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S

INQUIRY.
INTO THE

SECONDARY

USE

CA

WHICH

MR GIBBON HAS

ASSIGNED

FOR THE

RAPID

GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY

By the Hoar. SIR DAVID DALRYMPLE, Bar :


ONE OF THE JUDGES OF THE COURTS OF SESSION
JUSTICIARY IN SCOTLAND.

JUSTIN MAKIVR.

THE SECOND EDITION.


To which

is

prefixed,

A BRIEF MEMOIR OF THE LIFE AND WRITING:


OF THE AUTHOR.

PRINTED BY
FOR
old

by

J.

A. JOHNSTONE,

Ogle, W. Blackwood,

E. Lesslie, Dundee

Williams

J.

RITCHIE,

GRASS-MARKET, EDINBURGH.
u

and by J.
6c Smith, and J
;

1808.

A. Black;

Ogle, Glasgow

J tckard, W. Kent,
I

nix, London.

GRATEFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY

INSCRIBED

BY

SIR

DAVID DALRYMPLE
TO

RICHARD BISHOP OF WORCESTER.


MDCCLXXXVL

BRIEF MEMOIR
OF THE

LIFE

AND WRITINGS OF THE AUTHOR,

Sir David Dalrymple was

the

dest of sixteen children of Sir

James

Dalrymple,

Bart, of Hailes, in

el-

the

county of Haddington, auditor of the

Exchequer of Scotland, and of Lady


Christian Hamilton, second daughter

of

Thomas

dington,

many

sixth Earl of

related

by these

Had-

families to

noble and celebrated characters

of both kingdoms.

The family of Dalrymple,

is

one

of the most ancient and honourable in

North

and has produced not a


few persons equally eminent in science,
Britain,

A3

MEMOIR OF

VI

in the cabinet,

none

and

From

in the field.

have sprung so mawho have attained the


highest honours in the department of
the law, and who have supported the

ny

in particular

great men,

respectability and dignity of the

by

their character

and

bench

talents.

Two of the lineal ancestors of Lord


Haixes, were adherents of the Reformation in its earliest period and their
descendants were not more distinguished as opponents, on the one hand,
;

of democratical anarchy, and, on the


other, of military usurpation,

than as

zealous friends of constitutional liberty,

and of the Revolution.

One

of the most noted of his ances-

of them enobled, was


great abilities as a
by
distinguished
general scholar and a lawyer. He was
tors,

and the

first

Lord President of the Court of Session in the reign of

Charles

II.

in

promoting whose restoration he had no


inconsiderable share.

Having

retired

to Holland during the latter part of

THE AUTHOR.
his

Orange
as

and that of

reign,

return with

after his

vii

his successor,

the Prince of

he was raised to the Peerage,

Viscount Stair, and re-instated in

his office at the Revolution.

Few families can record a race of so


many eminent contemporaries as his
His eldest was Lord Advocate,

sons.

afterwards Lord Justice Clerk; and ha-

ving been created Earl of Stair, was


finally Secretary of State for Scotland.

He

is

known

well

to those conversant

with the history of Britain during that


period,

and

also as the father of

John

Earl of Stair, the illustrious General


and Ambassador in the reigns of Queen
Anxe and of George I. & II. His se-

cond son w as a principal Clerk of Session, of reputation for his profound researches in the history and antiquities
of his native country, of which his Historical Collect ions are an able speciT

men % His third

son,

who succeeded

his

* Grandfather to Sir John Balrymple, late


an e- of the Barons of Exchequer, and Author of
The Memoirs of Great Britain,

Viii

MEMOIR OF

father as Lord President,

was a Judge

of great integrity and knowledge. His


fourth son was

King

first

for Scotland.

Phvsician to the

And

the fifth and

youngest, grandfather to LoitIHaiees,

was Lord Advocate

for

Scotland for

nineteen years.

Lord Ha i les was born on the 2 8 tlx


He was educated
of October 1726.
at Eton school, and highly esteemed
there, not only for his proficiency in

but on account of
good dispositions and exemplary
behaviour.
He went from thence to
the University of Utrecht, where he
prosecuted the study of civil law, and
on the 23d of February 1748, he put'
on the gown, as an advocate in the
Court of Session.
Although possessing an ample fortune, (his father having died in 1750),
and attached to the pursuits of elegant literature, he was not seduced
classical learning,

his

from close application

to the toils of

THE AUTHOR.
dry profession.

As

not distinguished

ix

a barrister he
for his

was

utterance

and his articulation rather


indistinct.
But his deep knowledge
of law, his unwearied application, the
solidity of his judgment, and his proThe
bity, raised him to high esteem.
papers which he drew, were characterized by their force in argument,

was

rapid,

and by elegant and correct simplicity


of

style.

He

continued eighteen years

he was raised to the


did not confine himself

at the bar before

bench.

He

during this period to mere technical


business, but dignified his profession

by uniting

scientific

researches with

those of law, directing the lights of


history and antiquity on
ties.

He amused

its

obscuri-

himself at same time,

and continued to do so after this, with


the composition of some lighter essays,
which he imparted to several respectable periodical publications of England
and of this country. But his mind
was bent on more important studies,

MEMOIR OF

while he relaxed
occupation.

it

by

this variety of

Scarcely a year passed,

from the date of his first appearance


from the press, in which he did not

some original work of his own,


or revive and bring into notice some
learned or useful performance by
others, neglected by his contemporaries, and in danger of being lost to
posterity. Every edition almost which
print

he published, he improved. One cannot but wonder how he found time for
so many, and such various literary undertakings.
But his leisure was not
spent in political intrigues, where he
never appeared either as a leader or a
tool,

nor sacrificed in convivial

dissi-

In

pation or voluptuous indolence.

which he attached
rival

of

departments

those

literature

himself, he

to

had no

these being unoccupied, or en-

gaging the attention of

inferior

Mere literary fame,


which has actuated

many

men.

the passion for


so

of his

contemporaries, although he was well


THE AUTHOR.

XI

seem
he would

entitled to the highest, does not

to

have

heen

his

end

otherwise have cultivated a different


field.

Indeed, his taste and his senti-

ments were not the same with most of


those who have obtained the first rank
in his native country, as fine writers.

He was no admirer of Mr Hume as


an historian; and to his writings on
the principles of belief, of morals, arid

of government, he was decidedly hosHis works are free from those


marks of vanity, self-sufficiency and
tile.

arrogance, which are so


so

disgusting.

common and

Labour directed by

sound judgment, acuteness, fidelity,


accuracy, candour rarely equalled
these, united with just and delicate
taste, unaffected simplicity, and great
purity and correctness of style, characterize Lord Hailes as an Author,
Truth was his object; and superior to
envy, prejudice, and the ignorant contempt of those who undervalued many
;

of his researches and publications, ha-

MEMOIR OF

Xli

ving no views also to pecuniary interest


an author, he was not averse to find

as

it.

His works are not debased either bv

flattery or detraction.

to praise

but h^ does not bestow this

as a partizan,
it

the

whom

nor with the motive of

from others.

obtaining
blind

to

He knew how

talents

He was

not

of those from

he differed, and could admire

even while

When

he condemned, he was never

He

warm.

censured and opposed.

lie

expressed the conscienti-

ous dictates of his

own mind with

firmness, but

he generally gave

reasons of his

judgment with

the

the ut-

most modesty and calmness. Rancour,,


vflections, no
asperity, or personal
where appear in his works.
Possessing considerable talents for

and a strong propensity to observe and remark the ridiculous, noticeable even in his gravest
w orks he never exercised these to disHis wit was getress an individual.
ironical writing,

nuine, delicate, inoffensive and cour-

THE AUTHOR.

XUl

and

teous, both in conversation

writings; and he employed

in his

satire

and

irony onlv to chastise and discredit folly

and

vice.

As
tive,

a judge, he

was

diligent, atten-

In

acute and conscientious.

minal causes,
to feel for

in particular,

cri-

he appeared

the situation of the accu-

shewed his sense of the importance and responsibility of his own.


His manner of administering oaths was

sed, while he

most solemn, calculated

to impress the

conscience of the witness, and to strike


the audience with awe. His

w hole
r

de-

meanour on such occasions, especially


when it fell to him to pass sentence on
the guilty, was well adapted to obtain
the end of punishments, viz. the security

and welfare of the community, and

(in

cases not capital) the reformation of the


offender.

The country reposed

great

confidence in his talents, application,

and uprightness; and, though far from


being esteemed according to his merits,

the

first

men and

the ablest au13

MEMOIR OF

XIV

thors of his time,


curred,

however

and

since,

differently

have con*

minded

re-

specting religion and politics, and even

some bigots on the opposite

side,

to

praise his abilities, his investigations,

and
It

his character.
is

much

to be lamented that this

great and excellent man, for such he


really was, did not remember, that to

prolong a

life

of studious application,

considerable and habitual bodily exercise is required.


But except regular
motion in his carriage five days of the
week, between his seat at Newhailes,
five miles from Edinburgh, and the

Court, with his journies during the


circui t twice a year,
it,

and sometimes after

short excursions to England, his ha-

were almost quite sedentary. Predisposed by corpulence, and by the form

bits

of his body, which was short-necked,


he was attackd by symptoms of apoplexy on his way from the Court of

when about to come out of his


carriage near his own door, at New-

Session,

XV

THE AUTHOR.
For a few days,

hailes.

some

relief;

lie

but was carried off by a

second attack, on the 29th of


ber 1792, in

obtained

Novem-

the sixty-sixth year of

his age.

Lord Hailes was twice married.


His first wife, Anne, daughter of the
Hon. George Brown, Lord Coalston, one of the judges of the Courts

of Session and Justiciary,

(in the latter

of which offices he succeeded


his resignation in

child-bed.

daughter

By
who

May

this

him on

1776), died in

Lady, he had one

survives him, and pos-

sesses the family estate*.

By his second wife, who is alive,


youngest daughter of the Hon. Sir
James Ferguson,

Bart.

Lord Kilker-

r an, also one of the indues of the Courts


* Lord Woobhouselee, in his late interesting
Memoirs of Lord Kames, has preserved a short,
but (what he justly calls) a most delicate, tender
and pathetic effusion, by Lord HAiLZS,on her death,
in child-bed of twins,
biss

It

is- written

in Latin Iam--

MEMOIR OF

AVI

of Session and Justiciary, be had another daughter


cousin,

who was

married to her

James Ferguson, Esq. grandKiekerrax, and appa-

son of Lord
rent

Adam

of Sir

heir

Bart, of Kilkerran.

and has

The

left

Ferguson,

This lady

is

dead,

one son and two daughters.


of Baronet descended to

title

Lord Haiees' nephew,

John Dalrympee,

eldest son of

Esq. his brother,

formerly Lord Provost of Edinburgh.

A list of his

publications, with

some

most of them,

sub-

short account of
joined.

With

respect to

is

the follow-

ing work, none could have been more


necessary, and

undertaken
fied for

it

no person could have-

this,

by

so

eminently quali-

his studies

and

The great object which


keens in view through all
is to undermine, were it
Christian

religion.

Mr Gibbon
his volumes,
possible, the

The purpose

particular, of the 15th


ters of his first

talents.

volume,

in

and 16th chapis

to invalidate

the most striking and obvious proof, of

THE AUTHOR.

xvii

an external kind, which the history of


the world presents of

divine origin.

its

The

progress and success of Christian-

ity,

without any of those aids possess-

hy the various superstitions and


false religions which have been embraced upon earth, and in opposition to all
ed

the

prejudices,

reasonings,

interests,

and direct violence engaged against it,


is unaccountable on the supposition of
its

To weaken

being an imposture.

the force of this fact, so plain and persuasive to every one


serve

it,

inclines to ob-

he has thought
.

five subordinate

assign
causes,

who

which he

alleges

it

enough

or secondary

were

sufficient

to account for its prevalence,

any other

The

to

without

influence.

fair

consideration of most of

these causes, and of their operation in

the world, would have proved the truth

of the gospel as satisfactorily as the ascription of its success to the immediate

agency of God. While avoiding however

all

appearance of a partizan, ne-

MEMOIR OF

xviii

ver stating himself as a direct oppo-

nent of Christianity, affecting indeed


without

to deliver a narrative of facts

interposing his

times

even

a professed

own

sentiments, some-

expressing

himself

an admirer of

its

genius and

as

and

believer of jts truth,

spirit,

he

has traduced and

misrepresented his

subject, in place of

conducting himself

as a fair

and candid historian.

withstanding

his respectful

must have

Christianity* his readers


tle

discernment,

if,

Not-

mention of

through

lit-

this*

all

they do not perceive the sly insinua-

and sarcastic sneer, making it manifest, as Lord Hailes says,


that he

tiosj

'*

{i

ridicules in sense ickat

ico Ms "

The

he asserts in

editor of his Life

and

Letters,

though, like other biographers, not,

it

should seem, aware of the depravity he


exposes, has drawn aside the

confirmed

this,

and

exhibiting the real un-

principled motives by

actuated as

veil,

which he was

a writer and a man.

Chri--

THE AUTHOR.
stians indeed, while

XIX

they deplore the

infatuation of such persons,

may

well

glory that the gospel cannot have them

Jbr

its

friends

the publication of

Prevjpus to

Mr

Gibbon's History, the subject had not


been generally studied,

lumes

came

forth

and his vo-

with

all

the ad-

vantages which their novelty, joined

charms

of

composition

un-

usually elegant, could give them.

He

to

the

soon obtained his reward

not only

large sum as the price of


work, but applauses pouring in
upon him from all quarters whence he

realizing a
tire

valued them, giving at once celebrity

and fame to its author.


was speedily and highly extolled
by Mr Hume and Dr Robertson",
the writers whom he had placed before him as his models.
Dr Ferguson also, Dr Smith, and even Dr
to his History,
It

Campbell,

(seduced,

should seem,
by similarity of sentiment on some
topics

it

of ecclesiastical- history), ex-

XX

MEMOIR OF

pressed their high admiration of his

work,

The

to,

himself or to his bookseller.

public taste was led by their un-

His style was


not only applauded, with the small requalified panegyrics.

quaint in some
its being
and bearing marks of labour,
but the highest eulogiums were bestowed on his fidelity, as if he had
written like a witness upon oath, and
had referred to no authority which he
had not seen with his own eyes. How
serve

of

places,

far he deserved such a

those judge

who

carefully peruse the

The

following work.
ever of those

character, let

who

strictures

ventured to

howcall in

question the merits of the book, were

not only treated by himself with proud


disdain, but censured and stigmatized

by

his admirers, as fierce

abuse.

The

and

illiberal

public were fascinated by

the splendour and brilliancy of his lan-

guage, while with the lightest readers


(as

Mr Hume

too

much thought

said)

it

did not require

to be popular.

Even

THE AUTHOR,

men

Xxi

of pleasure were attracted by a

writer who, in the grave


tory, gratified the taste of

sensual minds, set

them

walk of

his-

obscene and

from the

free,

and furnished them with inuendos and anecrestraints of strict morality,

dotes, serving
as a fable,
ly devised.

take his

to

expose Christianity

and that not very cunning-

The

first

own account

impression,
in his

to

Memoirs,

was exhausted in a few days. A second and a third which succeeded, was
scarcely equal to the demand.
Two
pirated editions in Ireland were immediately sold off
the book was on every toilette and table, almost as soon
as published
and the historian was
crowned by the taste and fashion of
;

the day.

Time has not diminished


Edition has succeeded edition.

its

sale.

In this

very year, three or four of different

and price have been published in


London, and two in Edinburgh at a
size

reduced price, and jn a shape to meet

MEMOIR OF

Xxii

the ability of the humblest purchasers,


It

is

hoped that those who are influen-

ced by the conviction, that the gospel


is

the revelation of God, will shew as

much

zeal in

recommending the admi-

rable antidote contained in this small

volume, as those of a contrary mind


manifest in dispersing the poison.
It appears, that

about the period at

which Mr Gibbon's History first came


out, Lord Hailes was particularly engaged in the study of ecclesiastical antiquity.

In that year (1776), he transAn Account of the

lated and printed,

Martyrs of Smyrna and Lyons,

in the

Second Century with Explanatory Notes


,

more than twice the


nal.

size

of the origi-

These notes are extremely

teresting to all
this subject

who

in-

value truth on

but there

is

no reference

any of them to the remarks of Mr


Gibbon, nor yet in the notes which
he added in Latin to an edition

in

of Lactantius de Justitia,
in

1777.

He

published

published however in

THE AUTHOR.

Xxiii

1778 a second volume, and in 1780 a


third, to which he gave the title of
Remains of Christian Antiquity. These

were upon the same plan with the first,


containing translations from Ruixart

and Eusebius, from the works of Cyprian, and Ambrose, and from other
early w v iters, with very learned commenfcaries and notes to all of them.
In the second volume of the Remains
of Christian Antiquity, he

first

of

all

Mr Gibbon, whom he stvles


" an eloquent and admired historian."

alluded to

In that and the following volume,

and

in the notes to his versions

from Mi-

nucius Felix, Lactantius, andTERtullian, and especially in his Disquisitions, his

great object seems to have

been to detect the misrepresentations


with which he has demonstrated

Gibbon's work

who

to

abound.

Mr

Those

peruse these very valuable per-

formances, will discern with what justice

he charges him with the gross*

est errors

in matters of fact

(we use

MEMOIR OF

XXiV

words of Lord Hailes);

the

carelessness, in trusting to

with

authoritv,

on subjects he ought to have examined


with his own eyes; with adopting
fanciful,

and

superficial,

unvouched

hypotheses; and with passing off


narratives as truth, of

long-

which hardly

single phrase could stand

the test of

In fact, while he withholds

criticism.

no expression of praise due to the elegance and energy with which he


writes, it will be found that he has established the charge he prefers against

him,

'pis',

more

of his speaking sometimes with

and contempt of Christians, than the heathen emperors do


in their edicts
and of his having polasperity

luted that great Fountain of truth, the

history

of

He

mankind.

has thus

really

reduced his boasted and admired

work

to the level of a romance.

these charges however,

made good by

one qualified and accustomed


of evidence, and to

from the

certain,

All

sift

to

judge

the plausible

were but skirmishes

XXV

THE AUTHOR.

compared with the formidable attack


on his correctness and veracity, which
Lord Hailes diet
this work contains.
not descend to notice
ter

and

work

sneer,

is

troduces

all

the irony, ban-

with which

replete,

Mr Gibbon

wherever almost he

in-

the subject of Christianity

but pushed forward at once to his most


weighty matter, and to reasonings on

which he places his firmest reliance.


He compared his quotations, and his
versions of them
he examined his arguments, confuted his assertions, and
overturned his most splendid theories
mixing with all this, occasionally, anirnadversions on the loose and immoral
;

tendency, in several instances, of his


composition,

the

severity

every one

able

to

is

is

which

of

appreciate,

who

acquainted with the mild and dig-

nified

manner

in

which he always ad-

ministered reproof.

Previous to the publication of The


Inquiry, various writers had addressed

the public on the same subject.

And

MEMOIR OF

XXVI
in the

as

year 1779,

he says, not

Mr Gibbon, roused,
by Mr Davis' attack

on his faith, but his fidelity, published


an Anonymous Vindication of his offensive chapters against this attack, and
against the Remarks also of Dr Chelsum, Dr Randolph, and others but
;

while noticing not only the courteous

Apology of Bishop

Watson,

but

al-

most, every name which had then appeared,

and even an anonymous pain-

phlet in the same cause, he observes the

most perfect

silence respecting the vari-

ous remarks of Lord Hailes, and never indeed took any notice of the ani-

madversions relating to him,


his publications.

He

lived

in

any of

between

se-

ven and eight years after the following


work was published, and, it appears,
was acquainted with its contents; but
while he judged it proper to reply to
writers far inferior, in his
tion, in

ability

own

estima-

and erudition, in their

knowledge of the subject, and in their


manner of discussing it, and although

XXVTl

THE AUTHOR.

he professed, that regard to his own


moral character alone brought him on
the field against his other adversaries,

he yet declined to support his learning;


correctness, integrity, and good morals,
of which were impeached in the

all

following Inquiry with great delicacy,

most grave and serious manner.


In his Memoirs indeed, left for
posthumouspublication, and sinceglven
to the world by Lord Sheffield, he

but

in the

writes of the Inquiry in the following


" The profession and rank of
terms
:

" Sir

David Dalrymple

has given

" a more decent colour to his style.


"

But he scrutinized each separate ps:two chapters with the

" sage of the

" dry minuteness of a special pleader;


" and,

as

he was always solicitous to

" make, he may sometimes have sue" ceeded in finding a flaw


The as-

which these words contain, is


Those
who knew Lord Hailes only in his

persion

equally groundless as injurious.

* Miscellaneous Works y Vol.

I.

p. 155,

MEMOIR OF

XXVlii

writings, stand in no need of


tation.

There

is

no doubt,

if

its

refu-

Mr Gib-

box could have defended himself by


any plausible arguments, that he would
have produced them. His powers were
unimpaired
rested

to the last,

and he was

ar-

by death while speculating on

the probability of his living ten, or


twelve, or perhaps twenty years lon-

and while projecting new literary


undertakings but we do not learn that

ger,

his vindication against the charges of

LoixIHailes was any of them. To those

who

properly estimate the

character

he has here given of the Inquiry,

it

seem an acknowledgment of its accuracy and importance. Some probably


wish that the excellent author had

will

more ardour;
that he had interested his readers, by

treated his subject with

representing
its

truth

its

consequence

as well as

that he had dwelt on the

danger and guilt of

Mr Gibbox's

hy-

pocrisy and misrepresentations, and had

warned the world against

his pernici-

THE AUTHOR.
ous

and criminal

Hailes uniformly

Xa:X

But

arts.

Lord

preserves the cool-

ness and dignity of the judge in


his

works; and those who


is

from

infer

the argu-

his dispassionate style, that

ment

all

not of ineffable moment, will

find themselves ere long

most wofully,

and eternally mistaken,

Catalogue of the
Bart.

Works ofSvc DavidDalrymple^

Lord Hailes

arranged in

Order

the

of their Publication *.
1.

Sacred Poems,

or a Collection of Translations

and Paraphrases from the Holy Scriptures, by various


authors. Edinburgh 1751, 12mo. Dedicated
Lord Hope, with a Preface of ten pages.
2. Proposals for carrying

the City of Edinburgh.

on

a certain public

This jeu

about 1753 or -4, and was a


the late Sir Gilbert Elliot.

Work

in

was published
parody on a pamphlet by
esprit

It is dedicated to the Pa-

tron and Pattern of all Castle-builders-.


tirely local,

to Charle-s

The wit

though unfortunately not temporary

is

en-

but

is

* This Catalogue was drawn up by the Editor, in consequence of an inaccurate list of the same Works being inserted
It was published in that Magain an Edinburgh Magazine.
zine in 1793. and has since been re-printed in other publica~
tions.

Its defects are

now

supplied.

c-s

XXX

CATALOGUE OF

perhaps

as sterling

Lord Hailes,
a young man.
ed.

3.

late

and
it

as delicate as the subject

Select Discourses, in

number

nine,

Fellow of Queen's College,


Edinburgh, 1756, with

pp. 291.

admit

ought to be remembered, was then

many quotations from

by John Smith,

Cambridge, 12mo.

a preface of

hve pages

the learned languages translated;

and notes added, containing

allusions to ancient

mytho-

logv, and to the erroneous philosophy which prevailed


in the days of the

Author

various inaccuracies of

stile

have been corrected, and harsh expressions softened.


4-

World, No.

1-10.

September

-1.

1755.

A meditation

among

books. Ditto, No. 147. Thursday, October 23.

1755.

Both these papers

mour, and the


ter of

it

last

one

is

are replete with wit

and hu-

introduced with a high charac-

and of the Author, by

2\Ir

Moore, the editor

ana chief author of the World. Ditto, Xo. 204. ThursA piece of admirable wit, on Good
c.av. Xov. 25. 1756.
TJbmgs,
5.

and the propriety of taxing them.

A Discourse

of the unnatural and vile Conspiracy

attempted by John Earl of Gowry, ana his brother,


gainst his Ma ,estv's person, at St Johnstcun, .upon the
:

5th of August 1600.

Xo date of the

republication, but

the edition and notes by Lord Hailes, who circulated


this account, .originally published by authority, for the

purpose of obtaining additional information on this mysterious incident of Scottish history.

Tnese were com-

municated by Lord Hailes to Br RoberUon, and are acknowledged by him to be the means, with Lord Hailes'
conversation on the subject, which enabled him to dispel the darkness in which the subject

is

involved.

Sermon, which might have been preached in


Last Lothian, upon the 25th day of October 1761. on
6.

LORD HAILES* WORKS.

xx xi

"

The barbarous people shewed us no


Edinburgh 1761, pp. 25. 12mo. Occasioned by the country people pillaging the wreck of
Actsxxvii.

J, 2.

little

kindness."

two

vessels,

-was.

The

Betsy, Cunningham, and the

Leith Packet, Pitcairn, from London to Leith, cast away

on the shore between Dunbar and North Berwick. All


the passengers on board the former, in
teen, perished

A most

five

on board the

number sevenOct. 16. 1761.

latter,

affecting discourse, admirably calculated to con-

vince and impress the offenders.

second edition has

been lately published.


7.

Memorials and Letters relating to the History of


James I. published from the ori-

Britain, in the reign of

Glasgow 1762.

ginals,

Addressed to Philip Yorke, Vis-

count Royston, pp. 151. From a collection in the Advocate's library, by Balfour of Denmyln. The preface
of four pages, signed, Dav. Dalrymple.
8.

The Works of
now first

the ever

of Eaton,

gow 1765

memorable

Mr John Hales,

collected together in 3 vols. Glas-

Dedicated to Wil-

preface of three pages.

liam (Warburton) Bishop of Gloucester. The edition


said to be

words

undertaken with

altered,

his

approbation

obsolete

with corrections in spelling and punctua-

tion.
9.

Specimen of

book, entitled

Ane

Compendi-

ous Booke of Godly and Spiritual Sangs, collectit out


of sundrie parts of the Scripture, with sundrie of other
Baliates changed out of prophaine Sangs, for avoyding of

Sin Sc Harlotrie, with augmentation of sundry Glide and

Godly

Baliates, not contained in the

burgh, printed by Andre Hart.

first

edition.

12mo.

Edin-

Edinburgh,

1765, pp. 42. with a Glossary of 4 pages.


ijg.

Memorials and Letters relating to the History of

CATALOGUE OF

xxxii

Britain, in the reign of Charles

published from the

Glasgow, 1766, pp. 189, Preface of 6 pages,


signed Dav, Dalrymple, chiefly collected by Mr Wooriginals,

drow, Minister of Eastwood, author of the History of

bock to which Mr Fox, in


Posthumous Work, appeals as his chief voucher.
Inscribed to Robert Dundas of Arniston, Lord
President of the Court of Session, in memory of his
the Church of Scotland, a

his late

friendship and patronage.


11.

An

account of the preservation of Charles II,

ter the battle of Worcester,

af-

drawn up by himself ; to

which are added, his Letters to several persons. Glasgow, 1766. pp. 190, from the MSS. of Mr Pepys, dictated to him by the king himself, and communicated by
Dr Sandby, Master of Magdalene CollegeThe Let-

them now
communicated by the guardians of the
Duke of Hamilton, by the Earl of Dundonald, &c. The
preface of 4 pages, signed Dav. Dalrymple, dedicated
ters are collected from-various books,,some of
first

to

published,

Thomas

Holies,

Duke

of Newcastle, Chancellor of

the University of Cambridge.

The

Secret Correspondence between Sir Robert


James VI. 12mo. 1766. This is the correspondence alluded to by Dr Robertson, in his History
of Scotland. It was printed from the originals in the
12.

Cecil, and

Advocate's Library, and from copies in the possession


of Lord Hardwicke, and of others, the originals belonging to

Mr

Erskine of Mar.

In the notes, Lord

Hailes explains some obscure phrases,

some

historical facts

and

illustrates

but he acknowledges that there

are various particulars in the letters

which he does not

comprehend.
13.

Catalogue of the Lords of Session, from the

Institution of the College of Justice, in the year 1532 ,

LORD HAILES' WORKS.

xxxiii

Suutn cuique rependet posteEdinburgh, 1767. 4to. pp.26. This catalogue


was re-printed in 1794, and carried down with addi-

with Historical Notes.


ritas.

tional notes, to that period,

'

14.

The

by another hand.

Private Correspondence of

Dr

Francis At-

terbury, Bishop of Rochester, and his friends, in 1725,

never before published.

Printed in 1768, 4to.

tisement, pp. 2. Letters, pp. 10.


first

rel,

Adver-

fac simile of the

from Bishop Atterbury, to John Cameron of Lochto prove their authenticity.

An

Examination of some of the Arguments for


the High Antiquity of Regiam Majestatem, and an Inquiry into the authenticity of the Leges Malcoimi, by Sir
15.

David Dalrymple,

Edinburgh, 1769.

4to, pp. 52.

Church of Scotland, drawn up in


the Provincial Councils held at Perth, A. D. 1242 and
1269. Edinburgh 1769, 4to. pp.43. These were first
16. Canons of the

published in the Concilia &Iag?icz Britannia* being transchartulary of

A jm-

Mr Thomas Ruddiman.

Lord

scribed for that purpose from the

deen, by the very learned

Hailes considered these canons of great importance in


"

the History of Scotland, in so

"

The

Scottish Ecclesiastical

much

as

Code

to

term ihern

yet he says, that

he believed few writers on the law of Scotland ever perused them ; and added in a note

in the

following article,

" For the benefit of those who may be inclined to publish any tracts concerning the Antiquities of Scotland,

must observe, that twenty-five copies of the Canons


were sold." Among several curious facts established
I

by these canons,

there"

credited, that baptism


in Scotland

is

one not generally

was

by immersion. See

I7< Historical

Memoirs

known

or

at this period administered


p. 31.

concerning the Provincial

xxxiv

CATALOGUE OF

Councils of the Scottish Clergy, from the earliest accounts to the sera of the Reformation, by Sir David

4^

Dalrymple

Edinburgh, 1769,
pp. 4*1-Having no
high opinion of the popularity of his writings, he pre" Si deiectamur
fixes to this work the following motto
:

quum
ducat

scribimus quis est tarn invidus qui ab eo nos ab?

sin

laboramus quis

est qui aliense rnodurn sta

tuat industrise." This publication

every one by
portant.

whom

however

ecclesiastical history

The means used to

is

will interest

deemed im-

counteract the Reformation.,

are in particular an object of singular curiosity,


similarity to trie plans

their

periods have

which clergymen

in

and
all

employed, in like circumstances, will

who

strike every one

These memoirs

has paid attention to this subject.

are illustrated

by many ingenious and

learned notes.
IS. Ancient Scottish

Poems, published from the MS.


Edinburgh, 1770. 12m6,

cf George Bannatyne, 3568.

Preface, 6 pp. Poems, pp. 221. very curious notes, pp.

Glossary, and

92.

derstood, pp.

14?.

lists

No.

of passages and words not un15, 16, 17, reprinted in the third

volume of the Annals, 2d


19.
title

The

edit.

additional Case of Elizabeth, claiming the

and dignity of Countess of Sutherland,

now Mar-

chioness of Stafford, by her guardians.


facts

and arguments in

Wherein the
support of her claim are more

fully stated, and the errors in the additional cases for the

other claimants are detected, 4to.

This singularly learn-

ed and able case was subscribedby AlexanderWedderburn,


afterwards Lord Chancellor and Earl of Roslyn, and Sir

Adam Fergusson,Bart. but is the well known work of Lord


Hailes. It ought not to be regarded merely as a law paper

of great ability, but as a treatise (and


ly so

is

indeed universal-

esteemed) of profound research into the history

XXXV

LORD HAILES* WORKS.


many important and

-and antiquity of
succession and

The

first

family history.

general points of

Introduction, pp. 21.

four chapters, pp. 70. the fifth and sixth chap-

ters, pp. 177.

Remarks on the History of Scotland, by Sir Da" Utinam tarn facile vera invenire pos-

20.

vid Dalrympie.

sem quam

Convincere.'

falsa

Cicero.-Edinburgh, 1773.

Lord Lyttleton, in nine chapters,


These consist of nineteen chapters, and

Inscribed to George
pp. 284. 12mo.
relate to

many

ticular nature,

circumstances both of a general and parall

of

them discovering

dition and acuteness of the author.

the singular eru-

Lord Hailes ex-

presses, in one chapter, an anxious wish for an impartial

account of the Westminster assembly of Divines, in

He

1644-5.

Mr
It

George

may

very

Street,

and accurate account of their proceedings

the

MSS.

in

Dr

is

Williams' library, Redcross

London.

21. Huberti Langueti Galli Epistolae

by

be agreeable to some persons to know, that a

full

among

refers to a journal of their proceedings

Gillespie, one of the Scotch commissioners.

ad Philippum

Sydneium Equitem Anglum Accurante D. Dalrympie,


Edinburgh, 1776, 8vo. Inscribed to

de Hailes, Equite.

Lord Chief Baron S my the.

Virorum Eruditorum

tes-

famonia de Langueto, pp. 7. Epistolae, 289. Index Nominum, pp. 4L The author of these Letters was a

great and a learned man, born in 1518, and died at Ant-

werp

in 1581.

earliest stage,

thon,

He

embraced the Reformation

in its

and was the intimate friend of Melanc-

De Mornay,

and other reformers.

He

was

distin-

guished as a lawyer, and was -ambassador from the Elector of

Saxony to France, and afterwards

ster.

He was

his

prime mini-

the author of several works, besides three

volumes of Latin Letters, of which these form one,

CATALOGUE OF

xxxvi

printed originally in 1633, by Elzevir.


to

him

Bayle ascribes

that celebrated book, printed, as was pretended,

at Edinburgh, in 1579,
contra Tyrannos
f Vindicise
Auc. S. Juni'o Bruto.' He was held in high esteem by
Thuanus, the historian ; and Du Plessis de Mornay said
of him, " Vixit quemadmodum optimi mcri cupiunt."
Sir Sidney Stafford Smythe, Bart, seems to have been

chosen

as the

patron of the work, not only as a desceu-

dent of the truly eminent person to

whom

they were

originally addressed, but as resembling the author, be-

ing an eminent lawyer and a Christian;

a Character^

which he too supported with great consistency and firmness in an elevated rank.

He

died in 1778.

22. Annals of Scotland, from the accession of

colm
bert

Mal-

surnamed Canmore, to the accession of RoBy Sir David Dalrympre. Edinburgh, 1776,

III.
I.

pp.311. Appendix, pp. 51. 4to.


Tables of the Succession of the Kings of Scotland,

from Malcolm

III.

to Robert

dren, and time of their death

I.

their mariiages, chil-

and also of the Kings of

England and France, and of the Popes who were

their

contemporaries.

Chronological Abridgment of the Volume, pp. 30.

The Appendix contains 8 Dissertations.


I. Of the Law of Evenus and Mercheta Mulierum,
7

pp. 17.
II.

A Commentary on the

Lion, pp.
III.

Of

2d statute of William the

S.

the 18th Statute of Alexander III.

pp.. 5.

IV. Bull of Pope Innocent IV. pp.6.

V. Of Walter Stewart,

Earl of MenLeth,

1276,

pp.7.

VI. Of M'Duff,

slain at Falkirk, in 129S, pp. 3.-

XXXvii

LORD HAILES WORKS.

VII. Of the death of John Comyn, 10th February


1 305, pp. 4.

VIII. Of the origin of the House of Stuart, pp.6.


Annals of Scotland, from the Accession of Robert L
sirnamed Bruce, to the Accession of the House of
Stuart; by Sir David Dalrymple, Edinburgh 1779,
4to. pp. 277.
I.

Of

the

of Robert
II.

Appendix,

pp. 54. containing,

manner of the death of Marjory, daughter

pp. 7.

Journal of the campaign of

Edward III.

1327.

pp. 9.
III.

Of

the genealogy of the Family of Seton in the

14th century.

IV. List of the Scottish Commanders,

at the battle

Hallidon, 19th July, 1383, pp. 11.

V. Whether Edward

III.

put to death the son of Sir

Alexander Seton, pp. 8.


VI. List of the Scottish Commanders killed or made
prisoners at the battle of

Durham,

VII. Table of Kings, p.

pp. 8.

1.

VIII. Corrections and additions to Volume

I. p.

16.

IX. Corrections and additions to Volume II. pp. 8.


Chronological Abridgment of the Volume, pp. 39.
These were re-printed, in 3 vols. 8vo in 1797, with
the addition of several valuable tracts and documents

from Lord Hailes' other works, together with a curious


tract, published by the late John Davidson, Esq. W. S.

aud some extracts from Anderson's Essay on the Independence of Scotland, all relating to the history and
antiquities of that country.

This, of all the works of Lord Hailes, being most adapt-

ed to the public

most

taste, has

obtained the highest and

justly deserved applause.

historian indeed

XXXV1U

CATALOGUE OF

was wanting,

(as-

author of the preface to the f&o

the

whose principal endowments


were a sagacious spirit of criticism to distinguish truth
from falsehood, and a freedom from prejudice to let that
edition well observes^),

He

known.

truth be

wages war

in

every page with

credulity and imposture, and his industry in exploring

the sources of authentic history

equally commendable

is

with the zeal which he has shewn in clearing these


sources from every taint of fiction."

Lord

Hailes' ideas

of the qualifications of a historian were indeed very


high, and his opinion of the faults and imperfections of
the most popular and esteemed historians,
rally lead

him

to avoid these.

Pity

it is,

would natu-

that the same

care to shun the retinernents of conjecture, the

pulous

fidelity in resorting to

same scru-

and examining authorities,

the same spirit of judicious and sound investigation and

had not been employed to illustrate subjects


more important than those which occur during three
With the
centuries of gross ignorance and- barbarism

reflexion,

regret of every one


'

who

has read his work, and

who

wishes to be well acquainted with the history qf their


native country, Lord Hailes stopped at a period interesting to
Stuart.
it

as it is,

no doubts can be entertained that

will be consulted, appealed to, and admired, as long

as the subject
if all

of

Scotsmen, the accession of the House of

all

But

studied.

is

Happy were

it

for

mankind,

writers of history formed themselves on the plan

Iris

23.
in the

Annals

Account

Smyrna and Lyons,

of the Martyrs of

second century, 12mo. with explanatory rotes,

.Edinburgh 1776.

Notes and

Dedicated to Bishop Hurd, pp. 68.


-This is a new and

Illustrations, pp. 142.

correct version of

two most ancient

Epistles

->

the one

XXXIX

LORD HAILES' WORKS.


from -the Church

Smyrna

at

to the

Church

at Philadel-

the other from the Christians at Vienne and Lyons, to those in Asia and Phrygia. Their antiquity and
authenticity are undoubted. Great part of both is ex-

phia

from Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. The


was
first completely edited by Archbishop Usher.
former
tracted

author of the notes says of them, with his usual


and singular modesty, " That they will afford little new
or interesting to men of erudition, though they may

The

prove of some benefit to the unlearned leader."


the erudition he possessed in these branches is so
that this notice

unnecessary.

is

They

display

But
rare,

much

useful learning and ingenious criticism.


24?.

Remains of Christian Antiquity, with explanaVolume II. Edinburgh, 1778. I2mo. dedi-

tory notes,
cated to

Dr Newton,

Bishop of Bristol, Preface, pp. 7.


The Trial of Justin Martyr and

This volume contains,


his

Companions, pp.

8.

Epistle of Dionysius, Bishop

of Alexandria, to Fabius Bishop of Antioch, pp. 16.


The Trial and Execution of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, pp. 8.

The

Trial and Execution of Fructuosu.?,

Bishop of Tarracona

in Spain,

and of

his

two deacons,

Augurius and Eulogius, pp. S. The Maiden of Antioch, pp.2. These are all newly translated by Lord
The
Hailes, from Ruinart, Eusebius, Ambrose, &c.

notes and illustrations of this volume extend from p. 47.


to 165, and discover a

most intimate acquaintance with


acumen, both in elucidating the

antiquity, great critical

sense and detecting interpolations.

To

this

volume

is

added an Appendix of pp. 22, correcting and ;vindicating certain parts of

25.

Remains

of

Volume

I.

Christian Antiquity,

Volume

III.

Edmburgh,,1780, Dedicated to Thomas Balguy, D.D.


CATALOGUE OF

xl
Preface,, pp.2.

It contains the

History of the Martyrs

of Palestine in the third century, translated from

Eu-

sebius, pp.94, notes and illustrations,

and the preceding volume,


ly under review.

pp 135. In this
Gibbon comes frequent-

Mr

26. Sermons by that eminent divine, Jacobus a


ragine,

Archbishop of Genoa.

Edinburgh, pp. 47. 12mo.


was prefixed the following adver-

originals, 1779,

To

this publication

tisement

" Jacobus a Voragine, an humble predicant

friar, for his

was made Archbishop


was who compiled the Aurea Lege?ida r

singular pulpit gifts,

He

of Genoa.

it

of which there are so


all

Vo-

Translated from the

many

abridgments, well

conversant in the history of the

saints.

known

cimen proves acceptable to the public, three


sermons by the same author,
edifying,

may

all

hereafter see the light in .an English

dling, the Publisher thinks

that he does not profess to


faith of the

huu4'rec}=

equally valuable and_.

For preventing mistakes and

dress.

to

If this spe-

officious

intermed-

necessary to premise

it

make any converts to the


The author, if candidly

church of Rome.

heard, will speak for himself."

It is curious

enough

that this publication should have appeared during

tfog

ferment in Scotland, respecting the relaxation of the penal laws against popery.

It

the instance of the late

Dr

with the late

Erskine^ with

Dr Macqueen,

Hume's History,
ter

was printed, we believe, at

whom, and

author of the Letters on

as well as other

clergymen of charac-

and learning, Lord Hailes kept up much friendly

tercourse.

Those who have looked into

will readily discern the

ironical purpose of the editors

absurd nonsense certainly never issued from the

More
press

in-

this publication,

The

author died,

A.D.

1298, and was the

first

LORD HAILES' WORKS.

Xli

"

translator of the Bible into the Italian language.


gejula

cordis

2k*-

Aurea (says Lud. Vives), ab homine oris ferre,

plumbei scripta."

27. Octavius, a Dialogue

by Marcus Minucius

The

Edinburgh 1781. pp.16. Preface.

Coecilius a heathen, Octavius a Christian,

Felix.

speakers are

whose argu-

ments prevail with his friend to renounce Paganism,


and become a Christian proselyte. Notes and illustrations, pp. 120.

28.

Of tl\e manner

treatise

in

which the persecutors died. A


Edinburgh 17S2. In-

by L. C. F. Lactantius.

Dr Porteous, Bishr p of Chester, present Bishop of London. Preface, pp. 37. in which it is proved
that Lactantius is the author. Text, pp. 125. Notes
scribed to

an illustrations, pp.109.
29.

L.C.F. LactantiiDivinarumlnstitutionum Liber

Quintus seu de

Justitia, 1777.

Cum notis Latine,

pp. 42.

'30. Disquisitions concerning the Antiquities of the

Glasgow, 1783.

Christian Church.

Halifax, bishop of Gloucester,


original

Inscribed to

pp. 194.

This

and most excellent work, consists of

Dr

small

six chap-

ters.

Chap.

I.

ter of Gallio,

Commentary on
Acts

the conduct and charac-

xviii. 5. 12. 17.

Chap. II. Of the time at which the Christian religion


became publicly known at Rome.
Chap. III. Cause of the persecution of the Christians
under Nero. In i ->.-, the hypothesis of Mr Gibbon,
%

Vol.1. 4to.

p. 641, is

examined.

Chap. IV. Of the eminent heathen Writers,


said

by

Mr

Gibbon

to

who

are

have disregarded or contemned

Christianity, vix. Seneca, Pliny, sen. Tacitus, Pliny, jun.

Galen, Epictetus, Plutarch, Marcus Antoninus.

To

the

CATALOGUE OF

xlii

admirers of heathen philosophers, and to those especially

trine

who state between them and the Christian docany consanguinity, this chapter is earnestly re-

commended,
Chap. V. Illustration of a conjecture by
respecting the silence of

In

Christians.

Dio

this chapter,

Mr

Gibbon,

Cassius concerning the

with extreme impartiality,

he amplifies and supports an idea of

Mr Gibbon

on

this

head.

Chap. VI. Of the circumstances respecting Christianity that are to be found in the

31.

An

Augustan History.

Inquiry into the Secondary Causes which

Mr

Gibbon has assigned fo the rapid growth of Christianity, by Sir David Dalrymple, Edinburgh, 1786. grate:

(Hurd) Bi-

fully and affectionately inscribed to Richard

shop of Worcester,

4-to.

pp. 213.

In

This work was translated into Dutch, by

five

chapters.

W. Van Yver-

worst, and published at Utrecht, 1793, in 8vo.


32. Sketch of the Life of

John Barclay, 4to. 1786.

33. Sketch of the Life of John Hamilton, a secular


Priest, 4to.

one of the most savage and bigotted adhe-

rents of Popery,

who

lived about

A. D. 1600.

James Ramsay, a genethe Armies of Gustavus Adolphus, king

34. Sketch of the Life of Sir


ral Officer in

of Sweden, with a head.


35. Life of

George

Leslie, an

eminent Capuchin Friar

in the early part of the 17th century, 4to, pp, 24.

Sketch of the Life of

These

men

of

Mark Al^. Boyd,

lives

were written and published

the

manner

might be executed

in

and

which
it

is

4to.
as a speci-

a Biographia Scotica

likely that

Lord Hailes

selected purposely the least interesting.


36.

The

Opinions of Sarah Dss.

Dowager

of Mar!-

LORD HAILES' WORKS.


MSS.

borough, published from her original


pp. 120. with a few foot notes by

xliil

1788. 12mo,

Lord Hailes,

in

which

he corrects the splenetic partiality of her Grace.


37.

The Address

of O. Sept. Tertullian to Scapula

Tertullus, Proconsul of Africa, translated by Sir

David

Dr John

Dalrymple, 12mo. Edin. 1790. inscribed to

Butler, Bishop of Hereford, preface, pp.4, translation,

pp. 18. original, pp. 13.

Notes and

illustrations,

pp.

135.

This address contains many particulars relating to the

Church
ed

all

after the third century.

The translator has reject-

words and phrases of French origin, and has writ-

ten entirely in the Anglo Saxon dialect.

of the notes,

many

In the course

obscurities of the original, not ad-

verted to by other commentators, are explained.


strange inaccuracies of

Mr

Gibbon

are also

Some

detected,

not included in the misrepresentations in his two

mous

chapters.

Lord Hailes,

See particularly, pp.108,

it is

fa-

]30.

reported, left scarcely any thing in

MS. fit for publication. He printed 38 pages Svoof a Glossary of the Scottish language, the opposite pages blank,
for

communications and additions

published, and with

all

but this was never

similar works,

is

now

superseded

by the curious and complete Etymological Dictionary,


by Dr Jamieson, in 2 vols. 4to. A few interesting fragments, it is said, might perhaps be gathered from Lord
Hailes' notes on the Scottish statutes, and on the history of Scotland from the accession of James VI, to the

English throne to the Restoration.

CATALOGUE, &C.

xliv

He

had made some progress

in a

work

the Canon, in an interleaved copy of the

ment

but those

think that

it is

who have

own

is

New

Testa-

done, do not

sufficiently considerable for publication,

and are even uncertain


besides his

seen what

for verifying

if

he intended

it

for

any other

use.

His correspondence must be extremely' interesting,


and such parts of
ed,

it

as

could with propriety be publish-

most acceptable present

would be

Memoir,

p. xxi,

to the world.

ERRATUM.
1,

6. for

muendos read innuendoes.

CHAPTER
]VXr Gibbon justly
candid but
rt

I.

observes,

11

that a

rational inquiry into the progress

and establishment of Christianity, may be con-

" sidered as a very essential part of the history


of the Roman empire."
" While/' says he, that great body was
u invaded by open violence, or undermined by
" slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently
insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew
up

in silence

and obscurity, derived new vigour

from opposition, and finally erected the tri" umphant banner of the Cross on the ruins of
" Our curiosity is natural the Capitol # ."
**

" ly prompted to inquire, by what means the


" Christian faith obtained so remarkable a vic" tory over the established religions of the
" earth. To this inquiry, an obvious^ but satis-

" factory answer may be returned

that

it

was

* Mr Gibbon, in his exordium, speaks also of the


propagation of the gospel after Christianity became
the established religion of the Roman empire ; but
on this, as foreign to his subject, he does not enlarge,

CHAPTER

14

" owing
"

itself

to the convincing evidence of the doctrine

and

" Author.

to the ruling providence of

But

" so favourable

the

I.

as truth

and

its

great

seldom find

reason

a reception in the world,

and

as

wisdom of Providence frequently conde-

human

i:

scends to use the passions of the

(c

and the general circumstances of mankind,

heart
as

" instruments to execute its purpose, we may


u still be permitted, though with becoming re

verence>

to

"firsts but

ask, not

indeed what were the

what were the secondary

causes of

" the rapid growth of the Christian church."


1.

535. 536.

That which is placed in the foremost rank of


" the secondary causes of the rapid growth of
iC

the Christian church," seems so singular, that,

were

it

Gibbon,

not exhibited in the very words of

my

readers might suspect

ving either misunderstood or

me

falsified

Mr

of ha-

the origi-

nal.

He says, that one of the causes of the rapid


growth of the Christian church was, " the hi" flexible, and, if we may use the expression,
" the intolerant zeal of the Christians, derived,
it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purifled from the narrow and unsocial spirit,
which, instead of inviting, had deterred the
Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses
<c

i.

536.

CHAPTER

Mr

Gibbon

when

which,

hesitates to

employ an expression,

rightly understood,

altogether

is

For u the great principle of the

apposite.

" Christian church

" the

15

I.

is

intolerance^

and the zeal of

primitive Christians was intolerant"

Christian zeal has no concern with the per-

who

sons or fortunes of those


Christianity
will

not

are inimical to

and, knowing of what spirit

call for fire

from heaven on

its

it is,

adver-

saries.

But Christians, believing

God, could

in one

not enter into religious society with


believed, or

were willing to have

that they believed, in a multiplicity

To

men who

thought
of gods #.

it

speak in scriptural language, they held,

that light hath no fellowship with darkness


that the temple of
idols

2 Cor.

Now, was
purified

vi.

God

and

can have no agreement with

16.

not this

intolerant zeal,

from a narrow and

however

unsocial spirit, of all

causes the most unlikely to accelerate the progress of Christianity

Yet the evidence produced by

Mr

Gibbon

ought to be heard.
Beginning with Moses, he says, " The sullen
obstinacy with which the Jews maintained
their peculiar rites and unsocial manners,
*

More

will be

said

on

this topic

intolerance comes to be treated of.

when Jewish

CHAPTER

16

I.

" seemed to mark thern out as a distinct species


u of men 5 who boldly confessed* or who faintu ly disguised, their implacable hatred to the

rest of

human-kind

|"

L 537.

In support of this charge, he quotes a trite


passage of Juvenal # and he adds in a note*
:

The
u the

letter

of this law

is

not to be found in

present volume of Moses.


But the wise
" and the humane Maimonides openly teaches,

u
((

that

fall

into the water, a

Jew

ought not to save him from instant death.

" See
i.

an idolater

if

Basncige^ Histoire des Juifs, L

vi.

c. 28.'*

5S7.

One might
that,

in the

be led to infer from this note,

volume of Moses which Juvenal

used, there was an ordinance to the following

" Thou shalt not shew the way unto


effect
the Heathen, neither shalt thou disclose the
" fountains of water unto the uncircumcised
:

and

that, in the present

ever

the

much

spirit,

dinance,

it

may

volume of Moses, howfrom Juvenal's copy,

differ

although not the

is still

letter

of such an or-

discernible f

* " Tradidit arcano quodcunque volumine Moses


" Non monstrare vias, eadem nisi sacra colenti ;
" Qusesitum ad fontem solos deducere verpos."

f Johannes Britannicus, an Italian commentator


on Juvenal, roundly affirms, that Moses did enact a
law of the import mentioned by the satyrist: " Mo--

CHAPTER
But

to such inferences

selected

passages

" Thou

"

press

"of
"

shalt

him

Egypt*,"

shalt

out

17

I.

we may oppose
the

of

few

Pentateuch.

neither vex a stranger, nor opfor ye

were strangers

Exod. xxii. 21.

not oppress a stranger

in the land

thou

Also

for ye

know

the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were stran" gers in the land of Egypt
Exod. xxiii. 9.
w And if a stranger sojourn with thee in

" your
ses,"

land,

ye shall not vex him.

But the

says he, " willed that tne Israelites should be

u so totally averse from all other religions, as not to


" have any intercourse whatever, unless with men
" of their own faith \ that they should not direct a
" Heathen on his Way, or shew him where water
" was to be had when he asked it.
This is contraiy
" to every sentiment of humanity.
But Moses
M thought that such a conduct was not improper to" wards those who professed a different religion
M from his own, which, however, was always held,
" even by the Heathens themselves, to be inhuman
" and barbarous." [Voluit Moses Judseos adeo ab
omni alia religione esse aversos, ut ne commercium
quidem uilum haberent, nisi cum eo qui eadem sacra colleret j nec viam erranti, nec aquam quserenti
quod centra omnem est humanitatem.
monstrarent
Putavit tamen Moses non indignum videri adversus
quod quidem apud
eos qui sacra sua non colerent
omnes, vel Ethnicos, inhumanum et barbarum habiturn semper fuit.]
See Juven. Sat. xiv. L 103. edit.
Henninii, p. 650.
It may be some apology for
" Johannes Britannicus," that, while he misrepresents the law, he denies the divine legation of the
:

lawgiver.

CHAPTER

18

i.

stranger that dwelleth with you, shall be rat to you as one born amongst you, and thou
" shalt love him as thyself; for ye were stran" gers in the land of Egypt I am the Lord your
:

God f Levit. xix. 33. 34. For the Lord


your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords,
"

" a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which


w regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.
" He doth execute the judgement of the fathered

less

and widow, and loveth the stranger *,

in

" giving him food and raiment.


Love ye
therefore the stranger for ye were strangers
:

in the land of Egypt;"

"We

Deut. x. 17.

from our youth

are taught

energy of the words of Dido in Virgil

I learn

The

to

pity

i&tfes so like

my &wn

19.

to admire the

f.

Dryden.

expression, " love the stranger, for ye

" weie strangers

in the land of Egypt,"

more emphatical

it is

a precept

is still

formed on an

appeal to the feelings of a whole nation.

And

although " the stranger that dwelleth

with you" may, perhaps, signify, " one who


" had embraced the Jewish faith j M yet all the
other passages in which " strangers" are men-

must be understood of " persons with" out the pale of the church."

tioned,

* ZEY2 OIAOHENOS,
pellation, than

is

more endearing ap-

ZEY2 HENIOS.

f " Non ignara

mali, miseris succurrere disco.'"

CHAPTER
If such

Moses,
thens,

were made,

provisions

for the

we may

19

I,

in the

law of

and comfort of Hea-

security

certainly conclude, that nothing,

either in the letter or spirit of that law, forbade

the Jews to perforin the general offices of hu-

manity to strangers, "

He who

whom God

loveth."

wishes to avoid this conclusion, must

either recur to the exploded hypothesis, that

the books of Moses have


mutilated state

or,

come down

to us in a

adopting an hypothesis

more extravagant, he must

assert, that

still

the Jews,

the guardians of those books, have foisted precepts of


It is

humanity

into them.

hard to discover the meaning or tenden-

cy of the sequel of

Mr

Gibbon's note

" But

" the wise and the humane Maimonides openly


" teaches, that if an idolater fall into the water,

"

Jew ought not

to save

him from

instant

* death."

Are the epithets wise and humane used ironically, or do they import, that Jewish prejudices
overcame the wisdom and humanity of Maimonides

The word " But"


the sentence

connects the two parts of

and therefore

jectured, that the author

it

meant

though no ordinance, such

as

might be conto say, that al-

Juvenal mentions,

can be found in the present volume of Moses


yet that a

wise and

humane commentator on

CHAPTER

20

12

the Mosaical law supposes such an ordinance to

have existed heretofore in that law*.

The

casuistry of

Maimonides was not derived

from the Mosaical law, but from the


ary maxims of the Jewish teachers

tradition-

and

all

his

wisdom and all his humanity could not restrain


him from drinking deep of that stream of corruption.

We

need not wonder that such was the case

in the

eleventh century, at which time Mai-

monides wrote
that,

for our

Lord himself lamented

even in his days, the teachers of

Israel

made the commandment of God of none


effect by their traditions f Matth. xv. 6.

To

wayward

this

allusions in the

casuistry there are other

writings

of the

Evangelists.

Thus, as it should seem, from the precept,


" Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,"
Levit. xix. 18.

the

Jewish teachers inferred,

that an opposite precept,

thine enemy f
was
of God. Matth. v. 43,
* The

style of

Mr

" Thou

also the

Gibbon

is

shalt hate

commandment

generally supposed

and yet I meet with many things in


his work which seem ambiguous.
If, at any time,
I should have the ill fortune to misunderstand him,
he will pardon my mistake.
to be clear

probable that the interpreters, who, at this


a marginal reference to Exod. xxxiv.
12. Levit. xix. 18. and Deut. vii. 2. mean only to

It

is

passage,

make

CHAPTER
The Heathens

21

I,

took no pains to

make them-

acquainted with the true import of the

selves

law of Moses
their base

and the Jewish

glosses, disfigured

by

casuists,

But

it.

that

law

ought not to be judged on the evidence of


norant

ig-

and perverse interpretations.


section, intitled, " Zeal of the Jews,"

cavils,

In this

there are other particulars which merit explanation.

Thus,

it

is

said, that

" to a surprising degree

" wards

Some
this

cause

in the east,

after-

reason ought to have been assigned for

is

and the more so, be" it seems

said, presently after, that

probable that the number of


" never much superior to that of
that

and

in the west."

surprising increase
it

" the Jews multiplied

proselytes
apostates

was
"

" the descendants of Abraham were ap-

prehensive of diminishing the value of their


" inheritance, by sharing it too easily with the

strangers of the

earth

" whenever

that

the God of Israel acquired any new votaries,


" he was much more indebted to the inconstant
" humour of Polytheism, than to the active

(t

and

zeal of his own missionaries "


" the painful^ and even dangerous
cumcision> was alone capable of

rite

of

that
cir-

repelling a

point out the texts in the Pentateuch that were perverted by the Jewish casuists,

CHAPTER

22

"

willing

proselyte

I.

from the synagogue."

i.

539. 541.
There
and

is

critical

hardly a phrase in

all this

historical

deduction that can pass unobserved.


as Mr Gibbon must know,
God of heaven and of earth ; and

The God of Israel,


also

is

the

therefore

He

either to the

could not be Indebted for votaries,

humour of Polytheism,

or to the

zeal of Jewish missionaries.

Besides,

God

never sent missionaries with

the purpose of converting Heathens to the belief

of the Jewish religion.

Mr

Gibbon observes,

ed surprisingly9 and

at

that the Jews increas-

the same time he sup-

poses, that this surprising increase

was not ow-

ing to any accession of proselytes.

Heathen

writers seldom, if ever, speak ho-

nourably of Judaism; and yet they seem agreed,


that the

was

number of

proselytes to that religion

great.

In

the fragments of Seneca,

we

read,

" So

" universally do the customs of that most fia" gitious people prevail, that now they are re" ceived all over the world. The conquered
have given laws to the conquerors # ."
* " Usque eo sceleratisslmce gentis consuetudo
" convaluit, ut per omnes jam terras recepta sit.
" Victi victor ibns leges dcdtrunt " Seneca ap. Augustin.

De

civitate Dei, vi.

11.

CHAPTER

23

I.

Tacitus says, " The worst of men every

And

" wherey despising the religious rites of their own


" countn/ were wont to pile up their contriy

butions and alms at Jerusalem # ." And again,


The Jews instituted the rite_of circumcision,

in

"

rest

order to distinguish themselves from the


of mankind.

They who

have

revolted

to the customs of the Jews do the same and


" the first thing that they are taught, is, to
" despise the gods, and to divest themselves of
\

" patriotism

f,"

Seneca and Tacitus, however improperly


they

may have judged

of the character of the

proselytes to

Judaism, could not be mistaken

in

that

this

fact,

and those
tion,

so

there were such proselytes,

numerous,

and perhaps the

as to excite

fears,

the atten-

of the Heathen

world.

The

decencies of

modern language

will not

allow any detail with regard to " the painful,

* " Nam pfssvr.ys quisque< spr^tis religionlbus


" pair lis, tributa et stipes illuc congerebant." Hist,
v. 5.

