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that came out of Judea should obtain the empire of the world, which obfcure oracle foretold Vespasian and Titus ; but the generality of the common people, as usual, indulged their own inclinations, and when they had once interpreted all to forebode grandeur to themselves, adversity itself could not persuade them to change their minds, though it were from falsehood to truth. *
We have been informed, that the number of the besieged, of every age, and of both sexes, male and female, was six hundred thousand. There were weapons for all that could carry them, and more than could be expected, for their number were bold enough to do so. The men and the women were equally obstinate; and when they fupposed they were to be carried captive, they were more afraid of life than of death.
Against this city and nation Titus Cæfar resolved to fight, by rám. parts and ditches, since the situation of the place did not admit of takIng it by storm or surprise. He parted the duty among the legions; and there were no farther engagements, until whatever had been invented for the taking of cities by the ancients, or by the ingen uity of the moderns, was got ready.
ANNAL. Book XV.
TERO, in order to stifle the rumor (as if himseif had fer Rome on W fire ] ascribed it to those people who were hared for their wicked practices, and called by the vulgar, Christians : These he punished ex. quifitely. The author of this name was Christ, who in the reign of Tiberius was brought to punishment by Pontius Pilate the procura. tor. For the present this pernicious fuperftition was in part supprefled, but it brake out again, not only over judea, whence this mischief first sprang, but in the city of Rome also, whither do run from every quarter and make a noise, all the flagrant and shameful enormities. At first, therefore, those were seized who confeiled; afterward a vaft multitude were detected by them, and were convicted, not so much as really guilty of setting the city on fire, but as hating all mankind; nay, they made a mock of them as they perished, and destroyed them by putting them into the skins of wild beasts, and setting dogs upon them to tear them to pieces: Some were nailed to crofles, and others flayed to death : They were also used in the night time instead of torches, for illumination. Nero had offered his own garden for this fpe&tacle. He also gave them Circensian games, and dressed himself like a driver of a chariot, sometimes appearing among the common people, sometimes in the circle itself; whence a commiferation arose,
* This interpretation and these refle&tions are in Jofephus, Antiq. B. VI. chap. v. fe&t. 4. vol. I.
† The number 600.000 for the besieged is no where in Josephus, but is there for the poor buried at the public charge, Antiq. B. v. chap. xiii, lect. 7. which might be about the number of the belieged, under Ceftius Gallus, though they were many more afterward at Titus's fiege, as Josephus implies, antiq. B. VI. chap. ix. sect. 3.
I This passage seems to have been directly taken from Jofephus's famous teftimony concerning Christ, and the Christians, Antiq, B. XVIII. cbap. iii. vol. II, of which Differt, I. before.
though the punishments were levelled at guilty persons, and such as deserved to be made the most fagrant examples, as if these people were destroyed, not for the public advantage, but to satisfy the barbarous humor of one man.
N. B. Since I have set down all the vile calumnies of Tacitus upon the Christians as well as the Jews, it will be proper, before I come to my observations, to let down two heathen records in their favor, and those hardly inferior in antiquity, and of much greater authority than
Tacitus, I mean Pliny's epistles to Trajan when he was proconful of · Bythinia, with Trajan's answer or refcript to Pliny, cited by Tertul
lian, Eusebius, and Jerome. These are records of so great esteem with Havercamp, the last editor of Josephus, that he thinks they not only deserve to be read, but almost to be learned by beart also.
PLINY'S EPISTLE 10 TRAJAN.
About A. D. 112. QIR, It is my constant method to apply myself to you for the resolu.
tion of all my doubts, for who can better govern my dilatory way of proceeding, or instruct my ignorance? I have never been prelent at the examination of the Christians (by others) on which account I am unacquainted with what uses to be inquired into, and what, and how far they use to be punished : Nor are my doubts small, whether there be not a distinction to be made between the ages (of the accused) and whether tender youth ought to have the same punishment with strong men? Whether there be not room for pardon upon repentanca*? Or whether it may not be an advantage to one that had been a Chriftian, that he has forsaken Christianity? Whether the bare namet without any crimes besides, or the crimes adhering to that name, be to be punithéd? In the mean time, I have taken this course about those who have been brought before me as Christians. I asked them, whether they were Christians or not? If they confessed that they were Chriftians, I asked them again, and a third time, intermixing threatenings with the questions: If they persevered in their confellion, I ordered them to be executedt for I did not doubt but, let their confession be of any sort whatsoever, this positiveness and inflexible obstinacy deserved: to be punished. There have been some of this mad sect whom I took notice of in particular as Roman citizens, that they might be sent to that city. After some time, as is usual in such examinations, the Grime spread itself, and many more cases came before me. A libei was sent me, though without an author, containing many names [of persons accused ]; These denied that they were Chriftia is now, or ev
* Till now it scems repentance was not commonly allowed those that had been once Chriftians, but though they recanted, and returned to idolatry, yet were they cominoply put to death. This was perfecution in perfection!
