Imatges de pàgina

Jerome says nothing here (though there was so fit an occasion) nor elsewhere, of his attempting it, and then being defeated by fuch miraculous interpofitions, as those related by some above quoted. He has often spoken of the overthrow of the temple by Vespasian and Titus, which he calls the last. He has often mentioned Julian, as an adversarie to the chriftians, and has quoted his work against them. He has likewise often appealed to Josephus his historie of the Jewish War. But says nothing of any attempt to rebuild Jerusalem, and the temple there in his own time. It is inconceivable, that he Tould omit it, though he in lifts, as he does more than once, on the ruinous condition, in which the Temple had been, to that time, ever since the days of Titus and Adrian.

• Prudentius was another contemporarie of Julian. For he was born in the year 348. And did not write, till a good while after the death of that einperour. He has gone over the historie of Julian's reign. He has also insisted upon the ruin of Solomon's Temple, the long captivity of the Jewish people ever since the time of 'Titus. And with him he mentions Pompey, who first brought the Jewish people into subjection to the Romans. But he fays nothing of any attempt made in his time by Julian to rebuild Jerusalem, or the Temple there. If he had known of it, and had been acquainted with credible accounts of miraculous interpofitions to defeat it: I do not see, how he could omit to mention it.

* Orofius was an historian, who lived not far below the begining of the fifth centurie. He has an article for Julian. But does not fay, that he attempted to build the Temple at Jerufalem, and was wonderfully defeated. He was greatly offended with Julian, and seems to aim to hint at all his incivilities to the christians, of which the attempt to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem has been generally reckoned one. But yet says nothing of it. If Julian had attempted to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem, and had been defeated by a miraculous interpofition ; it was an event, much to his purpose, and altogether suited to the great design of his historie, and could not have been omitted by him.

• To me the filence of these three writers appears very remarkablé. I do not know, how others may be affected by it. But I acknowledge, that I was much ftruck with it, when I first observed it in my inquiries into this transaction.

· And I must now add farther, that I do not recolleci, that Cyril of Alexandria, in his books against Julian, or in any other of his works elsewhere, has at all spoken of an attempt of that emperour to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem, and that he was miraculously defeated.

• What Zonaras says, in the twelfth centurie may deo serve notice. “ He gave leave to the Jews to rebuild the teinple at Jerusalem. And they having begun to build with great labour, and at much expense, when they endeavoured to dig up the earth, in order to lay the foundation; it is said, that flames of fire burst out, and confumed the workmen, fo that they were obliged to delift from the building."

· Let not any be offended, that I hesitate about this point. I think, we ought not too easily to receive accounts of miraculous interpositions, which are not becoming the Divine Being.'

Julian was killed in the Persian expedition in the year 363. Gregory Nazianzen wrote his invective against Julian soon after that emperor's death. Ammianus Marcellinus was a native of Antioch. In the year 374 he went to Rome; and there he wrote his history, as appears from several parts of his work. Chryfoftom was born at Antioch, A. D. 354, and can hardly be supposed to have written fo foon as Marcellinus. Ambrose lived at Milan, and relates this occurrence many years after, in a letter to the emperor Theodosius. Gregory Nazianzen therefore is the first writer, in which we meet with this strange relation. He lived at Cappadocia, at a great distance from Jerusalem, and accordingly appeals in his narrative to hear say, or cominon reports'; and it is very probable, that, when he was writing an outrageous invective against Julian, he would attend to any popular stories which might serve to caft an odium on that emperor. This seems to have been his difposition ; for some of his accounts are extravagant and incredible. He affirms, " that the course of the river Orontes was choaked by the heaps of dead bodies thrown into it in the night-time, some of them children, and virgins, sacrificed in the way of divination; besides all the rest that were hid in pits and caverns, and other private places, in and near the palace.” Chryfoftom was likewise an enemy to Julian, and, in many things relating to that emperor, his authority is no more to be regarded than that of Nazianzen. In short, the account which these two writers have given of the miracle in question is attended with so many improbable circumstances, that a man must be very easy of belief who takes the whole for fact. Marcellinus, though he does not relate this affair in the same extravagant manner, has invalidated his authority by recording several things in his history which evidently discover his credulity. Succeeding writers, who very probably took their accounts of this miraculous event from their predecessors, are not much to be regarded. We are therefore of opinion that this piece of history is very suspicious.


Themistius, about the year 364, in his oration to Jovian, has a good argument for allowing to all men full liberty to worship the Deity according to their own sentiments. The principles of toleration were agreeable to the judgment of the emperor Jovian. Themiftius, applauds him for it, and supports that determination by divers reasons and considerations, of no small weight.

Libanius, the fophift, a native of Antioch, pleads the cause of gentilism with great freedom in the presence of Theodofius; yet he appears to have been favorable to some christians, and recommends moderation in matters of religion. Our author has given a trantlation of his celebrated oration for the Teniples, which was addressed to Theodosius, A. D. 390.

Eutropius wrote a summary of the Roman history about the year 370. He says, that julian was too great an enemy to the christians But some learned editors are of opinion that the word nimius in the original is an interpolation : and probably it is so.

Ammianus Marcellinus, who flourished about 380, has see veral paffages which are important, and serve to Thew, that christian people were then of some consequence. For the most part he speaks civilly of them, and with marks of moderation. A. D. 390, Vegetius wrote a treatise of the Art of War

; and he gives this account of the oath taken at that time by foldiers, when enlisted into the legions : “ They sware by God, and by Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, and by the emperor's majesty, who is to be loved and honoured by mankind in the next place after God."