" Circumcldere genitalia

insiituere,

ut

diver-

Transgrcssi in mqrem eorum


" idem usurp ant } nec quidquam prius imbuuntur,
" quam contemnere deos, exuere patriarch" Hist,

*'

sitate,

v. 5.

noscantur.

It is

politician

amusing to remark the zeal which the

Tacitus, himself a

fatalist

expresses for Polytheism and idolatry.

or a Sceptic,

CHAPTER

24?

" and even dangerous

We

rite

I.

of

circumcision/'

may, however, observe, that

it

could not

have deterred that sex to whose devotion

Gibbon

ascribes

much

Mr

of the success of Chris-

from avowing the Jewish religion


and that it " did not repel willing proselytes
from the door of the mosque."
Mr Gibbon observes, that " the descendants
tianity,

**

of

Abraham

were

apprehensive

of

dimi-

" nishing the value of their inheritance, by sha ring it too easily with the strangers of the
earth."

But the Jews could not imagine

that their

temporal inheritance was in danger of having

value diminished by the coming of pro-

its

amongst them

selytes

inheritance, although

enough
in

it,

to

and

many

as for

sects

a spiritual

may be

apt

exclude adversaries from a portion

yet they are generally willing to share

it

with proselytes.

Granting the humour of Polytheism to

have been
plained,

inconstant

how

%"

it

remains to be ex-

that inconstancy should have led

Polytheists to embrace the doctrine of Theism.

* The Heathens were more inclined to receive


gods, than to dismiss old ones.
For example,
shapeless masses of stone were the most ancient idols.
Terminus, a god of that sort, would not make way
for the Capitoline Jupiter , and his claim of possession appears to have been allowed.

new

CHAPTER
Again,

is

it

said in

neither violence, nor

25

I,

the same section, that

art,

nor example, " could

" ever persuade the Jews to associate with the


institutions of Moses the elegant mythology
of the Greeks *
and it is added, The

" current of zeal and devotion,


tracted

as

it

was con-

into a narrow channel, ran with the

*<

strength, and sometimes with the fury, of a

**

torrent."

What

Mr

i.

are

538.

we

to understand

Gibbon speak

that of

an unbeliever

Was
sociate

in his

it

by

own

Does

all this ?

character, or in

reasonable that the Jews should as-

with the Mosaical institutions

by proof,

thology unsupported

my-

whose

and

usurped authority the wisest amongst the Heathens had disclaimed

and would

it

not have

been absurd for them to have assumed any


part

of a garb which did not

who had

long used

This, however,

is

not

all.

not associate " the elegant

" Greeks with the

sit

easy on those

it ?

The Jews

could

mythology of the

institutions of

Moses

the Greeks were Polytheists, and the Jews


*

Mr

Gibbon

for
pro^

moderation of the
prejudices of
their subjects 7 and he remarks, that " the polite
" Augustus roncUscended to give orders, that sacri6
flees should be offered for his prosperity, in the
H temple of Jerusalem." Decline and Fall, i. 533.
contrasts the

Roman Emperors with

the jealous

'

'

26
know, how the
be,

tk

Now,

Theism.

fessed pure

could

CHAPTER
belief

and worship of mam/ gods

harmoniously united with the belief

and worship of the One


to

should wish to

God

It is

hard then

accuse that unfortunate people of sullenness

and obstinacy,

for not

endeavouring to accom-

plish impossibilities.

Of

old,

indeed, they

length in the

went

considerable

way of accommodation. They

re-

sorted to Egypt, Phoenicia, and Syria, to the

magazines from which the


elegancies

Greeks got the

of their mythology, and with Jehovah

they associated any other divinity whose worship happened to be fashionable amongst the

neighbouring nations
the

that

condescended to be,

God
his

for they vainly imagined,

One and Self-existent, when he


in

an especial manner, the

of a particular people, would communicate

honour to

idols,

men, or of material

the representation Gf deified


objects.

If our sacred books

experiment of

may be

association

proved

of the Jews

credited, this

to

fatal

and

the

church and

state

ted on

hands, that no farther attempts of

all

it is

the like preposterous nature were ever

admit-

made

So, from the memorable sera of the Babylonish


captivity, the devotion of the

tracted into the

Jews became con-

narrow channel of the belief of

One God, instead of gently expanding

itself in

CHAPTER

27

I.

the various and shallow tracts of Polytheism.

The

sad consequences ensuing from the at-

tempt to admit intercommunity of religions into the theocratical system, will serve to account
for

circumstance in the history of the Jews,

Mr

with which

Gibbon

is

pose, seriously embarassed.

greatly, and, I sup-

He

({

says, that

the

devout, and even scrupulous attachment to


" the Mosaic religion, so conspicuous among

" the Jews who lived under the second temple,


" becomes still more surprising, if it is com" pared with the stubborn incredulity of their

forefathers."

i.

538.

Instead of " stubborn incredulity of their fore-

" fathers,"

Mr Gibbon

ought to have

said,

their propensity to idolatrous worship."

For

the ancient Israelites entertained no doubts as


to the reality of the miracles

Red

performed

own

their

vinities

the

Indeed when

Sea, and in the wilderness.

they worshipped

at

Jehovah under symbols of

devising,

and did homage

to the di-

of the Heathen, they violated the co-

venant, and transgressed the fundamental law of


their

abjure

government
yet still they meant not to
the Lord their God, who brought

" them out of the land of Egypt."


It
lous,

Mr

is

true, that they

were stubbornly incredu-

but in a different sense from that which

Gibbon

figures to himself

for they

mur-

CHAPTER

28

mured

X.

every obstacle in their way, and dis-

at

believed the future accomplishment of God's

promises

,#
.

After having mentioned the attachment of


the Jews to the Mosaic religion, as he

Mr
that

Gibbon proceeds
religion for which

calls it,

to give a delineation of
Christians were zealous.

In this he appears to have copied some Christian


divine,

and to have added a few touches of his

own, which are

He
C

easily discernible.

next observes, that " the Jewish converts,

who acknowledged

Jesus in the character of

the Messias, foretold by their ancient oracles r


u respected him as a prophetic teacher of virtue
u and

religion

but they obstinately adhered to

the ceremonies of their ancestors, and were


(

desirous

who

of imposing them on the Gentiles,

continually-

augmented the number of

These Judaizing Christians seem


believers.
to have argued, with some degree of plausi bility, from the divine origin of the Mosaic
6(

law, and from the immutable perfections o

its

great Author."

Mr

Gibbon

is

at

pains to place in the best

point of view the arguments which he supposes the Judaizing Christians to have used;

and

then he concludes with the following note.


*

Heh c.

iii.

v.

7. 19.

c. iv. v. II*.

chapter

29

r.

These arguments were urged with great in genuity by the Jew Orobio, and refuted with
" equal ingenuity and candour by the Christian
" Limborch." i. 543.
has been remarked, that there was no oc-

It

Mr Gibbon

casion for

to have entered into a

of refuted arguments

detail

or, at least, that to

what Orobio urged, he ought


what Limborch answered.
But

pass to something

to

more

have added

material.

said, that

"

Jesus in the character of the Messias,"

faith

were

religion"

amount
far,

and

him as a prophetic teacher of virtue

respected

" and

It

u the Jewish converts acknowledged

is

to

very

i.

Did

542.

no more than

Christian

their
this

if so,

they

from discerning the


of Christ
and " the breth-

far indeed,

nature and offices

ren of the circumcision" must have differed


little from " the Polish brethren.?
This requires explanation.

There

follows, in the

Dissertation

work of

on what he

calls

Mr

Gibbon, a

the

Nazarene

church of Jerusalem.
it

he attempts to prove, that throughout

first

century, and even during some part of

In
the

the second, there were, in effect, two Christian

churches

that circumcision, and other rites of

the Mosaical law, were practised in the one,

CHAPTER

30

but in the other rejected

I.

Mr

*.

Gibbon seems

to hold, that the former, or the Nazarene church

of Jerusalem^ had the fairest pretences to ortho-

doxy

but

being overpowered by the

that,

number of Gentile

converts, and compelled

the necessity of the times,

quish

its

primitive

porated with the

rites,

it

by

agreed to relin-

and to become incor-

latter, or the

church of

un-

tlie

circumcision.
I

do not propose

sertation

examine minutely

to

foreign to the

great

object

circumstances in

which deserve

"

all

it

Mr

and yet there are some

Gibbon's inquiries

" The

a dis-

of

first fifteen

attention.

bishops of Jerusalem were.

circumcised Jews,

and the congregation

" over which they presided, united the law of

Moses with the doctrine of Christ."


In proof of this, there
sebius, Hist. Eccles.

* Toland, in

is

4*

reference

made

i.

544*

to

Eu~

5.

his malicious rhapsody, called

He

Nn%a-

" the Jews,.


" though associating with the converted Gentiles,
u and acknowledging them for their brethren, were
" still to observe their own law throughout all gen" erations
and that the Gentiles, who. became so
" far Jews as to acknowledge One God, were not,
" however, to observe the Jewish law \ but that
" both of them were to be for ever after united in" to one bond or fellowship j w Preface, p. 5.
Tois
the candid and consistent author of Pantheisticon
is pleased to call the original plan of Chris ianity t

renus.

goes

*,

farther.

says,

that

CHAPTER

31

I.

Eusebius, no doubt, says, that the


bishops of Jerusalem were

and

c<

of the circulrlcision.

church

at

first

Hebrews by

He

,,

fifteen

birth,

adds, that the

Jerusalem was altogether composed

of believing Hebrews.

But is it certain that all those fifteen bishops


were " circumcised Jews ?"
" Of the circumcision" may be a periphrasis,
distinguishing the Jewish people

from the Gen-

without any reference being intended to

tiles,

the peculiar

rite

no evidence,

and there

of circumcision

that,

after

the

is

burning of the

temple in the days of Vespasian, the

Hebrew

Christians persevered in the use of that rite.


Besides,
[1. iv. c.

at

be remarked, that Eusebius


the succession of bishops

5.] speaks of

Jerusalem until the time

were

finally scattered, in the

Hadrian.
ple

will

it

at

which the Jews

eighteenth year of

Nov/, from the burning of the tem-

under Vespasian, to the

final scattering

un-

no more

der Hadrian, there was

an interval of

than sixty-four years

so that the greatest part

of the fifteen bishops must have been born, and,


probably,

all

of them

may have been born

fore the burning of the temple *

be-

hence they

* If we suppose, as is most likely, that Jude, the


was younger than his predecessors,
attained to the age of sixty-four at
^ ^ at ^ e k
ft*
^v^ST
3 *2 'vSHe time when Hadrian subdued and destroyed Je~
fifteenth bishop,
1

fc

CHAPTER n

32

might have been circumcised,


practice of circumcision

Hebrew

had ceased amongst the

Christians at that remarkable sera.

Accordingly,
Justus,

although the

we

from Eusebius, that

learn

the third bishop of Jerusalem, was a

Jew *

converted

So the circumstance of

his

having been actually circumcised, affords no pre-

sumption whatever, that the Hebrew Christians


continued to practise the
It

is

next said, that

rite

" the

of circumcision.
Gentiles, with the

" approbation of their peculiar apostle, rejected


" the intolerable weight of Mosaical ceres'

This

monies."

learn
elders

is

extraordinary

for

we

from Scripture f, that the apostles and


at Jerusalem did, in the most deliberate

and solemn manner, pronounce the Gentiles to


be free from that weight, which,

they

rejected

it is

here

said,

with the approbation of their pe-

culiar apcstle.

tusalem,

it

will follow, that all the fifteen bishops

were born before the burning of the temple under


Vespasian.

oioficc

lafo;,

TnVtKOC'JTCe,

iivyim

07cJy

7rZ7ri<TiVK0T&)>j

Hist. Eccles.

1.

3. c.

Uq

35.

ik

nip tropes

XC&t

The

CiVTOg

rov

isg
6)9,

Xfa<;ov

di^t^iiOCi,

words, uq

uvroc

which imply, that Justus himself was a convert,


are omitted in the version of Valesius \ and consequently this fact cannot be known to those who
consult his version alone.

% Acts xv.

119.

CHAPTER
Toland,
rate

it is

Paui from

true,

33

I.

much

took

pains to sepa-

But

the other apostles.

ima-

gined that the notions of Toland, and of his


copist

Lord Bolingbroke, had been long ago ex-

ploded by every one conversant in the Scriptures #

and

it

is

singular

that

avowed friend of

they should

Mr

have been again produced by

Gibbon, an

Christianity.

* In the passage under consideration, Mr Gibbon


has committed a small mistake.
He says, " The
Nazarenes retired from the ruins of Jerusalem to
" the little town of Fella, beyond the Jordan 3"

But it was before the siege of Jerusalem


p. 545.
by Titus, that the Jewish Christians retired from
the devoted city \ Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 1. iii. c. 5,
This retreat was in consequence of the injunctions
of our Lord, Matth. xxlv. 15. Eusehius says, * pii
xXXxxxi t% Xctv 7Y)$ tv UaoG-oXvpois SKX.Xn<nxg^ y.c.T:6.
TiVX
7Zp&

X>vVi~yM

T6t$ XVToff} ^GKlUOtq

TS TTOMfXH piTXVX$-/)VXl

7ro\i otKHV y^KiXlvcrixiva.

t.

i.

X7T0KXXv^iafg

TVIS 7T0\lCd$,

UiXXdV

OSh.u-iZ,

XXI TIVX T^g TltpXlXg

XVTY}V ovouu^htih.

That which Eusebius here terms "

k*

a revela-

" tion given to approved or respectable persons,"


appears to have been an impression made on their
minds as to the just sense of the words of our Lord,
It is probable, that until the
Matth. xxiv. 15.
Christians saw the standards of Rome erected in
Judea, they understood not the full import of the
Epiphanius,.
phrase, " abomination of desolation."
in his careless and incorrect manner, says, that the
warning to remove from Jerusalem was given by an
angel j De Ponderibus et Mensuris, 1. xiv. torn. 2,
p. 171. edit. Petav. 1682 ; yet elsewhere he truly
says, that the Christians removed in consequence of
.

Christ's injunctions. Hseres, 29.

t.

1. p.

123,

CHAPTER

3'4

I.

This hypothesis concerning the Nazarene


church, in
ous in

its

Mr

ed to

its

nature extravagant, and danger-

consequences, ought not to be ascrib-

Gibbon.

He

has unwarily adopted*

the fancies of Mosheim, and presented


tJie

them

to

public in an elegant English dress.

Mosheim, with very eminent


could not always
pearing singular

heavily,

the temptation of ap-

resist

having disengaged himself

from the trammels

moved

literary abilities,

in

which

his

countrymen

he sometimes wandered from

the road.

passage in Sulp. Severus, which

admits to be " obscure and

nished

him with

praised

by

Mr

ill

materials for a system highly

Gibbon,

i.

546.

required the genius of

It

Mosheim

arranged," * fur-

n.

21.

Mosheim

up such flimsy materials, and


make them fashionable.

to

work

his reputation to

K Et quia ChrisSulp. Severus thus speaks


tiani [in Palestina] ex Judseis potissimum pu tabantur, (namque turn Hierosolymse non
" nisi ex circumcisione habebat ecclesia sacer:

*
"

dotem), militum cohortem custodias in per-

petuum

agitare jussit,

quse

Judaeos

omnes

Hierosolymse aditu arceret.

Quod quidem

Christians

quia turn pene

M.

De

fidei

proficiebat,

Rebus Christianorum ante Constantin,

p. 325. note *.

CHAPTER I.
omnes Christum Deum sub legis

"

" credebant

nimirum

" dispositum, ut

legis

id,

35
observatione

Domino

ordinante,

servltus a libertate fidei

" atque ecclesix tolleretar ; ita turn primum


Marcus e gentibus apud Hierosolymam epis" copus fuit
It is irksome for one to attempt

translation, without

having a clear ap-

prehension of the import of the original.

The

meaning of Sulpitius seems to be this " And


" as the Christians [in Palestine] were under:

" stood to be

that time

"

priest

chiefly

composed of Jews,

(for at

the church of Jerusalem had no

but of the circumcision), Hadrian or-

" dered a band of soldiers to keep continual


u watch, and to exclude all Jews from entrance
" into Jerusalem, which indeed proved advan" tageous

to

the

Christian

religion

for,

in

" those davs, almost everv one who acknowled" ged the divinity of Christ, observed the
" Mosaical law. But Providence so ordered it,
that the thraldom of the law might be re" moved from the liberty of the faith and the

" church so then, for the first time, one from


" the Gentiles, Mark> became bishop of Je;

" rusalem."
Let us

on

this

now

see the

commentary of Mosheim
" It is certain," says

confused text.

* Hist.Sacr.l. 2.

c.

31.

CHAPTER

36
he,

" from the words of

I.

That the

who were

of Jewish

Sulpitius,

cc

Christians in Palestine,

original, joined

the ceremonial law with the

" worship of Christ, so long as any hope re mained of the restoration of Jerusalem, after

"

its

all

first

destruction

by Titus.

2.

That when

hope of such an event ceased,

at

the

se-

cond destruction by Hadrian, the greatest part

of those Christians rejected the Mosaical law,


" and chose Mark, a stranger, for their bishop.
This they certainly did, lest a bishop of the

Jewish

nation, through his

for the law

restore

the

innate affection

of his people, should insensibly

abrogated

ceremonies.

3.

That

<c

the abolishing of the Mosaical law was oc-

"

casioiied

bv the severity of Hadrian, who


" surrounded the site of Jerusalem with his
soldiers, and debarred all Jews from entrance

therein. This says Mosheim, is not so cle.ar" ly explained by Sulpitius as it ought to have
" been, but his omissions may be easily sup*
While the Christians in Palestine con*? plied.
" tinued to obev the law of Moses, they were
considered by the Romans, and not without
some appearance of reason, to be Jews so
" the prohibition of entering into Jerusalem
extended to them also. But the Christians,
" being exceedingly desirous of visiting that
" city, renounced the ceremonial law, and, to
3

CHAPTER
u prove the
" a stranger

ST

I.

sincerity of their conduct, elected

This separation

for their bishop.

" having been once made, the Romans al lowed that access to the Christians which was
" denied to the Jews."

All this, according to

Mosheim, may, with moderate attention, be


drawn out of the words of Sulpitius ?
But Mosheim's alembic is capable of much
more " It remains to be inquired/' says he,
:

why the Christians should have been so de sirous of having access to Jerusalem, as rather
" to renounce their national law, and to place
" a stranger over them for their bishop, than

to

this

remain deprived of that permission


point Sulpitius

tator

"

in

silent,

but his

commen-

" Hadrian had erected a new

enlarges.

city

is

neighbourhood

the

* which he called JElia

of

Capitol'ma,

Jerusalem,

and which

f he endowed with ample privileges.


Christians residing in the little town of
" and

On

?"

in the adjacent country,

The
Pella^

were incommo-

diously lodged, and therefore were very de" sirous of being admitted as citizens in the
" new colony so most of them thought fit to
" abolish the ceremonial law instituted by Mo*,

"

ses

*,

and by thus distinguishing themselves

" from the Jews, they obtained admittance in-

44

M Htec omnia ex Sulpitio, valde licet negligenter


mediocri attentione adhibita, eliciuntur^

scribat,

CHAPTER

38

to

"

their

Mlia Capholina.

I.

It is excecd'mgly probable,

that that very Marcus,

whom

they chose for

bishop, suggested this project to them,

His name shows him


" and,

no doubt,

to

Roman
the Roman

have been

he was known to

" governors in Palestine, and perhaps he was


" related to some principal person amongst
" them."

Mosheim seems

to

have perceived that

his

hypothesis was leading to strange conclusions,

and therefore he thought fit to check himself


a little. " I would not have it understood/'
says he, " that the Jewish Christians were led

"

to Reject the law of

"
"

desire

<

of

Capitciina.

Moses merely from the

establishing

themselves

at

Mlia

Undoubtedly Marcus, who per-

suaded them to the measure, did also demon-

strate, by weighty arguments, that Christ had


taken away the authority of the Mosaical

His arguments, however, would have

rites.

" made

less

impression on the minds of persons

bred up, from their tender years, in the law

" of Moses, had they not longed to be made


" partakers of the conveniencies and privileges
M of the new colony, and to be relieved from
" the vexations and hardships which the Jews
" suffered under the government of Hadrian

and,

in a

word, had not the second destruction

CHAPTER

39

I.

u of Jerusalem made them despair of ever be holding the temple rebuilt, and liberty of

worshipping God, after the manner of their


" own laws, restored to the Jewish nation."

Thus we

that

see,

had

it

not been for the

arguments of Marcus, co-operating with the


conveniency of residing

CapitoHnay the

at /Elia

Jewish Christians of Palestine might have continued for ages to use the Mosaical

rite

of

cir-

cumcision, and the Christian rite of baptism,


to celebrate the passover, and to partake of the

holy communion.

All this

obscure, ill-arranged passage


writer of the fifth century,

no such thing

says
lar

still,

it is

is

proved from an

in

and, which

proved by

an incorrect

who, to appearance,

a critic

is

more singu-

who undertook

Nazarenus of Toland

to confute the

When

we see the extravagancies of the learned, well


may we pronounce, that " Pride was not made
" for man."
It

does honour to the good sense of

Gibbon,

while transcribing from

that,

Mr
Mo-

sheim. he has softened some circumstances,3 and


j

omitted others

for

all

his

eloquence would

not have been sufficient to convert the entire


narrative

Mr

from romance

Gibbon seems

into history.

to think, that the

remnant

of the Nazarenes of Jerusalem, or the Jewish

CHAPTER

4D
converts

I.

who adhered

to the Mosaicai law>


branded with the name of the Ebionites # .

were

were so

It is generally held, that the Ebionites

Hebrew word Ebjomm that is, poor.


Hence Toland says, u They were called, by way of
called from the

- contempt,
<#
-

Ebioniivs, or beggars

Protestants in Flanders,

But unfortunately the


cal,

not religious origin.

just as the

first

gueux" Nazarenus, p. 26.


name gueux is of politiThe observation, however,

was well meant.


Mr Gibbon, 2. 546. not. 23.

" Some writers

says,

il

have been pleased to create an Ebion, the imagi" nary author of their sect and name. But we can
u more safely rely on the learned Eusebius, than on
u the vehement Tertullian or the credulous Epi-

" phanius."

The question is not important, yet It may still be


doubted, whether there did not exist a man named
Ebion or
ebion who was the leader of the sect calEusebius indeed says,
led Ebionites or Ebionceans.
" The ancients commonly called them Ebionites
u who entertained a poor and low opinion of Christ."

TttTrztvag rcc 7rtpt

r% Xpi?% J|#i3#$. Hist. Eccles,in. 27.

taken from Origen,,^ Principvs iv. who


says, u we do not receive those things in the sense
" of the Ebionites, the poor in understanding, men

This

Ci

is

whose name corresponds with the meanness of

M intellects

for

Ebion^ in Hebrew,

%k thoipfixvcpw ravla s
wis

7f%j%zix$

rn<;

eiietvoius

7?ct Efi%ccioi$ ovo^ZiT&ii.

a person as

Ebion

is

0i 'ptI^X 01 rv}

^!& v

t> l

Here the
not denied.

Mr

scriptione Haereticorurn, c.

their

poor "

& Efii#v#m t

Z7ravvpoi 'Efiiav yct%

Tertullian alluded to by

c. .14,.

signifies

7f\ax. Q $

existence of such

The

passages in

Gibbon, are, de Prae33. and d. Came Christ^

CHAPTER
He

41

I.

which he has the authority of


the Fathers, from Justin Martyr to Augustine,
adds, for

were held

that the Ebionites

and

is

it

to

to be presumed, that no

be heretics

man

in our

days will dispute the justice of that appellation*

But he proceeds,

in a note, p. 546. to observe,

there
some reason to conjecture, that
" the family of Jesus Christ remained members,
" at least of the more moderate party of the

that

<c

is

Ebionites."

He

quotes no authority for this slight con-

jecture,

we

If

which, however

also

Gibbon

may be

that,

has a meaning.

permitted to conjecture,

Mr

alludes to the following passage in the

ecclesiastical history

"

slight,

of

Le

Clerc.

"

It

may

be

amongst the inhabitants of Choba in

the apostolical times, there were some Naza" renes who gave themselves out to be kinsmen
" of our Lord, and perhaps were so
The
unvouched may

be

and perhaps of Le Clerc

* " Nec quidquam vetat inter temporum Apostc<k

licorum Chobenses fuisse quosdam Nazarenos, qui


** se
dt?7ro?vv%$ dicerent, et fortasse essent."
Hist,
This may be true, but it is
Eccles. p. 417. note 3.
exceedingly improbable.
See Euseb. Hist. Eccles.
L ii. c. 23. 1. iii. c. 11. c. 20. c. 32. Persons any way
connected with our Lord, appear to have been highly honoured in the Christian church throughout the
first

century.

CHAPTER

42

I.

hardly merited a place in the works of Sir

Gibbon.

Mr

Gibbon might, with

propriety, have said-

something concerning the


rites

of the Ebionites,

faith as well as

the

remnant of the

that

church of the Nazarenes, whose primitive

tra-

dition could have laid claim to be received as

the standard of orthodoxy


more especially,
Toland declares

because^ as
it

f and this the


Mr Gibbon knows,

to be the concurring opinion

of the Fathers, " That

the

" Ebionites affirmed Jesus


man," &c. *

to

Although

Mr

Nazarenes and

have been a mere

Gibbon be concise

count of the Ebionites, he

is

in his ac-

copious in descri-

bing the character and opinions of the GnosSi

tics.

They were,"

" the most

polite,

says he,

distinguished

the most learned, and the

most wealthy of the Christian name

which
tion,

is

rather singular in

they were,

as

for the

men

;"

and,

of that descrip-.

most

part, averse to

the pleasures of sense."


He adds, " that the general appellation

[of*

Gnostics], which expressed a superiority of.


knowledge, was either assumed by their own

pride, or ironically

their adversaries f

bestowed by the envy of

* Nazarenus, p. 27.
"
f The expression, envy of

adversaries," proves

CHAPTER

43>

I.

Let us now see what that knowledge was for.


which they prided themselves, or which their
adversaries envied in them.

According to

Mr

Gibbon, they took excep-

tions at every part of the

Old Testament, from

the creation of the world, to the end of the

Jewish theocracy.

He

adds, in a note,

a The

" milder Gnostics considered Jehovah, the Cre

ator, as a

being of a mixed nature between

" God and the demon.


him with the

So much

Others confounded

evil principle."

for their

judgment of the Old Tes-

tament, and for their belief in a Deity.

Now for their gospel-faith. " It was their


" fundamental doctrine, that the Christ whom
they adored as the first and brightest emanation of the Deity, appeared upon earth, to
rescue mankind from their various errors
[Paganism and Judaism], and to reveal a new
" system of truth and perfection."
'<

To complete the picture, Mr Gibbon adds,


" They blended with the faith, of Christ many
(i

sublime, but

obscure tenets, which they deri-

" ved from Oriental philosophy, and even frojxx


the religion of Zoroaster, concerning the eter-

that

Mr Gibbon

has not discovered any thing

ift

the

writings of St Paul or St John alluding to the paaae


of Gnostics.


CHAPTER

44

I.

" nity of matter, the existence of two

Such was the


learning of the
for aught I
to

jprinci-

pies/' &c.

them

know, bear

The

may,

portrait

resemblance

a perfect

but hardly can any feature of Chri-

be discerned in

stianity

of the politeness and

result

Gnostics.

it,

excepting

this, that

the Gnostics and the Christians concurred in


believing the existence of the devil

composing a part of the Divinity


as the adversary

With

respect

God and man

of
to

the

those, as

and these,

*.

Gnostics,

further

it is

that " they were imperceptibly divided

said,

" into more than fifty particular sects


each of
" the sects could boast of its bishops and conu gregations, of its doctors and martyrs/' i. 550.
:

This circumstance seems important,


meant,
stics
c<

if

that each of the fifty sects of the

produced M

men who

it

be

Gno-

suffered death for

their adherence to the faith in Christ."

Mr

Gibbon quotes Eusebius

{Hist. Ectfes.

L rv.

c.

15.]

as his

voucher,

The words

of that

To
u the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp,
there is added an account of other martyr-

historian are to the following purpose

<(

doms
*

stics

in

Smyrna about the same time

and

He had said before, that the deity of the Gnowas of a mixed nature, and sometimes confound-

ed with the evil principle.

CHAPTER

45

I.

amongst the sufferers was Metrodorus, appear" ing [or esteemed] to be a presbyter in the erf<

ror of Marcion,

who, having been delivered

"over to be burnt, was put to death # ."


Here Eusebius mentions, amongst the
Smyrna,

tyrs at

esteemed to be a

one person

presbyter of the sect of Marcion


historian

is

mar-**

and yet that

appealed to as the single witness for

proving, that " each of the fifty sects of the

Gnostics could boast of

This

Mr

is

its

martyrs}'*

remarkable, for at that very

Gibbon had the

ary, v. MarcioniteSy

Now, Bayle

under

his view.

admits that the Gnostics in ge-

neral did not yield themselves to


in the cause of Christ.
tradict

him

martyrdom

His inclination to con-

and to expose Jurieu,

this, naturally led

ry.

moment

article in Bayle's Diction-

who had

affirmed

to maintain the contra-

But the evidence of Tertullian was too

'Ev ta

Cr'JV/iTTQ

civrv} 3 TFtgi

X&Tci

TijV

avTd yexpY} xxi

eiXXx.

C&VTW XfAVgV&V 7^7? Siy jU.it Ct

/u,&%rvid&

VTTO TYIV CCV-

c. 15.
Mr Gibbon might have added Asclesupposed to be a MarcionHe bishop, who suffered in the last persecution, Euseb. De Mart. Palest,
c. x.
The account of the martyrs of Smyrna, first
published by Archbishop Usher, makes no mention
of Metrodorus.
If the zeal of the copist omitted
him, it was zeal without knowledge.

l.iv.

pius,

CHAPTER

46
clear

to

I.

be obscured, and too express to be

gain-said #

so

all

that

Bayle could do was to

remark, that " although the Marcionites agreed

with the opinions of the

**

in certain points

"

Gnostics, yet, as to the point of suffering

" martyrdom, they might have differed from


" them f
Indeed, had not the disciples of Marcion
differed in

some

tenets

from the Gnostics,

it

is

hard to say for what point of Christian faith


they could have suffered martyrdom.

Mosheim attempts to account for it thus


The Marcionites held, that violence ought to
be done to the body, as being composed of
a evil matter, and of the dregs of the malevo:

"

lent deity J."

This, however,

is

a vague and

fanciful conjecture.

* " Quum igitur fides sestuat, et ecclesia exuritur


" de figura rubi, tunc Gnosfici erumpunt, tunc Va" lentiniani proserpunt tunc ornnes martyriorum re" fr abator es ebulliunt, calentes et ipsi offendere, fi" gere, occidere."

Scorpiace, c. i.
" II est bien vrai que Marcion convenoit avec
" les Gnostiques en certaines choses, mats cela n' em" pechoit point que sa secte ne fut difFeiente de la
-f-

"
64

leur

et ainsi, sans

un temoignage expres, et sans


a nul droit de lui

des preuves particulieres, on

" imputer its sentiment des Gnostiques touchant le


" martyred Dictionaire, v. Marcionites, note, E.
viii.
66
Vim corpori esse inferendam, machinse nimiX
M rum ex prava materia fcecibusque maligni Dei

CHAPTER

4?

I,

Dr Jortin says, That the Marcionites were


w put to death, because they acknowledged Je* sus to be the Son of God, and would not reH nounce him, and

The

latter part

enough
cionites,

and

who

it

of this conjecture

may fitly be

is

said, that

probable

Mar-

the

died for that persuasion, were

martyrs to truth.
leaves

M
sacrifice to idols *.

no doubt of

This testimony unto


their sincerity

and

it

be presumptuous for us to assert that

blood

would
it

was

unacceptable to God,

But

this

proves nothing as to the martyrs of

the fifty sects of the Gnostics

f.

Mr Gibbon concludes his account of the Gnostics

with these memorable words

" Though

they constantly disturbed the peace, and fre" quently disgraced the name of religion, they
" contributed to assist, rather than to retard
" the progress of Christianity."

That men who constantly disturbed the peace,


and frequently disgraced the name of Christianity,

should have forwarded

constructae."

De

its

progress,

is

a pro-

Reb. Christ, ante Constant.

M.

p. 409. note

* Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, ii. 330.


j- Dr Middleton [Inquiry, p. 209.] has a curious
passage concerning the martyrs amongst heretics.
learned reader will find amusement in comparing

the Doctor's paraphrase of Eusebius with the original.

CHAPTER

48

position which* at

first

I.

sight,

seems rather para-

doxical.
It
*

not the general proposition, that "

is

maintains here.

He must

Mr

which

brings good out of evil/'

God

Gibbon

be an incurious ob-

server of the ways of Providence

who

questions

it.

But

this

supplemental secondary cause

the progress of Christianity

something of

is

of

described to be

"

very different nature.

The

" Gentile converts, whose strongest objections


" were directed against the law of Moses, could
" find admission into

many

Christian societies,

which required not from their untutored


" mind any belief of an antecedent revelation.
a Their faith was insensibly fortified and enw larged

and the church was ultimately bene-

" fited by the conquests of its most inveterate


" enemies
Gnostics became
that is, the
" schoolmasters to bring men to Christ." The
road appears somewhat circuitous

no reason

but there

to complain of that, since

it

proved

is

safe one.

The

divine legation of

ness" to the

speaks

*,

Moses was

Gentiles, of

whom

cc

foolish-

,Mr Gibbon

nor could the prophets under the law

have been better received by them than Moses


was.
is,

There were many Christian

societies of Gnostics, into

societies, that

which the Gen

CHAPTER

4:9

I.

could find admission, without being obli-

tiles

pay any

to lay aside their prejudices, or to

ged

regard to
societies,

Moses and the prophets.

In those

they were insensibly led to yield their

full assent to

the doctrines of Christianity.

Let us see what they were taught amongst


God did not create the world ;
the Gnostics.

man

did not

fall

from

his original excellence

thing as a Jewish theocracy ever existed


religion of Jesus

had

Mosaical ceconomy

no

no such

the legation of Moses was not divine

the

connection with the

and, to complete

Christ

all,

did not die on the cross, and consequently did


not rise again.

On
ed,

may be

so call-

was Christianity to be established

in the

such foundations,

minds of the Gentiles

if

they

hence their

faith be-

came imperceptibly fortified and enlarged


in the end, the

and,

church received benefit from

the triumphs of the Gnostics over moral evi-

dence

has been sometimes supposed, that he

It

who

has suffered himself to be deluded into the belief

of absurdities, may, with more ease, repu-

diate

them, than embrace truth in their stead

and that he

who

is

once made sensible of his

having believed too much,

is

apt to disbelieve

every thing, and so exchange credulity for scep-

CHAPTER

SO
But

ticism.

it

I.

fared better with those Gentiles

who, having been instructed


with the

sistent .even

first

system incon-

in a

principles of natural

religion,

were insensibly led to the knowledge

and firm

belief of the truths of the gospel.

Mr

Gibbon

historical

illustrates

He

example.

Augustine

is

his

hypothesis by an

observes in a note, that

memorable instance of

H gradual progress from reason to


a was, during several years, engaged
" nichsean

sect."

I confess

i.

faith.
in the

this

He
Ma-

551. n. 37.

myself incapable of comprehending

The

contrast between
some respects, be just
but how can Augustine, by becoming a Chri-

the sense of this note.


reason

and faith may,

stian, after

in

having been infected with the errors

of Manes, be said to have made a gradual progress

from

reason to faith ?

Surely

Mr

Gibbon

could not intend to dignify Manich<eism with


the

name of

Let

me

reason

remark, in passing, that the sermons

of Ambrose, and a diligent perusal of the epi-

of St Paul, were the means of converting


Augustine to the Christian faith #

stles

* Confess, 1. vi. c. 3. " Arripio Apostolum


Paulum ~ perlegi totum intentissime et cautissime,
" tunc vero, quantulocunque jam lurnine adsperso,
" tanta se mihi philosophise facies aperuit," 8tc
contra Academicos. 1. ii. c. 2. n. 5. 6.
* ;

CHAPTER
To

51

I.

the account of the Nazarenes and


there

title,

The Demons considered

is

and another under

Antiquity

Gno-

added one dissertation under

stics,

as

the

this

Gods of
" Ab-

this title,

horrence of the Christians for Idolatry."


551,

556.

But

i,

as the sentiments of the Chri-

stians in those particulars

could neither serve to

convert the Jews, nor to gain the approbation

of the Heathens, they are foreign to the subject

of

Mr

shall

Gibbon's inquiry

be passed over

observation, that

at

what

and therefore they

present with this single

Mr

Gibbon

says of the

universal influence of Paganism, although

com-

prehended within a few pages, has the worth of


a

volume.

difficulties

that

it

It

shews, in so strong a light, the

which

Christianity

had to encounter,

anticipates the confutation of

says afterwards of the

what he
weakness of Paganism,

52^

CHAPTER

II.

J- he next secondary cause to which Mr Gibbon ascribes the rapid progress of Christianity,
is, a The doctrine of a future life, improved

u by every
<c

"

additional circumstance

which could

give weight and efficacy to that important


truth." i. 53 S. *

From

the sequel

notion of a future

it

life,

appears, that under the

Mr

Gibbon includes fuand this

ture punishments as well as rewards

he pronounces

to be a doctrine true

and impor-

tant.
It is a

truth implying in

momentous,
gious

it

Providence.

Theism founded,

itself

another no

On

these

is

less

reli-

an excellent pre-

parative for the rational belief of Christianity.

Mr

Gibbon proceeds

to exhibit a

view of the

opinions of Heathen philosophers concerning

the immortality of the soul

and

in this part of

* Bishop Watson, Dr Chelsum, and other writers,


have so fully considered this part of Mr Gibbon's
work, that little else remains for me but to recapitulate their observations.

CHAPTER
his

work

many

there are

53

II,

things highly to be

His conclusion, in particular, ought

applauded.

remembrance " Since, therefore,


the most sublime efforts of philosophy can
" extend no farther than feebly to point out
the desire, the hope, or at most the probabili" ty of a future state, there is nothing except a
to be kept in

" divine revelation, that can ascertain the exis" tence, and describe the condition of the invi sible country, which is destined to receive the

souls of men after their separation from the


" body *" i. 558.
There follows an account of the doctrine of

among the Pagans


Rome, and among the barba-

the immortality of the soul

of Greece and
rians

an account not altogether correct, and,

so far as

it

relates to the Druids,

"With respect to what

is

very obscure.

next said of the opi-

nions concerning the immortality of the soul,

and

a future state, which were entertained

Jews before the gospel

whether

Mr

Gibbon

or that of others.

by thg

may be doubted
his own judgment

sera, it

delivers

His picture of the Saddu-

cees, if at all like, appears to

be very flattering

* At p. 561. he speaks of " the doctrine of life


" and immortality, which had been dictated by na" ture, approved by reason, and received by super" stition." Between the two passages there is pos si
bly nothing more than a seeming contradiction.

CHAPTER

54
and favourable
might suspect

and

that, in

as

II.

to the Pharisees,

one particular

when he ranks
among the new

goes too

far,

" angels"

at least,

we
he

the " doctrine of

of faith

articles

" which the Pharisees accepted from the philof*

sophy or religion of the Eastern nations."

But such things, being foreign


pose

of

this

treatise,

shall

to the chief pur-

not he

enlarged

upon.

We

come now

progress

of

terms, "

The

to that cause of the rapid

Christianity

which

doctrine of a future

a ved by every

Mr

Gibbon

life,

additional circumstance

impro-

which

u could give weight and efficacy to that impor-

" tant truth."


It is said,

that

" when the promise of eternal

" happiness was proposed to mankind, on con dition of adopting the faith, and of observing
the precepts of the gospel, it is no winder
" that so advantageous an offer should have
" been accepted by great numbers of every reC6

's

ligion,

of every rank, and of every province

in the

Roman

As

Mr

empire."

Gibbon

is

i.

561.

here treating of the secon-

dary causes which accelerated the progress of


Christianity, the evidences of the divine mission

of Jesus must be laid out of the argument.

would be

a great abuse of words,

It

were one to

reckon among such secondary causes the evi-

CHAPTER
dence of

55

II.

" the Lord

this fact, that

is

risen in-

deed."
Yet, through some unaccountable inadvertency,

Mr

Gibbon

has, at this place, introduced

the resurrection of Jesus from the dead

for in

no other sense can the following


o words be understood.

was

".It

still

necessary that the doc-

and immortality

trine of life

should obtain

M the sanction of divine truth from the autho" rity and example of Christ."

The

resurrection of Jesus being once admit-

ted, the proof of the other

have been wrought by him,


brought into controversy

Holy

Spirit,

will

hardly be
;

and then the truth

and the sure promises of

of his testimony,
the

miracles said to

become

manifest.

But

this

leads to the consideration of the original^ instead

of the secondary causes of the rapid progress of


Christianity

subject very distant

avowed purposes of

When,

therefore,

from the

Mr

Gibbon's inquiry.

we

lay aside the evidences

of the divine mission of Jesus, as in treating of

secondary causes

we must

do, that will appear

most transcendently wonderful, and indeed incredible,,

which

Mr Gibbon

carelessly terms no

wonder.
Is

on

a promise of eternal

made without
by some mean and

obscure persons, for

it

no wonder, that

happiness,
tials

authority or creden-

CHAPTER

50

n.

such must the case be supposed, great numbers


6f every religion, and of every rank throughout
the

Roman

empire, should have laid aside

embraced

prejudices,

a faith

all

contrary to esta-

blished opinions, and engaged themselves in a

new,

To

difficult,

believe

and hazardous course of life ?


to obey, to adopt the faith

and

* and to observe the precepts of the gospel/'


represented

should

we

as

But

mighty easy matter.

say, that there

was nothing

is

to

hin-

der great numbers of Jews from believing in a


spiritual deliverance

and

spiritual

kingdom,

and great numbers of Heathens from believing


in the resurrection of

dead bodies, the world

might give us the name of

Theorists.

Christian immortality

a state

is

which, hu-

manly speaking, the Heathens who lived

in the

evangelical times could neither understand nor


aspire after.

Mr

Gibbon proceeds to mention the addiwhich gave weight and ef-

tional circumstances

ficacy to

the doctrine of the immortality of the

soul.

" In the primitive church/' says he, H the


" influence

of

truth

was

very

powerfully

" strengthened by an opinion, which, however


* much it may deserve respect for its usefulness
u and antiquity) has not been found agreeable
* to experience.

It

was universally believed,

CHAPTER

57

II,

that the end of the world, and the kingdom


of heaven were at hand. The near approach

of

this

wonderful event had been predicted

M by the apostles
" served by their
who understood^,

the tradition of

"
"

earliest disciples

it
;

was pre-

and those

in their literal sense, the dis-

courses of Christ himself, were obliged to ex-

pect the second and glorious coming of the


" Son of man in the clouds, before that gene" ration was totally extinguished which had be-

held

his

humble condition cn

earth.

'

" The revolution of seventeen centuries has in" structed us not to press too closely the myste-

" rious language of prophecy and revelation ;


" but as long as, for wise purposes, this error
" was permitted to subsist in the church, it
" was productive of most salutary effects on
" the faith and practice of Christians, who lived
M in the awful expectation of that moment when
" the globe itself, and all the various race of
" mankind, should tremble

their divine Judge."

To all which there

at

the appearance of

562.

i.

added

in a note, Ci This
expectation was countenanced by the 24th
" chapter of St Matthew, and by the first epi-

"

stle

of St Paul to the Thessalonians."

Amidst
there
tural.

is

is

all this

pomp

of Scriptural language,

one observation which

An

error in doctrine

is

is

hardly Scrip-

said to

have been

CHAPTER

58

II.

permitted for wise purposes, and to have powerfully strengthened the influences of truth.

But several other things occur here that well


deserve our attention.

Mr

1.

Gibbon

the

professes to treat of

se-

condary causes of the rapid progress of Chri" stianity


and yet, instead of shewing nvhy
the Christians became numerous, he changes
the subject, and endeavours to shew
ror,

ho<zv

an er-

supposed to have become prevalent among

Christians,
faith

and

2. It

had most

on

salutary effects

their

practice.

may

immediate

well be questioned, whether the

disciples

of our Lord believed that

the end of the world was at hand.


for argument's sake, that, in the

Granting,

24th chapter

of Matthew, the end of the world might be

understood

as

an event to follow presently after

the destruction of Jerusalem

yet

still

our Lord

foretold, in language not ambiguous, that great

and important events should ensue between


destruction

things
first

and

consummation

the

Now we may

disciples of

Kcti XiowruMfA,

all

our Lord would interpret any

what he had more

pah) 7i Kxt^i thav.

thai

well suppose, that the

dark sayings of their Master, in


tent with

of

i&oU

a sense consis-

clearly delivered to

TrocTxpivq V7C0 tfoav^

Luke

xxi. 24.

a%t TrXt

CHAPTER
The mode

them.

59

II.

of interpreting passages to

appearance plain, by passages obviously obscure,

was reserved for other times.

To

3.

end of the

affirm that this approaching

world was' universally believed in the apostolical


times,

is,

with

deference to those

all

80 said, a palpable error

for St Paul

who have
knew the

contrary to be truth, and openly avowed

the face of the church.

And

it

it

may seem

in

sin-

gular to assert, that this expectation of the end

of the world was countenanced by St Paul in his


first epistle to the Thessalonians
self, in

while he him-

his second^ positively declares, that

never said or meant any such thing

he

and add-

ed these remarkable words, decisive of his opi-

man

nion, " Let no

day

deceive you by any means

not come, except there

**

for that

f}

a falling

"

revealed, the son of perdition

shall

away

he elsewhere

first,

says

and that man of

come
sin

be

And what

on the apostacy of

latter

times f, proceeds on the supposition that the


end of the world was not at hand.
* 2 Thess. ii. 3.
ed and enforced by

All

many

has been fully explainlearned men. See, in par-

this

Sermon v. p. 135. 140.


Tim. iv. 1. It would be lost labour to produce more passages from Scripture to the like purpose.

ticular, Hallifax,

He who can hesitate on this point, after such plain


proofs have been laid before him, must remain unGibbon refers his readers to the
convinced. As

Mr

60
It is true, that

CHAPTER.

II.

some men,

in the apostle's

times, misunderstood

him

fully explained himself,

own

but after he had

it is

likely that they did

not continue in the wayward

humour of

still

misunderstanding him, and perverting his senti-

ments #

bon

This ancient and useful error,

4.

is

pleased to call

it,

as

Mr

Gib-

could not have subsist-

" ingenious and elegant discourses" of Bishop Hurd


on the prophecies, I must presume that he has read
them yet it is to be feared, that he read them merely as a model of ingenuity and elegance, without attending to their matter and weighty argument. The
)

interpretation of the phrase, " latter times,-

and the
account of the divisions of that period, serm. vii.
would, if duly considered, have prevented many mis'

takes.

* It must be confessed, that in the days of Clemens Romanus, who wrote soon after the death of
St Paul, the like error was revived in the church of
Corinth, i. Epist. 23.
But it appears from that

was not general.


Semler, a jprofessor of divinity at Hall in Germany has not scrupled to affirm, that " St Paul,
" wisely, and of set purpose, accommodated himself
" to the weakness of those men who looked for a
" speedy arrival of the last day." [Ouorurn imbecillitati Paulus sapiejrter et uuaxose obsecutus est.]
Semler. Hist. Eccles. Selecta Capita, p. 22.
It is strange that in the -i^btetnth century, as well
as in the fi *st 9 there should have been found men
hardy enough to deny to St Paul the common privilege of being allowed to explain his own meaning I
epistle, that the error

CHAPTER
ed long

in the

61

II.

for the experience of

church

one generation must have confuted it as effectually as " a revolution of seventeen centuries

and then

it

must have

lost all its salutary influ-

ence on the faith and practice of Christians.

Had

the prophecy been so understood, as

Gibbon

says

been led to

it

Mr

was, the Christians might have

distrust the promises of

when they saw that by


or the passing away of

our Lord,

the mere lapse of time,


that generation^ the pro-

phecy had become incapable of completion


and

this

would have retarded,

instead of acce-

lerating, the progress of Christianity.

Mr Gibbon
*4

says,

"

The

doctrine

of

the

Millennium was intimately connected with the

" second coming of

Christ. "

This seems a mistake

562.

i.

for

one main objec-

tion to the doctrine of the Millennium arises

from the
ting

it

to

difficulties

which occur

what our Lord has

in

accommoda-

said of his second

coming.

Mr

Gibbon, in describing more particularly

the Millennary state, observes, that a city was


14

erected of gold and precious stones, and a


" supernatural plenty of corn and wine was bestowed on the adjacent territory \ in the free
f*

enjoyment of whose spontaneous productions


the happy and benevolent people was never

CHAPTER

62
66

to be restrained

46

sive property # ."


4t

ff so

"

The

II.

by any jealous laws of exdu-

doctrine of the Millennium

-seems

well adapted to the desires and apprehen-

sions of

mankind^ that

it

must have contribu-

ted, in a very considerable degree, to the pro-

gress of Christianity."

i.

563.

This, however confidently asserted,


evidence.

The doctrine

original form,

is

is

without;

of the Millennium, in

its

supposed to have been exhibit-

* There is added in a note, " One of the {rrosrimages may be found in Irenseus, [1. v. p. 455.]
" the disciple of Papias, who had seen the apostle
" St John." One might suppose, that something of
the nature of a Mahometan paradise was here underBut the epithet grossest seems to have been
stood.
borrowed from Dr Middleton, Inquiry, p. 46. and
it only means that the passage, literally taken, con-

est

tains a

$r

ss absurdity.

Papias indeed describes the

supernatural plenty in such hyperbolical expressions,

we can hardly imagine him, silly as he was, to


have meant any thing else but an allegory. It may
be observed, in passing, that Dr Middleton, while
treating of the doctrine of the Millennium, uses his
wonted freedom of translation. " Irenaeus," says
he, " asserts that doctrine from the authority of a
u tradition handed down to him by all the old men
" who had conversed with St John." The words of
Irenseus are, ^jemadmodwm presbyteri m?minerunt,

that

qui Johannem discipvlum Domini viderunt, audisse


se ab eo, &c. Adv. Hseres, 1. v. c. 33. that is, old
men, not ALL aid men. The interpolation is palpable, and its tendency obvious.

CHAPTER
But

to St John.

6<1

men

63'

II.

must, by some means

or other, have been satisfied of St John's authority to publish that revelation before

credit to

was

it

they gave

and accordingly we know, what

reasonable for us to conjecture, that

it

he ad-

dressed his account, not to the Gentiles^ but to


believers.

Besides, the

hope of

could not convert

them the

given

men

temporary inheritance

to a religion

better promise of

eternal in the heavens ,"

Christ

on earth

thing to
44

which had
" a house

and the being with

for a thousand years,

the being with him

was no-

in a spiritual state

for ever."

more probable, that the figurative expressions in St John came to be interpreted, by


It

is

Jewish converts, into a resemblance of that tem-

kingdom which

was hard for them to


renounce altogether, and, by Gentile converts,
poral

it

accommodated to the old popular notion


of Fortunate islands and Elysian fields *.
One thing Mr Gibbon must admit, that the

to be

doctrine of the Millennium, as being founded

The prophecy

calypse, be

ed

20th chapter of the Apo-

sense

neither
,
the expectation of

we

in the

what it will, is not accomplishhave we any marks which might lead to

its

its

speedy accomplishment

so, if

inquire at all into the nature of the Millennium,


our inquiries ought to be modest and diffident.

CHAPTER

64*

II.

on the Apocalypse, could not have contributed


at all to

the progress of Christianity before the

publication of that mysterious book.

It follows,

that the church passed twice through the flames

of persecution, and grew mighty by her

and

sufferings,

What

without the aid of

follows

is

this

trials

secondary

inaccurately expressed, and

conveys a meaning very different,

it

may be

pre-

sumed, from the intention of the author. " But


" when the edifice of the church was almost

completed, the temporary support was

laid

aside,

(C

earth was, at

{<

gory, was considered by degrees as a doubtful

the doctrine of
first,

Christ's

upon

reign

treated as a profound alle-

and useless opinion, and was at length rejectK ed as the absurd invention of heresy and fa" naticism."

From
that

the

i.

563.

this detail

we might be

led to suppose,

principal

teachers in

the Christian

church concurred in using the doctrine of the


Millennium,

as a

temporary prop to the fabric

of religion, which they were employed in building, and that they threw it down whenever it
became useless yet surely Mr Gibbon did not

mean

this, for

Millennium,

he knew that the doctrine of the

as described

by himself, was

disli-

ked by many eminent and learned persons, and


that, instead of ministering consolation,

it

did,

CHAPTER

85

II.

from the beginning, produce unprofitable contentions

He

*.

concludes this part of his disquisitions

with the following words


's

phecy, which

still

forms

A mysterious

a part

pro-

of the sacred

canon, but which was thought to favour the


" exploded sentiment, has very narrowly esca" ped the proscription of the church."
After the labour bestowed by
rior literature in

Apocalypse,

it

yovivxi,

563.

i.

of supe-

defending the authority of the

would

on the subject

men

ill

become me

to say

much

f.

the emphatical words of Dionysius of

are

Euseb. Hist. Eccles. vii. 24. He compersons in his time had become so
fond of a book which they could not understand,
to neglect the study of the gospels and epistles.
f Semler thus speaks of the Apocalypse " ApoAlexandria,

plains that

many

14

calypsis dubiae originis, et infirmiorum in gratiam*

" pic! a rnogis qucm script a, varias sententias inde a


** primo tempore experta
est.
Christian! ex Judasil

" ncn respuerunt, sed plerique ea parum

usi sunt,

non

M pauci omnino rejecerunt postea, cum Tychonius,


\
" [saec. v.] spiritualem expositionem prseiverat, z
" plerisque rccepta fait ; sic tamen, ut de historica
" hujus libri origine et fide nondum omnino ita, uti

u de

aliis,

nobis constat

sed res

ad arbitrium et

w conscientiam lectorum hodie adhuc

recicaL.'

Sem-

Hist. Eccles. Selecta Capita, p. IS.


It is hard to say, whether the temerity cr the
strange inaccuracy of such observations be most re-

leri

markable.

The

author seems to think that,

among

CHAPTER

66

But the history of the


of the Apocalypse

ed without

be in
ral

is

to

all

too singular to be dismiss-

who

and perhaps

it

may-

add something to that gene-

argument which

familiar to

hair-breadth 'scapes"

*f

few remarks

my power

II.

is_,

or at least ought to be

profess any

knowledge of

ec-

clesiastical antiquities.

" In the council of Laodkea, about the year


360, the Apocalypse was tacitly excluded from

" the sacred canon by the same


" to which it is addressed" note

churches of Asia
*
(67.)

the primitive Christians, there was a difference of


opinion as to the authority of the Apocalypse, be-

work is " rather painted than written jM


magis quam scripta]
that is. because it is

cause that
[picta

composed in figurative, rather than in historical lanBut the learned proiessor did not recollect,
guage.
that, were this a reason for inducing the primitive
Christians to doubt of the authority cf the Apocalypse, a like reason oueht to have induced Jews as
well as Christians, to doubt of the authority of most
prophecies in the Old Testament, and particularly of
the books of Ezekiel, Daniel and Hqsea y for thejt
44
in figurative, rather than in hisalso are composed
Sender seems to. suppose, that
thev v/ere the converted Jews who, in the early ages,
acknowledged the authority of the Apocalypse )
but Cyprian, neither an Hebrew, nor the son of an
Hebrew, has quoted seventy-eight verses of the Apocalypse, being almost the fifth part of that book.
torical language."

* This observation seems to have been borrowed


from Mill. Prolegomena, xxvii. 44 Integrum insu44
per Concilium Episcoporum Aoiaticorum in ipsa.

CHAPTER
If the letter to

had
stle

the seven churches of Asia

been truly addressed to


St John,

yond

its

67

II.

authority

them by the apo-

would have been be-

just doubt.

Let us see the evidence produced for proving


that the letter

was not addressed to them by St

John.

After an interval of more than two hundred

and

severity years>

to

fit

such

ded

deny

letter,

the bishops of Asia thought

that their predecessors ever received

and therefore they

tacitly exclu-

from the sacred canon.

it

They

did not however recollect, that copies

of that letter had been circulated at a very early

period throughout the Christian church, and


that the copies

had become numerous *

that

Papias, the contemporary of St John, spake of


that Justin Martyr, almost his contemporary,

it

" urbe Laodicea, cui septima Epistola Apocalypseos


" scripta erat, congregatum earn kidem canor/e ex*'

clusit."

It

is

even in the times of Irenaeus,


copies of the Apocalypse, some

plain, that,

there existed

many

more ancient, and others of a more recent date


some of less, and others of greater authority for he
quotes a passage from it, of which there occurred
various readings, and he determines for that reading
which was to be found " in all good and ancient co:

ii

pies

[sv

7rcx,cn

rug

o"7r8^eac<$

kcci

ug%ctioig uvTtygoc-

Adv. Hseres, 1. 5. c. 30. The original words


preserved by Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. 1. 5. c. 8.

^fli?.]

are

J*

CHAPTER

68
quoted

it

that

was

it

II.

subject of a treatise

written by Melito, Dishop of Sardis^ in the early


part of tiie second century %

that Irenaeus pro-

* Nothing remains of Melito's tract, besides its


which Eusebius has preserved. Hist. Eccles,
iv. 26Y
The author of " a discourse, historical and critiu cal, on the Revelations," printed in 1730, seems to
title,

doubt whether Melito wrote on the Apocalypse, or


dgainM it ?
It would have been a circumstance of considerable moment, had Melito questioned the authenticity
and authority of the Apocalypse.
He was bishop of Sardis in the second century,
and it is held, that he drev/ up his Apology for the
Christians in the y ear 167 after the birth of Christ,
If Valesius be right in his interpretation of the
words of Eusebius, that Apology -was the last of the
numerous treatises which Melito published. Eusebius, after having enumerated the others, says, ski
'

Tr&Fi Ken ro 7T%$s Amt*>w&v.

j3(fi\idi6v..

The

passage

is

u Postremus omnium est


" libellus ad Imperatorern Antoninum." If it was
the last of his works, we might conclude him to
have been well advanced in years when he composed it
and this would make him almost the conthus rendered

by Valesius

temporary of St John, who died about the end of


But the words,
kmo-^ may imthe first century.
and they
ply u above all," as well as, " after all
may respect the merit and celebrity of the performance, independent of the time at which

it

was com-

posed.

In either view, the date of the Apology being


once fixed to the year 167, it follows, that Melito
must have been acquainted with many bishops, the
contemporaries and companions of St John, and must

CHAPTER

69

II,

duced about twelve passages from


multiply authorities^

to

that

and 5 not

it ,

Clemens Alex-

have known what their opinion was concerning the


authenticity arid authority of the Apocalypse.
Of Melito, bishop of Sardis, and Apollinaris, bi44
shop of Hierapblrs, Eusebius thus speaks
The
44
fallowing is a catalogue of such of their works as
44
have come to my knowledge. Of Melito. the two
44
and
of EwerA [literally, the of Easter, two']
44
the [treatises] of the conduct of life, and of the
44
prophets ;. the [discourse] of the churchP
And,
after having mentioned several others, he adds, 44 and
44
the [treatises] of the Dei)H and of the apocalypse
9
" f Jhny [txt&v zi$ nu'iTi^xv yvj)7w ct$iKTe&t ret vxq:

rcTdyu:vc&.

Koct

rx

Tri^i

Mz\itoovq$, tol

th ^</3oA*,

nt^i

t% Hxor^a

dvo, kvu

rue,

zcti tyi$ W7T6Ket\in$siw$ 'luscvvx.]

This literal translation is made for the use of the


unlearned reader, and for the better enabling him
to understand the import of what will be mentioned
in the sequel.
44

The

plural

rot is

rendered

44

the trea-

and the singular, j, " the discourse


because, in the former case. fi;fi\tc& or something synonymous is implied, and in the latter, Aayoc, or the
like j TrohiTiitx., which, in classical authors, means
44
civil regimen," is frequently used by the ancient
Christian writers for " demeanour or conduct in life,"
and it is so rendered here.
Let us now see in what
sense the author of 44 the historical and critical dis44
course" chuses to understand Eusebius. He says,
that 44 amongst the tracts of Melito, these was one
44
entitled, of the devii of the Revelations, as Euse
1

rises,*

44

bius relates."

translation so

extravagantly erroneous might

have been ascribed to ignorance of the Greek language, for men with small Greek sometimes cavil at

CHAPTER

70
andrirms
times

appealed

to

it

II.

upwards of

thirty

*.

the canon of ihe New Tes Lament, were it not that


the Latin version of Valesius is somciently plain.
" Ad hsec de diabolo ei de Revelatione Johannis."

