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returned soon after, and even attained to several 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 Christians, whom they looked upon as a feet of the Jews !
Nero is said to have been a great persecutor 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 posibly make us attribute to persecution the sufferings
| Ulpianus 1. tit. II. Eis qui judaicam fuperfti. tionem fequuntur, honores adipisci permiferent, &c.
of a few half-Jews and half-Christians under
+ Tacitus's words are : Quos per flagitie invisos vulgus Chriftianos appellabat.
It is hardly probable that the name of Christian was already known in Rome; Tacitus wrote in the reigns of the emperors Vespasian and Domitian ; and he speaks of the Christians in the manner that it was customary in his time. And here I must venture to asiert, that the words Odio humani generis conviéti, may equally well be rendered agreeable to the file of this writer, Convicted of being hated by mankind, as convicted of hating all mankind.
And indeed, what was the employment of these first missionaries at Rome? They laboured to gain a few profelytes, by preaching up a pure and fimple moral do&trine; the humility of their hearts, and the modesty of their manners, were equal to the lowliness of their condition and circumstances. Having been so lately separated from the Jews, they were hardly known in the world as a different sect; how.then could they be hated by, or convict
ed of hating all mankind, to whom they were in a manner unknown?
The Roman Catholics have been accused as the incendiaries of the city of London in the year 1666, but not till they had first occasioned civil wars on account of religion; and that several of that faith, though unworthy to be so, had been legally convicted of the Gunpowder-Plot.
But surely the case of the primitive Christians in the time of Nero was very different. It is no easy matter to clear up the obscurities of history. Even Tacitus himself says nothing that can afford
reason to suspect Nero of having set fire to Rome; and we might, with a greater appearance of probability, charge Charles II. with having lighted up the Aames that laid London in ashes, in revenge
for the blood of his father, that had been so lately shed upon the scaffold, to satisfy a rebellious people who thirsted for that blood. Charles had at least some excuse for such an action; whereas, Nero had neither excuse, pretence, or interest for the deed attributed to him. Reports of this kind have been common in every country among
the populace, and even our own times have furnished us with some equally false and ridiculous.
Tacitus, who was so well acquainted with the disposition of princes, could not have been a stran: ger to that of the common people, who are ever vain, inconstant, and violent in the opinions they adopt, incapable of difcerning truth from fallhood, and ready to believe, afiert, and forget every
Philo says, “ That Sejanus persecuted the Jews " under Tiberius, but that after the death of Seja. nus,
reinstated them in all their privileges.” One of which was, that of being denizens of Rome, notwithstanding the contempt they were held in by the Romans. As such they had a share in the distribution of corn, and when. ever such distribution happened to be made on the day that was their fabbath, the portion allotted them was put by till the next day; this indulgence might probably be granted them in favour of the great sums of money with which they furnished the state; for they have purchased toleration in every country at a pretty high rate, though, it must be confessed, that they have foon found means to reimburse themselves,
This passage of Philo's clearly explains one in Tacitus, where he says, " That four thousand. “ Jews or Egyptians were banished to Sardinia, where,if they had all perished, through the badness “ of the climate, it would have been no great
Before I close this note, I shall observe, that Philo speaks of Tiberius as a wife and just prince. I am very ready to believe that he was so, only where the being such was agreeable to his interest; but the good character given him here by Philo, makes me at the same time greatly suspect the truth of those terrible crimes, with which Tacitus and Suetonius reproach him. Nor can I think it likely, that an infirm old man of feventy, would have retired into the island of Caprea, to indulge himself in the uninterrupted exercise of a refined debauchery, which appears to be hardly natural, and was, even in those days of licentiousness, unknown to the most abandoned of the Roman youth. Neither Tacitus nor Suetonius were acquainted with that emperor; but took these stories upon the credit of vulgar reports; Octavius and Tiberius Cæfar, and their successors, had been juftly detested for reigning over a free people without their confent. All historians have taken a delight in bespat. tering their characters, and the world has taken