From Eusebius Pamphilus : His Ten Books of Ecclesiastical History, Faithfully Translated and Abridg’d from the Original, by Samuel Parker, Gent.; London : Printed for George Sawbridge at the Three Flower de-Luces in Little Britain, 1703; pp. 1-18.
DEsigning to Compose an Historical Account of what has pass’d in the Church, either as to its Government or Propagation, or the Oppositions it has sustain’d from Persecutors or Hereticks, together with a Narrative of the dreadful Recompences inflicted by Christ upon his Crucifiers, the mighty Supports afforded his Martyrs and Confessors, and the several instances of his most Auspicious Protection, down from his Incarnation to our own times. I shall in the first place implore the Divine Assistance, and in the next beg a favourable Construction from my Reader, which I may the rather expect, 2 because I am going to tread an unbeaten Path, without any other means of Direction or Materials, beside certain scatter’d Memoirs and Collections; such, however, as amply suffice for demonstrating the Apostolick Succession in all the Churches of the World. And, indeed the Usefulness of such an History appear’d to me so considerable, that I was no longer able to forbear attempting it, especially having formerly publish’d a Compendium of the Work. But before I launch into the Narration it self, it being necessary to premise a few Words concerning Christ’s Divinity and Humanity, I shall now explain my self upon that fundamental Point, so as to silence those adversaries who call the Christian Religion a new and upstart Institution, but are desir’d to understand that its Author’s Nature and Substance is of an Existence ineffably Eternal; for, Who shall declare his Generation ? No one has known the Father but the Son, and no one the Son but the Father; with whom, and from whom he subsisted from everlasting, the glorious Minister of his Will, by whom, as he created, so he governs all things, his only begotten Son, truly God, for in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made. Accordingly Moses assures us, That the Father communicated with him his Counsel of creating Man, where he says, Let us make Man after our Image. To the same effect the Psalmist, He said, and they were made; he commanded, and they were 3 created. The Father pronounc’d his Pleasure, which the Son administer’d. This is he whom the Patriarchs and Prophets, both before and after Moses, beheld frequently exhibited before their Eyes, and as frequently receiv’d with Adorations. This is the Lord God that appear’d to Abraham in a humane Shape, before whom he kneel’d, and to whom he address’d himself in those Words, Shall not the Lord of the whole Earth judge righteously; The Scripture cannot lie, nor the Godhead become an Humane Body, so that unless the Lord of the whole Earth, in this place, means the first unbegotten Cause of things, which it cannot, it must signify the Logos or Word, concerning whom the Psalmist, He sent out his Word and healed them, and they were saved from their Destruction. This is that Lord that rain’d Fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of Heaven; that God who wrestled with Jacob, and from whom he call’d the Place where they strove, the Vision of God, because he had seen him face to face. Nor were these the Appearances of Angels, the Scripture ascribing them not, as at other times, to Angels, but to God. Thus again, when he presented himself in the Form of Man before Joshuah, he tells him the place is sanctify’d by his Presence; at which Joshuah falls upon his Knees, and acknowledges him Captain of the Hosts of the Lord. So we find the place where he talked with Moses, consecrated by his Presence, for he was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Wisdom of God before the 4 Foundation of the World, that pitch’d his Tabernacle with Prudence, and called to him Knowledge and Understanding; by whom Princes Rule, and Nobles, even all the Judges of the Earth; whom the Lord created the beginning of his Ways, before his Works of old, &c. Thus it pleased the Divine Goodness to manifest and declare it self, yet not indifferently to all the Inhabitants of the World, the generality being unworthy of so near a Commerce, partly on account of their first Parents Transgression, but more because of their own Degeneracy, and the salvage and brutish Habits they contracted, till by the Flagrancy of their Provocations, God was mov’d to exert himself in variety of Judgments, and at the same time, that no means might be wanting to rouze them from their Intoxication, his Eternal Son, either by his Angels, or by himself in a visible manner often condescended to an Interview with those few Religious Persons, who laboured to instil good Principles into the Minds of Men, and particularly to those among the Ancient Hebrews, for whose farther Edification that People receiv’d their Law by the Prophet Moses; nor did the Benefits of this Dispensation extend only to the Hebrews, the Legislators and Philosophers every where making use of it to cultivate and reform the rest of Mankind. And the World being thus prepar’d for the Entertainment of his Divine Truths, the Son of God came Incarnate to perform, to teach, and to suffer whatever the Prophets had foretold concerning him; and lastly, to receive 5 that Kingdom, that universal, everlasting Dominion, which the Prophet Daniel represents him invested with, in the midst of a Thousand thousands and ten thousand times ten thousands. All these Characteristicks are applicable only to the eternal Word Incarnate. But of this we have discours’d at large elsewhere.