The same critic who found " the devil of the Re" venations'' in Eusebius, could not find the word
John there.
Tbot would at least have proved, that
a bishop of Sardis, in the second century, made no
doubt of the Apocalypse having been published by
one John.
There is no reason for supposing, that in the same
tract Melito treated " of the devil" and " cf the
" Apocalypse ; w we might as well suppose, that
what he had to offer concerning " the conduct of
" life" and " the prophets," subjects totally difiewere comprehended under the same tract.
This is not said to serve an hypothesis, because,
had the title of Mefito's treatise been such as the
critic wished, there would have been no more ground
for imagining that he doubted the authenticity of
the Apocalypse, than that he doubted the existence
rent,

of the devil.
Besides, an additional argument would have thence
arisen for proving that Melito acknowledged the auHad he not done so,
thenticity of the Apocalypse.

he never would have written a dissertation on the


sense of the word " devil," Revel, xii. 9. xx. 2.
which however the critic must have supposed.
Mr Gibbon will excuse the impropriety of introducing into an examination of his work, these strictures on a writer who had not even the vulgar art of
veiling bad purposes in specious language.

It is

remarkable, that the Christians of Vienne,

and Lyons of Gaul, in their letter " to the brethren


u throughout Asia and Phrygia," describing the

CHAPTER
And it is to
know that the

71

II.

be presumed, that they did not


Christian authors

who wrote

fore the middle of the fourth century

had

be-

trans-

fused into their works almost every paragraph,

and even sentence of the Apocalypse.

Had

they recollected or

known these

circum-

stances, it would have been more judicious and


more modest for them to have asked the con-

currence of the Christian world, before they

proceeded to what

Mr

Gibbon

imputes to

them.
Hitherto the hypothesis has been admitted,

" that the same churches of Asia to which the


Apocalypse was addressed, did tacitly exclude
"

it

from the sacred canon."

But

this will

be thought very doubtful,

M. Antoninus, make no

persecution under

when

fewer than

six references to the Apocalypse, whereas they

no more than

ten refeiences to ait

New

Testament. See Remains of ChriIn one place of that letter


210.
" that th( Scriptun might be fulfilled, he

tures of the

stian Antiquity,
it is said,

u
u

make

the other Scrip-

i.

him he unjust still ; and he that


him he righteous still " [Iva * y^x-

that is unjust^ let


is

<P?l

righteous, let

7ThY>

MVOUOg

CiV fifty (TUTU

Itt

1C6Ci

dlKCUOS

2tKeCtCJ-

Euseb. Hist. Eccles. v. 1.


This passage
is to be found in Revel, xxii. 11. and no where else.
Hence we may conclude, that the Christians of Gaul,
in that early age, admitted the authority of the
Apocalypse, and supposed that their brethren of the
Asiatic churches admitted it likewise.
Svijoo srf,]

CHAPTER

72

II.

the nature of the council of Laodicea, and the

purport of

60th canon, to which

its

Mr Gibbon

alludes,, are considered.

assembled in the

provincial council was

fourth century

at

Laodicea, in Phrygia, proba-

bly between the year 370 and 380.

ing was an obscure one


at

it

which

in those days

and

as

The meet-

nothing passed

was held to be of im-

portance to the Christian world,

its

precise <era

has not been ascertained.

The

canons

but there

made

council are lost

in that

extant a

is

summary of them

Greek, with two versions of


dorus, surnamed Mercator

it,

the one by

in
Isi-

and the other by

Dionysius, surnamed Exiguus.

In the

title

thus described
ec

together

at

of various
ana *"
It

the

of this summary, the council

Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatlana^ out


jurisdictions of [the diocese] Asi-

was necessary to make

title

is

" The Holy Synod gathered

this observation

on

f because learned men, not supposing


,

kyia. Yvvcsog

Harduin. Concil.

zxtx

Acto^txztxv tjk $>evy:z; Tlx-

7S2.
seems to be in some measure
corrupted } for, if I mistake not, Laodicea on the
river Lycus, the place here meant, v;as situated in
Phrygia Salutari*, and not in Phrygia Pacatiana,

f The

i.

title itself

CHAPTER

78

II.

the matter to be of any consequence, have con-

made by

fided in the justness of the versions


Isidorus

and Dionysius.

Isidorus translates

Ex
" Ex

i*.

$ict?o%M

diversis regionibus Asias

diversis provinciis

jt*^wv

has been supposed to contain the

and

its

word Asia,

sense has been misunderstood.

The word

Asiana implies

tract of country,

Vicarius Asiana

dicecesis

governed by an

dioeceseos.

Asiana, a

officer

Under

Asia Major, comprehending the

termed

that diocese,

cities

and Smyrna, was not accounted

cordingly the bishops of those


at

Ao-iuw,

and hence the

Asia

title

sus

tu

and Dionysius,

cities

of Ephe-

and ac-

appeared

the general council of Nice as from Asia

jor *, and not from the diocese Asiana.

Ma-

It fol-

lows, that two at least of the seven churches,

and these by far the most eminent, neither had,


nor could have had, any concern in the deliberations of the council of Laodicea
they did not

even "

tacitly

and that

exclude the Aooca-

" lypse from the sacred canon."


It

seems probable, that the council

at

Laodi-

cea was composed of the Phrygian bishops, and

of some few bishops from other

districts

of the

diocese Asiana.

* Menophantus, bishop of Ephesus, and EutySmyrna.

chius, bishop of

CHAPTER

*74?

Isidorus relates, that

sembled

at that council

III

twenty-fiuo bishops
;

at

forty-two bishops, from the diocese Asiana^

ber of bishops

the council of Laodicea was

at

much larger number might

small, but also that a

have been assembled there,

had

diocese Asiatid*

And now we
wrong

as-

This shews, not only that the num-

sembled.

we

as-

the council of Nice

if

the bishops of the

taken their

all

seats.

we should form

see that

very

estimate of the council of Laodicea, were

to consider

the representative of

as

it

all

the churches of Asia.

Having thus seen what was the nature of


council, let us

examine what

it

that

did in relation

to the Apocalypse.

By

59th canon,

its

the

enacted,

council

u That psalms, the composition of private perff sons, and uncanonical books, should not be
<

rehearsed in church

but that the canonical

u books alone of the Old and


u shoald be so rehearsed f
In the 60th canon, there

is

New
list

Testament

of the bocks

* I presume that the reader will observe, that the


word diocese is used for a civil distribution of territories in the
"f*

On

lower empire.

a on i%(aT!K%$

ctKctvovifct Bitxtcz,

xat 7raXotixg hotQnmsi

occurs for

y.iyirfai.

y/etXeexs

aXXet [tovu

No

Xtyurisu
to,

other

Tr

kglvoviku

SZJC.Xtl<TtCC

rm

fcx;y},<

word but rehearsed

CHAPTER

75

II.

which ought to be read> [ccmymtmH^^ That


list contains Baruch, with the epistle, supposed to
be the 6th chapter of Baruch
contain the Apocalypse.

of the

fair state

Here

it is

but

does not

it

This seems to be a

fact.

to be observed, that the version

by

Dionyshls Exiguus does not contain the 60th

canon

and hence we may conclude, that in the

Greek summary which he translated, no such


canon was to be found. Such being the case,
one may doubt of
Mercator,
sius

who

Exiguus

*,

its

authenticity.

Isidorus

lived in a later age than

Diony-

might have translated

from a

copy which did not exist

it

when Dionysius made

his version.

Besides, the version of Isidorus says

than what
are,

"

fiiZxix

"

is

What

in the

Greek summary.

Its

books ought to be read f,"

more
words

[*V

w*ynw?*&4#t]} but the version adds, " and

to be received as authoritative," [et in aucto-

ritatem recipi].

This changes the sense altoge-

* Dionysius lived in the 6th century. He is remarkable for having, in his Cycius Paschalis, introduced the computation of time from the birth of
Christ.
His aera. begins with what he calls the year
533.

f "

Isidorus lived in the eighth century.

To

be read," is used as being the most literal


but it is admitted on all hands, that the
5
vord means " to be publicly read in churches."

translation

CHAPTER

76
iher

II.

for the bishops

at Laodicea might have


had prudential reasons for not allowing the
:

Apocalypse to be read in churches # , and yet


might have entertained no suspicion as to its
genuineness and authority f: This may be the
import of the 60th canon, as it is in the Greeks
but the version of Isidorus implies more.

The

result of the

canon of the council

whole
at

is,

that if the 60th

Laodicea be authentic,

* The church of England allows no more than


seven chapters of the Apocalypse to be publicly
read, [ch.

i. iv.vii. xii. xiv. xix. xxii.] and yet she accounts the whole book to be canonical ; and so she
might have accounted it, although those seven chapters had heen omitted in the public reading, as well
as the other fifteen.
This illustration is borrowed

from

Mr
If,

Milners tract against Mr Gibbon, p. 26.


is most likely, the bishop of Laodicea

as

bare sway in the council, we may see a reason why


he should have wished to exclude a certain part of
the Apocalypse from the public reading.
As, in

some churches, the

praise bestowed on them at a parbeen arrogated to succeeding generations, so the censure on the church at Laodicea,
c. iii. 14. &c. might have been understood to affect
posterity in after ages.
Here let it be observed in
passing, that Laodicea was overthrown by an earthquake, A. U. C. 813 \ and that the Neronian persecution began A. U. C. S17.'; it is not probable that
St John would have addressed the Laodiceans, as he
does at ver. 17. had their city been ruined about
This may contribute to support the
years before.
very ancient tradition, that the Apocalypse was published under the persecution by Domitian.
ticular season has

CHAPTER

77

II.

twenty-two bishops of Asia, towards the end of


the fourth century,

made no mention of the

Apocalypse while they were enumerating the

Thus the Apotime make so " narrow

books to be read in churches.


calypse did not at that

an escape from the proscription of the church,"


as

"

Gibbon imagines #
But it seems that the

Mr

at

Laodicea had been

number of Christians"
cius

Severus

The

sentence of the bishops

ratified

in

by the greater

the days of Sulpi-

f.

importance of the testimony of Sulpicius

Severus depends on the meaning of the word


pier i que>

which he uses

and the question

whether, in the passage alluded

many or

to,

it

is,

implies

most.

After having positively asserted that St John


the apostle wrote the Apocalypse during his ba-

nishment to Patmos, and under the reign of Do-

* In

justice to Mr Gibbon, it must be observed,


what he says as to the rejection of the Apocalypse by the churches of Asia, is merely an improvement on Mill's Prolegomena. Mill may have been
an able collator of manuscripts, but he was not possessed of any critical acumen \ witness his defence
of the authenticity of the 2d epistle of St Peter, in
which his prime argument is, that if the epistle was
not written by that saint, it must have been written
by an impostor.
that

f About the Beginning of the

fifth

century.

CHAPTER

78

foolishly or impiously,

by

[or

Mr

II.

he adds, which book indeed, either

mitian,

not received by many

is

men

most~]

Davis f has collected examples

for proving, to the satisfaction of

sufficient

any impartial

reader, that Sulpicius Severus frequently uses

the word plerique in the sense of several or

many ; and

that

he so uses

it

when

the context

positively excludes the other interpretation of


most, %

Besides, Sulpicius Severus could never have

meant
stians

to say, that the greater


at

book of

authority.

stians of the

West and

as a

without
ry,

number of Chri-

large did not receive the Apocalypse

In his days, the Chriof the South received

hesitation-, and,

we must have

had he

admitted that he opposed him-

* " Qui quidem a plerisque, aut

non

it

said the contra-

recipitur." Hist. Eccles.

ii.

stulte aut impie,

45.

f Reply to Mr Gibbon's Vindication, p. 71.


" Hujus [Cham]
X For example, Sulpicius says,
" iilius, Chus nomine, Nembrod glgancem genuit: a
**
quo Babylon civitas constructs traditur. Pleraque
u etiam oppida ea tempestate condita memorantur,"
Sacr. Hist, h 1. p. 8. edit. Elz.~~ " Media hyeme,
" quae solito asperior inhorruerat, adeo, ut pjerosque
" vis algoris extingueret," Vita Martin, c. ii. p. 218.
Sulpicius never could mean, that most cities were
founded in the days of Nimrod, or that, during the
hard winter which he describes, the greater part

of

men

died of excessive cold.

CHAPTER

self to historical truth, either

serving

some

price.

Love

*79

II.

with the view of

from

favourite hypothesis, or
for

favourite hypothesis,

the impulse of caprice,

may have

ca-

and

perverted the

judgment of abler men than Sulpicius Severus

but these causes, however forcible, could scarcely

have had the

his

own

To
listed

effect

number of

the greater

of making him say, that


Christians differed

from

opinion.

all this let

me

add, that a person

who had

himself in a depressed party, might have

been apt to

say, that most

men, or

the multitude^

were foolish or impious, when they favoured


opinions inconsistent with his own.

But Sulpi-

cius Severus stood not in that predicament.

African churches, and as


did

and

it

is

the Italian and

many

other churches

hardly possible that he should

have included them under a


this,

He

as

thought of the Apocalypse

pitiful

minority

however, he must have done, had he

meant to say that most men would not receive


the Apocalypse.

One

important objection to the hypothesis of

Mr

Gibbon concerning the Apocalypse is stated


by himself for he thus speaks, " from what
" causes is the Apocalypse so generally received
by the Greek, the Roman, and the Protes:

tant churches ?"

That

all

Christian churches,

however widely

CHAPTER

SO

II,

and irreconcilably they may

differ in

opinion

to other matters, should with one voice assert

the authority of the Apocalypse,

is

a remarkable

circumstance, and hardly consistent with the

hypothesis of

Mr

Gibbon

tempted to account for

show that

affords

it

at-

unanimity, and to

no evidence

Apocalypse to be authentic
1.

and yet he has

this

for proving the

H The Greeks/' says he, " were subdued

by the authority of an impostor, who,

"
w

sixth century, assumed the character of Dio-

in the

nysius the Areopagite f

But there

much more

is

no evidence of

this

and

it is

probable that an impostor quoted

the book because

it

had already obtained

credit,

than that the book obtained credit, because

had been quoted


sufficient

to

by. him*

This, of

itself,

outweigh an unvouched

it

seems

assertion

to the contrary.

* In such a case, Horace, as a satyrist, might


said, " Nil Scnptoribus arduum,"

have

\ It is needless to inquire from what source Mr


Gibbon derived this information. Mr Davis [Replvy
p. 7 3.] supposes that the following passage from
Abauzit is alluded to. u L' Apocalypse s* iiitroduiM sit ainsi peu a pen, sur tout decuis que le faux De-

" nys Areopagite, qui la mettoit au rang des Hvres


" sacres, commencoit a passer chez- les Grecs pour le
M veritable Denys. S. Maxime, dans le septieme
" siecle, fit fort valoir cet auteur." Discours His torique sur

Apoc?vlypse, p. 315.

CHAPTER
In the

81

n.

earlier part of the second century,

Melito bishop of

Sarciis

wrote a

Kevefaiiori of St

John

and

ry,

Andrew bishop

treatise

on the

in the fifth centu-

of C?esarea ; in Cappadocia,

wrote commentaries on that mysterious book.

Had

those bishops doubted of

authenticity,

its

they would not have bestowed their labour in


the composing of such works.

taken for granted by


thority

Mr

It

is,

however,

Gibbon, that their au-

had no influence over the Greeks.

Origen and Clemens Alexandrinus,


infinite reading,

Apocalypse,

men

of

admitted the authenticity of the

just

as

the Greek and

Roman

churches and the churches of the Reformation

do

Chrysostom, not only a learn-

at this day.

ed, but also a very fashionable preacher,

many

and

others of eminent note in the Eastern

To

church, were of the like opinion.

the same

purpose are the testimonies, formerly quoted, of

M. and

and of the

Vienne and Lyons,

in the second

Papias, Justin

Christians of

century.

Yet,

it

Irenseus

seems, the Greeks resisted

all

evidence, and persevered in their unbelief, until,


at length,

they were subdued by a knavish Pla-

tonic visionary

*
!

* From among the testimonies for the authenticity of the Apocalypse, thai of the third council of
Carthage, Can. xlvii. [an. 397.] is purposely omitted ; and indeed it appears singular, that Protestants

CHAPTER

$2
2.

II.

just apprehension that the

Gramma-

rians might become more important than the


Theologians, engaged the council of Trent to
" fix the seal of their infallibility on all the
" books of Scripture contained in the Latin
" Vulgate, in the number of which the Apoca" lypse was fortunately included."
It

may

well-

be supposed, that the Theolo-

gians wished to have the Latin Vulgate held as

the only text of authority \_pro

tures allowed, the

For

authentica.~]

had more latitude been given, and the


use of Hebrew and Greek copies of the
grammarians, that

public

Scrip-

is,

critics

should have had recourse to a canon which, together


with the Apocalypse, receives the books of Tobit

and Judith
It

as authentic.

may not be improper

to observe, that

Pope Ce-

lestin quotes Revelations xxii. 18, 29. in his letter to

Nestorius, read in the council of Ephesus, an. 430.

Yj

TTgOlTTifalS TV) TTftTTtl

7r^Gtrri6ivroi
i.

ctilV

xai rov

TCi yctP fZlTT&H; XOtl (pC&Vi^OJg

ya%

ctvzyvapav

ZTrt^sfciTai.

{A%TZ TrgQG-Tlfovat

Concilia,

fiCVTi

EN TAIS BIBAOIS
X^Oii^ilV,

cctpoctgcvTx, rt^ter^tct

1304. Pope

(AiyiGTYl yciP
iso-f&u.

tytftyi^

K&t T6V

Harduin.

Celestine was in such favour

with the council of Ephesus, that the fathers joined


" Thanks to Celestine, to the

in this acclamation

" new Paul to the guardian of the faith."


HA YAH - ra> <pv Xxxi Trig tzwtius* ib. 1471.] This

se-

cond Paul asserted the authority of the Apocalypse.

CHAPTER
and

philologists,

sions,

would, by their improved ver-

have disturbed the profound quiet of the


Against this inconveniency the coun-

church.

provided by one decree.;

cil

83

II.

it

was by another

decree that the council ascertained the sacred


canon, and

left

that place to the Apocalypse

which it had possessed for so many ages.


3, " The advantage of turning those mysteCf

rious prophecies against the see of

Rome,

in-

" spired the Protestants with uncommon veneK ration for so useful an ally."
This passage in
great offence, and,

Mr

Gibbon's work has given

no doubt,

it is

oddly express-

For, not to mention other objections,

ed.

it

seems to imply, that the Protestants might have


rejected the Apocalypse and expelled

it

from

the sacred canon, and that they would have

done

so,

had they judged that measure expe-

dient.

Hence we might be

who

led to suppose, that they,

the sera of the Reformation departed

at

from the church of Rome, acted on


ed plan.
all

But

it

is

a concert-

the very reverse of

men know, which

this, as

their enemies object to

them.

The

truth

is,

that the Protestants in general

admitted the authority of the Apocalypse just


as

it

had been admitted

for ages

throughout the

Christian world, and that they interpreted cer-

CHAPTER

84<

tain

memorable passages

in

II.
it

just as

they had

been interpreted by eminent persons of the


church of Rome., when disgusted with the excesses, or

shocked

at

the enormities of Papal

dominion.

Had

the Protestants, in contradiction to evi-

dence, suffered themselves to be guided by their


chief leaders, Luther and Calvin, they would

not have shewn any eagerness to seize " the ad-

" vantage of turning the prophecies of that


mysterious book against the see of Rome."
Luther

at first rejected

the authority of the

Apocalypse, which the church of

Rome

her-

self acknowledged # .

* There are

different prefaces to the

Apocalypse

prefixed to different editions of Luther's translation

of the Bible.

The

editions of Luther's translation of the Bible

which contain

his original preface to

lypse, are not to be found in Britain

the

Apoca-

at least they

have been searched for without success, as well in the


Bodleian Library as in the British Museum.
By the favour of a worthy and eminent person,
whom I am not at liberty to name, I have obtained
from the Divinity Professor at Helmstadt the following accurate version of what Luther says of the
Apocalypse in his first edition, 1522,
Prafatio Luther i in Apocalypsin Johannis*
Anno 1522.

u De hoc libro pariter suum cuique salvum relinquo judicium, nec meara cuique sententiam aut opi-

CHAPTER

II.

Afterwards, indeed, he seems to have

ned more

to the received opinion

But

incli-

still it is

nionem obtrudere cupio. Tar/cum declare quid mihi


Erjuidem plura desiderp, cur neque Apostolicum censeam, neque Propheticum. Primum, idque maximum, dubium inde orkur, quod Apostoli
non visis inbaerere, sed perspicuis ac disertis verbis
vaticinari solent, quemadmodum etiam Petrus, Pauatque ita munus aposto1u3, Cbristus in evangelio
videatur.

licum decebat, perspicue et citra imagines aut visa,


de Christo et gestis ejus loqui.
Pr^e!:erea, nemo Prophetarum ^ e:ens,r.edum Xovi
Testamenti, ita totus est in visis atque imaginibus, ut
vix possim quin quarto libro Esr^e ilium similem, statuam, neque omnino vestigium inspirationis sanctions
reperiam.

Accedit, quod, ut mihi quidem videtur, nimium


suo libro arrogat, illumque enixius, qaam in alio ullo
libro ex numero sanctorum (qui multo majoris erant

momenti ) factum est, commend at, subjuncta commiqmciquam q demerit de eo, de illo eliam
Deum aderrvurum esse, &c. centra ea, beatos fore,

natione, qui

qui contenta cbservarint

neat
si

scire,

nedum

quamvis nemo quid conti-

observare, possit, et perinde

totum non haberemus, multiqu-e

ac
ob-

sit,

alii sint libri

servandi longe praestantiores.

Fuerunt etiam ex patribus olim multi, qui librum


hunc rejicerent \ et quanquam Hieronymus in eo comest, illumque, ultra omnem prsedicationem, sublimem esse, immo tot mysteria continere quam verba, affirmat, fidem tamen dicto facere

mendando veibosior

non

potuit, et aliis

quoque

locis in

laudando liberalior

esse solet.

Denique

cuilibet ita licebit de

hoc

libro judicare,

quemadmodum animo se ferri sentiet. Meus quidem,


animus parum cum isthoc libro congruit mihique
;

CHAPTER

86
plain,

from the

style

II.

of his later prefaces^ and

from the apologies made

for

him by

his follow-

ad tanti non faciendum hsec ratio sufficit, quod nec


doceri, nec agnosci in eo videam Christum j in quo^

tamen primse cernuntur partes Apostoli, quemadmodum, Act. L " Testes mv:i estate" postulat. Itaque
eos teneo libros, qui mihi Christum exhibent, clare ac

pure

spectandiiift.

9?

The

very same words occur in the edition 1524.


But in the edition 1535, the strong passages ape
omitted, and the book is acknowledged to be divine,
with some doubt, however, about its author, and
with the offer of an hypothesis by which the visions
might be interpreted.
" The third
In a later edition he thus speaks
" kind of prophecy is that which foretels by bare
6i
images and figures without interpretation, like this
" book of the Apocalypse. So long as such pro:

44
44

"
"
u
"
"

phecy receives no certain interpretation, it is a hidden and dumb prophecy, unprofitable and unfruitful to Christians.

And

thus

it

has hitherto fared

Many indeed have attempted to


book.
explain it, but still they have advanced nothing
certain j and they have rather hatched out of their
own fancies a variety of things inept and incon44
gruous.
On account of such uncertain interpre" tations and hidden senses, I have hitherto left it
untouched \ and this the more especially, because
u some of the ancient fathers thought it was not
" written by John the apostle. See Euseb. Hist.
" Eccles. iii. 25. Fur my part, I leave the matter
'* thus doubtful, that no
one ??iay be hindered to be44
lieve the book to be the work of St jobn^ or to do
" as he chooses."
In another preface to the same book, Luther
speaks more favourably of it, but still in general
4

with

this

CHAPTEPv
ers *, that

87

II.

Luther never had an uncommon vene-

ration for the mysterious booh.

The

other great reformer, Calvin, had no

doubts as to the authority of the Apocalypse,


yet

he cautiously abstained from writing any


Nay more although in his
it.

commentaries on

he laboured to prove that the Pope, or


rather Papal dominion, was Antichrist, yet he

Institute

produced no passage from the Apocalypse

as

tending to support that favourite tenet f

" If the Scriptures


terms ; and he concludes thus
" ought, always to be read with humility, modesty,
" and reverence, such a frame of mind is peculiarly
" requisite for the perusal of this book, that we may
" not sink into an abyss of vile dreams and fancies,
" as many inquisitive men have lately done, who
" imagine that they have searched out all those se" crets which God hath reserved to himself, until he
shall gradually disclose their meaning, so far as
" his own glory and our welfare require, 1
These
versions have been communicated to me by a respectable friend, on whose skill in the German language
I can rely.
:

'

* " Lutherum quod attmet, quicquid olim


serit in veteri pvcefaticne, in ea sane quae

scrip-

hodie in co-

" dicibus legitur nihil de Apocalypsi asserit aliud,


w quam in dubio se relinquere utrum sit Joannis apo" stoli, quod nonnulii ex vetustioribus patribus id inu liciati sint, nihil tamen hoc ipso se prejudicari velle
"
c.

aliis."

Chr. Kortholt. de

canon. Script, sanct.

18.

f " Quant

S. Jean, est reprins

par Tange, de ce

CHAPTER

We

map now

If.

conclude, from the evidence

produced, that neither Luther nor Calvin ever

used

this ally against

Mr

Gibbon

tJie

of Rome

see

and there-

some
words to his proposition, and then it will run
u The advantage of turning those mvstethus
fore

will

allow us

to add

rious prophecies against the see of Rome, was

Luther and Calvin,

rejected cr disregarded by

"
w
tt

the chief leaders

amongst the Protestants ; but

inspired the other Protestants with

mon

Mr

veneration for so useful an ally."

Gibbon must admit the

addition, for the truth of

it

fairness of this

lias

been proved

and yet the addition dees so much impair


tended inference,
the

fact,

The

that,

he would,

this too

it

uncom-

his in-

had he been aware of


persuade myself, have

hasty note.

short matter

is

this

the Protestants in

general, noewithstandin.r the doubts

and

reserve-

of their leaders, admitted the authority of the

Apocalypse, as they found

it

fully

qu'il s^estolt agenouilie devant lui,

six. 10.

InstTl.

u St Jean,

dit

i.

c.

12.

que toys

f.

c. 5.

M Sec. Apocalypse,

3.

les

saincts ont lave leurs

" robes au sang de PAgneatu71


1. iii.

and unambi-

Apoc.vii. 14. Inst*

2.

" L'Ecriture nous donne bien une meilleure conprononcant que ceux qui sont mons
" en nostre Seigneur sont bien heureux,"
Apoc^

solation, en

fiv. 13.

Inst. Liii. c. 5.

itii

CHAPTER
guously established

and

It

89

II.

would have been

the height of absurdity for them to have

at-

tempted to expel from the sacred canon, a book,

whose prophecies seemed


sion

from the church of

to justify their seces-

Rome

#.

* Perhaps Mr Gibbon meant to say no more than


what is here affirmed. If so, he has expressed himself in words ill- chosen, and of dubious interpretaIf we hold the Apocalypse to be, in plain lantion.
guage, an undigested fiction, it remains for Mr Gibbon, an avowed Protestant, to explain how it should
have become an useful ally to the Protestant cause.

90

CHAPTER

-Amongst

in.

the secondary causes of the rapid

Mr Gibbon reckons
" the miraculous powers of the primitive
church
and he observes, " that the super" natural gifts ascribed to the Christians, must

progress of Christianity,

" have conduced to their own comfort, and very


" frequently to the conviction of Infidels."
i.

567.

Here the

reality

seems supposed
of

Mr

yet, unless

is

gifts

the tendency

misunderstood,

questioned.

admits the truth of the miracles reported

to have been
i.

of such supernatural

and

Gibbon's discourse be

their reality

He

570. 571.

wrought

in the apostolical times,

and there

is

no doubt amongst

Christians, that the rapid progress of their reli-

gion was partly owing to those miracles.

Before the death of St Paul, the Christians

had become very numerous ; and it is impossible for any candid inquirer to deny, that they
became

still

more numerous before the death of

CHAPTER
St John *

91

III.

and thus, during the

puted miracles, Christianity

made

indeed an astonishing progress.

of undir-

aera

rapid,

and

The moral

evidence arising from this must have tended to


the conversion of infidels at that time, in like

manner

as it

now

tends to confirm the faith of

believers.

Mr

Here

Gibbon might have stopped

But

he proceeds through all the succeeding ages of


the church, and unfortunately engages himself
and
I

his readers in a labyrinth of controversy.

do not pretend to examine

thing that

Mr G

the subject of miraculous powers


lars,

however,

Mr

Gibbon

at large

every

ibbon has said or surmised

some

particu-

be touched.

shall
says,

on

That " the Christian church,

44

from the time of the Apostles and

"

disciples,

"

cession of miraculous powers

their

first

has claimed an uninterrupted suc-

and, amongst

We

*
learn this, not merely from " the scanty and
m suspicious materials of ecclesiastical history," as
.Mr Gibbon chuses to speak, i. 535. but from two
Heathen writers of great name. The well-known
passages in Tacitus and Pliny the Younger, bear testimony to the amazing progress of the Christian religion

in particular,

we

learn from Pliny, that not

ten years after the death of St John, the multitude

of Christians in Bythinia, a province very remote as


well from Judea as from the capital, was exceedingly
great.

CHAPTER

92

III.

them, he particularly mentions # the power of

"

raising the dead."

We

can hardly reconcile this observation to

the truth of history.

the phrase of Christian church,^

Under

Mr

Gibbon undoubtedly comprehends " the

" churches of the Reformation


comes

of his proposition
will

It

be

difficult to

now

show

and

that part

to be considered.

that the churches

of the Reformation have claimed the power of


raising the

concile

" -dead," and no

what

Mr

Gibbon

less difficult to re-

says here, of such a

power being claimed by them, with the remark


which immediately follows, in these words of
i(

the primitive miracles, the power of exorcis-

4<

ing

is

the only one which has been assumed by

Protestants

Are we
thus

to interpret his general proposition

That, ever since the days of the Apos-

and the

the power of raising

44

ties

**

the dead, and the other miraculous powers

It

is

first disciples,

that,

possible

meant "
" churches
and

Gibbon

by " Protestants/*

individuals

in

the

Mr

Protestant

yet, if the word be taken in that


be easy to discern the tendency of
for then he might have said, and with
the remark
no less reason, that the Protestants assumed the
power of raising the dead \ and he might have proved
this from the celebrated story of the French proserine,

it

will not
:

phets in the reign of

Q. Anne.

*4

CHAPTER III.
by Mr Gibbon, have been

mentioned

93
claimed,

" some in one age, and some in another, either


i4

by the Christian church, or by individuals of


that great

body

?"

This interpretation, though vague and void


x>i

consequence, seems the only one that can re-

concile

Mr

Gibbon

to himself,

and to the truth

of history.

Here
p. 567.

let

it

be observed, in passing, that

Mr Gibbon

asserts,

at

That " the Christian

church has claimed an uninterrupted succesu sion of power to raise the dead f while, at
f*

p.

569. he bestows

much good criticism to prove,

that Theophilus Bishop of Antioch, towards the


close

knew

not of any

at that

time in the

of the second century,

such power being claimed


Christian church.

Surely

Mr

Gibbon does not look

for our as-

sent to such contradictory propositions as these,


that in the second century, the Christian^ hurch

claimed a power to raise the dead, and yet that


the Bishop of one of the most eminent sees

knew nothing

of such a claim.

Having premised

this

much,

let

us examine

the noted passages in Irenreus, to which

Gibbon, after the example of


alludes *.

Inquiry,

p..

12*

Dr

Mr

Middleton,

CHAPTER

94
His words are

III.

" But the miraculous cure of

44

diseases of the

44

natural kind, can

44

prise,

44

Irenseus, about the

44

the resurrection of the dead was very far

most inveterate and even preter-

when we

no longer occasion any

sur-

recollect that, in the days of

end of the second century,

44

from being esteemed an uncommon event

41

that the miracle

44

on necessary occasions, by great

44

the joint supplication of the church of the

V place
44

their prayers

c.

56. 57.

As

1.

had
v.

c.

and
to

amongst
1. ii.

6 *."

to the passages from Irenseus,

and he declared

It

lived afterwards

Iren^sus, adv. hseres.

years.

ton resolutely and

and

fasting,

and that the persons thus restored

u them many
4J

was frequently performed,

fairly

Dr Middle-

spake out his sentiments,

his strong suspicions of fraud

f This plain dealing is laudable.


seems that the words of Irenseus have been

collusion,

misunderstood by some persons

who wished

well to Christianity, and by others of

more

equivocal character, and that he does not speak

of any resuscitation of the dead which had hap-

pened

in his

own

days,

and consisted with

his

personal knowledge.

Mr

Gibbon quotes 1. v. c.6. not adverting that


not to his purpose, and that Dr Middle ton,
from whom he had the remark, quoted that chapter
with a very different intention.

it

is

f Inquiry

P-

CHAPTER

No

1.

95

III.

other instance of such a miracle

is

to

be found during two centuries after the apostolical times.

Eusebius indeed says that Papias mentions the

But without

dead person.

resuscitation of a

inquiring into the degree of authority due to

the reports of Papias,

it

may

suffice to observe,

that, according to Eusebius, Papias did not

speak

of what he himself had seen or known, but of

what had come


ters

him by

tradition,

learnt

and

SlZVfAXTlClV,
vuv

Now,

TO

upa

V7T0

#AA#, a; #v ik Trctpo^co-io)^
VVKpIx TYiV 'isgXTTohiV <&iXl777rCV

rivoc iropzi xcci

U$ XVTOV iXQovlU.
ctTTGfoKoy

parti-

from the daugh-

of Philip, one of the seven deacons #

* The pa^ o^ot


Toy

to

what he had

cularly of

joti*;

T&y

GYiiAtiwl'Qj.

ft&V

Svy^pzcri

T&

<Plht7T7r%

$ioc.T(?t'$/o6t)-~-~-a$

di

&vycZ\iW, fAVYIfAMiVUy

vix.3% yccg cvstTucriv st&l

uvlov yzyoyvt&v

u Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 1. iii. c. 39. It is


here said, that Papias related what he heard from
tradition, and that he spake of what had happened
44
in his own times," [xT t/7/].
tradition from
the daughters of Philip might well be referred to as
respecting the days of Papias, who lived in the
apostolical times.
It is possible that what Papias
related on the authority of the daughters of Philip,
was the miracle wrought on Eutychus of Troas,
mentioned in Acts xx. 9. 12. This miracle was
wrought a very few weeks before the daughters of
Philip saw St Paul at Ceesarea
they might have
mentioned it to Papias fifty or sixty years after the

Wotft.

k. r.

went and Papias, fond


y

stories,

of anecdotes and traditionary


might have imagined the miracle to have

CHAPTER

9(3
it

is

certain, that the daughters of Philip lived

in the

apostolical times y for

in their father's house

before the
2.

To

When

6s

resuscitations'],

that

" not

he says the soul returned, the

raised,

is,

the time

and remained,

with us Christians

when

a-vt y,uiv,

they were recalled to

or were to be seen.

"

fore,

il

the dead were raised or remained

" he mentions
44

always

it

life,

not evident, there-

own

account of

aorist,

that

it,

alive, at

remarkable, that

resurrections,

the

when

he has the caution

itf^

# "

up " rea considerable number of

Irenseus says, the dead so raised

" mained with us


i(

It is

to use the

Si

It is

even upon his

he wrote.

with

but he fixes

i(

" time

Jortin,

Irenseus speaks of resurrections [rather

u dead were
us,

they saw St Paul

Csesarea, ten years

at

martyrdom of that Apostle.


borrow the words of Dr

6f

III.

years

j"

for

\jrctg iv.nvttv

crw

v/aw

r^xvcig

If

any of the persons so raised up had been


at the

alive

time of his writing, he could not, with-

out the highest impropriety of language, have


been something different from what

is

related in the

Acts of the Apostles.


* Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, iL 205.
Dr Middleton, in his translation of the passage, uses the past tense ; but he prefixes the word
that, which, to a mere English reader, gives it the
air of the presm!.
See Inquiry, p. 11.
208.

CHAPTER
used such an expression

97

III.

and

this

kads

me

to

imagine, that Irenseus spake of some past event,

and not of any thing which

still

continued to

take place in the Christian church.


4%

Ouadratus lived before Irenseus*

oration,
says,

In his

addressed to the Emperor Hadrian, he

that

the persons raised from the dead by

our Lord, " remained alive for

a considerable

" space, so that some of them reached even unu to our times # ." Had Ouadratus known of

any resuscitations in his

own

times,

it is

more

than probable, that he would have mentioned

them on

that

doubt, that

if

and there can be no


occasion
he had mentioned them, Eusebius
;

would have preserved the passage.


5.

Neither will

observe, that
raise

it

when

be held presumptuous to
our Lord thought

fit

to

up the dead, he performed that miracle in


manner, and before witnesses the most

a public

unexceptionable, and that his historians have


* 'H^j mi %p*w

Uxw,

Ti

7f.au

tig

i.usrsvg

Euseb. Hist. Eccles.


L iv. c. 3. Dr Brooke, by some strange inaccuracy
" insomuch that some of
translates the words thus
"them were even at that time stilt living*} See
Examination of Dr Middleton's Free Inquiry, p.23S.
The words of Quadratus may, with more propriety,
be understood of the state of things twenty or thirty
years before j and it is doubted, whether aq tu$
nfivttgss
can be understood of the present moment.
ring

etvrm

ctQtxovro

CHAPTLTL

98

carefully recorded
to

all

III.

the circumstances relating

such wonderful events.

The

like observa-

tion applies to the resuscitation of Tabitha

pf Eutychus, related in the

with pleasure that

It is

of expressing these
language of

forcible

acts

of the Apostles*.

have an opportunity

sentiments

Dr

4t

history of the

tc

miracles of this kind,

the

in

(says he)

more

" In the

Middleton.

Gospel

and

we

find the

which were wrought

u by our Lord, to have been performed by him

M in broad day-light, and in the midst of crouds.


" Thus, in the city of Nain, the widow's son
" was raised from the b:er> as they were carry4; ing him to his grave, in the sight
of much peo" pie ; so that the rumour of it went forth through
" all Judea, and all the region round about,
w Luke vii. 17. The daughter also of the ruler was
48
raised by him in such a manner, that the fame
i

of

said to

it is

* Matth.
4<

**

lift

that

up

ix.

have gone abroad

And

26.

his eyes,

thou

and

in raising

into

said, Father,

hast heard me.

-all

the land,

Lazarus, Jesus

I thank

And I

thee

kneiu that

thou always hear est me ; but because of the


u people which stand by, I said it, that they may
" believe that thou hast sent me : Upon which

" many of the Jews who had seen the things which
w he did, believed on him, John xi. 41. &c. f."
* Acts

ix.

36. 41.

xx. P. --12.

f Vindication of Free Inquiry, p. 62,

chapter
From

99

nr.

these reasons, complexly considered,

all

" that there

no evidence

one might

infer,

to prove., that after the apostolical

sufficient

power of

is

i:

times, the

44

subsisted in the Christian church."

resuscitating

the dead

In the passage under review concerning the


resuscitation
also of the

hereafter

Mr

of the dead,

Gibbon speaks

miraculous cure of diseases

meanwhile

it

is

of this

proposed to

make

some remarks as to the other miraculous gifts


and powers.

The

was

gift of tongues

originally conferred,

to be a sign of the effusion of the

and for enabling the


to

first

announce the gospel to


It

was

received
writers

who

There

apostolical times,

as

nations.

is

said of

little

it

by the

lived in the next century after the

and that

little is

expressed in

Hence we may

very general terms.


tate

all

Spirit,

our Lord

wrought on the persons who

a miracle
it.

Holy

disciples of

well hesi-

to the evidence of the gift of tongues

having been continued beyond the

first

century.

Before the end of that century, or the death


of St Jolm, the gospel was widely disseminated

and about that time, the canon of the Scriptures


of the

New

Testament, so far

relates to faith

ed.

and

practice,

Thus we have,

universal,

in

as

immediately

was well

the

first

establish-

century, an

church, and a written rule

for

its

CHAPTER

100
direction,

drawn up

III.

in that language

which was

most generally understood.


probable that, about the same time, there

It is

were

translations

made of

New

the Scriptures of the


the Latin language *

Testament into
which was generally received and chiefly
used, had the name of the Italic version.
But

that

we have

not light enough from the writers

who

have mentioned those translations to be capable


of ascertaining their precise dates.

Hence we might be

apt to

conclude, that

there was a fitness in withdrawing, even at such

an early period, the

gift

of tongues f

but

we

*
Ut enirn cinque primis fidei temporibus in
" manus venit Codex Grsecus, et aliquantulum
44
facuitatis sibimet utriusque linguae habere videba" tur, ausus est interpretari 3" Augustin. d. Doct.
4

Christ,

ii.

11.

f Dr Middleton could see no such fitness, although, on other occasions, he argues from fitness
For he thus speaks
independent of evidence.
44
I might risk the merit of my argument on this
;

44

single
is

point, that, after the apostolic times, there


all history one instance, either well at-

not in

much as mentioned,
who had ever exercised

even so

of any par-

* 4

tested, or

44

ticular person

44

pretended to exercise it, in any age or country


Mr Dodwell supposes it to have
whatsoever.
ceased in the reign of M. Aurelius, about^ sixty
But it is not
rears after the death of St John.
credible, that a gift of such eminent use should

44
44

that gift, or

'

44
i4

entirely cease, while

all

the rest were subsisting

CHAPTER
are incompetent judges of

101

III.

what

and therefore we must add to

is fit

or unfit

this, that

there

is

no authority from Scripture, for supposing that


" in full vigour, and abounding every day more and
" more. If, according to the common hypothesis,
" we admit them all to be true, it is not possible to
imagine any cause why this in particular should
"be withdrawn, and the rest continued but if,

44

44
44
44

my

consider them^ all


as fictitious, we then see an obvious and manifest
For all the other extraordinary
reason for it

agreeably to

system,

we

44

gifts,

of healing diseases, casting out

devils, visions,

great room for


44
impostors to exert all their craft of surprising and
" dazzling the senses of the simple, the credulous,
44
and the superstitious of all ranks ; whereas the
"
i0
US c annot easily be counterfeited, or
<4

and

revelations,

ecstatic

vft f

afford

to it imposed on men of sense, or on


" any. indeed, but these who are utterly illiterate,
14
and strangers to all tongues but their own."
Inquiry, p. 120. Dr Middleton found it convenient
44
if the miraculous
to assume this proposition, That
44
gift of tongues did not come down farther than

44

a pretension

" the apostolical times, none of the others did."


Some of his antagonists, instead of denying the proposition, hastily and imprudently maintained the
endurance of the gift of tongues in common with
every other miraculous gift j and by supposing the
evidence as to each gift to be equal, they embarrassed
the controversy.
This was just what such a polemical writer as Dr Middleton would have wished.
He may hare been inferior to some of his antagonists in learning, but in skill he far surpassed them.
He led them, before they were aware, to defend too
much ground the consequences will be seen by
any one who has studied that controversy.
:

CHAPTER

102
such a
ficient

We
in

gift

III.

was to continue longer, and no suf-

human testimony that it did *.


know nothing of the time and manner

which the gospel was

originally propagated

* The only passage, with respect to the speaking


with tongues, that occurs in any of the ancient
Christian writers, is this of Irenseus.
KaQag jcxt
7o7\Xm

otx.%ou,iv

ustrx iftMTUV,

aS&XQm

sv tyj

Koti TrctvToSetTcctg

iKx-Maci Tr^oQwiKct %xgtsrm

XxXvvtm

5S 78 IIvSVftCCTOS

Euseb. Hist. Eccles. v. 7.


Supposing Irenseus to have meant " that he himself
" had heard many of the brethren in the church
" speaking with tongues through the Spirit," we
must acknowledge his evidence to be in point, but
still it would be single
and, considering the extrayXae-FUis.

x,.

r.

i,

ap.

*,

ordinary nature of the gift, the manner in which


Irenseus speaks of it might seem vague and superficial.
Perhaps he only meant to relate what he
had heard reported by others. The gift of tongues,
when originally bestowed on the Apostles and certain of the first converts to Christiahity^ was not
only for a sign of the Holy Spirit, bnt also for a
vehicle to communicate the gospel to the uttermost
What Irenceus says has no reends of the world.
lation to the propagating of the Christian faith y and
although his words were understood in the widest
sense, the exercise of the gift could have had no
other effect than that of strengthening and confirming believers in a faith which they already held.
-

It is very remarkable,

M.

that the ancient apologists,

Athenagoras, Theophilus, Tertullian,


and Minucius Felix, are silent as to the gift of
Irenseus, in another noted passage, Adv.
tongues.
ha3res, i. 2. neither asserts that he himself had that
gift, nor acknowledges that he had it not.
Justin.

CHAPTER

103

III.

amongst nations ignorant of the Greek and

Roman

languages, and of that dialect of Syria

familiar to
lestine

the Apostles, as inhabitants of Pa-

and therefore

it

would be presumptu-

ous to say, how the gift of tongues was exercis-

ed amongst those nations, or when

Another of the

gifts

ceased.

it

of the Holy Spirit, was

that of the discerning of spirits.

" Amongst the various endowments of the


Ai

church, some of which were to convict gain-

"

savers, and others to edify believers, there


" was one of the latter kind of special use to
" support the dignity, and to distinguish the

" divine
4i

original of

Apostle

" which,

all

the

like

And

rest.

calls the discerning

cf spirits

this the

a virtue

the touch of Ithuriel's spear in

44

the poet, laid bare the deformity of impos-

14

ture.

With

this

Peter detected Simon the

44

magician, and Paul confounded Elymas the

sorcerer.

" But when the thing

itself

had ceased, the

" pretence to inspiration, for some wise ends


" of Providence to us unknown, still continued
" to infest the church with its wretched mimic44

ries

44

them,

while that virtue which was to detect


the discerning of spirits,

44

with the

(i

the command, to try the

44

were cf Gody was

rest

was withdrawn,

of the inspired graces

still

spirits

our duty

and yet

whether they
:

but to try%

CHAPTER

104

III.

4C

without the faculty of discerning, would be r

6<

at best;

an impertinent employment.

? From
iC

this

embarrass

we

are delivered

by

Holy Spirit*
those whom he had en-

the gracious providence of the

who provided, that


" dowed with the gift of discerning of spirits
u should leave behind them some rules, where,

by

"

selves

i{

posture # ."

to try the spirits,

Thus

and so to defend them-

from the seduction of error and im-

far

an eminent writer, in whose

to use a fashionable phrase, there

by philosophers and

learnt
I

The

continued

after

school?

much

to

be

theologists.

do not perceive that the

spirits

is

the

gift

of discerning of

apostolical

times*.

existence of that gift in the days of Ire-

from the single and


which he speaks of " many

nseus can hardly be inferred


indefinite passage in

" brethren bringing to


Cf

utility,

common
men f
It

light, for the

the hidden things of

would have been well had the Christians of the


ages which succeeded that of the Apostles been
attentive to try the spirits according to the rules

prescribed by our

they joined the

Lord and his Apostles. Had


wisdom of serpents to the

* Warburtoirs Sermons,

\ Kui

7tcaXmv

c&x,%t>piv

vol. J* p,

oihzX(pm

ap. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. v. 7.

tcc

156.
xgvtpiot

tmv

CHAPTER

105-

III.

harmlessness of doves^ and remarked what are


the

fruits

triie

of divine grace, " their mutual

" charity and unsuspecting confidence would


*<

hot have been so often abused

"

friends *."

Had

by

perfidious

the Christians of the second century

possessed the gift of discerning the

spirits, their

amiable simplicity would not have been imposed

upon

in the

way

that

Mr" Gibbon,

after Lucian,

relates.

may

It

be doubted, whether the

gift

of pro*

phecy was bestowed after the apostolical times.

Here, by the
the

gift

gift of prophecy ,

is

understood

of interpreting the Scriptures of the

Old Testament, of applying them

to the events

of evangelical history, and of foretelling the


fates

of the church.

Perhaps some loose or rhetorical expressions,


implying a farther continuance of the

prophecy,

may be

gift

of

discovered in the writings

of the primitive fathers f

but

we hare

the

* Decline and Fall, i, 573. Prudens simplicilas


ought to be the motto of every judicious Christian.

f Dr Middleton imagined that the evidence of


M. as to every miraculous gift, might be set
aside, on proof that the honest, though inaccurate
Justin.

apologist, arrogated to himself a gift of interpreting

the scriptures, which, in truth,

he possessed not.

Had Dr

his assertion, still

Middleton made good


the conclusions which he meant

to

draw from

it

CHAPTER

108

HI,

we have the writmany of those fathers stiil extant, and,


on inquiry, we shaii find that later commentasacred canon before us, and

ings of

tors,

who

never pretended to the

gift

of pro-

more towards a rational and


phecy, have
scientific application of the Old Testament to
clone

New, than ever


With respect to

the

the primitive fathers did.


the foreseeing of the fates

of the church, already mentioned as part of the


of prophecy,

gift

it

does not appear that the

But the probability is,


did not pretend to any farther

might have been disputed.


that Justin.

M.

knowledge than what sincere Christians, in general,


His words are, AvsKetXtytyiv %v ifttv 7rccv~x
possessed.
erx

Km

i>,#&oirUv

tuv ygattyw

%&tv

nwm.

rm

'%ct%iTQS otvrM vivoyixxpev*

Be

Dial, part 2.

this as it

Dr

Middleton ought not to have rendered


rm %m%it6s aunt, thus, " by the special gift of God/'
The interpolation of the word " special" is capable

will,

See Inquiry,
of misleading an unlearned reader.
Dr Middleton, when pressed by his anp. 27. 30.
tagonists on this subject, affirmed that he did not
understand the meaning of the theological phrase,
54.
la
ordinary grace I See 'Vindication, p. 47.

the same passage, Dr Middleton translates vwou


One should
ravrx, " to understand the Scriptures."
have supposed that, by analogy, nvonxivm tcivtu meant
" to have understood the Scriptures y " but, for the
m

sake of elegance, these words are translated, " to


" acquire so perfect a knowledge of the Holy

" Scriptures J'

CHAPTER
fathers
ject

10T

III.

had any further knowledge of that sub-

than what they obtained from the sacred

canon.

But

it

may be

tive Christians, after

have had the

of prophecy, although the

gift

fathers themselves

This, however,

some of the primithe apostolical age, might

said, that

had
is

it

had such been the

for,

not.

exceedingly improbable
fact, the fathers

would

have given frequent and unequivocal testimony


to

But there hardly appears a vestige of

it.

any thing of that nature, even


of the lathers

who

in the writings

lived in the second century*,

* Origex, speaking of the state of things in the


early part of the third century, says, " the Christians

u perform man} cures, and they foresee some things,


"

as the

Word [AOros] willeth


own rtva^ xxrct to fixX-tytz,

S7rtTt\%cn, kxi

tra Celsurn. 1.1. p. 3

edit.

[ttoXXu?

leta-us

ra Aoy%,

Con-

Spencer.]

It is

singular

enough that learned men, who differed greatly in


other matters, should have concurred in mistranslating such plain words as o^ti t>v&.
Spencer
renders them " praevidefit/atar
instead of " prse" vident qucedam j" Dr Middleton, " they foresee
" things to come," Inquiry, p. 14. j and Dr Chapman, " they foretell things to come," Charge, note,
Thus, as if it were by common consent,
p. 98.
they omit the material word some, and they leave
unlearned readers to conclude, that Origen asserted
the gift of prophecy to have been no less general in
the early part of the third century than in the apostolical times.
This is just the reverse of what he
says,

as will

appear from the passage

itself, to

be

CHAPTER

10&
expecting what

is

III.

to be seen in Tercullian

looked on Montanus

and

Tertullian, himself a visionary, and one

who

a person divinely in-

as

spired, cannot be admitted in the character of

a credible witness for proving the continuance

of the
It

gift

of prophecy unto his

may be

own

times.

doubted, whether the knowledge

of future events, communicated in the form of


a

vision # ,

ought to be treated of under the

head of miraculous

gifts

and powers.

Let

it,

however, be observed in general, that we must

be very sure of the evidence respecting such

knowledge by vision, before we admit the reality of any supposed examples of it.
The numberless instances of delusion as to this particular,

although not

sufficient

to authorise an undis-

tinguishing scepticism, are at least sufficient to

put us upon our guard against a rash assent to

While we admit,

pretensions of this nature.

and indeed who can deny

it,

that the Divinity

Indeed, it may be
quoted hereafter at full length.
concluded from the words of Origen, that in his
times, there were small pretensions to the foreseeing
of events.

Dr Middle ton

has spoken of visions in a light


and with distinguished incorrectness, Inquiry,
There are many learned and useful
98.
p. 96
observations on this subject to be found in Dr Ghelsum's Remarks on the two last chapters of Mr Gib-

style,

bon's History, p.

71. 80.

CHAPTER
may

at ail

10B

III.

times communicate the knowledge of

future events in the form of a vision,

it

behoves

weigh well the evidence produced

us to

proving

the

that

such knowledge

at

Divinity

any time

for

did communicate
after the apostoli-

cal age.

As
"

to

" the miraculous powers of expelling


and of healing

evil spirits,

diseases/' there

seems to be more evidence that they continued


in

the church after the apostolical age, than

there

is

as to

With

the others formerly mentioned.

power of expelling evil


spirits from the bodies of men, we must observe
in the entrance, that it seems wrong to deny,
respect to the

at the

that,

coming of our Lord,

volent spirits

were permitted

and to

them

afflict

in a

certain male-

to possess

manner

men,

to us inexpli-

cable.

This
plicable

found
is

may
:

not be the

for there

less

true because inex-

are mysteries

no

less

pro-

which

in the book of nature> the truth of

universally admitted, than in the book of grace.

Some

learned persons, of whose sincerity in

the Christian faith there can be no doubt, have,


nevertheless, controverted the proposition, that

at

"

spirits

the coming of our Lord, certain malevolent

were permitted to possess

men f

the texts of Scripture in support of

numerous and

so express, that hardly

it

yet

are so

any thing

CHAPTER

110

III.

could have produced the fanciful interpretations

of

case of the demoniacs^ but a

the

making

all

from

is,

fond wish of

circumstances plain in a book which

its

nature, mysterious, and, until the

consummation of

will not

things,

all

be fully

understood.

In the days of our Lord and his Apostles,

by

possession

evil spirits

had the appearance of

lunacy and of other diseases.


has been judiciously observed # , that dis-

It

inflicted

eases

by possessions, must have resem-

bled the diseases which occur in the general


course of things.

From

the likeness of the

symptoms in both cases, a possession by evil


spirits might have been considered as a natural
disease,

and

a natural disease as a possession

by

evil spirits.

The

sacred historians, writing to the people

at large,

do not always draw the precise Hue

between those cases

yet,

on some

occasions,

they distinguish, by unambiguous circumstances,


possession

from

disease f.

That which Christ did by his own authority,


Apostles and his first disciples did in his

his

name

and

if

it

pleased

* Warburton, Serm.

God

vol.

to permit posses-

p.

iii.

235.
viii. 2S.~ 32.
6. 13. Luke

See, particularly, Matth.iv. 24.;

Mark

i.

23. 26.;

iv.33. 35.;

viii.

'iii.

11. 12.

27. 33.

v.

CHAPTER

Ill

III.

sions after the apostolical age,

we

are warranted

to conclude, that the persons so possessed

were

freed from evil spirits in the name of our Lord.

There

no doubt

is

that,

even after the apo-

the Christians pretended to exercise

stolical age,

the power of casting out evil

That

this

collusion,

is

was

an extravagant hypothesis.

two

and without detection,

centuries,

party,

whose

by

for

upwards of

persecuted and depressed

religion

the religion of the

with

Such

have been carried on suc-

a fraud could not


cessfully,

spirits.

mere pretence, founded on

was not only contrary to

state,

but also incompatible

it;

But, possibly, there

may be some

errors in

the circumstances which Tertullian and other


ancient writers relate concerning the ejection

of evil

spirits.

Thus, for example, Minucius Felix speaks of


" who either instantly spring oid> or

evil spirits,

" disappear by degrees, as the faith of the pa tient assists, or the grace of the healer influ ences # ." The expression, grace of the
" healer," [gratia cutanti% may mean, " the
favour of him

'4

who

heals," that

is,

"God,"

* " Vel exfllunt statim, vel evanescunt gradatim,


prout fides parentis adjuvat, aut gratia curantis
aspirat j"
:

GronoviL

Minucius Felix,

c. xxvii.

p.

283. edit,

CHAPTER

112
or,

Illr

the grace bestowed on the exorcist."

either sense

of the expression,

a progressive

change from

nature., to health,

is

In

plain, that

it is

disease, of

whatever

Between the

here meant.

cure of demoniacs, properly so called, in the

New

Testament, and that of the persons men-

tioned by Minucius Felix, there

and

is

this

characteristical difference, that the

obvious

former

always described to have been instantaneous,

and the

said to

latter is

have been sometimes

gradual.

To

culous cure

God may

that

assert

by degrees

as

not
well

work

instantly,

as

would be blasphemous and absurd

a mira-

but

without offence to reason or piety,

stiil,

we may

observe, that a gradual cure, if considered as

miraculous, ought to be ascertained by strong

evidence indeed

because such a cure has no

support from the analogy of miracles admitted


to

be true, and to a certain degree

participates of the nature of stories

at least,

it

whose cre-

dit is dubious.

Again, Minucius Felix, in imitation of Tertullian*, says, that

an

evil spirit,

when he was

expelled, acknowledged himself to be Saturn,


Serapis, Jupiter, or

some other imagined

* Tertullian, Apol.

c.

23.

divini-

CHAPTER
ty

whom

III.

the Pagans worshipped

must be allowed to

hesitate.

It is

*.

13

Here we

probable that

most of the gods of Paganism were deified heroes, men who, by reason of their having established equal laws, or invented useful arts, did,
after their decease, obtain divine

honours from

the vulgar.

To

purpose Minucius Felix himself


" Before the globe was laid open by

this

speaks

the intercourse of commerce, and before na" tions borrowed from each other, as well relief

gious ceremonies as manners', each people ve-

" nerated

its

founder, or one of

its

renowned

" leaders, or a queen superior in fortitude to


" her sex, or any fellow-citizen, who, by the
w discovery of some useful art, and by commu*f nicating it to mankind, deserved to be held in,
a remembrance. Thus were the dead reward-

" ed, and,

at

the same time, posterity was ex-

cited to imitate them.


Read the works of
" historians and philosophers, and you will per" ceive the truth of what I assert. Euhemerus
f<

ff

enumerates those

as

<

deities,

for

who have been

considered

their personal merit, or for

benefits conferred

by them on mankind

and

* " Ipse Saturnus, et Serapis, et Jupiter, et quica quid daeraonum colitis, victi
dolore, quod sunt,
u eloquuntur :' r c. xxvii.
p.

280.

CHAPTER

ft4

III.

u he recounts their births, countries, and places


u of burial, and points them out in various re

gions*," &c.

In another place he says, " All the writers

" on antiquity, whether Greek or Roman, have


related that Saturn, the first of this race and
" swarm of divinities, was a man.
Now, this

Saturn, dreading the fury of

his son, fled

" from Crete, and came

to Italy ; and having


* been admitted by Janus to- the privileges of
" hospitality, he instructed the rude and clown ish inhabitants in many things.
He, therea fore, who fled was a man, the father of a

*'*

man, and himself sprung from man.

Jupiter,

the son of Saturn, his father having been


u thrust out, reigned in Crete ; there he had
*<

sons,

w piter

and

there also

is still

* " Benique,
#<

"
u
64

u
"
'*

"
M

he died. The cave of Ju-

visited, his

tomb

et antequarn

antequam gentes

is

pointed out 5

commercns

orbis pate-

moresque miscerent, unaquseque natio eonditorem suum, aut ducem inclytum, aut reginam pudicam sexu suo fortiorem, aut alicujus muneris vel artis repertorem,
venerebatur, ut civem bonse memoriae 7 sic et defunctis praemium et futuris dabatur exemplum
lege historicorum [al. Stoicorum] scripta, vel scripob
ta sapientium \ eadem mecum recognosces
merita virtutis, aut muneris deos habitos, Euhemeret, et

ritus suos

u rus exsequitur, et eorum natales, patrias, sepulchra


M dinumerat, et par provincias monstrat*" &c. Mimic. Felix,

c.

xx. xxi.

