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prerogative, that they should assent to his opinion in that matter (viz. declare him to be a God). But the Senate not approving it, refused. Cæfar continued in the same opinion, threatening those who were accusers of the Christians. In the other place, after having given an account of the miracles of Chrift, his casting out devils, cleansing lepers, raising the dead, his crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, &c. he adds, All these things Pilate himself (who was in his conscience for following Chrift) transmitted to Tiberius Cæfar ; and even the Cæfars themselves had been Christians, if it had been consistent with their secular interests, &c. This account of Tertullian is cited by Eufebius, both in his Chronicon and in his Ecclefiastical History, as genuine and authentick; as it is also by Jerome d, though he mentions neither the name of Tertullian nor Eusebius.
Now from all this I argue, that there were fome accounts of Christ and his actions transmitted by Pilate to the Emperor. “ Tertullian (fays Dr. Parker) though a « Christian writer, durft never have presumed to impose upon " the Senate themselves with such a remarkable story, if he
were not able to prove it; and that he was, is evident from
Justin Martyr, who foften appeals to the Aets of Pilate conuc cerning the history of our Saviour, and requests the Emperor “ ta satisfy themselves from their own records concerning those " things that were reported of him. That Pilate did send fuch " AEts, is evident; for scarce any man, much less such a man " as Juftin Martyr, could have been so foolish, or fo confident,
as to affirm a thing in which it was so very easy to conviet “ him of falsehood, &c.” Dr. Jenkin, in his excellent book Of the Reasonableness and Certainty of the Christian Religion, reasons after the fame manner, “ That it had not been
safe for Pilate to send no information to the Emperor con“ cerning Chrift-That he did send, and his information was « entered upon record at Rome : to which Justin Martyr appeals " in his Apology to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, and the Sea
nate; and Tertullian in his Apology, which was likewise « presented to the Senate of Rome, or at least to the governors of “ the provinces. They both lived in the next age, and were “ both educated in a different religion, and upon these and such “ like proofs became Christians : they were men of excellent “ learning and judgment; but no man who could write an Apo~ logy, can be supposed to have so much confidence, and so little “ understanding, as to appeal to that account which Pilate sent “ to Tiberius, concerning the resurrection of Christ, in Apologies « dedicated to the Roman Emperor himself, and to the Senate, or
chief magistrates of the empire, if no such account had ever “ been sent, or none had been then extant to be produced. But “ by the special providence of God, both the birth and resurrec“ tion of our Saviour were inserted into the publick records at « Rome, and were to be seen there for a long time after ; and “ the Heathens, in whose custody they were, are desired by the “ primitive Christians to consult them; for they were content to
put the matter upon this isue, that if they were resolved not “ to believe what the Christians faid, yet they would at least « credit their own records.” After the same manner before these argued Grotius", Huetius ", Waltherus , Bishop Pearson", and other modern apologists for the Christian religion. To which I may add, that the criticks and historians also have generally afsented to the fact; as Casaubon, Pamelius, Valefius %, Frederick Spanheim ", Fabricius ', &c. And it has not been questioned by any, as far as I know, except Tana
* De Verit. Relig. Christian. I. 2. §. 2.
ó Demonstrat. Evangel. Prop. III. §. 22, 23. p. 43, 44.
c Officin. Biblic. . 1068. p. 1054.
a On the Creed, Art. IV. p.198. . Ad Baron. Annal. Exercit. 16. ann. 34. n. 221.
$ Annot. in Apolog. Tertull.
& Annot. in Eufeb. Hift. Eccl. 1. 2. c. 2.
1 Hist. Christ. Secul. I. p. 560, 561. et p. 582.
i Cod. Apoc. N. T. loc. supra cit. See also Eachard's Ecclef. Histor. Vol. I. b. 2. c. I. §. 4., and Tallent's Chron. Tables.
quillus Faber a and Le Clerc 6, and that upon very slight reasons. I conclude it therefore as probable, that Pilate sent some acts or memoirs concerning Jesus Christ and his miracles to the Emperor Tiberius at Rome.
