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ficing to the heathen gods; for it was hoped, that, if the bishops and doctors of the church could be brought to yield, their respective flocks would be easily induced to follow their example. An immense number of persons, illustriously distinguished by their piety and learning, became the victims of this cruel stratagem through the whole Roman empire, Gaul excepted, which was under the mild and equitable dominion of Constantius Chlorus. Some were punished in such a shameful manner, as the rules of decency oblige us to pass in silence; some were put to death after having had their constancy tried by tedious and inexpressible tortures; and some were sent to the mines to draw out the remains of a miserable life in poverty and bondage.

IV. In the second year of this horrible persecution, the 304th of the Christian æra, a fourth edict was published by Diocletian, at the instigation of Galerius and the other inveterate enemies of the Christian name. By it the magistrates were ordered and commissioned to force all Christians, without distinction of rank, or sex, to sacrifice to the gods, and were authorised to employ all sorts of torments, in order to drive them to this act of apostasy. The diligence and zeal of the Roman magistrates, in the execution of this inhuman edict, nearly proved fatal to the Christian cause.d

Galerius now made no longer a mystery of the ambitious project which he had been revolving his mind. Finding his scheme ripe for execution, he obliged Diocletian and Maximian Herculius to resign the imperial dignity, and declared himself emperor of the east; leaving in the west Constantius Chlorus, with the ill state of whose health he was well acquainted. He chose colleagues according to his own fancy; and rejecting the proposal of Diocletian, who recommended Maxentius and Constantine (the son of Constantius) to that dignity, he made of Severus and Daza, his sister's son, to whom he had a little before given the name of Maximin. This revolution restored peace to those Christians who lived in the western provinces, under the administration of Constantius while those of the east, under the tyranny of Galerius, had their sufferings and calamities dreadfully augmented.

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V. The divine providence, however, was preparing more serene and happy days for the church. In order to this, it confounded the schemes of Galerius, and brought his counsels to nothing. In the year 306, Constantius Chlorus dying in Britain, the army saluted, with the title of Augustus, his son Constantine, surnamed afterwards the Great on account of his illustrious exploits, and forced him to accept the purple. This proceeding, which must have stung the tyrant Galerius to the heart, he was, nevertheless, obliged to bear with patience, and even to confirm with the outward marks of his approbation. Soon after a civil war broke out, the occasion of which was as follows; Maximian Galerius, inwardly enraged at the election of Constantine by the soldiers, sent him, indeed, the purple, but gave him only the title of Cæsar, and created

Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. viii. cap. vii. et de Martyribus Palæstina. b Lactantius, cap. xv.-Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. viii. cap. xiii. xviii. Eusebius, de Martyribus Palæstinæ, cap. iii.

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Lactantius, Institut. divin. lib. v. cap. xi.

Lactant. de Mortibus Persequut. cap. xvii. xx. Euseb. de Martyribus Palæstinæ, cap. xiii. Lactant. cap. xxi.

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Severus emperor. Maxentius, the son of Maximian Herculius, and son-in-law to Galerius, provoked at the preference given to Severus, assumed the imperial dignity, and found the less difficulty in making good this usurpation, as the Roman people hoped, by his means, to deliver themselves from the insupportable tyranny of Galerius. Haying caused himself to be proclaimed emperor, he chose his father Maximian for his colleague, who receiving the ple from the hands of his son, was universally acknowledged in that character by the senate and the people. Amidst all these troubles and commotions, Constantine, beyond all human expectation, made his way to the imperial throne.



