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The history of Armenia from the time of Christ possesses peculiar interest from the fact that it throws much light upon the early history of Christianity. The gospel seems to have been carried direct to Armenia from Jerusalem, and its success was so great that it at once occupied a prominent place in the history of the nation.

At this time, Edessa (Urfa) was the capital of the Armenian kingdom. Here ruled the kings Abgar, or Abgarus, Ananey, and Sanatrug. The first mentioned, who ruled in the time of Christ, was the son of Arsham, and grandson of Tigranes the great, the Armenian king who marched against the Roman .general Lucullus with an army of three hundred and sixty thousand men, clad in iron armor. Abgarus was celebrated for his wisdom and courage, and also for his amiable disposition. No part of Armenian history is perhaps so highly valued as that which relates to this king. It is especially dear to every Armenian, and has ever been regarded as genuine and authentic by all their historians. They fully believe that he had correspondence with our Saviour, exercised faith in him as the Son of God, and was baptized.

It is related that in the second year of his reign all the countries of Armenia became tributary to the Romans, and order was given by the Emperor Augustus, as is recorded in St. Luke, that all the kingdoms and states should be numbered and taxed. Messengers were accordingly sent into Armenia, who brought the statue of the emperor and caused it to be set up in all the temples. Herod, also, proud of his authority, ordered his statue to be placed by the side of the emperor's. This Abgarus refused to do. Wherefore Herod sent an army into Armenia, which being defeated, he, filled with resentment, accused the Armenian king before Augustus of disloyalty. Accordingly, this ķing, to defend himself against the charges of Herod, went to Rome. Gibbon also testifies to his

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being in Rome. He remained there three years, when he returned and transferred his capital from Nisibis to Edessa. Herod having died, he reigned for many years in peace and prosperity. During this time he assisted the Persians in placing Ardasches upon the throne, and restoring peace to that distracted country. Returning from Persia, having accomplished this work, he found that his enemies, Pilate, Herod the Tetrarch, Lysanias, and Philip, had preferred another accusation against him. Abgarus, in consequence of this, immediately entered into league with Aretas, king of Petra, whose daughter Herod first married, but had repudiated for Herodias, marched against Herod and overcame him, the historian relates, “as if vengeance was thus taken for the death of John the Baptist by the Armenians."

About this time, the emperor sending Marinus into Phenicia and Syria to superintend that part of his empire, Abgarus dispatched two envoys to do him honor. These, on their return, hearing the fame of our Saviour's miracles, went to Jerusalem to see him. Having become witnesses of the wonders he wrought, they reported all to the king. He at once exclaimed, "these miracles are not of man, but of Godthere is no man who can do these things." Abgarus, it is related, was at this time afflicted with a disease resembling leprosy, he therefore wrote the following letter to Christ, most fully believed by the Armenians to be genuine:

Abgar, son of Arsham, prince of this land, to Jesus, the Saviour and Benefactor of men, greeting. I have heard of thee and of the cures wrought by thy hands, without remedies, and without plants, for, it is said, thou makest the blind to see, the lame to walk, the lepers are healed, evil spirits are cast out, thou healest the unfortunate, afflicted with long and inveterate diseases, and thou dost raise the dead. As I have heard of all the wonders wrought by thee, I have concluded that thou art either God come down from heaven, or the Son of God sent to do such things. Therefore have I written, beseeching thee to deign to come to me and cure my disease. I have also heard that the Jews use thee ill, and lay snares to destroy thee. I have here a little city, pleasantly situated and sufficient for us both.”

Messengers conveyed this letter to Jesus, and, though the invitation was not accepted, the following answer was returned :

* Happy is he who believes on me without having seen me. Those who see me believe not, and those who see me not, believe and live. As to what thou hast written of my coming to thee, it is necessary that I fulfill here that for which I was sent, and when I have accomplished all, I shall ascend to Him that sent me. But after I have gone, I will send one of my disciples, who shall cure thy malady, and give life to thee and thine."

Though the above letters are generally regarded as spurious, yet, by many authors, their genuineness has been defended, among whom are Damascenus, Nicephorus, and Eusebius, of former times, and Dr. Parker, Dr. Cave, Dr. Grabe, and Rink, among Protestant authors. It is said that these letters were found in the archives of Edessa. The Armenian historian, after speaking of them as genuine, goes on to say that, after the ascension of our Lord, Thomas, the disciple, sent Thaddeus, one of the seventy, to the city of Edessa, to heal the king and preach the gospel. Abgar, with a large number of the inhabitants, believed and was baptized. This Abgar is also said to have written two letters to the Emperor Tiberius respecting Jesus, one to the king of Assyria, and another to the king of Persia, all of which are found in the old Armenian histories.