Let us next observe how peculiar a Regard the Holy Men of old had to the Words, Jesus and Christ. Moses being commanded to make all things according to the Pattern shew’d him in the Mount; assign’d the Title of Christos or Anointed to the High-Priest, the Person invested with the next immediate Dignity to God himself; as afterwards he express’d his devout Esteem for the word Jesus, unknown altogether before his time, when pursuant to the Analogy of its Importance, he assign’d it to his Successor, Auses, as being that Illustrious Name which was afterwards to belong to the great Captain of our Salvation. By the same Denominations have the rest of the Prophets distinguish’d him. Thus Jeremiah, The anointed of the Lord was taken in their Pits : Thus David, The Kings of the Earth stood up, and the Rulers took counsel against the Lord, or against his Christ or Anointed. The Lord said unto me, thou art my Son, &c. And to typify the same, Jesus Christ, the Great Prophet, High-Priest, and King over all; as well the Kings as High-Priests among the Hebrews, and so some of the Prophets too, were anointed with Oyl. Not that 6 any of those who thus prefigur’d him, attain’d an Eminency equal to his, from whose Name they who were under his Subjection receiv’d the Denomination of Christians, paying him Divine Honours, and after his Departure laying down their Lives for his sake, he having receiv’d his Sacerdotal, Regal, and Prophetical Unction from his Father, a Spiritual, Proper, and a Plenary Inauguration, whereby he was commission’d, according to Isaiah, To preach the Gospel to the Poor, &c. being that God, whose Throne endures for ever, the Scepter of whose Kingdom is a Scepter of Righteousness, anointed with the Oyl of gladness above his Fellows; the Lord to whom his Father said, Sit thou on my right hand until I make thy Foes thy footstool; the Eternal Priest after the Order of Melchisedech, in regard Melchisedech deriv’d not his Priesthood from the ordinary Unction of the Hebrews, or according to their Succession; but before the beginning of the Day, which implies, from all Eternity, as our Saviour, the only One that was ever among all Nations acknowledg’d and ador’d as Christ, the great High-Priest of God, the Supreme Prophet and King, the eternally begotten Word of God, truly and really God, whose Servants so sincerely and fervently Worship him; that they had rather be made a Sacrifice themselves than renounce him.
Having vindicated the Person of Christ from the Imputation of Novelty, I must do the same Justice also to his Doctrine. No sooner had 7 Christ made his publick Appearance in the World, but he gather’d to himself a very numerous Society from all the Quarters, and arm’d them with the invincible Protection of God himself. ’Twas upon the prospect of this that the Prophet expresses his Transport and Amazement, Has the Earth brought forth in one Day; And is a whole Nation born at one Birth; And these are those Servants of God, who were to bear a new Name, which should be blessed in the Earth. ’Tis true, the Name of Christian Professors is of a later date, but the Precepts of Christianity are as old as the Laws of Nature, and have been perpetually inculcated by good Men, particularly of the Hebrew Nation, that ancient People, in whose Records are contain’d many Instances of Piety and Virtue, both before and after the Flood; and among the rest, Abraham, from whom the Hebrews are descended; now all those were in Fact but so many Christians, both as to Faith and Manners, as exempt as we from the Burthen of the Mosaical Observances, and so far admitted to the knowledge of Christ, that he visibly held Conferences with them, and calls them his Christs, his anointed Servants. Besides, Abraham’s Justification preceding his Circumcision, and being accompanied with the Benediction, that in him all the Nations of the Earth should be blessed, which Promise is fulfilled in us Christians, whose Religion and Practices are so exactly conformable to Abraham’s; ’tis evident that Christianity is so little of an Innovation, that it was the sole 8 and Sovereign Rule to the Pious People of the earliest Ages. But now, to begin our History under the benevolent Direction of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the only Son of that Almighty Father.