The western Christians, those of Italy and Africa excepted, enjoyed some degree of tranquillity and liberty during these civil tumults. Those of the east seldom contir ued for any considerable time in the same situation. They were subject to various changes and revolutions; their condition was sometimes adverse and sometimes tolerably easy, according to the different scenes that were presented by the fluctuating state of publick affairs. At length, however, Maximian Galerius,. who had been the author of their heaviest calamities, being brought to the brink of the grave by a most dreadful and lingering disease, whose complicated horrors no language can express, published, in the year 311, a solemn edict, ordering the persecution to cease, and restoring freedom and repose to the Christians, against whom he had exercised such horrible cruelties.*

VI. After the death of Galerius, his dominions fell into the hands of Maximin and Licinius, who divided be tween them the provinces he had possessed. At the same time, Maxentius, who had usurped the government of Africa and Italy, determined to make war upon Constantine (who was now master of Spain and Gaul,) with the ambitious view of reducing, under his dominion the whole western empire. Constantine, apprised of this design, marched with a part of his army into Italy, gave battle to Maxentius at a small distance from Rome, and totally defeated that abominable tyrant, who, in his precipitate flight, fell into the Tiber and was drowned. After this victory, which happened in the year 312, Constantine, and his colleague Licinius, immediately granted to the Christians a full power of living according to their own laws and institutions; which power was specified still more clearly in another edict, drawn up at Milan, in the following year. Maximin, indeed, who ruled in the east, was preparing calamities for the Christians, and threatening also with destruction the western emperors. But his projects were disconcerted by the victory which Licinius gained over his army, and, through distraction and despair, he ended his life by poison, in the year 313.

VII. About the same time, Constantine the Great, who had hitherto manifested no religious principles of any kind, embraced Christianity, in consequence, as it is said of a miraculous cross, which appeared to him in the air, as he was marching toward Rome to attack Maxentius.

The reason of this exception is, that the provinces of Italy and Africa, though nominally under the government of Severus, were yet in fact ruled by Galerius with an iron sceptre.

See a lively description of the disease of Galerius in the Universal History.

Euseb. lib. viii. cap. xvi. Lactantius, cap. xxxiii.

1 Euseb. lib. x. cap. v.-Lactant. cap. xlviii.

lieve its sublime doctrines. It is also certain, that, from his conversion to the last period of his life, he continued in the state of a catechumen, and was not received by baptism into the number of the faithful, until a few days before his death, when that sacred rite was administered to him at Nicomedia, by Eusebius, bishop of that place. But these circumstances are not sufficient to prove that he doubted the divinity of the Christian religion, or that his profession of the Gospel was an act of mere dissimulation; for it was a custom with many in this century, to put off their baptism to the last hour, that thus immediately after their receiving by this rite the remission of their sins, they might ascend pure and spotless to the mansions of life and immortality.

Nor are the crimes of Constantine any proof of the insincerity of his profession, since nothing is more evident, though it be strange and unaccountable, than that many who believe, in the firmest manner, the truth and divinity of the Gospel, violate its laws by repeated transgressions, and live in contradiction to their own inward principles.

But that this extraordinary event was the reason of his conversion, is a matter that has never yet been placed in such a light, as to dispel all doubts and difficulties. For the first edict of Constantine in favor of the Christians, and many other circumstances that might be here alleged, show, indeed, that he was well-disposed to them and to their worship, but are no proof that he looked upon Christianity as the only true religion; which, however, would håve been the natural effect of a miraculous conversion. It appears evident, on the contrary, that this emperor considered the other religions, and particularly that which was handed down from the ancient Romans, as also true and useful to mankind; and declared it to be his intention and desire, that they should all be exercised and professed in the empire, leaving to each individual the liberty of adhering to that which he thought the best. It is true that he did not remain always in this state of indifference. In process of time, he acquired more extensive views of the excellence and importance of the Christian religion, and gradually arrived at an entire persuasion of its bearing alone the sacred marks of celestial truth and a divine origin. He was convinced of the falsehood and impiety of all other religious institutions; and, acting in consequence of this conviction, he exhorted earnestly all his subjects to embrace the Gospel, and at length employed all the force of his authority in the abolition of the ancient superstition. It is not, indeed, easy, nor perhaps is it possible, to fix precisely the time when the religious sentiments of Constantine were so far changed, as to render all religions but that of Christ, the objects of his aversion. All that we know, with certainty, concerning this matter is, that this change was first published to the world by the laws and edicts which he issued in the year 324, when, after the IX. The doubts and difficulties that naturally arise in defeat and death of Licinius, he reigned as the sole lord the mind, concerning the miraculous cross that Constanof the Roman empire. His designs, however, with re-tine solemnly declared he had seen, about noon, in the air, spect to the abolition of the ancient religion of the Romans, and the toleration of no other form of worship than the Christian, were only made known toward the latter end of his life, by his edicts for destroying the heathen temples, and prohibiting sacrifices."

