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1. By Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 1. 1. c. 13. The substance of his account is; “ That our Saviour's mi“ raculous works drew innumerable persons to him from the “ most remote countries, to be healed of their distempers ; that “ Abgarus, a famous king beyond Euphrates, wrote to him,
, 6 because he was afflicted with a distemper incurable by human
and that whereas our Saviour promised to send one of “ his disciples to heal him, this was accordingly done by Thad“ dæus, one of the Seventy Apostles, who was sent thither by “ Thomas, according to an instruction which he had received “ from heaven on that head. For the proof of all this he ap
peals to the public registries and records of the city of Edes
sa, where Abgarus then reigned, and in which all the records “ of his reign were preserved till the time of his writing, out of “ which in the Syriac language he saith he took, and being - translated into Greek he published, the two preceding Epi“ stles, and the following history, viz. That when Thaddæus “ came to Edessa, after Christ's ascension, and had wrought many
miracles, and cured many distempers, Abgarus, sup“posing him to be the person whom Christ had promised in “ his letter to send, ordered him to be brought to him. As “ soon as he came, the king perceiving something extraordinary “ in his countenance, fell down before him, at which the noble
men who were present were surprised, they perceiving no
thing of it. The king then inquired whether he were the “person whom Christ promised to send: he answered, that on o account of his faith in Christ he was sent, and assured him 6 all things should be according to his faith. To which the
king replied, he believed so much in Christ, that he was re“ solved, had he not feared the power of the Roman empire, “ to have made war against the Jews, and destroyed them for
crucifying Christ. Thaddæus informed him of Christ's as“ cension to his Father ; to which the king replied, that he be“ lieved on him and his father both: upon which the apostle " said, I lay my hand on thee in the name of our Lord Jesus “ Christ; and the king was instantly cured of his disease. He “ also cured one Abdus of the gout by the laying on of his “ hands, and many others, working also diverse miracles. “ After which the king ordered on the morrow all the city to
“ meet together, to hear the apostle preach ; which he promised
to do concerning all the heads of the Christian religion. The
king offered him gold and silver, but he refused it, saying, “We have left our own, why should we take that which is an« other's ? These things were done in the year 340, and trans« lated out of Syriac.”
2. These Epistles are mentioned by Ephraem Syrus, in Tes
tament. tom. 3. He was a deacon in this city of Edessa in the latter end of the fourth century. Dr. Grabec has obliged the world with the Greek words out of a manuscript in the Bodleian library, which are as follow: Και ευλογημένη υμών ή πόλις And blessed be your city and mo*Έδεσσα και μητήρ, ήτις και απο
ther Edessa, which was expressly φαντικώς ηυλόγηται εκ στόματος blessed by the mouth of our Lord Κυρίου δια των αυτού μαθητών, by his disciples, but our apostles; ημετέρων δε αποστόλων όπηνίκα for when Abgarus the king, who αποστείλας Αύγαρος ο ταύτην άν
built that city, thought fit to send
and acknowledge Christ the Lord εγείρας βασιλεύς ήξίου δεξιούσθαι τον εν τη επιδημία αναφανέντα
and Saviour of all, in his pilσωτήρα των όλων και δεσπότην grimage on earth, saying; I have
heard all things which are done Χριστόν, λέγων· "Ήκουσα πάντα
by you, and how much
you have τα υπό σου διαπραττόμενα» και
suffered by the Jews, who conόσα πέπονθας υπό των αθετούντων
tenin you; wherefore come hiσε Ιουδαίων· έλθε τοιγαρούν εν
ther, and take ταύθα και οίκησόν με. "Έχω with me.
up your residence
I have here a little έμαυτώ μικράν ταύτην την πόλιν, city, which shall be equally yours ήτις τυχήσοι σοί τε και εμοί και
and mine. Hereupon the Lord, θαυμάσας ο Κύριος την πίστιν αυ- admiring his faith, sent by niesτου, πέμψας δι' αγγέλων αιωνίον
sengers a blessing to the city, ηυλόγησε την πόλιν, έδράσας αυ
which should abide for ever, estaτης τα θεμέλια. Εκείνη ούν ή blishing its foundations. That ευλογία αυλισθείσα εν αυτή κατα- blessing therefore shall always σκηνώσει, άχρις ου αποκαλυφθη και abide upon it, till the Holy One άγιος εξ ουρανού Ιησούς ο Χρι- be revealed from heaven, even στος, ο υιός του Θεού, και Θεός εκ
Jesus Christ the Son of God, and Θεού. .
God of God.
