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* I may say, the very top and pinnacle of the philosophers of our time, not approving the doc:* trine concerning the deity which prevailed among the Romans, and imagining the Persian
government to be much better, they were disposed to a removal ; and besides, not being al• lowed by the Roman laws to act according to their own sentiments, they went into that strange • country, intending to live there for the future. But when they were come into Persia, things • did not answer their expectations. The king was not such a philosopher, or so wise a man, as • he had been reported to be. The nobles were proud and arrogant; and among the common * people of Persia, as well as among the Romans, fraud and rapine prevailed greatly. They • were likewise offended at the practice of polygamy; which nevertheless did not secure against * adultery. Upon those accounts these philosophers were filled with much concern of mind, • and repented of their removal out of their own country. The king had a respect for them, • and was desirous to detain them. Nevertheless they determined to return home, and there * spend the remainder of their days, though the greatest honours should be proposed to them : • and this benefit they reaped from their extraordinary journey that henceforward they lived. *v y contentedly and comfortably. At that time the Romans and Persians made a truce with : * each other : and one of the conditions in that agreement was, that these men, upon their re• turn home, should be allowed to live quietly, and not be constrained to any thing which they • did not approve of, nor to alter their opinion concerning the ancient religion. Upon this con- « dition Chosroes insisted, and would not consent to the truce otherwise.'
I have thought it best to transcribe this paragraph of Agathias at length, in which so eminent a man as Simplicius is concerned. The same is almost word for word in Suidas.
Baronius speaks of this transaction at the year of Christ 554. Fabricius placeth the return of those philosophers at the year 549. Mr. Mosheim seems to incline to the year 533; when according to our best chronologers'a truce was concluded with the Persians. However, there was another truce with the Persians afterwards in the year 545 or 6546, in the same reign of Justinian, and afterwards' in 556.
Fabricius has collected from his own writings that " Simplicius, who was of Cilicia, was disciple of Ammonius son of Hermias, and of Damascius the Syrian and stoic philosopher; and friend of Eulamius, or Eulalius, the Phrygian. As therefore I have placed Damascius at the year 540, I place his scholar Simplicius at the
Moreover Fabricius has observed, from a work of Simplicius, that'it was written by him, after the death of Damascius. In Suidas ” Damascius is called friend of Simplicius and Eulalius; and undoubtedly they were contemporaries : but we have now, found that Simplicius survived Damascius.
Agathias says nothing of the works of Simplicius; but Fabricius has given an account of them. He speaks particularly of these following: A Commentary upon the eight Books of Aristotle's Physics; A Commentary upon the Categories or Predicaments of Aristotle ; A Commentary upon the four Books of Aristotle concerning the Heavens; A Commentary upon the Enchiridion of Epictetus.
Fabricius" esteems his works a valuable treasury of ancient philosophy, in which are many fragments of the works of the most ancient philosophers then in being, but now. lost. And from
* Ibid. p. 66.
h Basn, ann. 546. i..
CA. D. 554. n. xiv. ;' d Simplicius-unus ex illis philosophis, qui cum pertinaciter Ethnicismo adhærerent, rebus suis sub Justiniani imperio parum fidentes, profecti sunt cum Arcobindo ad Regem Persarum Chosroën ; sed spe suâ frustrati Athenas reverterunt, postquam in induciis Romanorum cum Persis anno Christi 549 cautum esset, ut illis tuto redire in sedes suas, et arbitratu suo vivere liceret, nec avita sacra mutare a Cbristianis cogerentur. Fabr. Bib. Gr. T. 8. p. 621.
• Ex qua licet dein redirent provinciâ, postquam. pacem 'cum. Persis inierat Imperator, quod an. 533 factum esse nuper contendit vir eruditus Petrus Wesselingius. Observationum Variar. libr. i. cap. 28. p. 120, 121. Moshem. De turbata per Platonicos Ecclesiâ. sect. xi. p. 115.
Vide Pagi, an. 533. v. Basn. an. 533. i. 6 Pagi 545. V.
