Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

• them to retreat, so that they knew not what course to take. At that time an inhabitant of the * country, who was friendly to the Romans came to Hosidius, and advised him to make use of

magical incantations; assuring him that, by that means, he had often obtained rain. The • Roman general having followed that advice, there fell on a sudden great quantities of rain, - which refreshed the Romans and terrified their enemies. For they concluded that the gods

favoured them. They therefore submitted, and accepted of the terms of peace proposed to "them.' So writes Dion Cassius.

There was another like shower in the contention between Niger and Septimius Severus, particularly in the last and decisive action, as related also by Dion Cassius. • For a while,' he says, the battle was fought with doubtful and almost equal success. Afterwards the army of

Niger, by the superiority of their numbers and the advantage of the situation, prevailed very • considerably, and the victory had been coinplete; were it not that on a sudden, when the sky

was clear, nor a puff of wind blowing, there appeared clouds, and a violent shower of rain fol• lowed, with terrible thunder and lightning, which beat upon the faces of Niger's men. At the * same time the army of Severus was not at all annoyed, as the storm was at their backs. This • circumstance animated the army of Severus, esteeming themselves favoured by the Deity. But • the army of Niger was dispirited, and gave way, thinking that heaven fought against them. In

a short time the victory became complete: and not less than twenty thousand men were slain • on the side of Niger.' So writes Dion again. But I do not here see any notice taken of magical incantations. The storm therefore happened in the usual course of nature; though it was sudden and unexpected (as such things frequently are) and it was favourable to the army of Severus. This is supposed to have happened in the year of Rome 947, of Christ 194.

I add no more observations.

IV. It may be reasonably expected that this long argument should be now summed up, and reduced to some propositions. This summary shall be now made according to the sentiments, and almost in the very words, of the late · Mr. Mosheim.

1. • In the first place, It is certain that, in the war with the Quadians and Marcomanni in Germany, Marcus, with his army, was in great danger. Marcus was a better philosopher than emperor: nor could he learn the art of war from the writings of the stoics. And his imminent danger from the enemy may be imputed to his own imprudence.'

2. • It is also certain that he was unexpectedly delivered out of that great danger by a • shower of rain, accompanied with thunder and lightning, and obtained a victory?

3. • Farther, It is certain that not only the Christians, but also the emperor and the Romans, ascribed that shower, the great cause of their deliverance and victory, not to the ordinary • course of nature, but to an extraordinary interposition of the divine power: they to the true • God, and their own prayers; these to Jove or Mercury. This we learn from the Roman

authors, Dion Cassius, Capitolinus, Claudian, and Themistius, and especially from the pillar at • Rome, set up by Marcus, and still remaining, in which Jupiter, the giver of rain, is represented • refreshing the almost-expiring Roman soldiers by a plentiful shower of rain.'

• There may have been many Christian soldiers in Marcus's army. If there were, it may be taken for granted that, in the time of the danger, they offered up prayers to God for deliverance: and that afterwards they also gave thanks to God for it; and when they sent an account of it to their Christian brethren, they let them know how great advantages God had vouchsafed to their prayers. Hence it is easy to suppose that a rumour prevailed, and was also firmly believed, that the Romans had been miraculously saved by the prayers of the Christians.”

5. •It is false, though supported by the authority of Apollinaris and Eusebius, that there ' was a whole legion of Christian soldiers in Marcus's army. Consequently, there is no reason « to believe that, when this imminent danger appeared, these soldiers drew up in a body, and

falling down upon their knees presented prayers to God; and that immediately, before their - prayers were over, a shower, with lightning and thunder, came down from heaven.'

P: 948.

εκ του ουρανου ερέυη, ωςε και αυτο διψος εξακεσασθαι, και τες
πολεμιες προσκαταπληξαι, νομισαντας το Θειον οι επικουρειν.

a Loco citato. Vid. et Basnag. Ann. 42. num. i.
► Dion. lib 74. p. 843. al. p. 1248, 1249.
• Και παντελως εκρατησαν, ει μη νεφη εξ αιθριας, και αν

μος εκ νηνεμιας, βρονται σε σκληραι και αςρασαι οξειαι με:
νετο λαβρα κατα προσωπον αυτοις προσεσεσον. κ. λ. p. 1249,

d L. cit. et Cont. Basvag. anu. Ch. 194. num. iii.

