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* as though he had been a God; that they 6 engaged by oath, not to commit any “ crime but to abstain from theft and adul- tery, to adhere strictly to their promises, 6 and not to deny money deposited in their “ hands; that afterwards, it was their cus • tom to separate themselves, and then “meet again, to eat their frugal repast-to“ gether.”
It seems to me, as if I had not taken up another author, but that I was still reading the historian of that extraordinary society; yet they who delivered so favourable, so advantageous a testimony to its principles and manners, were men* who, confident of the protection of the prince and his ministers, might have calumniated that society with impunity. The governor does not controvert this evidence. We may presume, then, he has nothing to oppose to it. Conse. quently, he tacitly acknowledges these principles and manners. Is it the name alone which is to be punished (hie adds). or the crimes to which this society is ad.
* Apostates, who abjured Christianity, and returned to Paganism, to escape punishment, cr to preserve or obtain temporal. advantages.
dicted ? He therefore, clearly insinuates, that it was the name which was punished, rather than any real crimes? What an extraordinary coincidence between two writers, whose religious tenets and views were so different! What a monument! What an eulogium ? The governor was contemporary with the historian. Both view the same objects, and almost in the same light. Is it possible that truth should not be found here?
But the governor brings a charge against this society of men—and what is this charge ? An obstinacy, an usuperable obstinacy, which seems to bim worthy of punishment. I have judged it necessary (he adds,) to wrest the truth by force of tortures. I have discovered only an cvil superstition carried to excess.
Here the governor views things in a different light from the historian. An evil superstition !--itis no longer facts or manners, which the governor blames; it is a doctrine ; and to see this doctrine in a right point of view, required more practice in this kind of observation than the governor could boast, I pay great attention also to
the fortunate contrasts, in this place, be. *tween the two historians; it contributes,
as much as the rest, to bring out and display the truth in its genuine colours. It is not as a secret favourer of the new sect that the governor forms his judgment; it is in defiance of all his prejudices of birth, education, philosophy, politics, &c. I am pleased to be informed by him of this insuperable obstinacy! What then is the cause of this obstinacy, which defies the force of torture? Is it any particular, any private opinion ? No.-It is facts, and facts submitted to the judgment of every sense.
I discover another evidence in favour of the new society, which does not strike me less than that of the governor of Bithynia ; I mean the testimony of the satirical and ingenious* Lucian, one of the best writers, and wittiest men of the age, and one of the chief magistrates of a great province of the empire. The legislator of the Chris. tians (he says,) persuades them that they are all brethren. They secede from us ; they abjure the gods of the Grecians. They adore their crucified teacher, and conform their lives to his laws; they despise riches; every thing amongst them is in common : and they are constant in their faith. To this day they adore their great man cruci. fied in Palestine. I particularly pause at that remarkable expression, persuades them they are all brethren; and I instantly recall to my mind those incomparable words of their master, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. Brotherly love, therefore, was the criterion of the first disciples of that mild religion, one of the principal laws of which is charity; and the Pagan writers themselves confirm a fact, which affords so clear an evidence in favour of the celestial origin of this admirable doctrine. *
* Lucian de morte Peregrini,
* Were it consistent with the nature of this work, I could quote many other favourable testimonies, given by Pagan authors, to the virtues and manners of the primitive Christians. They may be seen in most apologists, Colonia Bullet, &c. may be consulted.
CH A P. V.
SUCCESS OF THE TESTIMONY. REMARKS ON
THISrising society increases in strength
I every day, it spreads itself, and wherever it is established, I behold corruption, fanaticism, superstition, prejudi. ces, and idolatry, prostrate before the cross.
• The capital of the world is soon peopled with these Neophytes; it is over-run with them, , multitudo ingens ;* they overflow the largest provinces of the empire : and I learn all this from the same governor, t the ornament of his country, and of his age, he was governor of two extensive provinces, Bithynia and Pontus. He writes
• Tacitus Hist. of Nero.
+ Pliny the Younger, in the same letter.