* Simplicius, patrià Cilix, Ammonii (Hermiæ) et Damascii Syri Stoïci philosophi discipulus, et Eulamii Phrygis fami. liaris. &c. Fabr. ib. p. 620.
1 Damascius itidem ο καθηγεμων, et o ημετερος Δαμασκιος, a Simplicio appellatur, qui post eum defunctum scripsisse se in Physica Aristotelis innuit. p. 184. Fabr. ib. p.
620. η Δαμασκιος- -Συμπλικι8 και Ευλαλια των φρυγων ομιληins. V. Damascius.
- quod ex scriptis ejus etiamnum apparet, quæ ætatem tulerunt, cum, non pauciora interciderint. Sed hæc, quæ exstant, tamquam thesaurus quidam veteris philosophiæ, magni merito facienda existimo, tum ob insigne Simplicii ipsius judicium, tum ob fragmenta ex monumentis vetustissimorum philosophorum ; quæ, illâ jam ætate raro obvia, servavit, hypomnematisque suis passim intexuit. Ibid. p. 621.
the indexes which Fabricius has made of the names of authors quoted by Simplicius, and some of them often, they appear to be very numerous.
It is, I think, an evidence that there were then in the possession of some private men large collections of books; or that the learned men of those times had access to some public libraries, which were well stored with the writings of ancient philosophers. The works of Simplicius above-mentioned, which still remain, and are but a part of what he wrote, are a proof, that though he was a firm Gentile, and made open profession of Gentilism, he enjoyed, for a good part of his life, peace and quietness in the prosecution of his studies. Among all the ancient authors alleged by Simplicius, I see not the names of any writers of our canonical scriptures, except ^ Moses the Jewish lawgiver. Mr. Mosheim says, • It may be perceived that Simplicius in his Illustration of the Aristotelian Philosophy, did sometimes reflect upon the Christian doctrine. I have never read that work of Simplicius : Fabricius takes no notice of this particular. If Simplicius did at all reflect upon the Christian doctrine, I imagine that it was done indirectly, and that he never mentioned the Christians expressly.
Of his Commentary upon the Enchiridion of Epictetus, Fabricius says: “There are extant very few ancient heathen writings, in which the divine Providence is better asserted, or better * precepts delivered for the regulation of men's manners.'
I shall here put down the prayer with which Simplicius concludes that commentary. "Grant, • I beseech thee, O Lord, the father and guide of our reason, that we may be mindful of the • dignity which thou hast conferred upon us; and afford us thy assistance that we may act as • free beings; that we may be purified from unreasonable passions, and may subdue and govern * them; and that by the light of truth our judgment may be so directed that we may adhere to · those things which are really good. Finally, I entreat thee, the Saviour, entirely to remove • the mist from the eyes of our mind, that, according to the expression of Homer, we may know - both God and man, and what to each is due:' [or, in other terms, our duty to God and men.)
C H A P. LXIV.
A Review of the Jewish and Heathen Testimonies in the several volumes of this work.
ADD no more testimonies. I therefore shall now make a review of all the writers which have been alleged by me as witnesses to the truth of the Christian religion.
In the latter part of the third volume, are passages of Josephus, and of the Mishnical and Talmudic writers, and Josippon, bearing witness to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the conquest of Judea by Vespasian and Titus, and to the dispersion of the Jewish people, and therein to the accomplishment of our Saviour's predictions of those events; which to me appears a demonstrative argument for the truth of the Christian religion, as has been particularly shewn in the seventh chapter of that part in which is a recollection of the foregoing articles, with reflections upon them.
What they have said of John the Baptist, or of our Saviour Jesus Christ, or of his disciples and followers, has also been taken notice of.
