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APPEARANCE OF CHRISTIANITY.
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."
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. 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
b Quæ sparsa congregaret imperia, ritusque molliret, et tot populorum discordes ferasque linguas sermonis commercio contraheret ad colloquia, et humanitatem homini daret. Plin. Nat. Hist. iii. 5.
atque unius animo regendum." Such was the argument of Asinius Gallus, Tac. Ann. i. 12.
d Tot de diis, quot de gentibus triumphi. Tertullian. Compare Isaiah xlvi. 1, and Gesenius's note; Jer. xlviii.
C 66 Uuum esse reipublicæ corpus, 7, xlix. 3; Hos. x. 5, 6; Dan. xi. 8.
THE OLDER RELIGIONS.
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; rarely, if ever, for the purpose of extirpating a false, or supplanting it by a true, system of belief; perhaps in no instance with the design of
There is a curious passage in Lydus de Ostentis, a book which probably contains some parts of the ancient ritual of Rome. A certain aspect of a comet not merely foretold victory, but the passing over of the hostile gods to the side of the Romans: καὶ αὐτὰ δὲ τὰ θεῖα καταλείψουσι τοὺς πολεμίους, ὥστε ἐκ περισσοῦ πроσTε@ĥναι TOîs viênтaîs.—Lydus de Ostentis, lib. 12.
f Such was the conduct of Cambyses in Egypt. Xerxes had, before his Grecian invasion, shown the proud intolerance of his disposition, in destroying the deities of the Babylonians,
and slaying their priesthood (Herod. i. 183, and Arrian, vii. 19); though, in this case, the rapacity which fatally induced him to pillage and desecrate the temples of Greece may have combined with his natural arrogance. Herod. viii. 53.
This was most likely the principle of the horrible persecution of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes, though a kind of heathen bigotry seems to have mingled with his strange character. 1 Macc. i. 41 et seqq.; 2 Macc. vi.; Diod. Sic. xxxiv. 1; Hist. of the Jews, vol. i. p. 461.
POLICY OF ALEXANDER
- OF ROME.
promulgating the tenets of a more pure and perfect religion. A wiser policy commenced with Policy of Alexander. The deities of the conquered Alexander; 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; till, at length, they all met in
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 their faquirs, excited the wonder of the Greeks.
i Arrian, lib. iii. p. 158, vii. p. 464, and 486. Some Persian traditions, perhaps, represent Alexander as a religious persecutor; but these are of no authority against the direct statement of the Greek historians.
a idre brûle en Enfer pour avoir condamné au feu les Roshis" (the religious books of different nations), &c. From Anquetil du Perron. Sir W. Ouseley, On some Anecdotes of Alexander. (Transactions Royal Society of Lite
k Solere Romanos Deos omnes urbium superatarum partim privatim per familias spargere, partim publicè consecrare. Arnob. iii. 38.
It was a grave charge against Marcellus, that, by plundering the temples in Sicily, he had made the state an object of jealousy (πíp00vov), because not only men but gods were led in triumph. The older
POLICY OF ROME.
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);" 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.P
citizens approved rather the conduct of Fabius Maximus, who left to the Tsrentines their offended gods. Plut. | Vit. Marc.
According to Verrius Flaccus, cited by Pliny (xxviii. 2), the Romans used to invoke the tutelary deity of every place which they besieged, and bribed him to their side by promising greater honours. Macrobius has a copy of the form of Evocation (iii. 9) -a very curious chapter. The name of the tutelar deity of Rome was a secret. Pliny, Nat. Hist. iii. 5. Bayle, Art. Soranus. Plut. Quæst. Rom. Note on Hume's Hist. Nat. Rel. Essays, p. 450.
Roma triumphantis quotiens ducis inclita
Plausibus excepit, totiens altaria Divûm Addidit, et spoliis sibimet nova numina fecit.-PRUDENTIUS.
said to have erected and sacrificed on two altars to Impiety and Lawlessness, Ασεβεία and Παρανόμια. This fact would be incredible on less grave authority than that of Polybius, lib. xviii. 37. On the general respect to temples in war, comp. Grot. de Jur. Bell. et Pac. iii. 12, § 6.
The question is well discussed by Jortin, Discourses, p. 53, note. Dionysius Hal. distinguishes between religions permitted, and publicly received, lib. II. vol. i. p. 275, edit. Reiske. Compare other quotations from Livy in Hartung, Religion der Römer (i. 231, et seqq.), showing the jealousy of foreign rites and ceremonies, especially in times of danger and disaster.
o Livy, xxix. 12 et seqq.
P During the Republic, the temples
Compare Augustin de Cons. Evang. of Isis and Serapis were twice ordered
For the Grecian custom on this subject, see Thucyd. iv. 98. Philip, the king of Macedon, defeated by Flaminius in his wars with the Grecian states, paid little respect to the temples. His admiral Dicæarchus is
to be destroyed, Dion. xl. p. 142, xlii. p. 196, also liv. p. 525. Val. Max. i. 3. Prop. ii. 24. See La Bastie in Academ. des Inscrip., xv. 40. On the Roman law on this subject, compare Jortin, Discourses, p. 53; Gibbon, vol. i. p. 55, with Wenck's note.
UNIVERSALITY OF CHRISTIANITY.
Christianity proclaimed itself the religion, not of family, or tribe, or nation, but of universal Universality man. 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