CH AFTER

115

III.

* and he is proved to be a mortal from the very


" nature of the sacred rites instituted in his ho" nour
There are other passages in the same author
which admit the truth of the system of heroworship

and

must own, that

it

peared singular to me, that Saturn,

always ap-

who

was, in

the opinion of Minucius Felix, a king of Crete,

and the instructor of rude

Italy,

should have

been represented, by the same author,


spirit afflicting

The

as

an

evil

the bodies of men.

much

system of hero-worship has so

support from Pagan antiquity, and, at the same


time,

is

so necessary for the interpretation of

many texts

in Scripture, that

it is

not to be light-

* " Satumum enim, principem hujus generis et


" cxamlnis, omnes scriptores vetustatis, Graeci Roma<;
nique, hominero prodiderunt. ISLitaque Satur44
mis, Creta profugus, Italians, metu nltj ssewientis,
44
accesserat ; et Jani susccptus- hospitio, rudes illos

44

homines

44

ulique qui fugit

44

mine

44

regnavit

44

antrum Jovis

44

et ipsis sacris

et agrestes

Ejus
j

multa docuir.

et pater hominis,

-Homo
et

igitur

natus ex

ho

hlius Jupiter Cretae, excluso parente,

illic

obiit, illic

visitur, et
suis

The

translation of

who

revised

filios

habuit.

Adhuc

sepuichrum ejus osiendilur,

human! La tis arguitur,"

c. xxii.

Minucius Felix, which I publish ed in 1781, is here used with some changes of phrase*
That translation ewes much to the learned persons
it.

The

ticular, far excels

introductory paragraph, in parI could have writ-

any thing that

ten without assistance.

CHAPTER

116
ly abandoned.

III.

Rather than abandon

let us-

it,

grant that Tertullian erred in his narrative,

and

that Minucius Felix contradicted himself.

Under

this head, there occurs

another

cir-

cumstance which well deserves our attention.

From what

Tertullian and Minucius Felix have

recorded, one should be apt to suppose, that


this expulsion of

Saturn and his fellows was ef-

fected not once only, but on repeated occasions*.

Now,

if

the Christians, in the second and third

centuries,
is it

had the power of

casting out Saturn,

not strange, that a repetition of the like

form qf exorcising him, should have again be^

come necessary ?
Although we should

grant, that

when

the.

patient talked in the character of Saturn, Serapis,

or Jupiter, he was a

mere

one under the thraldom of an

lunatic,

and not

evil spirit,

it

does

not follow, that he was net actually cured of


disease

by

This circumstance has not been

sufficiently

make no doubt

that there

attended to
are persons

be

a~

the intervention of the Christians.

this,

"

and

who

hold the

state

of the case

to.

either Saturn, Serapis, or Jupiter, was*

" expelled from the body of

man, or there was

" a shameful collusion between the supposed

" patient and the Christians who pretended to


" heal him."
The former hypothesis might

CHAPTER
many

stumble

117

III.

a sincere believer,

would be eagerly adopted by

and the

latter

infidels.

But the cure might have been

real

and mira~

although the condition of the patient

:s,

might have been misunderstood.

The

instantaneous restoration of a lunatic to

sound mind,
as

be admitted to bear,

will

many marks of

at least,

a miracle as the instantaneous

restoration to health of a person afflicted with

any other known

whether acute or

disease,

chronical.

And
in the

thus, although

we

should suppose,

that,,

second and third centuries, certain per-

sons were said to have had evil spirits ejected


out of them, while, in truth, they were, with-

out

human means,

nacy,

relieved

power was displayed

The

from

a state of lu-

does not follow, that no miraculous

it

in their cure.

hypothesis here suggested will not dimi-

nish the

number of the

cures, although

remove some of them from one

class

it

may

into ano-

ther.

This leads us to consider " the miraculous


" power exerted in the healing of diseases*"

And

here

it

must be repeated, that the number

of the miracles supposed to have been wrought


in the second

and third centuries, would not be

diminished, although some of

been wrought on

lunatics,

them should have

and not on persons

CHAPTER

118
For

possessed,

nacy,

than

it is

no

III.

miracle to cure lu~

less a

once, and by no other means but prayer,

at

to expel evil spirits.

it is

vations just

So,

if

the obser-

now made have any weight,

the re-

the primitive Christians more

sult will be, that

rarely expelled evil spirits,

and more frequently

cured natural diseases, than they are reported


to have done.

Mighty things
gination

are said of the poiver of km&r

but that

store lunatics to a

very incredible

*,

himself to believe

it

should instantaneously re-

sound mind,
that

he

will

it,

insulting the Christians

is

who

something so
can persur.de

have small cause for

on account of their easy

faith!

The

ecclesiastical writers

of the second and

third centuries invariably assert, that


eases

dis-

were healed by the prayers of the Chri-

As they

stians.

others,
is

many

often speak on the credit of

and not from

possible that, in

may be
mistakes

their

some of

own

observation,

it

their reports, there

circumstances exaggerated, and even


\

and

evidence loses

it

must be admitted, that

much

their

of the credibility which

it

would otherwise have had, when they speak of


* There may, possibly, be some very rare exambut I speak, as one ought to speak on
such occasions, of daily experience, and the ordinary

ples of this

course of things >

CHAPTER
diseases having

tion by

whom

119

III.

been cured, and yet do not men-

or on

whom

the cures were per-

formed.

But they do not always speak


terms.

ral

into

in such gene-

Thus, for example, Tertullian enters

particulars,

when he

wrought by Proculus,

describes

cure

a Christian, in the days of

the Emperor Severus.

This narrative

is

curious and interesting, and

has been thought worthy of some strictures

it

by

Mr

Gibbon.

" The Emperor [Severus],


suaded

that, in a

derived some
"
u

says he,

was per-

dangerous sickness, he had

benefit^

either spiritual or physi-

with which one of his


slaves had anointed him.
He always treated

cal,

from the holy

oil

* with peculiar distinction several persons of


u both sexes who had embraced the new reli" gion." Mr Gibbon adds, [?iote 108.] Dr
"

Jortin, Remarks on ecclesiastical history v. ii.


" p. 5. &c. considers the cure of Severus, by
means of holy oil, with a strong desire to
,

" convert

it

into a miracle,"

i.

668.

This story, related incidentally by Tertullian *, deserves a

more

accurate

examination

than either the assertors of the miraculous powers

Ad

Scapulaia r -c. 4.

CHAPTER

120

III.

or their antagonists, have chosen to bestow on


*
it

For the better understanding of

we must examine

it

as

this story,

connected with the pre-

The

ceding part of Tertullian's discourse.

style

is,

and hence

meaning becomes frequently ob-

his

in general, harsh

and abrupt,

of that writer

scure; yet I hope to

make

the passage in ques-

tion intelligible to every unprejudiced reader.

Tertullian, with a generous

and manly

spirit,

censures Scapula, the President of Africa, because, contrary to the practice of

magistrates,

some former

he had gone beyond the

letter

of

the Imperial edict in persecuting the Christians.

author adds, " Every thing of this nature


" might, in duty, be suggested to you by those
very pleaders of yours, who, let them make

The

" what outcry they will, enjoy benefits conferred on them by the Christians for a cer-

ee

*c

tain person's

secretary [or clerk],

who had

f Dr Church could not find room, in a treatise of


four hundred pages, to say any thing as to this cure j
and so he

it, 2s he found it, exposed to the


Middleton. Neither has Dr Ifodwell
said much on the subject J and yet both of them
found room to attempt a vindication of Justin. M.
for having asserted that the Romans reared an altar
to Simon Magus
See Vindication of the miraculous powers, p. 154. and Free Answer to the Free

glosses of

left

Dr

Inquiry,

p.

67.

CHAPTER
been thrown headlong by
"

liberty

and so

were

also

demon, was

tie

men

set at

kinsman and a

lit-

And how many

boy of other persons.

1^1

III.

of rank are there, for

speak not of the

" lower sort, who have been relieved either


" from demons or maladies*? Besides, Severus
himself, the father of Antoninus, was mind"

ful

"

"

"

Proculus, surnamed

of the Christians

for

he sought

Torpaclon^

after

Christian,

and the steward of Euhoda, [or Euhodus],

who
by

had, on a particular occasion, cured

oil,

and he retained him

he

lived.

milk,

knew

as

at

him

court as long

Antoninus, nursed on Christian


the

man

" stead of doing harm


" sons of both sexes,

well.

Severus

also, in-

to very distinguished per-

whom he knew to be of
" that religion, gave a favourable testimony to
" them, and even openly set himself against the

M multitude, when raging

against us f."

* Tertullian undoubtedly meant to have added


" by the Christians
for the context requires that
addition.

f " Haec omnia

tibi et de officio suggeri possunt,


ab eisdem advocatis, qui et ipsi beneficia habent
" Chris danorum, licet adclament quae volunt nam

"

et

"

et

cujusdam notarius,

cum

dcemone

praecipitare-

" tur, liberatus est, et quorundam propinquus, et


" pueruius.
Et quanti honesti viri, de vulgaribus
" enim non dicimus, aut a damoniis aut a valetudi" nibus remediati sunt ? Ipse etiam Severus, pater
^

CHAPTER

122
-Here the

first

Uti

thing to be inquired

is,

at

what

time did Tertuilian address this treatise to Scapula

Pamelius says, that

?.

it

year of Severus [A. D. 202,]

was
\

in

the nhith

but he gives no

sufficient reasons for his conjecture.

Thus much

is

certain, that

it

was not before

the seventh year of Severus [A. D. 200.],


that

Emperor began

when

to persecute the Christians \

nor after the sixteenth year [A. D. 209.],

when

the persecution appears to have been staid *#

" Antonini Christianorum meraor fuit


nam et
" Proculum, Christianum, qui Torpacion cognomi" nabatur, Euhodae [Euhodi] procuratorem, qui eurri
" per oleum aliquando curaverat, requlsivit, et in
:

**

palatio suo habuit usque ad

" Antoninus optime noverat,

mortem

ejus

quern et

lacte Christiano educa-

" tus. Sed et clarissimas fcerninas et clarissimos vi" ros Severus, sciens hujus sectae esse, non modo non
" laesit, verum et testimonio exornavit, et populo fu" renti in nos
in os] palam restitit."
Ad Scapulam,
* It

c. 4.
is

somewhat

not improbable, that the persecution began


later than is here supposed, and ended,

in Africa at least,
says,

somewhat sooner.

[d. Reb. Christ, ante Constantin.

Mosheim

M,

p.

456.

457.], that the treatise ad Scapulam, was drawn up


about the beginning of the reign of Caracalla. Cerit could not have been drawn up at any later
for, towards the conclusion of the treatise,
period
Tertuilian speaks of emperors in the plural number

tainly

u Magistrum neminem habemus, nisi Deum solum


"
cseterum quos putas tibi magistros, homines
u sunt, et ipsi morituri quandoque." This phrase is

CHAPTER

We

now proceed

to

123

HI.

examine the import

of

the passage in question.


Tertullian says, that the pleaders or advocates

had received

benefit

by the cures which

their

dependents and relations owed to the Christians j and, therefore, that they should have
applicable to no year of Caracalla but the

first,

du-

ring which he reigned in conjunction with his brother Geta. It is, however, very unlikely, that Caracalla should have begun his reign by persecuting

men whom he suffered to continue in tranquilduring the remainder of it, Besides, Sulpicius
Severus reckons the whole years of Caracalla under
that period, which is commonly called the long peace
of the church. Perhaps Mosheim founded his opinion on the words " ipse etiam Severus, pater Anto" nini," as if implying that Severus was then dead
Eut the words may mean nothing more than a com-

those
lity

pliment to the young Emperor, by distinguish^ gthe old Emperor' as the father of Antoninus. There
are other expressions in this passage calculated to
If Mosheim founded
gain the favour of Caracalla.
his opinion on the words " et in Palatio suo habuit
" usque ad mortem ejus" and understood them of
the death of Severus, and not of Proculus, he surely
mistook their sense
for, according to his own hypothesis, the address to Scapula was drawn up in the
first year of Caracalla,
If " usque ad mortem ejus"
mean " until the death of Severus," Proculus was
either alive at the time of Tertullian's writing, or
had died but a few months before. NowT , the phrase
which follows, " quern et Antoninus optime nove" rat" cannot be applied to one either alive at that
:

time, or lately dead.

CHAPTER

III.

ggested to Scapula the propriety of limiting

penal edicts to the express letter of the law.


It

exceedingly probable that, in mentioning

is

the cure wrought on the clerk of a certain person,

had

fee

he thought

particular
fit

man

whose name

in view,

to conceal, either

from motives

of prudence, or for the purpose of introducing


a rhetorical innuendo.

According to the description given by Tertuilian,

the

man

symptoms of an

of

whom

he speaks had the

That

epilepsy.

may

not

I shall

not

blend one controversy with another,

attempt to determine whether the disease pro-

ceeded from what are called natural causes, or

from the permitted agency of some malevolent


spirit.

It is

enough

to say, that the

ed under a grievous disease *

may

labouras

we

give credit to Tertullian, was cured by the

interposition of the Christians.

may be
with

man

and, so far

said as

this difference only, that

narrative

is

The same thing

to the other cures here mentioned,

more

as to

them, the

general, and that there are

no

* History, from the days of Julius Csesar until

own times, informs us, that fits of the epilepsy


may be mitigated by means of an exact regimen.
Whether the disease be curable, is a question which
our

It may, however, be
physicians can best answer.
presumed, that neither tht jorce of imagination, nor
natural strength oj constitution , can remove the epi-

lepsy-

CHAPTER
circumstances in

any individual,

it

which

as the

125

III.

so directly allude to

words " clerk of a certain

person" do.

Thus

far

with

will agree

my

is

supposed that

all

me

as to the state

of the

it

readers
fact.

Tertullian immediately adds, " Severus him-

self

by being

Since

benefit,
self,

it

may be

fairly

said, that

it is

verus, a persecuting Prince, was

memor

short of the

falls

literal,

sense of the original.

fl

This

was mindful of the Christians."

translation,

Se-

" Christianorum

concluded, that some

thought to have been conferred on him-

or on a person in

whom

he took an

inte-

rest, excited a grateful remembrance, very un-

like the harsh character of Severus.

The next

thing to be inquired into

what

is,

did any Christian perform that could have indu-

man

ced such a

as

Severus to bestow marks of

distinguished favour on one Christian, to be


merciful,

by connivance

others, and,

towards

at least,

many

even on some occasions, to stay the

raging of the people,

whom

his

own

edicts

had

animated in the bloody work of persecution

Here
irill

also

it is

supposed that

admit the question to be

all

readers

fairly stated.

Examples of the benignity of


persecuting emperor,

my

Pagan and

when recorded by an

ad-

versary, will, in particular, obtain easy credit

with those

who judge

favourably enough of Pa-

CHAPTER

126

III.

gan and persecuting emperors, and not too favourably of their adversaries.

" Severus bestowed peculiar marks of his re gard on Proculus, a Christian, the steward of
Euhodus, who had cured him by oil." This is
a brief state of what Tertullian says.
generally supposed, and with very great

It is

probability,

was

person

that the Euhodus here mentioned,

much

distinguished in the days of

known

Severus, and one perfectly well


pula,

and to every reader of the

to Sca-

treatise ad-

dressed by Tertullian to that President.

We

can hardly imagine that Tertullian would

have described Proculus, surnamed Torpacion y

by

calling

woman
vile

him " the steward of Eithoda" of

altogether obscure, and bearing a ser-

name but there is much propriety in


him as " the steward of Euhodus"
:

de-

scribing-

Euhodus, from the slave* of Severus, became


his freedman,

and one of

his-

chief favourites,

had the charge of the education Gf Caracalla

f,

* The name of Euhodus was frequently borne


and freedmen. See Gruter. Inscript. t. iv.
though, indeed, it may be rather termed a
nickname, or riotn de guerre^ implying good luck ; or
more appositely in French, It parvenu so ako Euhoda must have been a servile name, being the femi-

by

slaves

p. 181.

*,

nine of Euhodus.

r
calla

Mr

Gibbon

was

a Christian, vol.

says, that the


i.

p.

preceptor of Cara-

60S

but he produces

CHAPTER
remained

III.

high credit during the

in

old master, and

was put

to death

life

of his

by his pupil*.

no authority in support of his assertion. He adds,


" If that young prince ever betrayed a sentiment of
" humanity, it was occasioned by an incident, which,
" however trifling, bore some relation to the cause of
" Christianity." What he alludes to is the passage
u Septennis puer
so often quoted from Spartian.
" quum collusorem suum puerum, ob Judaic am reli" gionem gravies verberatum audisset, neque patrem
" suum neque patrem pueri vel auctores verberum
" diu respexii/' JEA. Spartian, Antoninus CaracalI never could understand this pasconcerning a play-fellow of Caracalla, who
was severely whipped on account of the Jewish religion to the great displeasure of that young prince.
One thing, however, seems plain, that Dr Lardner,
Teslim. iii. 4. is much mistaken in his conjecture,
that Judaica refygio means Christianity.
Some of
the earlier Heathen writers may have confounded the
two religions j but it is impossible that Spartian
could j for he lived in the days of Constantine the
Great, ft is singular, indeed, that Mr Gibbon should
have produced this story as the only proof of Caracalla having ever betrayed a sentiment of humanity.
For Spartian, in that very page of his work, says,
that Caracalla, during his earlier years, shewed many
lus, in princip.

sage,

signs of a

when

good

disposition

and

that, in particular,

criminals were exposed to wild

beasts

in

his

away his eyes from the spectacle and wept, [" si quando fens objectos damnatcs
" vidit, flevit, aut oculos avertit."] ^Mr Gibbon has

presence, he turned

overlooked this, and much more, and has confined


himself to the story of the Jewish boy.

* Concerning Euhodus,
p.

S61. 862.

1.

Ixxvii. p.

see

870.

Dion

Cassius,

L Ixxv.

edit. Leunclavii.

CHAPTER

128

III.

But ivJmn did Proculus cure


rus or

Euhodus

was

it

Seve-

Dr Middleton

says,

Tertullian

Proculus, a Christian, cured the


rus of a certain distemper

He

tells us,

that

Emperor Seve-

by " the use of

oil."

does not deny that the cure was performed,

but he attempts to account for

it

from natural

causes *;

f Inquiry, p. 16. Dr Middleton manages this argument with much controversial skill. To the nar-

rative of Tertullian, concerning a fact said to have,

happened in his own times, and almost under his


eyes, he joins the narrative of Jerom concerning a
fact said to have happened in a remote country before Jerom was born ; and having thus joined the
two stories, he takes it for granted that they must
stand or fall together. " St Jerom (says he) affirms,.
" that Hiiarion, the Monk, used to heal all the
" vjounds of the husbandmen and shepherds with
" 'consecrated oil.
These cures, \t true, might be
" accounted for probably without a miracle, by the
" natural power and efficacy of the oil itself ; since,
" in our days, the bite of vipers, after inflaming a
a degree which threatened destruc" tion to him, is known to have been checked and
" cured in a short time by the application of oil,
" which might perhaps have been the very case of
" Hilarious shepherds."
This perhaps is incomparable for, in the passagealluded to, Jerom says expressly, that the shepherds
whom HJlarion cured, " had been smitten by ser" pents and other venomous animals.'" Jerom related the circumstances of the fact fairly, though, possibly, his conclusion from them was erroneous.
Dr

& man's arm to

CHAPTER

Mr

Gibbon

129

III.

beyond Dr Middleton's

steps

conjecture, and supposes that there was


at all

that

no cure

but that Severus just persuaded himself

he got some

benefit

his slaves anointed

him

by
#
.

oil

with which one

of-

Nay more, Mr Gib-

Middleton omitted those circumstances, and then


produced them as a conjecture of his own. The pas" Ecce sisage, which he has curtailed, runs thus
" tiens arenosaque regio, postquam pluviis irrigata
" est, tantam [/. tantaj serpen turn ei venenatorum
u animalium ebullivit multitudinem
[/. multitudine^
" ut percussi innumerabiles, nisi ad Hilarionem cu** currissent,
Benedicto itaque
statim interirent.
" oleo universi agricolae atque pastores tangentes yuI:

" nera, certam


certatim] salutem resumebant."
Vita Hilarion. c. 27. Dr Middleton, on the authority of Jerom, has extended the cure to all wounds,
while Jerom himself limits it to the cure of wounds
inflicted

by the

bite or stings of

venomous animals.

It is not certain that the words " benedicto oleo"


ought to be rendered, " with consecrated oil," in
the

common

acceptation of the phrase.

seems to mean, " with


prayed for a blessing."
perstitious fancies than

oil

It rather

on which Plilarion had

Men

no

less free

Dr Middleton

from

su-

ever was, pray

on medicines administered. " Mensa


benedicta," in the language of Jeronvs age, is " a
table at which grace has been said," and " cibus

tor a blessing

"
"
"
"

benedictus" is " food for which a blessing has been


asked," not " a consecrated table," or " consecrated food."

* It is impossible to discover the source of this


anecdote.
Tertullian says no such thing ; and he is
equally silent as to some benefit, perhaps of a spiritual nature,

which Severus persuaded himself that

CHAPTER

ISO

III.

bon

leaves it uncertain, whether this


however small or ambiguous, was of a

nature$ or something

benefit,
spiritual

which merely respected

the health of the patient.

Notwithstanding the authority of


dleton,

Mr

Dr Mid-

Gibbon, and many other writers,

was wrought, or
have been wrought, on Euhodus,

incline to think that the cure

supposed to

and not on Severus


heard of the

relief

and that Severus having

which

tained, sought after

his favourite

had ob-

him

Proculus, and kept

about his person.

The words

in Tertullian

may

as well imply,

that Proculus cured Euhodus, as that

he cured

Severus.

When

7
the phrase Proculum requisivit'

considered,

it

is

seems inconsistent with the notion

of Proculus having cured Severus himself.

Emperor, had he been cured by


culus administered,

oil

The

which Pro-

would have had no occasion

to seek after or inquire for his physician.


It is

probable that hitherto

neral, will see

no great cause

my readers, in

ge-

to controvert the

he had received from the anointing with oil. Indeed,


he says, which Mr Gibbon has overlooked, that, in
the times of Severus, eminent persons of both sexes
professed the Christian religion, but he makes nomention of Proculus as a Christian slave.

CHAPTER
facts

131

III.

and circumstances which

voured to

have endea-

establish.

But now there occurs an observation, which,


if

well founded, might supersede

all

further in-

quiry into the nature of the cure wrought by

Pro cuius.

One

of the writers in the controversy con-

cerning The miraculous powers,

"

Tertullian,

who

relates

mention at all of
" words are these

thus

speaks

the story, makes no

His

a miracle in the case.

A Christian named Proculus,


cured the Emperor Severus of a certain distent" per by the use of oil ; for which service the Em" peror was favourable to the Christians, and kept
:

Proculus, as long as he lived, in his palace


If Tertullian,

who

lived

at

the time

when

the cure was performed, made no mention at


of a miracle,

it

would be preposterous

all

for us, in

the eighteenth century, to attempt to discover

more in the story than this,


Euhodus or Severus by oil.
It appears,

that Proculus cured

however, from the context,

al-

though not from Dr Middleton's quotation, that


Tertullian supposed that the cure

by

oil,

and

the cures of the epilepsy and other diseases

which he mentions, were

all

of the same na-

* Defence of Dr Middleton's Free Inquiry, by


Frederick Toll, A. M. p. 98.


CHAPTER

132

ture, the operation of

III.

God through

the ministry

of the Christians.

We

learn

from the work of Serenus Sammo-

nicus*, a celebrated physician at the court of

Severus, that

oil

of various sorts was

in the Recipes of those

days.

much

used

Oil indeed ap-

pears to have been at that time the popular and


fashionable medicine

have been

and therefore

trifling in Tertullian, to

it

would

have said that

Proculus cured Euhodus with a medicine generally used.

The

sense of the author seems to be altoge-

ther different.

When

that the Apostles

were

sick,

the sacred historian says,

"anointed with

oil

and healed them," Mark

many

that

vi. 13.

he

* Q. Sereni Sammonici de Medicina liber.


Stephan. d. Med. princ. confounds him with his
son, who was preceptor to the younger Gordian, and
who left in legacy to his pupil a liorary of sixty- two

H.

thousand volumes, Jul. Capitolin. Gordianus junior,


159. that very library of which Mr Gibbon thus
speaks, " Twenty-! wo concubines, and a library of
" six'y-fwo thousand volumes, attested the variety of
" his inclinations \ and from the productions which
he left behind him, it appears that the former as
" well as the latter were designed for use rather
" thin for ostentation," vol. i. p. 215. Pity that
Gordian had not collected four thousand volumes in
addition to the legacy j then it might have been
said, that for every three thousand of volumes in his
library, he had one concubine and three bastards, and
the antithesis would have been complete.
p.

CHAPTER
mean

surely does not

healed the sick


stles, in

that

135

III.
it

was the

oil

which

but he means that the Apo-

working the cure, used

oil as a

symbol

of the authority of Christ, the spiritual sovereign,

by whose commission, and

in

whose name

they acted.

Had Tertullian said, " Proculus anointed with


Euhodus, who was sick, and healed him,"

oil

we should have concluded

immediately, that, by

using the words of the evangelist, he meant to


refer to the evangelical history,

and that he sup-

posed the cure to be miraculous.


text being considered,
tullian has

it

But the con-

should seem that Ter-

expressed himself in words equiva-

valent to those used

by St Mark

*.

* The reader will judge whether the words " per


oleum" do not mean " by the oil j" the idiom of
the Latin language

is such, that a periphrasis is necessary for conveying a sense corresponding to these

words " the oil." Hence modem writers in Latin


would, in such case, have prefixed the Greek article
" per to oleum."
thus
:

more likely that, in the cure of Euhodus,


Proculus imitated the practice of the apostles, Mark
vi. 13. than that he meant to act in conformity to the
directions given by St James, v. 14.
for that which
It is

St James directs to be done appears limited to the


case of believers. " Is any sick anion? you, let him

" send for the etders of the church," &c. [xcrkm


Besides, there

is

was a presbyter

rt$

no reason to suppose that Proculus


;

for the office of presbyter, in the

CHAPTER

IS4<
It

III.

remains for us to ascertain,


the

possible,

time

at

which

as

this

nearly as

cure

was

wrought.

Euhodus, the

man

slave,

and afterwards the freed-

of Severus, must have

that wealth

owed

to his patron

which obliged or enabled him

to

maintain Proculus as his steward or intendant.

The

fortune of Euhodus must have been ac-

quired during the reign of Severus, and not before

it.

We

learn

from Spartian, that Severus, born

manthe old Ro-

in a state of mediocrity, lived in a frugal

ner, and perhaps affectedly, after

man
ly

fashion.

Although he had governed

Sici-

and Pannonia with proconsular powers, and

had even borne the office of consul, he continued to reside in a small and inconvenient
dwelling at Rome, and was proprietor of no

more than
the

last

a single farm.

years of

a larger house,

It

Commodus,

was not
that

till

about

he purchased

with gardens, according to the

fashion of that age # .

At the time of

his ele-

second century, could hardly have been compatible


with that of steward or intendant to Euhodus.
* " Consulatum cum Apuleio Ruffino primum egit
post consulatum anno ferme fuit Romse otiosus
exercitui Germanico [leg. Pannonico] prsedeinde
" ponitur. Proficiscens hortos spatiosos compara" vit, quu?n antea cedes brtvissimcs Romce babuisset,
" et unum fundum" JEl. Spartian, Severus, p. 65.
:

CHAPTER
vation to sovereign

135

III.

power he was

in debt, con-

tracted, probably, with a view to the accomplish-

ing of

his.

ambitious purposes

Severus, having been proclaimed Emperor,

underwent great
he

could

and much danger before

toils

himself

establish

on the Imperial

throne.

Every one who has carefully perused the


tories

will

his-

of Dion Cassius, Spartian, and Herodian,

admit that Severus could not have had

lei-

sure or opportunity to bestow considerable donatives

on

a freedman, until the fourth year of

his reign.

Hence

it

may be

concluded, that Proculus

could not have been the administrator of the


rents

and

issues of

such donatives sooner than

the fourth year of Severus

and that the cure

wrought by him on Euhodus could


probability of

human

events, have

not, in the

happened

at

an earlier period.

have formerly seen, that

it

was

in the

* " Dehinc
p. 67.

ses alienum dissolvlt. TEA. Spartian,


Salmasius, struck with the rage of emenda-

and made Spartian say, that


Severus discharged, not his own debts, but the debts
of his friends ; Not. ad Spartian, p. 136. whereas
Spartian meant to extol the integrity of the Emperor,
in making payments which none of his creditors
durst or could have exacted.
tion, perverted the text,

CHAPTER

136

III.

Ter-

sixteenth year of Severus, at the latest, that

addressing himself to Scapula, the Afri-

tullian,

can governor, spake of the cure wrought by


Proculus, a Christian.

Thus

the event

which Tertullian

relates,

must

have happened within twelve years of the time


at

which he

related

There was

it.

constant

intercourse

between

Carthage, where Tertullian resided, and the ca-

and we may well

affirm, that

any thing

singular occurring at

Rome would

have been

known

soon

pital

at

Carthage

as

as, in

any thing singular occurring


be

known

at

Hamburg

at

our own days,


London would

or Bourdeaux.

Besides, Pamelius, vita TertulL has proved


that Tertullian was

of Severus,

when he

the Parthians, that

time

at

Rome

in the ninth year

exhibited his triumph over


is,

within five years of the

which, by the calculation already men-

at

tioned, Proculus

wrought the cure of Euho-

dus,

So much

beginning of the third


state

who wrote about


century. What was

for Tertullian,

the

the

of the miraculous powers in a few years


v

after the

time of Tertullian, will be best

known

from the writings of Origen.


In various
Celsus, he has

passages of

his

treatise

against

made mention of such miraculous

CHAPTER
powers,

as,

137

III.

according to his account, existed in

the earlier part of the third century.

Thus, he says

it

" But we, should Celsus deem

" speakable multitude of Greeks

an un-

to be proper, are ready to point out

who acknowledge

as

well as

and
" some of them, by the cures which they per" form, shew how a certain supernatural power
" is received through that faith.
The only
Barbarians,

Jesus

" means which they employ, in behalf of those


u who need healing, are, to invoke God over
" all, and the name of Jesus, and to read a por" tion of evangelical history. For, after this
" manner, %ve also have seen many persons reliefs

ved from grievous

diseases,

from disorders of

" the judgment, from madness^


M

and various

men

" other maladies, which neither

ncr de-

mons could have cured*."

* *Huu$ yx?, u txt6 cusvdv vtu.^a,


UUVc/iTOV Ti

TV In?*'

7r?.-/;Go$

Tl'Ji;

HW'WXV

T fflU&UX

xXXo

KZXX'J7t$

QiOV.

XXI TO

txtoi;

yg KAI

i7Ti

stagysj; ernci-jim

ti KUi sce*XC&i' exzoXoy^vraj

T& UXnfi9*l

Ti 6>X

TSJ iiOUiV&S S-'S'ZTziZ?.


ijJT8

O^OUX. iliTX

TY,$

<7V{1~t&i.<,xt&v, kx(

TOy

Y,

TTc^t

HMEI2 EG PA K A MEN

XxyivTxg y^xXiTraiv

TW

TTi <zt V

TCt'J-

zTTl

7TX5i

XV7X

i^C^iX^'

ttoXXxs xttxX-

zxrx?z&v kxi

[4.xvimv,

aXX&v uygtssiv, xTio avT xiQ^mroi are ^xiuovig i^ipolttcvo-xv.


Contra Celsuin, 1. iii. p. 124. edit. Spencer*
Origen uses %otte7rm s-vuTT^xT^y, [bad symptoms,

Kxt

M3

CHAPTER

138
It

III.

should seem that, in the

construction

fair

of words, this imports, that Origen had been an


eye-witness to the wonderful cures which he
describes

admitted

and,
at all,

one of more

To

it

any Christian witness can be


will

be

credibility

difficult

to point out

than Origen.

the same purpose, although with

brevity,

"

if

he elsewhere speaks

ble, that, after

"

It

is

more

observa-

the time at which Jesus so-

journed upon earth, the Jews became altoge ther deserted ; and that they retained no lon ger any of the things which of old were held
in high estimation amongst them. There is
" no sign left of some divinity residing with
" them no more prophets or miracles. Of
these, however, after so long a period, the
vestiges are still to be found amongst Chri stians, and some of them considerable too
" and, 'if my testimony be admitted as credible 1
myself have seen them
:

',

jacheux\ for " dangerous diseases


translated " disorder of the judgment," im-

des accidents
plies

" any suspension of the rational faculties."

vav avTcts
VCt,

tt vet i

caXXcc koli y~wiv (rvtt&uov

cra&vo*y.

SstOTV'TX 7T* OLVTOiq.

Contra Celsum,

1. ii.

%>C ITt

p. 62.

7C 0$ Ytf CfA ,

r% uvea t<TSUft06,

In the same book,

p. 80.

CHAPTER

III.

139

in the same work, is reOrigen says, " I


on
many
accounts.
markable
am of opinion that the miracles of Jesus,.
" which Celsus calumniously says he learnt

Another passage

" among the Egyptians to perform, afford evi" dence of the Holy Spirit having appeared in
" the likeness of

"

my

also,

and, in support of

dove

opinion, I argue not only from them, but

with probable grounds, from those which


the Apostles of Jesus performed. And in" deed, without the operation of miracles, the

Apostles could not have moved. men, who


* had new notions and new doctrines proposed
to them, to abandon the religious

rites

of

" their country,, and, with hazards even unto

" death, to admit what those teachers taught


" and Hill the vestiges of that Holy Spirit,

" which appeared in the likeness of a dove,


" are preserved among Christians \ for they ex" pel* demons, and perform many cures \ and,

he speaks, in general terms, of persons having been

name of

healed in the

* The word txpel


translation of

uncommon,

Christ
is

i%pz*3ig(ri.

is

classical.

i*z%%t o-yi^ov Sz^ctTnv-

used, although not a proper

The

verb tf^ecpui, however


Origen, on this occasion,

has been more studious of the purity of his Greek,


than of correctness in theological language.
He
ought not to have spoken of charms or, rather, if
the word may be admitted, of decantations.

CHAPTER

140

III.

" as the word [Aoros] willeth, they foresee


u some things and, however much Celsus, or
" the Jew whom he has introduced, may scoff
:

((

at

be said, that

shall

tins

it,

many

persons

w have been converted to Christianity, as if


" against their will, through some inspiration,
u acting with energy upon them in visions or in

" dreams, which suddenly changed their mind


U from hatred of the word to a willingness of
" dying for it. Indeed many instances of this
" nature have come within my own knowledge.,
" and were I to commit to writing those at
" which I was present, and an eye-witness, it

" would

lay

me

open to the derision of unbe-

" lievers * j and they would suppose

stories just as

God and my own

**

that

"

tives,

16

my

me

to feign

they suppose others to do

intention

yet

conscience are witnesses


is,

not by fictitious narra-

but by variety of authentic evidence, to

establish the divine doctrine of Jesus f

/*

gen complains of w the broad grin of infidelity.*'


the simper of infidelity " is much more intolerfor ridicule cannot silence, and argument canable

But M
j

not confute a simpering

SFigJjTSg*?,

vt*o

infidel.

tz lr <j% 7Tx?zg*zx yayi'^uivx' kr^x


t

ZxXXwj KeAroc, Qtnv xvtov


7ri7rctrjx,ivxi.

kxtx

KXi mk

to uko$, Kdi

iKitvoig

its it

7rxp

Aiyvmrii$ petMikpi&r*

ys uovdg yj^r^fuu*

Aifw?m

ry

lw*

u>0\x Y^fr

TSTe/JJfctfCW

CHAPTER

141

III.

In this passage, the testimony of Origen

unambiguous, so far

as

is

goes, with respect to

it

the healing of diseases.

must* however, be

It

acknowledged, that Origen does not

here, as in

the passages formerly quoted, state himself as

an eye-witness of the cures which he

But

seems of

this

moment

little

for

relates.

no one

but a captious reader will require that an author,

who

has repeated occasions of mentioning the

same

subject, should

same degree of

is

always treat

precision.

So far as I have been able to discover, there


no passage of Origen, in which he asserts

ctv yxg
iuvatusm kxi
ywv y-xt Kfitim (axHuxtw

ftlV TSt TTCtTPtX,

SxiXTX,

$g0)7l

Wit,

fA-TX XIVG'JVMV r&v l&iX>*i

XXI

Kcti

iroXXxg

KsXrc; to Xi yj?,7t,uivcv,

ecvT'ri xsii

iciriig

>j,

7TIPI

7%

x7f'o

jiit<r&v

s<70p:',7cic,iy'

TTX^XTVfcOV'tlg

XXI

idovrzg,

ZviTiXxri.

xxi

xxv

uvtc-jv

nm

vttxp

Bfc*

Kill

Yj

ovot^,

0u$u<rxx.Xixj.

Spencer.

tto?.Xx

yap

ylXonsL ttXsctvv CpXr^O.Ui'J TOig

txvt xvx-

XVTdg 7rXX77HM" XXXct yXP GrSJ U:4TV;

ta vyATtPH fvf&$4t*i fixXeusm a


Tivo$ svx^yuxg 7rotx.iXr,s

ccXXx

to iytuov-

ypxfympA*^ XVT01 XVTCtg

ctTifoi; oioicivoig y,uxg cuei&g cig VTroXa-fdaei v%7t


7Tl777^XXiVXi,

ln^Xicg'

07iXY XvCZ7l

tov Xo/cv &rt to y&paftdjS.iih

<p2tn7oi<rix7(.vT6$ xvJ'd;,

raxvTX

t*?iVH

{LsXXCTsJV.

cy iiTr.yxyiv,

GL'/tOVTlg

Trvivfietrog Ti)>og t py^xvrog

xov ezfQvidiov

TH xyi%

ST/ r/J'ti

SnXr.UZ TX Ai'/,

XiXii7X! } OTl TTOXXOi, V7771PII

XgtftoiVKruM.

x.ctiv&}) Atf-

kxtuXitthv

Tffgi&gCCS, TCtSX XsifiZVOig CttZ*-

iV ii^ii

KCiTdt TO

%kivoi<n\ 01
OfA.OJg

?g,

to

srgo;

*.x.&orrcc$

/U,X$/,UXTX'

^iTTxdVFt Sx^ucvx;,

Tctt.

7r&Pxot>%av utivxv r%q

?TXCiQiZx78%t

TCt

JTHVftmTOSi oZ&lVTOc

kxi

with the

it

ctix '^ivp&iv

ativifxv&iy

Contra Celsuin, L

i.

x7tc>.yyiXiCM,

tw Iwa

Sitciy

p. 34. 35. edit,

CHAPTER

142

III.

himself to have been present

The

any demon.

at

the expelling of

accuracy with which he dis-

criminates between what he believed on the re-

port of others, and what he believed on the

testimony of his
it

own

senses,

is

remarkable, and

adds to the credibility of his evidence.


I

have

said, that

in the

passage

quoted,

last

* Origen does not state himself as an eye-wit" ness of the cures which he relates " because

what he observes of sudden conversions


Christian faith, has

no

relation to

any miracu-

lous powers subsisting in the church

it

to a matter altogether different, to the

which

men

it

may

please

God

to

to the

relates

means

use in bringing

to the belief of Christianity

and here,

whether we should hold, that he withdrew from


his servants the power of working miracles at
an earlier or at a later period, still " the hand
" of the Almighty is not shortened."
presume, there will be no controversy

One more
shall

it

for

passage from the works of Origen

be produced

ral terms,

is

although expressed in gene-

connected with what has been

already quoted of the works of that author.

" Signs of the Holy Spirit were shewn when


" Jesus began to teach, more numerous after
his ascension, and in succeeding times less

numerous.
" traces of it

But even
in a

at this

few men,

day, there are

who have had

their

-CHAPTER
w

Word, and

cleansed by the
# ."

souls

14S

III.

a corres-

ponding behaviour

Eusebius began to write about


after

the death of Origen

his account, evil spirits

But

years

and, according to

were wont

led even in those times f

fifty

to

be expel-

have not been

able to discover that Eusebius speaks of himself


as

an eye-witness of such

facts.

In another passage he observes, that " the

" evidences of
"

divinity in

Christ,

Jesus

are

and proved among us even by other

tried

" glaring matters of fact, exceeding all power


* of words, where our Lord himself, even at

this

<

of his

wont to manifest some portions


power, though but small, in those

day,

whom

he thinks proper

;*yvro,

is

vs"Sgov

?s

it

J."

kyn& Wzvpcirog xmt ug%ccg

oXiyOlS,

for

iXarrovcc.

TC,S

^VftCtg

vr$a,%m K&m&ag&irots.

ss*Aj3*

TO)

xxi vvv in

Xcyu)

KCU

Contra Celsum,

f Euseb. Demonst. Evangel.

fA.iv

lyjYi i?iv

rv,g

ccvra

70Uq KCCT UVTOV


1. vii.

1. iii.

p.

337.

p. 91. edit.

Stephani.

Kctt

vvv,

Gig

uv K^iymv

ptiL^ot,

rivx Tyg

civtx *hv\cLf*wg

Euseb. Demonst. Evangel. 1. iii.


I have used the version of Dr Chapman,
p. 71.
Notes on the Charge, p. 57. omitting, however, his
gloss, " small, comparatively
as not warranted by

7rciC6(pc6tviiy

the text.

wafo.

CHAPTER

144

These expressions are


cannot, with certainty,

Ul>
so

general, that

we

determine, whether they

relate to the expulsion of evil spirits, the seeing

of visions, or the curing of diseases.


It

should seem that, in the days of Eusebius,

there were fewer pretensions to miraculous gifts

and powers among the Christians than there

were

in the days of Origen.

Eusebius, as an eye-witness, has pathetically

described the long and grievous persecution of

the Christians in Palestine

yet he speaks not

of any miracle ever wrought by any of those

and he does not speak even of

Martyrs

seen, or of prophecies uttered

by them

visions

*.

* Concerning Polycarp the church in Smyrna


" While he prayed, three days before
" he was apprehended, he beheld, in a vision, his
<4
pillow consumed by flames j and turning to those
" who were with him, hesaid, n the spit it of proph cy\
" It behoves me to be burnt alive." He was one
" endued with the spirt' of prophecy ; for every
" word which he uttered has already been, or will be
thus speaks

**

hereafter fulfilled."

quity, vol.

i.

Remains of Christian Anti-

p. 7. p. 20.

And to the same purpose, the churches of Lyons


and Vienne speak of Alexander, a martyr from
" He was universally known for his love
Phrygia.
u towards God, and his boldness in proclaiming the
4
Word \ and he w as not without, a f*i r io n of
and the same churches
apostolical grace" ib. p. 5*.
'

speak of a revelation made to Attains, another


martyr, ib. p. 68.

CHAPTER

145

in.

Virtuous friendship for the


zeal for the cause in

which they

have led Eusebius, on

some degree of

sufferers,

suffered,

and

might

slight evidence, to give

credit to popular

rumours, had

there been any such, tending to increase the

fame of the Martyrs

yet nothing of that na-

and this is the


is to be found in his work
more remarkable, because at that time there
prevailed an opinion among the Christians in
Palestine, that Providence interposed, by signs

ture

Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, treating of the


Decian persecution, says, " I declare before God,
and he knows that I lie not, never did I of my
" own accord, and without a divine impulse, \jsk
u
take Might." Euseb. Hist.Eccles. l.vi. c.40.
Fructucsus, Bishop of Tarracona in Spain, when
about to be burnt alive, " through ihe admonition of
** the
Hoiy Spirit thus spake There w ill not be
u wanting a pastor among you
for the loving
" kindness of the Lord shall never fail \ and that
*8
which ye now behold, seemeth but as the tribula" tion of one hour." Remains of Christian Antiquity, vol. ii. p. 42.
It was j ores hewn to Cyprian, that he should be
taken into custody, and beheaded. Remains of Christian Antiquity, vol. ii. p. 29. 112.
I do not pretend to determine any thing as to the
nature of the visions and prophetical gifts mentioned
in this note
my only purpose is to contrast the
particulars related of former martyrs with the narrative of Eusebius concerning the Martyrs of Par

lestine*

CHAPTER

146

and wonders,

To

to confer an awful dignity

on the

and death of the Martyrs.

sufferings

4>'

in.

this

purpose Eusebius speaks, "

doubt

not that the things which ensued will appear


incredible to every one, excepting eye-witnes-

"

ses

44

the rather, because almost the

"

tants of Caesar ea,

yet must I needs record

young and

them

and

this

whole inhabi-

old,

beheld the

astonishing sight."
44

When

the Heathens imagined that they

4<

had sunk

4t

the unfathomable deep, at once there arose a

this

holy and most blessed youth in

mighty noise 9 and the sea and the air were


agitated ; and the whole city of Caesarea, and
the neighbouring country, trembled \ and, at
-

this sudden and strange event, the sea, as if


unable to bear the corpse of the divine martyr,
cast it out before the gates of the city *.""

<c

And

again,

" There ensued

this

event

4<

and an universal serenity prevailed

44

wonderful

While the sky was pure and

bright,

in the fir-

mament, on a sudden, most of the pillars


which upheld the porticoes in the city, sent
and, notwith-

46

forth drops resembling tears

i{

standing there had been no

4<

the market-places and the streets became wet,

Ci

know not how,

as if

* Mart.

dew from the air,

besprinkled with water

Palest,

civ.

CHAPTER
**

"

and forthwith
all 3

it

manner,

4<

and

as if

a saying repeated

among

earth wept in this inexplicable

that the

i;

was

1*47

III.

it

could not brook such impiety

that, to the

reproach of

men

inexorable

" and void of sympathy, stones and inanimate


*'

matter mourned for the deeds which were

" done."
4

4<

This

relation, I

doubt not, will be viewed

in the light of a vain and idle tale by those

u who come after us, but not so by cur conu temporaries, to whom the recentness of the
*'

event vouches
It

its

reality

was no prodigy, that a dead body, sunk

in the sea

without any weights fixed to

it,

should have been thrown on shore by a violent


gust of
clear

wind

or that, while the sky

and serene, the

air

seemed

should have proved

ground become damp f ; and


what impression such incidents made

moist, and the

yet

we

see

on the minds of the inhabitants of Palestine in


general, and even on Eusebius, a person not so
credulous as some authors have supposed him
* Mart.

Palest, c. ix.

f This subject is examined at greater length in


Remains of Christian Antiquity, vol. iii. p. 29.
31.
and p. 63.-67.

% For example, Dr Middleton observes, that


Eusebius [Hist. Eccles. vi. 9.] makes mention of a
miracle which Narcissus, Bishop of Jerusalem,
wrought, by converting water into oil, for the pur-

CHAPTER

HI.

and therefore we may conclude, that

if,

during

the course of a persecution of eight years, any


pose of supplying the church lamps on Easter eve.
Inquiry, p. 127.
The Doctor adds, " of which oil,
" as Eusehius says, several small quantities were
g<

preserved, by great numbers of the faithful, to his


" time, which was about an hundred years after the

date of the miracle."

Here we may, in charity r presume, that Dr


Middleton has been led^ into an error by not attending to the construction of a loxg period in Eusebius.
The sense of the whole period depends on
the word <><ri, which is placed at the beginning of
it.
Eusebius, instead of saying any thing on his own
authority, or from his own belief, only says that
The
men re/tort such and such circumstances.
historian himself appears to have been peculiarly atin order
tentive to make this important distinction
:

to

mark

the difference between his ovjn assertion


assertion of others, he multiplies words

and the
nearly synonymous [uvwovzvxo-t, kc^vi. (pan.']
To prevent any mistake, Valesius, in his version,
took the liberty of repeating a translation of the
word <p#*7, although but once mentioned in the
original.

Notwithstanding all this precaution, Dr Middlewhen quoting the Greek of Eusehius, overlooked the unlucky word (part, once used by the
historian, and the same wr ord twice translated by his
interpreter \ and hence he has produced the follow7rXo^otg
ing maimed and imperfect sentence, [tt#
ton,

^tlytiU

T TOTi S-&VU0CT0S

<PvXM%ftltimU~\

Eusebius mentions the story as a tradition,


Tr&^oLOoeioH; to)* kutca $fccti6%'/}v cchx$vvj 7 but there
"

no cause

for

supposing that

he,

himself believed

s
IS
it*

CHAPTER

149

III.

of the Martyrs in Palestine had wrought miraor seen

cles,

Many

visions,

uttered

or

prophecies,

authors, in relating matters of dubious credit,

" there is a tradition," " it is


;
" they say." How hard the state
of such authors, were they to be held as vouchers
for the truth of every such tradition, report, and
story, and then, on that account, to be vilified and
use a like preamble

"

reported,'" or,

insulted

Upon

the authority of others, Eusebius often rewhich he either doubted or disbelieved j

lates things

and there are who think, that he might, with better


judgement, have omitted such things altogether.
But if he had omitted them, and if other books,
containing those stories of dubious credit, had been
saved from the wreck of time, then we should have
heard, " that Eusebius industriously omitted every
u circumstance tending to shew the fictions of some
M of the primitive Christians, and the credulity ot
" others."

To turn water into oil, for supplying the churchlamps on Easter-eve, would have been a miracle
nc* foretold by our Lord \ neither would it have
established the truth of his divine mission

same time

it

might have served

tious prejudices in those

weak

Christians

to have dreaded, as an unlucky

at the

to foster supersti-

who

appear

omen, the extinction

of the lamps at that season.


miracle not foretold, bearing no signs of any
useful tendency, and capable of producing dangerous
consequences, ought not to be credited on a tradi-

tionary say

and

what

this

more

especially in the present

have been done once by


Narcissus, is said to have been done often under the
administration of Jesuit missionaries in the East Indies.
Amongst the Epigrammota Sacra of Igna-

case

for

is

said

to

CHAPTER

150

III*

Eusebius would not have passed them over In


silence.

Christianity was established

years after that persecution.

new and

a very different scene

which something

Mr

by law not many


Then, indeed,

will

opened, of

be said hereafter.

Gibbon concludes

his observations

on the

third secondary cause of the rapid progress of


Christianity,

by stating certain

difficulties,

which

deserve our attention.

His

first difficulty

lowing words

is

expressed in the fol-

" Every age bears testimony to

44

the wonderful events by which

44

tinguished, and

its

was

it

dis-

testimony appears no less

" weighty and respectable than that of the prew ceding generation, till we are insensibly led
u on

to accuse our

own

inconsistency,

if,

in the

we deny

4<

eighth or in the twelfth century,

44

the venerable Bede or the holy Bernard the

" same degree of confidence which,


41

second century,

4i

to Justin

we had

in

to

the

so liberally granted

and Xrenceus

Dickerus, 2. 62. this title occurs, " Lampades


F ancisco Xaverio, apud Indos accensse, fre? quenter sola aqua nutriuntur." Narcissus eked
out his oil with water ; but, in more modern times,
pure water served every purpose of oil.

tins

S.

*
" In

To

this there is subjoined a query, [note 81.]

series of ecclesiastical history, does


" there exist a single instance of a saint asserting
" that he himself possessed the gift of miracles ?"

the long

CHAPTER
If,

all

151

III.

circumstances considered, what Bede

of Cuthuert, and Bernard of Malachi,

relates

under the phrase, " ecclesiastical history," the


New Testament be comprehended,
every one acquainted with the Scriptures can decidedly answer this acute query in the affirmative.
Mr Gibbon, probaoly, meant to except the apostolical times from this query j but as his words aie
wide enough to comprehend them also, it may be
fit to observe,
that St Matthew asserts, that " he
himself possessed the gift of miracles }" for he
" And when he had called unto him
thus speaks
6
S his twelve disciples, oe %ane them po>r,er over un" clean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all
" manner of sickness, and all manner of disease y*
chap. x. 1.
Here he asserts that Jesus bestowed the
gift of miracles on the twelve Apostles
and presently after, while recounting their names, he mentions himself as one of that chosen number; so he
must have possessed that gift of miracles which Jesas best Dived on him.
Again, St Paul positively asserts, that " he himself possessed the gift of miracles
for he thus
" I am become a fool in glorying, ye have
speaks
" compelled me for I ought to have been comu mended of you
for in nothing am I behind the
j
" very cniefest Apostles, though I be nothing.
*' Truly the
signs of an Apostle were wrought
" among you in all patience, in signs] and wonders,
" and eighty deeds
Mr An2 Cor. xii. 21. 12.
thony Collins is reported to have said, " I think so
If,

history of the

well of St Paul,

who was both

" a gentleman, that

man

of sense and

he had asserted that he had


wrought miracles himself, I would have believed
44
himy" Biographia Britannica, v. i. p. 626. not. G,
2d edit. This anecdote, if authentic, proves, that
if

CHAPTER

152
be no

less

times,

what Justin M. * and

credible than

of miraculous powers in their

Irenseus relate

own

III.

we ought

not to deny them the

same degree of confidence.


to that conclusion,

it is fit

But, before coming


that

we

should

make

ourselves acquainted with the nature of the


stories related

Bede

by Bede and Bernard.


the following stories of Cuth-

relates

He had sown some

bert.

sprung up, and was in the

peck

at

Why

He

it.

it

began to

thus mildly addressed the birds

are ye

did not sow

when

corn, and
ear, birds

so unjust, as to reap
?

Are ye poorer than

Where ye
I

am

If

*4

ye have a commission from Heaven to plun-

4<

der me, I submit

"

tory."

The

birds

and never returned.


bably,

Mr

but

if not, leave

my

terri-

immediately flew away,

Some crows who,

had not been present

at

pro-

Cuthbert's re-

although one of the shrewdest adverhad read the epistles of St


Paul with little attention. The gift of miracles, of
which I have been speaking, must be distinguished
from the other divine gifts bestowed on the Apostles,
and frequently alluded to by them : as in 1 Pet. L 12. i
John vii. 39.5 xx. 22. y Apoc. i. 10. &c. , lCor.xiv.
18. 7 2 Cor. vi. 6. 7. j and in many other passages.
Collins,

saries of Christianity,

* Justin M. is mentioned here, because Mr Gibbon mentions him j yet there is hardly any thing in
the works of Justin M. which relates to a power of
working miracles bestowed on any individual in the
Christian church.

CHAPTER

153

III.

monstrance, plucked straw out of the thatch of

make

monastery, in order to

his

Cuthbert

pronounced

sentence

banishment against them


sad

their nests

they departed

of perpetual
very-

but after two days, a crow returned, and

throwing

the feet of the prophet, and

itself at

sorrowfully fluttering with

crave forgiveness

and,

at

wings, seemed to

its

the same time, pre-

his

him with a piece of hog's lard to grease


brogues.
From that time the crows ceased

to

molest the thatch of the monastery in Lin-

sented

disfarne.

Thus

far the

has not explained

how

venerable Bede,

have thought of presenting

by way of atonement

saint

Of

the holy Bernard, as

to call him, I

am

who

the penitent crow should


stolen

goods to the

for robbery.

Mr

Gibbon

not the apologist.

inclines

Should we

hold him to have been an honest man,

we must

acknowledge that he was an extravagant

fanatic

and

yet, in

candour,

that Bernard does not,


relate

it

ought to be observed,

on

his

own knowledge,

even a single miracle supposed to have

been wrought by Malachi.

His credulity and

his

admiration of a stranger

led

him

fabulous,

Indeed

to believe reports

monk may

which were

have

partly

and partly exaggerated.


it

may be

doubted, whether a

Roman

Catholic of our times would hold himself under

any obligation to believe whatever Bernard has

CHAPTER

154

in.

for example, Walteof, afterwards

said

of Melros, wished to accommodate

Abbot

Malachi

with a horse, but the only one which he could


Malachi, how-

bestow, had a very hard trot.

ever, accepted of the present, such as

and

it

was,

that in time the horse -would answer

said,

his purpose.

He

rode

for nine years,

it

So

proved an excellent pad.

far goes

and

it

the mi-

raculous change of the Baron's trotting horse

accommodation of the

into a pacer, for the


itinerant

monk

and so

far alone

concerned in the miracle.

is

Malachi

Bernard, however,

a That which made the miracle more


" manifest to beholders, was, that the horse,

adds,

"

originally of a blackish colour

44

[subniger], began to

(*

not long

4*

to be seen."

still

more

after,

that,

there was scarcely one whiter

The

miracle would have been

manifest to beholders,

originally white,

or irongrey,

grow white, and

had the horse,

become, in process of time,

blackish or irongrey.

At

a time

lieved,

when

the honest Irish priests be-

that during the twelve days obsequies

of St Patrick the sun never set # , the successive


miracles wrought on the pad of Malachi might

have found reasonable

credit.

* Messingham. Fiorilegium
fol.b. 1.

Insulae Sanctorum*

CHAPTER

But whatever may be the


Catholics,

it

155

III.

Roman

case as to

supposed that Protestants will

is

hardly accuse themselves of inconsistency ^ when,

admitting

evidence

the

Malachi

his

mortal disease on

inflicted a

whom

unfortunate countryman,

not, by argument^ convince of the

There

are

as

he could

Real Presence.

singular circumstances in the

works

miraculous

Even

some

the

in

doubt whether, in the

second century, they


twelfth,

of miracles

performed

Bernard

relates

by

this

saint.

them, they were not

always, like those in Scripture, instantaneous.

On

the contrary, the sick person did not recover

till

day or two

The

Malachi.

wrought on

lunatics,

for his patients


as

mad

after

he had been

visited

by

which he

cures, in particular,

are very problematical

sometimes relapsed, aud became

as ever.

According to Bernard, the greatest of

all

the

miracles of Malachi was the cure of an inveterate


scold

The

but one

is

tired of such trifling.

by Mr Gibbon,
" Since every friend to re-

second difficulty, stated

words

is

in these

"

velation

4<

reasonable

6i

of miraculous powers,

is

persuaded of the

man

is

reality,

and every

convinced of the
it is

cessatifti

evident that there

ct

must have been some period in which they

44

were

either suddenly or gradually

u from the Christian church.

withdrawn

Whatever

sera

CHAPTER WE

156
"

is

*f

Apostles, the conversion of the

"

pire,

chosen for that purpose, the death of the

" the

or the extinction of the Arian heresy,


insensibility of the

who

Christians

lived

that time will equally afford a just matter

**

at

i(

of surprise.

4t

tensions,

Roman em-

Credulity

They

after

supported their pre-

still

they had

performed

lost

the

their

of

office

power,
faith

fanaticism was permitted to assume the lan-

u guage of inspiration and the effects of acu cident or contrivance were ascribed to super" natural causes |" i. 570.
\

By "

conversion of the

Roman

empire/

Mr

Gibbon means " the conversion of Constantino


* the Great to the Christian faith *J
J

One

of the seras assigned for the cessation of

miraculous powers,
4

'

that of

is,

of the Arian heresy."

better reason for chusing

" the extinction

But there seems no


it

than there would

be for chusing another, mentioned by Whiston


in one of his rhapsodies, the sera of the Council

of Nice, when, to use his

own

language, the

Easebians were overborne by the Athanasians.

Mr

Gibbon

says,

that

" every reasonable

* This appears from note 82. \ the expression,


however, is inaccurate \ for Mr Gibbon might have
recollected, that Constantine, by embracing Christianity, and making it the religion of the state, did
not convert the Roman empire from Paganism.

CHAPTER
^ man

137

III.

convinced of the cessation of miracu-

is

By "

miraculous powers/'

46

Ions powers."

is

presumed that he means "

it

power of workbestowed either on individuals

ing miracles,

u or on the Christian church."

Yet while we

acknowledge the cessation of such power, we

must be careful to distinguish


casional

from the oc-

of the Divinity in the

interposition

working of miracles

it

for his operations are not

to be limited

by the presumptuous wisdom of

his creatures.

This

which can-

a proposition

is

not be too frequently inculcated.


It is
sibility

observed by

Mr

whatever

it

was,

when

withdrawn, affords a
.

Gibbon, that the insen-

of the Christians

who

lived at the time,

miraculous powers were

matter of surprise

just

because " they [the Christians]

their pretensions

after

still

they had

supported
lost

their

" power."

Mr

Gibbon intended to say, that the same


Christians who had lost the power of working
If

miracles,

still

supported their pretensions to that

power, he has been exceedingly unfortunate in


his application of the

men

word

insensibility to

such

#
.

* Were an apothecary, on his stock of Peruvian


hark being exhausted, to make up doses of oak bark
for his customers, we should charge him with frauds
not with insensibility*

CHAPTER

158

III.

cannot discover any circumstance in ec-

clesiastical history

which tends

to

show

that a

Christian was ever deprived of miraculous gifts

and powers, and yet continued to support his

them If
put by Mr Gibbon

pretensions to
case
It

like

is

4
.