In the latter part of the third volume, and in the foregoing parts of this, are heathen writers who lived in several parts of the Roman empire, in the first and second centuries of the Christian æra; all of them men of great note, such as Tacitus, Martial, Juvenal, Suetonius, Epictetus the stoic philosopher, Irajan, the younger Pliny, Adrianus, Bruttius Præsens, Titus Antoninus, Marcus Antoninus, Apuleius of Madaura in Africa, Celsus, Lucian of Samosata, Aristides the sophist, Galen, and divers others; who in their remaining works have borne testimony to the destruction of Jerusalem at the time, and in the circumstances, predicted by our Saviour; to the antiquity and genuineness of the books of the New Testament; to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the founder of the Christian religion, in “ the reign of Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was procurator in Judea, and to many other facts of the evangelical history; to the persecutions endured by the Christians in the times of Nero, Domitian, 'Trajan, and Marcus Antoninus, and to the patience and fortitude of the Christians under them, and to the progress of the Christian religion, notwithstanding those discouragements; to the innocence and inoffensiveness of their principles, worship, and manners, and to their remarkable mutual love, and readiness to perform good offices to each other, when under difficulties. Adrian's 6 letter to Servianus, his brother-in-law, bears testimony to the great number and influence of the Christians in Ægypt in the year 134. His · Rescript to Minucius Fundanus, proconsul of Asia, and Titus Antoninus's edict, and letters to the states of Asia, and to the Larisseans, Thessalonians, Athenians, and other Greeks, are very favourable to the Christians.' In the letter of Pliny to Trajan, and Trajan's rescript, and in the extracts from the fragments of the work of Celsus, are too many things worthy of observation to be here rehearsed. I must therefore refer my readers to the summaries of those articles, and to the reflections there made upon them. And if I may here deliver my own opinion, these early testimonies of heathen writers, in the first two centuries, are very material and highly valuable; and as important a part as any, if not the most important part of this work. I would likewise here refer my readers to the chapter ' entitled, • the conclusion of the second century.'
* Moses Judæorum legislator, p. 268. de origine mundi, me ita esse affectum, ut in totâ antiquitate putem exstare huu born wapodopis, ato judwr ASYUTTIWY Elivojevn. ib. et p. paucissima scripta (de Ethnicis loquor) quæ vel ad mores for270. Ap. Fabric. ibid. p. 030,
mandos saniora præcepta contineat, vel providentiam divinam • Simplicius in Explanationibus Aristotelis dogmata nostra rectius asserant propugnentque, Fabr, ib. p. 621. haud obscure mordet. Moshem. Instit. p. 236.
d Vol. iii. p. 574, &c. Commentario autem ejus in Enchiridion Epicteti fateor e P. 534, &c. p. 551-558.
We now proceed to the testimonies of heathen writers of the third century, and to the conversion of Constantine.
In Diogenes Laertius, about the year 210, is a history which gives great light to St. Paul's discourse at Athens, 'when he put the Athenians and their learned philosophers in mind of an altar of theirs with an inscription, · To the unknown God.'
From Lactantius we learn that the great lawyer Domitius Ulpian,' about the year 222, in his book Of the Duty of a Proconsul, made a collection of all the edicts of former emperors against the Christians; and, probably, with a design to let the proconsuls see how they might treat the Christians: and the connection in Lactantius leads us to think there were in that work of Ulpian not only laws of princes, but also decrees of lawyers, which were prejudicial to the Christians. And, as was formerly observed, if this work of Ulpian should ever be found, it. would be a very great curiosity, and afford us a distinct knowledge of some things which we now know only imperfectly.
In Dion Cassius's noble work, the History of the Romans, published about the year 230, we have seen ' another valuable testimony to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the Jewish people in Judea by Vespasian and Titus. In him also we have seen another testimony * to Domitian's persecution of the Christians, and several circumstances of it.
. From him also we learn 'Nerva's favourable regard to them. And by him, or by Xiphilinus his abridger, we are assured that " Marcia, concubine of the emperor Commodus, bore good will to the Christians, and did them good offices, she having a great ascendency over Commodus.
In Amelius, " a Platonic philosopher, who wrote about the year 263, we have seen a very distinct and honourable testimony to St. John's gospel.
