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" things be performed after the law of God diligently, unto
the most high God, that wrath come not upon the kingdom * of the king and his son.” This cominission, as I observed, empowered him to settle the religion and government of the Jews, pursuant to the law of Moses; to appoint magistrates and judges to punish evil doers, not only by imprisoning their persons, and confiscating their possessions, but also by sending them into banishment, and even sentencing them to death, according to the crimes they should commit.
Such was the power with which Ezra was invested, and which he exercised faithfully during 13 years, till Nehemiah brought a new commission from the Persian court.
6 Nehemiah was also a Jew of distinguished merit and piety, and one of the cup-bearers to king Artaxerxes. This was a very considerable employment in the Persian court, bec-use of the privilege annexed to it, of being often near the king's person, and of being allowed to speak to him in the most favourable moments. However, neither his exalted station, nor the settlement of his family in that land of captivity, could obliterate from his mind the country of his ancestors, nor their religion : neither his love for the one, nor his zeal for the other, were abated ; and his heart was still in Zion. Some Jews who were come from Jerusalem, having informed him of the sad state of that city, that its walls lay in ruin, its gates were burnt down, and the inhabitants thereby exposed to the insults of their enemies, and made the scorn of all their neighbours; the affliction of his brethren, and the dangers with which they were menaced, made such an impression on his mind, as might naturally be expected from one of his piety. One day as he was waiting upon the king, the latter observing an unusual air of melancholy in Nehemiah's countenance, asked him the cause of it; a proof that this monarch had a tenderness of heart rarely found in kings, and which is nevertheless much more valuable than the most shining qualities. Nehemiah took this opportunity to acquaint him with the calamitous state of his country ; owned that to be the subject of his grief; and humbly entreated that leave might be given him to go to Jerusalem, in order to repair the fortifications of it. The kings of Persia his predecessors had permitted the Jews to rebuild the temple, but not the walis of Jerusalem. But Artaxerxes immediately caused a decree to be drawn up, that the walls and gates of Jerusalem should be rebuilt; and Nehemiah, as governor of Juuea, was appointed to put this decree in execution. The king, to do him the greater honour, ordered a body of horse, coinmanded by an officer of distinction, to es
GA M, 3550. Ant J. C. 454.
b Nehem. c ir & j.
cort him thither. He likewise writ to all the governors of the provinces on this side the Euphrates, to give him all the assistance possible in forwarding the work for which he was sent. This pious Jew executed every part of his commission with incredible zeal and activity.
« It is from this decree, enacted by Artaxerxes in the 20th year of his reign, for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, that we date the beginning of the 70 weeks mentioned in the famous prophecy of Daniel, after which the Messiah was to appear, and to be put to death. I shall here insert the whole prophecy, but without giving the explication of it, as it may be found in other writers, and is not a part of this. history,
"Thou art greatly beloved, therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make “reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to “anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, THAT FROM THE GOING FORTH OF THE COMMANDMENT
TO RESTORE AND TO BUILD JERUSALEM, unto the Mes“siah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and “two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall,
even in troublous times. And after threescore and two “weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: And the people of the prince that shall come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a food; and unto the end of the war desolations are de* termined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many
for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause “the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the over
spreading of abominations, he shall make it des late, even "unto the consummation, and that determined shall be * poured upon the desolate."
· When Ezra was in power, as his chief view was to restore religion to its ancient purity, he arranged the books of Scripture in their proper order, revised them all very Carefully, and collected the documents relating to the people of God in ancient times; in order to compose out of them the two books of Chronicles, to which he added the history of his own times, which was finished by Nehemiah. With their books ends the long history which Moses had begun, and which the writers wno came after him continued in a regular series, till the repairing of Jerusalem. The rest of the sacred history is not written in that uninterrupted order.
a Dan, ix. 23-27, VOL. III,
c Bossuet's Universal History,
Whilst Ezra and Nehemiah were compiling the latter part of that great work, Herodotus, whom profane authors call the father of history, began to write. Thus we find that the latest authors of the books of Scripture flourished about the same time with the first author of the Grecian history; and when it began, that of God's people, to compute only from Abraham, included already fifteen centuries. Herodotus makes no mention of the Jews in his history; for the Greeks desired to be informed of such nations only as were famous for their wars, their commerce and grandeur; so that as Judea was then but just rising from its ruins, it did not excite the attention of that people.
Sect. VII. Character of Pericles. The Methods employed by him to
gain the Affection of the People. I now return to Greece. Since the banishment of The mistocles, and the death of Aristides, (the exact time of which is not known) two citizens, Cimon and Pericles, divided all influence and authority in Athens. Pericles was much younger than Cimon, and of a quite different character. As he will make a very considerable figure in the following history, it is of importance to the reader to know who he was, in what manner he had been educated, and his scheme and method of government.
a Pericles was descended by the mother's as well as father's side, from the greatest and most illustrious families of Athens. . His father Xanthippus, who defeated at Mycale the king of Persia's lieutenants, married Agarista, niece to Clisthenes, who expelled the Pisistratidæ, or descendants of Pisistratus the Tyrant, and established a popular government in Athens. Pericles had long prepared himself for the design he had formed of engaging in state affairs.