VIII. The sincerity of Constantine's zeal for Christianity can scarcely be doubted, unless it be maintained that the outward actions of men are, in no degree, a proof of their inward sentiments. It must, indeed, be confessed, that the life and actions of this prince were not such as the Christian religion demands from those who profess to be

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Eusebius, de vita Constant. lib. ii. cap. xx., xliv.

b See Godofred ad Codic. Theodosian. tom. vi. parti. Eusebius, de vita Constantini, lib. iv. cap. Ixi. Ixil. Those who, upon the authority of certain records (whose date is modern, and whose credit is extremely dubious) affirm, that Constantine was baptized in the year 324, at Rome, by Sylvester, the bishop of that city, are evidently in an error. Those, even of the Romish church, who are the most eminent for their learning and sagacity, reject this notion. See Noris, Hist. Donatist. tom. iv. op. p. 650. Thom. Mariæ Mamachii Origin. et Antiquit. Christian. tom. ii. p. 232.

d Eusebius, de vita Constant. lib. i. cap. xxvii. It has been sometimes remarked by the more eminent writers of the Roman history, that the superstition of that people, contrary to what Dr. Mosheim here observes, had a great influence in keeping them in their subordination and allegiance. It is more particularly observed, that in no other nation was the solemn obligation of an oath treated with such respect, or fulfilled with such a religious circumspection, and such an inviolable fidelity. But, notwithstanding all this, it is certain, that superstition, if it may be dexterously turned to good purposes, may be equally employed to bad. The artifice of an augur could have rendered superstition as useful to the infernal designs of a Tarquin and a Catiline, as to the noble and virtuous purposes of a Publicola, or a Trajan. But true

Another question of a different nature might be proposed here, viz. Whether motives of a worldly kind did not contribute, in a certain measure to give Christianity, in the esteem of Constantine, a preference to all other religious systems? It is indeed probable, that this prince perceived the admirable tendency of the Christian doctrine and precepts to promote the stability of government, by preserving the citizens in their obedience to the reigning powers, and in the practice of those virtues which render a state happy; and he must naturally have observed, how defective the Roman superstition was in this important point.a

are many and considerable. It is easy, indeed, to refute the opinion of those who look upon this prodigy as a cunning fiction, invented by the emperor to animate his troops in the ensuing battle, or who consider the narration as wholly fabulous. The sentiment also of those, who imagine that this pretended cross was no more than a natural phenomenon in a solar halo, is, perhaps, more ingenious, than solid and convincing. Nor, in the third place, do we think it sufficiently proved, that the divine power interposed here to confirm the wavering faith of Constantine by a stupendous miracle. The only hypothesis, then, which remains Christianity can animate or encourage to nothing except what is just and good. It tends to support government by the principles of piety and justice, and not by the ambiguous flight of birds, or the like delusions.

Hornbeck. Comment. ad Bullam Urbani viii. de Imagin. cultu, p. 182. Oiselius, Thesaur. Numism. Antiq. p. 463. Tollius, Preface to the French Translation of Longinus, as also his Adnot. ad Lactantium de Mort. Persequut. cap. xliv. Christ. Thomasius, Observat. Hallens. tom. i. p. 380.

f Jo. And. Schmidius, Disser. de luna in Cruce visa. Jo. Alb. Fabricius, Disser. de Cruce a Constantino visa.