" Mosh. de Rebus Christianor. ansę Constant. M. sec. 3* scct. xvii. p. 248–253,

6. * It is not true that Marcus ascribed the safety of himself and army to tliat legion, and thereupon honoured it with the name of the thundering legion. Scaliger, and Henry Valesius, • and other learned men, have shewn that the thundering legion is older than the times of Mar

cus, and did not take its denomination from this event. But some Christian, little acquainted • with the military affairs of the Romans, having heard that there was such a legion, concluded,

without reason, that it had derived its name from thunder and lightning, obtained by the prayers of Christians, and then propagated his groundless imagination, which was received as • true by too many, without examination, as is common in such cases.'

7. That Marcus did not think that he owed his safety to the favour which the Christians were in with God, is manifest from the pillar set up at Rome, with his consent and approbation, • in which Jupiter is acknowledged to be the deliverer of the Romans.'

8. Consequently, all that is said of Marcus's public letter, written at that time, in which • he is supposed to have extolled the piety of the Christians, and to have restrained their enemies and accusers, is entirely without foundation.'

· The letter which we now have, and is generally placed at the end of one of Justin Martyr's « apologies, is allowed, even by the defenders of the miracle of the thundering legion, to have

in it manifest tokens of spuriousness, and to be the work of a man unskilful in Roman affairs, • and who probably lived in the seventh century.'

• But since Tertullian, in the fifth chapter of his Apology, makes mention of such a letter of Marcus, many are of opinion that in his time it was really in being, but has been since lost, • through the injury of time. On` the other hand,' says Tertullian, we can allege a protector,

as may appear, if the letter of Marcus Aurelius, a most worthy emperor, be sought for, in • which he acknowledgeth the remarkable drought in Germany to have been removed by a

shower, obtained perhaps by the prayers of Christian soldiers.' 'Nevertheless this testimony of Tertullian is weakened, and even overthrown, by divers considerations. I forbear, says Mr. Mosheim, to insist here upon the word . perhaps;' whence some learned men have argued that Tertullian himself doubted of this miracle, or that he had not seen the emperor's letter. For to me it appears clear that it does not relate to Tertullian, but to the emperor and his letter. The meaning of what he says is this: that Marcus did not. openly confess and declare that the shower was obtained by the prayers of Christian soldiers, but spoke doubtfully, that perhaps this great

benefit was owing to the prayers of the Christians.' This I pass by. But there are two other considerations by which this testimony is absolutely enervated and overthrown. First of all, what Tertullian says of the design of the emperor's letter, if I am not greatly mistaken, manifests that when he wrote this he had in his eye the edict of Antoninus the pious, (who is often confounded with Marcus,) which he sent to the community of Asia, of which we spoke formerly. For so he says: Who, though he did not openly abrogate the laws against the Christians, yet • in another way he openly broke their force, appointing also a penalty to their accusers, and of

the severest sort.' Let us, now attend. First of all Tertullian says that · Marcus did not openly • abrogate the laws against the Christians,' that is, he did not openly forbid Christians to be punished. Then he adds, but in another way he openly broke the force of the laws,' that is, he made a wise provision that the Christians should not be easily punished by the judges. Lastly be

says, * that he appointed a punishment for the accusers of the Christians. All these three things exactly suit the edict of Antoninus the pious to the common council of Asia. There, indeed, he does not absolutely forbid the punishing of Christians: nevertheless, when he appoints that no Christian should be punished, unless he be convicted of some crime, he very much restrains their punishment, and contracts their sufferings in narrow limits: Lastly, he requires that the accusers of the Christians, who could not convict them of some crime, should undergo the punishment of their own temerity. In this therefore, as I think, Tertullian was certainly inis

* At nos, ait Tertullianus, e contrario edimus protectorem. tanter loqui, atque significare, 'forte' magnum hoc beneficium Si literæ Marci Aurelii gravissimi Imperatoris requirantur, Christianorum precibus deberi. Moshem. ibid. p. 251. quibus illam Germanicam sitim Christianorum forte militum c I also think that edict, isent to the community of Asia, precationibus impetrato imbri discussum contestatur. Ap. to be rightly ascribed to Antoninus the Pious. It may be cap.5.

seen at length above, at p. 69, 70. • Manifesto nimirum pertinet, non ad Tertullianum, verum d Sic nempe loquitur : sicut non palam ab hujusmodi hoad Imperatorem, ejusque epistolam ; sensusque orationis bic minibus pænam dimovit, ita alio modo palam dispersit; adext: Marcum non aperte fateri ac decernere, imbrem militum jectà etiam accusatoribus damnatione, et quidem tetriore. Christianorum supplicationibus impetratum esse, verum dubi- Apol. cap. 5. VOL. IV.


