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tion as the most sacred of all the laws of nations?



We are told, that as soon as the Christian religion began to make its appearance, its fol. lowers were persecuted by these very Romans who persecuted no one. This fact, however, appears to me to be evidently false, and I defire no better authority than that of St. Paul him. felf. In the acts of the Apostles *, we are told, that St. Paul being accused by the Jews of attempting to overturn the Mosaic law by that of Jesus Christ, St. James proposed to him to fhave his head, and go into the temple with four Jews, and purify himself with them, " That all men may know, says he, that those " things whereof they were informed concerno ing thee, are nothing, but that thou thyfelf 66 doft keep the law of Mofes.”

Accordingly, we find that St. Paul, though a Christian, submitted to perform these Jewish ceremonies for the space of seven days; but before the expiration of this time, the Jews of Asia, who knew him again, seeing him in the

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temple, not only with Jews but Gentiles also, cried out, that he had polluted the holy place, and laid hands upon him, drew him out of the temple, and carried him before the governor Felix: they afterwards accused him at the judgment-seat of Feftus, whither the Jews came in crowds demanding his death. But Feftus answered them, “. It is not the manner of the « Romans to deliver any man to die, before 6 that he which is accused have the accusers o face to face, and have licence to answer for « himself +."

These words of the Roman magistrate are more remarkable, as he appears to have been no favourer of St. Paul, but rather to have held him in contempt, for, imposed upon by the false lights of his own reason, he took him for a person besides himself; nay, he expressly says, to him,“ Much learning hath made thee mad G.” Festus then, was entirely guided by the equity of the Roman law, in taking under his protection a stranger, for whom he could have no regard,

+ Acts 25.

§ Ibid, 263


Here then we have the word of God itself declaring, that the Romans were a just people, and no persecutors. Besides, it was 'not the Romans who laid violent 'hands on St. Paul, but the Jews. St. James, the brother of Jesus, was stoned to death by order of a Sadducee Jew, and not by that of a Roman judge: it was the Jews alone who put St. Stephen to death I; and though St. Paul held the clothes of those who stoned him, he certainly did not act then as a Roman citizen.

The primitive Christians had certainly no cause of complaint against the Romans; the Jews, from whom they at that time began to

Though the power of life and death in criminal inatters had been taken from the Jews after the banishment of Archelaus into the country of the Allobroges, and that Judea had been governed as a province; nevertheless, the Romans frequentlý winked at the exertion of a judicial power by these people on any particular occafion that related merely to those of their own sect ; such as for instance, when in any sudden tumult, they out of zeal stoned to death the person whom they thought guilty of blasphemy.


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separate themselves, were their only enemies. Every one knows the implacable hatred all sectaries bare to those who quit their sect. There, doubtless, were several tumults in the synagogues at Rome. Suetonius, in his life of Claudius, has these words, Judæos impulsore Christo afsidue tumultuantes Roma expulit. He is wrong in saying, that it was at the instigation of Christ they raised commotions in Rome; but he could not be acquainted with all the circumstances relating to a people who were held in such contempt at Rome as the Jews were; and, however mistaken he may have been in this particular, yet he is right as to the occasion of these commotions. Suetonius wrote in the reign of Adrian in the second century, when the Christians were not distinguished from the Jews by the Romars : therefore this passage of Suetonius is a proof, that the Romans, so far from opprefsing the primitive Christians, chastised the Jews who persecuted them, being desirous that the Jewish synagogue at Rome should show the same indulgence to its dissenting brethren, as it received itself from the Roman senate : and we find from Dion Caffius and Ulpian, that the Jews who were thus banished from Rome,


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returned soon after, and even attained to feveral honours and dignities,' notwithstanding the laws which excluded them therefrom I. Can it be believed, that after the destruction of Jerusalem, the emperors would have loaded the Jews with their favours, and have persecuted and put to death the Chriftians, whom they looked upon as a sect of the Jews !

Nero is said to have been a great persecator of the Christians. But Tacitus tells us, that they were accused with having set fire to the city of Rome, and were thereupon given up to the resentment of the populace. But had religion any thing to do in this charge ? No, certainly. We might as well say, that the Chinese, whom the Dutch murdered a few years ago in Batavia, were slaughtered on account of their religion ? And nothing but a strong desire to deceive ourselves can possibly make us attribute to persecution the sufferings

| Ulpianus l. tit. II. Eis qui judaicam superfiitionem fequuntur, honores adipisci permiferent, &c.


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