« AnteriorContinua »
dictated by Heathenisin, in order to account for his Miracles.".
35 The Senate, moved with indignation publish an edict in Rome and in the that it had not been, as usual, pro- provinces to protect the Christians, posed to them to determine respect that is, the Jews who believed in ing the reception of his religion, re. Jesus (for the Christian name was jected his deification, and decreed by not yet in existence): and yet Philo, an edict that the Christians should be who flourished at the time, not only hasished from the city, especially as bears his testimony to this edict, but Sejanus, the minister of Tiberius, quotes the substance of it to the folobstinately resisted the reception of lowing effect : “All nations, though his faith.” Orosius, lib. vii. c. 4. The prejudiced against the Jews, have been fact here recorded has been rejected careful not to abolish the Jewish rites : by most learned men as utterly incre- and the saine caution was preserved dible, for is it to be believed that Ti. in the reign of Tiberius ; though, inberius could be induced to think that deed, in Italy the Jews had been disman to be a god, whom his viceroy tressed by the machinations of Sejain a remote province had crucified as nus. For after his death, the emperor a malefactor? Or, if he heard any became sensible that the accusations thing of the fame and character of alleged against the Jews in Italy were Jesus, is it credible that, selfish, sloth- calumnies, the inventions of Sejanus, ful and negligent as that emperor was who was eager to devour a nation, of the affairs even of the empire, he who he knew opposed his impious deshould yet interest himself in the case signs. And to the constituted authoof an obscure Jew, and that Jew exe- rities in every place, Tiberius sent or. cuted for treason against himself, so ders not to molest in their several far out of the common course of cities the men of that nation, exceptthings as to propose his deification, ing the guilty only, (who were few,) and thus to place him in the same and not to suppress any of their insti. rank with the tutelar divinities of tutions, but to regard as a trust comRome? On the contrary, it may be mitted to their care, both the people asked, is it at all credible that Tertul. themselves as disposed to peace, and lian who flourished so near the time, their laws which, like oil, brace them and who withal was very, learned, with firmness and magnanimity.” would have dared to hazard such an Philo, Vol. II. p. 569. Josephus's assertion, if it were not founded in account of this transaction is as foltruth? Is it within the compass of lows: "A Jew resided at Rome, moral possibility, that a respectable who was in every way wicked, and writer, engaged in hostility with men who, having been accused of transgresof rank, talents and learning in the sing the laws, fled from his country to state, should virtually appeal to the avoid the punishment which threatenarchives of the empire for the truth ed him. During his residence in of an incident which he knew did not Rome, he pretended to unfold the esist there, and which he knew too, wisdom of the law of Moses, in conhis enemies on inquiry would not fail junction with three other men, who to negative, and thus overwhelm him in every respect resembled himself. and his cause and his brethren through. With these men associated Fulvia, a out the world, with the fabrication of lady of rank, who had become a cona palpable falsehood ? Amidst these vert to the Jewish religion, and whom improbabilities, this curious and in they prevailed upon to send, for the portant question has been left by Temple at Jerusalem, presents of learned men undecided ; and if no new purple and gold. Having received light could have been thrown upon it, these, they appropriated them to their in this undecided state it must for own use; which, indeed, was their ever have remained. But, fortunately motive at first in making the request. for the interest of truth, Philo, José- Tiberius (being informed of this by phus, Plutarch, not to mention Taci- Saturninus, who was his friend, and Tus and Suetonius, by a new and ad- the husband of Fulvia,) commanded ditional evidence, enable us to decide the Jews to be expelled froin the city. the question. The most improbable The young men, to the amount of part of the story is, that Tiberius, 4000, were forced to enlist, by a defrom being an enemy, should have cree of the Senate, and sent to the become a friend to Christ, and thus island of Sardinia. But most of
them, being determined to preserve The Jew whom Josephus stigmatheir privileges as Jews inviolate, re- tises as in every way wicked, was, as fused to become soldiers and were put we shall see hereafter, one of the to death. And thus for the wicked- framers and teachers of the Gnostic ness of four men, the Jews were dri- system, the principal object of which ven from the city.” Antiq. Jud. lib. was to sink Christianity in Heathenxviii. cap. 3, 6.
