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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

THE divinity of our Lord and Saviour Christ being proclaimed abroad among all men, in consequence of his wonder-working power, attracted immense numbers, both from abroad and from the remotest parts of Judea, with the hope of being cured of their diseases and various afflictions. Agbarus, therefore, who reigned over the nations beyond the Euphrates with great glory, and who had been wasted away with a disease, both dreadful and incurable by human means, when he heard the name of Jesus frequently mentioned, and his miracles unanimously attested by all, sent a suppliant message to him, by a letter-carrier, entreating a deliverance from his disease. But, though he did not yield to his call at that time, he nevertheless condescended to write him a private letter, and to send one of his disciples to heal his disorder; at the same time promising salvation to him and all his relatives. And it was not long before the promise was fulfilled. After the resurrection, however, and his return to heaven, Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, by a divine impulse, sent Thaddeus, who was also one of the seventy disciples, to Edessa, as a herald and evangelist of the doctrines of Christ. And by his agency all the promises of our Saviour were fulfilled. Of this, also, we have the evidence, in a written answer, taken from the public records of the city of Edessa, then under the government of the king. For in the public registers there, which embrace the ancient history and the transactions of Agbarus, these circumstances respecting him are found still preserved down to the present day. There is nothing, however, like hearing the epistles themselves, taken by us from the archives, and the style of it, as it has been literally translated by us, from the Syriac language:

Copy of the letter written by King Agbarus to Jesus, and sent to him, at Jerusalem, by Ananias, the courier

“AGBARUS, prince of Edessa, sends greeting to Jesus the excellent Saviour, who has appeared in the borders of Jerusalem. I have heard the reports respecting thee and thy cures, as performed by thee without medicines and without the use of herbs. For, as it is said, thou causest the blind to see again, the lame to walk, and thou cleansest the lepers, and thou castest out impure spirits and demons, and thou healest those that are tormented by long disease, and thou raisest the dead. And hearing all these things of thee, I concluded in my mind one of two things: either that thou art God, and, having descended from heaven, doest these things, or else, doing them, thou art the Son of God. Therefore, now I have written and besought thee to visit me, and to heal the disease with which I am afflicted. I have also heard that the Jews murmur against thee, and are plotting to injure thee; I have, however, a very small but noble state, which is sufficient for us both.”

This epistle he thus wrote, whilst yet somewhat enlightened by the rays of divine truth. It is, also, worth the time to learn the epistle sent to him from Jesus, by the same bearer, which, though very brief, is yet full of power, written in the following style:

The answer of Jesus to king Agbarus, by the courier, Ananias

“Blessed art thou, O Agbarus, who, without seeing, hast believed in me. For it is written concerning me, that they who have seen me, will not believe, that they who have not seen, may believe and live. But in regard to what thou hast written, that I should come to thee, it is necessary that I should fulfil all things here, for which I have been sent. And after this fulfilment, thus to be received again by Him that sent me. And after I have been received up, I will send to thee a certain one of my disciples, that he may heal thy affliction, and give life to thee and to those who are with thee.”

To these letters there was, also, subjoined in the Syriac language

After the ascension of Jesus, Judas, who is also called Thomas, sent him Thaddeus, the apostle, one of the seventy; who, when he came, remained at the house of Tobias, the son of Tobias. When the report was circulated concerning his arrival, and he became publicly known by the miracles which he performed, it was communicated to Agbarus, that an apostle of Jesus had come thither, as he had written. Thaddeus, therefore, began in the power of God to heal every kind of disease and infirmity; so that all were amazed. But when Agbarus heard the great deeds and miracles which he performed, and how he healed men in the name and power of Jesus Christ, he began to suspect that this was the very person concerning whom Jesus had written, saying, After I have been received up again, I will send to thee one of my disciples, who shall heal thy affliction. Having, therefore, sent for Tobias, with whom he staid, I have heard, said he, that a certain powerful man, who hath come from Jerusalem, is staying at thy house, and is performing many cures in the name of Jesus. He answered, Yea, my lord, a certain stranger has come, who hath lodged with me, and is performing many wonders. And he replied, Bring him to me. Tobias, then, returning to Thaddeus, said to him, Agbarus the king having sent for me, has told me to conduct thee to him, that thou mayest heal his disorder. And Thaddeus replied, I will go, since I have been sent with power, to him. Tobias, therefore, arose early the next day, and taking Thaddeus with him, came to Agbarus. When he came, his nobles were present, and stood around. Immediately on his entrance, something extraordinary appeared to Agbarus, in the countenance of the apostle Thaddeus; which Agbarus observing, paid him reverence. But all around were amazed; for they did not perceive the vision which appeared to Agbarus alone: he then asked Thaddeus whether he were truly a disciple of Jesus the Son of God, who had said to him, I will send one of my disciples to thee, who will heal thy sickness, and will give life to thee and to all thy connexions. And Thaddeus answered, Since thou hast had great confidence in the Lord Jesus, who hath sent me, therefore I am sent to thee. And, moreover, if thou believest in him, with increasing faith, the petitions of thy heart shall be granted thee, as thou believest. And Agbarus replied, So much did I believe in him, that I had formed the resolution to take forces, in order to destroy those Jews who had crucified him, had I not been deterred from my purpose by a regard for the Roman empire. Thaddeus replied, Our Lord and God, Jesus the Christ, hath fulfilled the will of his Father, and having fulfilled it, was taken up again to his Father. Agbarus saith to him, I have believed both in him and in his Father. Then said Thaddeus, Therefore I place my hand upon thee in the name of the same Lord Jesus. And this being done, he was immediately healed of the sickness and sufferings with which he was afflicted. And Agbarus was amazed, that just as he had heard respecting Jesus, so in very deed he received it through his disciple and apostle Thaddeus, who had healed him without any medicine and herbs, and not only him but Abdas also, the son of Abdas, who was afflicted with the podagra. He also, approaching, fell down at his feet, and received his benediction, with the imposition of his hand, and was healed. Many of the same city were also healed by the same apostle, who performed wonderful and great deeds, and proclaimed the word of God. After this, said Agbarus, Thaddeus, thou doest these things by the power of God, and we are filled with wonder. But, beside these things, I request thee, also, to inform me respecting the coming of Jesus, how he was born, and as to the power with which he performed these things which we have heard. And Thaddeus answered, Now, indeed, I will not tell thee, since I have been sent to proclaim the word abroad; but tomorrow assemble all thy citizens, and before them I will proclaim the word of God, and will sow among them the word of life, both respecting the coming of Jesus, as he was, and respecting his mission, and for what purpose he was sent by the Father; also, concerning the power of his works, and the mysteries which he declared in the world; by what power, also, he did these things, concerning his new mode of preaching, his lowly and abject condition, his humiliation in his external appearance, how he humbled himself, and died, and lowered his divinity; what things, also, he suffered from the Jews; how he was crucified, and descended into hell (hades), and burst the bars which had never yet been broken, and rose again, and also raised with himself the dead that had slept for ages. And how he descended alone, but ascended with a great multitude to his Father. And how he sitteth at the right hand of God and the Father, with glory, in the heavens; and how he is about to come again with glory and power, to judge the living and dead.—Agbarus, therefore, commanded his subjects to be called early in the morning, and to hear the annunciation of Thaddeus; and after this, he commanded gold and silver to be given him; but he would not receive it, saying, If we have left our own, how shall we take what belongs to others?

These things were done in the three hundred and fortieth year. Which also, we have literally translated from the Syriac language, opportunely as we hope, and not without profit.








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