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

THE fame of our Lord’s remarkable resurrection and ascension being now spread abroad, according to an ancient custom prevalent among the rulers of the nations, to communicate novel occurrences to the emperor, that nothing might escape him, Pontius Pilate transmits to Tiberius an account of the circumstances concerning the resurrection of our Lord from the dead, the report of which had already been spread throughout all Palestine. In this account, he also intimated that he ascertained other miracles respecting him, and that having now risen from the dead, he was believed to be a God by the great mass of the people. Tiberius referred the matter to the senate, but it is said they rejected the proposition, apparently because they had not examined into this subject first, according to an ancient law among the Romans, that no one should be ranked among the gods unless by a vote and decree of the senate in reality, however, because the salutary doctrine of the gospel needs no confirmation and co-operation of men.

The senate of the Romans, therefore, having thus rejected the doctrine of our Saviour as it was announced, and Tiberius still continuing to hold the opinion he had before cherished, formed no unreasonable projects against the doctrine of Christ. This is the testimony of Tertullian, a man who made himself accurately acquainted with the laws of the Romans, and, besides his eminence in other respects, was particularly distinguished among the eminent men of Rome, and in his apology for the Christians in the Roman tongue, which is also translated into the Greek, to give his own words, writes after the following manner. “In order to give also an account of these laws from their origin, it was an ancient decree, that no one should be consecrated a god by the emperor, before it had been approved by the senate. Marcus Aurelius has done this, in reference to a certain idol, Alburnus, so that this evidence has been given in favour of our doctrine, that divine dignity is conferred among you by the decrees of men. Unless a god pleases men he is not made a god; and thus, according to this procedure, it is necessary that man should be propitious to the god. Tiberius, therefore, under whom the name of Christ was spread throughout the world, when this doctrine was announced to him from Palestine, where it first began, communicated with the senate, being obviously pleased with the doctrine; but the senate, as they had not proposed the measure, rejected it. But he continued in his opinion, threatening death to the accusers of the Christians; a divine providence infusing this into his mind, that the gospel, having freer scope in its commencement, might spread every where over the world.”








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