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minds of men the principles of genuine wisdom, and to conduct them to true felicity. At the same time, that it enlightens the understanding, it interests the heart; exhibiting divine wisdom in her fairest form, and supporting her authority by the most powerful sanctions. On these grounds, doubtless, it was that the christian fathers so frequently spoke of christianity under the title of the true and evangelical philosophy, and called the professors of the christian faith divine philosophers. This title first occurs in Philo, who was deeply versed in the writings of the philosophers, and who saw that the doctrine, which they taught, was not worthy to be compared with the divine wisdom of the gospel. Of Pythagoras and Plato, he speaks indeed with the greatest respect; and he avails himself of their language and opinions, where there was any analogy, to recommend the doctrines of christianity. But the reputed wise and learned of his days, who opposed this divine system, he treats with great contempt. He represents them as men, who, having tasted superficially of the feast of knowledge, perverted the beauty of wisdom into base sophistry; who followed the herd of vulgar notions, and being impure in heart were unable to ascend the new and arduous path, which led to genuine wisdom; who, as blind in mnderstanding, and as the slaves of interest, ambition and prejudice, were deaf to

the sober dictates of reason. This is the way in which this great and good man speaks of Apion, Helicon, and other grammarians, who opposed the gospel in Alexandria and Rome; and this is the way, had he lived long enough to know them, he would have spoken of Pliny, of Tacitus, of Plutarch and Epictetus, though Gibbon, from hatred to christianity, represents these as men, who adorned the age in which they lived, and exalted the dignity of human nature. On the other hand, our author speaks of the christian teachers as men who were pure in heart, and introduced for their purity into the sanctuary of wisdom; as men forming a divine assembly, "a council of God," as physicians willing to inform the world, and able to remedy sin, ignorance, and other sad disorders of the soul*. Philo and Josephus were themselves disciples of those holy men; and the records of these illustrious disciples furnish the most unequivocal testimony to the learning and ability of the first christian teachers. Their character and writings we can

The names by which Philo calls the teachers of the gospel shew, that he had the highest reverence for their learning and virtues. The epithets, generally given them throughout his works, are σοφοι, γενος σοφίας, γνησιοι φιλοσοφοι, ὅσιοι, αςειοι, ασκηται, άθληται αρέτης, θειος χορος, ανδρες θεσπέσιοι,

oppose with confidence to those sceptics of modern days, who would represent the early christians as all mean and ignorant. The language of Gibbon on this subject is equally marked by insidiousness and malice; and we are enabled, through the medium of the above two learned Jews, to retort upon himself the charge of ignorance. "Such is the constitution of civil society," says he, "that whilst a few persons are distinguished by riches, by honours, and by knowledge, the body of the people is condemned to obscurity, ignorance and poverty. The christian religion, which addressed itself to the whole human race, must consequently collect a far greater number of proselytes from the lower, than from the superior ranks of life. This innocent and natural circumstance has been improved into a very odious imputation, which seems to be less strenuously denied by the apologists than it is urged by the adversaries of the faith; that the new sect of Christians was almost entirely composed of the dregs of the populace*, of peasants

* The insinuations here urged are met and repelled as false by Octavius, who asserts, that the Christians did not consist merely of the lower classes; and that instead of fearing to encounter their adversaries, their adversaries dreaded and avoided to encounter the advocates of the gospel. Non de ultima statim plebe consistimus, si honores vestras et pur

and mechanics, of boys and women, of beggars and slaves; the last of whom might sometimes introduce the missionaries into the rich and noble families to which they belonged. These obscure teachers (such was the charge of malice and infidelity) are as mute in public as they are loquacious and dogmatical in private. Whilst they cautiously avoid the dangerous encounter of philosophers, they mingle with the rude and illiterate crowd, and insinuate themselves into those minds, whom their age, their sex, or their education has the best disposed to receive the impression of superstitious terrors."*

puras recusamus; nec factiosi sumus, si omnes unum sapimus, eadem congregati quiete, qua singuli. Nec in angulis garruli, si audire nos publice aut erubescitis, aut timetis M. Felix, p. 311. The christian teachers boldly challenged the supporters of paganism, and thus endeavoured to provoke them to a fair and honourable discussion. "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" 1 Cor. i. 20.

* If Gibbon were a fair and candid historian, he would have opposed to this representation (which by the way is chiefly the suggestion of his own scepticism), what the early apologists have said, when contrasting the moral influence of the gospel with that of paganism. "If we Christians," says Octavius," be compared with you Pagans, our learning in some instances, indeed, will be found inferior, but we far


3. The learned among the heathens seems, general, to have regarded the wonders pretended to have been done by the devotees of magic, as mere appearances unfounded in reality and truth. But their inability to deny the reality of the miracles done by our Saviour, induced them to affect a belief in the magical arts. They, therefore, classed our Lord with the magicians who had learnt their impostures in Egypt, and who exhibited the wonderful effects of them for small gain in public places, attempting by this means to evade his claims as the Son of God. As this is an assertion, the truth of which many of my readers may not be prepared to admit, I shall here produce one striking passage in corroboration of it. Celsus, addressing Jesus in the

excel you in moral virtue. You prohibit adulteries and commit them, we deem ourselves born only for our own wives (see Tertul. Apolog. c. 16.); you punish crimes when committed, we deem it criminal even to think of sin; you fear only, when found guilty, we dread even the consciousness of guilt. The prisons are filled with your numbers, while none of us is imprisoned, excepting him who has apostatized, or him who is persecuted for his religion." M. Felix, p. 333. Tertullian, (ad Scap. c. 2.) and Lactantius, (lib. 5. c. 9.) affirm with energy and confidence, that crimes were unknown among the followers of Jesus: while public and private offenders, without exception, ranked with the enemies of christianity.

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