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Moreover, we can hardly reconcile this rage of persecution with the liberty granted the Chriftians, of assembling no less than fifty-six councils in the course of the three first centuries, as is acknowledged by all ecclesiastical writers.
That there were persecutions, is doubtless; but if they had been as violent as represented, it is hardly probable that Tertullian, who wrote with so much energy against the established religion, would have been suffered to die peaceably in his bed, It is certain, that none of the emperors ever read his apology, as an obscure work composed in Africa, can hardly be supposed to have come into the hands of the governors of the world: but then, it might have been shewn to their proconsuls in Africa, and have drawn down their resentment upon the author : nevertheless, we do not find that he fuffered martyrdom.
Origen taught the Christian religion publicly in Alexandria, and yet was not put to death for it. And this very Origen himself, who spoke with so much freedom both to the Heathens and the Christians, and who, while he taught Jesus to the one, denied the triple Godhead to the
other, expressly acknowledges in his third book against Celsus, " That there were very few “ who fuffered martyrdom, and those at a great “ distance of time from each other; notwith
standing, says he, that the christians leave “ nothing undone to make their religion gene
rally embraced ; running from city to city, co and from town to town, to make converts.'
It must be confefied, that these continual peregrinations might readily give cause to the priests who were their enemies, to accuse them of a design to raise disturbances; and yet we find, that these millions were tolerated even among the Egyptians, who have ever been a turbulent, fa&tious, and mean people, and who tore a Roman to death for having killed a cat ; in a. word, a nation at all times contemptible, whatever may have been said to the contrary by the admirers of pyramids t.
+ This assertion requires to be proved. It can. not be denied, that from the time that history succeeded to fi&tion, the Egyptians have constantly appeared a people as daftardly as they were superfitious. Cambyses made the conquest of their
What person could do more to call down upon him the resentment of both ecclesiastical and
country in a single battle ; Alexander gave them laws without striking a Itroke, or without one of their cities daring to wait a fiege. The Ptolemies subdued them with as little trouble ; Octavius and Augustus Cæsar find more dificulty in bringing them under their obedience. Omar over-run all Egypt in one single campaign; the Mammelukes, who inhabited Colcos, and the regions of Mount Caucasus, became their masters af. terwards; and it was these people, and not the Egyptians, who defeated the army of St. Lewis, and took that king prisoner. At length the Mamelukes having, in process of time, become Egyptians, that is to say, effeminate, cowardly, lazy, and dislipated, like the original natives of the climate, they were in three months time brought under the yoke of Selim. I. who caused their foldan to be hanged, and made their kingdom a province of the Turkish empire, and such it will remain, till other barbarians may hereafter make themselyes masters of it..
Herodotus relates, that in the fabulous ages, a king of Egypt called Sefoftris, left his country in.
civil power than St. Gregory Taumaturgos the disciple of Origin? This fame St. Gregory had
order to go and make the conquest of the world: it is evident, that such a design could only be worthy of a Don Quixote; and not to mention that the name Sesostris is not Egyptian, we may rank this event like many others of the same date among the romances and fairy tales. Nothing is more common among a conquered people than to tell strange stories of their former grandeur; just as, in fome countries, certain wretched families, in want of the common necessaries of life, pride themselves upon being descended from antient fovereigns. The Egyptian priests told Herodotus, that this king, whom he called Sesoftrifs, went on an expedition to conquer Colchis; which is much the same as if we were to say, that a king of France set out from Touraine to conquer Norway.
It avails not that these stories are found repeated in a thousand different writers; it makes them not a whit more probable; it is much more natural to suppose, that the fierce and athletic inhabitants of mount Caucasus, of Colcos, and the other parts of Scythia, who fo often made incursions upon, and
a vision during the night-time, in which an old man appeared to him fent from God, accom
ravaged Asia, might have penetrated as far as Egypt; and although the priests of Colcos might afterwards have carried back with them the form of circumcision, yet that is no kind of proof that they were ever conquered by the Egyptians. Dio. dorus Siculus tells us, that all the kings that were conquered by Sefoftris, came every year from their own kingdoms to bring him their respective tributes, when Sefoftris made them draw the chariot in which he went in triumph to the temples of his gods.
These old womens stories we see every day gravely copied by other writers; it must be confeffed, that these kings were very complaisant, to come every year so far to be made hackney horses of.
As to their pyramids, and other monuments of antiquity, they prove nothing but the pride and bad taste of the Egyptian princes, and the wretched slavery of a weak people, who employed their ftrength, which was their only support, in pleasing the barbarous oftentation of their masters. The polity of these people, even in those times which are so much cried up, appears to have been both