In the Forty second Year of Augustus’s reign, and the Twenty eighth from the Death of Anthony and Cleopatra, at the time of Quirinius’s Census, our Saviour Jesus Christ was Born in Bethlem of Judæa, as the Prophets had foreshewn. Of this Census, the celebrated Flavius Josephus has made mention; and at the same time of the first appearing of the Sect of the Galileans, mention’d Acts 5. who relates, That this Quirinius was a well experience’d and dignify’d Senator, and that Cæsar sent him in the Quality of a Governor to make this Census, which one Judas Gaulanites, in Conjunction with Sadducus, a Pharisee, represented as an infallible Omen of approaching Slavery, and so made it a Pretence to incite the People to Rebellion. About the same time, according to the Prediction of the Patriarch, ceas’d the Succession of the Jewish Political Governors, and the Roman Powers bestow’d the Scepter upon Herod, a Stranger; by Birth, if Josephus rightly informs us, half an Idumæan, and half an Arabian; or according to Africanus and others, the Son of Antipater, and Grandson of one Herod that belong’d to the Temple of Apollo at Ascalon, whose Son Antipater, during his Confinement in the hands of certain Idumæan Ravagers, that had made him their Prisoner in 9 his Childhood, was educated as a Jew, and contracted an Intimacy with Hyrcanus the Jewish High-Priest. Thus by a particular course of Providences were the Words of the Prophets verify’d, when the Accession of Herod to the Crown usher’d in the Expectation of the Gentiles, the Series of the Jewish Magistrates then failing, which had hitherto continued from the time of Moses and Joshua in the Persons of their Judges, Kings, and High-Priests, till Jerusalem was taken by Pompey, who made it Tributary to Rome, and transferr’d the Sacerdotal Power from Aristobulus to his Brother Hyrcanus, and after that Hyrcanus fell into the Hands of the Parthians, Augustus and the Senate conferr’d it upon Herod : A Change which as it was ordain’d to accompany Christ’s Incarnation, so it brought Confusion upon the Succession of the High-Priesthood, both Herod and his Son Archelaus, and the Roman Prefects after them, instated Persons of ordinary Condition in that Dignity, and keeping the Priestly Vestments under Lock and Key; thus becoming the Instruments of the Completion of Daniel’s Prophecy, in relation to the time when the Unction of the Jewish Priests was to have a Period.
And here is seems advisable to reconcile the seemingly-inconsistent Genealogies of Christ in St. Matthew and St. Luke; and this we shall do after the Method of Africanus, who distinguishing between the Natural Posterity, those that were begotten in a right Line, and the Legal 10 or Collateral, when the Brother rais’d up Seed unto his Brother, interprets one Evangelist according to the first part of his Distinction, and the other according to the latter. Thus by St. Matthew’s reckoning down from Solomon, Matthan comes in as the Father of Jacob, and the grandfather of Joseph; by St. Luke’s, from Nathan the Son of David, Melchi appears as the Father of Heli, and the Grandfather of Joseph. It remains to be enquir’d how Jacob and Heli came to be Brothers, and both of them to be call’d alike, the Father as Matthan, and Melchi the Grandfather of Joseph. Now the Mystery of it is this, that Matthan descended from Solomon, and Melchi descended from Nathan, had by the same Woman two Sons, the first Jacob, the latter (after Matthan’s Decease) Heli, who therefore were Brothers by the Mother’s side; Heli dies, and by his Widow, Jacob has Joseph, his own Natural Off-spring, and Heli’s Legal. This being observ’d, St. Matthew’s Descending Genealogy exquisitely agrees with St. Luke’s Ascending; and how it comes to pass that both are so accurately deliver’d, we learn from what our Saviour’s Relations have imparted to Posterity, that Herod, till whose time the Hebrews had preserv’d in their Archives the Genealogies, both of their own Families, and those of their Proselytes, looking upon such Monuments as a Reproach to the Meanness of his own Extraction, adjudg’d them to the Flames; yet it was not in his Power to eraze them out of the Memory, or the private 11 Transcripts of some of the best Families, among whom were our Saviour’s Relations, call’d from him Desposunoi, who in their Dispersion collected their Genealogy, as aforesaid. And this is the best Account we can give of the Genealogies of the Evangelists, in which, by the way, it must not be forgotten that the Blessed Virgin is implicitely concern’d; the Mosaick Institution requiring that she should be of the same Tribe and Lineage with Joseph, in order to their Espousals.
