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VIII. When we consider the rapid progress of Chris- || idle fictions, which must disgust every attentive observer tianity among the Gentile nations, and the poor and fee- of men and things. In vain, therefore, have some imable instruments by which this great and amazing event gined, that the extraordinary liberality of the Christians was immediately effected, we must naturally have recourse to their poor, was a temptation to the more indolent and to an omnipotent and invisible hand, as its true and proper corrupt part of the multitude to embrace the Gospel. Such cause. For, unless we suppose here a divine interposi- malignant and superficial reasoners do not consider, that tion, how was it possible that men, destitute of all human those who embraced this divine religion exposed their aid, without credit or riches, learning or eloquence, could, lives to great danger; nor have they attention enough to in so short a time, persuade a considerable part of man- recollect, that neither lazy nor vicious members were sufkind to abandon the religion of their ancestors? How fered to remain in the society of Christians. Equally vain was it possible, that a handful of apostles, who, as fisher- is the fancy of those, who imagine, that the profligate lives men and publicans, must have been contemned by their of the Heathen priests occasioned the conversion of many own nation, and as Jews, must have been odious to all to Christianity; for, though this might indeed give them others, could engage the learned and the mighty, as well as a disgust to the religion of those unworthy ministers, yet the simple and those of low degree, to forsake their favour- it could not, alone, attach them to that of Jesus, which ite prejudices, and to embrace a new religion which was offered them from the world no other prospects than those an enemy to their corrupt passions? And, indeed, there of poverty, infamy, and death. The person who could were undoubted marks of a celestial power perpetually embrace the Gospel, solely from the motive now mentioned, attending their ministry. Their very language possessed must have reasoned in this senseless and extravagant an incredible energy, an amazing power of sending light manner: "The ministers of that religion which I have into the understanding and conviction into the heart. To professed from my infancy, lead profligate lives: therefore, this were added, the commanding influence of stupendous I will become a Christian, join myself to that body of men miracles, the foretelling of future events, the power of dis- who are condemned by the laws of the state, and thus excerning the secret thoughts and intentions of the heart, a pose my life and fortune to the most imminent danger." magnanimity superior to all difficulties, a contempt of riches and honours, a serene tranquillity in the face of death, and an invincible patience under torments still more dreadful than death itself; and all this accompanied with lives Concerning the calamitous Events that happened to free from stain, and adorned with the constant practice of sublime virtue. Thus were the messengers of Christ, the heralds of his spiritual and immortal kingdom, furnished for their glorious work, as the unanimous voice of ancient history so loudly testifies. The event sufficiently declares this; for, without these remarkable and extraordinary circumstances no rational account can be given of the rapid propagation of the Gospel throughout the world.

IX. What indeed contributed still farther to this glorious event, was the power vested in the apostles of transmitting to their disciples these miraculous gifts; for many of the first Christians were no sooner baptized according to Christ's appointment, and dedicated to the service of God by solemn prayer and the imposition of hands, than they spoke languages which they had never known or learned before, foretold future events, healed the sick by pronouncing the name of Jesus, restored the dead to life, and performed many things above the reach of human power." And it is no wonder if men, who had the power of communicating to others these marvellous gifts, appeared great and respectable, wherever they exercised their glorious ministry.

X Such then were the true causes of that amazing rapidity with which the Christian religion spread itself upon the earth; and those who pretend to assign other reasons of this surprising event, indulge themselves in

tled, Disquisito Historico-critica de Epistola Pontii Pilati ad Tiberium, qua Christi Miracula, Mors, et Resurrectio, recensebantur. This author makes it appear, that though the letter, which some have attributed to Pilate, and which is extant in several authors, be manifestly spurious, yet it is no less certain, that Pilate sent to Tiberius an account of the death and resurrection of Christ. See the Biblioth. des Sciences et des beaux Arts, published at the Hague, tome vi. This matter has been examined with his usual diligence and accuracy by the learned Dr. Lardner, in the third volume of his Collection of Jewish and Heathen Testimonies to the truth of the Christian Religion. He thinks that the testi

CHAPTER V.

the Church.

