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seemed to follow, not to lead, the public
It may help to convey to us some notion of the extent and progress of Christianity, or rather of the character and quality of many early Christians, of their learning and their labours, to notice the number of Chriftian writers who flourished in these ages. St. Jerome's catalogue contains sixty-six writers within the three first centuries, and the six first years of the fourth ; and fifty-four between that time and his own, viz. A. D. 392. Jerome introduces his catalogue with the following just remonstrance :-“ Let those who say the church has had no philosophers, nor eloquent and learned men, observe who and what they were who founded, established, and adorned it; let them cease to accuse our faith of rusticity, and confess their mistake*." Of these writers, several, as Justin, Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Bardesanes,
* Jer. Prol. in Lib. de Ser. Ecc.
Hippolitus, Eusebius, were voluminous writers. Christian writers abounded particularly'
. about the year 178. Alexander, bishop of Jerufalem, founded a library in that city A. D. 212. Pamphilus, the friend of Origen,
founded a library at Cefarea A. D. 294. Public defences were also set forth, by various advocates of the religion, in the course of its three first centuries. Within one hundred years after Christ's ascension, Quadratus and Aristides, whose works, except some few fragments of the first, are lost; and, about twenty years afterwards, Justin Martyr, whose works remain, presented apologies for the Christian religion to the Roman emperors ; Quadratus and Aristides to Adrian, Justin to Antoninus Pius, and a second to Marcus Antoninus. Melito bishop of Sardis, and Apollinaris bishop of Hierapolis, and Miltiades, men of great reputation, did the same to Marcus Antoninus twenty years afterwards *: and ten years after this,
* Euseb. Hift. lib. iv.c. 26. See also Lardner, vol. ii.
Apollonius, who suffered martyrdom under the emperor Commodus, composed an apology for his faith, which he read in the senate, and which was afterwards published *. Fourteen years after the apology of Apollonius, Tertullian addressed the work which now remains under that name, to the governors of provinces in the Roman empire; and, about the same time, Minucius Felix composed a defence of the Christian religion, which is still extant; and, shortly after the conclusion of this century, copious defences of Christianity were published by Arnobius and Lactantius.
* Lard. vol. ii. p. 687.
Refle&tions upon the preceding Account.
IN viewing the progress of Christianity, our first attention is due to the number of converts at Jerusalem, immediately after its founder's death; because this success was a success at the time, and upon the spot, when and where the chief part of the history had been transacted.
are, in the next place, called upon attend to the early establishment of numerous Christian societies in Judea and Galilee, which countries had been the scene of Christ's miracles and ministry, and where the memory of what had passed, and the knowledge of what was alledged, must have yet been fresh and certain.
We are, thirdly, invited to recollect the
juccess of the apostles and of their companions, at the several places to which they ame, both within and without Judea; beuse it was the credit given to original witnesses, appealing for the truth of their accounts to what themselves had seen and heard. The effect also of their preaching strongly confirms the truth of what our his. tory positively and circumstantially relates, that they were able to exhibit to their hearers supernatural attestations of their miffion.
We are, lastly, to consider the subsequent growth and spread of the religion, of which we receive successive intimations, and satisfactory, though general and occasional, accounts until its full and final establishment.
In all these several stages, the history is without a parallel ; for it must be observed, that we have not now been tracing the progress, and describing the prevalency, of an opinion, founded upon philofophical or critical arguments, upon mere deductions of