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Tertullian" and Minucius Felix' quote Thallus and divers other authors, as acknowledging Saturn to have been a man who had lived on this earth.
Thallus and other writers are quoted with a like view by Lactantius.
Theophilus, bishop of Antioch about the year 180, in his letter to Autolicus, quotes Thallus, to prove that Belus lived long before the Trojan war; which passage is quoted again from Theophilus by y Lactantius.
All these quotations of Thallus appear to be made properly: and he is so quoted with other writers of antiquity, that one might be apt to think that he lived rather before than after our Saviour's coming : nor is there any thing here said of an eclipse; which may induce us to think that the passage in the fragments of Africanus is not material. Indeed, if I was unwilling to admit any thing disrespectful to the memory of so great and learned an ancient as Africanus, I should suspect that the eclipse mentioned by Thallus, (whenever it happened, was a natural eclipse of the sun. For it is not likely that a learned historian, as Thallus was, should use that expression concerning any other darkness or obscurity. Consequently, what he said could not have any reference to the darkness in Judea at the time of our Saviour's last sufferings.
Thallus is not quoted upon this occasion, either by? Grotius, pra Dr. Clarke.
V. It has been often said that Dionysius the Areopagite, when a young man, went into Egypt for the sake of inprovement in knowledge. “And being at Heliopolis, with
u Saturnum itaque, quantum literæ docent, neque Diodorus Græcus, aut Thallus, neque Cassius Severus, aut Cornelius Nepos, neque ullus commentator ejusmodi antiquitatum, aliud quam hominem promulgaverunt. Tertull. Ap. cap. 10.
Saturnum enim principem hujus generis et examinis omnes scriptores vetustatis, Græci Romanique, hominem prodiderunt. Scit hoc Nepos et Cassius in historiâ : et Thallus, et Diodorus, hæc loquuntur. Minuc. Felix.
w Omnes ergo, non tantum poetæ, sed et historiarum quoque, ac rerum antiquarum scriptores, hominem fuisse consentiunt, qui res ejus in Italiâ gestas memoriæ prodiderunt; Græci, Diodorus et Thallus; Latini, Nepos, et Cassius, et Varro. Lact. Inst. 1. i. cap. 13.
* Ad Aut. l. 3. p. 138, 139. Par. p. 399. n. 29. Bened.
y Theophilus, in libro de temporibus ad Autolycum scripto ait, in historiâ suâ Thallum dicere, quod Belus, quem Babylonii et Assyrii colunt, antiquior Trojano bello fuisse invenitur 322 annis, &c. Id. ib. I. i. cap. 23. Conf. ejusd. Epit. cap. 24.
2 Vide de Veritate Rel. Christian. l. 3. cap. xiv. a See his Sermons at Boyle's Lecture, the first ed. p. 325, the eighth ed. p. 357. A. D. 1732.
b Vid. Dionys, ep. ad Polycarp. T. 2. p. 38, &c. et Suidas. V. Διονυσιος ο Αρεοπαγιτης.
• his friend Apollophanes, when our Saviour suffered, they there saw a wonderful eclipse of the sun : whereupon Dionysius said to his friend : " Either God himself suffers, . or sympathizeth with the sufferer." ;
But, asd all the works ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite are now reckoned spurious, and are allowed not to have been composed before the fifth or sixth century, this story is disregarded by all learned men in general. I shall put below the judgments ofe Huet and Tillemont, who might be as likely to assert it as any, but do absolutely abandon and give it up as of no value. Colonias likewise, after a good deal of parade, declares it inconsistent with sincerity to allege it among genuine and authentic testimonies in fa vour of christianity.
THE EMPEROR TITUS ANTONINUS THE PIOUS.
1. His time and character. II. That he was favourable to
the christians. III. His edict in their favour sent to the States of Asia. - The genuineness of which is here asserted with remarks.
I. TITUS AURELIUS FULVIUS BOIONIUS ANTONINUS PIUS; or Antoninus, surnamed the Pious, or the Good, was born in the reign of Domitian, in the year of Christ 86. Hea succeeded Adrian on the tenth day of July,
• Η το θειον πασχει, η τω πασχoντι συμπάσχει. d See Vol. iv. ch. cxliii. init.
e Poteramus et Dionysii Areopagitæ testimonio pugnare, qui in epistolâ ad Polycarpum rem a se et ab Apollophane sophistà Heliopoli Ægypti observatam narrat. Verum quoniam has Dionysii Epistolas, aliasque ejusdem scriptiones, in controversiam vocari video, neque sane immerito, si quid judicio valeo, hæc prætermittimus. Huet. Prop. 3. n. ix.