I. THE innocence and virtue that distinguished so eminently the lives of Christ's servants, and the spotless purity of the doctrine they taught, were not sufficient to defend them against the virulence and malignity of the Jews. The priests and rulers of that abandoned people, not only loaded with injuries and reproaches the apostles of Jesus, and their disciples, but condemned as many of them as they could to death, and executed in the most irregular and barbarous manner their sanguinary decrees. The murder of Stephen, of James the Son of Zebedee, and of James, surnamed the Just, bishop of Jerusalem, furnish dreadful examples of the truth of what we here advance. This odious malignity of the Jewish doctors, against the heralds of the Gospel, undoubtedly orginated in a secret apprehension that the progress of Christianity would destroy the credit of Judaism, and lead to the abolition of their pompous ceremonies.

II. The Jews who lived out of Palestine, in the Roman provinces, did not yield to those of Jerusalem in point of cruelty to the innocent disciples of Christ. We learn from the history of the Acts of the Apostles, and other records of unquestionable authority, that they spared no labour, but zealously seized every occasion of animating the magistrates against the Christians, and instigating the multitude to demand their destruction. The high priest of the nation, and the Jews who dwelt in Palestine, were instru

monies of Justin Martyr and Tertullian, who, in apologies for Christianity, presented or at least addressed to the emperor and senate of Rome, or to magistrates of high authority in the empire, affirm, that Pilate sent to Tiberius an account of the death and resurrection of Christ, deserve some regard; though some writers, and particularly Orosius, have made such alterations and additions in the original narration of Tertullian, as tend to diminish the credibility of the whole.]

"See Pfanner's learned treatise, De Charismatibus sive Donis miraculosis antiquæ Ecclesiæ, published at Francfort, 1683.

b The martyrdom of Stephen is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles,

mental in exciting the rage of these foreign Jews against the infant church, by sending messengers to exhort them, not only to avoid all intercourse with the Christians, but also to persecute them in the most vehement manner." For this inhuman order, they endeavoured to find out the most plausible pretexts; and, therefore, they gave out, that the Christians were enemies to the Roman emperor, since they acknowledged the authority of a certain person whose name was Jesus, whom Pilate had punished capitally as a malefactor by a most righteous sentence, and on whom, nevertheless, they conferred the royal dignity. These perfidious insinuations had the intended effect, and the rage of the Jews against the Christians was conveyed from father to son, from age to age; so that the church of Christ had, in no period, more bitter and desperate enemies than the very people, to whom the immortal Saviour was more especially sent.

III. The Supreme Judge of the world did not suffer the barbarous conduct of this perfidious nation to go unpunished. The most signal marks of divine justice pursued them; and the cruelties which they had exercised upon Christ and his disciples, were dreadfully avenged. The God, who had for so many ages protected the Jews with an outstretched arm, withdrew his aid. He permitted Jerusalem, with its famous temple, to be destroyed by Vespasian and his son Titus, an innumerable multitude of this devoted people to perish by the sword, and the greatest part of those that remained to groan under the yoke of a severe bondage. Nothing can be more affecting than the account of this terrible event, and the circumstantial description of the tremendous calamities which attended it, as they are given by Josephus, himself a Jew, and also a spectator of this horrid scene. From this period the Jews experienced, in every place, the hatred and contempt of the Gentile nations, still more than they had formerly done; and in these their calamities, the predictions of Christ were amply fulfilled, and his divine mission farther illustrated.

IV. However virulent the Jews were against the Christians, yet, on many occasions, they wanted power to execute their cruel purposes. This was not the case with the heathen nations; and, therefore, from them the Christians suffered the severest calamities. The Romans are said to have pursued the Christians with the utmost violence in ten persecutions; but this number is not verified by the ancient history of the church; for if, by these persecutions, such only are meant as were extremely severe and universal throughout the empire, then it is certain, that these amount not to the number above mentioned; and, if we take the provincial and less remarkable persecutions into the account, they far exceed it. In the fifth century, certain Christians were led by some passages of the Scriptures, and by one especially in the Revelations, to imagine that the church was to suffer ten calamities of a most grievous nature. To this notion, therefore, they endeavoured, though not all in the same way, to accommovii. 55; and that of James the son of Zebedee, Acts xii. 1, 2; that of James the Just is mentioned by Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities, book xx. chap. viii. and by Eusebius, in his Eccles. History, book ii. chap. xxiii. See the Dialogue of Justin Martyr, with Trypho the Jew. The learned J. Albert Fabricius has given us a list of the authors who have written concerning these persecutions, in his Lux Evangelii toti Orbi exoriens, cap. vii. c Rev. xvii. 14.

d See Sulpitius Severus, book ii. ch. xxxiii, as also Augustin, de Civitate Dei, book xviii. ch. lii.

