Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

be recalled to the worship of the gods, by public chastise* ment and punishment.'

The letter of this law might affect new converts only, who had forsaken gentilism, and gone over to the christians : but that cannot be supposed to be the spirit of the law, or the intention of the makers of it,

Upon the whole, I can discern little weight in Mr. Mosheim's observations upon this edict of Severus; and still think, that the common opinion of learned men concerning the persecution of Severus is very right.

V. I have been longer here than I at first intended; and yet I have still one observation more to take notice of. Balduinus, in the place before cited, says: · Papinian was

præfect of the prætorium in this reign. And he says, be • has often wondered, that Papinian did not take care to • restrain the barbarous fierceness of the presidents, who • treated the christians with so much cruelty; or at least o find out a method to reduce their judicial proceedings to some good order, and the common rules of equity.

We must therefore suppose, that either Papinian did not understand the principles of religious and civil liberty, or that he was not able to establish all the schemes of equity which he had formed in his mind.

[ocr errors]

6

CHAP. XXIV.

DIOGENES LAERTIUS.

1. His time and work. II. The inscription of the altar

to the unknown God, in Acts xvii. 23, illustrated by a paragraph in this author. III. Whether he refers to the christian eucharist.

I, DIOGENES,a surnamed Laërtius, as is generally supposed from Laërtes his native place, a town or castle in

* Certe temporibus Severi proconsulem eum [Claudium Herminianum] fuisse, facile credo ; quibus et Papinianus prætorio præfectus erat. Sed sæpe mirari cogor, Papinianum, qui veluti summus tunc erat Prætor, auctorem non fuisse, ut barbara illa feritas præsidum christianos exagitantium aliquando reprimeretur ; saltem ad aliquam judicioruin legem, rationem, ordinem, revocaretur. Balduin. de Edict. Princ. Roman. p. 99, 100.

a Voss. de Histor. Gr. 1. ii. cap. 13. Tillem, H. Emp. Şévère, art. 16. Rollin. Cilicia, who wrote of the lives and opinions of the most famous philosophers in ten books, flourished, as Vossius b thinks, in the time of Antoninus the pious, or soon afterwards. Others have thought it more probable, that he lived under Severus and his successors, and that his book of the Lives of the Philosophers was written about the year 210; where also I shall place him.

II. Says St. Luke, Acts xvii, 16–23, “ Now while Paul waited for Silas and Timothy at Athens, his spirit was stirred within him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and the devout persons (or proselytes] : and in the market daily with them that met him. Then certain pbilosophers, of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say ? Others, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods, because he preached to them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him to the Areopagus, saying; May we know, what this new doctrine is, whereof thou speakest? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears; we would know, therefore, what these things mean. (For all the Athenians, and strangers which were there, spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Paul, therefore, standing up in the midst of the Areopagus, said : Ye men of Athens, I perceive that ye are in all thing's very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription; TO THE UNKNOWN therefore, ye worship without knowing him. Him do I declare unto you." After which follows the rest of the apostle's excellent discourse.

The introduction to this speech was distinctly considered a formerly; and the propriety and decency of the apostle's address to the Athenians were clearly shown.

I now intend to consider the inscription, “ To the Unknown God," of whiche he here reminds the Athenians, and

GOD.

Whorn,

Hist. Anc. T. xii. p. 266. Diogène Laërte. Diction. de Morery. Crevier's Hist. of the Roman Emperors, vol. viii. p. 148.

• Nempe vixit Laërtius sub Antonio Pio, vel paulo post. Voss. ut supra. c Tillemont, as above.

d See vol. i. p. 201, 202. e • The Being and Attributes of God appear to have been known to the philosophers and sages of antiquity : and that only seems to have been un• known to them, which is also unknown to us, namely, the mode of his ex

istence: the knowledge of which is either unnecessary, or else could not be • revealed to such creatures as we are, who cannot comprehend, or have any • idea of spirit.---It was in this sense, that God was unknown to the sages of • antiquity: and to this unknown God, I doubt not, but one or other of them

upon which he argues so rationally. For, if I mistake not, I have now an opportunity to illustrate this text by a paragraph of Diogenes in the Life of Epimenides; which, therefore, I shall here transcribe at length, and then explain.

Epimenides is supposed to have been contemporary with Solon, and to have lived in the forty-sixth Olympiad, almost six hundred years before the nativity of our Saviour. And Laërtius has given us a letter of Epimenides sent to Solon.