ism, by placing the founder with the Now, if we compare the narratives Heathen gods. Tiberius, though a fataof Tertullian, Philo and Josephus, the list, was extremely superstitious; and whole affair will become plain, con- Jewish magicians, Egyptian priests sistent and credible. The Jewish be and Chaldean astrologers formed his lievers at Rome, hating the despotic most intimate associates. These men character of Sejanus, and penetrating he consulted respecting Jesus; and his ambitious project of becoming there is no room to doubt, but at their emperor in the room of Tiberius, op- instigation he proposed his deificaposed his cruel measures, and arraign- tion to the Senate. It was very naed him as a conspirator. Feeling tural that the Senate and people of their enmity against himself, he, with Rome should form their ideas of Jesus the usual adroitness of wicked minis- from those impostors who pretended ters, represents them as enemies to to abet his cause. This circumstance the emperor and to the state. This, led his enemies to speak of him as if at first, Tiberius must have been ready he were a magician and an artful deto believe; and, actuated by resent. ceiver. It was this imputation which ment, quickened by the complaint induced the Jewish historian to state, of Saturninus, he cruelly banishes all in the context, the real character and the Jews resident in Rome, compel- claims of Jesus Christ. With a comling such young men as were of age prehension yet brevity characteristic to become soldiers, in direct violation of this writer, he gives the whole subof the rights which they had hitherto stance of the four Gospels in one enjoyed. But the mask soon fell from short paragraph. He sets aside the the face of Sejanus, the great enemy doctrine of his being a god, and stigand accuser of the Christians; and matises the attempt at his deification the deadly hatred which rosé in the by calling him a man, if indeed he breast of Tiberius towards the de- might be called a man ; thus using tected traitor, was now necessarily the language which he uses of Moses, followed by a change of sentiments and meaning that he was a jnan emiand conduct towards the persons who nently endowed with power from God. had previously opposed him. Thus He farther passes by in silence the the emperor, from a persecutor, be- story of his miraculous birth, as form, came inevitably the friend and pro- ing no part of his real history, a strong tector of the Christians. The evidence, presumption in itself of the authenbrought home to bis own bosom, of ticity of the passage. Nor did the the falsehood of the charge urged writer rest in this negative testimony against the followers of Jesus, dis- to the falsehood of the miraculous posed him to consider their master as conception, but exposes, in the suba victim of a similar calumny in Ju- sequent paragraph, the abominable dea ; and taking into consideration deed, which, on inquiry, will be found his miraculous power, of which he to be the origin of it, and which in had, through various channels, un. those times all readers knew to be the questionable evidence, he pitied his origin of it. unmerited sufferings, and wished to The advocates of Christianity mainatone for them, by consecrating him tained, and maintained with truth, among the gods of the Pantheon. that the vices and superstition which The Christian fathers, for obvious had hitherto debased the Pagan world, reasons, left the first impression of and which the erroneous philosophy Tiberius's resentment unnoticed, men- of the times imputed to the demons, tioning only his subsequent conduct were, in a great measure, swept away in behalf of the Christians. Hence by the religion of Jesus. The enethe improbability which loads their mies of the gospel felt the weight of narrative, and sinks it almost below this argument, and Plutarch wrote rational belief.
liis treatise concerning the cessation
dictated by Heathenism, in order to 'account for his Miracles. 37 of the Heathen Oracles, in order to belonging withal to a ráce of men in remove it, by referring the destruction the highest degree despised and hated, of the demons to causes unconnected will be altogether inexplicable, will be with Christianity. In this work, the at variance with all human experience, anthor artfully introduces a story cir- with all that we know of the laws of culated at Rome, soon after the death the moral world. of Christ, that the great Pan was 2. The conduct of Paul at Athens dead. This story, if true, and the shews that the apostles, in preaching trath of which Plutarch was anxious the gospel to the Gentiles, did not, in to establish, proved that Jesus, being their first address, dwell upon, or renone of the demons, and that the great, der prominent, the miracles of their est of them, so far from being the Divine Master, because of the imcause of destroying the demons, was proper inference which their hearers, himself destroyed. “ When Tiberius under the influence of Heathenism, Cæsar heard of the death of this god, would draw respecting his nature. he collected the astrologers and ma- They, therefore, confined themselves gicians in Rome to know what god he to his resurrection, as the proof and was: and they determined that he pledge of the resurrection of mankind, was Pan, the son of Mercury and Pe- and to the necessity of repentance and nelope." In the number of these im. reformation as a qualification for a postors, were doubtless the wicked future state of retribution grounded Jew and his Egyptian associates brand. on that proof. When the persons ed by Josephus : and as they imposed addressed were thus far informed and on the emperor the belief that Jesus enlightened, then the miraculous works was a Heathen god, it was natural of Jesus, as proofs of his delegation that they should advise him to pro- to reveal and certify the will of God, pose his deification, or his consecra: became proper subjects of discussion tion in the Pantheon. Tertullian well and testimony. knew all this : but though he thought 3. Every convert to Christianity the conduet of the emperor honour. from among the Heathens, carried able to Christ, and, therefore, men- with him into the Christian Church a tions the proposal for his deification, strong predilection in favour of the he leaves his . base advisers in the divinity of Christ; and the advocates shade.