I
is

am

right in this, the.

merely

ideal.

proper also to observe, that they who,

Mr

Gibbon,

limit the miraculous gifts

and

powers to the apostolical times, do not hold


that St John,

who

probably outlived the other

Apostles, did exercise


last

hour of

them

his life

to have

them

the very

all until

and that they who suppose

been continued, either wholly or

in part, until the conversion of Constantine the

Great, and the

civil

establishment of Christianity,

do not affirm that they were exercised

moment

until the

which the Emperor was converted,

at

or Christianity became the religion of the

Hence

it

might well happen, that

who had been


for

spectators of a miracle, wrought,

instance, in the healing of a disease,

ever spectators of a feigned cure


serve to shew, that
it

state.

no men

Mr

and

were

this

may

Gibbon too hastily takes

for granted, that Christians, at the cessation

of miracles, had an opportunity of comparing


real

with

fictitious miracles,

and yet could not

discern any difference between them.

That we may view the


difficulty in

subject of

Mr

Gibbon's

fuller light, let us suppose, as

is

chapter

159

in:

most probable, that the miraculous

gifts

and

powers were withdrawn, not at once 3 but gradually >

that

is,

one

successively, or,

after

ano-

ther.

The

reader has already perused an argument

attempting to shew, that, in

power of

and the gift,


" the discerning of spirits,"

were not continued


p. 95,

98.

gift

likelihood, the

resuscitating the dead,

called in Scripture

the

all

p. 103.

after

the apostolical times,

105.;

that the evidence of

of tongues having been continued after

the apostolical times, and until the second century, rests

on

a single

and unsatisfactory passage

in the writings of Irenseus # , p. 99.

in the

second century,

if

103.; that,

not sooner, the

gift

of prophecy, or of interpreting the Scriptures

of the Old Testament, of applying them to the


events of evangelical history, and of foretelling.

* Eusebius says, that Irenaeus " points out the


" marks of a divine and wonderful power left, even
**
unto bis limes, in certain churches 9 P Hist. Eccles.
m

1.

V.

C 7.

[_?u

tit

vr&g&tt^gs fivyap&s&s

x,o&i

u$

etvlav

vTrc^uyuxla

ty}$ faixg

zv &czXv}<Ttctts rt<riv i>7roXz\zi7r}o.^j

k&i

This

seems to imply, that, in the opinion of Eusebius,


some sensible diminution of miraculous gifts and powers between the apostolical age and
the time at which Irenseus wrote.
There is a considerable chasm in the next paragraph, which may
be supplied from the old Latin version of Irenseus
Adv. hae-res, 1. iL- c.-56, Valesius has overlooked
there had been

this,

CHAPTER

itTO

nr.

the fates of the church, was withdrawn,


i-06

third

and

even in the

that,

105;

p.

earlier part of the

century, there was hardly any thing

left

which, in propriety of speech, could be termed


a miraculous

way

communication afforded

in

the

gifts

and

of vision to the Christians, p. 139.

"With respect to the miraculous

powers hitherto mentioned, the conduct of the


Christians at large was precisely what might

have been expected from

men

of integrity, can-

Whenever

and plain understanding.

dour,

they saw that such

gifts

and powers were with-

drawn, they no longer supposed them to

exist.

This appears from the general language and


conduct of the Christian apologists

and powers, they are


as,

While they

silent as to others

gifts

such

the power of resuscitating the dead, the

of tongues, and the

The
civil

Christians

gift

who

of discerning of

gift

spirits.

lived at the time of the

establishment of Christianity were not eye-

witnesses of such miraculous


as

the existence of seme miraculous

assert

gifts

and powers

had ceased two hundred years or even hun-

dred years before


observation of

Mr

so, to

that case at least, the

Gibbon

will not apply, that

the recent experience of genuine miracles


" should have instructed the Christian world in
w the ways of Providence, and habituated their

K eve

(if

we may

use a very inadequate expres-

CHAPTER
*

161

III.

sion) to the style of the divine artist

i.

571.

But although many of the miraculous

gifts

and powers ceased long before the


blishment of Christianity, there
if

is

civil esta-

very probable,

not complete evidence, and especially from

the writings of Origen, that, even in the earlier


part

of the third century, the Christians cured

various diseases

by prayer, and without any

human means and that they relieved persons


who appeared to be under the dominion of evil
;

spirits.
It

may be

cures

is

admitted, that the evidence of such

not so

full

and

satisfactory as that

on

which we believe the truth of cures performed


in

the apostolical age

and

it

may

also

be ad-

mitted, that some of the persons said to have

been relieved from

evil spirits,

were, in truth,

from lunacy and other natural diseases.


Such appears to me to have been the state

relieved

of the miraculous
part

gifts

and powers

When

of the third century.

wrote, not long before the

of Christianity, they were

in the earlier

civil

much

Eusebins

establishment

diminished, as

we have already seen, p. 143, 150. and what


remained was u the manifestation of some small
"portions of the divine power.

One

5 '

should have conjectured that the mira-

culous gifts and powers which, between the


apostolical

age and the days cf Origen, had

O
\

CHAPTER m>

162

perceptibly decreased, and had decreased


farther

peared

when
when

adversaries,

Yet,

if

still,

Eusebius wrote, would have disapChristianity, having overcome' its

became the

we may

historians, the

religion of the state.

credit the accounts of

very reverse was the case

some
and

the divine power was manifested with more

abundant

light,

and with a greater diversity of

wonders, in the reign of Constantine and his


children, than while St Peter, St Paul, and St

John remained upon

earth.

Every learned reader


lude chiefly to the
tian

life

will perceive that I al-

of Antony, the Egyp-

Anchoret, written by Athanasius, a por-

tentous work, the

life

of an

illiterate fanatic,

and one who gloried in his ignorance of letters,


drawn up, for the most part, from very insufficient

age

hearsay,

by the

ablest

Doctor of

**

his

* Some Protestant writers, eager to maintain the


fame of Athanasius, have doubted whether " the
" life of Antony," as we now have it, be the work
of that eminently great man y and what thanks have
they received for their pious attempt ? They have
been reviled by the writers of another persuasion, no
Jess than if they had been the inventors or propaga*
Rosweid
tors of some new and pestilent heresy.
says, " Prefractior et magis effrons incedit Rodolphus
" Hospinianus j d. Grig. Monach. iii. 1. Et cum
" eo Abraham Scultetus, Medulla Theol. Patrum,
" part ii. qui ausi asserere, scriptum hoc quod, hodis

CHAPTER

165

III.

In the fourth century the hermits of Egypt

The

became famous.

Christians

who

lived in

" sub Athanasii nomine circumfertur, nullam pror" sus fidem mereri, imo insulsi hominis commentum
" esse
r-vide lector, quid de emedullata ilia Me" dulia Sculteii, quid de monachatu seu moechatu
" Hospiniani tibi promittere debeas."
Rosweid,.
Patrum, in vitam An tonii. notatio, p. 31. I
should wish to share in the abuse poured out against
Hospinianus, Scultetus and other Protestant writers

vitse

cannot see evidence sufficient to clear Athanasius from the charge of writing this silly and most
contemptible book.
It is to be wished that some
man of learning and candour would examine the life
of Antony with care,, and communicate the result of
In particular, it may be
his inquiries to the public.
worth his pains to fix, if possible, the time at which
Antony, having been suspected of Aiiamsrn,.came
down to Alexandria from his cell in Upper Egypt r
for justifying himself, and also to determine whether
Athanasius was at that time, in Alexandria, as seems
to be insinuated, c. 41. 43.
It will also be fit to
inquire, whether the prophecy as to the restoration
of the orthodox church, c. 51. be spoken of as a
prophecy fulfilled $ and whether it was actually
fulfilled between the year of our Lord 359, when
Antony died, and the year 371, when Athanasius
died.
Various other inquiries of the like nature will
occur to him who sits down, without passion or prejudice, to try, by criticism, this simple issue, " Did
" Athanasius write the life of Antony, or did he
" not ?}?
but

Pvieanwhile,

author of the
readers

may

at

life

of

be

fit

to

what part of the book

which he vouches.

observe,

that the

Antony does not inform

He

says,

"

it is

his

for the truth of

have written xvhat

CHAPTER
society,

nished

III,

and consorted with man, were

at

asto-

the report of manners and institutions

" 1 myself know, for I have often sten him, AND


" what I could learn from one who had been an
" attendant of his for no small space of time.''
Tt yivarxst, {yt*Xketx*s

yag

ot'Sle*

latar.?,

) } text

c>./yov.]
Proem, ad Vitam Antonii. - Evagrius
improperly translates the word mpuuiby visit am
and hence Cardinal Baronius, who knew no Greek,
imagined that the writer of the life of Antony had

visited him in the Egyptian deserts.


He might
have imagined, with equal reason, that the visits
were frequent ; for such is the force of the word
visit avi.
But as nothing of all this appears, it follows, that every thing respecting what happened in
the desert, is related o the sole authority of the attendant.
Now, as to events which happened aftei

Antony

left

the castle,

[see

p.

168.] the attendant

must have received part of his information from


others, unless he had served x\ntony for fifty years
and with respect to more distant events, he must
have reported them all on the credit of the superannuated old man.
The writer of the life, having often seen Antony,
could give a just description of his figure and demeanour. What he saw of his wonders, is related
in a hasty, and no very credible manner \ for example, it is said, that Pagans, and the priests of idols^
crowded to see the man of God, as Antony was
:

hem of
garment, and imagined that they received benefit

universally denominated, strove to touch the


his

from the touch, c. 42. 43.


Let me add, that the author of the life admits,
in his introduction, that he wrote it in a hurry, and
to

satisfy

the

impatience

of

his

correspondents,

CHAPTER
so unlike their

Thev

own.

165

III.

found,j that some

persons had been banished into the deserts of

Egypt

by the

others

had

fled

persecuting

Emperors

that

thither to avoid persecution

and that many more, from diverse motives, had


associated themselves,

if that

phrase

may be

al-

lowed, with the banished and the fugitives, and

had formed

a system of

government unlike any

thing ever established by

human

or divine legi-

slators.

The

stracted

themselves from sublunary concerns,

their

attention with

which they ab-

singular contests with devils appearing in

bodily shapes, their unexampled austerities, the


visions said to
said to

have been seen, and the miracles

have been wrought by them,

red in persuading

many unwary

all

concur-

Christians, that

something strange and supernatural was manifested in the deserts of Egypt.

Antony, a person altogether

illiterate

*
3

was

without having time to make proper inquiries at the


It Onks,
and to receive their answers- concerning

A
Antony.
x

* Antony was an Egyptian of honourable birth.


His parents put him to school, but he would never
learn any thing j Athanas. vita Antonii, c. 1.
This,
which might have been termed obstinacy or stupiu He
dity in a boy, he justified when of riper years.
" neither knew letters, (says Sozomen), nor did he
u admire them
but he extolled good sense, as being
j
" more ancient than letters, and itself the inventor
" of them
[yeecufufiz 2s &3s jjjnsrafla, sS; eiavfO^tq

CHAPTER

166

III.

the chief of the Egyptian hermits,

monks

as

concentred in him.

of age he disposed of

6tX\$t

ayx&zv

Txlav tvgfiw
is

or

and that numerous fraternity seems to

have looked on every divine


power,

ascetics,

&ts

his possessions*,

Tr^tvTt^

i7TY)vu-^ i.

recorded, with

all

13.

much

grace, gift,

rscv

and

Before he came

which

yoxiAuxTc*^ KXi x6*cy

The same
solemnity,

fanatical tenet

by Athanasius

Antonii, c. 45.
Here let it be observed, that
in the life of this illiterate hermit, there occurs a
sermon to his brethren in the desert, c. 15. 20. :
and a disccurse, addressed to some Heathen philosophers, on the vanity of Paganism, and the truth of
the Christian religion, c 46. 41.
I cannot subscribe
to the doctrines of the sermon, as when he says, thai
the devils have a particular ill-will to monks, and
women devoted to a single life \ that when devils
appear visibly, they vanish on the sign of the cross
being made y and I do not thoroughly understand
the reasoning of the discourse, yet I must say, that
if the sermon and the discourse be compositions of
Antony, they exhibit a greater miracle than any recorded in his life j for they are composed altogethei
in the style of a rhetorician, and according to the
rules of art.
The knowledge or Arrtony in the
mythology of the Heathens, and in the arts practised by learned men to veil the absurdities of that
system, is indeed wonderful \ one should be apt to
suppose that Tertullian, Minucius Felix, or some
learned Greek Father, was speaking, and not a hermit from Upper Egypt, who could not read, anu
who understood nought excepting his mother-tongue,
vita

* On hearing that gospel read, " sell that thou


" hast," &c. he sold his lands, and bestowed the
price among the poor, and on hearing that other

CHAPTER

167

III.

appear to have been considerable, and began to

He

earn a subsistence by manual labour.

wards betook himself to dwell among

The

neighbourhood of Alexandria.

in the

devil

after-

the tombs

and

his associates forced

open the gate of

Antony's habitation, assaulted and grievously

wounded him, and

him half dead f Bewas recovered enough to be able to

fore he

left

stand upright, they came back in the shape of

savage,

fierce,

venomous animals, and

and

gospel read, " take no thought for to-morrow,"

&c.

and distributed their value


in like manner \ Athanas. vita Antonii, c. 2. 3.
Here, however, he was surpassed by another and less
celebrated monk, who, having no property but a
copy of the Gospels, disposed of the book, gave
away its price in charity, aud then exultingly cried,
u I have sold that book which says, sell all thou
4i
hast, and give to the poor ; n Socrates Scholasticus^
lie

sold his other effects,

v. 23.

We

spiritual

effusion

must beware of understanding this in a


Antony was liter ally beat to the
of his blood \ and he was gored by the devil
sense.

He

in the likeness of a bull.

often related the story

to his brethren in the desert,

wounds

inflicted

on

his

and averred that the

body were exceedingly grie-

Perhaps,
vous and painful j Vita Antonii, c. 7.
after all, the story may have been true, and the
evil spirit

and

his fellows

may have been

represented,

not unaptly, by some of the petulant and unfeeling


rabble of Alexandria, who took a barbarous pleasure in abusing a poor creature, half crazed with
fanaticism and abstinence.

CHAPTER

168

III.

wounded him anew with inexpressible cruelty


At the age of thirty-five he retired up the
country, and dwelt in different places of the

Egyptian deserts for seventy years.

He
castle

six

possession of an uninhabited

nrst took
;

and, having laid in a store of biscuit for

months, he shut himself up from

verse with mankind.

took care,

provisions^ such as

and they

let

down

ef the castle
self,

forth,

him with

he had chosen for himself


his pittance

through the roof

but he would never shew him-

Having

lived for

after this singular fashion,

he came

or converse with them.

twenty years

con-

His friends and admirers

stated times, to supply

at

all

expelled evil

spirits,

assiduously preached

cured diseases, and

up a monastic

life.

Antony hearing of the persecution

at

Alex-

andria, repaired thither, with the view of suf-

fering

martyrdom

appear in public,
the

but although he affected to

he was

totally disregarded

Heathen magistrate

* This story

is

better

and

while

known than any

Antony

by

Peter
of the

comic painters
in Roman-Catholic countries have been permitted,
I know not why, to make it the subject of many
other adventures of

grotesque pieces.

I dare

for the

not repeat the conference

which Antony is said to have had with our Lord ,


and it seems superfluous to repeat the conversations
which he held with the devil on the subject of those
assaults and batteries, and also when he was tempted
in a form less terrific, but not less dangerous.

CHAPTER
Bishop of Alexandria, and

lo9

11H

many

other eminent

persons, were apprehended and put to death,

Antony was allowed


at large *

and

and began to

go about unmolested,

he returned to the desert,

so

to

practise greater austerities.

He

put on a haircloth, and ever after abstained

from bathing

body, or even washing his

his

feet.

Various and extraordinary were the things

which happened

to

him

in the desert.

time, the devil appeared to

him

At one

in the likeness

of an animal, neither centaur nor minotaur, but

Antony made the

half-man, half-ass.
the cross
killed

the monster run away,

by

angels.

The

devils

manded how he came

The

and was

up

into the

At another time he was


air

sign of

fell,

carried

met him, and de-

there>

being a sinner

angels defied the devils to prove that

An-

* Vita Antonii, c. 23. This was in the ninth


year of the last persecution , A. D. 311. when Maximin Daia beheaded Peter Bishop of Alexandria,
Euseb. Hist. Eccles. vii. 32. viii. 13. ix. 6.
The
safety of Antony has been ascribed to some miracuBut, perhaps, his
character was not so thought of at Alexandria as in
the desert \ and an illiterate layman, who could not

lous interposition in his favour.

have been tried without an interpreter, might well


have escaped in the multitude.

f Vita Antonii,

c.

25.

CHAPTER

170

tony had ever committed


became a monk.

he

malice, the

charge

from

the

Notwithstanding
could not

devils

hour thai
their

all

make good

This was transacted in a vision

*.

was not

it

III.

sin

and

vision of humility

tends to prove, that a

monk may

their

but

it

only

be without

whereas laymen and the secular clergy

sin,

offend daily.

He

saw the soul of

Ammon, a brother monk,

conveyed to heaven by angels

Amnion

though

resided

thirteen days journey


told the precise

at

and then,

the

distance

from him, he

hour of

al-

of

instantly

his death f.

A quality he had much resembling that which,


our days,

in

is

At the

called the second sight.

distance of a day's journey he perceived a

monk

perishing with thirst in the wilderness, and he

There

sent timely relief to him.

instances of the like nature given

rian

by

are

other

his histo-

i.

To

all

which

it

may be

added, that Antony

discovered, by the smell, a devil lurking in the

body of
he

man

and

that,

on

a certain occasion,

twice crossed the canal at Arsinoe, without

being devoured by crocodiles

* Vita Antonii,
T lb,

c.

c.

31. 34.38.

37.

f
||

||.

lb. c. 32.

Ib.c. 35.

c.

14.

CHAPTER
From

171

III.

specimen of the wonders said to

this

have been wrought towards the middle of the


fourth century,

we may

learn, that

that

at

if,

time, the Christians, in general, gave credit to

them,

it

was not by reason ef any

insensibility

which hindered them from distinguishing between

real miracles

and

fallacious

wonders

but

was because they trusted too much to reportsnever tried by the standard of moral eviit

dence.
It is

probable that the adventures of Antony,

his miracles,

have found

and

much

his strange visions,


credit,

would not

had they not been con-

nected with an opinion, which began to be entertained, of the transcendent sanctity of a


nastic

life,

themselves to
I

it.

doubt, however, as to their general recep-

tion

when they were

tony

is

said to

first

promulgated

for

An-

have declared himself the enenry

of Arianism, and to have pronounced


the forerunner of Antichrist, and the
is,

mo-

and of the persons who devoted

it

to be

last,

the worst and the greatest heresy *

cannot be supposed, that the Arians,

that

and

it

at that

time a numerous and powerful body, would

have yielded implicit faith to the eventful histo* Vita Antonii,

c.

41.

Little did

that a worse and a greater error


arise

Antony know

was afterwards to

concerning the nature of our Lord.

CHAPTER

272

III.

ry of an orthodox monk, and especially


historian

was Athanasius

we might

if his

as well sup-

pose that the orthodox believed in the miracles

of Agapetus, the Arian Bishop of Synnada,

who, surpassing Antony, not only drove


away, but also raised

men from

diseases

the dead %

Indeed, before the conclusion of the fourth

men were willing to

century,

believe every

won-

derful tale calculated to enforce veneration for

z monastic

life,

and to confirm the popular sen-

timents as to the sanctity of those

ed

who

profess-

Evidence and probability seem to have

it.

been no longer regarded, and the hearsay


ries disseminated,

tions,

by

travellers of all

concerning things done

ed easy

credit

sto-

denomina-

in a corner , obtain-

with prejudiced and superstitious

auditors.

In this view,
racles said

surnamed

He

let

to have

us examine

some of the mi-

been wrought by Macarius>

the Egyptian.

appears to have been the hermit of most

eminence

after the death of

Antony.

At the

age of thirty he betook himself to the desert

and, after having resided there for sixty years,

he died, [A. D- 391.]

* Philostorgius, ii. 8. Suidas, on the authority


of one Thalassius, says, that another Arian Bishop,
Theophilus, restored a dead person to life,

CHAPTER

17$

III.

In the year after Macarius died, Palladius, a


personage well

known by the writings

visited the desert,

of Jerom,

with the purpose of collect-

ing wonders for the edification of the civilized

world

and

it

must be acknowledged that

his

journey was prosperous.

Amon^
lowing

others,

story.

he found,

as

he

says, the fol-

leud Egyptian attempted in

vain to debauch a matron of virtuous character.


Irritated at this,

he got

The

her into a mare.


his

mare

to Macarius,

a magician to transform

disconsolate

who

husband led

sprinkled her head

with consecrated water, and restored her original


shape.

"

Go

in

peace, (said Macarius to the

woman) but remember henceforth to be


u more circumspect for your omission to com;

municate during five weeks, was the cause of


the metamorphosis
Palladius adds, that

it

was the constant talk

in the desert, that Macarius raised a

man from
who dis-

the dead, in order to confute a heretic


believed the resurrection of the

Rufinus,

on

the

visiting

body f

desert,

gleaned

abundantly after Palladius.


Instead of relating the story of the matron

transformed into a mare, he says, that there

was

a girl

w^hom her

* Palladii Lausiaca,

relations

c,

19.

imagined to have

lb. c. 20,

PS

CHAPTER

174
been

so transformed, although the girl herself

Macarius anointed her

asserted the contrary.

with

III.

and then her

oil,

saw that the

relations

supposed metamorphosis was a magical delusion *i

He

next mentions a complicated miracle in-

deed, by which a diseased

ged into

healthy

little girl

was chan-

man

f
Again, there chanced to be found in the de-

sert a

dead body, bearing marks of violence.

person was taken up, on suspicion,


derer.

the mur-

as

Macarius asked the dead man, whether


u I was murdered,
guilty ?

that person was

(said

The

the dead man), but not by him."

brethren pressed Macarius to ask who commit-

" No, (answered he) it is


enough that I clear the innocent it is net
" my office to convict the guilty perhaps the

ted the murder.

*<

murderer may yet be struck with compunc-

tion, and

" soul

repent,

to

the

saving

of

his

."

* Rufim vitae Palrttm, 1. 2. c. 2S.


Roman author speaks of the north
4 Rutin, ib.
the desert of Egypt
being " officina gentium

as

might, with equal reason, have been termed " ofKcina


4J

fmrocuiorumy
X RuSn.

vitae Patnrrn,

1.

2. c.

28.

&

iii.

41.

Tin's

Rufinus elsewhere
dangerous casuistry indeed
speaks of some heterodox opinions which a human
scull uttered in the course of conversation with Mais

CHAPTER
Rumius

also gives a

175

III.

second and improved

edition of the story in Palladius, concerning the

man who was brought back


tic

to life, that a here-

might be persuaded of the resurrection of

the body.

The

heretic was of the sect of the

1. iii.
Here Rosweid himself hesi 172.
and adds on the margin, " Sane haec intelli" genda." [These things must be understood in a
This might have been the running
sound sense.]
title of his book.
I cannot quit this subject without mentioning what
is said by the English translator of the Homilies asHis words are
seribed to Macarius the Egyptian.
**
To come now to what is most material, what comu pletes his other miracles, and proves him beyond
r dispute a man of God, i. Kings, xvii.24. it is upon
i;
record, that he even raised the dead to life. Once,
" indeed, it was to silence an Hieracite that had
" given no little disturbance to the brethren, by the
44
artifice of his discourse j and at another is he re" ported to have raised one from the dead, to con" vince an heretic of the resurrection of the bodv ;
" nor was this ever contradicted or endeavoured to
" be stifled in the desert," Introduction, 5. p. 14.
That this precious morsel of antiquity might appear
to better advantage, two miracles are made out of
for it is plain that Palladius and Runnus speak
one
thing mentioned by them canof the same story.
hardly be said to be upon record ; and as for the
monks, they kept no record of miracles but, on the
contrary, delivered them down from one to another
by unwritten tradition. [$iccSo%n xetpadctjws ATPASozom. 1. i. c. 14. I admit, however, that
<4>OT.j

carius,

tates,

*,

they did not

stifle

them

have been unnatural.

in

the desert

thai

would

CHAPTER

176

who

Hieraciii?)

said,

are supposed to have denied that"

He had

tenet.
carius

III.

Ma-

frequently disputed with

on the subject ; when at length the saint


" Let his faith be held right who can first

recall a

dead

man

The

to life."

heretic,

who

denied the resurrection of the body, accepted


this singular challenge,

He

begin.

The

instantly

and desired Macarius to


performed the miracle.

astonished heretic run

off,

him

thren pursuing him, drove

and

the bre-

all

out of the coun-

try *.

Perhaps

have spoken too diffusely of the

third of those secondary causes to

pid progress of Christianity

But the subject

Gibbon.

momentous, and not the

is

is

which the

ra-

by

Mr

ascribed

both

less so

intricate

ner in which he has happened to treat

Let

me

it*

conclude with observing, that real

miracles cannot properly be ranged

secondary causes on which


for,

and

from the man-

among the primary

Mr

among the

Gibbon descants

causes of the victory ob-

tained by the Christian faith over the established


religions of the earthy

dence of

its

he reckons

great Author.

of miraculous powers and

the

Holy

Spirit,

must, in

the ruling provi-

Now,

the bestowing

gifts

by Christ and

Mr

Gibbon's account,

be an interposition of that ruling Providence*


* Run.

1. ii.

c.

28.

CHAPTER

177

III.

and, consequently, a primary cause of the rapid


progress of Christianity.

As

to fictitious miracles,

asserted, and

that they

made

Mr

Gibbon has net

hope he did not mean

to assert,

were one of the secondary causes which

the Christian faith obtain victory over the

established religions of the earth.

But should

any loose and unguarded phrases of

his

have a tendency that way,


that,
will

on

it is

to be

seem

a serious review of the argument,

BLOT THEM OUT.

to

presumed
he

178

CHAPTER

To

IV.

the virtues of the primitive Christians,

the fourth cause of the rapid growth of Christianity

is

ascribed.

" The primitive Christian/' says

a demonstrated
*f

his faith

by

Mr Gibbon,

his virtues

and

it

was very justly supposed^ that the divine per-

"

suasion, which enlightened or subdued the un" derstanding, must, at the same time, purify

" the heart, and direct the actions of the belieThe first apologists of Christianity,
ver.
" who justify the innocence of their brethren,
"
display, in the most lively colours, the re-

" formation of manners which was introduced

"

into the

pel."

i.

world by the preaching of the gos572.

Here the virtues of the primitive Christians


It might, however, have
are acknowledged
:

been

had
u the divine persuasion

wished, that a less ambiguous phrase

been used than that of,


" which enlightened or subdued the understand-

ing."

Every considerate reader

the singularity of the alternative.

will
It is

remark
one of

CHAPTER
the

offices

179

IV,

of the Holy Spirit, to " enlighten the

" understanding

but to subdue"

;"

it, is

none

of them, unless the word " understanding" be

when

taken in a different sense

it is

said to be

subdued," than when it is said to be " en" lightened." Such change of terms, however
allowable to rhetoricians, cannot be admitted in
historical reasoning.

Mr

Gibbon might have said, " the divine


" persuasion, which enlightened the understand" ing and subdued the will
that is, the wayward

propensities of

human

nature

these, un-

Holy Spirit.
Gibbon concurs with

doubtedly, are the offices of the

But to proceed.

Mr

St Paul in supposing that " the fruit of the Spi-

rit is

love, joy, peace, long-suffering [patience],

" gentleness, goodness,


*i

faith [or faithfulness],

meekness, temperance *

and he even ac-

knowledges the supposition to be very just.

And

yet, instead of proceeding to

show how

the virtues of the primitive Christians tended


to convert Heathens, or
their Father^

ject

and,

if

he

at

made

others

to

glorify

once deviates from his sub-

the phrase

may be

allowed, begins

with a digression.

As it is my intention," says he, " to remark


" only such human causes as were permitted to
* Galat.v. 22. 23.

CHAPTER

180
9?

IV.

second the influence of revelation,

shall

"

slightly

**

tu rally render the lives of the primitive Christians

mention two motives which might na-

much purer and more

austere than those

" of their Pagan contemporaries, Repentance


" for past sins, and the laudable desire of supU porting the reputation of the society

in

which

effects

which

" they were engaged."


Thus, instead of describing the

the virtues of the primitive Christians had in the

converting of the Heathen world,


favours us with a dissertation

Mr

on the

Gibbon
causes of

those virtues.

He

begins with two propositions,

of great moment.

The

which

That the

first is,

mitive Christians were virtuous

are
pri-

and the

se-

cond, That they were more virtuous than their


Pagan contemporaries, These propositions will

be admitted by
are

all

men who,

like

Mr

Gibbon,

acquainted with the history of the primi-

tive church,

Paganism
But

as

and with the tenets and manners of

in the early times of Christianity.

some of the admirers of

Mr Gibbon

may chance

to be less conversant

than he

will not be improper to fix in their

minds

is, it

his

decided opinion, that

in

antiquity

the primitive
that they

Christians were virtuous, and

WERE MORE VIRTUOUS THAN THEIR PAGAN


CONTEMPORARIES.

Let us
sion,

CHAPTER FSP,
now follow Mr Gibbon

181
in his digres-

and inquire into the natural motives which

impelled the Christians to be mare- excellent than


t/uir neighbours.

" It is a very ancient reproach, suggested by


" the ignorance or the malice of infidelity, that
the Christians allured into their party the most
" atrocious criminals; who, as soon as they were
" touched by a sense of remorse, were easily
" persuaded to wash away, in the water of bap-

"

tism,

the

guilt

of their past conduct

" which the temples of the gods refused


U them any expiation
L 573.

for

to grant

In proof of this proposition, Celsus and Julian are quoted.

Julian, in his open, as well as in his

more po-

litic

and covert attempts against Christianity,

was

malicious^

term him

And

but

we

cannot, with propriety,

ignorant.

the like

may be

observed

as to Celsus

who, under the personated character of


misinterprets the Scriptures,

a Jew,

and takes every ad-

vantage which the folly or fanaticism of Christian individuals afforded

him.

This personated character, and these


of controversy y tend to

much an

show

that

little

arts

he was not so

ignorant y as a malicious

enemy

and

some other evidence than that


of Celsus and Julian be produced, " the igno-

therefore, until

CHAPTER

1'82

a ranee of

infidelity"

IV.

seems out of the ques-

tion.

Mr Gibbon says* " the


u suggested, that the most

as

soon

as

malice of infidelity

atrocious criminals,

they were touched by a sense of

remorse, were easily persuaded to wash away,


" in the water of baptism, a guilt for which the
u temples of the gods refused to grant them any
expiation."
That " the temples of the gods refused
grant any expiation,"
porting,

is

a poetical phrase,

to

im-

" that the ministers of the popular

religion

amongst the Pagans refused to grant

" that expiation to criminals, which the Chri stian teachers persuaded them to receive by
baptism."
So scrupulous and severe were the Pagan
priests, and on such easy terms might any one
be admitted into the Christian church

But

here j

as

every one must perceive, the

malicious infidels affected to be ignorant of the

genius of Paganism
It is said,

that

*.

" the most atrocious criminals

" were easily persuaded to wash away


" in the water of baptism."

their guilt

may be remarked, in passing, that the Greek


and the Latin piaculum, mean sin, as well as
expiation for sin.

ety^j

It

CHAPTER
Now, this
ciples

183

IV.

implies, that, according to the prin-

of Christianity, the mere right of baptism

had the singular virtue of washing away

guilt

and that the ministers of Christ did not require


from their proselytes any belief of the Chriany engagements to amend in
more briefly thus, that " they held

stian system, or

future

or,

* out baptism to be, in


" expiation of sins.'*
Celsus,

it

itself,

charm

for the

probable, knew, and without

is

4oubt Julian did, that

this

was precisely the re-

verse of what Christ and his apostles taught,

and the

discipline of the primitive

church en*

forcecL

Here we

see that spirit

well terms " the malice of

" Baptism,"
(

says

mere wiuking

Dr

which

Gibbon

infidelity."

Bentley, "

and repentance,

Mr
is

rallied as

as

thumping

The
the breast^ or other outward grimace.
inward grace and the intrinsic change of mind
are left out of the character. And whom are

" we
*

believe

to

selves

these Pagans, or our

Are we

to

own

fetch our notions of the

" sacraments from scraps of Julian and Celsus ?


" or from the Scripture^ the pure fountain, and
from what we read, know, and profess *
* Remarks upon
xliii.

?"

a late Discourse of Freethinkiag,

CHAPTER

t$4f

These

IV.

are obvious remarks

but

*,

Mr

Gibbon-

appears to -have considered the subject in a

uncommon

point of view

{<

reproach, when

ts

tationy contributes

({ it

for

more

he..says, a This

from mis represenmuch to the honour as

cleared

it is

as

The
may acknowledge,

did to the increase of the church

H friends

of

Christianity

H without a blush, that many


of the most eminent
M saint: had been before their baptism the most aban-

u doned sinners. Those persons, who in the


u world had followed, though in an imperfect
4C

manner* the

"

priety, derived such a

dictates of

" the opinion of


*(

ed them

much

their

calm

own

satisfaction from:

rectitude, as render*

less susceptible

" emotions of shame^

have given

benevolence and pro-

and of

grief,

birth to so

of the sudden
terror,

many wonderful

which

ccnver-

After the example of their divine

**

siom.

tt

ster.

tt

not the society of men, and

Ma-

the missionaries of the gospel disdained


especially

of wo~

men% oppressed by the consciousness, and very

often by the ertects of their vices. As they


a emerged from sin and superstition, to the glc
U rious hope of immortality, they resolved to
*f

devote themselves to a

" but of penitence.


* The phrase

is

life,

The

not only of virtue,

desire of perfection-

uncommon

in

modern language,

Reproach is here used for the circumstance with


which the primitive Christians were reproached*

CHAPTER

18o

IV.

became the ruling passion of their soul and


" it is well known, that, while reason embraces a
cold mediocrity our passions hurry us> with ra;

ti

pi d

"

violence, over

the

space which

the most opposite extremes ;"


It

the purpose of

is

Mr

i.

lies

between

573.

Gibbon, to " clear

" the reproach from misrepresentation."


begins by admitting the fact charged
a sort of conscious

exultation,

" many of the most eminent


f*

He

and, with

he adds, that

saints [or Christians]

were, before their baptism, the most abandoned

sinners/ and
9

lest

the fact should be disputed,

he subjoins an elaborate argument, for proving


that it must have been so from " the reason of

" the thing."


In this he

with

is

praise-worthy, that he begins

and does not, like some theorists,


down " the reason of the thing," and

facts,

lay

first

then accommodate
It is

facts to

it.

Mr Gib-

not absolutely certain, whether

bon here means to speak of Jewish or of Gentile

converts

in

their

shall therefore take his

most extensive sense,

as

words

including

both.

Celsus says, that the apostles were " infamous


*

persons, publicans,

wicked
*

ETHppiOTaj yt^&/7Ttf,

g4T#7as.

and boatmen, exceedingly

*."
7S/\>VA:s, KOti VSSrVT&q,

Celsus ap. Origen,

1. i.

7Tm\-

p. 47. edit. Spencer,

CHAPTER

I'5

Origen conjectures that


the manners of the

IT.

first disciples is

a passage in the epistle that

name of
u ed

goes under the

Barnabas, which says, Jesus select-

above all other shiners

fid
" prove, that he came,
but sinners

This

to

epistle

not to

till

it is

men

call the righteous,

repentance

was not written by Barnabas,

and in-

not mentioned bv any Christian writer

near the close of the second century

The

sin-

might

that he.

the celebrated companion of St Paul

deed

of

copied from

for apostles-, to preach his gospel,

*f

"

delineation

this

assertion of this

J>

f.

unknown author seems

to have been grounded, not on any historical


facts,

but on an inference from that saying of

Jesus, that

" but

" he came not to

the righteous,

call

sinners to repentance/'

From

this say^

ing, imperfectly understood, the author of the

were

epistle concluded, that as the apostles

yiXioy

aura

call-

s|sAJ#r<5, ovrag Ittzp 7ra<rx,v a uu^riotv avouoTit

iv%

US

duzt on we

fttTZVGtGlV.

r X$i
t

zxte(r*t diKcuag, ctAA

aua^TMX^g

J 5.

f The earliest mention of it is in the works of


Clemens Alexandrinus. The earnestness with which
Archbishop Wake endeavours to support the authority of this epistle
stolical Fathers,

so credulous

is

singular

c. vii.

Introduction to

see his elegant letter

nard, Patr. Apost.

i.

Apo-

Archbishop Laud was not


to

Father

In. p. 20. edit* Russel.

Me-

CHAPTER

187

IV.

ed in an especial manner, they must needs have

been sinners above

Hert we may

all

others.

see an

example of the sad con-

sequences which the hasty and injudicious notions of our friends

lay hold of them,

purposes.
all

The

Our

too often produce.

adversaries, such as Ceisus, being

on the watch,

and turn them

to their

Evangelical History

is

own

open to

and from that history alone can we learn,

whether those who,


anity,

in the first days of Christi-

acknowledged Jesus to be the Messiah,

were " most abandoned sinners."

Among

the

first

who

confession was Simeon.


his character

is,

witnessed this good

we know of
man just and

All that

that he was "

" devout, waiting for the consolation of

Is~

rael * "

The next

is

Anna,

woman

indeed, but,

with LIr Gibbon's good leave, not " oppressed

by the consciousness, and even

vices."

effects

of her

1 She was of great age, and had

li-

" ved with an husband seven years from her


" virginity and she few a widow- of about four
" score and four years, which departed not from
;

" the temple, but served God with


prayers night and day f
ixvix.

Luke

f Luke

ii.

ii.

25.

36. 37.

fastings

and

CHAPTER

188

When
and John

IV.

Andrew,

Jesus chose

to be his apostles,

Peter, James,,

he found them

in-

dustriously occupied in their vocation of fishermen # But neither on that occasion, nor on
.-

any other, do we see him addressing himself ta


them,

men more

as to

habitants of Galilee.

were

and even

than the other in-

sinful

Sinners,

after

no doubt, they

they became the disciples

of Jesus, they retained popular and national


prejudices

and

it

must be acknowledged, that

their character does not

come up

to our idea of

Christian perfection.

Matthew

sat

at

Jesus called

himf.

in disrepute

among

the receipt of custom

The

office

the Jews

when

of publican was
yet

we ought not

from thence to suppose Matthew to have been


a bad man, and much less " a most abandoned

"

is

The

sinner."

ercised

office,

however rapaciously ex-

by many, was innocent

a just, although trite

publicans

came

in itself

observation, that

and

when

to be baptised of John,

said unto

him, Master, what

* Matth.

iv.

f Matth.

ix. 9.

shall

it

and

we do ? he

f
said unto them, Exact no more than that
which is appointed you X r"
did not en-

t Luke

18,-22.
Mark, rL

iiL 12. 13

14.

Luke,

v. 27. 28.

CHAPTER
them
being

to

189

IV.

employment,

relinquish their

as

sinful.

Had

the apostles and

been, in general,

men

disciples of Jesus

first

of profligate

lives-,

we

might have expected, from the known candour


cf the Evangelists, that a circumstance so re-

markable would not have been passed over in


silence

and

this the rather, because the

gelists are careful

Evan-

recording the faults and

in

errors of those apostles

and

disciples^

even

after

thev
became followers of Jesus.
j

Concerning one
learn

disciple,

in

particular,

we

from the highest authority, that he was

not " a most abandoned sinner."


written

For it is thus
" Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him,

and saith of him, Behold an


" in whom is no guile

And, without meaning


cacy of divine grace,

Israelite indeed,

to depreciate the kfq

we may

conjecture, that,

in the natural dispositions f of the disciple

"whom

Jesus loved," there was something peculiarly


amiable.
Jesus

came 9 to

* John,

i.

call

sinners to repentance."

47.

f Thus John. Peter, and Thomas, all partook cf


the divine grace j and yet the diversity of character
in those three apostles induces us

their natural impositions

were

to conclude, that

different.

On

con-

sulting par iial or fictitious accounts of holy persons,

we

find

them

all, as it

were, cast in the same mould,

CHAPTER

190

And

the

heavy

lade?i y

tation repaired
less certain,

sinners

But

to

IV.

who, on

this gracious invi-

him, found

that, after

their

rest.

It

is

no

conversion, great

would love him much.


it is

both unwarrantable and dangerous

to conclude

from

the disciples of Je-

this, that

sus, before

they heard and obeyed his call to


and repentance, were, in general, persons
of profligate lives, or most abandoned sin-

faith

"

ners."
It is

unwarrantable to say

so,

because such an

hypothesis has no authority from Scripture

snd

that

it is

When

dangerous will be presently

upon

Jesus appeared

seen..

earth, there pre-

vailed a general expectation of the

coming of

the Messiah.

To

prove that he was that Messiah, Jesus ap-

pealed, to prophecies already fulfilled, or

were gradually fulfilling in


trine

which he taught

him

and

which

to the doc-

to the miracles

which he performed.

Now, we ought to weigh all circumstances


we pronounce, that " many most

well before

abandoned
bers,

and

sinners," such as

assassins,

lewd women, rob-

were the persons who

first

discerned the fulfilling of the prophecies in Jesus, the excellence

of his doctrine, and the truth

of his miracles.

And we

ought to be more cautious

still,

be-

CHAPTER
we pronounce, from

fore

the nature of the

thing, that persons placed in

"

By

" the cold medio-

could hardly have become

crity of reason"

Christians at

191

IV.

all.

the preaching of Peter, on the day of

Pentecost, there were added

about three thousand

From

the

to

Church

souls."

the abridgement of his discourse, as

given by St

Luke

appears that he did not

it

confine himself to such topics as might raise

" emotions of shame,


reason,

no

less

and

terror," in his

than to their passions.

pealed to prophecy

" and

grief,

His discourse was addressed to their

hearers.

signs,

which

to

" the

God wrought by

the late fact of his resurrection


still

later,

the

ap-

It

miracles, wonders,

to

Jesus

and to one

of the Holy Spirit.

gift

At the beginning of the chapter, mention is


made of " devout men
and there is all rea-

men

son to believe from the context, that those

were hearers of St Peter.


reckon among

* Acts,
a

his

ii.

40.

discourse,"

his

The
is

Does

Mr

Gibbon

wonderful conversions^ that

expression, " abridgement of

used,

because

" with many other words did he

St

Luke

testify,"
] that

says,
ii.

is,

40.

" he

" said much more, and he appealed to other eviu dence." All this, although material, is lost or
obscured in our vulgar translation.

CHAPTER

192

IV.

great increase of the Christian church, of

whkk

St Peter was the instrument

? If he does, he
must either hold, that those " devout men"
were not convinced by the arguments of the

Apostle, or he must distinguish them from his


" many most abandoned sinners."
Mr Gibbon says, that Jesus disdained not

the society of men, and especially of <ivomen y

" oppressed by consciousness, and very often


" by the effects of their vices."
It is

no doubt

true, that Jesus did not avoid

the company of those

who

led vicious lives

and that he even invited them

to repentance.

But we have no authority from the Scriptures


to assert that there

denomination, and
his gracious call,

There

is

were many persons of that

especially ivomen^

and became

one example of

case of that female penitent


is

recorded by St
* Luke

vii.

36.

Luke

50.

who obeyed

his disciples.
this sort, in the

whose conversion

# and to
,

whom

our

The name

hearted and bumble penitent

is

of this tenderMany
not known.

commentators, from Chrysostom down to Grotius,


suppose her to have been Mary Magdalene ; but
this is merely a fanciful conjecture, without evidence.
The author of the Golden Legends goes a step further, and ventures to assert, that " the woman in the
" city, which was a sinner, Mary Magdalene, and
" Mary the sister of Lazarus," are three several
appellations of the same person.
He says, that the
castle of Magdalum, and Bethany, together with


Lord
fc<

CHAPTER IV*
Thy faith hath saved

"

said,

193
thee

go

ir

peace."

But surely the circumstances of her story do

Mr

not warrant the expression which


has thought
less

still

fit

and there

to use

warrant for his applying

Gibbon

if possible,

is,

to the con-

it

duct of the apostles*

The

nature of

Mr

Gibbon's general observa-

would have been more

tions

discernible,

had

them by examples drawn from


As he has omitted
Evangelical
History.
the
and posthis, we are left to mere conjecture
he

illustrated

large possessions in Jerusalem, belonged to Lazarus,

and

his

divided

two
the

Magdalum

sisters

Martha and Mary

inheritance
fell

and

that

the

that they
c as lie

or

Mary, who on that


Mary, continues
Magdalene.

to the share of

account was called


the historian, being very rich and beautiful, abandoned herself so excessively to unlawful pleasures,
that she lost her own name, and got that of the
After having accommodated all this, as
sinner.
well as he could, to the conversion of the penitent
woman in St Luke, he adds, " this is the Mary
" Magdalene whom the Lord placed on a footing
" of most intimate familiarity, so that he made him" self her guest, and had her for his purveyor in his
u journies. Ha-c est ilia Maria Magdalena Domi" nus earn

fa miliar iss imam

hospitam
procuratricem earn in itinere habuitl' %
Sanct. Legend, fol. 160. b. edit. 1476.
The expression in Mr Gibbon corresponds better with the
Golden Legends, than with the Evangelical His-

w suam

sibi consti uit^


r

fecit,

tory,

CHAPTER

IV.

we may imagine that he alludes to " eminent saints" who were not in his thought.

sibly
<- i

Perhaps he had St Paul in his view

eminent

indeed,

saint

but

who

acknowledged himself to be
4f

*1

most

nevertheless

the chief of

sinners # ."
If so,

it

may be

fit

to

remind him, that

that

Apostle was at no time a " most abandoned

"

sinner,"

phrase

common

in the

but,

acceptation of the

on the contrary, was one who

u derived a calm satisfaction from


" of his own rectitude."

the opinion

St Paul, speaking of his state while he was


yet a persecutor, says, that he had been " taught
*'

according to the perfect manner of the law

4{

of the fathers, and was zealous towards God f

that,

"

after the

straitest

sect

of the Jewish

and at the
religion, he lived a Pharisee %
same time, for his manner of life from his
" youth," he appealed to the evidence of his
accusers themselves.

And more

particularly

still,

he speaks of

himself to the Philippians, as of one touching


* lTim.i. L5.
" The perfect manner," [**g<Gs<yj,
f Acts xxii. 3.
" the accuracy" or " strictness."
At
is,

that

uy.p&ssoltw /gg?<y,

c.

xxvi. 5.

"

after the most straitest sect."

Ac is

xofloc

rviV

xxvi. 5.

is

translated,

CHAPTER
44

the righteousness

"

less

44

chief of sinners."

which

Yet he acknowledged^

There was an
7e

:rs

is

at

upwards of thirty
which Saul, " breath-

ing out threatenings and

4(

the disciples,

at

knowledgement

to his friend

Timothy.

which that

labours and the sufferings

good man had undergone

in the cause of Christ,

for the sake of the brethren,


all

against

slaughter

made havock of the churchy/'


which St Paul made this ac-

and the time

yet

was " the

that he

*4

and

of the !aw j blame-

interval of

between the time

The

195

IV,

that he

were great

had done and suffered could not

him to himself, or make him overlook


what he had been.
reconcile

w Many
place,

of the saints/' says he in another

" did

shut up in prison

*4

they were put to death,

against

them

and

u every synagogue,
Ci

and when

gave

my

punished them

and

compelled

voice
oft in

them to

blaspheme
* Philip,
j-

iii.

Acts viiL

6.

3.

ix. 1.

and

The

phrases,

Vn

efime&v

have an
energy in the original, which the translation, " breath44
ing out threatenings and slaughter," and " made
" havock of the church," does not express.
mttziMs kui

(pcva.

iXvf^sanTo

t>jv &cx.Xii<rixv

% Acts xxvl. 10. 11. This word " blaspheme,"


may be illustrated from a passage in

[$A#firfijt*&g/,]

CHAPTER

196

Not only was he


imprisonment of the

IT.

procuring the

in

active

disciples,

concurring

in

with the popular cry against them, and in using

them

:,

even when they were engaged

ill,

oSces of

r.n

religion

or attempted to force

but

them to

*'*

who hath

me

*4

"

said,

all

these things,

thank Christ Jesus our Lord,

enabled me, for that he counted

faithful,

who

in the

also forced,

revile Christ.

Killed with the recollection of

St Paul

he

putting

me

into the ministry

was before a blasphemer,, and a perse-

But I obtained mercy,


cut or, and injurious.
" because I did it ignorantly in unbelief And
grace of our Lord was exceeding abun*f the
**

"

dant, with faith, and love,

**

Jesus.

" of

all

This

is

the world to save' sinners

"

chief.

Howbeit, for

Martyrdom

a.\$'J7r&7>i

of Polycarp,

TlokvKcCPTrot

of

i(prh

worthy

came

into

whom I am the

this cause I

ki teywTcg, d^oron,

tom Xcifov'

in Christ

is

acceptation, that Christ Jesus

<

the

which

a faithful saying, and

10.

obtained

EyKipiw

icon glttoXvoj o~V

Oyoownct,

ez

Xc.oopy^cv

ftxt e| irk

u And when the


rov c-mwtx, pz \
swear, [by the
saying,
him,
urged
Proconsul
44
fortune of Caesar], and I will set thee free ; remie
" Christ j Polycarp thus spake These fourscore
H and six years serve I him, and he has never
" wronged me
how then can I blaspheme my King
44
and my Saviour ?" Remains of Christian Anti-

ercci

Toy

fiao-iXtce. us*,

64

still

quity, v.

i.

12.

CHAPTER
me first

u mercy, that in

197

IV.

Jesus Christ

might

M shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to


u them which should hereafter believe on him
"

to life everlasting # ."

If then

among

Mr

Gibbon meant

to place St

Paul

those who, before their conversion to

Christianity,

were " abandoned

injustice to the character of the

sinners,"

he did

most candid of

men.

Mr
u

in

Gibbon

says, that

" those persons who,

the world, had followed, though in an

'*

imperfect manner, the dictates of benevolence

44

and propriety, derived such

44

tion

"

as

44

emotions

from the opinion of

rendered them

much

their

calm

own

satisfac-

rectitude,

less susceptible

which have given

of the

birth to so

ma-

" ny wonderful conversions."

" Injurious," [yZgifn*}*


* 1 Tim. i. 12.
16.
might be paraphrased, " one who added insult to
" injury. " When St Paul said, that he persecuted
the brethren " ignorantly in unbelief,"
sv
aniftct'], he did not mean, that he was in a situation
which excluded him from the knowledge of the
truth.
It is more probable, that he alluded to the
words of our Lord, Luke xxiii. 34. " Father, for" give them, for they know not what they do,"
[ilar^, u$z$ ccvTotg' a ytc^ otclxc-i ri Tretxct,'] " as St
" Peter did on another occasion, when he said, And
u now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance
ye
" did iVfw Acts iii. 17.
See ail this better explained,
Hurd. Serm. vol. ii. serm. vii.

CHAPTER

198
It
this

IV.

has been already observed, in passing, that

not applicable to the Jews, who,

is

when

our Lord appeared upon earth, were looking


earnestly for

"

Israel

indeed,

#
;

if

" the hope and consolation of

and it would have been strange


" abandoned sinners" alone, or es-

pecially persons of such a character,

ed the Scriptures

what was

at

that time,

had search-

and compared

of the Messiah in them, with

said

what Jesus taught and

did.

The Heathens, who were satisfied with their


own rectitude, because they had followed the
dictates of benevolence in

an imperfect manner ,

could hardly have aimed at that Christian perfection

which

Mr

Gibbon admires and applauds.

If Epicureans enjoyed calm satisfaction, with-

out believing in Providence

and

Stoics, with-

out having any certain and consistent notions

of a future state

and the numerous

tribe of

Sceptics, without knowing what to believe


all

they would, no doubt, be

ill

at

disposed for

from Jewish fishermen and tent-masystem of faith, founded on the principle

receiving,
kers, a

of a Providence, and on the assurance of immortality.

Such were the

learned

and the eminent among

the Heathens in the earliest days of the church $

* Acts

xxviii. 20.

Luke

il 25.

CHAPTER
we may

and, as

came converts
But

well imagine, few of

to the Christian religion.

middle and lower ranks of

Heathens who,

embraced

question

other Heathens

who

they were not,

Mr

for

it is

certain

in the apostolical age

is,

Whether, before

they were worse

conversion,

the reason

life

were generally of that

Christianity,

The

sort.

them be-

us examine the case of persons in the

let

that the

19$

IV.

men

their

than the

rejected the gospel

If

Gibbon's argument from

may

of the thing

be laid aside, to-

gether with his theory of emotions.


Julian indeed

Mr

affirms

Gibbon seems

Paul for his authority

him

instead of

as

and he gives St

but he makes a

" such were some of you

Although

all

the

Corinthian

of some one cr other of the


it

little

having

converts

whom St Paul addresses himself, had been


tions,

what

this subject,

words of the Apostle, and


said, " such ye were,"

alteration in the

quotes

on

to suppose,

would not

sins that

follow, that they

to

guilty

he men-

were worse

men than those who rejected the gospel.


The profligacy of the Heathens in the apostolical age was much more enormous than
some people know, or

at least are inclined to.

confess.

* 1 Cor.
sire.

vl.

11. Kca

rctvrcc

tm$

)jt*.

Yuu$

Tci&rti

Cyril, adv, Julian vii. 24-5. edit. Spanheim,

CHAPTER

200

IV.

Several of the things mentioned by St Paul

belonged to the very profession of Paganism,


such
6t

those superstitious

as,

come

which

under

the

and impure
general

rites

name

of

idolatry."

Other things
passage,

which occur

in the

same

had too much countenance from the

were practised, without re^


3
by the people # ^ and, to say no more,

popular religion
serve,

also,

were connived

at

by the

magistrate.-

Corinth, for example, was vicious beyond the

measure of vice in great


that

the temple of

Sirabo relates,

ciiies.

Venus

at

Corinth was ex-

ceedingly rich, so as to have in property

more

than a thousand harlots, the slaves [or ministers]


of the temple, donatives

made

to the goddess

by persons of both sexes. Hence, says he, the


city was crowded, and became wealthy f.
* Here let me remark that an expression in Mr
5
Gibbon's work, not altogether foreign to the present subject;, appears exceedingly reprehensible.
He says, with what justice I mean not to inquire,
that " of thr first fifteen Roman Emperors, Claudius
" was the only one %vhose taste in love was entirely
" correct
This is said of an Empei. 93. n. 40.
ror who was very lewd, and who lived in incest. As
to the others, it seems their taste in love was net
What a strange circumlocution
entirely correct.
!

To
f*
tXU%$

V)

re

tyis

A^oitrns hgev xrv

7rha<rtov

v^||ey, aa"n

^"hixq hgO^xXiSS tKtKTVTO ST#/4fS, kq XVi7iQtCtiV

CHAPTER
The

Mr

Gibbon

ism,

i.

553.

what

part of

the theerful religion of Pagan-

calls
;

made

of Bacchus

orgies

201

IV.

and they would have afforded a

decent apology for drunkenness, had the Greeks


required any thing of that nature
probable that those

rites, as

well as

but

many

it

is

others,

were formed on the manners of the people


and that, if the vulgar Greeks had not been
;

drunkards, their priests and legislators would


not have

made drunkenness an

ingredient in

the vulgar religion.

No

one

who

acquainted with what

is

may be

termed the national character of the Greeks,


will deny that they were " revilers."
While

TToXv&ftXiiTd i

To

vre>.i;,

this it is that

y,otl

KOPIN0IAZOMAI.
iTcftut, k. r.

i.

inter t^irt.

De

to

itciipuv*

Urbibus,

v.

also the proverbial expression,


i.

and the public prayers

crease of the

1.

Stephanus Byzantinus

number of

e&7ro

Vlll.

p.

refers.

tmv

&v

581.
Kat

Ko^iv&cj

KOPIN0O2. Hence
A Kc^Qix itiKcts, k. t.

in that city,

"

for the in-

From

a brothel
of such magnitude, maintained by the piety of the
people, universal corruption of manners must have
ensued
and although that Corinth which the Apostle saw might have exhibited but a poor epitome
of her more ancient debaucheries \ yet climate, situation, and religion being considered, we must acharlots."

knowledge the propriety of


ryjv

7rr^vuuv, 1

Cor.

vi.

18.

his exhortation, tpivytrt

And

this will lead us to

remark, that his transition in that chapter from one


subject to another is not so abrupt as at first sight
we may be apt to imagine it.

CHAPTER

202
they were

free,

IV*

or supposed themselves to be

intemperance of language resembled

free, this

when they deprived them of every thing else, left them in


full possession of their petulant humour #
From this humour it is that we can account
liberty

and

their conquerors,

for a singular circumstance in their history, that

the Cynics, a sect of philosophers, with small


pretensions to knowledge, and none to virtue,

were harboured and

tolerated,

and even en-

couraged, in Greece, during a long succession

of ages.

Mr

Gibbon

shame and

says, that the

terror

sudden emotions of

had a wonderful effect

converting of men, and especially of

in the

women,

to the Christian religion.


It

must, however, be obvious to every one,

that this implies


Christianity,

some antecedent knowledge of

and belief in

its

truth

for as the

Heathens in general practised, without shame,

many things
it

inconsistent with evangelical purity 5

behoved the converts from Heathenism to


* This humour was very ancient.

Homer,

it is

probable, spake the language of the people } and he


makes his gods and goddesses use great liberties in
It would be vain to attheir familiar conversation,
tempt to make a collection of all the words which

express intemperance of speech in the

guage, such
QXxcrtpYjUos,

Greek

lan-

as, <p/AoAo^00, fietvyXwffo-os 9 KiK^cy/Wvo-cz,

%VQ-(pY, ucs y
{

xxjcef'tpos)

&C. &C.

CHAPTER

203

IV.

iearn that such practices were shameful, before

they became ashamed of them.

Neither

is

of terror "

it

likely that emotions of terror,

new and

unexpected/'

as

Mr

Gib-

bon elsewhere expresses himself, could have


been raised without a previous persuasion of a

judgement to come, and of the danger of delaying repentance.

And

we may

thus

conclude, that faith was

the ground-work of conversion in those Hea-

thens who,

at

the promulgation of the gospel,

embraced Christianity

and we may

also

be

enabled to form a right estimate of an hypothe-

mentioned by

sis

Mr

Gibbon

and more largely explained


he
<;

says,

sailed

that

in this passage,

in another,

where

the careless Polytheist was as-

by new and unexpected

terrors, against

which neither his priests nor his philosophers


u could afford him any certain protection

ii

and that "

" his reason ; and


himself to suspect
**

might

"

to

might

his fears
if

he could once persuade

possibly be true,
it

it

is

safest

easy task

and most

could possibly

em-

567.

* See Matth.
able case

became an

was the

prudent party that he


i.

and

that the Christian religion

convince him that

brace

assist his faith

xiii.

20. 21.

where a more favour-

put, but with a less favourable inference.

CHAPTER

20-i

Mr

IV.

Gibbon adds the reason which induced

the profligate rabble,, on becoming Christians,

become remarkably devout and zealous

to

good works.

His

phoenomenon

is

short and simple.

in

supposed

of this

solution

The

de-

sire of perfection/' says he, ff became the


" ruling passion of their soul and it is will
t known
that, while reason embraces a cold
j
" mediocrity, our passions hurry us, with rapid
4i

" violence, over the space which


44

lies

between

the most opposite extremes."


Different

men

to graduate the

incline

will

moral weather-glass in different ways


some, on reflecting that there

and much

to hope,

may be apt

to

much

and

to fear

remove reason

from the freezing pointy

a greater distance

at

is

than " cold mediocrity" seems to be placed.

is

Mr

Gibbon must allow me

well

known

from

ly,

to deny, that

that our passions hurry us rapid-

irreligion to perfect devotion, or

profligacy

to

it

perfect

virtue

for

from

experience,

to say nothing of revelation, assures us of the

contrary.

Let

me

not be understood to deny that there

are instances of
life

at

once, from a

of irreligion and profligacy, attained to as

perfect devotion
this

men who have


and virtue

side the grave.

as are attainable

agree with

that such conversions are

Mr

on

Gibbon,

" wonderful

but

CHAPTER

205

IV.

he ought not to ascribe them to our passions


for then they would not be " wonderful" to
j

men who,
sions,

like

Mr Gibbon, can

analyse the pas-

and trace natural motives to their corre-

sponding

The

effects.