Diogenes Laërtius, having related some strange things of Epimenides, goes on : ' At this time the fame of Epimenides was very great among all the Greeks, and he was supposed to be in great favour with the gods. The Athenians being afflicted with a pestilence, they were directed by the Pythian oracle to get their city puritied by expiation. They therefore sent Nicias, son of Niceratus, in a ship to Crete, inviting Epimenides to come to them. He coming thither in the forty-sixth Olympiad, purified their city, and delivered them from the pestilence in this manner. Taking several sheep, some black, others white, he had them up to the Areopagus; and then let them go where they would; and gave orders to those who followed them, wherever any one of them should lie down, to sacrifice it to the god to whom it belonged. And so the plague ceased. Hence it comes to pass, that to this present time may be found in the boroughs of the Athenians anonymous altars, a inemorial of the expiation then made.'

• erected the famous altar, which St. Paul took so much notice of, and at• tributed to the superstition of the Athenians. But in this I cannot help thinking there was some mistake. An altar, with such an inscription, could hardly be set up by the priests of that country, because it rather tended to destroy superstition, and subvert their power and influence, than to establish • either. Their gods were local, their names and temples publicly known, • and their priests strove who should gain the greatest number of profitable · votaries. This altar then must surely have been erected by some philosopher, to the One True God, who was known by the effects of his infinite

power, wisdom, and goodness: but unknown as to the mode of his existence. The one true God (whom we now adore) was neither known,

nor worshipped by the ignorant, deceived, heathen multitude. Neither was ' he ignorantly worshipped by philosophers. For they might, and every one

who exercises his reason in the inquiry, may, from the works of creation, • trace out the Being and Attributes of God.' The Morality of the N. T. digested under various heads, p. 50-52.

So says the anonymous writer of the book just mentioned. I do not perceive what is the mistake,' which is here imputed, or intended to be imputed, to St. Paul. Nor indeed am I able to understand, or make out a consistent sense in the rest which is here said. However, it may be all clear to some, and important likewise. I therefore thought it not improper, that these observations should lie before my readers, in a note at least, that such use may be made of them, as is judged to be reasonable.

| Diogen. La. 1. i. sect. 113. p. 72.

8 Γνωσθεις δε παρα τοις Ελλησι θεοφιλεςατος ειναι υπεληφθη. Όθεν Αθηναιοις τω τε λοιμω κατεχομενοις εχρησεν η Πυθια καθηραι την πολιν. Οι δε πεμπεσι ναυν τε και Νικιαν τον Νικηρατ8 εις Κρητην, καλεντες τον Επιμηνιδην. Και ος ελθων Ολυμπιαδα τεσσαρακοση εκτη εκαθηρεν αυτων την πολιν, και επαυσε τον λοιμον τ8τον τον τροπον. Λαβων προβατα μελανα τε και λευκα, ηγαγε προς τον Αρειον παγον κακειθεν ειασεν ιεναι οι βελoιντο, προσαξας τοις ακολοθοις, ενθα αν κατακλινοι αυτων έκαςον, θυειν τω προσηκοντι θεω" και 8τω ληξαι το κακον. . οθεν ετι και νυν εςιν ευρειν κατα τας δημος των Αθηναιων βωμες ανωνυμες, υπομνημα της τοτε γενομενης εξιαλασεως. Diog. Laërt. in Epimenide, I. i. segm. 110. p. 70, 71.

This paragraph, I think, will mightily illustrate the text above cited from the Acts: but before I make my observations, it may be not ainiss to allege the observations of divers christian interpreters, both ancient and modern.

Jerom, in his cominent upon the first chapter of Titus, ver. 12, says: “ Theh inscription of the altar at Athens was • not " to the Unknown God,” as St. Paul quotes it, but to • the gods of Asia, and Europe, and Africa, unknown and

strange gods.' He speaks to the like purpose in anotheri place; and supposeth, that the apostle had not quoted the inscription exactly, but dexterously applied it to his own purpose.