This hypothesis of Dr. Mosheim is not more credible than the real appearance of a cross in the air.-Both events are recorded by the same authority; and, if the veracity of Constantine or of Eusebius be questioned with respect to the appearance of a cross in the day, they can scarcely be confided in with respect to the truth of the nocturnal vision. It is very surprising to see the learned authors of the Universal History adopt, without exception, all the accounts of Eusebius, concerning this cross, which are extremely liable to suspicion, which Eusebius himself seems to have believed but in part, and for the truth of all which he is careful not to make himself answerable. (See that author's Life of Constantine, lib. ii. cap. ix.)

This whole story is attended with difficulties which render it, both as

is, that we consider this famous cross as a vision represented to the emperor in a dream, with the remarkable inscription, Hac vince, i. e. In this conquer; and this opinion is maintained by authors of considerable weight."

X. The joy with which the Christians were elated on account of the favorable edicts of Constantine and Licinius, was soon interrupted by the war which broke out between these princes. Licinius, being defeated in a pitched battle, in the year 314, concluded a treaty of peace with Constantine, and observed it during the space of nine years. But his turbulent spirit rendered him an enemy to repose; and his natural violence, seconded and still farther incensed, by the suggestions of the heathen priests, armed him against Constantine, in the year 324, for the second time. During this war he endeavoured to engage in his cause all who remained attached to the ancient superstition, that thus he might oppress his adversary with numbers; and in order to this, he persecuted the Christians in a cruel manner, and put to death many of their bishops, after trying them with torments of the most barbarous nature.b But all his enterprises proved abortive; for, after several unsucessful battles, he was reduced to the necessity of throwing himself at the victor's feet, and imploring his clemency; which, however, he did not long enjoy; for he was strangled, by the order of Constantine, in the year 325. After the defeat of Licinius, the empire was ruled by Constantine alone until his death; and the Christian cause experienced, in its happy progress, the effects of his auspicious administration. This zealous prince employed all the resources of his genius, all the authority of his laws, and all the engaging charms of his munificence and liberality, to efface, by degrees, the superstitions of Paganism, and to propagate Christianity in every corner of the Roman empire. He had learned, no doubt, from the disturbances continually excited by Licinius, that neither himself nor the empire could enjoy a fixed state of tranquillity and safety as long as the ancient superstitions subsisted; and therefore, from this period, he openly opposed the sacred rites of Paganism, as a religion detrimental to the interests of the state.

XI. After the death of Constantine, which happened in the year 337, his three sons, Constantine II. Constantius, and Constans, were, in consequence of his appointment, put in possession of the empire, and were all saluted a miracle and as a fact, extremely dubious, to say no more.-It will necessarily be asked, whence it comes to pass, that the relation of a fact, which is said to have been seen by the whole army, is delivered by Eusebius, upon the sole credit of Constantine? This is the more unaccountable, as Eusebius lived and conversed with many who must have been spectators of this event, had it really happened, and whose unanimous testimony would have prevented the necessity of Constantine's confirming it to him by an oath. The sole relation of one man, concerning a public appearance, is not sufficient to give complete conviction; nor does it appear, that this story was generally believed by the Christians, or by others, since several ecclesiastical historians, who wrote after Eusebius, particularly Rufin and Sozomen, make no mention of this appearance of a cross in the heavens. The nocturnal vision was, it must be confessed, more generally known and believed; upon which Dr. Lardner makes this conjecture, that when Constantine first informed the people of the reason that induced him to make use of the sign of the cross in his army, he alleged nothing but a dream for that purpose; but that, in the latter part of his life, when he was acquainted with Eusebius, he added the other particular, of a luminous cross, seen somewhere by him and his army in the day-time (for the place is not mentioned ;) and that, the emperor having related this in the most solemn manner, Eusebius thought himself obliged to mention it.

