Imatges de pÓgina

witness to such a thing; and somewhat of this kind is related in the Acts of Perpetua. This forbearance of the beasts, though it did not save the lives of the martyrs, yet it animated and comforted the distressed Christians; it reproved the Pagans for their worse than brutish cruelty; and it might possibly be the happy occasion of converting some, who might be inclined to say at such a sight,

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If the lions had been let loose upon Ignatius in the amphitheatre, and had retired and left him unhurt, or fawned upon him, the spectators might possibly have been moved of themselves, or incited by his friends, who were present, to beg the life, or at least the reprieve, of a venerable old man, whom the very brutes had spared, and who seemed protected by Heaven; and such kind of favours were seldom refused to those assemblies. Thus Androcles was saved by the good offices of his old and grateful friend, the lion; and had his life, and liberty, and the lion given to him, at the request of the people. A. Gellius, v. 14. 'Populi in arenâ præcipuum jus,' says Lipsius, et ad ejus voluntatem domini plerumque se conformabant.' Saturn. ii. 22. The emperor, it will be said, had condemned him to the lions. But what then? If the lions would not kill him, the magistrate might without offence, if he had been so disposed, have respited the martyr's death till the emperor's further pleasure should be known.

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It must be confessed after all, that such wonders are somewhat ambiguous, because wild beasts are not always in a fighting humour, and might be terrified by the strangeness of the place and noise of the populace; and therefore we find that they sometimes used fire, and whips, and other methods to irritate them: but even these methods were tried in vain, says Eusebius, speaking of what happened to his own knowledge.

Josephus relates that one of the Ptolemies exposed the Jews of Egypt (in the Hippodrome) to be killed by his elephants, whom he had intoxicated with wine, to make

e‹ Mitius inveni, quam te, genus omne ferarum.'

them more furious; but the beasts, instead of assaulting the poor Jews, turned upon the spectators, and destroyed many of them. This, and some terrible appearance, so frightened the king, that he acknowledged the divine interposition, and set them free, and conferred many favours on them. Josephus adds, that the Jews of Alexandria kept a day in commemoration of this deliverance. Contr. Apion. ii. 5. See also Maccab. iii. 3, 4, 5. and Prideaux, Connect. ii. p. 86. fol. ed.f

It was not necessary that the Christians should be miraculously saved; the favours promised to them by their Master were of another kind: Jesus Christ would not save himself from crucifixion; but he struck those to the ground who came to seize him; and the troubled elements bare witness to his dignity and to his innocence. St. Stephen's martyrdom was also attended with miraculous circumstances. It is therefore no insuperable objection to any wonders which are related to have accompanied the death of the martyrs, that they did not preserve the sufferers. If indeed they are not well attested, or if they appear to have been of the trifling useless kind, and void of all moral import; if milk instead of blood flowed from their wounds, and sweet odours issued from the faggots, and pigeons flew out of their mouths, the case is altered, and there is some reason to doubt of such miracles. So again: if a monk smelt like a civet-cat when he was dead, who smelt like a Fole-cat when he was alive, this can hardly pass for a proper and sufficient proof of his sanctity.

The repeated wish of Ignatius was, that he might be torn to pieces and eaten up, that, as he says, he might give no one the trouble of paying him funeral rites.

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His wish was accomplished; and of his body very little was left undevoured.

The account of his martyrdom, in the Patres Apostolici, vol. ii. p. 157. has the appearance of being genuine, except the last section, which contains the dreams of his friends,

To this it will perhaps be said, that it is no marvel if a drunken beast turned upon his driver.

and which might possibly be added by another hand. See Le Clerc.