* Nous ne nous arrêtons pas à l'auteur des ouvrages attribués à S. Denys l'Aréopagite, qui prétend avoir remarqué à Heliopolis en Egypte les ténèbres arrivées à la mort de J. C. et qui veut qu'elles vinssent d'une éclipse véritable, et causée, comme les autres, par l'interposition de la lune entre la terre et le soliel, quoiqu' entièrement miraculeuse, et contre la nature des autres éclipses. Peu de personnes habiles se laisont persuader aujourdhui par ces sortes d'autorités. Tillemont. note 35. sur N. S. J.C. Mem. T. i.
8 La Religion Chréttienne autorisée, &c. Vol. i. p. 40, 41.
. Vid. Pagi ann. 161. n. ü. Basnag. ann. 138. n. xi. Tillem. L'Emp. Tite Antonin. art. i. et xii.
in the year of our Lord 138, and died on the seventh of March in 161, in the twenty-third year of his reign.
He is much commended, and indeed seems to have been a man of as fair a character as any of the Roman emperors, not exceptingc the most admired. And, though he was about seventy years of age at the time of his death, he was as much lamented as if he had died in the prime of life.
When Xiphilinus made the epitome of Dion Cassius's History, the seventeenth book of that work, which contained the reign of this emperor, was wanting, excepting only a small part at the beginning. Having given a short account of that, Xiphilinus proceeds: · Ite is agreed by all, that Antoninus ' was a good and mild prince, who was oppressive neither . to any of his other subjects, nor to the christians, whom he
protected and favoured, even beyond what had been done by Adrian, as is shown by Eusebiusf Pamphili.'
II. So writes Xiphilinus. We are therefore led directly to the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, in which is the earliest account we can expect to find of Antoninus's regard for the Christians.
He is not reckoned among the persecuting emperors. Nevertheless the christians were persecuted in his time; otherwise there could have been no occasion to present apologies to him; and that Justin's first apology was addressed to him is allowed. It is inscribed in this manner:
b Vid. M. Aurel. de Reb. suis. lib. i. sect. xvi. Dio. Cass. l. 69. p. 796. al. 1167. Jul. Capitolin. Victor. et Eutrop. c Hunc fere nulla vitiorum labes maculavit. Victor, de Cæsar. cap. xiv.
-tantæ bonitatis in principatu fuit, ut haud dubie sine exemplo vixerit. Victor. Epit. c. xv.
d Periit anno septuagesimo ; sed quasi adolescens desideratus est. Jul. Capitolin. in Vit. Anton. cap. 12.
€ ο γαρ Αντωνινος ομολογείται παρα παντων καλος τε και αγαθος γενεσθαι, και ουτε των αλλων υπηκόων τισι βαρυς, ουτε χριστιανούς επαχθης, αλλα πολλην τινα τετοις νεμων αιδω, και τη τ8 Αδριανά τιμη, ήν εκεινος ετιμα χριςιανες, Apostbels, k. 1. Dio. I. 70. p. 1173. al. 799.
| Mr. La Roche, in his New Memoirs of Literature, vol. i. p. 81–99, gives an account of a book in two volumes, 8vo. printed at the Hague, entitled, Histoire de la Philosophie Payenne, &c. A History of the Pagan Philosophy, or the Sentiments of the most famous Pagan Philosophers and Nations concerning God, the Soul, and the Duties of Man. Where, at p. 98, Mr. La Roche says: “In the last chapter of this work, the author shows that there
was not one perfect man among the heathens. He examines the lives of • Pythagoras, Aristides, Socrates, Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, Dion, Phocion, * Timoleon, Cato the censor, Cato of Utica, Brutus, Seneca, Apollonius of
Tyana, Titus Antoninus, and Marcus Aurelius; and finds them guilty of • several vices. Ho highly commends the wise and just government of Titus • Antoninus. But, says he, that emperor had some faults, which however
were not very prejudicial to his subjects. It is plain that this author had a very favourable opinion of Titus Antoninus. I should be very glad to see his work : but it has never come in my way.
* To the emperor Titus Ælius Adrianus Antoninus the pious, * and to his son Verissimus, and Lucius, and the senate, and * all the people of the Romans, in 8 behalf of men gathered * out of all nations, who are unjustly hated and ill-treated, • I Justin, son of Priscus, son of Baccbius, one of them of • the city of Flavia Neapolis, in that part of Syria which is * called 'Palestine, make this address and supplication.'