** which
might naturally
" render the lives of the primitive Christians
much purer and more austere than those of
" their Pagan contemporaries," is said by Mr

second motive

Gibbon to have been " the desire of supporting


" the reputation of the society in which they
u were engaged, and their own reputation, as
" connected with that

society."

But unless the Christians had been incited to


virtue

own

by other motives than

a regard for their

reputation, and for that of the society to

which they belonged, the consequences, with


respect to morals and behaviour, would not have
been either

The

'uiiversal or

philosophers

permanent.

who

appeared in the Hea-

then world had those motives, joined to an excessive desire

not such

men

after
as

Mr

fame

and yet they were

Gibbon acknowledges the

primitive Christians to have been.


Jesus foretold,

and the prediction was soon

accomplished, that his disciples should be revil-

ed and persecuted for

his sake *.

* " Blessed are they which are persecuted for


" righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of
;

chapter

206

iv.

Reputation could not have been the object of

men who were


obloquy

We

taught by their Lord to look for

the appendage of their profession.

must therefore search for some other

which enabled those Christians

cause,

more

as

to be

excellent than their neighbours.

Their motive to the practice of

virtue, sepa-

rate

from the motives commonly termed natu-

ral,

was, obedience to the lawgiver whose au-

thority they recognised

guage, faith in

God

or,

in scriptural lan-

the Father, and in his Son

the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mr

Gibbon, not

satisfied

with

slightly

men-

tioning two motives which contributed to the


purity of the lives of the primitive Christians,
subjoins a supplement, accounting, in a natural

way, for their

Some

virtues.

of the readers of the Decline and Fall

have censured

this

Supplement

as

uncandid, and

even invidious.

The

primitive Christians, as

Mr

Gibbon ad-

mits, were chaste, temperate, and ceconomical


" but then," says he, " their serious and se-

" heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile


" you, and persecute yon, and shall say all manner
" of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice,
" and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in
" heaven for so persecuted they the prophets which
" were before you." Matt. v. 10.-12.
:

CHAPTER

207

IV.

questered life, averse to the gay luxury of the


w age, inured them to chastity, temperance, ceco nomy, and
i.

all

the sober and domestic virtues."

574*.

They were remarkable


dealing.

But

as

for integrity

and

fair

they were generally of some

trade or profession,

it

was incumbent on them

remove the

to practise such virtues, in order to

suspicions that an appearance of sanctity

is

apt

to create.

They were humble, meek, and

patient, being

exercised in the habits of those virtues

by

their

contempt of the world.

The more they were


closely they

persecuted, the

more

adhered to each other.

Their mutual charity, and unsuspecting confidence, have

been remarked by

infidels,

and

were too often abused by perfidious friends f

We

*
might add, that their mutual chanty is acknowledged, and their unsuspecting confidence ridiculed, by the Atheistical buffoon, Lucian. Mr Gib-

bon says, p. 574. " The philosopher Peregrinus, of


" whose life and death Lucian has left us so enter" taining an account, imposed for a long time on
" the credulous simplicity of the Christians of Asia."
It is impossible to determine any thing as to the real
character of this Peregrinus while he retained his
senses.
This only we know, that he became mad,
and burnt himself alive in the sight of all Greece,
at the Olympian games.
Gellius, who knew him

well, praises his

judgment and equanimity, and

say? t

CHAPTER

08

And now,

IV.

us review the virtues of the

let

primitive Christians, while with philosophise! impartiality

The

we

trace effects to their causes.

primitive Christians, from their serious

and sequestered
frugal,

life,

were

and inured to

all

chaste, temperate,

sober and domestic

virtues.

From prudence and


strict integrity,

situation they

and perfectly

were of

fair in their deal-

ings.

From contempt

of the world, they learnt to

be humble, meek, and patient.


Persecution bound

them

closer in friendship

to one another.

Their mutual charity has been remarked even


that his discourses were profitable, and delivered in
;i
Philosophum, nomine Pere[
grinum, cui postea cognomentum Proteus factum
M est, virum gravem at que constan tern vidimus, quum
" Atnenis essemus, diver santem in quodam tugurio
" extra urbem j quumque ad eum frequenter venti" taremus, multa hercle dicere earn utiSter et ho" neste audivimus."] Noct.Att.xii.il.
Gellius
could not have described a chief teacher among the
So, if
Stoics in higher strains of commendation.
Peregrinus was a knave, he imposed on the credulity of Gellius, a Heathen grammarian, no less than on
the credulity of the Christians of Asia 5 who, to say
the worst of them, had not the gift of trying the
spirits of men, and through aw excess of charity,
were led to think more favourably of Peregrinus
than he deserved,

a seemly manner.
i4

CHAPTER
by

infidels

them open
If

we

20$

IV.

and their excess in that virtue

to the frauds of

laid

bad men.

thus employ ourselves in accounting for

every virtue practised by individuals,


to be feared that, in the end,

much

it is

we may

lose that

amiable quality of Christian benevolence, which

" thinketh no
Jesus
friends.

we

has

evil."

left

"We

are to

more humane rule


know men bv their

are to judge of purpose

by actions

deed any further knowledge

is

to his
fruits

and in-

too high for

us.

Here

it

Mr

will not escape observation, that

Gibbon, without intending to draw a very

fa-

vourable likeness of the primitive Christians^

made Christian principles the ground-work


many of their virtues.
Thus he says, that " the serious and seques-

has

of

<c

tered

life

of the primitive Christians, averse

H to the gay luxury of the age, inured them to


chastity, temperance, oeconomy, and all the
" sober and domestic virtues."
Now, the epithet " serious," is of more consequence than
a sequestered

it

may

life,

at first sight appear.

For

averse " to the gay luxury of

the age," is not necessarily attended by " all


H the sober and domestic virtues." The reverse
of

all

such virtues

may be found among men

who have never heard

of the gay luxury of the

S a

CHAPTER

10

But, " a serious

age.

IV.

life/'

or a

life

led with

an habitual regard to the nature and consequences of action,

may

to a certain degree pro-

duce the virtues of which

and thus the meaning

Mr

Gibbon speaks

will be, that such virtues

are the consequence of Christian watchfulness

an important truth, and greatly to the honour


of Christianity

Again,
the

Mr

Gibbon

says, that

world the Christians learnt

meek, and

The

from contempt of
to be humble*

patient.

phrase " contempt cf the world"

is

am-

it may signify " contempt of the su" perfluities and vanity of the world," or " conu tempt cf all sublunary things." But whether

biguous

it

be understood in the one sense or the other,

there

is

no doubt that some

sects

Heathen philosophers professed


tempt of the world
Christians ever did

as

as

among

the

great

con-

any of the primitive

and yet their speculations

and systems were of no eScacy in rendering


them humble and meek \ and we may oppose
Christian patience to tHe boasted apathy of the
Stoics 3 without

any dread of seeing our

reli-

gion depreciated by the contrast.


It

was on Christian principles that the primi-

tive Christians learnt to

patient

for they

their Lord,

be humble, meek, and

remembered the words of

Whoso

shall exalt

himself shall


CHAPTER

211

IV.

be abased, and he that shall humble himself


shall be exalted." Blessed are the meek."
w Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in

heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls."


" He that endureth to the end shall be sa*."

ved

One

should have thought that

Mr

Gibbon,

after

having treated of repentance and reputa-

tion,

and analysed the Christian

counted for them

all,

virtues,

and ac-

had exhausted whatever

cn the fourth secondary cause


of the rapid and remarkable growth of Christi-

he meant

to say

anity.

Yet

"

to the disquisition concerning the

" Vxr-

tues of the primitive Christians," a large mis-

cellany of unconnected

observations

is

subjoin-

under these general heads, " Morality of the


" Fathers j" " Principles of human nature

ed,

" The primitive Christians condemn pleasure


" Their sentiments concerning
" and luxury

" marriage and


" sion

to

chastity

the business

and " Their aver-

,"

of war and

govern-

" ment."
* Matth.

xxiii. 12.

v. 5.

xi.

29.

rious other texts to the like purpose

x. 22.

Va-

might have been

quoted from the other Evangelists.


Many passages
in the Epistles are merely a commentary on such
texts, and ought to be considered as allusions to
evangelical history.

CHAPTER

212

IV.

would have been better, and more scientihad Mr Gibbon, instead of deviating

It
fical,

into collateral

adhered to that me-

inquiries,

thod which he

at first

chose to prescribe to him-

self.

The

purpose of this work

is

to

secondary causes assigned by

five

for the rapid


stianity

examine the

Mr

Gibbon

and remarkable progress of Chri-

and therefore

for declining to follow

or genius leads

might be pardoned

him where-ever

yet there

his fancy

such a variety of

is

curious and interesting matter in his miscellane-

ous observations, that

them over
Let

it

cannot altogether pass

in silence.

be remarked in general, that the chief

circumstances mentioned in this miscellany seem


to have

had

natural tendency to retard, in-

stead of accelerating the triumphs of Christianity

over the passions, prejudices, and opinions

of mankind.

Neither

is

this

all

for

on comparing

his

supplementary disquisitions with his argument

on the fourth secondary cause,


that

Mr Gibbon

it

will

contradicts not

be found-,

only experi-

ence, but himself.

Thus, for example, he

" and Doctors of the church

ties

tience, to a height

" The Bishops

says,

carried the du-

of self-mortification, of purity, and of pa-

which

it is

scarcely possible

CHAPTER

213

IV.

to attain^ and much less to preserve.


A
" doctrine so extraordinary and so sublime,

u must inevitably command the veneration of


the people but it was ill calculated to obtain
*,

**

the suffrage of those worldly philosophers

" who, in the conduct of this transitory life,


" consult only the feelings of nature, and the
"

interest of society."

Here the

575.

i.

Christian teachers are put in full

possession of the veneration of the people

yet in the very next page

Mr Gibbon

and

seems to

ascribe to the Christians at large a disposition that

would be

rejected by the

and he

kind

was not

it

says, in

in

this

common

consent of

man-

unequivocal terms, that

world that the primitive

Christians were desirous of making them" selves either agreeable or useful


If so,
they could not remain in possession of the veneration of the people.

Let us turn back from

we

shall see that

p.

576

the Christians,

to p. 574.

no

less

and

than the

philosophers themselves, did " in this transito-

" ry

life

consult the interest of society."

Their care for the

interest of society,

be admitted, did not lead

them "

it

must

to conceal the

" sentiments of an Atheist under the sacerdo* The words, " in

world," are redundant


be desirous of
making themselves usejul in another world,
this

for the primitive Christians could not

CHAPTER

214

IV.

tal robes, or to approach, with the same in" ward contempt and the same external reve rence, the altars of the Lybian, the Olympian,
and the Capitoline Jupiter," i. 38. s yet they
were chaste, temperate, and oeconomical, and
inured to

all

They were

the sober and domestic virtues.

of the

integrity,

strictest

fectly fair in their dealings

and per-

they were exerci-

sed in the habits of humility, meekness, and


patience

and the

infidels

their mutual charity

So

dence.

will judge,

says

Mr

themselves remarked

and unsuspecting confi-

Gibbon

and the reader

whether they, or the Heathen phi-

losophers and politicians, as described by

Mr

Gibbon, best consulted the feelings of nature

and the

The

interest of society.

section, having this general title,

Mora-

of the Fathers, is introduced with these


u It is a very honourable circumstance
words
" for the morals of the primitive Christians,
lity

"

that even their faults, or rather errors,

derived from an excess of


This observation, for
serves our applause

ways written in such

virtue,"

i.

amiable candour, de-

its

and had

Mr

Gibbon

superfi-

the Christian religion.

But he proceeds thus


tt

al-

a strain, his only critics

would have been the half-learned and


cial cavillers at

were

575.

" The Bishops and

Doctors of the church, whose evidence

at-

chapter
rt

tests,

215

nr.

and whose authority might influence the

"

professions, the principles,

tice

and even the prac-

of their contemporaries, had studied the

" Scriptures with less skill than devotion j and


" they often received, in the most literal sense,
" those rigid precepts of Christ and the Apo-

"

sties,

which the prudence of succeeding

to

" commentators has applied a looser and more


" figurative mode of interpretation."
" Bishops and Doctors of the church"
comprehensive denomination indeed
all

the Christian writers, for

many

centuries,

ingly

M.

ise*

De

know

might be ranged

is

Under
not

a
it,

how

and accord-

Barbeyrac, in his very judicious treat-

la

morale des Peres, begins his inquiry

with Justin Martyr, and ends

surnamed

the

Great

but, as

with Gregory,

it

Mr

Gibbon speaks

of primitive Christians, and as he treats of the

may be

rapid progress of Christianity,

it

med

to the

that

he

limits his

remark

presu-

" Bishops

" and Doctors" who wrote before the

civil es-

tablishment of the Christian religion.


I

mean not

to enter into the noted contro-

versy respecting the morality of the Fathers

Mr Gibbon chuses to call them,

as

or,

the Bishops

and Doctors of the church f jw neither, indeed,


*
i.

It is so called

by

Mr Gibbon,

Decline and Fall,

575.

f Every impartial reader who has net had occa-

CHAPTER

216

Mr Gibbon

has

IV.

treated fully of that subject

he only mentions the fathers


evidence

attests,

as

persons whose

and whose authority might

in*

fluence the professions, the principles, and even

the

of their

practice

contemporaries

and

thence he takes occasion to speak of certain

which he supposes might have

tenets of theirs

been adopted by the church in general.

Here some

observations

naturally

present

themselves.

Of
first

all

three centuries, Tertullian

afford the most

wild fancies
fanaticism

which
dant

at

who

the Christian writers

is

lived in the

he whose works

numerous examples of crude and

and no wonder

seem

to

for the seeds of

have been always in him,

length sprung up, and produced abun-

fruits.

Every one knows that Tertullian,

having adopted the opinions of Montanus, be-

came

as

contemptible a visionary as ever disgra-

ced genius and learning.

Some men have

attempted to draw the line

between the works of the orthodox and of the


heretical Tertullian

si

and

for this they

had

their

on to peruse the preface to the Julian of Bishop

Warburton, will think himself beholden to me for


pointing out to him a manly and candid inquiry into
this interesting subject, by one who was no slave to
systems, and popular opinions, and popular prejudices.

CHAPTER
:ons,

sent

Sfl

IV.

unnecessary to be explained

pre-

at

but even in his earliest works, the traces

of a distempered imagination are to be found.


Such, however, is the man on whose evidence

Mr

Gibbon

chiefly relies for

professions, the

principles,

illustrating

of the primitive Christians

tice

made more
tullian

the

and even the pracand he has

quotations from the writings of Ter-

than from the writings of

all

the other

Bishops and Doctors" of the first three centuso that, in the work of Mr Gibbon, Terries
:

tullian appears like the foreman

world, delegated to speak for

from the days of the Apostles


at

of the Christian

all

the brethren

until

that time

which Christianity was established by law,

who lived after him, as well as for


who lived before him, or were his con-

for those

those

temporaries.

Mr Gibbon

In his celebrated fifteenth chapter,

frequently quotes Tertullian, yet he hardly ever


refers to

Cyprian for proof of the principles and

practice of the Christians.

It

odd, that as

is

they lived in the same country, and were nearly contemporaries,


tle

he should have

relied so

lit-

on the testimony of the bishop and martyr,

and so much on that of the Montanist.


Further, the expression used by
is

singularly cautious,

saying that there

is

though

Mr

Gibbon
am far from

any studied ambiguity in

T
& v;

it.

CHAPTER

218

IV,

Instead of asserting that the authority of the

Bishops and Doctors" did


serves that

it

influence,

he ob-

might influence the professions,

and practice of their contempora-

principles,
ries.

Should

it

be proved, that the primitive Chri-

thought and acted for themselves, not-

stians

withstanding the authority of those " Bishops

and Doctors," Mr Gibbon might


never asserted the contrary

say, that

for that

he

he only

spake of what might have happened, not of what


did.

No weighty superstructure
on such

slight foundations

can be established
for

still

it

remains

unexplained, whether the authority of which

Mr Gibbon speaks, had influence


what was the

Mr

and

extent of that influence

if it

had,

Gibbon speaks of an authority which

might influence contemporaries

but he seems

not aware that the word contemporaries must be


limited to the Christians

which

his

to the

least

of the country in

" Bishops and Doctors"


Christians

who were

lived, or at

acquainted

with the writings and tenets of those guides,

and that

it

cannot be applied to Christians at

For example, although the authority of


Tertullian should have had influence on the
large.

and practice of the Christians in Afwho were his contemporaries, it would be

principles
rica

CHAPTER

IT.

extravagant to suppose, that


Palestine, Syria,

writings

of

it

had influence in

and Asia Minor, where the

Tertullian

were

not

generally-

known, and could only be understood by few.


Besides,

it is

plain, that the authority of

Ter-

Mr

Gibbon seems

chiefly to rely, did not influence

the principles

tullian,

on whose evidence

and practice of
*

M.

his contemporaries *.

Barbeyrac, having

successfully ridiculed

many

of the whimsies of Tertullian, thought it worth


his pains to expose the bad taste of some of the
Christian writers who are said to have admired the

His words are :


writings of that African heretic.
" On scait cependant, quel cas ont fait de lui d'au" tres peres, et sur
u point de jour, sans

tout St

Cyphien, qui ne

passoit

quel que chose de Tertullian,

lire

qui disoit a son copiste, en lui demandant les


donne% mat mon maistre %
ouvrages de ce pere
cVst ce que St Jerome dit tenir du copiste meme.
" CataL Script. Eccles. p. 284. t. i. edit. Basil.
" J537.'' Here there is a pleasant anachronism,
which would have afforded matter of exultation to
M. Barbeyrac had any of the fathers been guilty of
it.
The copist or secretary of Cyprian could hardly
have officiated in that capacity before the age of
eighteen or twenty, and could not have met with Jerom sooner than 120 years, reckoned from the death
of Cyprian
so that he must have been about one
hundred and forty years of age when he communicated this anecdote to Jerom
It happens, however,
that Jerom tells a very different story.
His words
" Vidi ego quemdam Paulum Concoraias, quod
are
" oppidum Italiae est, senem, qui se beati Cypriani
a jam grandis
aetatis notarium, quum ipse admodum

*4

et

*,

CHAPTER

-20

IT.

This might appear from the words of

Gibbon

himself, wiio quotes Tertullian as

Mr
af-

firming that the Christians" refused to take

any

active part in the

empire

and that

" without renouncing


" could assume the
i.

580.

and

military defence of the

yet,

it

was impossible

more

character

in the very

Gibbon says, " Tertullian


u expedient of deserting

that,

sacred duty, they

of

soldiers/

same page,

suggests to

Mr

them the

u esset adofescens, Romae vidisse diceret, referreque


u sibi solitum nunquarn Cyprianum absque Tertul" Hani lectione unam diem praeteriisse, ac sibi crebro
" dicere, da Magistrurn, Tertullianum videlicet sig" niiicans." The reader will observe, that Jerom does
not tell so improbable a story as that he himself had
conversed with the copist of Cyprian \ he only says,
that an old man reported, that when he was very
young, he heard another old man say, that Cyprian
often called Tertullian the Master, and frequently
Here, then, there is nothing more
read Ills works.
than the hearsay of a hearsay, a thing altogether
from what M. Barbeyrac relates.

different

* The words of Tertullian are " Aut deserendum statim sit, ut a multis actum, aut omnibus
:

;'

u modis cavillandum, ne quid adversus Deum committatnr, quae nec cx militia permittuntur, aut nou vissime perpetiendum pro Deo, quod seque fides
fc<

pagana condixit.^ d. Corona, c. ii. The sentence


See
obscure, and its just reading is not settled.
This much, however, is
the note of Rigaliius.
plain, that Tertullian means to point out the inconveniences and temptations which attend Christians

44

is

CHAPTER
But, to

this

221

IV.

purpose, Tertullian's

own

evi-

He says, How
is still more apposite.
" can a Christian become a soldier, or even an
officer of justice, since the Lord has deprived
him of his sword ? for although military men
w

dence

came

to

John the

Baptist,

and received

in-

"

sructions from him as to their conduct, and


although a centurion embraced the gospel
yet, afterwards, the Lord, by disarming Pe-

"

ter,

disarmed every soldier # ."

opinion of Tertullian.
tice
it

Such was the

Nevertheless, the prac-

of Christians in his age was different

for

appears from the treatise de Corona Miliiis^

that

mies

many

Christians served in the

and again, in

his

Apology, he

Roman
says,

ar-

" we

ivho become soldiers \ and the first mentioned by


him is, that of their being induced to desert or quit
the service \ so that he does by no means " suggest
" the expedient of deserting."

* " Ouomodo autem bellabit, imo quomcdo etiam


" in pace mill tab it, sine gladio, quern Dominus ab" stulit ? nam etsi adierant milites ad johannem, et
" formam observations acceperant, si etiam centurio
" crediderat omnem postea militem Dominus, in
:

Petro exarmando, discinxit." d. Idololatria, c. 19.


M. Barbeyrac explains in pace to signify " quand
" les Chretiens ne sont exposez a aucune perseeu" tion;" Morale des Peres, c. 6. 6. and no doubt
pax has sometimes the sense of " rest from persecu" tion ;*? but I have chosen to follow the paraphrase
f Rigaltius.
**

CHAPTER

TZZ

IT.

" are but of yesterday ; arid yet we have filled


" your camps ?" and, we fight along with
you
" There are/' says Mr Gibbon, two very
" natural propensities, which we may distinguish
i(

in the

most virtuous

dispositions, the love

of

" pleasure, and the love of action. If the for" mer is refined by art and learning, improved
by the charms of social intercourse, and corC

rected by a just regard to oeconomy, to health,

S(

and to reputation,

it is

est part

S(

love of action

is

a principle of a

" and more doubtful


*'

nature.

It

much

is

The

stronger

often leads to

anger, to ambition, and to revenge ; but

6C it

when

guided by the sense of propriety and be-

* nevoience,

it

becomes the parent of every

* u Hesterni sumus,

productive of the great-

of the happiness of private lifef

s'

et vestra

omnia implevimus,

-castra ipsa vobiscum nrifitamusj" Apol.


may be some

42.

In this there

tion,

which, however, will not

vir-

c.

37,

rhetorical exaggera-

affect

my

argument.

f This description seems vague. Suppose one


should say, " Artifex quidam eruditus arnica clan?
" culum utitur, hilari, faceta, sana itidcm ac parvo
"

Surely
ea demura vita est beatior."
j
does not come up to the notion of what " is
" productive of the greatest part of the happiness of
parabili

this

although we have ariifex eruditus,


life
and learning], hilaris et faceta, [social intercourse], parvo potability [ceconomy], sana, [health],,
f*

private

[art

and cianculum, [reputation.]

CHAPTER

225

IT.

tue ; and, if those virtues are accompanied


with equal abilities, a family, a state, or an
" empire, may be indebted for their safety and
prosperity to the undaunted courage of a sin" gle man. To the love of pleasure we may,
" therefore, ascribe most of the agreeable, to the
" love of action we may attribute most of the
" useful and respectable qualifications.
The
" character in which both the one and the other
" should be united and harmonized, would seem
to constitute the most perfect idea of human
" nature. The insensible and inactive disposi-

" tion, which should be supposed alike desti tute of both, would be rejected by the com mon consent of mankind, as utterly incapable
of procuring any happiness to the individual,
" or any public benefit to the world. But it
" was not in this world that the primitive Chri-

**

stians were desirous of making themselves


ther agreeable or useful." i. 575.
All this
cal,

delivered in a solemn, philosophi-

is

and didactic

style

and we must presume,

that to the author himself


gible,

Mr

it is

but to one of his readers

Gibbon

pleasure

is

ei-

observes, that

refined

by

art

perfectly intelliit is

not.

when

the love of

and learning, impro-

u ved by the charms of social intercourse, and


corrected by a just regard to ceconomy, to
" health, and to reputation,

it is

productive of

CHAPTER

f24>

IY.

"

the greatest part of the happiness of private

life.

5'

"What does this love of pleasure imply ? According to the description given of it by Mr
Gibbon, before

it

can produce the greatest part

of the happiness of private


filled,

must be

life, it

re-

improved, and corrected. Hence, one might

be apt to imagine, that a thing which becomes


salutary only

by such

and correction,
noxious.

by

Mr

This

is,

a process of refinement

in

itself,

Gibbon's receipt,

the stations in private

two of

its

be the sense of the word


learning never was,

we

Art and

of

learning

and whatever may

art,

it

is

certain that

and probably never

general acquirement

thing of which

who occupy most

life.

ingredients

prepared

a composition too

it is

high-priced for the vulgar,

are

impure, and even

at least is plain, that, if

will

be a

and here we are taught a

should otherwise have*been

ignorant, that " the greatest part of the happir

" ness of private life lies without the reach of


the vulgar.
Mr Gibbon adds, " to the love of pleasure
we may therefore ascribe most of the agreeable
qualifications
disposition,
the insensible
which should be supposed destitute of it3
M would be rejected by the common consent of
mankind, as utterly incapable of procuring any
u happiness to the individual.But it was xxot
5'

CHAPTER
W

25

iv.

M/> world that the primitive Christians

in

were
able."

The

desirous of

making themselves agree-

reader will observe that, in the long pe-

which these expressions are selected,


Gibbon has also introduced " the love of
" action" as a propensity or principle \ and that

riod from

Mr

he has treated of the

the

effects

of

as well as

it,

of

But, although the

love of pleasure."

blending them might ornament a period, the


nature and consequences of each will be best

understood

when they

are

separately exami-

ned.

And here again

it

will not escape the attention

of the reader, that

Mr

Gibbon, while treating

of the virtues of the primitive Christians^ [the


fourth secondary cause of the rapid progress of
Christianity], ascribes to
position,

destitute

which would be

of

them an

insensible dis-

the love

rejected, by the

of pleasure,

common

consent

of mankind, as utterly incapable of procuring

any happiness

Now,

if

to the individual.

the

disposition

of the

primitive

Christians was such as to be rejected by the com-

mon

consent of mankind^

among the secondary


gress of Christianity

The

why

is

it

treated of

causes of the rapid pro-

case of the primitive Christians, in being

thus destitute of the love of pleasure, appears

22$

CHAPTER

truly lamentable.

Living, as they did, in the

religion of love, they

charms of

and

Mr

had

IT.

must have enjoyed the

social intercourse, so far as innocent;

Gibbon himself informs

a just regard to

to reputation

they

us, that

oeconomy, to health, and

these things, had the Christians

been possessed of the love of pleasure, would


have improved and
ciple

was wanting,

corrected
all

it,

but as that prin-

their sober

virtues could not render

them

and domestic

agreeable in this

world.

Let us now examine the other great principle,


which is of a much stronger and more doubt**

ful nature *, the love of action."


It is said, that

i(

to anger, to

" the love of action often leads


ambition, and to revenge

but

K when it is guided by the sense of propriety


" and benevolence, it becomes the parent of
every virtue and if those virtues are accom" panied with equal abilities, a family, a state, or
*

an empire, may be indebted for their safety

* The expression, " more doubtful," is not altofor it had been already observed,
gether accurate
that the love of pleasure, in order to its being made
productive of the greatest part of the happiness of
private life, must be refined, improved, and corrected ; so that it also, as well as the love of action, is
of a very doubtful nature. Had Mr Gibbon, instead
of " more doubtful," said, " still more doubtful," his;
:

meaning would have been better expressed.

CHAPTER

227

IY.

" and prosperity to the undaunted courage of a


" single man To the love of action, therefore,

" we may attribute most of the useful and re spectable qualifications 9 the inactive dispo-

destitute
sition, which should be supposed
" of it, would be rejected by the common con" sent of mankind, as utterly incapable of pro curing any public benefit to the world. But
f

"
"

it

was not

Christians
selves

in this

world that the primitive

were desirous of making them-

useful."

who was the inventor of this


ingenious theory, which supposes " the love of
" action" to be one of the great principles in
matters not

It

the conduct of rational beings.

A love

of action

peculiarly discernible in

is

children before they can act on rational principles

and the most

the healthiest.

restless child

This

is

is,

owing to an

generally,

instinct in-

dependent of reason, and proceeding from the


wise will of the Giver of

all

good

and

it

has

no more connexion with rational principles than


the power of sight has, or the sense of feeling;
and therefore we cannot, with any propriety,
attribute u most of the useful and respectable

"

qualifications" to

that species of the love of

action.

The
is

immaterial and immortal

always busy, unless

its

spirit

of

man

exertions be impeded

CHAPTER

228

IV.

by some external or adventitious cause \ and


hence it might be said, in a metaphorical sense,

human

that the

soul loves action.

Mr

meaning of

Gibbon

and

is

Is that

that

the

all ?

under very great disadvantages, being

I write

unable to apprehend clearly the sense of the


phrase u love of action/' any more than that of

"

the love of pleasure."


It

that

said,

is

guided by

the love of

is

a virtue,

when guided by

Mr
f

when

the sense of benevolence, becomes

the parent of every virtue."

volence

action,

Gibbon

it,

how

But

since bene-

can the love of action,

become its parent ?


" that this " love of

asserts,

ac-

tion" often leads to anger, to ambition, and to

Does the

revenge."

man

love of action" lead a

to rail at his wife, beat his servants, un-

dermine

enemy

The

his rival in

politics,

or assassinate his

drawn by

inference

Mr Gibbon from the

union and harmony of the two principles might,


at

first

view, appear to point at a discovery of

The character," says he, H in


" which both the one and the other should be
united and harmonized, would seem to contheir nature.

*5

stitute

ture."

"

the most perfect idea of

human

na*

This might remind us of the character of


that person

who

realised the

most perfect idea

CHAPTER
of

human

son,,

nature

yet should I say of that per-

whom Mr Gibbon

to look

on

229

IV,

as the great

and

were early taught

Exemplar^ that the love of

pleasure and the love of action were

two great

Mr Gibbon would
weak attempt to vilify

in his conduct,

principles

justly charge

me

with

gur Saviour.

we cannot look for the most


human nature, or, rather, for
exhibited in human nature.

Unless in him>
perfect idea of

perfection

But

let

us review the most distinguished cha-

racters of

mere men, rough and very imperfect

sketches at best of moral excellence

and then

decide whether the love of pleasure and the


love of action

were the great

principles in the

conduct of Phocion, Epaminondas, and Marcus

Antoninus
legislator

reproche

Sydney

}
,

of Alfred, the soldier, student, and

of Bayard, termed

of La Nolie,

gaged in the
ties

Le

Chevalier sans

of the virtuous and gallant Sir Philip

fiercest

applauded

whom,

while he was en-

tumults of party,

all

and of William the

par-

First,

Prince of Orange, who, that he might establish


civil

and

object,

religious liberty,

whether of

And, not

abandoned every other

interest or ambition.

to multiply examples,

firm, that the simple

eminent sea-commanders
son, flowed

we may

af-

and mild virtues of those


cle

Ruyter and Law-

from a purer source than the love of

CHAPTER

230

pleasure or action.

no occasion

IT.

Whenever

the public had

for their services, they

calm mediocrity of private

into, the

only returned from their retreat


fight, bleed,

called to

withdrew
and

life,

when they were

and die for the land of

their fathers.

His next section bears

general

this

title

" The primitive Christians condemn pleasure


and luxury." These terms are vague ; for,
in modern language at least, the word pleasure,

may imply something


what

who

is

that

is

lawful as well as

unlawful, and there are hardiv two

ascribe the

same meaning

to the

men

word lux-

ury.

But, without criticising on its title, let us examine the contents of this section. " The ac" quisition of knowledge/' says Mr Gibbon,
cc

the exercise of our reason or fancy, and the

" cheerful flow of unguarded


may employ the leisure of a
?

conversation,
liberal

mind.

Such amusements, however, were rejected

with abhorrence, or admitted with the utmost


caution, by the severity of the Fathers, who
Cf

despised

"

salvation,

course

all

and who considered


a criminal abuse

as

speech,"

knowledge that was not useful to

i.

all

levity of dis-

of the

gift

of

we

see

576.

On comparing
that Mr Gibbon

the

title

with the text,

holds the primitive Chri-

CHAPTER
"

231

IV.

and " the Fathers" to be equivalent

stians"

This mistake, obvious to every reader,

terms.

pervades his argument.

Whenever he

discovers,

or imagines that he has discovered, a

weak

or

absurd opinion in the works of any primitive


writer,

he presently concludes that

mitive Christians adopted

now under

In the passage
ff

thers"

is

the pri-

our view, Fa-

limited to the African writers of the

third century

Mr Gibbon
Tertullian,

all

it.

for

all

relies are

the authorities on which

quoted from the works of

Clemens Alexandrinus, and Lactan-

tius.

It is singular,

duced by

Mr

that of the three witnesses pro-

Gibbon

for proving the opinion of

the primitive Christians in

all

countries,

and du-

ring three centuries, one of them, Tertullian,

should have been a visionary and a heretic

another, Lactantius, a person whose sentiments


are admitted

many and
a third ,

by every scholar

to have been, in

important particulars, erroneous

Clemens Alexandrinus,

and

compiler of

the opinions and even of the conceits of Hea-

then philosophers.

And

it is,

Tertullian,
tius,

if possible, still

more

singular, that

Clemens Alexandrinus, and Lactan-

should be held out as " despisers of

W knowledge

that

was not necessary to

all

salva-

CHAPTER

SfS
c<

to

tion

for they

IT.

were learned, and industrious

make parade of their learning.


One might rather have looked for

such con-

tempt of secular knowledge in Jacob Boehmen

and

his illiterate admirers,

than in a lawyer, a

professor of sciences, and a rhetorician.

The

truth

spise secular

that those writers did not de-

is,

knowledge, but they considered

to be of less utility

and importance than

it

religi-

ous attainments.
Possibly Tertullian, after he became
nist,

may have

asserted the fanatical tenet of

" devotion and ignorance


affect

Monta-

but that will not

my proposition.

Mr

Gibbon proceeds

to give a long catalogue

of enjoyments and gratifications of sense, said


to have

been condemned by Clemens Alexan-

drinus,

and other Christian writers of the third

century.
1.

It is said,

with cur devout predecessensation of pleasure was mark-

that

sort) the first


ed as the first moment of the abuse of the
senses," i. 576. 577. But did they say so ?

Did

they, for instance, hold, that the

sation of an agreeable smell,

was the

first

sen-

first

mo-

ment of the abuse of the sense of smelling ?


Even the stern Tertullian thought otherwise;,
for
the.

he

relates,

without the slightest censure, that

Christians of his age and country indulged

CHAPTER

235

IV.

themselves in the elegant gratification of the


sense of smelling * ; and Lactantius, after ha-

ving broke loose from the schools of Heathen


philosophy, says, that the pleasures of the senses

ought to be regulated

a Christian moralist, to

and then proceeds,

condemn such

like

gratifica-

tions as are vicious f

" The unfeeling candidate

2.

instructed

for

Heaven was
the pro-

to shut his ears against

fane harmony of sounds,"

i.

577.

The

as well as the truth of this expression


rest

on the word profane.

It

may

force

seems to

well be sup-

posed, that the Christians kept away from the

music of their Heathen neighbours, as being


connected with the popular religion, or

as

ha-

ving been rendered subservient to the purposes


of debauchery.

There

may be

is

no doubt

innocent

that, in our days,

music

and that songs may be sung

without any offence to morals, or even to deco* " Non emo caoiH coronarn, quid tua interest
emptis
nihilominus Horibus quomodo utar ? puto
f
" gratius liberis et soluiis et undique vagis. Sed et
u si in coronarn coactis, nos coronarn naribus novimus. Viderint qui per copilium odorantur" ApoL
c.

42.

virtute su>
f " Quinque sensuum volupcates
" perari atque opprimi debent ve/ quod paulo ante
9
4<
dicebam de afFectibus, ad raiionem suam revoca;

66

rif* Instit. Divin, vi. 20,

CHAPTER

IV.

But we are not from thence to infer,


seems to have been inferred by some writers,,

rum.

that the primitive Christians,


their

ears

when

they shut

and songs of the

against the music

Heathen world, were morose, and unreasonably


rigid.

No

one can deny, that the primitive Chri-

stians did well in

keeping

at a distance

from the

music and songs of the Heathens, when used in


such of their ceremonies

as

were properly

reli-

gious.

But Paganism was not confined to temples

and the public


into civil

life,

of religion.

offices

and

its

to convivial entertainments.
sal practice

It

entered

influence extended even


It

was the univer-

of the Heathens, to personify vir-

and to convert them


Hence a metrical eulogy on Fortitude or on Health became a religious hymn, and hence, for example, a Chriftues, habits,

and

qualities,

into objects 01 worship.

stian could not

have joined with the Heathens

in singing the famous

hymn

to Health,

extols that imaginary goddess as

which

worthy of the

highest veneration.

Verv few of the songs of the Heathens, even


when they did not relate to the popular religion,
were

fit

#
for the ears of a Christian , at least if

* There is still extant a Greek song, applauding


which ought not to be once named among us.-,
and even urging, its jropriety.
that

CHAPTER
we may judge

of what

is

2S5

IT.

lost

by what

is still

ex-

tant.

The

Christians adopted that part of the reli-

gious worship of the Jews

which consisted

music

impossible that they

and, therefore,

it is

in

could have " shut their ears against the harmo-

ny of sounds

*,"

it

was the abuse alone of mu-

which they condemned.

sic

These preliminary observations being kept in


view, we may easily account for what Clemens
Alexandrinus has

Mr

by

Gibbon.

the passage alluded to

from censuring music

Clemens

in general,

harp, that

said, in

So

far

says, that

the lyre or the

stringed instruments, ought to ac-

is,

company the singing of psalms or hymns, and


even the saying grace before and
It is true, that

and

M.

after

meat #

he disapproves of wind-music \

his reasons for this are not so ridiculous as

Barbeyrac represents them f

* Psedag.

ii.

But the de-

In that chapter, Clemens Alexan-

4.

drinus says, Kelt

yccg etggAoviae 7rxg &%ix.Ttov

toi$ o-aty^ovois

{Aovtetg

TXi$ xftg&ttetf 7rctg&7iuts 9 xctt

tv}

otvQotpo^arYi

nut

ircti-

The

learned reader needs not to be informed, that, anciently, a chaplet of flowers was the
badge of debauchery ; and that, in Greek, uvfoQoguvpxg-yi pv<7ix.'A.

and

iTdt^ivnvy

we may

see

were, in effect, synonymous.- Hence


sort of music it is which the author

what

condemns.

f Morale des

Peres, c. v.

15.

CHAPTER

236
cencie of

IV.

modern language

are such, that

impossible, without deviating


plain the

We

it is

from them, to ex-

meaning of Clemens Alexandrinus.

have seen, that in the

instances produced

by

Mr

first

and second

Gibbon, the opinions

whom

of those primitive writers to

he

alludes,

have been either mistaken or ambiguously reLet us proceed to the others.

ported.

And

here

it

may be

fit

to remark, that

most

of those sentiments which are censured in the

works of Tertullian, Clemens Alexandrinus, and


Lactantius, occur in the works of Seneca, the

philosopher and statesman,

who

with more pompous words,


strains

expresses

them

and in warmer

of declamation, than any of the three

Africans use.

So

that, granting those

primi-

tive authors to have been, in the matter of

morose and absurd,

Ethics,

their moroseness

is

not without great example, nor are their absurdities singular.


It is

proposed to compare " the reasonings"

of the Christian writers of the third century

with the reasonings" of a Heathen philosopher.

In the course of
will

be

against

chiefly

this parallel, the quotations

from Clemens Alexandrinus,

whom M.

Barbeyrac aimed most of his

learning and pleasantry.


3.

The primitive Christians were

instruct-

CHAPTER

257

IY.

ed to view with indifference the most finish" ed productions of human art." Seneca went
farther ; he viewed them not only with con*'

tempt, but even with some degree of abhorrence.

"

cannot be

persuaded," says that

eminent philosopher, to admit painters among

" the professors of liberal arts, any more than


M statuaries, and those who work in marble, and
4<

the other ministers of luxury ; in like


I

manner^

extrude wrestlers, whose whole science

in oil

and

mud

were

is

not to extrude them,

"

4<

cooks; and every other person

"

his talents in furthering our pleasures

should be obliged to admit perfumers and

who

bestows

Thus, according to Seneca, Reynolds and


Wilton ought not to be distinguished from
" the best wrestler on the green," or from a

French cook who


sion

is

at

the head of his profes-

Which
sociates

of the primitive writers

painters

and

statuaries

is it

that as-

with wrestlers,

* w Non enim adducor, ut in numerura liberalium


pictores recipiam, non magis quam statuarios, aut m armor arios, aui cceteros luxurice mini-

u artium
*'

" stros. ^que luctatores et totam oleo et luto conm stan tern scientiam expello ex his studiis liberalibus
44
aut et unguentarlos recipiam, et coquos, et cseteros voluptatibus nostris ingenia accomaiQdantes
<fi

f sua," Epist. S8.

CHAPTER

238

IT.

perfumers/ and cooks, in the great academy of


luxury ?

Seneca passionately exclaims against the

first

attempts towards that elegance in the laying out

of garden-ground which we
as

one of

((

are apt to admire

the most finished productions of

" human art." Let none who value the judgement of Seneca presume to swell knolls, to
smooth lawns, or to form cascades #
.

Had

Seneca been acquainted with the serpen-

tine line of beauty, he,

shewn, by

many

no doubt, would have

philosophical arguments, that

a straight line, being consonant with nature,

was much preferable


Seneca laughed
provers

who

at

to undulations.

the absurdity of those im-

planted trees merely for the shade

which they might

afford

and when

his

con-

temporaries laughed in their turn, at such lan-

guage uttered by an improver

like Seneca,

he

gravely discoursed of theory and practice,, and

demonstrated that his theory might be

though

were wrong

his practice

Of the

primitive Christians

that they were

terras

* " Luxuria vult


"

prsecipitare,'' d. Ira.

1. i.

c.

f.

Mr

instructed to

just, al-

Gibbon

says,

view with

transferrer-

in-

flumina

16.

Cur arbores, praeter umbram


f
" conseruntur ?" d. Vita Beata, c. 17.
66

passage well deserves a careful perusal.

nihil daturae,

The whole

CHAPTER

239

IV.

4t

difference the

most finished productions of

i{

human

But by

structed

art."

whom

were they

Lactantius shall answer,

in-

Even by the

Heathen philosophers *.
4. " Gay apparel, magnificent houses, and
46

elegant furniture, were supposed to unite the

" double
i.

and of

of pride

guilt

sensuality."

577.

To

the like purpose whole pages might be

Thus

transcribed from the works of Seneca.

he
<

says,

*{

more than

diffused luxury, an attention

" begins
li

" Whenever prosperous times have


to be

paid to dress

usual

next, pains are

taken in the choice of household furniture


and,

lastly,

men

bestow

much

study and care

may

44

even on their habitations, that they

so spacious as to cover whole fields, that the

**

walls

44

foreign countries, that the ceilings be varie-

44

gated with gold, and that the brightness of

may

glisten

be

with marble brought from

* " Voluptas oculorum varia et multiplex est,


" quae capitur ex aspectu rerum quae sunt in usu, vel
41

"
"
"
u
41

natura, vel opere delectabiles.


rectissime

sustulerunt

praeclarius et

homine

Hanc

philosoplii

Aiunt enim multo

d-gnius, ccelum potius,

esse

quam

hoc pulcherrimum opus intermicantibus astrorum luminibus, tanquam floribus


adornatum, quam picta, et ficta, et gemmis dis-

ccelata intueri, et

" tincta mirari," Divin.

Instit.

1.

vi.

c.

20.

20
u the

CHAPTER

IV.

correspond with that of the

floors

ceil-

"
ings *

Luxury wishes to be supported by ivory


" couches, to be clothed in purple, and to be
44

."

overspread with gold f


<?
Place before me whatever dazzles the eyes

w of nations and monarchs

made by

61

purchases

tL

pardy of your

lives

by luxury, either

u
a

better,

all

in

let

me

behold the

blood, and with the jeo-

and the chief

spoils

in their order, or,

one heap

won

which

That which

is

I first

discern is a tortoise wrought up to the nicest


" perfection of fineering, shells of the foulest
" and most sluggish animals, bought at exorbi-

a
61

tant prices,

them

and then so stained

make

lose their agreeable variety of clouding,

* " Ubi luxuriam

mum

as to

late felicitas fudit, cultus pri-

corporis esse diligentior incipit

deinde su-

a pellectili laboratur \ deinde in ipsas domos impena ditur cura, ut in laxitatem ruris excurrant, ut
u parietes, advectis trans maria marrnoribus,fulgeant,
a ut tecta varientur auro, ut lacunaribus pavimenu torum respondeat niter," Epist. 114. Every one
acquainted with the style of Seneca must know with
what difficulty his meaning can be expressed in
The gradation described by the philosoEnglish.
pher is, in general, just \ but
mediate steps, in the progress

many

of the inter-

to great refinement,

are omitted.

f " Luxus ebore sustinere vulc, purpura


" auro tegi," d. Ira, 1. i. c. 16.
1

vestiri,

'Chapter

assume the appearance of real wood.

*<.and
*c

"

Here
at

^ii

Tt.

see tables, a plank of timber valued

senator's

fortune

>

and therefore th

" more valuable because twisted into many


" knots by the cross growth of the tree.
There, crystal cups, whose brittleness en-

hances

their price

for in the opinion of the

* injudicious, that very risk which ought to

deter us from wishing to possess a thing, in" creases the pleasure of possession.
I see
u pearls, but not one to each ear ; for our ears

are

now become

inured to carry burdens, and

pearls are united,

" are placed.

and above them others

The triumph

mad

of

also

female ex-

travagance over man, would not have been


4s complete, had not two or three estates hung

from

each

" indeed

they

ear.

may

see silken coverings, if

be denominated coverings^

which neither protect the body nor the moM desty of women ; and which are of such a
" texture, that she who wears them can hardly
u affirm herself not to be naked

* u Volo sub conspectu


**

"
"

tia

meo ponere quse gentium

regumque praestringunt volo intueri presanguinis animarumque vestrarum [f. vestra-

oculos

prima mini luxuriae spolia propone siv


per ordinem expandere, sive, ut est melius,
44
in unum acervum dare.
Video elaboratam scru" pulosa distinctione testudinem, et fcedissimorum
44
pigerrimorumque animalium testas, ingentibus

"

tum~]

'

ilia vis

CHAPTER

rr.

What would

have been said, if any writer


the primitive Christians had aggravated
the crying enormity of tortoise-shell-ornaments,

among

from the circumstance of the

tortoise

being the most sluggish of animals

itself

Pity that

eneca knew nothing of the formation of silk \


if he had, he would, no doubt, have informed
admiring posterity, that

Roman

matrons took

pride in being arrayed in the entrails of vile

worms
u
"

"
6<

"

M
'4

pretiis

emptas,

in

quibus ipsa

ilia

quag

placet

medicament is, in similitudinem


veri [i.-yeri Iigm~] coloratur.
Video istic mensas,
et estimatum lignum senatoris censu, eo pretiosius,
quo illud in plures nodos arboris infelicitas torsi U
Video istic -crystalline, quorum accendit fragilitas
pretium ; omnium enim rerum voluptas apud imperitos, ipso quo fugare debet periculo, crescit.
Video uniones, non singulos singulis auribus comparatos ; jam enim exercitatse aures oneri ferendo
sunt junguntur inter se, et insuper alii binis
varietas,

subditis

"
"
"
"
" superponuntur. Non satis muliebris insania viros
u subjecerat, nisi bina ac trina patrimonia auribus
" singulis pependissent.
Video sericas vestes, si
u vestes vocandae sunt, in quibus nihil ist quo de" fendi aut corpus aut denique pudor possit j quibus
u sumptis, mulier parum liquido nudam se non esse
" jurabit," d. Benefices, L vii. c. 9.
The reader
:

Clemens Alexandrinus, a dissertation


but he will find a more
\
serious argument, as to nahed drapet~ij, than is in
Seneca.
See Pcedag. L ii. c. 10. p. 234. edit.
will not find, in

on

tortoise-shell inlayed

Potter.


CHAPTER

243

IV.

M In their censures of luxury ," says Mr Gibbon, " the Fathers are extremely minute and
**

circumstantial/

i.

577.

Romans,

In describing the luxury of the

Seneca

also

His eighty-sixth

stantial."

ticularly,

" extremely minute and circum-

is

epistle,

more par-

ought to be perused by those

talk of the

extreme minuteness^

as

who

well as of

the pious indignation of the primitive writers.


It

may

most

be doubted, whether Tertullian, in his

fanatical

mood,

ever

declaimed

with

greater extravagance than Seneca does in thsl


epistle.

Mr
rious

Gibbon proceeds to enumerate the vaarticles which excited the pious indigna-

tion of the Fathers.


5.

" False hair."

Seneca, in drawing that

admirable portrait of Caligula, omits not his

"

false hair *."

4;

which

6.

'

Vases of gold and


like," says

" That

silver."

Seneca, "

is

the clumsy

plate which belonged to our homely foreu fathers, without ornament or name of artin-

**

cer j."

H If a

man

should

* M Tanta capitis destituti

set his

wishes en

et emendicatis capillir.

* aspersi deformitas," d. Constantia sapientis,

f " Placet argentum grave rustici

" uUo

op'ere

a-nimi, c. 1.

et

nomine

arlificis,

,,

c.

patris,

18.
sine

d. Tranquillitate

4-4-

e ?! A P

TER

IT.

**

having a house

4*

of gold, end with silver plate, the


workmanship of renowned ancient artists,
with brass, which the folly of a few has made

4<
4i

splendidly furnished

vessels

44

precious,

44

although

and with the marble of every nation,


these things should be accumu-

all

iated in his possession,

satiate desires

7.
*4

Downy

must

which

bed f

our ancestors

still

they would net

are insatiable

"

pillows."

Seneca ironically
41

"with

How

have been,"

for the earth

Attalus was

wont

to

wretched
exclaims

was their

commend

(i

no mark on

one

I use,

may be

It

even in old age


it

Such

pillow that did not yield to the body.

my head leaves

J."

proper to observe., that Clemen?

Alexandrinus condemns

soft

being inconvenient, and

as

beds of down,

tending to obstruct

* u Si desiderat aureis fulgen'ceni vasis supel" lectilem et antiquis nominibus artificum argentum
** nobile,
et nati9&s paucorum insania pieiiosum
" onum omnium lapides, isia, congerantur licet,
6<

nunquam

ad.

exrplebunt insatiabiiemaniroum,'

Heiviam,

f "

c.

Consoh

11.

Scilicet majores nostri

44

qedbus terra cubile

c.

10.

erat,*'

mfeliees erant

Consul,

ad Heiviam^

Laudare solebat Attalus culcltram quae recorpori 3 tali utor etiam senex, in qua
Q
vestigium apparere non possit," Epist. .I0
X

*c

4<

sisteret

-.

CHAPTER
regular digestion *

40

It,

so that he assigns a reason

which Seneca does not

for his censure of them,

and he adds, " On the other hand, it is a piece


" of Cynical vain glory, to be studious of sleeping, like Diomede, on
" ought to be done only in

4<

When

a bull's

hide

this

cases of necessity f

Seneca boasted of his hard pillow, Cle-

mens Alexandrinus would scarcely have


quitted him of Cynical vain glory.
44

White

bread."

ac-

Seneca advises his friend

and pupil Lucilius to feed often on hard and


I dine," says he, " without a
coarse bread %.
on dry bread

ik

table,

f*

ner, I need not

wash

and, after such a din-

my

hands

To

||."

dine

without a table seems the triumph of philoso-

* Poedag. 1. ii. c. 9. p, 216. in his dissuasives


from what are termed luxuries, Clemens Alexandrinus generally introduces arguments with regard to
the preservation of health.
Whether the arguments
be his own, or borrowed from ancient physicians and
moralists, I
f*

know

" TlxXiV Ti V

not.
KiVO$o%iUf

tft

Pcedag.

Kv'JIKtf,

L ii.

KCt$U7fS^

c. 9.

p.

Tit

217.

See
X " Panis durus ac sordidus," Epist. 13.
to the like effect, Consol. ad Helviam, c. 11.

more

" Panis deinde siccus, et sine mensa prandium


M post quod non sunt lavandse manus," Epist. 83.
j|

8-

CHAPTER

246

phy

IT.

and to dine without having occasion to


wash, equals man with Jove I"
;

Having little, learn to be satisfied and


" magnanimously utter aloud these words, Let
(i

*'

us have water

and a

cake of barley

',

will contend with Jupiter himselffor

and we

elicit if

The
This applauded saying was of Epicurus f
flight seems tolerably high, yet the self-suffi.

Seneca soared

ciency of

adds, " nay,


*~ let

f4

it

for

he

us so contend

And in
man too

another passage, he asks, " has that


little,

of

whom

that he

not hungry or athirst

"

sesses not
is

is

it

can only be said,

not chilled with cold, that he

<t

It

above

far

beseech you, not having them,

more

is

Jupiter himself pos-

||."

probable that

Mr

Gibbon

alludes to a

Clemens Alexandrinus, when he

passage in

* " Disce parvo esse conientus


et illam vocem
u magnus animosusque exclarna, Habeamus aqua?n,
u habeamus polenta m, Jovi ipsi de felicitate contn6C
versiam faciamusf Eplst. 110.
:

u
**

izxvoV)

1'drca

vS^."

yi

fc^jy

(kccvov.

'EAsyij di i?oip,a$ %uy

Epicurus, ap. Stobasum.

" Faciamus, oro

te,

etiam

si

ista defuerint,''

Epist. 110.

"
||

An

parum habet, qui tan turn non alge^,


non sitit ? plus Jupiter ipse non habet,'-

uori esurit,

CHAPTER

condemned the use of


persuade myself that he

the Fathers

that

says,

247

If.

But

white bread.

has trusted to the accuracy of

M.

Barbeyrac's

version, instead of consulting the original,

which

Besides, by boulting the

flour,

runs thus

and so excluding the

nutritive parts of the

wheat, they over-refine [or render effeminate]

" that bread which, in itself, is light on the


" stomach, and may be easily digested and
;

u thus necessary sustenance

converted into a
" shameful gratification of taste *.M Clemen*
is

Is this the language of the Portico, or


Epist. 119.
of Bed/am .? The sentiments of Si Paul are somewhat different from those of the two wise men.

yx^

*&yat

iLcxQo*

qi<;

uxi, xvIx^kt.s

Oihx XXI TTi^irO-lVliV

KOU fcOffTX^jQxi, KXi

He

SV

avcti.

7TXVTI KOil

tr

TTiiVXV, X.X. 7Tl^l77iVilV

010 x 2z

Txmt*

77X71 fAztAVYi/XXl

KXt V^i^iL7&XL,

adds the reason, 7tx*~x ^yvca it ru iv^wxf&fgilt pi


In another passage,
Xiiga. Philip, iv. 11.
13.
'EvriQux is joined with xvTx^y.ux, a
i. Tim. vi. 6.
thing which would have astonished Seneca.
And
the Christian encouragement to this virtue is to be
found in Heb. xiii. 5. A^Kvpnoi fs 7rx^n7n xviog

yxg HfiYjKiv* ov jtcjj 71 ay& y


The
ov {X% ?Z KxrxKtTTdi).
promise under the spiritual theocracy is like that
under the Jewish, Deut. xxxi. 6. There is more
energy in u for he himself hath said," \_xvtc$ yig
an * n a ^ t ^le high-sounding phrases of
tignxk*2i

Seneca.

* AXXx
X7ro7/ $ofiif
t

Pcedag.

xvxyKXiov t*&

c.i. p. 164,
Barbeyrac transcribes the whQle of the passage,

T^op^i

M.

&Xi Tt y ivfcoXd fi^ariv, tov xelov, iyJr,Xvvzriv,

ry ttv^ to T^otytpoi, v$ to

ovisSoj yivio-Qxt $cvviz 9

1. ii.

CHAPTER

248

IV.

Alexandrinus does not blame fine bread because


of

delicacy, but because of

its

food.

It

is

its

unfitness for

of no consequence whether his

theory of aliments be just or erroneous

may have been mistaken

he

in adopting a vulgar

opinion, but the conclusions which he draws

from

are not unreasonable.

it

" The use of foreign wines."

8.

hardly deserved a place in


but such as

logue

look
his

it

own

for,

it is,

Mr

This

article

Gibbon's cata-

Seneca did not over-

while enumerating the luxuries of

age,

he mentions " wine of

and of various nations


Clemens Alexandrinus, though

different

vantages,

a primitive

Father, speaks very reasonably on this subject.

he w Chian wine be not

hand,

we

44

If," says

4<

ought not to be

44

come from God's vineyard, and any sort is


enough for a temperate guest ; and why

44

solicitous

about

at

All wines

it.

in his notes, Morale des Peres, c. v. 13. ; but


44
II
he translates only part of it. His words are
" met au rang des exces de bouche condamnable,
44
Pusage du pain blanc c^est, dit-il, effeminer et
44
tourner un alimetit necessaire en opprobre de
" vo/upte.^ This is not a full, and, perhaps, it is
not a fair translation, even of the abridgement of
Clemens Alexandrinus for the French word volupte^
in its most common sense, is much too forcible for
the corresponding word in the original.
:

46

Tot Consulum regionumque vina," Epist 115.

CHAPTER
H may not the wine of
*

24:3

XV.

own

his

country

satisfy

him*:"

Here there

nothing of that pious indigna-

is

mentioned

tion

by

Mr

Gibbon.

Clemens

Alexandrinus does not condemn the use


foreign

when they

wines,

can be had

of

but

when such cannot be ha J, he censures those


who fastidiously reject the wine of their own
country.

* Public salutations."
sures the fashion

Seneca severely cen-

of frequenting the levees of

the powerful and the wealthy


frivolous visits f

* M

(ri{f4.7F#Fn

*j7re%?vi

Ti%<(>id<;

c. 2.

p.

7rciynov/}Tz6v,

and of making

and he even censures morning

aroAwr^flty^td*)}TSi

- rAKp^OVi
1. ii.

twjv

rot omov tc* X<v, uv ar*.

Givog ti$, iffy yioj^yiov QzX ---Ti yot^ rnt


i7ft7ir>.Y,^C'}jen

84. 183.

Trp I7ridv,utuy.

Pcedag.

The Greek

phrase a ttcXvanswers nearly to the colloquial phrase

English, " there is no need to make much work


M about it."
The word ro^a-org?, is translated
14
guest," because there occurs not any word in the
English language which conveys the exact notion of

in

T his is singular in a nation composed of


Clemens Alexandrinus says, " all wines come
*? from God's vineyard."
The reader will remark^
that in this passage there are metrical numbers j and,
therefore, it is probable that here the author, as on
numberless other occasions, alludes to seme passage
n a Greek poet.
rvun6Tt&.

clubs.

De Ere vita te

c. 33. 34%

and no

vltae, c.

14.

d. Eenefkiis,

1.

vu

These passages are very circumstantial^

less curious,

CHAPTER

250
salutations at

temples #

IT.

Had Clemens Alexsn-

drinus spoken in the like style, the example of

the

have afforded some

might

philosopher

apology for his pious indignation

but some-

thing very different was meant than that which

M.

Barbeyrac

"

calls

de vue," and

se saluer

which Mr. Gibbon inadvertently renders " public


44

salutations."

Clemens Alexandrinus

"
44
4

kiss"
it is

mentioned

in

of " the holy

says,

St Paul's epistles, " that

not by the use of that ceremony, but by

the demonstration of good will, that

" to judge of

real Christian love

we

are

that nothing

44

bred more disturbance in the church, than

44

that

4*

of the real benevolence of the heart

ceremony did when used by persons void

44

the

44

scandal

44

kiss
\

afforded ground for


that

it

was

Paul denominates

exceptionable

it

much

mystical,
holy."

that

abuse and

and hence St

All this

is

un-

and the inference which Cle-

mens Alexandrinus seems

to

draw from

it is

* " Quomodo sint dii colendi, solet praecipL


H Vet emus salutationihus matutinis fungi, et foribus
44
humana ambitio istis officiis
assidere templorum
:

44

capitur.

Deum colit qui novit,"

Epist. 95.

his

one example, out of a thousand, of the state of


the Heathen world. The philosophers saw, despised,
and derided the superstition of the people , and yet
they did not attempt to introduce any thing better
is

in

its

place.

CHAPTER

251

IV.

the ceremony ought to be limited to

this, that

the assemblies of the Christians

the celebra-

at

tion of their mysteries or secret religious

ship

and that

Then he

gravity.

adds that remark, which

Mr

Barbeyrac

first,

and

after

him

thought

to detach

from

his general

fit

wor-

ought to be performed with

it

Gibbon, have

argument

44

But Christians

"

smallest portion of divine grace,

a foolish forwardness, they salute each other

*'

in the public ways, so as to ivish to be remarked


Let any one who underby the Heathens # ."