[ocr errors]

taken in ascribing the edict of Antoninus the pious to his successor Marcus Antoninus. And when he had been told that Marcus and his army had been saved in a time of imminent danger by the prayers of the Christians, he imagined that this benefit had induced Marcus to pass that law in their favour. The other consideration, which invalidates this testimony of Tertullian, is the persecution of the Christians at Lyons and Vienne, of which we spoke formerly. It happened in the year of Christ 177, three years after the victory obtained over the Quadians and Narcomanni. For who can believe that the emperor, who in a public letter to the senate, in the year 174, had extolled the Christians, and appointed a heavy punishment to their accusers, should in the year 177 deliver them up into the hands of their enemies, and order them to be capitally punished, unless they renounced their religion?

9. There still remains one point to be considered: Whether the shower, by which the • Romans were saved in the war with the Marcomanni, ought to be placed in the number of * miracles. But this question, in my opinion, may be solved without much difficulty. Learned • men are now agreed that nothing ought to be placed among miracles, which may be accounted • for by the ordinary powers of nature. But in this shower, though it happened unexpectedly, • there is nothing beyond the power of nature, or which needs a divine interposition. For it is • a very common thing, according to the laws of nature, for long droughts in the summer season • to be followed with plentiful showers of rain, joined with terrifying thunder and lightning. • Nor ought it to be esteemed miraculous that the lightning fell upon some of the enemies, and * put their army to flight: forasmuch as all the people of Germany supposed that lightnings • came from God, and they would form their judgment accordingly.

So writes Mr. Mosheim; and, as seems to me, judiciously and plausibly. I have transcribed him here, as summing up my argument, and making also some valuable additions to it.

I shall take this opportunity to correct a mistake common among learned foreigners-that Mr. King, who had a debate with Mr. Moyle about the thundering legion, was Sir Peter King, afterwards Baron of Ockham, and Lord High Chancellor of England. So thought Mr. Mosheim, who translated these letters into Latin, and in the main embraced Mr. Moyle's sentiments. But I am assured, by those who are likely to know the truth, that Mr. King, who disputed with • Mr. Moyle, was a clergyman, and minister of Topsham near Exeter: which last was the place • of his nativity, as well as Sir Peter's. He is the same King to whom Mr. Lock wrote some • letters, which are in the posthumous collection of his letters, published by Mr. Collings. He • is there styled the reverend Mr. King.'

It is pity that the person who corresponded with Mr. Moyle, upon so curious a subject, should be so little known. Mr. King and Mr. Moyle must have been intimate friends; for Mr. Moyle's Dissertation


age of the Philopatris was sent to the same person in several letters. Since writing what is above I have received an authentic account from a gentleman personally acquainted with Mr. Moyle. It is in these words: · Mr. Moyle's correspondent in the affair • of the thundering legion was Mr. Richard King, vicar of Topsham. Mr. Moyle died in 1721; • Mr. King survived him many years.”


a That observation of Mr. Mosheim answers to what is the fPost hos Petrus Kingius, Magnæ Britanniæ Cancellarius, sixth observation of Mr. Moyle, p. 99, &c. • That the deli- et Gualther. Moylius, Eques Anglus inprimis acutus et eru

verance of the Roman army, though undoubtedly true, was ditus, de hac re epistolis quibusdam egerunt; quas ex An-
'no miracle.' Whereupon the same ingenious writer pro- glico Latine conversas Syntagmati Dissertationum ad disci-
ceeds: "I see nothing supernatural in this deliverance of the plinas sanctiores pertinentium cum observationibus nonnullis
• Romans. Thunder and rain are no miracles; and they are adjeci. Moshem. de Reb. Christian. ante C. M. p. 249.
• nevertheless natural for happening in so critical a season. Walterus Moyle. Diss. contra Petrum Kingium, inserta
• There are examples enough in the Greek and Roman story tomo secundo ejus Operum, editorum Anglice Londin. 1726.

of such casual events, which, because they were a little 8. Fabric. Lux Evangel. p. 139.
uncommon and surprising, and fell out in seasonable junc-
• lures of time, have been styled miracles by the ignorance
* and superstition of the vulgar.' &c.



1. His history, time, and works. II. Passages relating to the Christians. III. Miracles ascribed

to him. IV. The design of his metamorphosis, or golden ass.

1. Lucius Apuleius of Madaura in Africa, a Platonic philosopher, flourished in the times of the emperors Antoninus the pious and M. Antoninus the philosopher. Madaura was a Roman colony, and his family was considerable. He appears to have had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and studied at Carthage, Athens, and Rome. He was the author of many works, divers « of which still remain monuments of great learning and ingenuity.

