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any such one, must have informed him. Now hence I argue, that if the story of Eufebius had been genuine, concerning the communication between Christ and Abgarus, it would have been regarded by Lactantius, Athanafius, Epiphanius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory, Jerome, or some of the writers of that century ; every one who had credited Eusebius's account must have received the Epistle with the greatest veneration, and undoubtedly it would have been admitted into the Canon of the books of the New Testament, and established at the Coun cil of Laodicea, which was soon after his time, and determined concerning the Canonical books. But on the con: trary we find nothing of this, but an entire silence, as much as in the former ages, and therefore I conclude it Apocryphal by Prop. IV, V, and VI. I might add here, that the story of Eufebius appears the more evidently to be discredited and disregarded, in that it was now, when he published it, the time when the Arian controversy was come to a great height, and it cannot be thought but those who were warm against the Arians, would have urged the testimony of Abgarus against them in his letter, where he confesses Christ to be either God, or the Son of God, if they had looked upon it as genuine.
ARG. 3. The Epistle under the name of our Saviour to Abgarus is apparently fpurious and Apocryphal, inasmuch as it relates that to have been done by Chrift, which could not post fibly have been done till a considerable time after Chriff's afcena fion. The instance which I assign of this is that in the be. ginning of the Epistle a pasage is cited out of St. John's Gofpel, which was not written till a considerable time after our Lord's Ascension: the words are, 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. This is a manifest allusion to those words of our Saviour to Thomas, John xx. 29. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed. Here indeed that, which the Epistle says, is written concerning Christ, but no where
else besides : Valesius indeed says, the words of the Prophet Ifai. vi. 9. are like to this supposed citation of Christ a; but though he did not believe it himself, Dr. Grabe greedily swal. lows it as a fufficient answer b, whereas nothing can be more evidently a mistake ; for besides that the words of the Prophet there (viz. Hear ye indeed, but understand not, and fee ye ine deed, but perceive not) are not at all like to the citation in this Epistle, it is observable that our Saviour has several times in the Gospels cited these words of the Prophet quite different from what they are in this Epistle, both as to the words and sense, but exactly as they are in the Prophet; and so also has St. Paul more than once; see Matt. xiii. 14. John xii. 40. Acts xxviii. 26. Rom. xi. 8. Dr. Caves and Dr. Parker, being aware of the insufficiency of this evasion, do, with no greater probability, solve the difficulty, by supposing, that the citation in the Epistle respects not one particular prophecy, but many, concerning the stubbornness and infidelity of the Jews. But this is evidently á conjecture to serve an hypothesis. I conclude therefore, that seeing the Gospel of John was wrote long after Christ's ascension, this Epistle could not be written by Christ, and consequently is to be judged Apocryphal by Prop. X.
· ARG. 4. It is no small evidence of the spuriousness of this Epistle under the name of Christ, that Christ is made therein to defer the curing of Abgarus, till after his ascenson one of his Apostles should come and do it; for
1.) Christ always immediately cured those who made believing applications here to him, as Abgarus is said to do.
2.) It would not be much satisfaction to Abgarus to be told of ä сure to be wrought in an uncertain time to come, which consequently must shock his faith which he is supposed to have ; and therefore Christ would not write after this manner, when he could with one word speaking have performed the cure, and so not only establifhed, but increased his faith. This is to
a Annot. in Euseb. 1. 1. c. 13.
Spicileg. Patr. tom. I. p. 322. ° Hiftor. Literar. in Christo,
Demonstrat. of the Law of Nature, &c. Preface,p. 37. :
make Christ act not only different from what he usually did, but contrary to the designs of his kingdom and mission, and therefore Apocryphal by Prop. VIII. · ARG. 5. The account of our Saviour's afcenfion in the Epistle feems to be a further proof of its fpuriousness. It is there twice mentioned in very plain terms; but in the whole history of the Gospels-we do not find above one or two, and those very obscure intimations of this event before our Saviour's resurrection. There follows therefore one or other of these absurdities hereupon, viz. either that Abgarus was more acquainted with this doctrine than Christ's constant Apostles and companions were, or else, that Christ was willing he pould be fo; or if not, that he wrote to him that which he could not poffibly underftand; each of which being contradictions to known fact, prove the Epistle to be Apocryphal by Prop. VIII. .. .
CHA P. III.
Other Arguments against Abgarus's Epiffle to Christ, and the whole History, viz. The Improbability of a Heathen Prince's acknowledging Christ's Divinity. A Contradiction in it.