+ This was the just and heavy complaint of the ancient Christians, that they commonly suffered for that bare name, without the presence of any crimes they could prove against them. This was also perf cution in perfection!
| Amazing doctrine! That a firm and fixed resolution of keeping a good conscience should be ihought without dispule to deferve death, and this by such comparatively excellent heathens as Pliny and Trajan.
This was the cale of St. Paul, who being a citizen of Rome was allowed is appeal unto Cefir, and was sent to Rame ac cordingly, Acs xxii, 25–29. XXV, 29. xxvi. 32. xxvii.
er had been. They called upon the gods and supplicated to your im. age, which I caused to be brought to me for that purpose, with frankincense and wine, they alsot cursed Christ: None of which things, as it is said, can any of those that are reaily Christians be compelled to do; so I thought fit to let them go. Others of them that were namned in the libel, said they were Christians, but presently denied it again, that indeed they had been Christians, but had ceased to be so, fome three years, some many more ; and one there was that said, he had not been to these twenty years. All these wormipped your image, and the images of your gods : There also cursed Christ. However, they assured me, that the main of their fault, or of their mistake, was this, that they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing an hymn to Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to oblige themielves by a facrament (or oath] not to do any thing that was ill, but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering or adultery ; that they would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was required back again : After which it was theit custom to depart, and to meet again at a common, but innocenti meal, which yet they had left off upon that edict which I published at your command, and wlierein I had forbidden any such conventicles. Thele examinations made me think it neceffary to inquire by torments, what the truth was, which I did of two servant maids, which were called deaconelles; but still I discovered no more, than that they were addict. ed to a bad and to an extravagant superstition. Hexeupon I have put off any farther examinations, and have recourse to you, for the affair feems to be well worth consultation, especially on account of the number of those that are in danger; for there are many of every age, of every rank, and of both sexes, which are now and hereafter likels to be called to account, and to be in danger for this fuperftition is spread like a contagion, not only in cities and towns, but into country villages also, which yet there is reason to hope may be stopped, and corrected. To be sure the temples, which were almost forsaken, begin already to be frequented ; and the holy solemnities, which were long intermitted, begin to be revived. The facrifices begin to felt well every where, of which very few purchasers had of late appeared: Whereby it is easy to suppose how great a multitude of men may be amended, if place for repentance be admitted.
TRAJAN's EPISTLE to PLINY. M Y Pliny, you have taken the method which you ought in examin
M ing the causes of those that had been accused as Christians, for indeed no certain and general form of judging can be ordained in this
* Amazing stupidity! That the Emperor's image, even while he was alive, should be allowed capable of divine worship, even by such comparatively escellent heathens as Pliny and Trajan.
+ Take here a parallel account out of the martyrdoin of Polycarp, $ 9. The proconful faid, " Reproach Christ.” Polycarp replied, “Eighty and hx yeana have I now served Chrift, and he has never done ine the least wrong, how then cas I blaspheme my King and my Saviour. I This muft moft probably be the feast of charity.
Some of late are very loth to believe that the Christians wcie numerous in The second century, but this is luch an evidence that they were very numerota at least in Bithynia, even in the begianing of that century, as is wholly under miable.
OBSERVATIONS upo:r the Pallages taken out of
TACITUS. 1. WWE see here what great regard the best of the Roman historians
W of that age, Tacitus, had to the history of Josephus, while, though he never names him, as he very rarely names any of thole Ro. man authors whence he derives other parts of his history, yet doos it appear that he refers to his feven books of the Jewish Wars several times in a very few pages, and almost always depends on his accounts of the affairs of the Romans and Parthians, as well as of the Jews, during no fewer than 240 years, to which those books extend.
