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place to purchase necessaries for themselves and families. · These unhappy people were immediately seized and destroyed by the mob, being trampled to death, or dragged through the streets till their bodies were torn to pieces and scattered, so that not a limb remained to be interred. Thousands perished in various other ways, equally cruel and savage, their persecutors raving as if they assumed the nature of ferocious beasts. For wherever any of the Jews appeared, they wounded them with stones or clubs, taking care not to strike them in a vital part, lest instantaneous death might relieve them from a sense of pain. Some of these persecutors, confident of impunity, and actuated by passion, disdained the use of blunter weapons, and had recourse to fire and iron, burning some, and slaying many more with the sword. Whole families, children with their parents, husbands with their wives, were consumed by flames in the midst of the city, no compassion being taken on the aged, the young, or on innocent children, by their most unmerciful foes. When wood was wanting, they collected fuel, and caused the sufferers to perish by the smoke more frequently than by the flames, thus artfully effecting a most painful and lingering death to their unhappy victims, whose bodies in heaps lay half consumed, a shocking and most painful spectacle. If those sent to gather fuel were slow, they set fire to the utensils which had been plundered, and on these burnt their owners. Many of those who still lived they tied by the leg above the ancle, dragging them and treading upon them, till they met that cruel death which was meditated against them. Nor did they satiate their fury by this treatment of the living; but pursued with unrelenting vengeance even the bodies which they had deprived of life, having torn their skin, flesh, and sinews, and dissevered their limbs by hauling them along the ground."
The perpetrators of these cruelties sometimes personated the sufferers, and exhibited a mock representation of them on the stage; while of those who had really suffered, such relatives or friends as were seen to weep from sympathy, were carried to execution, and there fogged and tortured on the wheel; and after sustaining all the indignities which their bodies could endure, were hung on the cross. No refinement in cruelty can seemingly add to the horrors of this frightful picture ; yet Philo mentions one circumstance more as greatly enhancing the affliction of the Jews, and the unrelenting malice of Flaccus. Augustus had allowed the Alexandrian Jews to form a council, composed of 38 of their own elders, for the protection of their rights, and the administration of their own affairs. These distinguished persons,
* All this may be put down to the vice of religion; but what has it to do with Christians or Christianity? They were Jews who 6o suffered, a people whose existence as a sect of idolators at that time is not questioned.-R. C.
whom the Jews regarded with the utmost veneration, Flaccus' seized within their own walls, and having tied their arms behind with iron chains, he led them forth to the theatre, where he ordered them to be flogged in the presence of their enemies. The stripes which they endured were those usually received by the vilest criminals; and as they were inflicted with inexorable severity, some of those honourable sufferers fell dead on the spot, while others were carried out withont any hopes of
recovery. To aggravate these tortures, they were inflicted on the anniversary of the birth of Augustus, a season usually distinguished by festivity and clemency. “ I have known,” says Philo,
some that had been crucified, taken down from the cross on such seasons, and delivered to their relatives to be interred in a becoming manner; for it was fit to extend even to the dead some benefit from Cæsar's festival, and at the same time to preserve its solemnity unsullied by sorrow. But Flaccus, instead of taking down the dead, suspended the living; and this he did, after having, in the midst of the theatre, exposed them to stripes, to fire, and to the sword, a spectacle to entertain the populace.” This disgraceful scene continued three or four hours each morning, during which the Jews were whipped, hung, and tortured on the wheel; and after receiving a mock trial, were led through the orchestra to execution. The exhibition concluded with dancing, mimickry, music, and similar entertainments. Philo, p. 977. On this narrative I 'shall now make a few observations.
1. Though Philo thus relates the cruel treatment which the Jews received from the people of Alexandria, he says not a word about the provocation that caused it, which must have been very great. The historian tells us, that the Jews and the Alexandrians had for many years been friends; and that the resentment of the latter had been awakened by a cause which in reason ought to have ensured their gratitude and friendship. All at the time knew what this cause must have been ; Philo therefore thought it unnecessary to mention it; and it was no other than the attempt'now made by the Jews to rescue the Egyptians from vice and'idolatry, and bring them to the worship of the one true God, and to the hope of a future state as revealed in the Gospel. This Philo calls a consummate blessing, and he represents the people who were communicating it to the inhabitants of Egypt as engaged at the same time in disseminating it over every part of the globe.
2. As Jesus Christ was the primary anthor of the commotion, the persecutors had an eye to him when destroying the Jews. I will give one instance of the pointed reference which they had to him. A maniac called Carabas was well known at Alexandria. This man on one occasion the Alexandrians laid hold of; “ and having placed him," says Philo," on an eminence, they put upon his head a broad reed for a diadem, and covered his body with a
carpet instead of a scarlet robe, and withal placed a rush, picked up in the way, as a sceptre in bis hand. Having thus invested him with the mock insignia of royalty, persons were introduced to him, some as if to salute him as a king. Then a loud cry was heard from the surrounding crowd, saluting him Lord.” The origin of this insult we thus read in the Gospel :-*“ Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common-hall, and gathered uoto him the whole band of soldiers, and they stripped him and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed'in bis right hand : and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, king of the Jews." This was exhibited before Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, who happened to pass through Alexandria : and the object doubtless was to insult him with the intimation, that instead of being, as he pretended, a real king, he and his countrymen were but subjects of one whose claims to royalty resembled those of Carabas, and who in consequénce had been crucified at Jerusalem.