All the writers, who have given any accounts of Constantine the Great, are carefully enumerated by J. A. Fabricius, in his Lux. Salut. Evang. toti. Orbi exor. cap. xii. p. 260. who also mentions, cap. xiii. p. 237, the laws concerning religious matters, which were enacted by this


as emperors and Augusti by the Roman senate. were yet living two brothers of the late emperor, namely Constantius Dalmatius and Julius Constantius, and they had many sons. These the sons of Constantine ordered to be put to death, lest their ambitious views should excite troubles in the empire; and they all fell victims to this barbarous order, except Gallus and Julian, the sons of Julius Constantius, the latter of whom rose afterwards to the imperial dignity. The dominions allotted to Constantine were Britain, Gaul, and Spain; but he did not possess them long; for, when he had made himself master, by force, of several places belonging to Constans, this occasioned a war between the brothers, in the year 340, in which Constantine lost his life. Constans, who had received at first, for his portion, Illyricum, Italy, and Africa, added now the domin ions of the deceased prince to his own, and thus became sole master of all the western provinces. He remained in possession of this vast territory until the year 350, when he was cruelly assassinated by the order of Magnentius, one of his commanders, who had revolted and declared himself emperor. Magnentius, in his turn, met with the fate he deserved: transported with rage and despair at his ill success in the war against Constantius, and apprehending the most terrible and ignominious death from the just resentment of the conqueror, he laid violent hands upon himself. Thus Constantius, who had, before this, possessed the provinces of Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, became, in the year 353, sole lord of the Roman empire, which he ruled until the year 361, when he died at Mopsucrene, on the borders of Cilicia, as he was marching against Julian. None of these three brothers possessed the spirit and genius of their father. They all, indeed, followed his example, in continuing to abrogate and efface the ancient superstitions of the Romans and other idolatrous nations, and to accelerate the progress of the Christian religion throughout the empire. This zeal was, no doubt, laudable; its end was excellent; but, in the means used to accomplish it, there were many things not altogether laudable.

XII. This flourishing progress of the Christian religion was greatly interrupted, and the church reduced to the brink of destruction, when Julian, the son of Julius Constantius, and the only remaining branch of the imperial family, was placed at the head of affairs. This active and emperor, and digested into four parts. For a full account of these laws, see Jac. Godofred. Adnotat. ad Codic. Theodos., and Balduinus in his Constantin. Magn. seu de Legibus Constantini eccles. et civilibus,

lib. ii.

b Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. lib. x. cap. viii. et de vita Constantini, lib. i. cap. xlix. Julian himself, whose bitter aversion to Constantine gives a singular degree of credibility to his testimony in this matter, could not help confessing that Licinius was an infamous tyrant and a profligate, abandoned to all sorts of wickedness. See the Cæsars of Julian. And here I beg leave to make a remark which has escaped the learned. Aurelius Victor, in his book de Cæsaribus, cap. xli. has mentioned the persecution under Licinius in the following terms; "Licinio ne insontium quidem ac nobilium philosophorum servili more cruciatus adhibiti modum fecere." The philosophers, whom Licinius is here said to have tormented, were, doubtless, the Christians, whom many, through ignorance, looked upon as a philosophical sect. This passage of Aurelius has not been touched by the commentators, who are generally more intent upon the knowledge of words than of things.


It is more probable that the principal design of this massacre was to recover the provinces of Thrace, Macedon, and Achaia, which, in the division of the empire, Constantine the Great had given to young Dalmatius, son to his brother of the same name; and also Pontus and Cappadocia, which he had granted to Annibalianus, the brother of young Dalmatius. Be that as it will, Dr. Mosheim has attributed this massacro equally to the three sons of Constantine; whereas almost all authors agree that neither young Constantine, nor Constans, had any concern in it.