II. Yet does it appear that when he now and then followed other historians or reports concerning the Romans, the Parthians, or the Jews, during the long interval, he was commonly mistaken in them, and had better have kept close to Josephus than hearken to any of his other au. thors or informers.
III. It also appears highly probable that Tacitus had seen the antiquities of Jofephus, and knew that the most part of the accounts he produced of the origin of the Jewish nation entirely contradicted those antiquities. He also could hardly avoid seeing that those accounts contradicted one another also, and were childish, absurd, and supported by no good evidente whatsoever : As also he could hardly avoid Seeing that Jofephus's acconnts in those antiquities were authentic, subftantial, and thoroughly attested to by the ancient records of that nition, and of the neighboring nations also, which indeed no one can avoid seeing, that carefully perules and considers them.
IV. Tacitus therefore, in concealing the greatest part of the true an. cient history of the Jewith nation, which lay before him in Josephus, and producing such fabulous, ill-grounded, and partial histories, which he had from the heathens, acted a most unfair part : And this proce. dure of his is here the more gross, in regard he profeiled such great impartiality. Hift. B. I. chap. i. and is allowed to have observed that impartiality in the Roman affairs also.
V. Tacitus's hatred and contempt of God's peculiar people, the Jews, and his attachment to the groffest idolatry, fuperftition, and astral fatality of the Romans, were therefore so strong in him, as to over. bear all restraints of fober reason and equity in the case of those Jews, though he be allowed fo exactly to have followed them on other occa. fions relating to the Romans.
VI. Since therefore Tacitus was so bitter against the Jews, and since he knew that Christ was a Jew himself, and that his apostles and first followers were Jews; and also knew that the Chriftian religion was derived into the Roman provinces from Judea, it is no wonder that his hatred and contempt of the Jews extended itself to the Christians also, whom the komans ufually confounded with the Jews: As therefore his hard words of the Jews appear to have been generally groundless, and hurt his own reputation, infead of theirs, 10 ought wo to esteem his alike hard words of the Christians to be blots upon his own characters and not upon theirs. • VII. Since therefore Tacitus, soon after the publication of Josephus's antiquities, and in contradiction to them, was determined to produce such idle stories about the Jews, and since one of those idle stories is much the same with that published in Jofephus against Apion, from Manetho and Lysimachus, and no where elle met with so fully in all antiquity, it is most probable that those antiquities of Jofephus were the very occasion of Tacitus giving us these stories, as we know from Josephus himself, Contr. Apion, B. I. $1. that the same antiquities, were the very occasion of Apion's publication of his equally scandalous fto. ries about them, and which Josephus so thoroughly confuted in his two books written against them. And if Tacitus, as I suppose, had also read these two Books, his procedure in publishing fuch stories, after he had seen fo thorough a confutation of them, was still more highly criminal. Nor will Tacitus's fault be much less, though we suppose he neither saw the antiquities, nor the books against Apion, becaule it was very easy for him, then at Rome, to have had more authentic accounts of the origin of the Jewish nation, and of the nature of the Jewish and Christian religions, from the Jews and Christians themselves, which he owns were very numerous there in his days; fo that his publication of, such idle stories is still utterly inexcusable,
wn reputas 23
VIII. It is therefore very plain, after all, that notwithstanding the encomiums of several of our learned critics upon Tacitus, and hard fufpicions upon Jofephus, that all the involuntary). mistakes of Josephus, in all his large works put together, their quality, as well as quertity, considered, do not amount to near so great a fum, as do these gross errors and misrepresentations of Tacitus's about the Jews, amount to in a very few pages, so little reason have some of our later and lefser crit. ics to prefer the Greek and Roman historians and writers to the Jewish, and particularly to Jofephus. Such later and letler critics should have learned more judgment and modefty from their great father Jofeph. Scaliger, when, as we have seen, after all his deeper inquiries, he col. emnly pronounces, De Emend. Temp. Prolegom. p. 17. That Josephus was the most diligent and the greatest lover of truth of all writers," and is not afraid to affirm, That it is more safe to believe him, nos only as to the affairs of the Jews, but also to those that are foreign te them, than all the Greek and Latin writers, and this because his-tidet. ity and compass of learning are every where conspicuous,"