"

are not partakers even of the

Greek, judge whether

stands

this

when, with

be the lan-

guage of fanaticism, or of sound reason and


prudence, and then

Mr

of

warm

Ayxvrvi

bath,

%k

5s

AA'

whether Barin misleading

sv

whether natural or

QiXr uetri #AA'

iv

q>lXY} UUTl

JJ

Here Seneca

exclaims against every


artificial,

svvoix xptvirxi*

It

Y-XTX'^0$%?1 TXg ZKItXwiXC, T$

iv^ov

xio-%xg

%pirQeti it* OiXnfixrt,


kikXyiksv

xxrx rxg

KC&(

TXTO ZX-

xui /ZXxrQnpiag to

xvxiow

%k i%6VTi$ xvto,

v7T6Vdioc$

jr89rAjj*5

mvto

He

patience.

all

*s*

ptXxv

say,

blame

" The use of warm baths."

9.

},

him
to

Gibbon.

loses
sort

let

much

beyrac was not

edvg

<>7rz

zivxt

Atto?o\os+ k. t.

xyxirnroM

yx(>

'ksti

f&vertxw.

xXXx

XT7rx7^oi,

%xirc$.

Pcedag.

L5L

c.

KXt

ot

Trx^rtxg xvonT*

yzuovrzg, JccLTotQxwv roig ix-rog tivxi fivMuiv&v,

fim%xn

*AF ION

vhiXu%ifK

11. p. 301.

CHAPTER IT.
dry *.
And here, which is not

252
whether wet or

always the case, he confirms his precepts by

kite

own

he,

6t

example.

Throughout

have avoided

warm baths f "

in his

It

says

seems that,

younger days, he frequented the school

of Attalus the philosopher

among

life/'

from him he

other things, to love poverty.

learnt,

On

his

return into the world, he continued to practise


a few of the lessons which Attalus had taught

him, and particularly that of abstaining from the

warm

use of the

As

oysters %.

* " Q?'l &

cum

bath, and

to

from the eating of


" the love of poverty," wfe

n * cura

* st * s

calentibus stagnis

quid

quae siccus vapor corpora ex" hausturus includitur ?V Epist. 51. " Ubicunque
sudatoriis,

in

" scatebunt aquarum calentium

venae, ibi

nova

di-

excitabuntur," Epist. 89.


I
translate this for the benefit of my unlearned readers.
<6
Where ever there are new watering-places, there
" will be lodging-houses and ordinaries."
This
'*

versoria

great truth

luxuriae

is

foretold in elegant Latin.

f " In omnem vitam balneum fugimus,"

Epist.

108.

J "

Cum vero commendare

paupertatem cceperar,
quicquid usum excederet, pon** dus
saepe
esset super vacuum et grave ferenti
" exire e schola pauperi libuit.
Inde mihi quae" dam permansere, Lucili. Magno enim in omnia
" impetu veneram
deinde ad civitatis vitam reduc-

"

et ostendere,

quam

"

ex bene

tus,

108.
1

cceptis

pauca servavi," Sec. Epist,

CHAPTER

not well what became of

know

'255

IV.
it ;

in

all

like-

it became purely Platonic.


" The practice of shaving the beard."
Seneca says, u while occupied in the smoothing
M and polishing of our bodies, we extinguish

lihood,
10.

" any spark


4<
manners
u

With what

cally,

may

that

yet remain of virtuous

propriety," exclaims he, ironi-

men

" can those

be said to have nothing

" to do, who, every day, have

many hours

to

44

get rid of with their barber, while each single

<4

hair that

4<

the night before,

He

may chance

asks,

What

any smooth surface


placed before

one

it ?

is

is

to

reflecting objects that are

His

first

" Not surely that

to pluck at our beards,

4i

u
c.

have sprung up, since

cropped f ?"
the use of mirrors, or of

answer

is

a negative

we might be

enabled

and polish the face of

man % !"

* " Adhuc quicquid est boni moris extmguimus,


corporum." Nat. Quaest. 1. vih

lsevitate et politura

31.

f ' Quid illos otiosos vocas, quibus apud tonsorem


M multae horae transmittuntur, dum decerpitur si
u quid proxima nocte succrevit ?" d. Brevitate
vitaef
c.

12.

X " Non in hoc, scilicet, ut ad speculum barbam


" faciemque [f. faucesque] velleremus, aut ut faciem
" viri pohremus," Nat. Quaest. 1. L c. 17.

CHAPTER

254
4

"

IV.

nice and effeminate person speaks

44

dainty language, such as they use

k(

out their beard, or

44

smooth about

4i

it

their lips,

shave

Mr

-Let

Gibbon

4*

practice of shaving the beard

is,

4t

the expression of Tertullian, a

44

own

44

the works of the


c.

faces,

23.

pluck

and rub

it

and leave the rest of

the philosopher.

far

hear the Montanist.

"

who

it,

down

stroked

Thus

who

ha

us

says,

now
64

the

according to

lie

against our

and an impious attempt to improve


Creator,

d.

Spectaculis,

,?

Tertullian abounds

but that ascribed to

in

extravagant

him by Mr Gibbon

fancies,
is

none

against public shews,

Ter-

of them.

While declaiming
tullian uses

some expressions which

Mr Gibbon

seems to have misunderstood.


It is difficult, in a literal translation, to

intelligibly into English, the

% " Delicati hominis tenera

render

harsh and obscure


et

fluxa oratio est,

qui aut vellunt barbam,


46
aut intervellunt, qui labra prorsus tondent et abra" dunt, servata et submissa csetera parte," Epist. 114.

44

quod vides

istos

sequi,

my version does not exactly describe the


One thing is reelegant trimming of those days.
markable } Seneca seems to ascribe the decay of
eloquence to shaving, while he himself, with his
rough Stoical beard, contributed more, by his own
example and authority, to that decay, than all the
Perhaps

smooth chinned coxcombs of Rome.

CHAPTER
language* of Tertullian.

IV.

255

The

following para-

may be thought to express his meaning.


Can he be acceptable in the sight of God,
who uses a rasor to make himself appear different from what he is ? Such a man is unfaithful towards his own countenance, not

phrase
*4

<4

**

}\

" only by disfiguring it, but also by subjecting


u it to contumely for he shaves his head that
" he may personate bald Saturn and his chin,
:

he may personate the goddess

6t

that

the young Bacchus

" crous

exhibitions,

44

buffoon

his

Isis,

he assumes the guise of a

and submits

cheeks smitten,

to the insult of
as

if

having

he meant to turn

'*

into ridicule that precept of our Lord,

"

that smiteth one. cheek, offer the other *J1

This paraphrase may appear


telligent

It

is

the practice of shaving

To

it

him

it

deviates

original.

plain, that Tertullian does not

the letting

to

free, but the in-

reader will judge whether

from the sense of the

and

and, moreover, in ludi-

the beard, as

speak of

opposed to

grow.

have a smooth chin might be necessary

* " An Deo
placebit, qui vultus sues nova" cula. mutat ? Infidelis erga faciern suam, quam
" non contentus Satumo, et Isidi, et Bacchc proxi" mam facere, insuper contumeliis alaparum objicit,
" quasi de prsecepto Domini laudat, [1. ludat],"
Sncctaculis,

c.

2 3.

CHAPTER

256
for

IV.

one who represented the character of

or Bacchus

but Tertullian, however

his imaginations were**

that

it

Isis

absurd

could not have supposed

was necessary that

man

should shave

his beard for qualifying himself aptly to repre-

sent the character of old Saturn.

We

must grant, that Clemens Alexandrinus

condemns the
This

is

not

of shaving' the beard.

practice

strange in an author

Greek philosophers

who had

constantly before his eyes

yet he permits that trimming of the


against

the

which Seneca

beard,

so pathetically declaims.

Besides, if any one will take the pains of ex-

amining the Poedagogus,

b.

iii.

c. 3.

he

will

perceive that Clemens Alexandrinus treats of

unutterable enormities which, in his days, were

connected with the fashions condemned by him.

The

persons of

whom

he speaks, ministered to

the abominations of wretches,


4f

love," that I

may

" whose

use the civility of

taste in

modern

language, " whose taste in love was not alto-

gether correct."
If,

in our days, there

were a particular dress

appointed by custom to courtezans, he would


not be termed a severe moralist
censure virtuous

and shewing
II.

The

women

who

should

for assuming that dress,

false colours.

only remaining article in

Mr

Gib-

CHAPTER
bon's catalogue

is,

257

IV.

" the prohibition of the use

" of any colour except white."


Here,

it is

Mr

probable, that

which

to a passage in

use of wool in

Gibbon

natural colour

its

alludes

Tertullian argues for the

the Divinity had thought

fit

because,

if

wool should

that

have been purple or sky-blue, he would have

The

created sheep of those colours *.

which contains

this

"of a deplorable disorder of mind

Gibbon

relies

treatise

rhapsody, bears other marks

on such

a passage,

and

if

Mr

from such a

work, for proving the opinion of the primitive


writers,
it

and the practice of the primitive church,

must be allowed that

his

proof

falls

wonder-

fully short of the charge.

Clemens Alexandrinus
<fc

plain raiment

*'

clear

piety f

'

is

consciences
)

says, that

" white and

the most consonant to

men

of

and of genuine internal

and that white

is

the best colour for

the peaceable and the illumined

J."

* u Quis enim est vestium honor ju'stus, de adul" terio colorum injustorum ? Non placet Deo quod
" non ipse produxit, nisi si non potuit purpureas et
" aerinas oves nasci jubere," d. Cultu fceminarum,
l.i.

j-

c. 8.

Txg

u7ritzyois

c.

Xtvxxsy

xxi 8

c&pftcdwTccTov

vc$%s

ujwi

rot,

sv^ay,

%PTtcrQoti.

Xzv>tectg x.ai

Pcedag.

10. p. 234^

vo XiVKov.

Pcedag. Liu.

c.

11. p. 285.

1. ii.

CHAPTER

With

Clemens Alexandrinus,

respect to

Christian author,

IV.

as

<r

matters not whether this

it

opinion he shallow or profound, dull or ingenious, sense or nonsense

and accompanied with


words of Plato #
at

it is

mere Platonism,

a quotation in the very

so that, as to this particular

we may hope

least,

for

to hear

no more of

the

pious indignation of the Father, in his preference

of

to all other colours

ivhite

from an
taste,

he did but copy

original which, according to the present

unexceptionable.

is

Seneca does not enjoin the use of white gar-

ments alone to

his

contemporaries

neither

could he, without introducing confusion into the

Rome,

customs of

ttXi&v

Mwce&i
s<p'ij

i^ycv

7rpoTz^i

7rez7rcvTci

av

Bxf/.uzTsi

fi&r}

The

lb.

runs thus

"Tcpjjy t

V$n. fiZjUU0ZTC6

<$Z

well

yvvxiHOs

tn^ver^n,

xdrf&np&ret.
:

civil as

U'/j

as religious.

y^oo^artA

!)i

aXXedi. Xiya, xxt

iv

<rv$po\<ic.
xcti

But

'^wrpSfjuf, ccXX n 7Tpo;

rot,

ttoXiux

corresponding passage in Plato


7rXiov tgycv yvvottx.o$ p-iscs

T^drpi^ilV, OiXX'

7}

7rg<iS Tot,

zupwov*
vroXipv

Republics, 1. xh\. p. 691. edit. FicinL


The learned reader will observe, that Clemens
Alexandrinus has interpolated the virtuous woman

TiotrpifA.aTot,

d.

from the Old Testament, and ??wral comeliness from


the New j but that, as to the rest, he quotes Plato,,
and argues analogically from the sentiments of that

What follows in Plato well deserves


the attention of those who imagine, that trifling is
the peculiar attribute of the primitive Fathers,

philosopher.

CHAPTER

259

IV.

of the enormities which afford topics for

many

the eloquence of that philosopher, have been


altogether overlooked

such

as, 1.

The

by the primitive writers

use of any transparent substance

corresponding to the glass-windows of modern

The employing of stoves, in order to


keep chambers warm 3. The bringing of fish
alive to market
and, 4. The cooling of liquors

times

2.

*,

with

ice or

I sty
*

fc

As

snow.

to

what might be denominated glassSeneca savs, " How much do

windows."

w some persons of our times censure Scipio for


" his clownish manner of life, in not having
i(

had large panes

* bath
2dly,

" Stoves."

" be dangerously
" rooms are kept

" means of warm

u and

to

give light to his

warm

*."

chilling to

in
air

breath of

air will

him whose

eating

slight

an equal temperature by
conducted under the

floor,

diffused around the walls f."

* " Quantae nunc aliqui rusticitatis damnant Sci" pionem, quod non in caldarium suum latis specuw laribus diem admiserat," Epist. 86. that is, in
\
colloquial language, " it was shockingly ungenteel
" for Scipio," &c. On the same subject he says
elsewhere, " Quern specularia semper ab adflatu vin" dicarunt,"

d. Providentia, c. 4.

f " Cujus ccenationes subditus et parietibus cir" cumfusus dalor temper avit, hunc levis aura non
45

sine periculo stringet," d. Providentia, c. 4>


CHAPTER

260

IT.

Sdh/ 9 " The bringing of fish alive to market/


u "We were wont
to be surprized at the nice5

ty of those
i

unless

<;

less,

men who would

on the day that


the phrase

as

Hence,

i(t

way was made

ii

along, bawling,

"

>

fish

it

it

is,

not touch a

fish,

was caught, and untasted of the sea.

were conveyed by post

hence,

for the carriers, as they hurried

and out of breath.

To what

length have the refinements in good living

come That fish is now considered as stale


which was caught and killed to-day. Is he
a alive? says the Epicure. I camiot depend upon
"you in a matter of such moment ; let me have
ik
ocular demonstration
bring him hither, that I
n may see him die
4*tJrfi/) But it is on the subject of ice that Se4i

fe4

neca exerts his utmost


ic

We

4<

water so

have discovered the secret of piling up


as to

make

" summer, and defy


* "

abilities in rhetoric.

it

its

resist

the

warmth of

greatest heat,

by the

Mirabamur tantum in illis esse fastidium, ut


eodem die cap turn piscem

nollent attingere, nisi

:*

" qui, ut aiunt, saperet ipsum mare. Ideo cursu ad" vehebatur, ideo gerulis, cum anhelitu et clamore
" properantibus, dabatur via.
Quo pervenere deli" ciae is pro putrido piscis affertur, qui [nonj hodie
!

fi

eductus, hodie occisus

"

tibi credere

'{

ratur^

c.18.

ipse

Nescio de re magna
miht credani : hue affe-

est.

oportet

coram me anima?n agat" Nat. Quaest.

1.

UL

CHAPTER
*<

coldness of the repository prepared for that

and what have we got for

44

purpose

44

pains

44

purchase water,

tl

nothing*
<;

"

261

IV.

why,

is

to
for

the state of a sick person!

because he does not melt snow

our

!"

Wretched

why

all

we may be able
which we might have had

truly, that

be-

" cause he does not add to the coldness of his


4'

draught already mixed in a large goblet, by

" laying pieces of broken ice on


44

You

."
it

f
take Socrates to have been hardly dealt

a with, because he quaffed the state-poison no


44

otherwise than as a medicinal draught, be-

44

stowing immortality, and discoursed of death

44
44

arrived

till it

because his blood froze, and, a

chillness gradually

" ceased to beat.

coming over him,

his pulse

How much

more is he to
" be envied than they for whom some impure
u minister of debauchery drops snow into a gold
cup % ?"
* " Invenimus quomodo stiparemus aquam, ut ea
" sestatem vinceret, et contra aiinf fervorem defen44
deretur loci frigore.
O^uid hac diiigentia conse" cuti samus ?
Nempe Ut gratuitam raercemur
u aquam." Nat. Qusest. 1. iv. c. 13.
-f
46

"

"

O infelicem

diluit
ci

segrum quare ? quia non nivera


quiarion rigorem potionis suae, quam capa!

scypho miscuit, reiiovat fracta insuper glacie."

Ernst. 78.

44

X " Male tractatum Socratem judicas, quod illam


potionem publice mixtarn, non aliter quarn medi-

CHAPTER

262
fej

IV.

Women also, as well as men, nibble at snow,

" you doubt that such summer snow

is

<fc

Can

to give ease to their boiling stomachs *.

the

cause of obstructions in the liver f ?"


The most acute censurer of the ancient Chri-

stian writers will hardly

be able to point out in

any of them, Tertullian himself not excepted,

more

ridiculous declamations than those of Se-

neca against iced


Indeed,

liquors.

many

by passionate

things censured

moralists under the vague appellations of luxj

tiriesy

are ? in themselves, indifferent,

and are cen-

sured merely on account of their being

uncommon.

This

particulars, of

may

new

or

be shewn in the four

which Seneca has

said so

much,

and which are not mentioned by the Christian


writers in question.

"
"
"
"
"
"

c amentum immortalitatis obduxlt, et

putavit usque ad ipsam

male cum

de morte

dis-

actum

est,

illo

quod gelatus est sanguis, ac, paulatim frigore mdue to, venarum vigor constitit
Ouanto magis
huic invidendum est, quam iilis
qui bus exoletus
suspensam auro nivem diluit !" d. Providentia ?
c. 3.
The rhetorician blends nix and exoletus !
!

* " [Fceminae] feque nivem rodunt, solatium


u machi ^stuantis," Epist. 95.

f The phrase " callum obducere,"


" the cause of

obstructions.'"

very intelligible
s a physician

The

is

sto-

translated,

original

is

not

and, perhaps, Seneca's knowledge

may

here be questioned.

CHAPTER

263

IV.

In our days, every English gin-shop has more


convenient, and perhaps

more

elegant

glass-

windows, than an Emperor, or even the freed-

man

of an Emperor, had in the days of Seneca.

Throughout the northern continent of Europe,


stoves are

used in the habitation of the mecha-

The

nic as well as in the palaces of sovereigns.

Dutch boor purchases


and

of Naples,

the market

drank by the young Lazza-

iced liquors are

roni

live fish in

men

generally without house

and without home.


Should these observations serve
for Seneca,

forgives

it is

him

well

will,

as

an apology

but that candour which

no doubt, be equally indul-

gent to others, who, to say the very worst of

them, have only offended

The

case of Tertullian

of any, and yet candour

as
is

he

did.

the least favourable

may possibly find someman who, amid

thing to be urged in behalf of a


all

extravagancies, could thus express him-

his

" May we not,


" commit every thing
self.

6<

he

64

have sustained, he

is

our avenger

in long-suffering, safely

God

to
if

If our injuries,

we

the damages which

will

make

restitution

if

" our pain, he is our physician and should we


u lay down our life, it is he who can raise us
;

44

again # ."

* "

Satis idoneus

u injuriam

patientiae sequester

deposueris penes eiim, ultor est

Deus.
;

si

Si

dam-

CHAPTER

264

My

IV.

labour, in instituting this comparison be-

tween the extravagant

fancies of

Seneca and

those ascribed to some of the primitive writers,


will

have been

imagine that

ill

bestowed, should

mean

to vindicate

my

readers

any errors in

the primitive writers, by pointing out similar


errors in an eminent

Mr

Gibbon had

Heathen philosopher.

full liberty to select,

from

all

the primitive writers, whatever tended to ex-

pose them to ridicule

and

yet,

even with the

aid of the mistakes and exaggerations of Bar-

beyrac, he has not been able to produce, from


their works,

any instances of injudicious and

trifling censures

cies

of

life,

on the luxuries and convenien-

which

are not to be equalled, if not

exceeded, by the passionate declamations of Se-

neca on the like topics.

But further,

it

was in the schools of Heathen

philosophy that the Christian writers learnt to


style, which Mr Gibbon ascribes
" pious indignation." Let us be consistent,

declaim in that
to

scholars, while we extol the


they chose to imitate #

and not blame the


masters

whom

" num. restitutor est ,


" mortem, resuscitator

si

dolorem, medicus

est

si

est," d. Patientia, c. 15.

* Of this preposterous imitation many instances


might be given. The following, selected from the
works of Clemens Alexandrinus, will serve for a specimen.

That learned man attempted

to introduce

CHAPTER
After what has been

many

26|

IV.

we need

said,

Giobon thinks

"

to draw.

fit

not

make

which

observations on the conclusion

When

Mr

Christian-

was introduced among the rich and the

'*

ity

44

polite, the

14

was

4;

who were

observance of these singular laws

left, as it

would be

at present, to

the few

ambitious of superior sanctity. But

"

it is

4<

inferior ranks of

<4

from the contempt of that pomp and pleasure

always easy as well

agreeable, for the


to claim a

which fortune has placed beyond

44

The

44

that of the

virtue of the primitive


first

" ly guarded
i.

as

mankind,

merit

their reach.

Christians, like

Romans, was very frequent-

by poverty and

*. w

ignorance

577.

into the Christian religion

He

many

of the Stoical para-

ought to be
exempted from passions, and that persecution is not
an evil. ^Efawgsrw* x^x rov Vv&ruco* y^uiv Kxi tiXugv, X7rc
doxes.

VWtrtS

asserts, that, the Christian

-$/V%iX,% 7TX.G*q.

JJ

f;V

yxc

yv&)7it 9 crvvxG-x.rt 7iv. V

cv-

4ziXV i^/X^iTXi, Ui~0lQ7TxQiiXV. X7TX$s(XV 2; X.X(?7T%TXl 7T0lV~


t;A>;j

rm

vjrtGvfjuc&$

Tovta Qivy&Ti
p&tni

There

s/;

i'jyav.'
is

vlhakh*

TJfV
v,*

xXXw

r.

much more

Stromat.

vu

a% w KXKoy
z

Stiomat.
to

1.

c. 9. p.

777.

to "hivxitrbxt

Tret-

10. p. 597.
the like purpose.
But we
1.

iv.

c.

have not so learnt Christ


* The comparison between the primitive Christians and the first Romans, might afford a wide field
and it might be shewn, that the word
for criticism
ignorance, with which the period concludes, is egre:

giously misapplied.

CHAPTER

266

One should

IV.

suppose from this conclusion, that

the use of false hair, of

warm

baths, and the

practice of shaving the beard, and the like,

were

things appropriated to the opulent, and that

they were placed beyond the reach of the inferior ranks of

And

mankind.

another inference,

might be drawn from

by the primitive

writers

it,

more

still

on the subject of sup-

posed luxuries, was aimed against the


tions in

singular,

that every thing said

gratifica-

which the Heathens indulged, and had

nothing to do with the manners of the Christians themselves.

Mr

Gibbon

he

forgets that

treating of a

is

period which comprehends two hundred years,

and

that his inferences are

.who lived
find

it

in

difficult

drawn from authors

the third century

with what he afterwards

and he

will

what he

says here

says, p. 591.

596. of

to reconcile

the wealth of the church, produced by the oblations of believers.

Mr

Gibbon thus proceeds

" The chaste

se-

4t

verity of the Fathers, in whatever related to

fc

the commerce of the two sexes, flowed from

*'

the same principle, their abhorrence of every

enjoyment which might gratify the

setisual,

man.

and degrade the

4t

was their favourite

6C

preserved his obedience to the Creator, he

spiritual nature of
opinion, that if

It

Adam had

CHAPTER

267

IV,-

" would have lived for ever in a state of .virgin


" purity ; and that some harmless mode of vege-

u
<fc

might have peopled Paradise with a

tation

race of innocent

and immortal beings,"

i.

577,.

578.

Mr Gibbon adds, in a note, " Justin M. Greu gory of Nyssa, Augustin, &e. strongly incli4

ned

to this opinion."

The

opinion of Gregory of Nyssa, of

Au-

gust in, or of any other Christian writer

who

lived after Christianity

by law, cannot enter


as to the causes

came

into

Mr

to

be established

Gibbon's inquiry

of the rapid progress of our re-

ligion *.

an author to conceal his faeven when decency requires

It is difficult for

vourite opinlonsy

* By the aid of Barbeyrac, I have discovered the


sentiments which Augustin entertained on this sub-

Although absurd enough, they do not seem to


as Mr Gibbon ascribes to him.
See Morale
des Peres, civ. 32.
I have lately discovered^
that a very ingenious person has made the same observation, and has pointed cut a want of accuracy in
that historian, whom he admires.
In the same critique^ he says something of sarcasms, which is singular enough.
The treatise here alluded to, ought to
have been intitled, " Essays on female celibacy."

ject.

be such

Its present title

written, as

may

is

much

too ludicrous for a treatise

be presumed, with a grave purpose.


As to the opinion of Gregory of Nyssa, I have also,
searched Barbeyrac, but cannot discover iu

CHAPTER

StirS

some

reserve, or

from being very


Writers,'

who,

it

IV.

when prudence

him

hinders

But the primitive

explicit.

down

seems, laid

the law to

ail

other Christians, could not have been deterred

from publishing

a favourite opinion

considerations.

Yet

has not pointed out,


first

so

among

Mr

Gibbon

the writers of the

three centuries, any thing of that kind, ex-

cept in a passage of Justin


fers

by any such

that

is,

it

without quoting

The
which

Mr

to

which he

between sensual and

distinction

made by

M.

Gibbon

re-

it.

spiritual^

ascribes to the Fathers,

was

certain heretics, called Encratitce^

and

afterwards

by Marcion, and the

visionaries

who

followed his opinions.

A plain man, on
chapters

perusing the

first

and second

of Genesis, would not have ascribed

the holy union of the sexes to man's disobedi-

ence

and, on hearing the positive declaration

of our Lord, he must have concluded that marwas in the beginning #


riage

But, unhappily, there arose in the Christian

church many persons

who

not only above what was

what was written

and

affected to

be wise,

written, but also against


I

doubt not that some

one or other of those persons might have uttered the extravagancies which
* Mattli.xix.4.

Mr

& 8.

Gibbon

is

plea-

CHAPTER
se.

to

269

IV.

number among the favourite

the primitive writers

opinions of

*.

To return from those visionaries to Mr Gibbon He says, " the use of marriage was per" mitted only to the fallen posterity of Adam,
:

6i

as a necessary

" man

species,

expedfent to continue the hu&c.

The

on

44

thodox

66

trays the perplexity of

casuists

" prove an
44

this interesting subject, be-

institution

pelled to tolerate f "

Of

hesitation of the or-

men, unwilling to apwhich they were com-

i.

578.

author of this unexampled absurthe


woman-hater, introduced into his Plippolytus, a complaint and remonstrance against the gods on this
Sir Thomas Brown, as every one knows,
subject.
repeated it ; and our great poet dignified it by his
dity,

the

first

know nothing. Euripides, surnamed

lines,

" O why did God,


" Creator wise," &c.

The satirical declaimer, the humourist, and the offended husband, satisfied themselves with proposing
an improvement on the works of Providence
But
the Fathers of Mr Gibbon went farther, and conjectured that man was created anew by reason of
:

the fall

f This is borrowed from Barbeyrac " La verite


" est, que les Peres de I'Eglise regardoient du moms
" implicitement le desir du mariage, second ou pre" mier, comme ayant par lui meme quelque chose
:

*' d'impur,
et qui tient de la corruption de notre nau tare,
lis n'osoienfc cependant avouer la chose

zs

CHAPTER

270

IV.

It is saidj in illustration^ that


44

Africa -permitted

"

their bed, and gloried

44

rity.

This new

" only
*

priests

church."

i.

and deacons to share

in their unsullied pu-

species of

introduce

to

" the virgins of

new

martyrdom served
scandal

into the

579.

Much attention has

been bestowed in height-

ening this picture with the warmest colours

but it seemed unnecessary to transcribe any


more of his narrative than what might serve to
render the subject intelligible.
Mr Gibbon
"
adds, in a note that
Bayle has amused him>

u
u

%i

self

and

his readers

on

this

very delicate sub-

Bayle treats of very delicate subjects,

iect,"

tout eminent, d'autant plus qu'ils falloit eloigner

soupcons de conformite avec les Montanistes"


-Peut-etre meme Que ces heretiques pressoient
" les Peres par des consequences tirees de ce qu'ils
" etablissoient eux-memes au sujet des secondes no" ces, et les reduisolent par la a la necesslie de faire,
les

" par rapport aux premieres,

et aux secondes, ces


pen d'aCcord au fond avec ieurs idees."
Morale des Peres, civ. $ 31.
Mr Gibbon might, without any impropriety,
make an elegant paraphrase of the rustic French of
Barbeyrac. It were to be wished, however, that he
had adverted to this circumstance, that Barbeyrac
spake of the opinions of Jerom and others, who, li4;

aveus

si

ving after the civil establishment of Christianity,,


could not, by their doctrine and writings, have either retarded or accelerated

establishment*

its

progress before that

CHAPTER
with very

little

His language

delicacy.

man

that of a well-bred

271

IV.

and the

which he amuses himself and


that
6i

Mr

new

topics

on

readers, are

his

not always judiciously chosen.

not

is

It is

from him

Gibbon has borrowed the phrase of

species of

his second

Mr

martyrdom."

Gibbon, in

volume, bestows the epithet of

The

Malicious on Bayle.
In the notes, Cyprian, Epist.
the voucher for this fact

from

natural inference

it

iv. is

quoted as

and, no doubt,-the
is,

that towards the

middle of the third century, the

priests

and dea-

cons of the numerous churches of Africa were


either crazy fanatics,

fit

only for a mad-house,

or luxurious hypocrites, well deserving a place


in a

house of correction.

He will

think himself indebted to

me

for obhe has relied on the good


faith of others ; and that he has not consulted
the original authority For there is not a single

serving, that here

word

in the

4th

epistle

of Cyprian and his bre-

thren to Pomponius, importing that any priest

was even suspected of the indecent extravagancies

led,

with which

Mr

Gibbon, being himself mis-

amuses his young readers.

One deacon

was suspected $ and him Pomponius, before he


had consulted with Cyprian, prohibited from
the exercise of his sacred functions.

did

Mr

Gibbon speak

Why then

so positively concerning

CHAPTER

272

IV.

the priests and deacons of Africa

It

to the eyes of another,

see, in the

works of Cyprian, what

found there

was because

who

he trusted

and thus attempted to

chose to

not to be

is

fix

an

in*-

discriminating stain on the African ecclesiastics.

ohvrh^m Id ^r^ri'wQ^
be said of an historian who should
,

What would

Queen Anne,

observe, that in the reign of

lawyers

at

the English bar were

infidels,

Toland, a lawyer, wrote in that reign


in the reign of

George

London employed

I.

priests

the

because
or that,

the booksellers of

and deacons of the

church of England to write against Christianity,


because, in that reign, Woolston, a

man, published
of Jesus
It is

" fined

his rhapsodies

mad

clergy-

on the miracles

added, "

The

sensual connection was re-

into a resemblance of the mystic union

*6

of Christ with his church, and tvas pronoun-

*f

ced

to be indissoluble either

by divorce or d-eathP

This extraordinary proposition


ported by any
quire

authorities

and yet

is
it

not sup-

would

some very strong evidence indeed,

re-

to per-

suade us, that in the former case the primitive


writers directly contradicted our Lord,

the latter, St Paul

* Matth.

and in

*<

xix. 9. \ Rom. vii. 1. 2. $ i. Cor. vii. 39,


the similitude of marriage and the mystic union
of Christ with his church, the fair conclusion is, that

From

CHAPTER

IV.

273

4
The practice of second nuptials was brand" ed with the name of a legal adultery; and
*

who were

guilty of so scandalous

fc<

the persons

44

an offence against Christian purity, were soon

i(

excluded from the honours, and even from

4J

the alms, of the church."

" See

a note,
*

Martyr to Jerome,

"

c iv. 6.-16."
M. Barbeyrac, on

that

my

things,

of

is

Mr

in the

added in

from Justin

Morale

des Peres y

578.

i.

substitute

There

a chain of tradition,

this occasion, serves as

Gibbon, so

it

is

the

him
Some

against

argument must be directed.

however, ought to be observed

in-

the

entrance.

The opinion of seven or eight individuals^


who lived in different ages and countries, can
hardly form a chain of tradition."

As

to

" the chain of tradition"

after the es-

tablishment of Christianity by law,

Mr

connected with

it

is

not

Gibbon's subject, or with,

the purpose of these observations.

And with
who

writers

regard to the opinions of Christian


lived before that cera,

haps, appear in the

sequel, that

may, per-

it

Mr

Gibbon

adultery or wilful desertion, dissolves marriage, not


is indissoluble 3 and the case, of the
death of one of the parties, has no concern wiOi

that marriage

that mystic union, of


if

he understood

it

which

not.

Mr

Gibbon

so speaks as

CHAPTER

274

IV.

own

reading,

impartial judgement, than

on hasty

ought rather to have relied on

and

his

own

compilations

his

made by Barbeyrac

in the heat

of

controversy.

Thus much having been premised,

amine the

let

tion forged

by Barbeyrac.

According to

Mr

Gibbon, the

first

testimony

to the unlawfulness of second marriages

found
It

us ex-

different links in this chain of tradi-

in Justin

is

to

be

Martyr.

happens, however, that in the 4th chapter

of Morale des Peres , Barbeyrac does not quote

Martyr

Justin

at all.

In another passage, indeed, he quotes some

words of a fragment on

he

Justin
it

to

which
work of

the Resurrection,

willing to acknowledge as the

is

Martyr *.

But that quotation, supposing

have been rightly interpreted by Barbey-

condemn marriage

and

surely an heretical tenet of the Encratitay

and

rac, tends to

afterwards of Marcion,

from the

principles

Christians
that the
Justin

M.

altogether

had no countenance

or practice

of

orthodox

This affords a presumption,

at least,

work quoted by Barbeyrac had not


for

its

author

at

any

rate, the pas-

sage proves too much, and therefore

it

will not

serve for the decision of the present controversy.

* Morale des Peres,

c.

ii.

|*

~,

CHAPTER
**

275

IV.

Irenaus" says Barbeyrac, " speaks of the

Samaritan woman as being a fornicatrix, beM cause she had married many times
But

<c

there

nothing

is

in the

words of Iremeus which

he supposed the Samaritan

implies, that

wont

to have been

to

woman

marry one husband

after

of another \ ; or that he understood


the words of the gospel in any other sense than

the decease

that in

which Jerome and every other commen-

tator of note understand

them.

Barbeyrac has made a large commentary on


a passage in Athenagcr a

which,

it is

imagined,

condemns second marriages.


Every one conversant
quity,

knows

particulars,

who

in

ecclesiastical anti-

many

that Athenagoras was, in

an ill-informed Christian, and one

blended Platonic notions with the doctrine

of Scripture

so that his sentiments as to second

marriages, be they what they will, cannot go a

* M
u

trice,

St Irenee traite la

pour

s*estre

Samaritaine de Fornieamariee plusieurs fois" c. iv.

14.
-f-

u
44

" Miserante Domino Samaritange illi praevariquae in uno viro non mansit, sed forni-

catrici,

cata est in multis nuptiis."

edit.

Adv. Hseres.

iii.

IT.

Massuet.

% C.

xxviii.

p.

223. 226.

edit.

Lindneri.

that place there are some notes worthv

At

of peru-


CHAPTER

276
great

way

forming

in

this

IV.

mighty chain of

tra-

dition

Although we should leave Barbeyrac


session of an obscure authority*,

scure writer,

we

in pos-

from an ob-

cannot allow him to found his

proof on the authority of Theophllus^ Bishop of


Antioch,

whom

he has egregiously mistransla-

ted.

Theophilus

says, that

the union of one

**

served;" that

is,

" among the Christian^

man and one woman

is

in opposition to the received sense of the

pohjgamists

may be

said of all Christians at

slate the phrase Qufoiyctpj* n^srra*] thus

Christians, as such,

**

than once

or,

j"

cond tune f ?
shall

we

Barbeyrac

He

that

Much might he said for

ras speaks of

not to

marry a

understood Greek

say of such a translation


says,

" The

take care not to tnarry mors

u are sure

polygamy and

women, not of second

se-

what

Clemens Alexandrians

defines marriage to be, the

his

Barbeyrac, however, chuses to tran-

this day.

then

word

and what Theophilus said of

contemporaries,

tt

ob-

the Christians are monogamist's y

first

union which

is

shewing that Athenago


illicit connections with

marriages.

turns chiefly on the sense of the

The

question

word g^y^siv.

" Les Chretiens, comme tels se donnent garde


dhins foisP c. iv. 4.
This
colloquial form of language is imitated in the trans^
f

w de

se niarier plus

lation.

CHAPTER

contracted according to the law, between a

man and
ft

277

I'/.

woman,

for the procreating of le-

gitimate children #

and the

translator adds,

by way of inference from the words which he


puts in the mouth of Clemens Alexandrinus,
that, " according to this definition, a second union
"

is

not truly a marriage.'*'

Let us

see,

however, whether the following


" Now, mar-

be not a more just translation.

riage

the union of a

is

man and

woman,

for

" the purpose of procreating children legiti" mately it is the first [or the earliest] union
" instituted by the law of God f ."
:

The next passage quoted by Barbeyrac from


Clemens Alexandrinus, runs thus in his transla" Every one of us has liberty to marry,
tion.
according to the law, what woman he chuses ;

speak of a

first

marriage J."

* " Clement d'Alexandrie, Strom. 5. 23. definit


manage, la premiere union qui se fait selon la loi,
u entre un liemme et une femme, pour procreer des
" enfans legitimes. Une seconde union n'est done pas
" un vrai manage, selon cette definition," c. it.
15. Barbeyrac joins the first [>j Tr^fn] with union %
[o-t/v :=So:], and yet his argument seems to join it with
marriage
This he could not do openly, for
yaw, 7T#t*j. would have been false Greek.

le

vi

-f-

%&T&
C.

TotfAog uiy gv

70V VOfAOV)

l7Tt

i<,i

crwohog w-i^cg feca yv'vxucg i

yy^lUV 7iKWV

eTFOQOt.

StrOm.

1. ii.

23.

X " Chacun de nous

a le pouvoir d'espouser, selon

CHAPTER

378
I

IT.

should incline to paraphrase the words of

" Every Chri-

the original after this manner.

stian,

*c

he chuses, provided always that there be no

may marry whom

without exception,

<

impediment by the divine law,

yecpuv'].

"

sion, I

%s*t* tov vouov

In mentioning this general permis-

speak of

marriages

first

Barbeyrac appears to have understood the


passage in this

sense

" All Christians

may

marry once> but no Christian may marry twice.


It is more probable, however, that Clemens

9*

Alexandrinus alludes to the rule, which began


to prevail in his
siastics

from the

own

times, of excluding eccle-

second marriages.

liberty of

In this view, the sense of Clemens Alexandrinus will be, that

all

Christians

may marry

once, but that second marriages are not permitted to

all

for,

according to an interpretation

of Scripture then received, a bishop must be,

" the husband of one

The

wife."

only otier passage which Barbeyrac

quotes from this writer on the present subject,


is

that fanciful one, exhibiting, as

" la loi, quelle femme


" noces." c. iv. 15.
* A AX o x,x(f ZKuecv

il

veut

it

should seem,

j 'en tens

en premieres

l;iiL c. 11.

ipiov,

Tfiv

civ

fivters&i KOtTd TOV V6-

CHAPTER
3 parallel

279

IV.

between polytheism and polygamy *

and, consequently., having no relation to second


marriages.

Tertullian "

says Barbeyrac,

44

in

answering

" the accusations of lewdness brought against


" the Christians, observes, that so far from
" abandoning themselves to any thing of that

"

nature, they limited to one

44

ral

woman

use of the sex in marriage

the natu-

and, after he

44

had given himself up to Montanism, he did

41

but express the like sentiments in stronger

" words f

The

quotation from the Apology of Tertullian

is

very obscure

is

unintelligible J.

or, to

speak more properly,

Barbeyrac might have produced


sages in

44

pas-

which Tertullian condemns, and even

Strom, I. iii. c. 12.


u Tertullien, dans son Apologetique, repond
f
aux accusations d'impurete internees contre les
Chretiens, que bien loin de s'abandonner a rien d'-

tv

11

many

it

ix.7TT6}7^,

approchant, Us bornent me??ie a une settle femme


usage nature/ du sexe dans le manage.
Quand
u ce Pere eut donne dans le Montanisme, il ne fit
44
que s'exprimer plus fortement sur ce sujet." c. iv r

44

44

16.

% i Christianus ad sexiirn nec foeminse mutate*


Apol. c. 46. Here some words have been either
omitted or incorrectly copied by transcribers.

CHAPTER

280
execrates

words of
4
\

IV.

The

second marriages.
his treatise de

Monogamia

very

first

The

are,

take away marriage, the carnal men

heretics

reiterate

it

the former do not marry at

more than once *-P


By the heretics/ he is understood

all,

the latter marry

to

mean

the followers of Marcion

and there can be no


\
doubt that the phrase " carnal men/ describes
5

those
call

whom,

in

" orthodox

^common

language,

Christians," that

is,

we

should

those

who

remained within the pale of the church, instead


of following Tertullian,

who

held that Monta-

nus was the Comforter [Paracletus] promised by


our Lord

From

f.

the tenor of Tertullian's treatise de

Monogamia,

it is

plain that the Christians of his

* " Hseretlci nuptias auferunt, Psychici Ingerunt*


nec semel, illi non semel nubunt." De Mono-

Illi

gamia, in

pr.

f It was bold iii Tertullian thus to apply a phrase,


which St Paul uses to describe those who have no
right to the

name of

Christians,

-^v^tx.^ a avQ'g&7rc$

Cor. ii. 14. That


by Psychici Tertullian meant the Christians, is plain
from his own words, adversus Praxeam, c. 1. " Et
" nos quidem postea agnitio Paracleti atque defensio
" disjunxit a Psyckicis."
It may be observed, in

difczreii rot

rx UvivpxTos ra sa.

i.

passing, that Tertullian takes the divine mission of

JVIontanus for granted, and imagines that the whimof that visionary ought to give law to the Apo-

sies

stles.

CHAPTER

IV.

age, or, at least of his country, entered into se-

cond marriages without scruple or

hesitation,

and that he himself was imbued

fanaticism

and heresy.
are

In evidence of

added in a note #

in

some passages

this,

In general, they are

\PsycIiici~\ Monogamiae disciplinam in haereexprobant, nec ulla magis ex causa Paracletum


44
negare coguntur, quam dam existimant novae disci" plinae institutorem, ec quidem durissimae illis, ut
44

44

sin

44

jam de hoc primum conistendum

44

retractatu, an capiat

sit

in generali

Paracletum aliquid

tale

docu-

quod aut novum deputari possit adversus CaCi


tholicam traditionem, aut onerosum adversus levem
H sarcinam Domini ? De utroque autem ipse Domi" nus pronunciavit, dicens [1. dixit] enim, adhue
44
multa liaheo quce loquar ad vos sed noiidum po44

44

44

isse,

testis
ille

44

tendit ea

44

possint, ut

quum

portare ea i

venerit Spiritus

vos ducet in omnetn veritatem

acturum ilium quae

nunquam

rosa, ut idcirco

non

; satis

et

Sanctus^

utique prae-

nova existimari

retro edita, et aliquanto one-

edita." d.

Monogamia,

c. 2.

After having vainly endeavoured to elude the arguments in favour of second marriages drawn from the
doctrines of St Paul, Tertullian has recourse to a

desperate hypothesis

44
j

ita res

exigebant, ut [Paulus]

i4

omnibus omnia fieret, quo omnes lucrifacerat, par44


turiens illos donee formaretur Christus in ipsis, et
44
calefaciens, tanquam nutrix, parvulos fidei, docenw do qusedam per veniam, non per imperium, (aliud
H est enim indulgere, aliud jubere), proinde tempo44
ralem licentiam permittens, denuo nubendi propter

quemadmodum Moyses

14

infirmitatem carnis,

44

diandi propter duritiam cordis.

14

demus supplementum sensus istius ; si enim Chriquod Moyses praecepit, quia ab initio'

Et

repu-

hie itaque red-

* stus abstulit

Aa

82

CHAPTER

IV.

too absurd to admit of a translation, which might

offend many, and could edify none.

venture,

however, to translate one passage, which plainly

" non fuit sic, nec sic ideo ab alia venisse virtute re" putabitur Christus, cur non et Paracletus abstule" rit, quod Paulus indulsit r quia et secundum ma" trirnonium ab initio non fuit, nec ideo suspectus
H habendus sit, quasi spiritus alienus, tantum ut Deo
" et Chris to dignum sit quod superinducitur. Si
" Deo et Christo dignum fuit duritiam cordis tem" pore expleto compescere, cur non dignum sit et
*$ Deo et Christo tempore collectiore discutere }
Si
"JustuBa est, matrimpnium non separari, utique et
" non iterare honestum est. Denique apud seculum
" utrumque in bona disciplina deputatur, aliud con" cordis nomina, aliud pudiciiise. Regnavit duritia
16

cordis usque ad Christum, regnavit et inflrmitas


" carnis usque ad Parade turn. Nova lex abstulit
" repudium, habuit quod auferret \ nova prophetia,
" secundum matrimonium, non minus repudium pri-

"
"

oris,

to the like purpose,


is

quam innrmimuch more raving

sed facilius duritia cordis cessit,

tas carnis," ib. c.

X-i-.

There

is

and the tendency of the whole

to prove that the perfection of Christian morals

is

only to be found in the rhapsodies of Montanus.


Mosheim says, " Montanus was not so devoid of
u reason as to suppose himself to have been the Pa.

" raclete, or the Holy Spirit j he only asserted, that


" the Holy Spirit spake by him
But the obscure
" language of Tertuliian, who very often calls MonM tanus by that name, has been the sole cause of the
" inaccurate manner in which both ancients and mo" derns have treated this subject." [Quod vero et
veteres et recentiores sententiam suam ambigue, nec
satis luculenter expresserunt, Tertulliani unice obscu:

CHAPTER

2S3

IV.

indicates the situation of the unfortunate man's

" Dido, the Oueen of Carthage,

mind.

rise

up

in

shall

judgement against Christian women;

" for she, being a fugitive in a foreign soil, and


" about to become the chief foundress of a
" mighty state, had good reason to seek to be
<{

united in wedlock with the sovereign of the

4;

country

and yet she chose rather to burn

" than to marry


Thus speaks

second time

" whose authority

Tertullian,

w might have influenced the professions, the


ritas

effecit,

nominat

Montanum

qui

saepissime Parac/etum

quidem verba

cujus

et

sermonis

genus

imitati sunt.] d. Reb. Christian, ante Constantin.

M.

After having thus contradicted every body,


and laid all the blame on the obscurity of Tertul" All that relian's language, he thus concludes
" mains for us to suppose is, that Montanus was dis" eased both in body and mind, and perhaps might
" be charged with a pious fraud." [Hoc unum re-

p.

413.

animo hominem

corpore etiam segroeum arguere


velimus.]
And thus Mosheim unravels his whole
tveb ) for, if we suppose Montanus to have been disordered in his judgement, and suspect him of knavery, all that Tertullian and other writers have said of

linquitur, ut

credamus,

tasse

nisi

et

forte piae fraudis

him

will be abundantly probable.

* " Exsurget Regina Carthaginis,


" Christianas, quae profuga

et decernet in

et in alieno solo, et tantae

" civitatis cum maxime formatrix, cum Regis nup" tias ultro optasse debuisset, ne tamen secundas eas
" experiretur, maluit e contrario uri quam nubere^
ib> c.

17*

CHAPTER

284
6*

6<

principles,

temporaries

He
a

dition,"

though

Mr Gibbon's

and the chain breaks

his

his

con-

!"

one link in

is

IV.

and even the practice of

" chain of

at

him

tra-

for, al-

judgement be decidedly against se-

cond marriages,

his

testimony proves that the

Christians of his age held

them

to be lawful

nav more, that the doctrine of the lawfulness of

one of the marks


for discriminating the orthodox church from
the deluded and frantic votaries of Montanus.

second marriages served

And

this

as

naturally leads

mistake into which

Mr

me

to point out a

Gibbon has

fallen.

Barbeyrac charged the ancient Christian writers

with some erroneous opinions respecting

% morals

Ceillier,

and having been contradicted by Pere


he undertook not only to support, but

to aggravate his charge.

and

carelessly,

and angry

and

This he did hastily

in the style of a prejudiced

controversist, but without ascribing

to the Christians at large those erroneous opi-

nions which he partly found, and partly imagi-

ned

that

he had found,

in the

works of the an-

cient Christian writers.

Mr

Gibbon, not adverting to the distinction

between the sentiments of individuals and the


tenets and practice of the Catholic church, sup-

poses every thing that Barbeyrac reports as the

sentiment of any Christian writer, to have been-

CHAPTER

285

TV.

the doctrine admitted and established

Hence,

Christians.

for example,

he

among

says, that

second marriages were held to be " a scandalous offence against Christian purity.

4fc

We

return to the " chain of tradition." Ear-

Minudus

beyrac quotes
44

35

Felix as saying, that

a Christian either does not

" only marries once."

He

marry

at

all,

or

adds, that " in ano-

make

44

ther passage, Minucius seems to

44

cond marriage be considered as adultery # ."

Here there
cius.

The

are

two quotations from Minu-

sense of the former

and Barbeyrac himself


in

which he

is

se-

is

ambiguous

hesitates as to the sense

willing that the latter should

be

understood.

According to Barbeyrac, Minucius

u
11

a Christian

either does not

only marries once."

says, that

marry

at all,

or

This might seem to im-

ply that the Christians preferred celibacy to


marriage.

Minucius, however, means no such

thing, nor could

The
u

passage

he with truth have

may be

said

thus translated.

it.

"

willingly cleave to the

bond of one marriage,

4<

and we either

one

4<

of having children, or \ve remain in pure ce-

limit to

woman

our desire

* " Minucius Felix dit, qu\un Chretien ou ne se


" marie jamais^ ou ne se marie qifune fois, c. 31.
" II sqrnble ailleurs faire regarder les secondes noces,
"

ccmmc un

adultere^

c.

CHAPTER

2S6
4t

libacy*." This

is

said in

IV.

answer to the charge

of promiscuous lewdness brought against the


Christians

and

it

has no necessary connection

with the case of second marriages.

Minucius

probably meant to contrast the behaviour of the


Christians with that of the Heathens >

who

fre-

quently put away their wives that they might

marry again

and who, for the most

part,

neither chaste in wedlock nor in a single

The

were

life.

second quotation from Minucius does

The

not consider second marriages as adultery.

author,, speaking of the capricious varieties in

Pagan worship, says, " the wife of one hus" band hangs her garland on some statues but
" to do this on others, is permitted to her
only who is the wife of many [multivira],
and the woman who can number most aduU
teries is scrupulously sought after f
->

Every scholar knows


rites

among

officiated

one

man

the Heathens, those

who had
;

were other

that, in certain religious

women

alone

never been married unless to

but no scholar will say, that there


religious rites in

which those women

* " Unius matrimonii vinculo libenter inheremus,


u cupiditatem procreandi aut unam scimus, aut nul" lam," c. 31.
1

cl

"

f " Alia sacra coronat univira,


magna religione conquiritur, quae
teria

numerare,"

c.

24*

alia multivira, et

plura possit adid-

alone officiated

band

after the

CH APTER nr.
who had married
death of the

28T
a second hus-

first.

Barbeyrac durst not maintain such a proposition

but he laid hold of the ambiguity of the

words muhivira and adulteria^ ventured to draw


from them an " it should seem," [jl semble\ and
then

others to

left it to

make what

use of

them

they could.

common

In

who

is

language, muhivira means one

many men, and

connected with

means whoredoms.
Minucius alludes to

It

adulteria

perfectly plain that

is

women who

of marrying, to the prostitutes

never thought

who

attended

the temples of Venus.

And

therefore

hear no more of
as

it is

to be

hoped that we

this quotation

shall

from Minucius,

reprobating second marriages, or as placing

them on a level with adultery.


Origen," says Barbeyrac, lays it down for
" certain, that second marriages exclude from
the kingdom of heaven # ."

To

this I

might answer,

reasons well

**

"
u

bitable,

que

de Dieu."

That Origen, for

known, and unnecessary

* " Origene pose en


14

1,

to

be

comme une

chose indu-

les secondes noces excluent

du Royaumc

"

fait,

Nunc

vero et secundae, et tertiae,


de pluribus tacearn, repenuntur, et non ignoramus quod tale conjugium ejiciet
nos de regno Dei/' in Luc. Homil. xvii.

et quarlse nuptiae, ut

CHAPTER

283

IV.

mentioned, could not be a competent judge of


the propriety or expediency either of a

first

or

of a second marriage.
2.

That

were the

to

quote Origen for proving what

principles

Catholic church,

is

and the professions of the


to assert the

orthodoxy of

Origen.
3.

That,

opposed

as

appears from the context, Origen

own

his

sentiments to the practice of

the Christians of that age

and so

directly contradicts the tradition for

bey rac quotes

his evidence

which Bar-

it.

But another answer occurs, and that

is,

that

Barbeyrac has either grossly misunderstood, or

That learned
man, by " kingdom of God," meant

wilfully misinterpreted Origen.

and

fanciful

not u heaven," or " a blessed hereafter," but

" some transcendent and

peculiar state of glory;"

and so he explains himself in the sequel of the


Tery sentence quoted by Barbeyrac *.

M
"
"
"

* " Sicut enim ab Ecclesiasiicis dignltatibus non


solum fornicatio, sed et nuptiae repellunt, neque enim
Episcopus, nec Presbyter, nec diacorms, nec vidua
possunt esse digami, sic forsitan et de coetu primitivorum immaculatorumque Ecclesise, quae non habet maculam neque rugam, ejicietur digamus. Non
quo in aeternum mittatur incendium, sed quo parPute enim motern non habeat in regno Dei.

" nogamum
14

et virginem, et

eum

perse verat f esse de Ecclesia

qui in castimonia

Dei; eum vero qui

sit

CHAPTER

28B

IV.

Barbeyrac quotes another passage from Origen, as

if

it

condemned second

marriages.

But,

without attempting to support or vindicate the

argument which Origen


that

he

is

man who

let

me

observe,

there speaking of the case of an old


This it is which he
marries again #
.

condemns, and
in his

uses,

possibly there are worse heresies

voluminous works.

Thus have

examined

all

the passages that

Barbeyrac, in his fourth chapter, quotes from

the Christian writers

who

lived before the esta-

blishment of Christianity by law


sult, so far as

Gibbon,

is,

M digamus,

and the re-

agreeable to the hypothesis of

that an ambiguous passage in

Mr

Athen-

bonam habeat

conversation em, et
tamen non esse de Ecde eo numero, qui non habet rugam et
licet

et caeteris virtutibus polleat,

6i

clesia, et

" maculam, aut aliquid istiusmodi sed esse de sea cundo gradu, et de his qui invocant nomen Domiw ni, et qui sahantur quidem in nomine Iesu Chri44
sti, nequaquam tamen coronancur ab eo." ib.
In
tills, as in many other passages of Origen, we may
discern that desire of being wise above what is writTen, and that unhappy spirit of refinement, which
led a very learned, and, I doubt not, a very worthy
man, into numberless errors and heresies yet, notwithstanding all this, Origen was not guilty of the
extravagance imputed to him by Barbeyrac.
:

* La Morale des Peres,


In Joann. vol.

ii.

p.

295.

edit.

c iv.

LS.

" pvr* tw

Kuet.

B b

CHAPTER

290
agoras seems to

IV.

condemn second marriages

and that Tertullian,

a fanatic of the chief sect

of fanatics, not only condemns therm, but pre-

sumes to censure the orthodox Christians for

To

maintaining their lawfulness.

Mr

rities,

Of

Origen.

if

these autho-

he chuses, add that of

such materials

a chain of tra-

is

which extends through three

dition,

composed

Not

Mr

own

centuries,

satisfied

beyrac,
his

Gibbon may,

with a general reference to Bar-

Gibbon makes two observations on

He

authority.

they

says, that

who

married a second time " were soon excluded

w from the honours, and even from the alms of


" the church."

He
his

ought not to have said " soon

first

j"

for as to

observation, he might have learnt of

Barbeyrac, that the practice of excluding Digamists from the Episcopal office, had

its

origin

about the end of the second, or the beginning of


the third century *j and he might have remarked, that Tertullian ventures

orthodox Christians of

to

reprehend the

his age for suffering

Di-

gamists to preside in their assemblies f

* Morale des Feres,

c. nr.

23.

f " Digami president apud vos,"


c.

12,

It is

true

d.

Monogamia,

that Tertullian else-vhere says,

291

CHAPTER 1%
As

to

Mr

Gibbon's second observation, that

Digamists " were soon excluded from the alms


ff

of the church/'

know

not on what

founded.

from Jerom*, which he understands


sense
will,

*,

it

in

that

but be the sense of the passage what

we

is

Barbeyrac quotes a singular passage

it

cannot, with any propriety, apply the

word " soon"

to the times of Jerom, as if

he had

lived in the early days of Christianity.

Perhaps

Mr

who performed

Gibbon

widows

alludes to the

the office of deaconesses in the

who, no doubt, were supported by the contributions of the church which


they served. There might be good reason for
not allowing them to marry again
or, if they
primitive church, and

did, for

withdrawing the contributions of the

church from them.

iliar

To

illustrate this

by

a fa-

example Certain members of the Church


:

of England are governors of an hospital

they

" Usque adeoquosdam memini digamos locodejectos,"


Exhort. Castit. c. 7.
This, however, cannot afford any proof of a constant practice, especially
when we consider the former quotation from the
same author. The notes [e] and [h] by Rigaltius,
d.

on Tertullian's

treatise

ad Uxorem,

1. i.

c. 7.

well

They speak the language of


and candid Roman Catholic.

deserve to be perused.

an intelligent

* Morale des Peres,


quoted

is

contra Jovinian.

c. iv.
1. i.

21.

p. 2S.

The

passage

CHAPTER

32

Tv7 .

require that the matron of the hospital be a single


if

woman,

or a

widow

and they declare that

she marry, she shall lose her

salary

annexed to

ample,

it

and

yet,

office,

and the

from such an ex-

would be somewhat rash

to conclude,

members of the Church of England


recommended celibacy, or blamed second

that those
either

it

marriages.

298

CHAPTER

V.

In

connecting his fifth secondary cause with the


fourth^ Mr Gibbon says, " But the human cha-

" racter, however it may be exalted or depres" sed by a temporary enthusiasm, will return by
" degrees to its natural level, and will resume
" those passions that seem the most adapted to
its present condition." i. 581.

What

shall

we

say

Were

the virtues of the

primitive Christians, to which, in the preceding


section,

gress

Mr

of

Gibbon had

ascribed the rapid pro-

Christianity, merely the effects of a

temporary enthusiasm, exalting or debasing the

human

character

Surely

this

cannot be his meaning

have already seen, that he began


tions

for

we

his Disquisi-

with these solemn and serious words

Our curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire


" by what means the Christian faith obtained
*

so remarkable

"

religions of the earth.

"

obvious, but

" turned,

that

a victory over the established

To

this

answer

inquiry,

may

an

be re-

satisfactory

it

was owing to the convincing

Bb

CHAPTER

2'9i

evidence of the doctrine

"

ling providence of

God

Since then

Mr

ity, as

providence was

lete

great Author."

its

it,

and

536.

i.

Gibbon

his ruling

primary cause, a temporary

hardly be numbered

therefore,

Mr

to the ru-

was the author of Christian-

secondary causes of

But of

itself,,and

Gibbon expresses

entliusiasm can

And,

its

Y.

its

among the

rapid progress.

we may suppose
is

word Aloreover

that the

used instead of the obso-

and that

has no

it

more

connection with what went before, than an

glo-Saxon

& would have

had

in

An-

like circum-

stances.

may, the human character having


returned by degrees to its natural level, " reM sumes those passions that seem the most

Be

this as

it

adapted to

we may

its

present condition."

And now

expect to see the Christians act just as

other men, neither exalt edy by enthusiasm, above

the state of humanity, nor sunk, by the like enthusiasm, below the standard of right reason.

The

fifth secondary cause of the rapid pro-

gress of Christianity

" union and

is

said to

have been " the

discipline of the Christian republic,

" which gradually formed an independent and


increasing state in the heart of the Roman

empire
*
taire.

Vfhat

Mr Gibbon

Mr

Gibbon had

said just

paints after a sketch given by Vol" Les assemblees secrettes, qui bravoieni d'-

CHAPTER
before, explains the
dually

"

grew up

religion

And

in silence

here a question arises

discipline of the

sequence of the
degrees to
ligion

meaning of the word gra-

he observes, that " the Christian

for

295

V.

its

If the union

church were established

human

in silence

and

in con-

character returning

natural level

grew up

and obscurity."

and

if

by

the Christian re-

obscurity

and

if it

gradually formed an independent and increasing


republic
its

how

are these things consistent with

rapid progress ?