of this opinion, down to the present I shall just notice a few inferences day, argue as the. Heathens did, worthy of consideration, which are namely, that the works of Christ are warranted by the above_statement. proofs of his divine nature. Conse
1. The opinion held in Rome, that quently, we may conclude with cerJesus was some supernatural being, il- tainty that Heathenism is the source, lustrates, in a remarkable manner, the and the only source of that doctrine. miraculous power with which he was 4. We may further conclude, that, inrested by the Almighty. Allow the wherever a Christian Church was estatruth of the miracles ascribed to him blished by Paul, or any other of the in the New Testament, and the con- apostles, the divinity of Christ became duct of the emperor in proposing his one of the first topics of discussion deification, and of the magicians in and dispute among the members. We prononncing him to be one of the might, therefore, expect in their EpisPagan gods, was perfectly natural. tles, references to that controversy, and But deny these miracles, i.e. suppose also words calculated and intended to them to be impostures, then the con- set aside the supposed superhuman doet of the emperor and the magicians nature of our Saviour as altogether around him, in ascribing a superior false and pernicious. nature to an obscure individual in 5. The notion entertained by Lard. humble life, in a remote province, an ner, Priestley, and other Unitarian diindividual, too, who had been con, vines, that the divinity of Christ oridemned to an ignominious death, and ginated in the personification of the
Logos, derived principally from Philo,
and through him from Plato, is very • See a Series of Important Facts de- wide of the truth. This opinion gives monstrating the Truth of the Christian the advocates of the Trinitarian faith Religion, by J. Jones, Chap. xii. the advantage of combating error,
as its true source, they would have racters of those that have borne the held
up their adversaries as defenders, same denomination, amongst whom not only of one of the grossest dogmas is preeminent the learned and candid of the Pagan religion, but a dogma Lardner. Of him any party might opposed and condemned by the apos- justly boast. In fact, all parties claim tles themselves.
him as a Christian, and I have someJ. JONES. times wondered that the Trinitarians
do not attempt to prove that he was P.S. The persecution of the Chris. no Unitarian. tians by Tiberius must have taken An ultra-Unitarian he certainly was place a year or two after the resurrec- not. He would, I think, stand surtion of Jesus. The enemies of the prised, were he now living, at some of gospel in the provinces, naturally the opinions of the modern Unitaimitated the temper and measures rians; and there is not a little in his adopted by the higher powers in the writings which these persons must capital. The same spirit, as soon as consider as scarcely reconcileable with the news of it had time to reach Ju- their orthodoxy. dea, must have there kindled a similar For example, in his “ Vindication flame. Accordingly, we read, “ In of 'Three of our Blessed Saviour's Mithose days there came to pass a vio- racles," he says, in reply to Woolston's lent persecution of the church in Je- fifth objection with regard to the rusalem," Acts viii. 2. In a year or place and state of the soul of Lazarus two, the hostility of the emperor was between his death and resurrection, changed by the fall of Sejanus; and “Nor could the soul of any good man the effects of the edict dispatched in be unwilling to return for a time to favour of the Christians, must have the troubles and miseries of this wickbeen, in a period somewhat later, felted world, how grievous soever, in orin all the provinces, and in Judea der to serve the great design of saving and Samaria in the number. Con- his fellow-creatures ; for which end formably to this, we read, Acts ix. 31, Jesus his Saviour descended from the “And all the churches throughout height of glory he had with his FaJudea, Galilee and Samaria had re ther, took flesh, and underwent the pose; and being edified, and walking troubles and sorrows of this mortal in' the fear of the Lord, and in the life.” (Works, 8vo. XI. 41.) Again, consolation of the Holy Spirit, they in his reflections upon the raising of were greatly multiplied.” Thus re- Lazarus, he exclaims, “Herein also markably the transactions at Rome, is adorable the wisdom, the goodness, mentioned by Philo, Josephus and the condescension of Jesus.” (Id. Tertullian, illustrate, and are illus- 76.) trated by, two corresponding events The treatise from which these ex. in the Acts of the Apostles.