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adventurous prince, after having been declared emperor by aside his genius, of which his works give no very high the army, in the year 360, in consequence of his exploits idea; if we except, moreover, his military courage, his love among the Gauls, was, upon the death of Constantius, in of letters, and his acquaintance with that vain and fanatical the following year, confirmed in the undivided possession of philosophy which was known by the name of modern the empire. No event could be less favourable to the Chris- Platonism, we shall find nothing remaining, that is in any tians; for, though he had been educated in the principles measure worthy of praise, or productive of esteem. Besides, of Christianity, he apostatised from that divine religion, the qualities now mentioned, were, in him, counterbalanced and employed all his efforts to restore the expiring super- by the most opprobrious defects. He was a slave to superstitions of polytheism to their former vigour, credit, and stition, than which nothing is a more evident mark of a lustre. His apostasy was imputable, partly to his aversion narrow soul, of a mean and abject spirit. His thirst of to the Constantine family, who had murdered his father, glory and eagerness for popular applause were excessive, brother, and kinsman; and partly to the artifices of the even to puerility; his credulity and levity surpass the Platonic philosophers, who abused his credulity, and flat-powers of description; a low cunning, and a profound distered his ambition, by fictitious miracles, and pompous simulation and duplicity, had acquired, in his mind, the predictions. It is true, this prince seemed averse to the use force of predominant habits; and all this was accompanied of violence, in propagating superstition, and suppressing the with a total ignorance of true philosophy: so that, though, truth: indeed, he carried the appearances of moderation in some things, Julian may be allowed to have excelled the and impartiality so far, as to allow his subjects a full power sons of Constantine the Great, yet it must be granted, on of judging for themselves in religious matters, and of wor- the other hand, that he was, in many respects, inferior to shipping the Deity in the manner they thought the most Constantine himself, whom upon all occasions, he loads rational. But, under this mask of moderation, he attacked with the most licentious invectives, and treats with the Christianity with the utmost bitterness, and, at the same utmost disdain. time, with the most consummate dexterity. By art and XIV. As Julian affected, in general, to appear moderate stratagem he undermined the church, annulling the privi- in religious matters, unwilling to trouble any on account of leges which had been granted to Christians and their their faith, or to seem averse to any sect or party, so to the spiritual rulers; shutting up the schools in which they Jews, in particular, he extended so far the marks of his taught philosophy and the liberal arts; encouraging the sec-indulgence, as to permit them to rebuild the temple of Jerutaries and schismatics, who brought dishonour upon the salem. The Jews set about this important work; from Gospel by their divisions; composing books against the which, however, they were obliged to desist, before they Christians, and using a variety of other means to bring the had even begun to lay the foundations of the sacred edifice; religion of Jesus to ruin and contempt. Julian extended for, while they were removing the rubbish, formidable balls his views yet farther, and was meditating projects of a still of fire, issuing out of the ground with a dreadful noise, more formidable nature against the Christian church, dispersed both the works and the workmen, and repeated which would have felt, no doubt, the fatal or ruinous effects earthquakes filled the spectators of this phenomenon with of his inveterate hatred if he had returned victorious from terror and dismay. This signal event is attested in a manthe Persian war, into which he entered immediately after ner that renders its evidence irresistible, though, as usually his accession to the empire. But in this war, which was happens in cases of that nature, the Christians have embelrashly undertaken and imprudently conducted, he fell by lished it by augmenting rashly the number of the miracles the lance of a Persian soldier, and expired in his tent in the which are supposed to have been wrought upon that occa32d year of his age, having reigned alone, after the death sion. The causes of this phenomenon may furnish of Constantius, twenty months. matter of dispute; and learned men have, in effect, been divided upon that point. All, however, who consider the matter with attention and impartiality, will perceive the strongest reasons for embracing the opinion of those who attribute this event to the almighty interposition of the Supreme Being; nor do the arguments offered by some, to prove it the effect of natural causes, or those alleged by others to persuade us that it was the result of artifice and imposture, contain any thing that may not be refuted with the utmost facility.



XIII. It is to me a just matter of surprise, to find Julian placed, by many learned and judicious writers, among the greatest heroes that shine forth in the annals of time, and even exalted above all the princes and legislators who have been distinguished by the wisdom of their government. Such writers must either be too far blinded by prejudice, to perceive the truth; or they cannot have perused, with any degree of attention, those works of Julian which are still extant; or, if neither of these be their case, they must, at least, be ignorant of that which constitutes true greatness. The real character of Julian has a few lines of that uncommon merit which has been attributed to it; for, if we set


XV. Upon the death of Julian, the suffrages of the army were united in favour of Jovian, who, accordingly, succeeded him in the imperial dignity. After a reign of seven

which Dr. Mosheim has omitted in his enumeration of the defects and extravagances of this prince.