3. The Jews professed to believe in Jesus as a prince sent of God to emancipate them from servitude, and to erect among them the standard of universal freedom. This profession, no doubt, was considered by their enemies as a vain and insulting boast, who in their turn with more bitterness and poignancy, reminded them of their actual subjugation; and sometimes treated them as captives subject to the will of their conquerors, or as slaves at the disposal of their masters. The charge of being subject to the Romans, with which their adversaries stigmatized the Jews, could 'not be denied ; and the necessity of explaining the nature of the freedom in which they gloried, appears to bave been one of the leading circumstances which occasioned the two important publications of Pbilo in behalf of the Jewish and Egyptian believers. He retorts upon their persecutors the imputation of slavery; and shews that they were the worst of all slaves, by being the slaves of sin; and maintains, that the virtuous amongst the Jews enjoyed the noblest and most perfect freedom, in consequence of being endued by the Son of God with the freedom of the soul. He asserts that the mau, whether Jew or Greek, whose mind is superior to the love of the world, and to the fear of death, and 'who by tortures could not be brought to commit a dishonourable deed, was free in the highest and most important sense, though a thousand despots might deem him as their slave. These refined and lofty sentiments did not originate with Philo. It formed a
Or, pray Ben David, may not the fable of the Gospel lave been borrowed from the real acting in the case of Carabas? Philo is an undoubted writer, a real historian; bit what can be said for the authors of the Guspels ?' Who were they? When and where were they written?—R. C.
leading and fundamental principle in the Christian system. It was a saying of Jesus himself,• If the son shall make you free,
shall be free indeed.' The great Apostle of the Gentiles reminds his brethren that they have been called into liberty, and exhorts them to stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made them free: and for this reason the Gospel is emphatically ealled the perfect law of liberty.”.
4. Flaccus, the prefect, published several edicts to expel the Jews as strangers and intruders; and it appears that such of them as were not put to death, or made their escape, were, agreeably to public notice, sold as slaves to the highest bidder. To these notices Philo thus alludes : and the allusion shews that from that day to this Christianity never had a more intrepid ; more magna. nimous; more heavenly minded champion than Philo.—“The writings,” (says he, page 887) “ entitled the Sale, are beneath ridicule and contempt, and sink under the magnanimity of the man against whom they are published, like blank waste paper, which age or moth or stain destroys.” In a subsequent page he adds, “ It is therefore meet, that good men should say to him who is about to buy them, “Buy us, and we will teach thee sobriety of mind;' to him who threatens to banish us to a foreign clime, · The whole earth is our country;' to him who deprives them of their goods, · We are content with little.' Nor are we inferior to those who combat in the public games. They are not frightened with things like these; though they fight for a prize which is but a shadow of our high reward, and which gives them only firmness and strength of body; whereas the glory set before us arms us with strength of mind, and steels us against every sense of
5. Our Lord, by his instruction and example, taught his disciples to be firm to their principles; and not to shrink from an avowal of their faith in the face of danger and of death. Multitudes of them acted up to this instruction : and hence when they were brought to execution and pardon offered to thein by complying with any of the forms of Paganism, 'however equivocal or insignificant, they boldly refused. This excited the greatest surprize in their enemies, and brought upon thein the charge of obstinacy. This charge is made by Pliny:
Pliny: “ Such as still persisted (to profess themselves Christians) I ordered away to be executed ; for it was uo doubt with me, whatever might be the nature of their opinion, that contumacy and inflexible obstinacy ought to be punished." The very same charge is made by Epictetus, and afterwards by Julian, who calls the Christians Galileans, and even the philosophic Emperor Marcus Antoninus, lib. ii. sec. 3, mentions the Christians as suffering death from mere obstinacy. The two books which Philo published in defence of the Christians place them in this interesting point of light. He supposes the
notoriety of the sufferings to which they voluntarily submitted, and boldly defends them from the imputation of obstinacy. The author, with uncommon eloquence and energy, exhorts the sufferers as persevering in support of their principles; and justifies them in undergoing the fiercest tortures rather than giving np their spiritual freedom. The line of argumentation which he adopts was that which seemed best adapted to impress his Pagan readers. Instead of recurring to the Jewish writings for examples to justify the sufferers, he appeals to those philosophers whom the Greeks themselves read and admired; and sbews that their sayings and example, in many instances, breathed the same magnanimity; the same noble love of freedom; the same contempt of danger and of death, which the Christian Jews were displaying in Egypt and Palestine. These works suppose that the reformers of the world suffered tortures and even death in support of their principles; and that they were deemed by their persecutors foolish and obstinate for so doing. Philo refutes this accusation: he represents their profession as a prize, as a conflict, in which defeat was disgraceful, and the victory far surpassing the glory of those who fought and conquered in the Olympic games.
6. The Jews who survived the persecution withdrew from the city, and sought shelter in dens, in solitary places, and in the wilderness. Thither they were driven, as Philo represents, in torrents. The book of the Revelation, while in general it delineates the yet future state of the Church, is in many parts founded on facts which had already taken place. Of this kind is the fol. lowing passage, the force of which will be immediately felt when compared with the account which Philo gives of the Christians, and their escape to the wilderness to avoid persecution : “ And when the dragons saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the niale child ; and to the woman were given two wings, that she might fly into the wilderness into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times and half from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. And the earth helped the woman; and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wrath with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandment of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,” chap. 12, 13. The Egyptians had ever been worshippers of the serpent, and are represented under the figure of the dragon or serpent. The woman
s All sects, all martyrs to their opinions or systems have been alike on this head. It is a point that will prove nothing for Jew or Christian, Catholic or Protestant, Quaker or Hindu.-R. C.