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CHAP. 1.




luxuries, the order, and regularity of cultivated life were introduced into regions which, a short time before, had afforded a scanty and precarious subsistence to tribes scarcely acquainted with agriculture. The frontiers of civilisation seemed gradually to advance, and to drive back the still-receding barbarism :while within the pale, national distinctions were dying away; all tribes and races met amicably in the general relation of Roman subjects or citizens, and mankind seemed settling down into one great federal society.o

About this point of time Christianity appeared. As Rome had united the whole Western world Appearance into one, as it might almost seem, lasting tianity. social system, so Christianity was the first religion which aimed at an universal and permanent moral conquest. The religions of the older world were content with their dominion over the particular The older people which were their several votaries. Religions, Family, tribal, national, deities were universally recognised ; and as their gods accompanied the migrations or the conquests of different nations, the worship of those gods was extended over a wider surface, but rarely propagated among the subject races. To drag in triumph the divinities of a vanquished people was the last and most insulting mark of subjugation. Yet, though the gods of the conquerors had thus manifested their superiority, and, in some cases, the subject nation

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b Quæ sparsa congregaret imperia, , atque unius animo regendum.” Such ritusque molliret, et tot populorum was the argument of Asinius Gallus, discordes ferasque linguas sermonis Tac. Ann. i. 12. commercio contraheret ad colloquia, d Tot de diis, quot de gentibus et humanitatem homini daret. Plin. triumphi. Tertullian. Compare Isaiah Nat. Hist. iii. 5.

xlvi. 1, and Gesenius's note; Jer. xlviij. c “Unum esse reipublicæ corpus, 7, xlix. 3; Hos. x. 5, 6; Dan. xi. 8.


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might be inclined to desert their inefficient protectors who had been found wanting in the hour of trial ; still the godhead even of the defeated divinities was not denied. Though their power could not withstand the mightier tutelar deity of the invaders; yet their right to a seat in the crowded synod of heaven, and their rank among the intermediate rulers of the world, were not called in question. The conqueror might, indeed, take delight in showing his contempt, and, as it were, trampling under foot the rebuked and impotent deities of his subject; and thus religious persecution be inflicted by the oppressor, and religious fanaticism excited among the oppressed. Yet, if the temple was desecrated, the altar thrown down, the priesthood degraded or put to the sword, this was done in the fierceness of hostility, or the insolence of pride;' or from policy, lest the religion should become the rallying point of civil independence ;8 rarely, if ever, for the purpose of extirpating a false, or supplanting it by a true, systein of belief; perhaps in no instance with the design of


• There is a curious passage in and slaying their priesthood (Herod. Lydus de Ostentis, a book which pro- | i. 183, and Arrian, vii. 19); though, bably contains some parts of the an- in this case, the rapacity which fatally cient ritual of Rome. A certain induced him to pillage and desecrate aspect of a comet not merely foretold the temples of Greece may have comvictory, but the passing over of the bined with his natural arrogance. hostile gods to the side of the Romans: Herod. viii. 53. και αυτά δε τα θεία καταλείψουσι & This was most likely the principle τους πολεμίους, ώστε εκ περισσού | of the horrible persecution of the T pootedîvai tos vintais.-Lydus Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes, though de Ostentis, lib. 12.

a kind of heathen bigotry seems to Such was the conduct of Cambyses have mingled with his strange chain Egypt. Xerxes had, before his racter. 1 Macc. i. 41 et seqq.; 2 Grecian invasion, shown the proud in- Macc. vi.; Diod. Sic. xxxiv. 1; Hist. tolerance of his disposition, in de- of the Jews, vol. i. p. 461. stroying the deities of the Babylonians,






promulgating the tenets of a more pure and perfect religion. A wiser policy commenced with Policy of Alexander. The deities of the conquered nations were treated with uniform reverence, the sacrilegious plunder of their temples punished with exemplary severity.

According to the Grecian system, their own gods were recognised in those of Egypt and Asia. The

-" foreign deities were called by Grecian names, and worshipped with the accustomed offerings; and thus all religious differences between Macedonian, and Syrian, and Egyptian, and Persian, at once vanished away. On the same principle, and with equal sagacity, Rome, in this as in other respects, aspired to enslave the mind of those nations which had been prostrated by her arms. The gods of the subject nations were treated with every mark of respect : sometimes they were admitted within the walls of the conqueror, as though to render their allegiance, and rank themselves in peaceful subordination under the supreme divinity of the Roman Gradivus, or the Jupiter of the Capitol;k till, at length, they all met in

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b Arrian, lib. vi. p. 431, 439 (Edit. . rature, i. p. 5.) The Indian religious Amst. 1668); Polyb. v. 10.

usages, and the conduct of some of Arrian, lib. iii. p. 158, vii. p. 464, their faquirs, excited the wonder of and 486. Some Persian traditions, the Greeks. perhaps, represent Alexander as a re- k Solere Romanos Deos omnes urligious persecutor ; but these are of bium superatarum partim privatim no authority against the direct state- per familias spargere, partim publice ment of the Greek historians.

