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pounds of silver, and an incredible quantity of other valuable articles.
In the following year, he again appeared before the city; and now took possession of the port of Ostia, one of the boldest and most stupendous works of Roman magnificence. He had demanded the surrender of the city, and was only prevented from razing it to its foundation by the consent of the senate to remove the unworthy Honorius from the throne of the Cæsars, and to place Attalus, the tool of the Gothic conqueror, in his place.
But the doom of the city was not far distant. In 410, Alaric again appeared under the walls of the capital. Through the treachery of the Roman guard, one of the gates was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened, at midnight, by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Alaric and his bands entered in triumph, and spread desolation through the streets. Thus this proud city, which had subdued a great part of the world; which, during a period of 619 years, had never been violated by the presence of a foreign enemy; was itself called to surrender to the arms of a rude and revengeful Goth, who was well entitled the Destroyer of Nations, and the Scourge of God!
From this period, the barbarians continued their ravages until 476, which is commonly assigned as making the total extinction of the western part of the Roman empire.
Although the barbarians were idolaters, yet upon the eonquest of the Roman empire, they generally, though at different periods, conformed themselves to the religious institutions of the nations among whom they settled. They unanimously agreed to support the hierarchy of the church of Rome, and to defend and maintain it as the established religion of their respective states. They generally adopted the Arian system, and hence the advocates of the Nicene creed met with bitter persecution.-Goodrich's Ecclesiastical History.
28. AUGUSTINE's City or God. The following summary account of St. Augustine's celebrated production, The City of God, is extracted from Milner's Church History.
“The capture of Rome, by Alaric the Goth, and the subsequent plunder and miseries of the imperial city, had opened the mouths of the pagans, and the true God was blasphemed on the account. Christianity was looked on as the cause of the declension of the empire; and however trifling such an argument may appear at this day, at that time it had so great weight, that it gave occasion to Augustine, in his zeal for the house of God, to write this treatise.
“ The work itself consists of twenty-two books. The first states the objections made by the pagans, and answers them in form. It was a remarkable fact, that all who fled to the church called the Basilicæ of the Apostles, whether Christians or not, were preserved from military fury. The author takes notice of this singular circumstance, as a proof of the great authority of the name and doctrine of Christ, even among pagans, and shows that no instance can be found in their history, where many vanquished people were spared out of respect to their religious worship. He justly observes, therefore, that the evils accompanying the late disaster ought to be ascribed to the usual events of war—the benefits to the power of the name of Christ. His thoughts on the promiscuous distribution of good and evil in this life are uncommonly excellent.
If all sin,” he observes, were now punished, nothing might seem to be reserved to the last judgment. If the Divinity punished no sin openly now, his providence might be denied. In like manner, in prospérous things, if some petitions for temporal things were not abundantly answered, it might be said that they were not at God's disposal. If all petitions were granted, it might be thought that we should serve God only for the sake of worldly things.' And in a number of elegant allusions, he goes on to
show the benefit of afflictions to the righteous, and the curse which accompanies them to the wicked. He mentions also the propriety of punishing the godly often in this life, because they are not sufficiently weaned from the world, and because they do not rebuke the sins of the world as they ought, but conform too much to the tastes of ungodly men. He answers the objec. tions drawn from their sufferings in the late disaster. “Many Christians," say they,“are led captive. It would be very miserable,” he owns, “ if they could be led to any place where they could not find their God.” In the same book he excellently handles the subject of suicide, demonstrates its cowardice, and exposes the pusillanimity of Cato. He mentions the prayer of Paulinus, bishop of Nola, who had reduced himself to poverty for the sake of Christ, when the barbarians laid waste his city,—"Lord, suffer me not to be tormented on account of gold and silver ; for where all my wealth is, thou knowest." For there he had his all where the Lord hath directed us to lay up our treasure, and he strongly insists, as the fullest answer to objections, that the saint loses nothing by all his afflietions.
Having sufficiently spoken to the particular occasion, he proceeds, in the second book, to wage offensive war with the pagans, and shows that while their religion prevailed, it never promoted the real benefit of
In this book he proves his point with respect to moral evils. Immoral practices were not discouraged or prohibited in the least by the popular idolatry; but, on the contrary, vice and flagitiousness were encouraged. He triumphs in the peculiar excellence of Christian institutes, because by them instruction was constanıly diffused among the body of the people, of which the whole system of pagan worship was void. His observations on stage-plays, and on the vicious manners of the Romans, even in the best times of their republic, as confessed by Sallust, or at least deduced by fair inference from his writings, are ex tremely worthy of attention. In the same book will
pa heli ared stly the sof rist
be found some valuable remains of Cicero de Republica, a most profound and ingenious treatise, of which a few fragments are introduced by him, to show that, by Cicero's confession, the Roman state was completely ruined before the times of Christianity. The book concludes with a pathetic exhortation to unbelievers.
“ In the third book, he demonstrates that the pagans had no more help from their religion against natoral evils, than they had against inoral. He recounts the numberless miseries endured by the Romans long before the coming of Christ, such as would by malice have been imputed to the Christian religion had it then existed, some of which were more calamitous than any thing which they had lately sustained from the Goths.
“ In the fourth book, he demonstrates that the Roman felicity, such as it was, was not caused by their religion. Here he weighs the nature of that glory and extent of empire with which the carnal heart is so much captivated, and shows the futility of all the then popular religions. In the conclusion he gives a short view of the dispensation of Providence toward the Jews, and shows, while they continued obedient, the superiority of their felicity to that of the Romans.
“ In the fifth book, he describes the virtue of the old Romans, and what reward was given to it here on earth-shadowy reward for shadowy virtue. He gives an excellent account of the vice of vain glory, and contrasts it with the humility of Christians. He de monstrates that it was the true God who dispensed his mercies and judgments towards the Romans. In the same book he argues against Cicero, and shows the consistency of the prescience of God with the free agency of man,
“ Having shown in the five first books, that paganism could do nothing for men in temporal things, in the five following books he proves that it was as totally insignificant with respect to the next life. Here we meet with some valuable fragments of the very learned Varro, who divides religion into three kinds; the