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date the language of history, even against the testimony of those ancient records, from which alone history can speak with authority."

V. Nero was the first emperor who enacted laws agains' the Christians. In this he was followed by Domitian Marcus Antoninus the philosopher, Severus, and the other emperors who indulged the prejudices they had im bibed against the disciples of Jesus. All the edicts of these different princes were not, however, equally unjust, nor framed with the same views, or for the same reasons. Were they now extant as they were collected by the celebrated lawyer Domitius, in his book concerning the duty of a proconsul, they would undoubtedly cast a great light upon the history of the church, under the persecuting emperors. At present, we must, in many cases, be satisfied with probable conjectures, for want of certain evidence. VI. Before we proceed in this part of our history, a very natural curiosity calls us to inquire, how it happened that the Romans, who were troublesome to no nation on account of its religion, and who suffered even the Jews to live under their own laws, and follow their own method of worship, treated the Christians alone with such severity. This important question seems still more difficult to be solved, when we consider, that the excellent nature of the Christian religion, and its admirable tendency to promote both the public welfare of the state, and the private felicity of the individual, entitled it, in a singular manner, to the favour and protection of the reigning powers. A principal reason of the severity with which the Romans persecuted the Christians, notwithstanding these considerations, seems to have been the abhorrence and contempt felt by the latter for the religion of the empire, which was so intimately connected with the form, and indeed, with the very essence of its political constitution; for, though the Romans gave an unlimited toleration to all religions which had nothing in their tenets dangerous to the commonwealth, yet they would not permit that of their ancestors, which was established by the laws of the state, to be turned into derision, nor the people to be drawn away from their attachment to it. These, however, were the two things which the Christians were charged with, and that justly, though to their honour. They dared to ridicule the absurdities of the pagan superstition, and they were ardent and assiduous in gaining proselytes to the truth. Nor did they only attack the religion of Rome, but also all the different shapes and forms under which superstition appeared in the various countries where they exercised their ministry. Hence the Romans concluded, that the Christian sect was not only insupportably daring and arrogant, but, moreover, an enemy to the public tranquillity, and ever ready to excite civil wars and commotions in the empire. It is probably on this account, that Tacitus reproaches them with the odious character of haters o mankind,' and styles the religion of Jesus a destructive superstition; and that Suetonius speaks of the Christians, and their doctrine, in terms of the same kind.

eThe collection of the imperial edicts against the Christians, made by Domitius, and now lost, is mentioned by Lactantius, in his Divine Institutes, book v. chap. xi. Such of these edicts as have escaped the ruins of time, are learnedly illustrated by Franc. Balduinus, in his Comment. ad Edicta veterum Principum Romanorum de Christianis f Annal. lib. xv. cap. xliv.

In Nerone, cap. xvi. These odious epithets, which Tacitus gives to the Christians and their religion, as likewise the language of Suetonius, who calls Christianity a poisonous or malignant superstition (male

VII. Another circumstance that irritated the Romans | against the Christians, was the simplicity of their worship, which resembled in nothing the sacred rites of any other people. They had no sacrifices, temples, images, oracles, or sacerdotal orders; and this was sufficient to bring upon them the reproaches of an ignorant multitude, who imagined that there could be no religion without these. Thus they were looked upon as a sort of atheists; and, by the Roman laws, those who were chargeable with atheism were declared the pests of human society. But this was not all: the sordid interests of a multitude of lazy and selfish priests were immediately connected with the ruin and oppression of the Christian cause. The public worship of such an immense number of deities was a source of subsistence, and even of riches, to the whole rabble of priests and augurs, and also to a multitude of merchants and artists. And, as the progress of the gospel threatened the ruin of that religious traffic, this consideration raised up new enemies to the Christians, and armed the rage of mercenary superstition against their lives and their cause." VIII. To accomplish more speedily the ruin of the Christians, all those persons whose interests were incompatible with the progress of the gospel, loaded them with the most opprobrious calumnies, which were too easily received as truth, by the credulous and unthinking multitude, among whom they were dispersed with the utmost industry. We find a sufficient account of these perfidious and ill-grounded reproaches in the writings of the first defenders of the Christian cause.b And these, indeed, were the only arms the assailants had to oppose the truth, since the excellence of the Gospel, and the virtue of its ministers and followers, left to its enemies no resources but calumny and persecution. Nothing can be imagined, in point of virulence and fury, that they did not employ for the ruin of the Christians. They even went so far as to persuade the multitude, that all the calamities, wars, tempests, and diseases that afflicted mankind, were judgments sent down by the angry gods, because the Christians, who contemned their authority, were suffered in the empire.

