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special messenger, the Messiah, had been promised. And among them, by many wonderful appearances, God had preserved, for many ages, the knowledge of himself, and the expectation of that great person. And though the Christ came in person to them only, by him others were commissioned, and fully furnished to teach all the world: which was sufficient, and was the .wisest method.
At the beginning of this passage Celsus hints an objection to the Christian religion, taken from the late appearance of Jesus in the world. The same objection appears ^ in some other places of his argument; but I need not transcribe them.
God never neglected mankind; he was constantly teaching them in the works of creation, and in the ordinary methods of his providence. Extraordinary messengers are a favour: several such had been sent of old to the Jews, and before their time to the patriarchs : at last he sent Jesus Christ. We have certain proofs of his mission, and great character. The seasonableness of his coming, and the wisdom of sending him at the time he came, ought not to be disputed: but the favour should be thankfully received, and carefully improved, after due examination, and observing the evidences of his mission. 6
12. • The Jew in Celsus,' says Origen, blames the Christians for alleging the prophets, * who had foretold the things concerning Jesus: whereas, he says, the prophecies may be
applied to many others more probably than to Jesus.'
We hence learn, that the writers of the New Testament, (to whom Celsus has an eye in most of his arguments,) and the Christians after them, did make use of the prophets in arguing for Jesus; though Celsus, or his Jew, would not allow their arguments to be valid.
13. Celsus, with great indignation, says: “The Pythian, the Dodonæan, the Clarian, the • Branchidian, the Ammonian oracles, and many others, by whose directions colonies have been * successfully planted all over the world, must pass for nothing: but the obscure Jewish predic• tions, said or not said, the like to which are still practised in Phænicia and Palestine, are * thought to be wonderful, and immutably certain.'
Certainly, the Christians had some benefit by this argument: or Celsus would not have been so much provoked. It deserves our observation also, that those heathens, and even the Epicureans, (for such was Celsus) who had been wont to ridicule the most renowned oracles, were now willing to give them some repute. So hard pressed were they by the progress of Christianity, that they were willing to set up again, as real and valuable, such things as they had before decried as cheats and impostures.
14. We have now seen what Celsus says of Christian principles, and the grounds of them; as we had before seen what he says of their great facts. It may be worth the while, likewise, to observe some hints relating to the success of the Christian doctrine.
Passages concerning the Progress of the Christian Religion.
1. * At first,' says Celsus, they were few in number, and then they agreed, (or were of one mind.) But being increased, and spread abroad, they divide again and again, and every one • will have a party of his own: which is what they were disposed to of old.'
I cannot but think, that Celsus has an eye to some things in the Acts of the apostles, where the wonderful unanimity of the first Christians is recorded, as Acts ii. 44-47. iv. 32—37. In his time there were many sects and divisions among them, he says. He adds: “ Which is • what they were disposed to of old,' or from the beginning, apxubev. Here he may refer to the early divisions in the church of Corinth, 1 Cor. i. 11-17. iii. 3.-46. xi. 17, 18. and, per
a Vid 1. iv. sect. 7. p. 165.
c L. vii. sect. 1, 2.
d L. vii. sect. 3. p. 333. 6 Hæc est igitur animæ liberandæ universalis via, id est, Αρχομενοι μεν, φησιν, ολιδοι τε ησαν, και εν εφρoνον' ες universis gentibus divinâ miseratione concessa Nec debuit, wargos de otaperles, audis av reuvoviai, xou oxugovlab, *%! nec debebit ei dici : Quate modo, et quare tam sero ? quoniam σασεις ιδιας εχειν έκαςοι θελάσι. κ. λ. L. iii. sect. 10. mittentis consilium non est humauo ingenio penetrabile. Aug. de Civ. Dei. 1 x. cap. 32. n. 2.
haps, to some of St. Paul's exhortations to concord and harmony. He may refer likewise to contentions about the method of receiving the Gentile converts, Acts xv. and other places. For it appears to me very probable, that he
has here an eye to some things recorded in the New Testament.