He was brought up under the most learned men of his age, and particularly Anaxagoras of Clazomene surnamed the Intelligence, from his being the first, as we are told, who ascribed human events, as well as the forination and government of the universe, not to chance as some Philosophers, nor to a fatal necessity, but to a superior intelligence, who disposed and governed all things with wisdom. This tenet or opinion subsisted long before his time, but he perhaps set it in a stronger light than all others had done, and taught it methodically and from principles. Anaxagoras thoroughly instructed his pupil in that part of philosophy which relates to nature, and which is therefore called 6 physics. This study gave him a strength and greatness of soul which raised him above an infinite number of vulgar prejudices, and vain practices generally observed in his time; which, in affairs of government and military enterprises, often disconcerted the wisest and most necessary measures, or defeated them by scrupulous delays, authorized and covered with the specious veil of religion. These were sometimes dreams or auguries, at other times dreadful phænomena, as eclipses of the sun or moon, or else omens and presages; not to mention the wild chimeras of judiciary astrology. The knowledge of nature, free from the groveling and weak superstition to which ignorance gives birth, inspired him, says Plutarch, with a wellgrounded piety towards the gods, attended with a strength of mind that was immovable, and a calm hope of the blessings to be expected from them. Although he found infinite charms in this study, he did not however devote himself to it as a philosopher, but as a statesman ; and he had so much power over himself (a very difficult thing) as to prescribe himself limits in the pursuit of knowledge.
a Plut. in vit. Pericl. p. 153–156.
b The ancients, under uiis name, comprehended what we call physics and meta, bysics ; that is, the knowledge of spiritual things, as God and spirits, and ibai of bodies
But the talent which he cultivated with the greatest care, because he looked upon it as the most necessary instrument of all to those who are desirous of conducting and governing the people, was eloquence. And indeed, those who possessed this talent, in a free state like that of Athens, were sure of reigning in the assemblies, engrossing suffrages, determining affairs, and exercising a kind of absolute power over the hearts and minds of the people. He therefore made this his chief object, and the mark to which all his other improvements, as well as whatsoever he had learnt from Anaxagoras, a were directed ; suffusing, to borrow Plutarch's expression, over the study of philosophy the dye of rietoric ; the meaning of which is, that Pericles, to embellish and adorn his discourse, heightened the strength and solidity of reasoning with the colouring and graces of eloquence.
He had no cause to repent his having bestowed so much time on this study, for his success far exceeded his utmost hopes. 6 The poets, his contemporaries, used to say, that his eloquence was so powerful, that he lightened, thundered, and agitated all Greece. c It had those piercing and lively strokes, that reach the inmost soul ; and his discourse lett always an irresistible incentive, a kind of spur behind it in the minds of his auditors. He had the art of uniting beauty with strength; and Cicero observes, that at the very time he opposed, with the greatest tenaciousness, the inclinations and desires of the Athenians, he had the art to make even severity itself, and the kind of harshness with which he spoke against the flatterers of the people, popular. There was no resisting the solidity of his arguments, or the sweetness of his words, whence it was said, that the goddess of persuasion, with all her graces, resided on his lips. And indeed, as Thucydides a, his rival and adversary, was one day asked, whether he or Pericles was the best wrestler : « Whenever," says he, “ I have given him a fall, he affirms the contrary,
α Βαφη τη ρητορική την φυσιολογίαν υποχεόμεν@».
c Quid Pericles? De cujus dicendi copia sic accepimus ut, eum contra vo. Juntatem Atheniensium luqueretur pro salute patrie severius tamen id ipsum, quod ille contra populares homines diceret, populare omnibus & jacundu'n videretur: cujus in labris veteres comici-leporem habitasse dixerunt : tantam que vim in eo fuisse, ut in eorum mentibus. qui audissent, quasi aculeos quosdam relinqueret. Cic. lib. ij. de Orat. n. 138.
Cje, in Orat. n. 29
in such strong and forcible terms, that he persuades all the
spectators that I did not throw him, though they them"selves saw him on the ground.” Nor was he less prudent and reserved than strong and vehement in his speeches; and it is related, that he never spoke in public, till after he had besought the gods not to suffer any expression to drop from him, either incongruous to his subject, or offensive to the people. Whenever he was to appear in the assembly, before he came out of his house he used to say to himself ; “ Remember, Pericles, that thou art going to speak to men “ born in the arms of liberty ; to Greeks, to Athenians.”
The uncommon endeavours which Pericles, according to historians, used, in order to improve his mind by the study of the sciences, and to attain to a perfection in eloquence, are an excellent lesson to such persons as are one day to fill the important offices of state ; and a just censure of cthose, who, disregarding whatever is called study and learning, bring into those employments, (upon which they enter without knowledge or experience,) nothing but a ridiculous self-sufficiency, and a rash boldness in deciding. « Plutarch, in a treatise where he shows, that it is to statesmen that a philosopher ought chiefly to attach himself, preferably to any other class of men ; (because in instructing them he, at the same time, teaches whole cities and republics) verifies his assertion from the example of the greatest men both of Greece and Italy, who derived this help from philosophy. Pericles, of whom we now write, was taught by Anaxagoras; Dion of Syracuse by Plato; many princes of Italy by Pythagoras; Cato, the famous censor, travelled to the place where Athenodorus lived, for the same purpose ; and lastly, the famous Scipio, the destroyer of Carthage, always kept Panætius the philosopher near his person.
6 Plut. in Symp. lib. i. p. 620. c Nunc contra pierique ad honores adipiscendos, & ad remp gerendam, dudi veniunt & inermes, nulla cognitione rerum, nulla scientia ornati. Cic. lib. ii.
d Plut. p. 777.
a Not the historian.
de Orat. n. 136.