d

IX. The various kinds of punishment, both capital and corrective, which were employed against the Christians, are particularly described by learned men who have written professedly on that subject. The forms of proceeding, used in their condemnation, may be seen in the Acts of the Martyrs, in the letters of Pliny and Trajan, and other ancient monuments. These judicial forms were very different at different times, and changed, naturally, according to the mildness or severity of the laws enacted by the different emperors against the Christians. Thus, at one time, we observe appearances of the most diligent search after the followers of Christ; at another, we find all perquisition suspended, and positive accusation and information only allowed. Under one reign we see them, on their being proved Christians, or their confessing themselves such, immediately dragged away to execution, unless they prevent their fica superstitio,) are founded upon the same reasons. A sect, which could not endure, and even laboured to abolish, the religious practices of the Romans, and also those of all the other nations of the universe, appeared to the short-sighted and superficial observers of religious matters, as the determined enemies of mankind.

This observation is verified by the story of Demetrius the silversmith, Acts xix. 25, and by the following passage in the 97th letter of the xth book of Pliny's epistles; "The temples, which were almost deserted, pegin to be frequented again; and the sacred rites, which have been ong neglected, are again performed. The victims, which have had hitherto few purchasers, begin to come again to the market," &c.

punishment by apostacy; under another, we see inhuman magistrates endeavouring to compel them, by all sorts of tortures, to renounce their religious profession.

X. All who, in the perilous times of the church, fell by the hand of bloody persecution, and expired in the cause of the divine Saviour, were called martyrs; a term borrowed from the sacred writings, signifying witnesses, and thus expressing the glorious testimony which these magnanimous believers bore to the truth. The title of confessor was given to such, as, in the face of death, and at the expense of honours, fortune, and all the other advantages of the world, had confessed with fortitude, before the Roman tribunals, their firm attachment to the religion of Jesus. Great was the veneration that was paid both to martyrs and confessors; and there was, no doubt, as much wisdom as justice in treating with profound respect these Christian heroes, since nothing was more adapted to encourage others to suffer with cheerfulness in the cause of Christ. But, as the best and wisest institutions are generally perverted, by the weakness or corruption of men, from their original purposes, so the authority and privileges granted, in the beginning, to martyrs and confessors, became in process of time, a support to superstition, an incentive to enthusiasm, and a source of innumerable evils and abuses. XI. The first three or four ages of the church were stained with the blood of martyrs, who suffered for the name of Jesus. The greatness of their number is acknowledged by all who have a competent acquaintance with ancient history, and who have examined that matter with any degree of impartiality. It is true, the learned Dodwell has endeavoured to invalidate this unanimous decision of the ancient historians, and to diminish considerably the number of those who suffered death for the gospel; and, after him, several writers have maintained his opinion, and asserted, that whatever may have been the calamities which the Christians, in general, suffered for their attachment to the Gospel, very few were put to death on that account. This hypothesis has been warmly opposed, as derogating from that divine power which enabled Christians to be faithful even unto death, and a contrary one embraced, which augments prodigiously the number of these heroic sufferers. It will be wise to avoid both these extremes, and to hold the middle path, which certainly leads nearest to the truth. The martyrs were less in number than several of the ancient modern writers have supposed them to be, but much more numerous than Dodwell and his followers are willing to believe; and this medium will be easily admitted by such as have learned from the ancient writers, that, in the darkest and most calamitious times of the church, all Christians were not equally or promiscuously disturbed, or called before the public tribunals. Those who were of the lowest rank of the people, escaped the best; their obscurity, in some measure, screened them from the fury of persecution. The learned and eloquent, the doctors and ministers, and chiefly the rich, for the confiscation of

b See the laborious work of Christ. Kortholt, entitled, Paganus Obtrectator, seu de Calumniis Gentilium in Christianos; to which may be added, Jo. Jac. Huldricus, de Calumniis Gentilium in Christianos, published at Zurich in 1744.