For a full account of this emperor, it will be proper to consult (be-gic, side Tillemont and other common writers) La Vie de Julien, par l'Abbé Bleterie, which is a most accurate and elegant production. See also the Life and character of Julian, illustrated in seven Dissertations by DesVoeux; Ezech. Spanheim, Præfat. et adnot. ad op. Juliani; and Fabricius, Lux Evangel. toti orbi exoriens, cap. xiv. p. 294.

Montesquieu, in chap. x. of the twenty-fourth book of his work, entitled, L'Esprit des Loix, speaks of Julian in the following terms: "Il n'y a point eu apres lui de prince plus digne de gouverner des hommes."

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See Jo. Alb. Fabricii Lux Evang. toti orbi exoriens, p. 124, where all the testimonies of this remarkable event are carefully assembled; see also Moyle's Posthumous works.

The truth of this miracle is denied by the famous Basnage, Histoire des Juifs, tom. iv., against whom Cuper has taken the affirmative, and defended it in his Letters published by Bayer. A most ingenious discourse was published, in defence of this miracle, by the learned Dr. Warburton, under the title of Julian, or a Discourse concerning the Earthquake and Fiery Eruption, &c. in which the objections of Basnage are particularly examined and refuted.


months, Jovian died in the year 364, and, therefore, had | Platonic school, wrote in the beginning of this century not time to execute any thing of importance. The empe- two books against the Christians, in which he went so far rors who succeeded him, in this century, were Valentinian as to draw a parallel between Jesus Christ and ApolI., Valens, Gratian, Valentinian II., and Honorius, who lonius Tyanæus. This presumption was chastised with professed Christianity, promoted its progress, and endea- great spirit, by Eusebius, in a treatise written expressly in voured, though not all with equal zeal, to root out entirely answer to Hierocles. Lactantius takes notice of another the Gentile superstitions. In this they were all surpassed by philosopher, who composed three books to detect the prethe last of the emperors who reigned in this century, viz. tended errors of the Christians, but does not mention his Theodosius the Great, who began to reign in the year name. After the time of Constantine the Great, beside the 379, and died in 395. As long as this prince lived, he long and laborious work which Julian wrote against the exerted himself, in the most vigorous and effectual manner, followers of Christ, Himerius and Libanius, in their pubfor the extirpation of the pagan superstitions throughout lic harangues, and Eunapius, in his lives of the philosoall the provinces, and enacted severe laws and penalties phers, exhausted all their rage and bitterness in their efforts against such as adhered to them. His sons, Arcadius and to defame the Christian religion, while the calumnies that Honorius, pursued with zeal, and not without success, the abounded in the discourses of the one, and the writings of same end; so that, toward the conclusion of this century, the other, passed unpunished. the Gentile religion declined apace, and had also no prospect left of recovering their primitive authority and splendour. XVI. It is true, that, notwithstanding all this zeal and severity of the Christian emperors, there still remained in several places, and especially in the remoter provinces, temples and religious rites, consecrated to the service of the pagan deities. And, indeed, when we look attentively into the matter, we shall find, that the execution of those rigourous laws, which were enacted against the worshippers of the gods, was rather levelled at the multitude, than at persons of eminence and distinction; for it appears, that, both during the reign, and after the death of Theodosius, many of the most honourable and important posts were filled by persons, whose aversion to Christianity and attachment to Paganism were sufficiently known.

The example of Libanius alone is an evident proof of this, since, notwithstanding his avowed and open enmity to the Christians, he was raised by Theodosius himself to the high dignity of præfect, or chief of the Prætorian guards. It is extremely probable, therefore, that, in the execution of the severe laws enacted against the Pagans, there was an exception made in favour of philosophers, rhetoricians, and military leaders, on account of the important services which they were supposed to render to the state, and that they of consequence enjoyed more liberty in religious matters, than

the inferior orders of men.