tracts are made, was published in Gibbon, under the veil of insidious the year 1729, only one year before irony, endeavours to expose to con- the Letter on the Logos was written. tempt and derision the testimony of Did Dr. Lardner change his opinion Tertullian. He says of himself, that concerning the person of Christ, in his views respecting the records of the interval between the composition Christianity were rather extensive of the two works? Or, was his view than accurate. Yet had they been of our Lord's humanity always united extensive, as he thus flatters himself, with some notion of his pre-existent he would have known that all the glory? Or, is the language here improbability which weighs down the marked by italics the more result of narrative of Tertullian, is removed by early habit, and an accommodation to facts attested by Josephus and Plu- the prejudices of the Christian world? tarch; and that the very edict which Other passages might be extracted Gibbon derides, is recorded by Philo. from Lardner, to shew that he wrote See the Decline and Fall, Vol. II. more agreeably to the language of Chap. xvi. p. 444.
Christians in general, than modern
Gypsies in Hungary.
39 are accustomed to do, and conse Two recent Letters between Mr: quently to explain why he is accep Jefferson and Mr. Adams, the Ectable as a writer, although an Unita Presidents of the United States of rian, to all sensible and candid Trini America. tarians. EPISCOPUS.
[These interesting Letters have been published in some of the En
glish newspapers, froin “The Boston Gypsies in Hungary. Christian Register.” They may not, [from “Voyage minéralogique et géolo- therefore, be new to all our readers,
gique en Hongrie, pendant l'année but we think that all of thein will 1818, par F. S. Beudant." Trans. judge them worthy of a permanent lated from the Revue Encyclopédique place in our Repository.. for October, 1822.)
them with the introduction of the URING one of his excursions in Boston Editor. Ed.] nitz, our traveller had an opportunity THE following Letters have been of observing some individuals of that sent to the press by the permission of race of men whom we call Gypsies, their venerable authors. The cha, and who, in Germany and in Hun
racter, standing and age of the writers, gary, bear the name of Zigenner. the one in his 80th, the other in his Those of Hangary work to obtain a 87th year, give them peculiar interest, bare subsistence and nothing more ; and they cannot fail to be read with live crowded together in huts, in the great pleasure. It is delightful to most disgusting ålth. Their features, witness this kind of correspondence their character, their manners have between these two distinguished men, not changed since they have been dis- the asperities of party by which they persed amongst the civilized nations were at one time separated worn down, of Europe. It is surprising that the and nothing remaining but the intersingular mode of existence of this change of sentiments of unfeigned people has not yet sufficiently excited kindness and respect. It is charming the attention of philosophy, to be to see an old age like this, retaining, made the object of a particular study. even under its decays and infirmities, Their origin and their history have the intellectual vigour unimpaired, been discussed; their customs and and displaying amidst its snows, the way of living are sufficiently known; greenness and freshness of the sumbut the philosophical question re mer of life. The letter of Mr. Jeffermains untouched: it is not known son was written soon after an attack what obstacle excludes this people upon him by the “ Native Virginian;" from the pale of civilization, what and when there was a strong expectakeeps up their anti-social habits, their tion of a war between Russia and Turwild condition which all known hordes key: this will explain some allusions willingly abandon, when they have in them. once had an opportunity of enjoying the sweets of a life more conformable From Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Adams. to the nature of man. Whatever Rousseau may say, the Hottentot
Monticello, June 1, 1822. builds a house and cultivates the land; It is very long, my dear Sir, since the natives of the North of America I have written to you. My dislocated become citizens of the United States; wrist is now become so stiff that I the Negroes have formed numerous write slowly and with pain ; and, societies, and will, with the assistance therefore, write as little as I can. of kpowledge from Europe, at length Yet it is due to mutual friendship assune a rank amongst civilized na to ask once in a while how we tions. Why then is the Zingare so do? The papers tell us that General inferior to the Hottentot, the Negro Starke is off at the age of 93.-***** and the American ? The study of still lives, at about the same age, this class of men would, perhaps, en. cheerful, slender as a grasshopper, and rich the inoral sciences with very im- so much without memory that he portant discoveries.
scarcely recognises the members of his household. An intimate friend of