He had married a rich widow, named Pudentilla, against the will of her first husband's relations, which occasioned him a great deal of trouble. They accused him of the practice of magical arts to gain her consent. He pleaded for himself before Claudius Maximus, proconsul of Asia, who had been consul of Rome in the year of Christ 144: which has induced learned men to place Apuleius as flourishing about the year 163.

II. Apuleius seems to have had some knowledge of the Christians and their affairs.

The first place which I shall quote will be taken from his Metamorphosis, or the Ass, or the Golden Ass, as it is sometimes called; which is a fabulous story, wherein are represented many events observed by him, and disasters that befel him, whilst in the shape of an ass, enjoying human understanding. He could see, and hear, and observe; but ' he could not speak with human voice.

1. Among his many adventures in this state one is this: he was sold to a baker; who,' as che

says, ' was a very good sort of a man, but he had a very bad wife, who so abused her hus• band, that he could not but lament his unhappy condition as well as his own. She had every * vice without any thing agreeable. She was perverse, ill-natured, obstinate, given to drinking, • she robbed her husband, was profuse in her expenses, and unchaste; and moreover, slighting * the immortal gods and their worship, instead of the true religion she adopted a false and sacri• legious opinion concerning the Deity, which she said was one only, and practised vain obser• vances, deceiving all men, and especially her miserable husband, and devoting herself to drink

ing and lewdness from morning to night. The mistress being such a woman, she was very • seyere to the new-bought ass. She took care he should be early put to the mill; nor would she let him be released when the other cattle were at noon. And what follows.'.

There can be no doubt that Apuleius here designs to represent a Christian woman. And,

a Vid. Fabr. Bib. Lat. 1. 3. cap. ii. T. i. p. 514. &c. Apuleii longe deterrimam sortitus conjugem, pænas extremas tori Vita et Scripta, ex Wowero, ap. Apul. in usum Delphin. larisque sustinebat ; ut, hercules, ejus vicem ego quoque taciBasnag. Ann. 163. n. v. Tillemont L'Emp. Marc. Aurèle. ius frequenter ingemiscerem. Nec enim ullum vitium nequissect. 32. Bayle Dictionnaire, Apulée.

simæ illi feminä deerat: sed omnia prorsus, ut in quamdam • In quà coloniâ patrem habui loco principe Duumviralem, cænosam latrinam, in ejus animum flagitia confluxerant. cunctis honoribus perfunctum. Apol. p. 414. And farther Scæva, sæva, vitiosa, ebriosa, pervicax, pertinax, in rapinis see Bayle, as above, note a.

turpibus avara, in sumtibus turpibus profusa, inimica fidei, • Vid. Apul. Ap. p. 442. et Florida. I. 4. num. 18. p. 813. hostis pudicitiæ. Tunc spretis, atque calcatis divinis numiniet num. 20. p. 831.

bus, in vicem certæ religionis, mentitâ sacrilegâ præsumtione . Metamorphosis, sive Lusus Asini. Pro se apud Cl. virum, Dei, quem prædicaret unicum, confictis, observationibus Cl. Maximum Proconsulem Apologia. De Habitudine Doc- vanis, fallens omnes homines, et miserum maritum decipiens, trinarum Platonis Philosophi. De Deo Socratis. De Mundo. matutino mero et continuo stupro corpus njanicipârat. “Talis Florida.

illa mulier miro me persequebatur odio. Nam et anteluculo e Ego vero, quamquam perfectus asinus, et pro Lucio ju. recubans adhuc, subjungi machinæ novitium clamabat asinum; mentum, sensum tamen retinebam humanum. Metam. 1. 3. et statim, ut cubiculo primum processerat, insistens jubebat p. 95.

incoram sui plagas mibi quamplurimas irrogari; et cum tem-sed jam humano gestu simul et voce privatus. Ibid. pestivo prandio laxarentur jumenta cætera, longe tardius 8 Pistor ille, qui me pretio suum fecerat, bonus alioqui vir, applicari præsepio jubebat. Metam. 1. 9. p. et apprime modestus, pessimam et ante cunctas mulieres



as he was pleased to prolong his fiction with a great variety of incidents, we are not to wonder that he brought in this character. The Christians at that time, being under persecution, often had their religious solemnities, and particularly the eucharist, early in the morning. Therefore Apuleius charges this woman with getting up early to drink. And as their assemblies for divine worship were then private, and sometimes in the night season, he charges her with lewd

It is also very likely that Christian people were often charged with robbing their husbands'—to give to poor Christians or their ministers.' It cannot be thought very strange that, in such a work as this, Apuleius should gratify his own malice, and divert his reader with the character of a Christian, dressed up agreeably to the common reports which prevailed among their enemies.

