Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

temporal interest, and with a resignation worthy of the doctrine which they taught, they sealed their testimony with their blood, praying that their heavenly Father would forgive their inhuman butchers, and “lay not this fin to their

charge *.” - It has not been in this manner that proud, ambitious sectaries and enthusiasts have shewn themselves before the world. It is not common to see poor illiterate men shewing such wisdom in their discourses, such presence of mind, such an empire over their passions, such meekness, goodness, and a forgiving difpofition in suffering and in dying; and all this without weakness, and without oftentation,

The falsity of which Celsus's Jew has accused them, I shall presently prove to be a calumny of that miserable and malicious author ; whose works I should have thought much beneath my notice, if they had not been made the foundation of the principal arguments which have been published by some modern authors against Christianity. He says, that Jesus Christ did not foresee and foretel what was to happen to him, to his disciples, and to the whole Jewish nation. But he must have seen and known that the contrary was the truth, as the Evangelists were published long before the destruction of Jerusalem; the particulars of which Jesus Christ had foretold ;

and this great event had happened before Celsus wrote his book against the doctrine of Christianity. Moreover, as Celsus

• Acts vii. 6o.

pretends

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ven :

pretends to have been fully instructed in this doctrine, he must likewise have known that Jesus Christ had foretold his disciples all that would happen to them after his death and resurrection ; that they would be persecuted by all men for his fake'; and particularly, that they should be

brought before kings and governors for his “ name's fake, for a testimony against them and “ the Gentiles. But, says he, when they deliver

you up, take no thought how, or what ye shall

speak; for it shall be given you in that same " hour what

ye shall speak.” Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I “ confess also before my Father which is in hea

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father “ which is in heaven." Again, Jesus said, “ that this gospel of the kingdom shall be

preached in all the world, for a witness unto “all nations 7.”—These, and many other prophecies of the like nature, were published by the Evangelists soon after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and were even copied by this author into his book : And although he saw them fulfilling daily, by the bloody persecutions which the Christians were then suffering, by the firmness with which they were declaring the gospel of Christ before men, and by the rapid progress which this doctrine was making, notwithstanding this persecution, in almost every part of the world, . Matthew X. 18. 32. + Ibid. xxiv. 14.

[ocr errors]

this Epicurean had the effrontery to say, that the disciples of Jesus had falsely advanced that their Master had foreseen and foretold the things which would happen to him and them. There is no pleasure in refuting the arguments of an author who afferts such notorious falsehoods. If he had faid that the art of prophesying, or of foretelling events, was not such a great secret, but was known to many who were versed in the arts of magic, astrology, &c. he would at least have kept up fome appearance of decency : Although a philosopher of those days * tells us, that Jesus Chrift and Peter had the knowledge of things to come, and had actually foretold many great events which afterwards happened ; and therefore, says he, as the first authors of the doctrine of Chris. tianity foresaw those events at a great distance of time, they must have been filled with diyine virtue,

Our author's Jew continues his accusation in the following manner : What god, what demon, or what wise man, says he, knowing that those things would happen to him, would not endeavour to have avoided them, and not suffer himself to be surprized by those evils which be foresaw. were ready to fall upon his bead ? Socrates knew well that the

cup of poison which was presented to him would kill him, and yet he drank it: he was likewise informed by Criton, that he might save himself out of the prison, and avoid the danger that threa, * Phlegon Chronic. Lib. xiv.

tened

[ocr errors]

tened him; but he did not judge it proper so to do; esteeming it to be more honourable to die as a philosopher, than to preserve his life by such means as were unworthy of him. Leonidas, chief of the Lacedemonians, was likewise well informed that he should die by Thermopyles, with those who followed him ; but, far from endeavouring to preserve his life at the expence of his honour, Let us dine, said he to his followers, like men, who may sup in the shades below. Hence, therefore, according to Celsus's own ideas of things, if those great and learned Greeks preferred death to dishonour, why should he accuse Jesus of doing the same ? Moreover, as this author had read the New Testament, he must have seen that St. Paul, the disciple of Jesus Christ, was informed of what would happen to him when he came to Jerusalem ; but he nevertheless determined to brave the dangers which threatened him, and blamed those who attempted to make him change his design. At the time when Celsus wrote, he likewise must have seen and heard of numbers of Christians who, seeing themfelves condemned to death for following their religion, and knowing that they might be pardoned, and have all their property restored to them, if they would abandon it, and worship the gods of the Gentiles, despised life, and voluntarily submitted themselves to all the tortures that their enemies could inflict upon them, rather than renounce their Saviour and their God.

Again, our author continues his reasoning in the terms following: If Jesus did not suffer, but because he had before resolved to do it, to obey bis Father, it is evident, that being God, and exempt from all constraint, nothing that they did to him, by his own free will, could give him any pain or grief: but be must have suffered exceedingly, or wby did be make such cruel complaints and lamentations ? why should be fear, and wish to be delivered from, this death? He expresses himself in the following manner : O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. The former

of Celsus's argument is absurd upon the face of it: for if, as he confeffes, Jesus suffered, because he had before resolved to do it, to obey his Father, it is impossible but that those who made him suffer should give him pain and grief ; as it is not an agreeable thing to suffer. But if, according to our author's argument, nothing that was done to him by his own free-will, ought to give him any pain or uneasiness, how could he have suffered ? Our author was deceived, by not considering that Jesus, when he took our nature upon him, subjected himself likewise to the fame pains and forrows that we are liable to, sin only excepted; so that, when he had taken the former, it was not in his power to exempt himself from the latter, except he had changed the whole system of nature. As I have already observed, he could have avoided falling into their hands ; but as he came into the world for that cause, and knowing how much the sacrifice which he was 5

part

about

« AnteriorContinuar »