Chrysostom, in a homily upon the Acts of the Apostles, speaks to this purpose : • Ik found an altar with this in*scription, “ to the Unknown God.” What is that? The Athenians, who in a long tract of time bad received various

6

6

ḥ Nec mirum, si pro opportunitate temporis, gentilium poëtarum versibus abutatur; quum etiam de inscriptione aræ aliquâ commutans, ad Athenienses loquutus sit : • Pertransiens enim, inquit, et contemplans culturas vestras, inveni et aram, in quâ superscriptum est: Ignoto Deo. Quod ergo ignorantes colitis, hoc ego annuncio vobis.' Inscriptio autem aræ non ita erat, ut Paulus asseruit, • Ignoto Deo,' sed ita; Diis Asiæ, et Europæ, et Africæ, diis ignotis, et peregrinis.' Verum quia Paulus non diis indigebat ignotis, sed uno tantum ignoto Deo, singulari verbo usus est, &c. In ep. ad Titum. cap. i. T. iv. P.i. p. 420.

| Ac ne parum hoc esset, ductor christiani exercitûs, et orator invictus pro Christo causam agens, etiam inscriptionem fortuitam arte torquet in argumentum fidei. Didicerat enim a vero David extorquere de manibus hostium, et Goliæ superbissimi caput proprio mucrone truncare. Ad magnum. ep. 83. T. iv. P. ii. p. 655. .

ευρον και βωμον, εν ώ επεγεγραπτο, Αγνωση θεω. Τι εςι τετο; οι Αθηναιοι, επειδαν κατα καιρος πολλες εδέξαντο θεος και απο της υπεροριας, οίον, το της Αθηνας ιερον, τον Πανα, και άλλες αλλαχοθεν, δεδoικoτες, μηποτε και αλλος τις η αυτοις μεν εδεπω γνωριμος, θεραπευομενος δε αλλαχο, υπερ πλειονος δηθεν ασφαλειας, και τοτω βωμον εςησαν. Και επειδη ην δηλος ο θεος, επεγεγραπτο, Αγνωση θεω. Τετον Χριςον Ιησεν ειναι Παυλος λεγει: μαλλον δε των παντων θεον, Ον εν αγνοεντες, φησιν, ευσεβειτε, τετον εγω karayyellw yuy. In Act. Apost. hom. 38. T. ix. p. 287. A. Bened.

[blocks in formation]

m

gods from their neighbours, as the temple of Minerva, Pan, and others from elsewhere; apprehensive that there "might be still some other god, unknown to them, who was worshipped elsewhere in other places, for the greater safety erected also an altar to him. But because the god was not manifest, they put upon it this inscription, “ To • the Unknown God." This God, Paul says, is Jesus • Christ, or rather the God of the universe. • Whom there• fore you ignorantly worship,” says he, “ him declare I unto you.

So speaks Chrysostom; nor do I perceive him to bave had any doubt about the genuineness of the inscription, as composed in the singular number, “ To the Unknown God."

Nevertheless Theophylact' and Ecumenius," after saying the same that is in Chrysostom, add: that the whole of the inscription was to this purpose: To the gods of Asia, . and Europe, and Lybia, to the unknown and strange • God.'

Isidore of Pelusium has a letter upon this subject, which begins in this manner. There were, as is said, two causes • of the inscription of the altar at Athens, “ To the Unknown • God.” And having taken notice of the second occasion, * which was a pestilence, be says, that after their deliver

ance the Athenians erected a temple and altar, with this • inscription, “ To the Unknown God.”' Nor do I perceive that there is, throughout that letter, any the least intimation that there was at Athens any altar inscribed “ to unknown gods” in the plural number.

There is, therefore, great inaccuracy in the quotation of Isidore of Pelusium, which is in Mr. Wetstein's New Testament. For P there be is quoted as saying, that the whole • inscription of the altar was, To the gods of Asia, Europe, • and Lybia, the unknown and strange God. Which, indeed, is very agreeable to Theophylact and Ecumenius, as just seen; but Isidore says nothing of that kind.

We have seen therefore two ancient christian writers, Chrysostom and Isidore of Pelusium, in the fourth, or the beginning of the fifth century, who supposed, that the in1 Theoph. in Act. Ap. p. 151.

Ο Εςι δε πασα το βωμό επιγραφη τοιαυτη θεοις Ασιας, και Ευρωπης, και Λιβυης θειο αγνωση και EEVų. (Ecum. in Act. Ap. p.

Δυω φασιν αιτιας ειναι, το επιγεγραφθαι Αθηνησι τω βωμω. Αγνωση θεω. k. 1. Ibid. 1. iv. ep. 69.

ναον δειμαμενοι και βωμον, επιγραψαντες, Αγνωση θεω. Ιbid. 9 Isidorus iv. 69. Η πασα το βωμα επιγραφη, θεοις Ασιας, και Ευρωπης, Kal DiBuns, OeQ ayvwsp kat Gemps. Wetsten. in Act. Ap. cap. xvii. 23.

137.

n

« ÎnapoiContinuați »