And, not to take notice of any other passages of it, the same apology concludes in this manner: If what has been
now offered be material, pay a suitable regard to it; but • if all this be of no moment, let it be slighted as trifling : • but h do not treat as enemies, and appoint death for inen • who are guilty of no crimes. And we foretell unto you 6 * that ye will not escape the future judgment of God if you • persist in this injustice.'
Which plainly shows that the Christians were then persecuted even to death.
III. Eusebius, i having given an account of Justin's apology, and quoted the beginning of it, goes on :
" And the same emperork having been applied to by other of the brethren in Asia, complaining of the many injuries which they suffered from the people of the country,' sent an edict • to the common council of Asia, which is to this purpose : • “ The emperor-to the states of Asia sendeth greeting. I
am well satisfied the gods will not suffer such men to be • concealed; for undoubtedly they are more concerned to
punish those who refuse to worship them than you are. • But you only confirm these men in their sentiments, and • make them more obstinate by calling them impious, and giving them vexation : for they are not so desirous to live, as to be prosecuted, and suffer death for their God. Hence they come off victorious, laying down their lives rather than do what you demand of them. As for the earth• quakes of the former, or the present times, it may not be . improper to advise you to compare yourselves with them,
and your sentiments with theirs; for when such things • happen you are dejected, but they are full of confidence • in God : and you, in the ignorance you are in, neglect the • other gods and their rites, and the worship of the Immor• tal likewise: and the christians, who worship him, you
- Υπερ των εκ παντος γενες ανθρωπων αδικως μισεμενων και επηρεαζομενων, εις αυτων την προσφωνησιν και εντευξιν ποιεμαι. Αpol. pr. et ap. Euseb. H. E. L. 4. c. 12.
-και μη, ως κατ' εχθρων, κατα των μηδεν αδικBντων θανατον οριζετε. Προλεγομεν γαρ υμιν, ότι εκ εκφευξεσθε την εσομενην τ8 θε8 κρισιν, εαν επιμενητε τη αδικια. .
k Cap. xiii. p. 126. -τοιαυτης ηξιωσε το κοινον της Ασιας διαταξεως. .
i L. 4. c. xi. xii.
• banish and persecute to death. Before our time many
governors of provinces wrote to our deified father about " these men. To whom he wrote that they should not * be molested, unless they did things contrary to the wel* fare of the Roman government. Many also have informed me about the same men; to whom I returned an answer
agreeable to the rescript of my father [Adrian]. If there • fore any person will still accuse any of these men as such, • [as a christian,] let the accused be acquitted, though he
appear to be such an one [that is, a christian ;] and let • the accuser be punished. Set up at Ephesus in the com* mon assembly of Asia." And that these things were so done, adds Eusebius, ' is attested by Melito bishop of Sar• dis, who flourished at that time, in what he says in his * excellent apology., which he made for our religion to the
Melito's apology was presented to Marcus Antoninus m about the year 177. From that apology Eusebius, in a following chapter, makes a large extract: a part of which I also must transcribe here, reserving the rest till hereafter: . Of all the Roman emperors,' says Melito to Marcus, ' Nero 6 and Domitian only, who were misled by designing men, - have shown enmity to our religion. From them have
pro• ceeded the evil reports concerning us, that are received and propagated by the vulgar; which have often been checked by your pious ancestors, who by edicts have restrained those who have been troublesome to men of our religion. Among • whom is your grandfather Adrian, who wrote, as to many
others, so particularly to Minucius Fundanus, proconsul of • Asia. And your father also, at the same time that you governed all things with him, wrote to several cities, that they should not give us any vexation, and among them to the Larisseans, and the Thessalonians, and the Athenians, 6 and to all the Greeks. And we are persuaded that you, • who cannot but have the like regard for us, and are yet of
a more humane and pbilosophical disposition, will grant - all we desire.'
So writes Melito. And hence, and from what Eusebius before said, may be concluded with certainty, that not only Justin presented an apology to Titus Antoninus, but that other christians also, from divers parts, had applied to him; and that he had sent favourable orders to the Larisseans in Thessaly, and to other Thessalonians, and the Athenians, and to all the Greeks in general, which may comprehend the
m See Vol. ii. ch. xv.
* Euseb. H. E. 1. 4. cap. 26.