the friend of Origen, founded a library at Cesarea,
A.D. 294. Public defences were also set forth,
by various advocates of the religion, in the course
of its first three centuries. Within one hundred
years after Christ’s ascension, Quadratus and
Aristides, whose works, except some few fragments of
the first, are lost; and, about twenty years afterwards,
Justin Martyr, whose works remain, presented apologies
for the Christian religion to the Roman emperors;
Quadratus and Aristides to Adrian, Justin to Antoninus
Pins, and a second to Marcus Antoninus. Melito,
bishop of Sardis, and Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis,
and Miltiades, men of great reputation, did the same
to Marcus Antoninus, twenty years afterwards; (Euseb.
Hist. lib. iv. c. 26. See also Lardner, vol. ii.
p. 666.) and ten years after this, Apollonius, who
suffered martyrdom under the emperor Commodus, composed
an apology for his faith which he read in the senate,
and which was afterwards published. (Lardner, vol.
ii. p. 687.) Fourteen years after the apology of Apollonius,
Tertullian addressed the work which now remains under
that name to the governors of provinces in the Roman
empire; and, about the same time, Minucius Felix composed
a defence of the Christian religion, which is still
extant; and, shortly after the conclusion of this
century, copious defences of Christianity were published
by Arnobius and Lactantius.
Reflections upon the preceding
In viewing the progress of Christianity, our first
attention is due to the number of converts at Jerusalem,
immediately after its Founder’s death; because
this success was a success at the time, and upon the
spot, when and where the chief part of the history
had been transacted.
We are, in the next place, called upon to attend to
the early establishment of numerous Christian societies
in Judea and Galilee; which countries had been the
scene of Christ’s miracles and ministry, and
where the memory of what had passed, and the knowledge
of what was alleged, must have yet been fresh and
We are, thirdly, invited to recollect the success
of the apostles and of their companions, at the several
places to which they came, both within and without
Judea; because it was the credit given to original
witnesses, appealing for the truth of their accounts
to what themselves had seen and heard. The effect
also of their preaching strongly confirms the truth
of what our history positively and circumstantially
relates, that they were able to exhibit to their hearers
supernatural attestations of their mission.
We are, lastly, to consider the subsequent growth
and spread of the religion, of which we receive successive
intimations, and satisfactory, though general and
occasional, accounts, until its full and final establishment.