Several Improbabilities. The Article of Christ's Descent into · Hell, mentioned in this Hiftory, not known till several Centur ries after Chrift,
H E preceding arguments seem evidently to conclude 1 against the Epistle; the first of them indeed concludes equally against the Epistle and the whole history; and by a just consequence, whatever proves against the one, will prove against the other, the truth of both depending upon the same evidence. But it may not be amiss to add a few distinct arguments also against the genuineness of the Epistle of Abgaruş to Christ, and the whole history. As
1. It is exceedingly improbable, that a Heathen prince should fo readily acknowledge the divinity of our Saviour, as Ab
garus garus is made to do in his letter. Mr. Le Clerc's a remark on this matter seems very just, as to the Greek words oro où si • Ogos vios bi të Oiš. The article, says he, prefixed in Greek to the name God, thews, that the author meant God the Father (Deus xar'igoxin), which is a phraseology not likely to have proceeded from a Heathen, who would rather have omitted the article, and said tos Ofòs, thou art fome God; the other way of expreffing being peculiar to those who believed in one God. Prop. VIII.
2. There seems to me in this Epistle a contradiction fo manis feft, as to demonstrate its fpuriousness. In the beginning of the Epistle Abgarus is made to confess his faith in Christ as God, or as the Son of God; in the latter end he invites Christ to dwell with him in his city, because of the malice of the Jews, who intended him mischief. This, I say, is a plain contradiction ; for had he really thought him God, he must certainly think him possessed of Almighty power, and consequently to be in no need of the protection of his city. This seems to me as clear demonstration, as subjects of this fort are capable of receiving ; nor am I fenfible of any objection that can be made, unless it be that Peter, who had confessed him to be the Son of God, Matt. xvi. 16. yet when he came to be apprehended, thought it necessary to interpose with human force to attempt his rescue, Matt. xxvi. 51. compared with John xviii. 10. To which it is easy to answer, that whatever opinion Peter, or indeed any of the Apostles, had of Christ before this time, they seem now to have changed it, and by the prospects of his danger and death to have grown cool in their opinion of his Almighty power, elfe they would never all have forsaken him at his crucifixion as they did. But nothing of this can be supposed in the cafe of Abgarus, who cannot be imagined to have altered his sentiments in the interval of writing so short an Epiftle. Prop. VII.
3. Mr. Du Pin thinks it very improbable, that Abgarus
of his Almof and death to , changed it,
Hift. Eccl. fec. 1. ann. 29. $. 13. where he well answers the only important objection that can be raised against the force of this
History of the Canon, Vol. II. c..6. $. 1,
should should at añce offer half his kingdom to a person who was a stranger to him.
4. It looks not a little fabulous, that upon Thaddæus's appearing before the king, he should see somewhat extraordinary in his countenance, which none of the company else could perceive. Eufebius calls it őpapo péya, a great vision : Valefius renders it divinum nescio quid, some divine appearance. Prop. IX. . . *
.5. The account in the history, that Abgarus designed to make war upon the Jews for crucifying Christ, seems very unlikely; because it is, plain he was prince only of a small mean city, and that at a vast distance from Judea, viz. in Arabia; and therefore could never be so extravagant as to imagine himfelf able to destroy so powerful a nation as the Jews then were, Prop. VIII, IX...
6. The account in the history, that Thaddæus promised Ab garus that he would preach to him and his people.concerning the beads of the Christian religion, proves the whole much later than it pretends to be, because he is there made to say, that he would preach to them how Christ xation els tòradnv, xai décxuoi Ppecynòv tò i ciūr@ peš oxoolévta xai asésn, descended into hell, and divided the partition which was never divided before. But this every one knows was a phraseology, or doctrine, not known in the Church in the Apostles' days, nor till a long time after; and though it be an article in that called The Apostles! Creed, yet it was not in the antient Creeds in the three first centuries, and to use Bishop Pearson's, words on this are ticle; “ The first place we find it used in was in the Church “ of Aquileia, and the time we are sure it was used in the « Creed of that Church, was less (and but little less) than “ 400 years after Christ. It is not to be found in the rules 66 of faith delivered by Irenæus a, by Origen ”, by Tertulşi lian. It is not expressed in those Creeds which were « made by the Councils as larger explications of the Apostles' <Creed ; not in the Nicene, or Constantinopolitan; not in
· Lib. I. c. 2. . .
Lib. de Princip. in Proæm. • Adverf. Praxeam, c. 2. .De
Virgin. veland. c. 1.-De Præ. fcript. adverf. Hæref. c. 13.