However, he owns, that the Christians were now much increased: and, with regard to the divisions which were then among them, it may be observed, that they were foretold by Christ's apostles. But such things are not the fault of the gospel itself, but of men: nor is perfection to be attained or expected in this world. Origen says very well, there never was any thing useful, and considerable, about which men have not differed. In medicine, in philosophy, among Jews, Greeks, and Barbarians, there are different sects and opinions.
2. • Celsus,' says · Origen, brings in his fictitious person of a Jew, bespeaking the Jewish believers in this manner: What ailed you, fellow-citizens, that ye left the law of your country, • and seduced by him, to whom we spoke just now, you have deserted us, to go to another name,
and another way of living?' Again, · When we had taken, and punished him, who led you • about like brute beasts, you have notwithstanding forsaken the law of your country. How . can you begin upon our sacred books, and afterwards disregard them ? when you have no other foundation but our law?'
It was well known therefore, that there were Jews who believed in Jesus, and that they fetched arguments for their belief from the Jewish scriptures: and why might not those Jews who believed in Jesus, understand their books, as well as they who rejected him ?
It is to be observed likewise, that after Jesus was crucified, or punished, as he expresseth it, there were Jews who were persuaded to believe in Jesus, and to profess his religion. And Í pray, how is that to be accounted for, but upon the supposition of some good proofs and evidences afforded of his great character after his crucifixion?
It appears to be very probable, that when Celsus wrote this, he had before him the books of the Acts of the apostles: and there he might have seen sufficient grounds of a faith in Jesus after he was put to death by the Jews:
3. " • He says, that the Hebrews were originally Egyptians, and owed their rise to a sedition • from the rest of that people: so some Jews in the time of Jesus made a sedition against the • body of the Jewish nation, and followed Jesus.'
So that there as a good number of Jews who believed in Jesus, and followed him, though the body of the people did not, as we readily allow: but it was not a sedition as Celsus calls it. Here again, I cannot but think, that Celsus had an eye to the book of the Acts.
4. In order the better to judge of the progress of the gospel, and the sincerity and steadiness of those who embraced it, it will be of use to observe what Celsus says of any difficulties and hardships which they lay under who professed these principles, and bore the name of Christians.
5. The first head of accusation with Celsus against Christianity,' says Origen at the beginning of his work, “ is, that Christians secretly hold assemblies together contrary to law.'
Origen supposeth him to refer particularly to their agapæ, or love-feasts. I should think he. might intend all their assemblies in general for divine worship.
6. • Afterwards,” says Origen, he speaks of the Christians performing and teaching those things which are agreeable to their sentiments privately: and that therein they did not act without reason, for avoiding the punishment of death hanging over them. And he compares • their dangers to the dangers which men have been liable to on account of philosophy ; and . he instanceth particularly in the case of Socrates: he might have added Pythagoras, and other ' philosophers.
Does not this imply an acknowledgment, or at least a supposition, of the Christians inno, cence? 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 : a L. ii, sect. 1. fin. p. 57.
• Μεία ταυτα περι τε κρυτα τα αρεσκονία εαυτοις ποιείν και 6 L. i. sect. 4. p. 59.
διδασκειν ειπαν, και ότι ο μαλην τελο σοισιν, αιε διωθεμενοι την L. ii. sect. 7. p. 115. Conf. sect. 5, 6, p. 114.
επηρίγμενην αυλοις δικην το θαναθε όμοιοι τον κίνδυνος κινδυνοις 4 Πρυίον τω Κελσα κεραλαιον εςι, βελομενα διαβαλεις τους συμβεβηκοσι επι φιλοσοφια, ως Σακραίει, κ. λ. L. 1. sect... Χριστιανισμον, ως συνθηκες κριτην προς αλληλες ποιμενων 3. p. 5.
P156W WO.CZ TA YEYOUSO JEych. Orig, contr. Cels. L. i. sect. 1. Bened. 4. Cantab,
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 dæmon, 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 dæmon, 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 Christians were good men, and alleged weighty reasons for their belief, their sutterings 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 4 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 sufferings from men.' Inso. • much that, as Vrigen says, he might be understood to be a strenuous defender of those who * persevere even to death in their testimony to Christianity.'