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whose fortunes the rapacious magistrates were perpetually || years, the Christians suffered every sort of torment and gaping, were the persons most exposed to the dangers of affliction, which the ingenious cruelty of their enemies

the times.

XII. The actions and sayings of these holy martyrs, from the moment of their imprisonment to their last gasp, were carefully recorded, in order to be read on certain days, and thus proposed as models to future ages. Few, however, of these ancient acts have reached our times; the greatest part of them having been destroyed during that dreadful persecution which Diocletian carried on ten years with such fury against the Christians: for a most diligent search was then made after all their books and papers; and all of them that were found were committed to the flames. From the eighth century downwards, several Greek and Latin writers endeavoured to make up this loss, by compiling, with vast labour, accounts of the lives and actions of .he ancient martyrs. But most of them have given us scarcely any thing more than a series of fables, adorned with a profusion of rhetorical flowers and striking images, as the wiser, even among the Romish doctors, frankly acknowledge. Nor are those records, which pass under the name of martyrology, worthy of superior credit, since they bear the most evident marks both of ignorance and falsehood; so that, upon the whole, this part of ecclesiastical history, for want of ancient and authentic monuments, is extremely imperfect, and necessarily attended with much obscurity.

XIII. It would have been surprising, if, under such a monster of cruelty as Nero, the Christians had enjoyed the sweets of tranquillity and freedom. This, indeed, was far from being the case; for the perfidious tyrant accused them of having set fire to the city of Rome, that horrid crime which he himself had committed with a barbarous pleasure. In avenging this crime upon the innocent Christians, he ordered matters so, that the punishment should bear some resemblance to the offence. He therefore wrapped up some of them in combustible garments, and ordered fire to be set to them when the darkness came on, that thus, like torches, they might dispel the obscurity of the night while others were fastened to crosses, or torn to pieces by wild beasts, or put to death in some such dreadful manner. This horrid persecution was set on foot in the month of November, in the 64th year of Christ: and in it, according to some ancient accounts, St. Paul and St. Peter suffered martyrdom, though the latter assertion is contested by many, as being absolutely irreconcilable with chronology. The death of Nero, who perished miserably in the year 68, put an end to the calamities of this first persecution, under which, during the space of four Such of those acts as are worthy of credit have been collected by the learned Ruinart, into one volume in folio, of a moderate size, entitled, Selecta et sincera Martyrum Acta, Amstelod. 1713. The hypothesis of Dodwell is amply refuted in the author's preface.

b

See for a farther illustration of this point of chronology, two French Dissertations of the very learned Alphonse de Vignoles, concerning the cause and the commencement of the persecution under Nero, which are printed in Masson's Histoire critique de la Republique des Lettres, tom. viii. p. 74-117; tom. ix. p. 172-186. See also Toinard, ad Lactantium de Mortibus Persequut. p. 398.

See Tillemont, Histoire des Empereurs, tom. i. p. 504.—Baratier, de Successione Romanor. Pontif. cap. v.

This opinion was first defended by Franc. Balduin, in his Comm. ad Edicta Imperatorum in Christianos. After him Launoy maintained he same opinion in his Dissert. quâ Sulpitii Severi locus de primâ Martyrum Galliæ Epochâ vindicatur, sect. i. p. 139, 140; tom. ii. part i. oper. This opinion is still more acutely and learnedly defended by Dodwell, in he xith of his Dissertationes Cyprianicæ. Apologet. cap. iv.

