cornelius and Sergius Paulus, mentioned Acts x. and xiii. (4.) Julian is very cautious here, when he limits his exceptions to the times of those two emperors, the latter of whom died in the year of Christ 54. Moreover, he is to be understood to speak of heathen people only. But it should be observed, that for some considerable time after the ascension of Jesus, the apostles confined their preaching to native Jews and proselytes. And among them were converted some priests and pharisees, as well as meaner people, and also the chamberlain and treasurer of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, a very eminent, and probably a very understanding and inquisitive man, Acts viii. 26–40. Whom I suppose to have been a Jewish proselyte; and, undoubtedly, Julian also considered him as a man of the Jewish religion, otherwise he would have named him. It is therefore to be reckoned
very considerable success, if by the end of the reign of Claudius, or if you please, somewhat later, were converted from among the gentiles Cornelius and his family, and many of his friends; and Sergius Paulus, proconsul of Cyprus. If they are not now renowned in profane history for any great exploits, it may nevertheless be inferred from their station and character, that they were able to judge of things done before their eyes, and of the truth of principles proposed to them, and of facts related to them to have been done a few days or years before, in a country not far distant from the places of their own residence. (5.) This passage does wonderfully confirm the genuineness of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, and the truth of the history contained in it. Julian challengeth the christians, after he had excepted the two above mentioned, to produce the names of any more eminent men converted [from the gentiles] to christianity in the reigns of Tiberius and Claudius. Which is a proof that Julian did not, and could not contest the truth of the history in the Acts of the Apostles; and likewise, that he was well satisfied the christians had no other authentic history of things done at that time. He knew they relied upon the accounts given in that book, and that they did not pretend to have any other authentic accounts of them. (6.) Once more, since the accounts given in the New Testament, and particularly in the Acts of the Apostles, of the conversions of “slaves and maid-servants, and of Cornelius and Sergius Paulus,’ are allowed to be true, it is reasonable to believe also, that the grounds and reasons of their conversion to the christian faith are truly and faithfully related ; and consequently, that they were not deceived or imposed upon, but were convinced, and persuaded upon sufficient and undeniable evidence, such as ought to sway and satisfy wise and good men. 17. “But 4 why do you not observe a pure diet as well as the Jews? but eat all things like herbs of the field, be. lieving Peter, because he said : “What God has cleansed, that call not thou common,” Acts. x. 15. What does that mean, unless that God formerly declared them to be impure, but now has made them clean * For Moses speaking of four-footed beasts, says: “Whatsoever divideth the hoof, and cheweth the cud, is clean : but whatsoever does not do so, that is unclean,” [Lev. xi. 4, Deut. xiv. 6..] If then, since the vision of Peter, the swine has chewed the cud, let us believe him: for that would be truly wonderful, if since Peter's vision it has got that faculty: but if he feigned that " Lib. ix. p. 314. B. C.