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SECT. II. The proof that there was such a person as Jesus.

THAT Jesus of Nazareth formerly lived in Judæa, in the reign of Tiberius the Roman emperor, is constantly acknowledged, not only by Christians dispersed all over the world, but also by all the Jews which now are, or have ever wrote since that time: the same is also testified by heathens, that is, such as did not write either of the Jewish or of the Christian religion, Suetonius,186186   In his Claudius, chap. 25. where Chresto is put for Christo, because that name was more known to the Greeks and Latins. 80Tacitus,187187   Book xv. where he is speaking of the punishment of the Christians. “The author of that name was Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, suffered punishment under his procurator Pontius Pilate.” Where the great crimes, and hatred to human-kind, they are charged with, is nothing else but their contempt of false gods; which same reason Tacitus had to curse the Jews; and Pliny the elder, when be calls the Jews “a people remarkable for contempt of the gods.” That is, very many of the Romans were come to this, that their consciences were not affected by that part of their theology which was civil, (which Seneca commends), but they feigned it in their outward actions, and kept it as a command of the law; looking upon worship as a thing of custom, more than in reality. See the opinion of Varro and Seneca about this matter, which is the same with that of Tacitus, in Augustine, book v. chap. 33. and book vi. chap. 10. of his city of God. In the mean time, it is worth observing, that Jesus, who was punished by Pontius Pilate, was acknowledged by many at Rome, in Nero’s time, to be the Christ. Compare that of Justin in his second Apologetic concerning this history; where he addresses himself to the emperors and Roman senate, who might know those things from the Acts. Pliny the younger,188188   The epistle is obvious to every one, viz. book x. chap. 97. which Tertullian mentions in his Apologetic, and Eusebius in his Chronicon; where we find, that the Christians were used to say a hymn to Christ as God, and to bind themselves not to perform any wicked thing, but to forbear committing theft, robbery, or adultery; to be true to their word, and strictly perform their trust. Pliny blames their stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy in this one thing; that they would not invoke the gods, nor do homage with frankincense and wine before the shrines of deities, nor curse Christ; nor could they be compelled to do it by any torments whatsoever. The epistle in answer to that of Trajan says, that he openly declares himself to be no Christian who supplicates the Roman gods. Origen, in his fourth book against Celsus, tells us, there was a certain history of Jesus extant in Numenius the Pythagorean. and many after these.

That he died an ignominious death.

THAT the same Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate, the president of Judæa, is acknowledged by all the same 81Christians, notwithstanding it might seem dishonourable to them who worship such a Lord. It is also acknowledged by the Jews,189189   Who call him תלוי, that is, hanged. Benjaminis Tudelensis, In his Itinerary, acknowledges that Jesus was slain at Jerusalem. though they are not ignorant how much they lie under the displeasure of the Christians, under whose government they every where live, upon this account, because their ancestors were the cause of Pilate’s doing it. Likewise, the heathen writers we mentioned have recorded the same to posterity; and, a long time after, the acts of Pilate were extant, to which the Christians sometimes appealed.190190   See Epiphanius in his Tessarescædecatitæ.—(It were better to have omitted this argument, because some imprudent Christians might appeal to some spurious acts; for it does not appear there were any genuine ones. Le Clerc.) Neither did Julian, or other opposers of Christianity, ever call it in question. So that no history can be imagined more certain than this; which is confirmed by the testimonies, I don’t say, of so many men, but of so many people, which differed from each other. Notwithstanding which, we find him worshipped as Lord throughout the most distant countries of the world.191191   Chrysostom handles this matter at large, upon 2 Cor. v. 7.

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