No sooner Christ was Born, but Herod, whom certain Magi’s had put into a Consternation by their enquiries after a new-born King and God, examines the Doctors of the Law about the Place of his Nativity, and being inform’d that it must be Bethlem; to secure his Crown upon his Head, and prevent the possibility of a Competition, he commands that all the Infants born there within the space of Two Years, from the time that the Magi made their Enquiries, be put to the Sword, presuming Jesus would perish in the number, but upon the warning of an Angel Jesus was carried into Egypt; and soon after Herod receiv’d in a very extraordinary manner the just Fruits of his Impiety and Inhumanity, not only in the many dismal Calamities which befel his Wife, and Children, and all his Family, for whose Interest and Splendor he propos’d to provide by such bloody Expedients; but in respect of those heavy Judgments, which as an Anticipation of Eternal Torments the Justice of God inflicted 12 on his Person, by Inflammations, both External and Internal, complicated with insatiable Cravings, Ulcers, and Wringings of the Intestines, Dropsy, Asthma, Itch, Convulsions, and such a Putrefaction of the Genitals, as bred Swarms of Worms, in all which his own Diviners and Sages read the Vengeance of the offended Deity. However he did not yet despair, but betook himself for Remedy to certain medicinal Waters, on the other side the River Jordan, where Bathing, by the Advice of his Physicians, in Oyl, he had died in a fainting Fit, but that the Outcries of his Attendants reviv’d him. And now being out of hope, and return’d to Jericho, he calls to him Salome, his Sister, and her Husband Alexander, tells them he is sensible how much his Death will rejoice the Jews, and for a Legacy, orders that immediately upon his Expiring, all such Jews as were committed to Custody should be massacred, in order to a general Lamentation at his Decease. And not enduring the Extremity of his Pains, he attempted to dispatch himself, but lived long enough to send a third after two of his Sons, whom he murder’d before, and then ended his Days in miserable Tortures. Whereupon Joseph with Christ and his Mother left Egypt, designing to return into Judæa; but hearing that Archelaus succeeded Herod he went aside into Galilee.
Archelaus being depos’d, his Brothers, Philip, Herod, and Lysanias, presided still over their several Tetrarchies; and in the Twelfth 13 Year of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate was made Procurator of Judea, and so continued Ten Years, almost to the Death of Tiberius, whence appears the spuriousness of the Acts pretended to be enter’d against our Saviour, they bearing date in the Seventh Year of Tiberius.
In the Fifteenth Year of Tiberius, and the Fourth of Pilate’s Procuratorship, Jesus Christ being arriv’d at the Age of Thirty Years, or thereabouts, was baptiz’d, and began to Preach, which he continued to do under Annas and Caiphas, says the Evangelist, that is, from the time when Annas bore the Office of High-Priest, to the time when it fell upon Caiphas, being not quite Four Years : For Valerius Gratus (as the Romans new modell’d the Jewish Rights and Sacerdotal Succession after their own pleasure) having remov’d Annas, constituted Ismael, the Son of Baphi, in his room; and soon after remov’d him, and put in Eleazar, the Son of Annas; a Year after displac’d Eleazar, and constituted Simon, the Son of Camithus; and in his room, in another Year had past Joseph, call’d also Caiphas, under whom Christ was crucify’d, having selected when he was enter’d upon his Prophetick Office, Twelve of his Disciples, dignified with the Title of his Apostles, and Seventy to go before him, as his Harbingers, in his Progress.
Not long after, Herod the younger beheaded John, a Person of singular Sanctity, (says Josephus) surnamed The Baptist, from his instituting a certain Baptism or Washing, which he propos’d 14 not merely for the cleansing of the Body, but requir’d that the Hearts and Minds of those who came to it, should be antecedently purify’d. A mighty Conflux of Proselytes came into John’s Baptism, which begot a Jealousy in Herod; but what more exasperated that Prince, was John’s rebuking him for putting away his lawful Wife, the Daughter of Arethas, King of Arabia, and forcibly taking his Brother’s to his Bed, which occasion’d a War between Arethas and him, wherein Herod was totally routed, and afterwards on Herodias’s Account lost his Crown, and was banish’d with her to Vienna. The Justice of Heaven pouring down terrible Retributions upon him for the Blood of John, whom he had sent a Prisoner to the Castle of Machærum, and afterwards beheaded.
