תמונות בעמוד

dispute, this is always taken for a thing certain, and arguments are founded upon it. But were we to allow this also, it will appear evident to any one, who examines the history of our Saviour's trial, that there is little similitude between the two cases.

The previous trial and condemnation before the supposed municipal magistrates were for the same crimes contained in the eulogium or accusation sent to the Roman governor, for which very crimes the malefactor was tried over again by the governor. But in our Saviour's case the crimes were quite different". Whilst our Lord is before the Jewish council, he is accused of having said that he would destroy the temple, and build it again in three days ° : and at length, being questioned upon oath by the high priest, is, from the answer he made, condemned for blasphemy. But not a word is said before them of his sedition or treason. On the other liand, when he is brought before Pilate, the Jewish magistrates accuse him of sedition and treason P. Indeed, when they found that Pilate cleared him of those crimes, they added, We have a law, and by. our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. But this was so far from moving Pilate to condemn him, that it rather inclined him to release him 4; and it is certain that what the Jews called blasphemy was esteemed no crime among the Romans, and an accusation of this kind at a Roman tribunal must have been without effect. What prevailed with Pilate at length to give him up to their importunate solicitations was that saying of theirs, If thou let this man go, thou art not sar's friend; which plainly implied a threatening that they would accuse him to Cæsar of remissness in his duty. The argument they use with Pilate is in brief this : “ Though you, sir, judge not this man

m Huber, through his whole Dissertation, takes it for granted that the state of the Roman government, with regard to the provinces, was the same in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius as it was after the law of Antoninus Caracalla, p. 18, 19. He quotes the poet Ausonius as describing the magistrates of municipia without the power of inflicting death. This poel lived at the latter end of the fourth century, above a hundred and fifty years after the whole Roman empire was taken into the citizenship of Rome, and there was no longer any distinction between municipia and other cities.

n Vid. Grot. in Matt. xxvii. JI. • Mark xiv. 58. Matt. xxvi. 61.

p Luke xxiv. 1-5. particularly, that it was unlawful to pay tribute to Cæsar.

guilty of the sedition and treason laid to his charge, yet we know him to be deserving of death

by our law; and if you will not gratify our de“ sire in punishing him with death, we shall accuse “ you to Tiberius Cæsar as greatly negligent in sup

pressing sedition :” and it is well known that Tiberius was of a suspicious, jealous nature", and very ready to hearken to such complaints. This was an argument Pilate could not withstand; therefore yielded to their importunity, and condemned him as guilty of the sedition and treason they had accused him ofs, which appeared by the title he put over his head.

SECT. IV. An answer to two other arguments taken from the New


A SECOND argument is taken from those words of Pilate to our Saviour, Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and power to release thee' ? Which words are said clearly and expressly to declare that Pilate was the only and supreme judge, and that there was no other magistrate to whom it was granted by law to determine this capital cause, by pronouncing sentence of absolution or condemnation

9 John xix. 7-12.

r Vid. Grot. in Joan, xix. 13. Vid. Huber. Diss. I. 1. c. 3. §. 3. p. 16.

That Pilate was supreme judge under the emperor, and under the governor of Syria, not in this case only, but in every other case which happened within the province of Judæa, I readily grant; but I cannot perceive the least intimation that he was the only judge. If the Jewish magistrates had tried our Saviour with an intention to execute him themselves, there is not the least doubt but Pilate could have sent a prohibition, stopped their proceedings, called the cause before himself, and released him. But it cannot follow from hence that they had no power to condemn and execute malefactors when the governor did not think fit to interpose. Inferior courts may certainly be said to have a power, though they are under the control of superior ones. It is well known that the Romans punished offenders in federate cities", and that the presidents of provinces exercised authority over kings themselvesy: does it hence follow that these had not jus gladii, the power of trying and executing criminals ?

There is another passage in the New Testament which I find interpreted this way; and that is in the case of the woman taken in adultery. The Jews say to our Lord, Moses in the law commanded, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou ? It is added, This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him?: to accuse him before the Roman governor, if he determined that she ought to be stoned; because, if the Jews were prohibited the execution of their own laws in capital cases, this might be interpreted an exciting them to rebellion : and if he determined that she ought not to be stoned, to accuse him of derogating from the law of Moses, and thereby lessen his credit among the people.

t Jobu xix. 10.

u Huber. Dissert. 1. 1. c. 3. §. 4. p. 16. Vid. Lardner's Cred. vol. 1.

7. ff. de Captiv. Jos. Antiq. 1. 19. C. 8.


p. 83.

This, it must be owned, when persons are prepossessed with the notion that the Romans had deprived the Jews of the power of inflicting capital punishments, seems an interpretation natural enough. But here is not one word said upon which to ground this notion : and it is probable the only snare here laid for our Saviour was, to get from him something in derogation of the law of Moses. He had often preached the doctrine of forgiveness in the strongest terms, even in such cases wherein the law of Moses allowed the same evils to be inflicted by the judge on the injurious person as had been done to the injuredb. The Pharisees might hence possibly suspect that our Lord would determine absolutely against the execution of the penalties enjoined in the law of Moses, and hope to accuse him hereof before the magistrate, as well as raise a spirit in the people against him.


2 John viü.

5, p. 68, 69, 70.

a Grot. in Joan, viji. 6. Lard. Cred. vol. 1. b Matt. v. 38, &c.


The Romans frequently indulged the nations they con

quered in the use of their own laws, even in capital


I PROCEED now to give the reasons which induce me to think that the Jews had the power of inflicting death on criminals continued to them under the Roman government. First, nothing is more evident than that many cities and some whole countries had granted them by the people and emperors of Rome the privilege of being governed by their own laws and their own magistrates, some in a more ample and full, and some in a more restrained manner. Several of the cities and little nations in Italy, under the ancient republic, chose rather to be governed by their own laws than to be made citizens of Rome, and be under the Roman laws; and it was granted them, as we are informed by Livyo and Tully d. After the conquest made in the second Punic war the Romans permitted the Carthaginians to live ac

© Hernicorum tribus populis, Alatrinati, Verulano, Terentinati, quia maluerunt, quam civitatem, suæ leges redditæ-Anagninis, quique arma Romanis intulerant, civitas sine suffragii latione data: concilia connubiaque adempta : et magistratibus, præterquam sacrorum curatione, interdictum. Lib. 9. c. 43, prop. fin. Prænestinis militibus senatus Romanus duplex stipendium et quinquennii militiæ vacationem decrevit. Civitate quum donarentur ob virtutem, non mutaverunt. L. 23. C. 20, pr. Alios in ea fortuna haberent, ut socii esse quam cives mallent. L. 26. C. 24. prop. pr.

d In quo magna contentione Heracliensium et Neapolitanorum fuit, cum magna pars in iis civitatibus fæderis sui libertatem civitati anteferret. Pro Balbo, c. 8. (21.) p. 597, pr.


« הקודםהמשך »