Christianity

pose of

were

Mr

its

Every

is

Yet the rapid progress of

the fact admitted, and the purto discover

what

and attentive reader

will

Gibbon's inquiry

is

secondary causes.
intelligent

observe, that, in treating of tmsjifth cause.*

Mr

Gibbon does not confine

the

his researches to

he " blends
*"
the events which
confusion

early times of Christianity, but that

"

in

eloquent

happened at different times.


Thus he observes, " The community of goods,

are said to have

which had agreeably amused the imagination


u abord, dans des caves et dans des grottcs, l'autorite des Empereurs Romalns, formerent peu a peu
" un etat dans Petal." Siecle'de Louis XIV.
* This is an expression which Mr Gibbon employs in speaking of Burnet, the author of the Theory of the Earth, i. 555. and not without cause; for,
in flowery language and bad reasoning, that work
can hardly be paralleled.

"

CHAPTER

296

"
"
"
"

of Plato,
the

was

primitive

%.

adopted, for a short time, by


Christians *."

scheme of policy

i.

was adopted

the first century."

i.

591.

"

for the use of

" The Episcopal

583.

form of government appears to have been


" introduced before the end of the first century"

Mr

* Here
" particular

Gibbon

notes, that "

dissertation,

Mosheim,

in a

common

opi-

attacks the

44

nion with very inconclusive arguments."


I have
seen, but not perused the dissertation so much slighted by Mr Gibbon.
I have perused another work of

Mosheim,

relating to

the same subject, which con-

" The vulgar opinion


" about a community of goods among Christians, is
" the rather to be exploded, as some think they have
" a handle given them by it to attack Christianity
" itself. Hence, some modern enemies of that reli" gion make it their chief study to persuade the ig" norant, that the precepts of Christ are better suit" ed to deserts, and to the sands of Lybia, than to
" well-ordered states and governments. Were that
" the case^ such precepts could very hardly, if at all,
" be considered as divine."
f Tanto diligentius vultains the following passage

garis de communione bonorum opinio exstirpanda est,


quanto multis ilia videtur aptior ad vim Christianas
religionis divinitati inferendam
recentiorum enim
religionis Christianae hostium aliqui id agunt potissi:

mum, ut rerum

imperitis persuadeant, Christi precep-

ta desertis potius locis, et arenis Lybicis,

tatibus et rebus publicis bene constitutis,

data esse

dem, pro
toriae

quod

si

civi-

accommo-

verum

divinis haberi

esset, vix, ac ne vix quipossunt. Institutiones His-

Christians Majores,

not. *.]

quam

saec.

i.

part.

i.

c. iv.

4.

CHAPTER

=Wi

V.

Such was the " mild and equal constii. 5S5.


" tution by which the Christians were governed

own

tfr Apostles:'
ftfe-fcid

fff

Asia adopted the useful institutions of pro-

vincial synods."

//w;/

hundred years after


5S6.

i.

Towards

the death

the

of

end of the

the churches of Greece and

century,

i.

" The

5S6.

office

of per-

petual presiients in the councils of each pro" vince was conferred on the bishops of the

" principal cities and these aspiring prelates,


who soon acquired the lofty titles of Metro* pohtans and Primates, secretly prepared them" selves to usurp over their Episcopal brethren
;

" the same authority which the Bishops had so


"

lately

ff

ters."

assumed above the college of Presby" The prelates of the third ceni. 589.

u tury imperceptibly changed the language of


W exhortation into that of command." i. 587.
And, to add but one example more Mention
is made of the discordant decrees pronounced
by the councils of Ancyra and Illiberis, after
the persecution which Diocletian raised against
:

the Christians, towards the


tury,

i.

Thus Mr Gibbon

of

tlie

third cen-

takes a wide view of the

Christian church from


ture state
ages, he

close

598.

*,

its

infancy until

its

ma-

and, from the history of different

draws his conclusion, That an indepen-

dent republic was gradually formed in the

Ro-

CHAPTER

29$

man

state

V.

and that the union and

of the church, became the

-fifth

discipline

secondary cause

of the rapid progress of Christianity.

One might be
ble

form of

apt to suppose, that a less

ecclesiastical

muta-

government would have

been better adapted for producing that change

wluch
bly

actually took place, than

one impercepti-

varying from a college of Presbyters to the

lofty

dominion of Metropolitans and Primates

and that the contradictory decrees of provincial


synods, such as those of Ancyra and

would have weakened,

Illiberis,

instead of strengthening,

the discipline of this great and independent republic.


It

remarkable, that during the course of

is

three centuries, there should not have been any


false

brother found to disclose this Christian

plot,

and no Heathen magistrates

enough

judicious

And

it is

vigilant

or

to receive his information.

singular,

even in our own age, an

age of fanciful theories, that the rapid progress of Christianity should be ascribed to the

Usurpations of Metropolitans and Primates.

In his preamble to the account of the origin

and progress of

this

new government, Mr Gib" the primitive Christians

bon observes,
were dead to the business and pleasures of the
world but that their love of action, which
that

" could never be entirely extinguished, soon

re-

CHAPTER
and found

new

29

V.

occupation in the

<*

vived,

C(

government of the church." i. 581.


" Dead to the business of the world/'

uncommon
first

of

expression, and therefore

endeavour to have

all,

its

we

is

an

must,

meaning

as-

certained.

By " business of the world," Mr Gibbon cannot mean " the diligent exercise of any particu"

lar calling ;" for, in

Christians were, of

With them,

that sort of business the

all

men, the most

alive.

diligence in their calling was a duty

prescribed in the most explicit terms, and enfor-

And Mr Gibbon

ced by argument

himself

admits, that, in conformity with the precepts of


St Paul, the primitive Christians were inured
to

"

((

ceconomy, and

all

the sober and domestic

virtues."
It

should seem, then, that " the business of

w the worid" implies the being occupied

in pu-

blic offices, either civil or military.

In the

some

Roman

civil

offices

state,

as

in all -other

were burdens, not

states,

benefits

and, instead of being solicited, were imposed.

The

primitive Christians could not have plead-

ed any exemption from them


ly

and undoubted-

thev must have borne their share of

* Ephes.
i&. S. 10. 12.

iv.

28.

1 Thess. iv. 11. 12.

sucli

2 Thess.

CHAPTER

300

burdens in equal proportion


the Heathens of their
It

may

own

V.
at least

with that of

rank.

well be supposed that offices of ho-

nour and emolument were rarely granted to the


primitive Christians.

The

mediocrity of their

station in life, the ill-will of the

own

their
all

Heathens, and

abhorrence of the popular worship,

serve to lead to this conclusion.

These observations, however, must be limited

more

to the

early ages

of the church

for, in

the third century, the face of things changed.

When

the Christians became more numerous,

and were strengthened, to appearance

by the

at least,

accession of the wise and the learned to

their society, they,

no doubt, mixed

business of the world" more than

in

" the

their pre-

decessors had a fair opportunity of doing

and

there are even examples of their having been

admitted into the favour and

confidence

of

Heathen Emperors.
Military offices ought to be viewed in a light

somewhat

From

Rome

different.

the time at which sovereign power at

ceased to be hereditary, the armies of the

empire gradually became


our days, there
of the

Dey to

recruit, so

empire.
1

is

its

masters.

nothing short of the dignity

limit the ambition of

was

it

Every

As, in

an Algerine

in the Decline of the

intrepid, active,

Roman

and unprinci-

CHAPTER

301

V.

pled soldier, however obscure his birth and original station,

and indeed
of those

might have aspired to the Purple-,

it is

who

astonishing to see the

number

ascended from the meanest mili-

tary offices to absolute dominion.

There could not have been any

difficulty in

finding soldiers for armies possessed of so great


influence and

power

and

natural to

it is

pose that such military service

ill

the dispositions of the primitive Christians.


bear arms in defence of the
able to their principles

chose war

as a trade, that

state,

but

sup-

accorded with

if

To

was agree-

any of them

must be ascribed to

corruption of morals, and to a relaxation of religious discipline.

Mr
ts

Gibbon indeed

sible that

says, that

"

it

was impos-

the Christians, without renouncing

racter of soldiers.

criminal disregard to the public welfare, ex-

more sacred duty, could assume the chaThis indolent, or even

posed them to the contempt and reproach of


the Pagans, who very frequently asked, what
must be the fate of the empire, attacked on

" every side by the Barbarians* if all mankind


should adopt the pusillanimous sentiments of
the new sect ?" 1. 580.
He adds, in a note, " As well as we can
judge from the mutilated representation of
Origen [1. viii.], his adversary Celsus had

CHAPTER

302

urged this
dor * "
It is to

objection with great force and can-

be presumed that

ged the objection with


dor

as

V.

as

Mr

much

Celsus did, and yet

it is

Gibbon has urforce and cannot unanswer-

able.

Or gen had no
i

stians at large

so

right to speak for the Chriit is

he, as an individual,

an evasive answer

of no

made

moment whether

convincing or only

to the objection of Celsus.

In another passage, Origen speaks of " just

wars

f,"

by which he, probably, understood

those of the defensive kind.


to

But granting him

have altogether disapproved of the use of

arms, the only

fair

inference deducible from

unlucky, that Origen should have given


argument for any
specimen of the candor of Celsus would have been
It is

a mutilated representation of the

a literary curiosity.

f Barbevrac quotes this passage immediately afon which Mr Gibbon rests his objection, Morale des Peres, c. vii. 20. not. 1.
and his embarrassment, whether real or affected, is
remarkable. He proposes this dilemma either Origen speaks of wars which are just with respect to
men, considered as such, and not as Christians or,
ter the passage

he contradicts himself ;

as, if

the last part of the al-

ternative were a thing strange and inadmissible. He


must be a poor logician, indeed, who cannot extri-

Origen, as an
from this dilemma.
honest man, is a good witness in matters of fact.}
but in matters of opinion, we cannot rely on him.
cate himself

CHAPTER
this

is,

who,

that Origen,

SOS

V.

many

in

particulars,

thought differently from the church, did, in this


opinion which sectaries of

particular, adopt an

various denominations have held.


'

The

primitive Chrisrians could not be indo-

and pusillanimous spectators of the

lent

the Cesarean empire

of

preservation of that empire


I

much doubt

Iegion y

ban

and
vet

of

was only delayed by the

calamities,

all

fate

they generally be-

the coming of Antichrist, the great-

lieved,, that

est

for

give

it is

*.

of the story of the thundering

no

credit to that

of the The-

evident from those stories, that

there prevailed

of

general tradition

many

Christians having served in the Imperial armies


lonpo before

ity

the

civil

establishment of Christian-

Mr

Gibbon adds,

that the Christians

were

" dead to the pleasures of the world."


If

by " pleasures of the world," be meant

immoral

gratifications of sense,"

reprobated, in theory at

least,

such

as

were

by the most emi-

nent of the Heathen philosophers, the observation


ral,

is

just

and since the expression

and has obtained a fixed

is

scriptu-

signification in the

* See Kurd. Introduction to the study of the


ii. 15. 19. j and Hallifax.
Serm. v. 152.

prophecies,

f Tertullian. Apol.
v. 5.

c. 5.

Euseb. Hist. Eccles.

CHAPTER

304

we

English language,

any other

ascribe

to

V.

are hardly at liberty to

it.

The- result then of the whoje, when accom-

modated

to the matter of fact,

is,

that the pri-

mitive Christians were, in a great measure, ex-

cluded from

offices

that they disliked

had no ambition

mands
It

of honour and emolument,

war

as a trade,

to

to

rise

and that they


militarv

com-

seems that such

occupied

men were

and therefore,

their idleness, or

they invented

not sufficiently

order to amuse

in

gratify their love of action,

ecclesiastical

government.

Granting, for a moment, that the primitive


Christians were not only excluded

oSces of
held

all

trust

war

civil

and emolument, but taat they

and absolutely re-

to be unlawful,

fused to bear arms

why

from

a deep-laid

it

remains to be explained,

and wide plan of

ecclesiastical

policy should have been devised, persisted in,

and executed by such men.


* "

The

of the first Christians," says


coincided very hapoily with their re" li^ious scruples ; and their aversion to an active
" life contributed rather to excuse them from the

Mr

Gibbon,

situation
*1

"

service, than to exclude

them from

<(

of the state and army.-'

i.

book demonstrates, that

in

58

the

and yet

honours
his

own

the decline of the Ro-

man empire, no rank, however


men from those honours.

obscure, excluded

CHAPTER

S05

V.

Experience does not lead us to the conclusion

which

nonites,

Mr Gibbon
instance,

for

and the people

Quakers, are debarred, by their


civil offices

and they hold

as well as offensive, to

love of action

The Me-

has formed.

all

from

war, defensive

be unlawful

never excited them

what the primitive Christians,

called

principles,

yet their

to

undertake

in circumstances

supposed to be similar, are said to have accomplished.

Mr

Gibbon,

in treating of ecclesiastical

go-

vernment, seems to hold the antiquity of what

he

calls

Episcopal Presbyters

But

know

whether the Old Dissenters of England


chuse to admit him
pacy, or rely on

as a proselyte

him

as their

not
will

from Episco-

champion

in de-

fence of the classical form,; for the controversy


in his

hands

is

equally poised.

He thinks that

the Episcopal form of government was introduced before the end of the first
century \ and as he explains himself in a note,

curing the

life

of the Apostle St John

he observes, that

in

and yet

the Epistle of Clemens^

the contemporary of St John, no


Episcopacy, either at Corinth or at

traces

of

Rome,

are

to be discovered

* Here are the words of Mr Gibbon. " See the


a Introduction to the Apocalypse. Bishops, under
the name of Angels, were already instituted in se-

c S

CHAPTER

306

My
lists

subject does not lead

in the

Presbytery

44
44

44

me

to

enter the

cause either of Episcopacy or of

neither could

my

opinion serve at

to terminate a controversy in

all

4i

V.

which wise and

of Asia." i. 534. not. 110.


He adds,
yet the Epistle of Clemens, which is probably of as ancient a date, does not lead us to discover any traces of Episcopacy eilher at Corinth

ven

cities

And

" or Rome."

We

may remark, in passing, thai here


Gibbon, admits the book of the Apocalypse to
have been written before the end of the first centu-

Mr

and that he is willing to hold the epistle of


Clemens as equally ancient. A preceding note
" The aristocrati[104.] must not be overlooked.
44
cal party in France, as well as in- England, has

ry,

44

44

strenuously maintained the divine origin of Bishops


But the Calvinistical Presbyters were im:

and the Roman Pontiff refused to acknowledge an equal. See Fra. Paulo."
It was unnecessary to quote the whale Works of Fa-

44

patient of a superior,

44

ther Paul for proving that the Pope would not acknowledge an equal but it can hardly be proved
:

from any of the works of Father Paul, that, as the


words seem to imply, the Pope did not acknowledge
the divine right of bishops.

Mr

Gibbon has not

Explained what he understands by 44 Aristocratical


44
If he means 44 the nobility,"
party in France."
it is fit to remind him, that the French Calvinists
were, in that sense of the phrase, 44 an arisrocr apical
44
44
chose who maintained Episparty :" if he means
44
copal government," then the note whl imply, that,
44
in France, the maintainers of Episcopal govern44
ment considered it to be of divine original ;" a
great truth, but which hardly deserved a place in

Mr Gibbon's

notes.

CHAPTER
learned

men have

307

V.

taken different sides

But, as

st

friend of peace, and of the religion of peace,

must

and the

see that the wisest

rejoice to

most learned of those who

differ as to

the ori-

gin of church-government, are willing to sus-

pend,

at least, their disputes

and oh, that the

armistice might continue until the brethren be,

once more, of one accord*

Indeed

this is

a season for internal controversv, while

not

Moses

and Jesus Christ, and even the First Cause,


are assailed with a boldness which will astonish
the nineteenth century, should

it

prove more

virtuous and learned than the eighteenth.


I

cannot allow myself to suppose, that, in

such times

as ours,

Mr

Gibbon meant

to revive

or inflame the controversy respecting the original form of church-government

among Chri-

stians.

Mr

Gibbon,

after

XiOiHt KOCl U<pi?.&T/iTl.

having weighed the pre-

I hclC folloWS,

tfs

Kf^GC

7i

^0<Ti-

Acts, II. 46.


Pity that this method of propagating the gos47.
pel in domestic parts were not more generally practised.
The narrative begins with -Tr^co-y.x^rt^vr^
hto$vu(/2ov sv rea ho&.
These are significant words,
and " thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine
44
hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine
" eyes > and thou shalt write them upon the posts of
u thy house, and on thy gates."
Ttu

cr&K^of&zvas

kvJ

tptpcty

T9j sfcxAjjovae.

CHAPTER

308

tensions to antiquity
scales,

and

at

on

V.

either side, drops the

once pronounces in favour of a

system inconsistent with the regimen of bishops;


as

having no diversity in

clerical rank,

and with

the Presbyterian model, as having no subordi-

" The scheme of poli" cy," says he, " which, under the approbation
" of the apostles, was adopted for the use of
" the first century, may be discovered from the
nation of judicatories,

(C

practice of Jerusalem, of Ephesus, or of

Co-

" rinth.
The societies which were instituted
" in the cities of the Roman empire, were uni" ted only by the ties of faith and charity. In" dependence and equality formed the basis of
w their internal constitution." i. 583.

Mosheim attempted

to reconcile the discor-

dant parties in the Christian church, by tracing


their various systems

mitive antiquity.

adopted

back to the times of

Mr

Gibbon appears

this theory, but

to

pri-

have

without taking notice

of some concessions which

Mosheim judged

it

expedient to make.

" The church of Jerusalem,"

" enjoyed

for a season

4f

authority.

**

of the Apostles.

This

is

says that author,

much honour and

The

Christians of Antioch

submitted their dispute concerning the


saical

great

manifest from the Acts

Mo-

law to the judgement of the church

w Jerusalem, Actsy

xv.

and

it

is

most

at

likely

CHAPTER
M

369

V.

that other churches imitated their example.

44

St Paul, although divinely called to perform

4<

the offices of an Apostle, was peculiarly stu-

44

dicus in obtaining for himself, an.I for the

" doctrines which he taught, the approbation


44

of that church, and of the Apostles, Galat.

"18.

ii.

Such

7. 8. 9.

authority,

i.

however,

4<

took

44

the church at Jerusalem, for she never affect-

its rise,

not from any thing personal in

" ed any pre-eminence over


but from

44

churches

<4

appointed by

u respecting

the rest of the

this, that

the Apostles,

Jesus Christ to judge of matters

religion, presided in that assembly.

44

Yet, to say the truth, she might, possibly, have

44

been consulted on dubious

44

the Apostles were absent

4<

rit

even wiies

For the Holy Spi-

had descended miraculously not on the

44

Apostles alone, but on

<4

professed Christ, Acts,

#t

cases,

there were

more men

at

all
ii.

Jerusalem

&c.

who

and hence

in that city than in the

other churches illuminated from above, and


" furnished with divine gifts. I doubt not that
w the Ephesian church, while St John dwelt at
4

14

Ephesus, h?vd

44

churches of Asia

like
;

and

authority
I

am even

among the
of opinion,

"

that, out

'*

an apostle had for some time presided, the

of respect to any church in which

" neighbouring churches


45

model of teaching and

occasionallv took
discipline

from her.

CHAPTER

S10
44

Nay more,

u scanty
ts

should seem to

concessions, I

am

set forth,

stirred, tne apostoli

* " Hlerosolymltj
" aliquod magna fail
" Actis Apostolorur
<e
slam suam de lag

" hujus judicio sulr


" fecisse ecclesias, vc
71*

]?V

too

in religious

matters

and on controversies being


churches, that

& churches founded


u sties themselves, we

" id tamen

make

very Willing to grant

on new opinions

that,

" being
4t

lest

V.

is,

the

taught by the Adoy;

sometime, consuit-

imefta ecclesiae per


itss ci auctoriias,

em pus

quod ex

>saicss praestantia ecclesiss

Idem
Act. xv.
Illmum est. Paulus,
nt,

d obeu

alias

divi-

Aposu-li raunus vocatus,

suamque discipli" nam Aposiolis et coecui Kierosolymitano probaret


" et commendaret, Gala- i. IS. ii. 7. S. 9. Verura
" hujus auctoritatis radix non tarn in ecclesia erat
in primis age! at, ut se

Hierosolymitana, quae

nunnram

supra

reliquas-

" eminere voluit, quam la &postolk lesu Chrisii, qui


" Hicrosolymitano coetui prcssidebant, judicesque a
*'
Christo rerum ad religionem pertinentium consti4
fciiti erant'.
Apostolos proprie consulebant, noa
" Hierpsolymitanum coetum. Quanquam, ut verum
" feteaf j et ipse hie coetus, absentibus etiam Aposto" lis, magis quam reliquas Christian Drum familiar,
" rebus in dubiis, in consilium vocari poterat. Mul" to enim plures, quam in ceteris ecclesiis, homines
u igfant Hierosolymis lumine divino aliisque don is
'* ccelestibus
instruct], qucniam non in Apostolos
" tantum, verum etiam in universum, qui turn Chri" stum ibi profitebatur, populum Spiritus Sanctus
" mirabiiiter delapsus efat, Act, ii. 1. &c. Non dii-

Granting

CHAPTER Y.
that Mr Gibbon did

611
right

in pro-

nouncing positively where Mosheim hesitated,


yet

still

must be obvious3 that the indepen-

it

dence and equality of different religious societies could never have promoted " the union of

* the Christian republic."


Mr Gibbon proceeds thus <c The want of
" discipline and human learning was supplied
" by the occasional assistance of the Prophets^
" who were called to that function without dis" tinction of age, of sex, or of natural abiii" ties and who, as often as they felt the di:

" vine impulse, poured forth the

effusions of

bito, Ephesinae ecclesia?, dum S. Johannes in ilia


M vixit, parem inter Asiaticas auctoruatem fuisse
,
M immo cunctis ecciesiis, quibus aliquamdiu Aposto44
lorum aliquis prsbfoit, hunc habitum esse honorem
u opinor, ut vicing- ab illis ecelesise decendi agendi" que exemplura interdum peterent.
Hoc etiam
" plus, nec enim praetor rem difficilis ero, largior, si
w quis velit concedam nimirum cnmibus ecclesiis
" Apostclicis, id est, illis, quas ipsi Apostoli construx" erant et erudiverant, hoc, per tempus aliquod, da;

*'

turn fuisse, ut novis forte de religione sententiis prcpositis et disputationibus

D. Reb.

commotis consulerentur/''

Christian, ante Constant.

M.

p.

153.

This work of Mosheim is little known with us \


and, therefore, it was judged proper to print the original passage at large, that it might be compared
It is no very easy task to renwith the translation.
der the verbose language of

English.

Mosheim

into tolerable

CHAPTER

312
the

V.

Spirit in tiie assembly of the faithful."

i.

583.
It is singular,

that an author,

who, no doubt,

has studied the Acts of the Apostles, and the


Epistles of St Paul, should suppose that there

was any want of discipline*


the

first

That

in the apostolical times some

discipline did exist,

common

mit, in

that

with the favourers of diocesan

form was, and whether

agitated

during the

was, in

it

its

main ques-

nature, unalterable, have been the


tions

form of

even the Independents ad-

and of the Presbyterian model.

Episcopacy,

What

in the early part of

century.

disastrous

contest?

about ecclesiastical regimen.

It

seems also to be supposed, that the

gifts

con-

ferred on the Apostles were not sufficient to supply

the want of human learning, and that something


more was necessary for the propagation of the gos-

On

pel,

this opinion,

probably borrowed from

needless to enlarge.

But

Mo-

want of

sheim,

it

human

learning, since apostolical gifts have ceased,

is

is

want indeed

to

him who proposes

or to defend the doctrines of

men

the

either to teach

Christianity.

Let

warm

imaginations think what they will, it


is fit to remind them, that they must not despise any
weapon which Providence has been pleased to put
within their reach, for opposing the assaults of unbelievers.
May this admonition, given by a layof

man, be
meant

as

candidly received as

it

is

faithfully

CHAPTER
But

the scheme of policy

to

Apostles/'

Mr

313

T.

" adopted, according

Gibbon, under the approbation of the

which " the

is

different

from every scheme

hostile disputants/' as

truly called, have at

they are too

any time adopted.

Here it behoves us to ascertain the sense in


which Mr Gibbon understands the word Projphet.

In the

New

Testament, the expression to

" prophecy/' sometimes


ing of scripture

hended the

respects the interpret-

and under

this

compre-

is

application of ancient prophecies to

evangelical events

sometimes, again,

it

respects

the foretelling of things to come, and especially of things

which were

to befall the church*.

* Mr Gibbon adds this note


" For the pro" pheis of the primitive church, see Mosheim, Dissertaticnes ad Hist. Eccles. pertinentes, torn. ii.
" p. 132. 20S." The title of the tract here re:

ferred to

is,

De

As

sertatio.

Prophetis Ecclesioe Apostolicse Dis-

that tract cannot be

by an abridgement,

it

may

made

intelligible

suffice to observe, that it

sort, aid the hypothesis of Mr Gibbon.


appears to have put a very wide sense on
the word prophecy; and even to have comprehended
under it the discerning of the thoughts of men. In

does, in

no

Mosheim

that

way he explains the difficult text, i. Cor. xiv.


Mosheim has frequently treated of the pro-

24. 25.

phets in the apostolical age, and not without some


diversity, or at least vacillancy of opinion.
For

example, he says, Institutiones Historise Christians


Majores, saec. i. part. ii. c. ii. 10. " This power

Dd

514

Mr
called

CHAPTER
Gibbon

V.

says, that

certain persons were


under the approbation of the Apostles,

to assist occasionally in the function of projjhets

66

of prophecy

is justly and universally reckoned


amongst the gifts which, by special favour from
God, were appropriated to the Christian church
in its infancy.
Every one, who laid claim to this
gift, was allowed to speak in the public assemblies ; but lest any impostor should deceive the
people, others, of whose pretensions to the character of prophets there was full evidence, performed the function of judges, and separated the true
" from the false, i. Cor. xiv. 24.
and that things
" might be the better conducted, the Apostles them" selves furnished marks by which the prophets
" whom God had inspired might be distinguished
" from those who were actuated by fancy or self" conceit, i. Cor. xii. 2. J>.* i. John iv. 1." And he
7
says, in a note, " For some reason which I cannot
f* figure, most men have persuaded
themselves that
" the persons whom the books of the New Testa*'
ment term prophets, were merely expounders of the
" scriptures, and especially of the predictions utter?? ed by God under the times of the Old Testament.
" All the circumstances related of such prophets
" are inconsistent with this opinion, and it is incon" sis tent with the nature of the thing. Who can
" deny, that the holy penmen of the New Testa" ment rather used the word prophet in the sense
" generally affixed to it by the Jews of their own
u times, than in a sense unnecessary, new, and un" heard of ? Now, amongst the Jews, a prophet was
" not one skilled in expounding the predictions of
" the ancient prophets, but a messenger of the diH vine will, and an interpreter sent, out of the com-

"
"
"
"
"
"
a

CHAPTER
that they

were

called without distinction of age,

of sex, or of natural

they

315

V.

abilities

and, as often as

*,

they poured forth

felt the divine impulse,

" mon course of things, by God himself.


I should
" be apt to imagine, that, by the command of God,
" and through his inspiration, the prophets under the
" gospel did occasionally explain some parts of holy
" writ. But I can, by no means, be induced to
" believe, that they who were distinguished by that
" appellation, had no other employment 5 and that
" to have the gift of prophecy, was just the same

" thing
" ciesP
dona

as to

have the

ilia

ubique

gift

of

interpreting the prophe-

hcec vaticmSndl

[Facultas

refertur,

qure

merito inter

nascenti

civitati

Christianae, singular! beneHcio divino, propria fuerunt.

Licebat omnibus qui hoc

tos dicebant esse, publice loqui

populum

munere

sese
j

at

proedi-

ne quis planus

deciperet, ceteri, quos signis

minime

dubiis

constabat prophetas esse, judicum agebant partes, verosque vates a falsis segregabant, i. Ccr. xiv. 24.
idque ut felicius succederet negotium, ipsi Apostoli
notas suppeditaverant, quibus prophets a

mon* dignoscerentur ab

Deo com-

quos aut impetus naturae,


aut arrogantia creaverat, i. Cor. xii. 2. 3. 5
i. John, iv. 1.
Nescio quonam modo evenerit ut
plerique sibi persuaderent eos, quos Novi Foederis
libri prophetas appellant, interpretes fuisse divinorum
librorum, in primis vaticinationum a Deo, stante Antiquo Fcedere, dictatarum. Respuit hanc opinionem
omne id quod de prophetis hisce scriptum legitur.
Immo res ipsa respuit. Quis neget sanctos scriptores vocabulum prophet a ea notione adhibuisse, qua,
illis,

maxime usurpari solebat,


novam ill! et mauditam.
Propheta vero nunquam Ji-

turn temporis, inter Judaeos

minime vero

sine necessitate

potestatem subjecisse

CHAP TER

V.

she effusions of the Spirit in the

assembly of the

faithful.

The

principal thing to be

description of the prophets

is_>

observed in this
that

Mr Gibbon

dseis homo fait dexteritate oracula priscorum vaium


deelarandi praeditus, verum divinse voluntatis nuntins et interpres extraordinarius ab ipso Deo missus.

Crediderim facile, prophetas hos interdum, jussu et


mstinctu divino, partem quandam divinorum librorum explanasse nullo vero modo adducar, ut existimem nihil fecisse aliud illos, qui hoc nomine insignes
:

erant, donumque prophetise idem esse, quod facultatem oraculorum divinorum sententiam enodandi.]
To the same purpose, but more briefly, he speaks,

Reh. Christian, ante Constant. M. ssec. i. J xl.


129. 130.
But in that work of his which is best
known among us, he seems to have given a still
more extensive signification to the word prophet ; for
he says, " It is certain that they who claimed the
" rank of prophets, were invested with the power of
M censuring publicly such as had been guilty of any
d.

p.

" irregularity," History of the Church, part ii. c.2.


I have chosen, in the
% 9. translated by M'Claine.
text, to treat of the prophets of the apostolical age
according to the sense of that word, as generally received, without meaning either to adopt or reject
that greater latitude of interpretation for which
Mosheim contends. And here it will be remarked,

what Mosheim

that

ry

bon

says in his Ecclesiastical Histo-

inconsistent with

is
:

for

the hypothesis of

Mr

Mosheim could never have meant

Gib-

that, in

the apostolical times, persons without distinction of


age or sex, women, boys, and girls, " were invested
" with the power of censuring publicly such as had

been guilty of any bregullrity/'

represents the

CHAPTER V.
persons of whom

having been divinely inspired

him, they "

divine

the

felt

" they poured forth the


rit *."

SIT

he speaks,

for,

as

according to

impulse,"

and

effusions of the Spi-

Here, then, were persons endued from Hea-

ven with the

gift

either of interpreting the

Scriptures, or of foreseeing events.

Now, by whom were they


cise

of such

themselves

were

or to the performing of the

gifts,

of prophets P

function

called

Apostles

for

called to the exer-

Mr

Not by the Apostles

Gibbon

that

says,

they

" under the approbation of the

:"

We

must, therefore, suppose, that

they were called by the church, that

is,

by the

Christian society at large.


It follows,

We

that

person endued with pro-

must not, on any account, imagine, thae

these expressions

are

sense of the passage

used ironically ; for then the


be, " That certain per-

would

" sons in the primitive church, either knavishly pre" tended to the gifts of prophecy, or, from a spirit
" of fanaticism, supposed themselves to be possessed
" of such gifts y and that, in compliance with the
" desires of the Christian multitude, and to perfect
" a scheme of policy, the Apostles allowed some of
" those false prophets to speak in the assembly of the
et
faithful."
This cannot be the meaning of the
'

passage

which
causes

for it

is

adverse to the professed purpose

Mr

Gibbon had in treating of the secondary


of the rapid growth of Christianity.

Dd

CHAPTER

318

\\

phetical powers, could not exercise

assembly of the

faithful,

without a

them
call

in the

from the

Christian society at large, confirmed by the


Apostles.

There must be some mistake here


vestige

to be

is

an election of

No

found in the

for

this nature.

doubt, the Apostles, having the

the discerning of spirits,

him who

no

New Testament of

had power

gift

of

to prohibit

falsely arrogated to himself the gifts

of prophecy, from attempting to deceive the


people by his fictions or his reveries *
there can be as
suitable

little

occasions,

there needed no

exercise

call

and

doubt, that they did, on

such power

from the church

but

at large,

or approbation of the Apostles, for authorising


a

person endued with prophetical

cise

them

gifts to

exer-

and, on the other "hand, the church

at large,

and the Apostles, could not, even by

common

consent, say to a

"

prophet,

c<

Thou

shalt not prophesy."

That power which St Paul assumed by

di-

vine authority, was of a very different nature.

He

did not say who should be prophets, and

who not
gifts

but he regulated the exercise of the

of prophecy in that manner which was

agreeable to order, and most conducive to the

* See above,

j>.

103.

CHAPTER
purposes of edification *

presumed, that a

and

31

V.

like course

it

may be

fairly

was followed by

the other Apostles.

This
call

much may

as to the

suffice

supposed

of the prophets.

remains to inquire, whether the function

It

as Mr Gibbon ima" without distinction of age or sex."

of prophets was discharged,


gines,

by prophets, "the

If,

Mr

meant,

Holy Spirit

is

Gibbon

be

the

not circumscribed as to his instru-

and that

ments

young or

foretellers of events"

justly supposes that

infinite

wisdom may employ

and persons of the one sex

old,

as

well as of the other, for accomplishing the ends

of

its

ry

office

providence, in every capacity and in eve:

particular,

and should

no

it

distinction

appear that, in this

was indeed made

the promulgation of the Gospel,


Christians will acquiesce

in the

all

at

intelligent

ways of

God

without farther inquiry.

But

Mr

Gibbon, however zealous he may be

to point out the completion of ancient prophecies,

ought not to take

were

literally fulfilled

it

for granted, that

as to

all

they

particulars de-

scribed in the figurative language of the Pro-

phet Joel,

mighty,

who
And

says, in

the

name of the Alto pass afterward^

it

shall

come

i*

Cor.

c. xiv.

CHAPTER V.
out my Spirit upon

320

that I will pour


all flesh,
" and your sons and your daughters shall pro" phesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your
" young men shall see visions % ." For, when
the miraculous

gift

of tongues was bestowed, St

Peter declared the prophecy of Joel to be ac-

complished

although the old

men had

not

dreamed dreams, neither had the young men


and the daughters of Jerusalem uttered prophecies, or seen visions.

cannot discover, from Scripture, that, in

the apostolical times, boys and

ed with the
the wordf.

gifts

girls

were endu-

of prophecy, in any sense of


..

Mr Gibbon
meant not " foretellers of events," but " inter" preters of Scripture
for he gives them the
It

is

possible that,

by prophets,

ambiguous appellation of " prophetical

teach-

"ers."

* Joel, ii. 28. The meaning of the prophecy, as


explained by St Peter, is, " That the operations of
the Holy Spirit shall be made manifest."

f
"

Philip the deacon had " four daughters, virActs, xxi. 9.


iTreipiiviiJ, who prophesied,"

gins,

properly signifies one grown up or arriwoman's estate 3 and hence was that whimsical etymology of the word devised, irxg$ms cita to
Besides, it is not certain in
vrapcucx-Totfaeiv ?w ifaxtccv.
what sense the daughters of Philip are said to have

But

xectfivos

ved

at

prophesied?

CHAPTE'R
That,

in

* without

the

321

V.

persons,

times,

apostolical

distinction of 3ge or of sex/'

were

admitted to be teachers in a public assembly of


Christians,

may well

clear, that

boys and

be questioned, for
girls

i.

Cor. xiv.

St Paul would not suffer married

speak in church, or even to propose

M keep

a solution

them

of

silence," said

not

were admitted to the

conferences spoken of in

and ask

it is

there.

and

he

women

to

difficulties,

" Let them

in support of this

he appealed to the judgement of his


hearers, in these words, " It is a shame for a
woman to speak in the church # ."
injunction,

From analogy, and from the manners of his


times, we may well conclude, although that precise case

be not stated, that a like silence was

required of maidens

and that they were

by

to be privately instructed

married

women were by

There
speaks of

is

i.

their parents, as

their husbands.

one passage, indeed, where St Paul

women prophesying

bly of Christians f

left

Cor. xiv. 34. 35.

in a public assem-

but that passage may, as

i.

Tim.

ii.

11. 12.

On

on others, St Paul spake in conformity with established notions and manners. This
will account for the strong expression, "it is a shame,"
j-^t^pgv yxo is-*], literally, " it is a foul deed."
this occasion, as

f i. Cor. xi. 5. This passage has perplexed the


commentators. In 1767, there was published, under

CHAPTER

S2Q

V.

probably, relate to the foretelling of events, as


to the interpreting o7 Scripture.

Mr

Gibbon thus concludes his remarks on


But these extraordinary gifts

the prophets

the

name

of the Prorector of the university of Got-

De doni prophetici variis gradibus in Ecclesia Christiana, 4io.


That author supposes ywn frwiv%*pM A TPdprtVtvfsrXi to mean, " sl wotingen, a dissertation

'

u man who prays or sings psalms." He observes,


that St Paul is not there speaking of any extraordinary or miraculous gifts, and that this intetpretation
will serve to reconcile i. Cor. xi. 5. with i. Cor. xiv.
34.
His words are " Antequam de variis doni
" peophetici gradibus plura dicamus id adhuc addi" mus, iis nos accedere, qui eliam in Novi Testa:

" menti

libris semel Tf^^nnvav deiis dici arbitrantur,


" qui ne quidem ipsi divini spiritus motu exlraordina" rio agitati, sed eadem plane ratione, qua nonnullis
" Veteris Testamenti locis carmina divina ab aliis
quoque prophetis confecta canentes Tr^o^nvut di" cuntur, inter quos Saulum cum prophetis vatici" nan tern, Baali prophetas et Davidis can tores
" (pijTsv&vrdcg referimus. Vix enim persuadere nobis
" possumus, aliam nolionem huic voci subjectam esse
u posse, i. Cor. xi. 4. 5. Nondum enim de donorum
" extraordinariorum usu, sed de ordine in conventi" bus religiosis quibuscunque Christianorum obseru vando, capite hoc integro, disserit Paulus, neque id
4

'

tantumvultjipsos docentes et propriis verbis precannudato capite, mulieres tectas, sed


66
in quocunque sacro conventu. Recte igitur plures
" interpretes observarunt, n^G-iv/jo-Scci xcu ir*$nTtvav
" esse descriptionem totius cultus divini, quemadmo
u dum nostro etiam tempore canere et precari de
f

"

tes adesse viros

u cultu divino integro plures etiam complectente

CHAPTER

46

323

V.

were frequently abused or misapplied by the


prophetic teachers.

They

displayed

them

at

" an improper season, presumptuously disturbed

M the
"

service

of the assembly, and by their

pride or mistaken zeal, they introduced, par-

ticularly into the apostolic church of Corinth,


" a long and melancholy train of disorders. As
" the institution of prophets became useless,

44

M and even pernicious, their powers were withdrawn, and their office abolished/' i. 583.

44

In proof of the disorders introduced by the


prophets into the church of Corinth,
refers

Mr Gibbon

not only to the epistles of St Paul, but

also to the

epistles of

Clemens

to the

Corin-

thians.

We

may

well suppose that the admonition

u partes nonnunquam d'citur. Facillimam haec in" terpretatio pandit viam conciliandi hunc locum
"cum c.xiv. 34:. Addere enim D. Pauli verbis,
" quod interpretibus pluribus placet, " Loqui pu" blice quidern licet mulieribus divino spiritu impul" sis, at nisi revelationem habeant, tacento," nexui
" integro est contrarium, in quo de sermonibus aliis

"
"

prceter eos, qui spiritu prophetico habebantur,

non

sermo. De " quibuscunque sermonibus" intelligere verba Pauli nos ipsa oppositio cogit.
Prophetis enim, ait, loqui quidem licet divino motis
impulsu, iia tamen, ut alter alteram suo ordine excipiat, mulieres vero in ecclesia tacento.
Canentes autem nota carmina divina sua comitari voce,
est

"
"
"
"
"
" absque dubio licebat mulieribus.*"

CHAPTER

824

V.

and censure pronounced by St Paul had the


fect of

ef-

removing the abuses of which he com-

plained.

although

As
its

second

to the

epistle

of Clemens,

genuineness were admitted,

it

has

not even the most distant relation to the subject

of which

he

Mr

Gibbon

treating \

is

says of the first epistle,

and

as to

he seems,

in

what

some

measure, to be supported by the authority of

Archbishop

Wake

Nevertheless,

*;

the

of which Clemens

evil

complained, appears to have arisen rather from


* "

When

St Paul wrote his

first

epistle to the

" Corinthians, the two great things that seemed to


" have especially called for it, were, firsts the divi-

sions

upon

of the church,

" teachers, and through


" own

spiritual gifts

" take

that was getting in

the

account of their

their vain conceit of their

and, secondly, the great mis-

axong them concerning


" the nature of the future resurrection
and how" ever the Apostle, by his writing and authority, did
i%
for the present put a stop to the one, and set them
" right as to the other j yet it seems after his death
" they began again to fall not only into the same
" contentions, but into the same error too, that had
u caused them so much trouble before. Now, this
:

M gave occasion to St Clement to write the present


" epistle to them." Discourse concerning the ApoFathers, c. ii. 12. 13.
The Archbishop
supposes that the contentions among the Corinthians in the days of Clemens, arose through " their
stolical

" vain conceit

of their

own

spiritual

gifts."

But

he does not limit the case to the particular gift of


prophecy.

CHAPTER
the factious

o23
:

V,

of individuals in the church,

spirit

than from the pride, presumption, or mistaken


zeal of the prophets *.

* Thus, in the very beginning of his epistle, Clethat foul and unholy dissension fo" reign and strange to the elect of God, which a
" few rash and self-willed men have inflamed to
11
[t-*j?
such madness," &c.
n ct,/\/\oT^ctg xut

mens speaks of "

Tots SKKiKTOig

utczgc&$ koci otvocrtti f&ffbWs


(

oXtyx

7rpoTca7ra Tgo7riTq kxi oiv8<zd/i vTrxo^ovTd^ ztq totxtov et7T&VOixg l%gKttVFOtV.

JC.

T.

6.

says, " So the base have


u been raised up against the honourable, those of no
" reputation against the eminent, the foolish against
" the vise, and the young against the aged j there" fore righteousness and peace are far departed from
" you, because every one hath forsaken the fear of
" God, and is become blind in faith towards him j
" neither walketh by the rule of his commandments,
" nor hath a conversation as is fitting in Christ But
" each man proceedeth according to his own evil de" sires, having taken up an unjust and ungodly emu" lation, whereby death also entered into the world."

Again,

at 3.

Clemens

\jtTU$

T%$

ITT

fil>Tl9%$.

TCa

ny6gfo,V_(&* Ot CCTi,UOl 17TI

AlXTXTO

TTofyu

0C7T0\ti7TTUV ZKXfOV TOV


cc,{do\vct)'XV)<rcti

TMV CtVTX

TTOQZV&T&stt,

Ot

Ct^O^Ot t7Tl

CI

9i0l 7Tl

T%$

Oi'TTi^tV V SiXezl6G~VVy} KCCi itgYiVy},


(pofifiy

gy
fiCty)i

TV$ tVTlU%S 9

6V^*S,

ivhofysg, 01 Cttp^OViS 17H

toi$

T% 2#

tw

vouijaoi$

7tO/\iTWZ?Qxt

X^L?a)y xXXot ixx^ov Qahfytv

KCtt IV TV)

xxtx Txg

XXTX

TO

T^ofxypotK.X@/)J609 T4J

t7ri@v/xta$ CtVTX

ttovv^xs, fyXov oii ko* koci aos&Y, etntXYi<p6T0tc 9

&

Trim

TX$

a xxt &xvx-

UG-r,h6n us top x.oq~(/ov.~\ Here there is what may be


termed the leading notion of the epistle y and it seems
inconsistent with the hypothesis, that Clemens meant
to treat of " the pride, presumption, or mistaken
rot;

" ^eal of the prophets,"

Ee

526
Be

this as

explained

it

more

CHAPTER V.
Mr Gibbon

may,

what

ought to have

to be understood by the phrase, " the powers of the pro-

particularly

is

More particularly still, he says, -at 14. "Where" fore, men and brethren, it is more just and holy
" that we be obedient unto God, than that we follow them who, through pride and an unsettled spi" rit, are become the authors of abominable dissen" sion 7 for, we shall bring upon ourselves no small
" hurt, but rather great peril, if we rashly yield to
" the wills of men, whose aim is, by strife and sedi" tion, to alienate us from that which is right."
[AiKcttov

jc&i ocriov, etfSgtg aeizXtpGi,

Xov ywic-$xt tod QzM, q roig

M.aX\ov

^g Ktv^vvov v7roi76.tizv

(Alv ec&VT&g TQtg

BiXn^g-t T&v

iv

v'XWg'dg

&bu.fyvtist

piycw

zctv

kcu

ifro&g

petX-

oiy-u.Te.<rc)t,7ios,

pt^OKivdvv^g

z7rt^0}~

xv&PC'JTrav, ^itinc, i^xKOVTiQscrtv

At 44. mention is made of the excesses to


which the multitude, incited by their seditious demagogues, had run 7 u for we see that you have put
" out from the ministry some men of good conversa*

iC

tion.

And
" hear

_egwuiv

'

at 47.

y&Q

ots 6vm$

Clemens

vt&etg

says,

{tlmyctyiTi i&o&X&g

" Beloved, what

we

shameful, exceedingly shameful indeed, and


" unworthy of the Christian profession y that, by
is

" means of one or two persons, the best established,


the ancient church of Corinth rises in sedition
" against her priests." [ott<?%%& ezyaTwroi, kxi Xtav
Zotwra&rffl, Kctt otg%aiotv

ixichri<Ti&v

2;

r $vo ttqo-

Who

54. he pathetically exclaims, "


generous among you, who tender-hearted,

At

c*

Kc^vdtm

is

there

who

fill-

CHAPTER

327

V.

# phets were withdrawn" We

have seen that,

according to his hypothesis,, the prophets were


called by the multitude, under the approbation

Are we

of the Apostles.
this institution

to suppose, that

when

of prophets became useless, and

even pernicious, the church ceased to call

them,

or at least that the Aposles with-held their ap-

probation of such

call

Hence

ferred, that the institution

man

was

it

But the words of

policy.

cannot be so understood
mits, that the prophets

for

might be

a device of

in-

hu-

Mr Gibbon

he himself ad-

were divinely inspired

and therefore we may suppose

his

meaning,

however ambiguously and improperly expressed,


to

be,

that "

M miraculous
u necessary,

pleased

it

gifts

were

or

" ed with charity

God

to

withdraw such

whenever they became un~


egregiously

misused."

him say, if, for my cause, there


and schisms, I depart, I get
u whithersoever ye will, and I do whatever the people
u be

dissension,

let

and

strife,

" commandeth, only may the flock of Christ, with the


" priests set over it, be in peace. Whoso doeth this
" shall obtain for himself great renown in the Lord,
" and every place shall welcome him." [ti$ %v zv
vutv ywvxfos, Ti$ zv<77rXsy%vog,
j

^i'TTCtTO).

&i

iltl f5d!7/J, KC&i

mxXuc$opqviivos ayetSg/, KOCi (TftlCUXTOl,

iX~

VTTo
aryjj0sf$. fte>vov to 7r<ufiviov rs Xgim ei^viviT, p>i?&
t&v i&a&e?a.p.ztm 7r^.7eVTSPMV. T%~6 o TrciYtcrxg tax/To) fesyee

7yJ.

CHAPTER

V.

ihis appears to be a rational interpretation of


the passage, and it is agreeable to the truth of
history

but whether

vey/ that

Mr Gibbon meant

sentiment to his readers,

to con-

do not pre-

tend to determine.

Perhaps

may be

thought, that I have


dwelt too long on these expressions of Mr Gibbon, That the jvyhets were called to that
it

fc<

function without distinction of age or

and

as often

" poured

they

as

sex

the divine impulse,

felt

forth the effusions of the Spirit in the

assembly of the
But the truth

faithful."

is,

Mr Gibbon

that

has spoken

so inaccurately of the prophets of the apostolical age, as to


first

make

view of

the institution appear,

of

his account

it,

posture and fanaticism, tempered with


policy

and therefore

it

at

the

mass of im-

human

became proper not

only to state the fact as to those prophets, but


also to

attempt to reconcile the language of

Gibbon with

Under
"

his

this

avowed

head of " the union and

pline of the Christian

have been " the

fifth

Mr

principles.
disci-

church," supposed to

secondary cause of the

Mr

Gibbon

treats of the variations in ecclesiastical

govern-

rapid

growth of Christianity,"

ment during the first ages of the church, and


of rhe contests among the clergy for power and
pre-eminence.

He

also enlarges

on the prac-

CHAPTER
tice

329

V.

of pronouncing excommunication, and of

imposing public penance.

How

these things

should have contributed to the rapid growth of


Christianity,

One

he has not explained.

circumstance of which he speaks, de-

more
"
pressed
serves

particular attention.

thus ex-

generous intercourse of charity

" united the most


4i

It is

distant

provinces, and the

smaller congregations were chearfully assisted

by the alms of their more opulent brethren.


" Such an institution, which paid less regard
w to the merit than to the distress of the ob44

4<

ject,

very materially conduced to the progress

" of Christianity." i. 595.


So far he says well. It was reasonable for
humane Pagans, when they saw the pious liberality

of believers, to inquire into the nature

and evidences of The Religion of Love. Such


inquiries can never hurt the cause of Christianity,

and, in general, are favourable to

this

way, any Pagans were converted, their con-

it.

If,

in

version might be said to have been owing to

the virtues of the Christians.

What
tionable

Mr Gibbon is more excep" The Pagans," says he, u who were

follows in
:

actuated by a sense of humanity, while thev

<4

derided the doctrines, acknowledged the be-

44

nevolence of the
It

seems, then,

new

sect."

that the

humane Pagans,

e 3

CHAPTER

330

V,

while they did justice to the benevolence of the

new

sect,

that

k was

continued to deride

doctrines

its

not by the means which

so

have sup-

posed, that Christian benevolence very mate-

M
"

rially

conduced to the progress of Christian-

ity."

Mr
says,

Gibbon adopts

u of future protection, allured


4i

ble

whom the

would have abandoned

" want,
is,

relief,

and

into the hospita-

bosom of the church many of those un-

u happy persons
Si

He

different system.

" The prospect of immediate

sickness,

the Heathens,

neglect of the world

the miseries of

to

and of old age."

i.

505. That

who dreaded poverty,

and old age, sought

that relief

sickness,

from the

li-

which they could not exthe other Heathens, u who

berality of Christians

pect even from


*!

were actuated by

a sense

of humanity

and

so they professed their belief in Christ


It

wiH be remembered, that

to the hypothesis of

Mr

this,

Gibbon

according

himself, could

not possibly have happened in the early ages of

when it was composed of poor and


mean persons. The Christians must have be-

the church,

come opulent before

their liberality could have

bribed the Heathens to seek their protection , the


protection of

men exposed

to

the hourly ha-

zard of banishment and confiscations

On

this subject,

Mosheim

expresses himself

CHAPTER

331

V.

" They/' says


"
he,
who feign other causes of the rapid
M growth of Christianity, do but repeat dreams
" to us, and such as cannot be relished, unless
with some degree of warmth.

by men ignorant of the natural dispositions


" and history of mankind.
They imagine
themselves to have made some mighty disco" very, while they affirm, that the charity of

*4

4fc

Christians towards the poor allured a multi-

" tude of sluggish and debauched persons to


4*

make

u then,
i

profession of faith in Christ.


that the

minds of

ted, that, to alleviate

men

hunger

It

seems

are so constitufor a time,

and

"

to obtain scanty

<4

be willing to incur the immediate hazard of

" reputation and


4<

and homely food, they would

life,

submit themselves to a

severe discipline, like the Christian, and, in

" one word, amidst tortures, and punishments


" even unto ignominious death, that they would
*4

display invincible fortitude in maintaining a

4<

religion to

44

had attached themselves

41

common

44

cealed enemies of Christianity prate


subject # ."

44

which from indolence alone they


!

There is as little
what the con-

sense in the rest of

on

this

* " Alias qui comminiscuntur religionis Christiu anse tarn subito propagatae caussas, sonrnia nobis re" citant, quae nullis placebunt, nisi rerum et morum
" humanorum imperitis. Magnum scse nescio quid

332

All

that

ly the

now remains

to recapitulate brief-

Five secondary causes, which, in the

judgement of

*f

is

reperisse

Mr

Gibbon, " so

autumant, qui

amorem Christianorum

" erga pauperes turbam ignavcrum


64

minum

efficaciously as-

hoverba jura-

et vitiosorum

allexisse statuunt, ut in Christi

u rent. Ita scilicet homines animis affecti sunt, ut


" famis ad iempus sedandae pa-rcique et duri victus

" consequendi causa, praesentissimum honoris vitaeque


" periculuiu adire, severse

"
"
w
"
"

sese

discipline,

qualis

Christiana, subjicere, religionem denique, propter

inertiam susceptam, constantissime inter tormenta

ad mortem usque ignominiosam, tueri


Nihil saniora sunt cetera, quae Ills de rebus garriunt, qui sacris Christianis insidlantur."
Institutiones Historise Christianas majores, ssee. 1
part.i. civ. 13. Mosheim expresses himself with
more asperity of style than is used from layman to
When ip-deed we laymen find it necessary
layman
to abuse the clergy, we are apt enough to adopt the
general language of Mosheim, but then we call
et supplicia,

cupiant.

them, or we say enough to make others call them,


" interested knaves," rather than " foolish praters
" and visionaries-.' 9
Upon this subject, however unpromising, Mr Gibbon enlarges \ in particular, he says, That u the zeal
" and activity of the Christian clergy were united in
" the common cause \ and the love of power, which,
" under the most artful disguises, could insinuate itci
self into the breasts of bishops and martyrs, ani-

CH APTER
'

ted the

V.

truth of the Christian

religion."

k 599 *
His

first

proposition, as

Christianity
44
44
44
4<

became

we have

victorious

seen,

is 5

that

over the esta-

mated them to increase the number of their suband to enlarge the limits of the Christian
empire.
They were destitute of any temporal
force, and they were for a long time discouraged
and oppressed, rather than assisted, by the civil
magistrate. But they had acquired, and they ernployed within their own society, the two most efficacious instruments of government, rewards and punishments j the former, derived from the pious IIberality, the latter, from the devout apprehensions

jects,

"
"
"
"
"
"
" of the

Here

faithful."

i.

591.

there are several things remarkable,

1.

It

supposed that the bishops and martyrs of the primitive church looked upon the rest of the Christians
as their subjects.
2. That the love of power, under
the most artful disguises, animated the primitive
clergy to collect alms, and to bestow them on the
indigent. The enemies of our religion have not said
so
for Lucian scoffs at the beneficence of the Christians, and Julian seems mortified at it.
See Decline
and Fall, vol. i. p. 595. not. 143.
3. Rewards are
supposed to be some of u the most efficacious instru44
ments of human government
for the context
will not allow us to understand the passage, of the
moral government of God. 4. 44 The devout ap44
prehensions of the faithful," that is, the fear which
the Christians had of public penances and excommunication, served to increase the number of Chriis

stians

* Here,

as on other occasions, I am much indebted to the writings of Bishop Watson and Dr Chelsum.

CHAPTER

334
Wished

V.

religions of the earthy

by

its

very doc-

trine, and by the ruling providence of


Author ; and his last, of a like import,

Christianity is the Truth.


Between his first and his last
there are, no doubt,
sions, inferences,
sistent

many

and

great

is,

That

propositions,

dissertations, digres-

hints^ not altogether con-

with his avowed principles.

allowance ought to be

its

made

But much

for that love of no-

which seduces men of genius to think


; and for that easiness of bewhich inclines us to rely on the quotations

velty

and speak rashly


lief,

and -commentaries of confident persons, without

examining the

authors of

whom

they

speak.

L The

first

secondary cause of the rapid

growth of the Christian religion is said


been, The inflexible and intolerant
44

the Christians

zeal,

to

have

zeal

of

when unsupported^

and even repressed by secular power, of

all

things the most likely to check, instead of ac-

growth of
" The doctrine of

celerating the
II.
'

44

"

Christianity.

a future

life,

impro-

ved by every additional circumstance which


could give weight or efficacy to that important truth *

* Mr Gibbon, in his recapitulation of the five secondary causes, i. 600. mentions the " immediate ex" pectation of another world," instead of " the doc-

CHAPTER

335

V.

This, however, must have been a primary,

and not

secondary cause of the rapid growth

of Christianity

we may

for, if

credit St Paul,

u Christ has abolished death, and has brought


4

41

and immortality

life

through the

to light,

"
gospel *

" The supernatural

III.

" Christians."
lous

This,

gifts ascribed to

the

understood of miracu-

if

powers really exercised, ought to be rank-

ed among the primary causes of the rapid


growth of Christianity ; if understood of ly44

ing wonders,"

gans,

who had

it is

hard to

why

say,

fictitious miracles

the Pa-

of their own,

should have rejected them, and adopted what,

must be considered

in the present argument,


fables,

as

the invention of a hated and persecuted

sect.

IV. "
**

stians."

The

virtues

Mr

of the primitive Chri-

Gibbon admits, not only

that

they were virtuous, but also that they were

more

Heathen contempora-

virtuous than their

ries.

ethers ?

But what made them


Let us answer,

" trine of a future

mere inadvertency

till

But

life."

we

to

differ

from

are better in-

said through
which arose from

this is

for an opinion

a wrong interpretation of some passages in Scripture,


could only take place among those who were previa
ously convinced of the authority of the holy books.

ii.

Tim,

i.

10*

336
formed,
44

The

CHAPTER V.
God that

grace of

vation, hath appeared to

44

us, that,

44

lusts,

44

godly in

we

all

bringeth

men

sal-

teaching

denying ungodliness, and worldly


should live soberly, righteously, and

world ; looking for that


" blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of
this present

44

the great

4<

who

44

deem

44

himself a peculiar people, zealous of good


works # ." So if the virtues of the primitive

44

God, and our Saviour

gave himself for


us

from

us, that

iniquity,

all

Christians did contribute, in

the rapid growth

of

Jesus Christ,

he might

re-

and purify unto

some measure,

Christianity,

to

we must

ascribe such effects, not to any secondary cause,

but to the primitive cause of those virtues,

the

grace of God.

V. The union and

"

stian

discipline of the Chri-

This indeed would have

republic."

strengthened the church,

number of
lical

believers

if

not augmented the

but between the aposto-

times and the accession of Constantine,

the Christians were not so studious as became


in preserving " the unity of the Spirit
u the bond of peace M neither was discipline,

them

j.

all

in
at

times, regularly and prudently maintained

among them.

We

read in

Mr Gibbon
Titus,

it.

11.

of " the mutual ho-

14.

CHAPTER

837

V,

of the clergy, which sometimes dis-

44

stilities

44

turbed the peace of the infant church

44

their turbulent

of

tinctured with an

passions,

44

additional degree of bitterness and obstinacy

4<

from the infusion of

of

spiritual zeal

Roman

44

ambition of the

4i

solute

4<

the provincial synods

41

carried

44

was owing much

4C

to the

4<

vectives

Pontiff,

44

the

and the ab-

sway of Cyprian over Carthage, and


of

44

a controversy

on without effusion of blood, which


less to

the moderation than

weakness of the parties

and of

44

in-

and excommunications reciprocally

hurled with equal fury and devotion


of
" discordant councils ," of " the lofty titles of

*v

metropolitans and primates which aspiring


u bishops acquired j" and of 44 the emulation
4<

44

of pre-eminence and power which prevailed


u among the metropolitans themselves."

44

There also

we

unfaithful

stewards

read of bishops

44

who were

of the riches

" church, and lavished them

in

of the

sensual plea-

41

sures,

"

private' gain, of fraudulent purchases,

44

rapacious usury

or perverted

All this, and

them

to the purposes of

and of

more to the like purpose, is rewhich professedly treats of

lated in a section

* Decline and
591.594.598.

Fall, vol.

i.

p.

582. 583. 589, 590,

Ff

CHAPTER

338

V.

the mighty consequences arising


44

from " the

union and discipline of the primitive church."

Thus it appears,
Gibbon considered

that the things


as

secondary

which
or

Mr

human

causes, efficaciously promoting the Christian religion, either

tended to retard

its

progress, or

were the manifest operations of the wisdom and

power of Gcd.

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