What has been just alleged may be sufficient to satisfy 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 8 · if another appears, I should ask them, whence they came, and what country-laws they have for “their rule? 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! 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. * See before, p. 128.
fide pietatis, et commendatione veritatis esse toleranda. Aug. 1 L. viii. sect. 39. p. 803.
de Civ. Dei. I. x. cap. 32. n. 1. • L. viii. sect. 69. p. 424.
• Εοικε δε μεθα δεινοληλος συναδορευειν πως τοις μαρτυρεσι τω « Tunc enim Porphyrius erat in rebus humanis, quando Χριστιανισμω μεχρι θανατη, λείων" Και 8 τ8το λεύω, ως χρη ista liberandæ animæ universalis via, quæ non est alia, quam τον απαθα δούμαλος περιεχομενον, ει μελλει δι' αυτο κινδυνεύειν religio Christiana, oppugnari permittebatur ab idolorum, dæ- παρ' ανθρωπων, αποσιναι τα δούμαλος, η πλασασθαι ως αφετηmonumque cultoribus, regibusque terrenis, propter asseren- XEY, Y Etaqror yevechai. L. i. sect. 8. p. 8. dun et consecrandum martyrum numerum, hoc est, testium L. v. sect. 25. p. 247. teritatis, per quos ostenderetur, omnia corporalia mala pro
& L. V. sect. 33.
The reason of this particular enmity to the Christians, beyond 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 learned 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 dæmons.'
Origen supposeth, that Celsus there refers to those who exercised, or expelled dæmons: 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 dæmons, 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; as is often affirmed by « Origen, as well as by other ecclesiastical writers; but not to the detriment of mankind, as Čelsus insi. nuates, 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 they 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.'
a See before, p. 121.
d L. i. sect. 2. p. 5. L. i. sect. 46. p. 34. L. iii. sect. 24. • Μεία ταυλα εκ οιδα ποθεν κινομενος Κελσος, φησι, δαιμονων p. 124. τινων ονομασι και καθακηλησεσι δοκειν ισχυειν Xριςιανες. κ. λ.
8κ ανέχονται νεως ορωνίες, και βωμος, και αΓαλμαθα. L. i. sect. 6.
L. vii. sect. 62. p. 373. –εν οις εφησεν έωρακεναι παρα τισι πρεσβύθεροις της -ήμας βωμες, και αναλματα, και νεως ίδρυσθαι φευξειν. ημείερας δοξης βιβλια βαρβαρα, δαιμονων ονομαλα εχονία, και L. viii. sect. 17. p. 389. τεραιειας. κ. λ. L. vi. sect. 40. p. 302. VOL. IV.
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 • solemnities ! If they are dæmons, 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 ' propițious 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 dæmons, 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 un
righteous 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 Corin• thians: 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 ḥas • 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 should compare the presidents of the churches of God with the presidents of the people in the cities, you will find the
senators and governors of the churches, though some may be inferior to others who are more * perfect, nevertheless you will find them to excel in virtue the senators and governors of the « cities.'
Passages in Celsus concerning those called Heretics. Celsus was not unacquainted with those particular opinions called heresies, which arose early in the world under the Christian name.
1. I shall transcribe at length a part of what Origen says upon this subject. «Then he says: Let not any man think me ignorant, that some of thein will allow that their God is the same with the God of the Jews; whilst others believe in another, and contrary to him, and by · him, and by whom, as they say, the Son of God was sent.'
Here, I think, Celsus must mean the Marcionites, though Origen does not expressly say so.
2. · He adds, that some are Sibyllists. Perhaps he had heard of some, who blamed those · who accounted the Sibyl a prophetess, and who therefore called them Sibyllists.' 3. Origen goes on. · Then : heaping up the names of many among us, he says,
" he a L. viii. sect. 21. p. 392..
αξιοι εισιν, ει7ις εσιν εν τω σανλι σολις το Θεό, εν εκεινη b L. viii. sect. 24. et 25. p. 393.
wolleveo ( 21. Ibid. num. 30. ° L. iii. sect. 29, 30. p. 128, 129.
e L. v. sect. 61. p. 271.
f Ibid. 4 Ούλω δε και βελην εκκλησιας Θες βελη τη καθ' έκασαν & L. V. sect. 62. p. 272. το.ν συνεξεταζων, εύροις αν τιγες μεν της εκκλησιας βολευται