Of our Saviour the same Josephus attests, That he was a wise Man, if indeed he might be call’d a Man; that he wrought amazingMiracles, and taught excellent Doctrines, that he had many Followers, Jews and Gentiles, that he was Christ, that he was crucified under Pilate, that his Disciples notwithstanding adhered firmly to him, that he rose the third Day according to the Prophets, and left a Society called Christians, that had continued to his own time. All which amounts to an abundant disproof of the forg’d Acts against St. John the Baptist, and our Saviour.
Of the Seventy Disciples (for the Names of the Apostles are known) were Barnabas, Sosthenes, 15 as Clemens informs us in his Hypotyposes; Cephas, whom St. Paul withstood at Antioch, a Namesake of St. Peter’s; Matthias and his Fellow-Candidate; Thaddæus, of whom we shall say more presently, and James related to our Lord. But here it must be observ’d, That Christ had more than Seventy Disciples, as we learn from the Testimony of St. Paul speaking of Christ’s appearing to Five hundred Brethren at once : As also, that others were call’d Apostles besides the Twelve, as when St. Paul immediately subjoyns, And then he was seen of all the Apostles. What we have to relate concerning Thaddæus, is this.
Among the many Diseased, that applied themselves to Christ upon the Fame of his Miracles, was the good King Agbarus of Edessa,* labouring under a desperate Distemper, who sent a suppliant Letter to our Saviour, which imported, that having heard of the astonishing Cures he had wrought, the Demoniacks he had rescued, and the Dead he had rais’d, he address’d to him, as to God himself, or the Son of God, beseeching him to come and relieve him, and take up his Residence with him, where he should live out of the reach of the Jews. To which Christ replied in a Letter, Blessed are thou, Agbarus, that hast believed on me before thou hast seen me, for it is written of me, that they who have seen me should not believe on me, that they who have not seen me, believing may inherit Life. As for thy Desire that I would come to thee, I must accomplish 16 all things for which I am sent, and when I have accomplish’d them, return to him that sent me : But when I am departed, I will send one of my Disciples to thee, who shall Cure thy Distemper, and bring Life both to thy self and thine. Accordingly after his Ascension, the Apostle Thomas, by an extraordinary Direction, sent Thaddæus for the purposes mention’d, of which, and his Miracles in the Name of Jesus after his coming to Edessa, Agbarus being advertised, sent for him, and so soon as he saw him approaching, and observ’d in his Countenance something that, as he thought, spoke him no common Mortal, to the great Admiration of the By-standers, did him Obeisance, and ask’d him if he was a Disciple of Jesus, the Son of God. Thaddæus made answer, That he was sent thither in that Name to assist him in Proportion to the encrease of his Faith. My Faith (said Agbarus) is such, That but for fear of the Romans, I would have extirpated the Nation that crucify’d him. He has now (said Thaddæus) executed his Father’s Commands, and is reascended to him. I believe (answered Agbarus) both in him and his Father. At which Profession, Thaddæus by Imposition of Hands in the Name of Jesus restor’d him to perfect Health; and at the same time, one Abdus who languish’d under the Gout, besides many others. These were such stupendious Arguments of a Divine Interposition, as made Agbarus very inquisitive concerning all particulars that related to Jesus, and Thaddæus promis’d to 17 satisfy him therein, but oblig’d him to Summon his Subjects, that they might be present at the Narration, accordingly Agbarus commanded them to attend the next Day. And when the Apostle had ended his Instructions, and all the Business of his Errand, the King made him rich Presents, but he declar’d that as he had voluntarily rid his hands of those Incumbrances, so he would not receive them at another’s. With this Account we are furnish’d from the publick Records of the City of Edessa.
* Agbarus is usually spelled Abgarus, and this man is now commonly called Abgar of Edessa. Which is right? Who knows. Ask Agbar!