I know no others within my time who have mentioned these Epistles; Jerome indeed seems to refer to the history in his Comment on Matthew chap. x. as does Darius Comes in an Epistle to Austin d; and pope Gelasius e rejects among the spurious and apocryphal books the Epistle under the name of Christ to Abgarus. In the following centuries there is more frequent mention of it. Procopius Cæsariensis, who wrote about the year of Christ DXXX. (whether a Christian or pagan is not certain,) in his history of the Persian warf, relates, “ That Abgarus had been long afflicted with the gout, and
finding no relief from his physicians, but hearing of the mira“cles of Christ, sent to him, desired he would come and live “ with him; and that upon his receiving an answer from “ Christ, he was instantly cured. He adds, that our Saviour “ in the end of his letter gave Abgarus assurance that his city “ should never be taken by enemies, though he himself ques“tions the truth of this.” Euagrius 8, an ecclesiastical writer in the latter end of the sixth century, appeals to this account of Procopius, and confirms the story of the city's never being to be taken, by some instances, “as particularly when Chos“ roes king of Persia, not crediting the common rumour, that “ this city was impregnable, besieged it, but that he failed in “ his attempt by means of a miracle which was wrought by a
picture of Christ's face, which himself impressed upon a “ handkerchief, and sent to Abgarus at his earnest request." Cedrenus adds to all the rest h, that Christ sealed his letter with a seal consisting of seven Hebrew letters, the interpretation of which, says he, is in Greek, sou dekbev lavua bežov, i. e. The divine miracle of God is seen. Thus much concerning the ancient accounts. I proceed,
II. To give some account of the sentiments of later writers concerning it. And in collecting these I observe, that the whole story, as well as the Epistles themselves, are generally reckoned by protestants and papists to be spurious and apocryphal. There are indeed some few Romish writers, and
d Edit. Lovan. Epist. 263.
e In Decret. See Part II. of this work. Chap. VI.
f Lib. 2. e. 12.
h Apud Grab. Spicileg. Patr. t. 1. p. 8. The same is in the end of an ancient manuscript copy of this Epistle in the Bodleian library at Oxford.
three or four divines of the church of England, who have entertained more favourable thoughts of the matter.
Dr. Parker', though he would not, as he says, lay any great stress upon the story or letters, yet adds, that he could see no ground to suspect it of forgery; and the weightiest objections that are made against it are too light to weigh any thing with him; and elsewherek, “I cannot find any thing that may in “ the least shake or impair the credit of the story. Nay, the “ contents of our Saviour's letter agree so exactly with the “ whole design of his life in the Gospels, as by that alone to “ give itself considerable authority, viz. to put off the exercise “ of his power, and obscure the reputation of his glory as much
, “ as he could, till after his resurrection.” Accordingly he en
, deavours in both the places referred to, to answer the objections which are urged against the Epistles, and to offer arguments for their genuineness.
Dr. Cavel declares it as his opinion, “That so ancient a mo“nument of Christianity ought not to be rejected, which as it “ contains no evidences of an imposture, nor any thing unwor
thy of Christ, so also is delivered down to us as genuine by “ Eusebius, and several others of the ancients.” He adds, that all the arguments against it are trifling, and endeavours to answer them.
Dr. Grabe urges several arguments for the Epistle m, and proposes to answer all that is said against it, though, says he, “ I do not hereby own that they are undoubtedly genuine," but leave the matter in doubt.
On the other hand Cocus, Riveto, Chemnitius P, Osiander 9, Walther', Father Simons, Du Pin', the present archbishop of
" Canterbury 4, Mr. Spanheim the younger , Mr. Fabritius,
5. . and Mr. Le Clerc 2, besides many others, have judged the i Demonstrat. of the Law of Nature
r Officin. Biblic. §. 1440. p. 1215. and the Christian Religion, in the pre
s Crit. Hist. of the New Test. part 1. face, p. 34, &c. * Part 2. §. 16. p. 235. &c.
* Hist. of the Canon, vol. 2. c. 6. | Hist. Liter. in Christ. p. 2, 3. §. I. vol. 1.
Preface to his Translation of the Spicileg. Patr. t. 1. p. 4. et in no- Apostolic Fathers, chap. 9. tis, præcipue, p. 319.
* Histor. Christ. Sæcul. 1. p. 578,579. n Censur. Vet. Scriptor. p. 2.
y Cod. Apocr. Nov. Testam. par. 1. • Vid. Critic. Sacr. 1. 3. C. 2. et alibi. p. 379. p Exam. Conc. Trid. vol. 4. p. 44.
z Histor. Eccles. ad ann. 29. $.12. 1 Epitom. Hist. Cent. 1. l. 2. c. 9.
whole story and the Epistles spurious, and have several of them by good arguments demonstrated them to be so.
CHAP. II. The Epistles and History of our Saviour and Abgarus proved
spurious by several arguments, viz. Because there is no intimation nor mention of them by the apostles or writers of the first three centuries. Christ's Epistle spurious, because after its publication by Eusebius it was universally rejected ; and because it contains several things later than the time of our Saviour; because it contains somewhat contrary
to Christ's character, and mentions Christ's ascension. HAVING in the former chapter proposed the opinions of several learned men concerning these Epistles and History, I proceed now,
III. To offer that which seems to me most probable in the matter, and without a prolix and tedious repetition of what has been already said, to discuss the subject in as clear and compendious a manner as I can.
That the above-mentioned letters and history were in the archives or records of Edessa, cannot, I think, be reasonably doubted by any who are acquainted with the character of Eusebius, and the impartiality of his history. He positively asserts, that he himself received them out of the archives of that city, από των αρχείων ημίν ληφθείσων, (unless for αρχείων perhaps we should rather read ágxalw, and so Eusebius only mean, that they of his time received them from the primitive or elder Christians, though it does not so evidently appear, as it is presumed always, that Eusebius was at Edessa, and there transcribed them, much less that he translated them into Greek out of Syriac, as Dr. Cave, the present archbishop of Canterbury, and most who have lately wrote on this subject have supposed, being led into the mistake by following the Latin translation of Valesius, without due regard to the original of Eusebius. That which is most probable is, that Eusebius himself never was at Edessa, because he does not assert it, which he would very probably have done, if he really had been there; and that he did not translate these Epistles himself out of Syriac into