III. It does not appear that any Christian writer ever saw these Aits or Memoirs of Pilate, which were by him sent io Rome. For though Justin Martyr and Tertullian have appealed to them, yet it seems to me evident they had not read them; for if they had, without doubt much more of their contents had been transferred into their Apologies for Christianity, which they addressed to the Emperors or Senate. Nec Juftinus nec Tertullianus ea Acta legile videntur, fed pro certo sumfile-quæ ad Chriftum pertinebant complexa ea efle, says Le Clerc', i. e. Neither Justin nor Tertullian seem to have read those Acts (of Pilate, which they appeal to), but to take it for granted (as an allowed thing) that they contained accounts of Chrift. Had they had in their hands any such acts or memoirs, nothing could have been more to their purpose, than to have produced them in the very words at length; and as nothing would have conduced more to have established and confirmed the Gospel history and Christian cause, they would be justly charged with unpardonable negligence to omit the producing them. Add to all this, that these first apologists were exceeding careful to amass all together, that would any way tend to beget in the minds of their enemies a persuasion of the truth of their religion, and the miracles and resurrection of Jesus Christ; to have effected which, nothing could possibly have bad a greater influence than these records of Pilate's writing. Besides, had any of the Christians been favoured with the fight of these Aets, one would have imagined Minutius Felix, who made a considerable figure at Rome d, or Eusebius, who was so familiar with Constantine, would have been the persons; but inasmuch as the former has not men
a Epist. ad Boherell. l. 2. apud Spanheim loc. cit.
• Lib. et loc. cit. p. 324.
d Hieronym. Catal. Vir. Illustr. in Minut. Felic.
tioned them, nor the latter faid any more of them than what he transcribed out of Tertullian, it is reasonable to conclude they were not seen by any of the Christian writers : which will appear yet of greater force, if we consider, that a this fame Eusebius makes use of the publick records of the city Edessa ; and a great part of his work is taken up in collections or transcripts of every thing, whether wrote by Jews (as Philo and Josephus), Heathens, or Christians, for the credit of Christianity. If it be enquired here, How then came it to pass that Justin and Tertullian, as in the former head, mould appeal to these Afts, fince neither they nor any other Christians saw them? I answer with the great Casaubon , that it seems probable some servants or officers of one of the Cæfars, who were converted to Christianity, and had the opportunity of searching and being acquainted with the publick records at Rome, gave this general account to some Christians, from whom Justin and Tertullian had it. And whereas it may be objected, that it is strange that afterwards, when the Emperors became Chriftians, these records or Aets of Pilate, did not become publick ; I answer, that there is nothing more likely than that they were destroyed by the malice of the Senate, or some Roman Emperor, who (as it is certain), when they perceited the growing intereft of Christianity, omitted nothing which they imagined would have any tendency to crush and prevent it.
Hift. Eccl. l. I. C. 13.
A Conje£ture concerning the Occasion and Original of these Afts
or Gospel. They seem to have been the Composure of some Christian in the latter End of the third Century. This Cone jecture supported by several Arguments. IV. ROM the preceding observations it feems obvious
to conjecture, the age, occasion, and original of the Spurious Gospel of Nicodemus, or those Acts of Pilate which I have now under consideration, viz. That it was the forgery of fome Christian about the latter end of the third century; who, observing that there had been appeals made by the Christians of the former age to fome Acts of Pilate, but that none either were or could be produced, imagined that it would be of fervice to Christianity to publish this performance, as what would be not only confirming to the Christians in those times of perfecution, but evidential to the Heathens of the truth of their religion. The great defects of the history of these times, the loss of so many antient books, the uncertainty as to the genuineness of those we have, with many other such reasons, make it exceeding difficult to form any certain judgment in things of this nature; I propose therefore this only as what seems to me a probable conjecture, for the following reasons:
1. Such pious frauds in the primitive times (even in the three first centuries) were very common among Christians. This is undeniably evident by a great number of instances in the second part of the preceding volume.
2. No Heathen can be supposed to be author of this Gof pel. For besides that it proves the author much more acquainted with the Christian story and doctrine, than any Heathen can be with reason supposed to be, the whole
composure is accommodated and intended (however it may fall short) for the honour of Jesus Christ and his doctrines, which cannot be the work of an Heathen. 3. A forgery of this nature, and with the view above men