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CHAP. I. The letter of Algarus to Christ, with Christ's answer to Abgarus in Greek and English. The accounts of the ancients, viz. Eusebius, Ephraem Syrus, &c. relating to them. The sentiments of modern writers concerning them. They have been rejected by most, but esteemed as genuine by several learned men in England.
No. I. The Epistle of Jesus Christ to Algarus, king of Edessa.
THAT there were formerly several writings ascribed to our Saviour, as well as his apostles, I have observed in the preceding volume, (viz. Part II. Chap. XIV. XV.) Those are all lost, but were undoubtedly spurious and supposititious pieces, as I have there largely endeavoured to prove. But besides these, there is now extant a letter under the name of Christ to an Arabian king, which, translated out of Syriac into Greek, is preserved in the writings of Eusebius a. It has been esteemed by many learned men after Eusebius to be truly genuine, and consequently must be one of the most valuable and ancient monuments of the Christian religion. It deserves * Hist. Eccl. l. 1. c. 13. VOL. II. B
therefore a very strict inquiry, which I shall attempt with all the brevity and clearness I can ; and in order to that, first produce the letter itself, with that of Algarus to our Saviour, which occasioned it, or to which it is an answer. Both indeed have appeared before now in English, viz. in the English edition of Eusebius, and the present archbishop of Canterbury's prefatory discourse to his Translation of the Apostolic Fathers, (Chap. 9, p. 137.), and elsewhereb; but I judged it notwithstanding needful to insert a translation of them, for the sake of those, who neither having seen these books, nor understanding the Greek language, may have the curiosity of desiring to see any thing which is by so many learned men sup
posed to be written by Christ himself.
A copy of a letter written by king Abgarus to Jesus, and sent to him by Ananias, his footman, to Jerusalem. .
ABGARUS, king of Edessa, to Jesus the good Saviour, who appears at Jerusalem, greeting. I have been informed concerning you and your cures, which are performed without the use of medicines and herbs. For it is reported, that you cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, do both cleanse lepers, and cast out unclean spirits and devils, and restore them to health who have been long diseased, and raisest up the dead: all which when I heard, I was persuaded of one of these two, viz. either that you are God himself descended from heaven, who do these things, or with much honesty and devotion regard In discussing the question concerning the genuineness of these epistles, I shall proceed in my usual method, viz. shew.
w - > A / v of xar& votiv #6&pany to #repov táv 360° à 3ri at si è Qs); x2, x2rač3; &rö rot, oùpavoi Toisis rootb The common people in England have it in their houses, in many places,
fixed in a frame with our Saviour's picture before it; and they generally
it as the word of God, and the genuine Epistle of Christ.
the Son of God. On this account therefore I have wrote to you, earnestly to desire you would take the trouble of a journey hither, and cure a disease which I am under. For I hear the Jews ridicule you, and intend you mischief. My city is indeed small, but neat, and large enough for us both.
The answer of Jesus by Ananias the footman to Abgarus the king.
ABGARUS, you are happy, forasmuch as you have believed on me, whom you have not seen. For it is written concerning me, that those who have seen me should not believe on me, that they who have not seen might believe and live. As to that part of your letter, which relates to my giving you a visit [I must inform you], that I must fulfil all the ends of my mission in this country, and after that be received up again to him who sent me. But after my ascension I will send one of my disciples, who will cure your disease, and give life to you, and all that are with
I. What account we have from the ancients. II. The opinion of the moderns. III. That which seems most probable upon the whole. I. As to the accounts we have from the ancients, I observe that these epistles are first mentioned,