XVII. This peculiar regard shown to the philosophers and rhetoricians will, no doubt, appear surprising when it is considered, that all the force of their genius, and all the resources of their art, were employed against Christianity; and that those very sages, whose schools were reputed of such utility to the state, were the very persons who opposed the progress of the truth with the greatest vehemence and contention of mind. Hierocles, the great ornament of the

See Bleterie, Vie de Jovien, vol. ii. in which the Life of Julian, by the same author, is farther illustrated, and some productions of that emDeror are translated into French.

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• See Photius, Biblioth. Cod. cap. lxv. p. 355.

This notion, absurd as it is, has been revived, in the most extravagant manner, in a work published at Harderwyk, in 1757, by Mr. Struchtmeyer, professor of eloquence and languages in that university. In this work, which bears the title of the Symbolical Hercules, the learned but wrong-headed author maintains (as he had also done in a preceding work, entitled, An Explication of the Pagan Theology,) that all the doctrines of Christianity were emblematically represented in the Heathen mythology; and not only so, but that the inventors of that mythology knew that the Son of God was to descend upon earth; beheved in Christ as the only fountain of salvation; were persuaded of nis future incarnation, death, and resurrection; and had acquired all this

XVIII. The prejudice which the Christian cause received in this century, from the stratagems of these philosophers and rhetoricians, who were elated with a presumptuous notion of their knowledge, and prepossessed with a bitter aversion to the Gospel, was certainly very considerable. Many examples concur to prove this point; and particularly that of Julian, who was seduced by the artifices of these corrupt sophists. The effects of their disputes and declamations were not, indeed, the same upon all; some who assumed the appearance of superior wisdom, and who, either from moderation or indifference, professed to pursue a middle way in these religious controversies, composed matters in the following manner: they so far listened to the interpretations and discourses of the rhetoricians, as to form to themselves a middle kind of religion, between the ancient theology and the new doctrine that was now propagated in the empire; and they persuaded themselves, that the same truths which Christ taught, had been for a long time concealed by the priests of the gods, under the veil of ceremonies, fables, and allegorical representations." Of this number were Ammianus Marcellinus, a man of singular merit; Themistius, an orator highly distinguished by his uncommon eloquence and the eminence of his station: Chalcidius, a philosopher, and others, who were all of opinion, that the two religions, when properly interpreted and understood, agreed perfectly well in the main points, and that, therefore, neither the religion of Christ, nor that of the gods, ought to be treated with contempt.



XIX. The zeal and diligence with which Constantine and his successors exerted themselves in the cause of Christianity, and in extending the limits of the church, prevent our surprise at the number of barbarous and uncivilized nations, which received the Gospel. It appears highly probable, from many circumstances, that both the Major and the knowledge and faith by the perusal of a Bible much older than either the time of Moses or Abraham, &c. The pagan doctors, thus instructed (according to Mr. Struchtmeyer) in the mysteries of Christianity, taught these truths under the veil of emblems, types, and figures. Jupiter represented the true God; Juno, who was obstinate and ungovernable, was the emblem of the ancient Israel; the chaste Diana was a type of the Christian church; Hercules was the figure or fore-runner of Christ; Amphitryon was Joseph; the two Serpents, killed by Hercules in his cradle, were the Pharisees and Sadducees, &c. Such are the principal lines of Mr. Struchtmeyer's system, which shows the sad havock that a warm imagination, undirected by a just and solid judgment, makes in religion. It is, however, honorable perhaps to the present age, that a system, from which Ammianus Marcellinus and other ancient philosophers derived applause, will be generally looked upon, at present, as entitling its restorer to a place in Bethlehem hospital.

• Gaudent. vita Philastrii, sect. 3. Philast. de hæres. Præf. Socrat. Hist. Eccles. lib. i, cap. xix. Georg. Cedren. Chronograph.

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