The first writer who recorded this history of Abgarus, was Lerubnas of Edessa, who flourished at the beginning of the first century. He wrote the exploits of the two Armenian kings who lived in his time, Abgarus and Sanatrug, and placed his work, after he had finished it, in the royal archives of Edessa, where it was preserved for many centuries. However this whole account may be regarded, there is abundant evidence that there was a king at Edessa in the time of Christ, of the name of Abgarns, and also, that the gospel was preached there almost immediately after, and gained many zealous adherents. Florentinus says that Thaddeus preached the gospel with great success among the Armenians, and was put to death by Sanatrug. Other historians also relate that Thaddeus preached the gospel in the palace of the king to Sanatrug and his queen Satiene. In the Martyrologium, printed at Rome, it is said that Saint Bartholomew also, having preached the gospel in India first, proceeded into Armenia, where he converted multitudes to the true faith, and where, afterwards, he suffered martyrdom, by first being flayed alive, and then be

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headed. Armenian historians say that Sanatrug, who put Thaddeus to death, laid hands also on Bartholomew, flayed him alive, and then crucified him in the city of Arevbanus, where his remains were afterwards interred. Jude, another disciple, coming into Armenia, was put to death at Ormi, (Oroomiah), and Eustathius also, one of the seventy, who preached with great success, was put to death at a place which still bears his name, Setathev or Tathev, and where existed for many centuries one of the most famous monasteries in Armenia. Elisha, a disciple of Jude and Thaddeus, accompanied by three others, came into upper Armenia, where, by his preaching, it is said, almost all the inhabitants became Christians. He suffered martyrdom also on the plain of Arghun. From various ancient authorities it appears that a large part of the Armenian nation was converted by the labors of the apostles of Christ and their disciples, but, on account of very severe persecutions, they mostly relapsed again into idolatry, in which state they remained till about A. D. 300.

During the first century, the Romans and Persians were continually interfering in the affairs of Armenia. The Roman Empire, being in a state of hostility to Christianity, extended its persecutions into various parts of the country, where great numbers suffered martyrdom. Corbulo, general of the imperial forces under Nero, committed great ravages thronghout the entire land, burning cities, and everywhere laying the country waste.

About the year 78, Erovant, who was then king, transferred the seat of government from Nisibis and Edessa to the old capital of Armavir. During his reign he built several large and beautiful cities in the region of Ararat, and among them one adorned with magnificent temples for the idol gods of the nation. This city he named Pakrevan or Bagaran. He also built a new capital a little west of Armavir, which he called from his own name Erovantashad. It was situated upon an eminence of limestone rock, where the river Akhourian flows into the Araxes. This he surrounded with very high walls; and constructed upon the summit, in the midst of the city, a strong castle, which was entered through large brazen gates,

upon the walls inside were placed ladders of iron, and


traps concealed between the steps, in order to seize any who might attempt to enter the castle secretly, to take the life of the king. A subterranean way was also dug from the summit of the rock within the castle, passing down through a profound depth to a level with the bed of the Araxes. This city, when destroyed by Sapor II., king of Persia, about the middle of the fourth century, is said to have contained about four hundred thousand inhabitants. The same king had also near the river Araxes a large and magnificent park, stocked with abundance of wild animals for enjoying the pleasures of the chase.

The kings of this time, in showing special favor to a subject who had rendered important services to the state, placed rings of gold in his ears, permitted him to wear upon one foot a red shoe, to use at meals a golden spoon and fork, and to drink out of a golden vessel. These privileges were the highest possible marks of favor conferred by the Armenian monarchs on their subjects, and were eagerly sought for by the ambitious of those times.

Artaces, who ruled from A. D. 88 to A. D. 129, was one of the best sovereigns Armenia ever had. Songs, narrating his exploits, were sung with the greatest enthusiasm by the Armenians for many centuries after his death, and some of them are still extant. He is said to have protected and nourished commerce, built bridges, constructed roads for facilitating the transport of merchandise, built many ships, and so encouraged industry that, during his reign, scarcely an individual in the land was in want of employment. He was also a great lover of literature. He founded many colleges for the instruction of the youth, in astronomy, history, mathematics, langnages, &c., and caused the sciences to be taught in the Armenian language, using the Persian and Syrian characters, as the present Armenian characters had not then been invented.

One of the most cherished songs among the Armenians narrates the manner in which this king obtained his beautiful queen. During the first years of his reign, he was disturbed by an irruption into Armenia of the tribes of the Alans of the North, joined by the Georgian mountaineers. These were attacked and routed, and the son of the king of the Alans taken prisoner. The fugitives retreated beyond the river Cy.

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