2. I now proceed to another place, which is in the apology; where Apuleius, having mentioned his own initiations into the mysteries of several deities, he goes on: . But · I know some, • and especially that Emilian, (brother of Pudentilla's first husband, by whom the present accu“sation was carried on,) who laughs at all these things and derides them; for, as I hear, from * the accounts of those who know them well, he has never yet made supplication to any god, * nor worshipped in any temple. When he passes by a consecrated place, he esteems it a crime • to put his hand to his mouth by the way of adoration: nor does he consecrate to the gods of

agriculture, who feed and clothe him, any first-fruits of grain, or of the vine, or of his flocks. • Nor is there in his country seat any chapel, nor indeed any consecrated grove or other place • whatever. But why do I talk of groves and chapels? They who have been there say they • never saw in his territories so much as a stone anointed with oil, or a crowned bough. Inso' much that there are two surnames given him; Charon, as I said before, because of the fierce'ness of his look and temper; the other is Mezentius, upon account of his contempt of the gods: which last mentioned name, possibly, he likes the best of the two.'

There is very little here that needs explication. But it may be proper to observe that Mezen. tius is the name of a king of the Tyrrhenians, who is several times spoken of by Virgil as a contemner of the gods.

The place first alleged by me has been taken notice of by all commentators upon Apuleius in general. But this other was first observed by the learned Dr. Warburton, now bishop of Gloucester; 'who, from what Apuleius has said, concludes that Licinius Æmilianus, his wife's brother-in-law, was a Christian; and that the accusation of magic, brought by him before the proconsul of Africa, did not a little contribute to inflame our author's bigotry for Gentilism, and increase his aversion to Christianity.

3. I shall allege one place more in the same apology, where he wards off the charge of magic in procuring the marriage with Pudentilla in this manner: If;'d says he, they can shew any . particular advantage which I could propose to myself in this marriage, let me then be esteemed

Carinondas, Damigeron, or that Moses, or Jannes, or Apollonius, or Dardanus, or any other, "who since Zoroaster and Hostanes have been most celebrated among magicians.

In 2 Tim. iii. 8. mention is made of “ Jannes and Jambres, who withstood Moses." I do not say that Apuleius had read this text, or any book of the New Testament: but the passage is a proof that Moses was well known in the world as a person of great eminence; and doubtless he was esteemed the Jewish lawgiver.

III. I have not observed any more passages in Apuleius relating to the Christians. In the

• Atqui ego scio nonnullos, et cum primis Æmilianum b Primus init bellum Tyrrhenis asper ab oris, istum, facetiæ sibi habere res divinas deridere. Nam, ut Contemtor divûm Mezentius, agminaque armat. audio, percensentibus iis qui istum novere, nulli Deo ad hoc

Virg. £. I. 8. ver. 647, 648. ævi supplicavit: si fanum aliquod prætereat, nefas habet, Contemtorque Deëm Mezentius. Ib. l. 8. ver. 7. adorandi gratiâ, manum labris admovere. Iste vero nec Diis ☺ See the Divine Legation of Moses demonstrated. B. 4. rurationis, qui eum pascunt ac vestiunt, segetes ullas, aut vitis sect. 4. p. 120. in the notes, the second vol. edit. 1741. aut gregis primitias impartit. Nullum in villâ ejus delubrum ^ Si una causa, vel minima, fuerit inventa, cur ego debusitum, nullus locus aut lucus consecratus.

At quid ego

erim Pudentillæ nuptias, ob aliquod meum commodum appeluco et delubro loquor? Negant vidisse se, qui fuere, unum tere ; si quamlibet modicum emolumentum probaveritis, ego saltem in finibus ejus aut lapidem unctum, aut ramum corona- ille sim Carinondas, vel Damigeron, vel is Moses, vel Jannes, tum. Igitur agnomenta ei duo indita : Charon, ut jam dixi, vel Apollonius, vel ipse Dardanus, vel quicumque alius, post ob oris et animi diritatem ; sed alterum, quod libentius audit, Zoroastrem et Hostanem, inter magos celebratus est. Apol. ob Deorum contemtum, Mezentius. Quapropter facile intelligo, hasce ei tot initiorum enumerationes nugas videri. &c. . Vid. Strabon. 1. 16. p. 760. al. 1103. Tacit. Hist. 1. 5. Apol. p. 496, 497.


P. 544.

cap. 4,

« AnteriorContinuar »