That eminent critic, Longinus, about the year 264, in his work, Of the Sublime, has o made very honourable mention of Moses, the Jewish lawgiver, and commends the style in which he. represents the creation of the world. There is also a fragment ascribed to him, in which the apostle Paul is mentioned to advantage; ? but I do not think it genuine.
The saying of · Numenius,. What is Plato but Moses in Greek? is well known, and is recorded by divers ancient writers; but the time of Numenius is uncertain: nor is it clear that he has at all referred to the affairs of the Christians, or their scriptures.
See Tacitus, Vol. iii. p. 611. Celsus, in this Vol. p. 125-130. Lucian, p. 150.
b This Vol.
54. c P. 52.
& P. 171-176.
" P. 179, 180.
* P. 183-185. m P. 156.
d P. 69-72. • For Pliny and Trajan, see p. 39–43. and for Celsus,
í P. 162-165.. p. 142–149.
A P. 200-202. P P. 204.
In the six writers of the Augustan History, who flourished about the year 306, in their Lives of the several Roman emperors, we have met with divers things concerning the Christians deserving of notice.
Spartian, in his Life of the emperor Septimius Severus, has recorded the substance and the time of his edict against the Christians more particularly than any of our own writers. • In • his journey through Palestine he enacted several laws: he forbade, under a severe penalty, • that any should become Jews; he also published a like edict against the Christians:' which determines the beginning of that persecution to the tenth year of the reign of Severus, the year of Christ 202; when he and his son Caracalla were consuls together.
The same writer in the life of Caracalla, eldest son of Severus, has given an account of some childish behaviour of his when seven years of age, which, compared with some things said by "Tertullian, leads us to think, that Severus and his family were well acquainted with the Christians; to whom also, as we evidently perceive, Severus was favourable in the former part of his reign. Ælius Lampridius, in his life of Antoninus Heliogabalus, who reigned from the
year 218 to 222, lets us know, that that wild emperor erected a temple upon mount Palatine, near the
imperial palace, to the god Elagabalus, intending to bring into that temple every object of the * veneration of the Romans. He said likewise, that the religion of the Jews and of the Samari« tans, and the devotion of the Christians, must be transferred thither, that the priesthood of Elagabalus might comprehend in it the mysteries of all religions.' Which manifestly shews that the Christian religion was then well known in the world.
The same writer, in his life of Alexander Severus, who reigned thirteen years from March 222 to March 235, says, he o maintained the privileges of the Jews; he tolerated the Chris
tians.' He also says that this emperor had two private chapels, one more honourable than . the other; and that in the former were placed the deified emperors, and also some eminent good men, and among them Abraham, Christ, and Orpheus.' 'He has several other passages concerning that emperor' which are very honourable to the Christians, which have been tran- , scribed by us with remarks; and the reader is now referred to them.
Flavius Vopiscus, in his life of the emperor Aurelian, gives an account of a letter of his to the senate of Rome, probably written in the beginning of his reign, in the year 270 or 271, where the Christians are expressly mentioned. And it shews that they and their distinguishing principles, and the worship in their religious assemblies, were well known in the Roman empire, and to men of quality, and of the highest rank, as well as to others.
The emperor Philip, whose reign began in the year 244, has by some been reckoned a Chris, tian: that question therefore has been carefully considered by us in its proper place.
Beside all the above mentioned writers who have occasionally mentioned the Christians or their affairs, or who have afforded elucidations to some parts of our scriptures, we have in this period met with three learned men, who exerted their talents, in writing against the Christians.
One of whom is Porphyry, ' who flourished about the year 270, a disciple of Plotinus, a man of great abilities, who published against the Christians a large work in fifteen books. His objections against Christianity were in esteem with Gentile people for a long while; and the Chris. tians were not insensible of the importance of his work; as may be concluded from the several answers made to it by Eusebius, and others in great repute for learning, and from the violent, though ill judged attempts of Christian magistrates to have them destroyed. His enmity to the Christians and their principles was very great. Nevertheless from the remaining fragments of his work against the Christians, and from his other writings, we may reap no small benefit.