“ Alex

consecrare. Arnob. iii. 38. a idre brûle en Enfer pour avoir con

It was

a grave charge against damné au feu les Roshis” (the religi- | Marcellus, that, by plundering the ous books of different nations), &c. temples in Sicily, he had made the From Anquetil du Perron. Sir W.Ouse- state an object of jealousy (émiq09ley, On some Anecdotes of Alexander. vov), because not only men but gods (Transactions Royal Society of Lite- were led in triumph, The older




Book I.


the amicable synod of the Pantheon, a representative assembly, as it were, of the presiding deities of all nations, in Rome, the religious as well as the civil capital of the world. The state, as Cicero shows in his Book of Laws, retained the power of declaring what forms of religion were permitted by the law (licitæ); 1 but this authority was rarely exercised with rigour, excepting against such foreign superstitions as were considered pernicious to the morals of the people,-in earlier times, the Dionysiac;° in later, the Isiac and Serapic rites.

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citizens approved rather the conduct of said to have erected and sacrificed on Fabius Maximus, who left to the Ts-two altars to Impiety and Lawlessness, rentines their offended gods. Ρlut. | 'Ασεβεία and Παρανόμια. This fact Vit. Marc.

would be incredible on less grave auAccording to Verrius Flaccus, thority than that of Polybius, lib. cited by Pliny (xxviii. 2), the Romans xviii. 37. On the general respect to used to invoke the tutelary deity of temples in war, comp. Grot. de Jur. every place which they besieged, and Bell. et Pac. iii. 12, $ 6. bribed him to their side by promising The question is well discussed greater honours,

Macrobius has a by Jortin, Discourses, p. 53, note. copy of the form of Evocation (iii. 9) Dionysius Hal. distinguishes between

a very curious chapter. The name religions permitted, and publicly reof the tutelar deity of Rome was a ceived, lib. II. vol. i. p. 275, edit. secret. Pliny, Nat. Hist. iii. 5. Bayle, Reiske. Compare other quotations Art. Soranus. Plut. Quæst. Rom. from Livy in Hartung, Religion der Note on Hume's Hist. Nat. Rel. | Römer (i. 231, et seqq.), showing the Essays, p. 450.

jealousy of foreign rites and Roma triumphantis quotiens ducis inclita monies, especially in times of danger

and disaster. Plausibus excepit, totiens altaria Divûm Addidit, et_spoliis sibimet nova numina

o Livy, xxix. 12 et seqq. fecit.-PRUDENTIUS.

p During the Republic, the temples Compare Augustin de Cons. Evang. of Isis and Serapis were twice ordered i, 18.

to be destroyed, Dion. xl. p. 142, xlii. For the Grecian custom on this p. 196, also liv. p. 525. Val. Max. subject, see Thucyd. iv. 98. Philip, i. 3. Prop. ii. 24. See La Bastie in the king of Macedon, defeated by Académ. des Inscrip., xv. 40. On the Flaminius in his wars with the Gre- Roman law on this subject, compare cian states, paid little respect to the Jortin, Discourses, p. 53; Gibbon, vol. temples. His admiral Dicæarchus is l i. p. 55, with Wenck’s note.






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Christianity proclaimed itself the religion, not of family, or tribe, or nation, but of universal Universality

It admitted within its pale, on equal tianity. terms, all ranks and all races. It addressed mankind as one brotherhood, sprung from one common progenitor, and raised to immortality by one Redeemer. In this respect Christianity might appear singularly adapted to become the religion of a great empire. At an earlier period in the annals of the world, it would have encountered obstacles apparently insurmountable, in passing from one province to another, in moulding hostile and jealous nations into one religious community. A fiercer fire was necessary to melt and fuse the discordant elements into one kindred mass, before its gentler warmth could penetrate and permeate the whole with its vivifying influence. Not only were the circumstances of the times favourable to the extensive propagation of Christianity, from the facility of intercourse between the most remote nations, the cessation of hostile movements, and the uniform system of internal police, but the state of mankind seemed imperiously to demand the introduction of a new religion, to satisfy those universal propensities of human nature which connect man with a higher order of things. Man, as history and experience teach, is essentially a religious being. There are certain faculties and modes of thinking and feeling apparently inseparable from his mental organisation, which lead him irresistibly to seek some communication with another and a higher world. But at the present juncture, the ancient religions were effete: they belonged to a totally different state of civilisation ; though they retained the strong hold of habit and interest on different classes of society, yet the general mind was advanced beyond them; they could not supply the

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