Eunapius, a zealous gentile, A. D. 396, has given us many curious histories of learned fophifts, and philofophers, and honorable magistrates, all zealous likewise for gentilism, though not without some marks of candor and moderation. He speaks of certain monks at that time with indignation ; 'And, says Dr. Lardner, it was a just indignation. They were too numerous. They were in too mnch credit, and had too much influence, and heaped up riches beyond measure. Eunapius is likewise offended at the respect given to christian martyrs. We may well allow that it was exceflive and unreasonable

e ; and may wish, that the remonftrances inade against it, by learned gentiles, and some learned and discerning christians, had prevailed to check and controll it. But popular things will have their course : we see proofs of it in every age.'

Claudian bears witness to the memorable victory of Theodofius over Arbogaftes; and Eugenius in 394.

" Whether, says Dr. Lardner, the victory was iniraculous, as some think,


or not, it was a remarkable event, and very seasonable, and advantageous to the christian cause. And this testimony of Claudian well deserves our notice.'

Macrobius about the year 4co, bears testimony to Herod's flaughter of the infants at Bethlehem. This writer informs us, that “ when Augustus had heard, that among the children within two years of age, which Herod king of the Jews commanded to be sain in Syria, his own son had been killed, he faid: It is better to be Herod's hog than his son.”

On this noted pafiage Dr. Lardner made the following judicious observation in the first edition of the Credibility of the Gospel History : “! lay little or no stress upon this paffage ; partly, because it comes too late ; partly because there is reason to suppose, that Macrobius has been mistaken about the occasion of the jest. No early christian writers have faid any thing of Herod's having a young child of his own killed in the Aaughter at Bethlehem. If Augustus did pass this jest upon Herod, it might be occasioned by the death of Antipater, or rather of Alexander and Ariftobulus.” : In the second edition the doctor adds: “ It ought to be allowed, that Augustus did pass this jett on Herod upon some occasion, or other; and that Macrobius has given us the words of the jest. This paflage also fhews, that Herod's flaughter of the infants in Judea was a thing well known in the time of Macrobius, and was not contested by heathen people.

“ If we could be assured, that Macrobius transcribed this whole passage, not only the jeft itself, but the occasion of it likewise, from some more ancient author ; it would be a proof, that this event was known in that author's tiine allo. And we Thould have a great deal of reason to suppose, that author to have been a heathen, because it is likely, that Macrobius, a bigoted heathen himself, did not much deal in christian writers.

“ But it is possible, that Macrobius found only the jest in his author, and added the occasion, having collected it from the common discourse of the christians in his time, who frequently spoke of this cruel action of Herod. There is some reason to suspect this, because it is very likely; that Auguftus's reflexion upon Herod was occafioned by the death of one of those fons, whom Jofephus has mentioned : and that it has no relation at all to the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehein. This fufpicion may be farther strengthened by the great agreement of Macrobius with St. Matthew, in the words, which he ufeth concerning the children. Macrobius being ignorant of Herod's story, and having heard of the slaughter of the infants ; when he met with this jest in some author, concluded,

that there had been foune young child of Herod put to deatli with them.

“ I am content therefore to leave it a doubtfull point, whe: ther Macrobius transcribed this whole passage, or the jest only, fram some more ancient author *.

Upon the whole then, there lies no objection against this relation of St. Matthew. There is nothing improbable in the thing itself, confidering the jealous, cruel temper of Herod, The silence of Jofephus, or of the ancient Greek and Roman historians, can be no difficulty with any reafonable person. This fact is confirmed by the express testimonie of very early christian writers, and by Macrobius, a heathen author about the end of the fourth centurie : from whom it appears, that this event was not then contested, and that it was even better known, than the fate of those fons of Herod, whom Jofephus says he put to death at man's estate.”

In the work now before' us he farther observes, that this jest of Auguftus ftands in a chapter of Macrobius, which contains a collection of Augustus’s witty sayings, or jests upon others, and the repartees, or smart sayings of others upon him ; which, as it seems, to' his no sinall honour, he bore very patiently. As they are all independent on each other, no eluci. dations can be brought in from the connection : for there is none.

Pontanus, in his notes upon this place of Macrobius, says, • Scaliger wondered, that Augustus should make this reflection upon Herod ; fince Augustus himself had confirmed the fená tence of death upon the three fons of Herod.”

• I do not find this płace in Scaliger. Bät whoever wondered at it, it was without reason, in my opinion. For though Augustus complied with the requests, or proposals of Herod, and gave him leave to do with those fons as he pleased ; the emperor might still think it a strange thing, that any prince should put so many of his own sons to death; and he might well say, alluding to the Jewish custom of forbearing to eat swine's flesh, “ It was better to be Herod's hog, than his son.” Very probably, that was the occasion of the jest of Auguftus. And therefore as Whitby says, “it must be confesfed, that Macrobius is mistaken in the circumstances of this story.

We may add, that jests of this kind are popular stories that deserve no credit.

* Sixtus Senensis tells us, that this sarcasm is mentioned by Dion Calliug in his Life of Augustus. That part of Dion's history is now supposed to be lost : but, unless we imagine that Sixtus founded his aấertion on the report of some preceding writer, it must have been extant, when he published his Bibliotheca, In the year 1566. VOL. XXIII. February; 1767



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