They who reject all the epistles of Ignatius as spurious, reject also the account of his martyrdom. It is inconceivable, say they, that Trajan should have sent an old man by land, at a great expense, attended with soldiers, from Syria to Rome, instead of casting him to the lions at Antioch it is also improbable, that when he was thus guarded and conducted, he should have been permitted to converse with the Christians, and to give them instructions, and to write epistles, in the several cities through which he passed. The answer is obvious:

Trajan sent him by land, on purpose to show him about, and to make an example of him as of a ring-leader of the sect, παραδειγματίζειν, and to deter the Christians from preaching and spreading their religion; and for the same reason he sent him to be executed at Rome, where there were many Christians, and which, as it was the capital of the world, so was it the head-quarters of all sorts of religions. 'Repressa in præsens exitiabilis superstitio rursus erumpebat, non modo per Judæam, originem ejus mali, sed per Urbem etiam, quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt, celebranturque.' Tacitus Ann. xv. 44. Dionysius Halicarnassensis observes, that though there were six hundred nations, which, in a manner, had taken up their abode at Rome, each of which had its own sacred rites, yet no foreign religion had been publicly received by the Romans, or at least not till they had purged and corrected it, and rendered it conformable to their own.

In the time of Trajan, Christianity had made such a progress, that the Romans were jealous, and uneasy at it.

The soldiers who had the custody of Ignatius made a considerable advantage of him; and, as we observed before, took money of the Christians for the small indulgence which they showed to their prisoner, and would have been glad that he had written a hundred epistles, if they could have obtained a present for each.

TRAJAN had many excellent qualities; and Pope Gregorya is said to have prayed his soul out of hell, though

a Bayle's Dict. Trajan.

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Tillemont seems to give no credit to the story, since he passes it by in silence, and pronounces a sentence of reprobation b upon the emperor. Amongst other commendable things which Trajan did, he relaxed the tribute called vicesima, so as to make it less burdensome.

Dio Cassius says that Augustus established a treasury for the payment of the army; and upon a deficiency, many ways being proposed by the senators, and all of them rejected, he fixed upon this expedient, which seems to have been of his own contriving, though he fathered it upon Julius Cæsar, that a twentieth should be paid into the trea sury of all inheritances, and legacies bequeathed by will, from which however he exempted those who were near of kin; he also excepted those who were poor, by which I sup pose was meant, that when the inheritance was small and under a certain value, and the inheritor also was poor, nothing was demanded. See Dio, L. lv. p. 566.

Augustus contributed largely to this fund out of his own income; and as he had many legacies left him, he must have often paid his twentieth. However, the Romans, as Dio tells us afterwards, were excessively uneasy at this tax, till Augustus, by convincing them that a better could not be contrived, and by putting them in fear of something worse, persuaded them to be quiet. L. lvi. p. 588.

Thus it continued, and the younger Pliny, a very com petent judge, and a very honest man, mentions it, not without approbation, as one of those necessary evils, which was the least oppressive. The twentieth,' says he, is a tax tolerable enough, and easy to the inheritor, if he be not related to the deceased, but very hard if he be near of kin:' and he commends Nerva and Trajan for mitigating this law in favour of new-made citizens, who, it seems, had been obliged to pay the twentieth, howsoever related to the tes tator; as also for moderating it in some other instances, which deserve to be perused. Paneg. ch. 37. &c.

When a person died intestate, it is to be supposed that the

b Ses cendres furent reçeus à Rome en triomphe, dans un char sur lequel on avoit mis son image: et l'on a encore des marques de ce triomphe, si lugubre pour tout le monde, et surtout pour celui qu'on vouloit relever par ces honneurs imaginaires, et que le vray Dieu punissoit dans les enfers, &c. Hist. des Emp. tom. ii. p. 205.

heir-at-law was subject to the same tax, if he came not within the degrees of relation which were exempted.

This tribute must have amounted to a prodigious sum; for the Roman empire was of a vast extent, the nobility and gentry were very rich, and often had no children to inherit their fortunes, and the arts of flattering the rich by those who were called heredipeta, legacy-hunters, were much practised at Rome; so that many legacies were continually left to friends, to companions in iniquity, to freed-men and parasites and this, by the way, suggests one reason, not observed by Dio, why much clamour was made at Rome against the tax.

What made the taxes in general heavy to the Romans, and to the nations which were in subjection to them, was, that they were farmed and collected by the publicans, a sort of sharpers, who were troublesome every where, especially in the remoter provinces; so that the government was forced, from time to time, to pare their nails, and to browbeat them, *and to make laws, in some of which they are set out in sorry colours. See Digest. L. xxxix. tit. iv. 12.

Whether this method deserve any notice and consideration, is submitted to those whom it concerns.

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