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This celebrated inscription is published by the learned Gruter, in the

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XIV. Learned men are not entirely agreed with regard to the extent of this persecution under Nero. Some confine it to the city of Rome, while others represent it as having raged through the whole empire. The latter opinion, which is also the more ancient, is undoubtedly to be preferred, as it is certain, that the laws enacted against the Christians were enacted against the whole body, and not against particular churches, and were consequently in force in the remotest provinces. The authority of Tertullian confirms this, who tells us, that Nero and Domitian had enacted laws against the Christians, of which Trajan had, in part, taken away the force, and rendered them, in some measure, without effect. We shall not have recourse for a confirmation of this opinion, to that famous Portuguese or Spanish inscription, in which Nero is praised for having purged that province from the new superstition; since that inscription is justly suspected to be a mere forgery, and the best Spanish authors consider it as such. We may, however, make one observation, which will tend to illustrate the point in question, namely, that since the Christians were condemned by Nero, not so much on account of their religion, as for the falsely-imputed crime of burning the city, it is scarcely to be imagined, that he would leave unmolested, even beyond the bounds of Rome, a sect whose members were accused of such an abominable deed.

XV. Though, immediately after the death of Nero, the rage of this first persecution against the Christians ceased, yet the flame broke out anew in the year 93 or 94, under Domitian, a prince little inferior to Nero in wickedness." This persecution was occasioned, if we may give credit to Hegesippus, by Domitian's fear of losing the empire; for he had been informed, that, among the relatives of Christ, a man should arise, who, possessing a turbulent and ambitious spirit, was to excite commotions in the state, and aim at supreme dominion. However that may have been, the persecution renewed by this unworthy prince was extremely violent, though his untimely death soon put a stop to it. Flavius Clemens, a man of consular dignity, and Flavia Domitilla, his niece, or, as some say, his wife, were the principal martyrs that suffered in this persecution, in which also the apostle John was banished to the isle of Patmos. Tertullian and other writers inform us, that, before his banishment, he was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, from which he came forth, not only living, but even unhurt. This story, however, is not attested in such a manner as to preclude all doubt.*

first volume of his Inscriptions. It must, however, be observed, that the best Spanish writers do not venture to defend the genuineness and authority of this inscription, as it was never seen by any of them, and was first produced by Cyriac of Ancona, a person universally known to be utterly unworthy of the least credit. We shall add here the judgment which the excellent historian of Spain, Jo. de Ferreras, has given of this inscription; "Je ne puis m'empêcher (says he) d'observer que Cyriac d'Ancone fut le premier qui publia cette inscription, et que c'est de lui que les autres l'ont tirée; mais comme la foi de cet ecrivain est suspecte au jugement de tous les sçavans, que d'ailleurs il n'y a ni vestige ní souvenir de cette inscription dans les places où l'on dit qu'elle s'est trouvée, et qu'on ne sçait où la prendre à present, chacun peut en porter le juge ment qu'il voudra."

See Theod. Ruinart, Præf. ad Acta Martyrum sincera et selecta, f. 31, &c. h Præf. ad Acta Martyrum, &c. f. 33-Thom. Ittigii Select. Histor. Eccl. Capit. sæc. i. cap. vi. sect. 11.

i Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. cap. xix. xx.

See Mosheim's Syntagma Dissert. ad Historiam Eccles. pertinentium, p. 497-546.

17

PART II.

THE INTERNAL HISTORY OF THE CHURCH.

CHAPTER I.

Containing an Account of the State of Learning and which, in the three first centuries perplexed and afflicted

Philosophy.

I. IF we had any certain or satisfactory account of the doctrines which were received among the wiser of the eastern nations, when the light of the Gospel first rose upon the world, this would contribute to illustrate many important points in the ancient history of the church. But the case is quite otherwise: the fragments of the ancient oriental philosophy that have come down to us, are, as every one knows, few in number, and, such as they are, they yet require the diligence, erudition, and sagacity of some learned man, to collect them into a body, arrange them with method, and explain them with perspicuity.a

II. The doctrine of the magi, who believed the universe to be governed by two principles, the one good, and the other evil, flourished in Persia. Their followers, however, did not all agree with respect to the nature of these principles; but this did not prevent the propagation of the main doctrine, which was received throughout a considerable part of Asia and Africa, especially among the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syrians, and Egyptians, though with different modifications, and had even infected the Jews themselves. The Arabians at that time, and even afterwards, were more remarkable for strength and courage, than for genius and sagacity; nor do they seem, according to their own confession, to have acquired any great reputation for wisdom and philosophy before the time of Mohammed.