He * appears to have been well acquainted with the books of the Old and New Testament. We have observed in him plain references to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, and the Acts of the apostles, and the epistle to the Galatians; and, in his remarks upon that epistle, probable references to the other epistles of St. Paul. There can be no question made that in his work against the Christians many other books of the New Testament were quoted or referred to by him. In a fragment of his work against the Christians he has these expressions: • And • now people wonder that this distemper has oppressed the city so many years, Æsculapius and
a P. 168.
b P. 166.
c P. 251. e Ibid.
IP. 177-179 1 P. 187-191.
See p. 209, &c.
P. 284. ' P. 284, where, and at p. 297, 298, are remarks upon that passage.
• the other gods no longer conversing with men; for since Jesus has been honoured none have received any benefit from the gods. And again, in his Life of Plotinus, he says there were then · many Christians.' But the work entitled “The Philosophy of Oracles,' which has been sometimes quoted as his, I reckon to be spurious.
At ' the beginning of Dioclesian's persecution, about the year 303, as we learn from Lactantius, another work was published against the Christians by a learned man, who was by profession a philosopher. It consisted of three books, and therefore must have been a large volume; but we do not know his name nor much of the contents of his work.
About the same time another work was written against the Christians, in two books, by Hierocles a man of learning, and a person of authority and influence as a magistrate. He was. well acquainted with our scriptures, and made many objections against them; thereby bearing testimony to their antiquity, and to the great respect which was shewn to them by the Christians; for he has referred to both parts of the New Testament, the gospels and the epistles. He mentions Peter and Paul by name, and casts reflections upon them. He did not deny the truth of our Saviour's miracles; but in order to overthrow the argument which the Christians formed from them in proof of our Saviour's divine authority and mission, he set up Apollonius Tyanæus as a rival, or superior to him; but it was a vain effort, as we have largely shewn.
In that volume is an account of all the persecutions endured by the Christians from the year of our Lord 202, when the emperor Severus published his edict against the Christians, to the end of Dioclesian's persecution, in the year 313; when ' Constantine and Licinius, published an edict in favour of the Christians, and gave leave to them, and to all men in general, to worship God in the way most agreeable to their own judgment. After which we have made some remarks upon the state of Christianity under heathen emperors. And it was shewn that during that time Christianity was always in a state of persecution, and that nevertheless it greatly prevailed; which is honourable to the religion of Jesus, and to the professors of it at that time.
We now proceed to the Testimonies of Heathen Writers in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries of the Christian æra.
The first witness here alleged is Chalcidius, –a Platonic philosopher, about the year 330, who bears testimony to the appearance of an extraordinary star at the time of our Saviour's nativity; thereby plainly confirming the history which is in the second chapter of St. Matthew's gospel.
Alexander of Lycopolis in Egypt, ' about the year 350, speaks honourably of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and his religion, or the Christian philosophy as he calls it; and which he commends, as "plain and simple, and designed to reform the manners of men of all ranks.' And he has some references to the scriptures of the Old and New Testament.
Praxagoras k an Athenian, about the year 350, published several works of history, and wrote also the history of Constantine the great, in two books, and gives that emperor a great character.
Bemarchius of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, sophist, about the same time wrote the history of Constantine, in ten books. Nothing of that history now remains, but it was a large work; and there is reason to believe that it was favourable to that emperor.
Next follows the emperor ^ Julian, who succeeded Constantius in the year 361. In writing his history we have endeavoured to exhibit the most material and remarkable parts of it; his conduct in early life, and after his accession to the empire; his behaviour toward the Christians, and his regard for the Jewish people: and we persuade ourselves that we have represented his character impartially. We have also made large extracts out of his work against the Christians, and out of his orations and epistles.
In his work against the Christians he has borne a valuable testimony to the history, and to the books of the New Testament. He allows that Jesus was born in the reign of Augustus, at the time of a taxing made in Judea by Cyrenius: that the Christian religion had its rise, and began to be propagated in the times of the Roman emperors Tiberius and Claudius. He bears witness to the genuineness and authenticity of the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and