d

III. From the earliest times, the Indians were distinguished by their taste for sublime knowledge and wisdom. We might, perhaps, be able to form a judgment of their philosophical tenets, if that most ancient book, which they deemed particularly sacred, and which they called veda, or the law, should be brought to light, and translated into some known language. But the accounts which are given of this remarkable book, by those who have been in the Indies, are so various and irreconcilable with each other, that we must yet wait for satisfaction on this head. As to the Egyptians, they were divided, as every one knows, into a multitude of sects and opinions. Fruitless, therefore, are the labours of those who endeavour to reduce the philosophy of this people to one system.

IV. But of all the systems of philosophy that were received in Asia and Africa about the time of our Saviour, no one was so detrimental to the Christian religion, as that which was styled gnosis, or science, i. e. the way to the true knowledge of the Deity, and which we have above called the oriental doctrine, in order to distinguish it from the Grecian philosophy. It was from the bosom of this

The history of the oriental philosophy by Mr. Stanley, though it is not void of all kind of merit, is yet extremely defective. That learned author is so far from having exhausted his subject, that he has left it, on the contrary, in many places, wholly untouched. The history of philosophy, published in Germany by the very learned Mr. Brucker, is vastly preferable to Mr. Stanley's work; and the German author, indeed, much superior to the English one, both in point of genius and of erudition.

b See Hyde's History of the Religion of the Ancient Persians, a work full of erudition, but indigested and interspersed with conjectures of the most improbable kind.

pretended oriental wisdom, that the chiefs of those sects, the Christian church originally issued. These supercilious doctors, endeavouring to accommodate to the tenets of their fantastic philosophy, the pure, simple, and sublime doctrines of the Son of God, brought forth, as the result of this jarring composition, a multitude of idle dreams and fictions, and imposed upon their followers a system of opinions which were partly ludicrous and partly perplexed with intricate subtilties, and covered with impenetrable obscurity. The ancient doctors, both Greek and Latin, who opposed these sects, considered them as so many branches that derived their origin from the Platonic philosophy. But this was mere illusion. An apparent resemblance between certain opinions of Plato, and some of the tenets of the eastern schools, deceived these good men, who had no knowledge but of the Grecian philosophy, and were absolutely ignorant of the oriental doctrines. Whoever compares the Platonic with the Gnostic philosophy, will easily perceive the wide difference that exists between them.

V. The first principles of the oriental philosophy seem to be perfectly consistent with the dictates of reason; for its founder must undoubtedly have argued in the following manner: "There are many evils in this world, and men seem impelled by a natural instinct to the practice of those things which reason condemns; but that eternal mind, from which all spirits derive their existence, must be inaccessible to all kinds of evil, and also of a most perfect and beneficent nature; therefore the origin of those evils, with which the universe abounds, must be sought somewhere else than in the Deity. It cannot reside in him who is all perfection; and therefore it must be without him. Now, there is nothing without or beyond the Deity, but matter; therefore matter is the centre and source of all evil, of all vice." Having taken for granted these principles, they proceeded to affirm that matter was eternal, and derived its present form, not from the will of the Supreme God, but from the creating power of some inferior intelligence, to whom the world and its inhabitants owed their existence. As a proof of this assertion they alleged, that it was incredible, that the Supreme Deity, perfectly good, and infinitely removed from all evil, should either create or modify matter, which is essentially malignant and corrupt, or bestow upon it, in any degree, the riches of his wisdom and liberality. They were, however, aware of the insuperable difficulties that lay against their system; for, when they were called to explain in an accurate and satisfactory manner, how this rude and corrupt matter came to be arranged into such a regular and harmonious frame as that

• See Wolf's Manichæismus ante Manichæos.

d See Abulpharagius de Moribus Arabum, published by Pocock. Some parts of the Veda have been published; or, it may rather be said that pretended portions of it have appeared; but, whatever may be alleged by oriental enthusiasts, these Brahminical remains do not evince the sublime knowledge or wisdom" which many writers attribute to the ancient inhabitants of India.-EDIT.

f See Dr. Mosheim's Observations on Cudworth's System.

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