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• books of Moses and the prophets, and has allegorized
them in no improbable manner; as in his book called the Epops, and in his books concerning Numbers, and those * concerning Place. And in his third book concerning • What is Good, he relates a history concerning Jesus with
out mentioning bis name, and allegorizeth it; whether rightly or not, I do not now stay to inquire. He also relates a history concerning Moses, and Jannes and Jambres. Not that I think this a matter to be much • boasted of; nevertheless, we have more reason to be * pleased with him, than with Celsus and other Greeks; • forasmuch as he had read our scriptures, and candidly
paid a regard to them as no contemptible writings, and • worthy to be allegorized.'
To this passage of Origen there is a reference in Grotius, Of the Truth of the Christian Religion, or in the Notes upon him; where it is said, “ thato divers heathen authors have * made mention of Jesus, as Suetonius, Tacitus, the younger
Pliny, and many others. And Origen, in his fourth book against Celsus, lets us know, that in Numenius the Pythagorean there was a history concerning Jesus.'
Having now, as I think, paid a due regard to the quotations of Numenius, which are in our early christian writers, I must take the liberty to say, that the time of Numenius is uncertain. And I cannot but doubt, whether he lived after the coming of our Saviour. Says Tillemont: ItP is
thought, that we ought to place about the time of Marcus * Aurelius the celebrated philosopher Numenius, of whom · Eusebius and Theodoret have made great use in their ar'guments with the beathens. Theodoret does in effect say
that he lived after Christ. Nevertheless that manner of speaking seems to show that Tillemont hesitated; for Theodoret speaks plainly enough, if we could rely upon him, as accurate and well informied. Having quoted Plotinus, be says: ' And many other like things are said by • him, and Plutarch, and Numenius, and others of that sect. • For these men living after the coming of our Saviour, . have joined many parts of the christian theology with their
own doctrines.' And Origen likewise, in the place before referred to, speaks in this manner. First he quotes Chry
• Testantur idem et pagani--ut Suetonius, Tacitus, Plinius junior, et post hos multi. Historiam quandam de Jesu etiam apud Numenium Pythagoricum exstitisse, docet nos Origenes contra Celsum quarto. Grot. de Verit. Rel. Chr.
P Théodoret dit en effet, qu'il a vecu après Jésus Christ. L'Emp. Marc Aurèle, art. 31.
4 Gr. Aff. 1. ii. p. 500. Γ Μετα γαρ δη την τ8 Σωτηρος ημων επιφανειαν ετοι γενομενοι, της χρισιανικης θεολογιας πολλα τους οικειους ανεμιξαν λογοις. Ιbid.
1. ii, sect. ii.
sippus, and then adds: “Thes like things may be seen in the • latter pbilosophers who lived not long ago, as Plutarch, 6 and Numenius, in his second book of the Immortality of • the Soul.'
J. Tollius, in his notes upon a fragment of Longinus, where Numenius is mentioned, supposeth he lived in the times of thet Antonines; and Jonsius likewise thought it probable, thatu Numenius flourished in the time of Antoninus the pious. And indeed it is easy to show, as Jonsius has done, that Numenius lived before Origen, and some otbers, who read him, or have quoted him; but I do not perceive any marks of his real time alleged from any.
I therefore am still in suspense. It is, I think, remarkable, that Suidas, who tells us in whose reigns lived Plutarch, and Dion Cassius, and Dion Chrysostom, and Aristides, and Numenius the orator, and many others, says nothing of that kind of Numenius the philosopher. Hc knew that he was of Apamea in Syria, but does not mention the name of the emperor in whose time he lived. And Numienius, as we have seen, is often joined with Plato and Cronius : but the time of Cronius is uncertain, so far as I know. Nor have I observed any thing in the quotations of the works of Numenius, made by Eusebius, or others, that can determine his age; for any thing that is observable in those quotations, he might live when gentilism was at its height, and in all its splendour. He was acquainted with the writings of Moses and the prophets; but I discern not any references to the scriptures of the New Testament. That history concerning Jesus, which Numenius has allegorized, as Origen says, without naming him,' may bave been somewhat different from what has been generally apprehended. Perhaps it related to Joshua, successor of Moses in the government of the people of Israel. For if that history had related to the Lord Jesus, it might be expected that we should see it repeated over again in Eusebius or Theodoret, or some other writer since Origen. After all, as I apprehend, such a reference as that in Origen is of little importance; he has not quoted the passage; nor so much as linted what was the subject of the history.
8 Η δη δε και παρα τισι των νεωτερων, και χθες και πρωην γεγενημενων. Ut supr. I. v. sect. 57.
Floruit sub Antonino et Vero, Apameâ Syriæ oriundus---Hujus dicebatur Plotinus scripta compilâsse. Defendit autem Plotinum Amelius libro De Differentiâ Doctrinæ Plotini et Numenii, quem Porphyrio inscripsit ; ut est apud Porphyrium in Vitâ Plotini. Toll. in Longin. p. 248.
u Si conjecturæ hæc res committenda, sub Antonino Pio Numenium floruisse dixerim J. Jons. de Scriptorib. Hist. Philosoph. I. iii. cap. 10. p. 264.
I could not omit Numenius, as he has quoted Moses and the prophets, and allegorized some part of their writings; but I know not when he lived. I put him down here, being desirous to join him with Amelins and Longinus, two learned critics and philosophers. Numenius, as we learn from Origen, made use of Moses and the prophets,' and allegorized some parts of them. If he had lived after the publication of the books of the New Testament, it is reasonable to believe that he would have made use of them likewise. As it does not appear that he took any notice of them, it seems to ine probable that he lived before the rise of the christian religion.
THE EMPEROR AURELIAN.
1. His time and character. II. How the christians are
mentioned by him in a letter to the senate of Rome. III. His conduct toward Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch. IV. His persecution of the christians.
1. AURELIAN, a man of mean original, but of a severe disposition, and a great captain, having performed good services in the times of Valerian, Gallienus, and Claudius the second, was, after the death of this last, proclaimed emperor in the year 270, and died in 275. Some have ascribed to him a reign of six years; but now it is the opinion of the best chronologers that he did not complete his fifth year, and died after he had reigned four years and four months and some days.
II. Flavius Vopiscus of Syracuse is the sixth and last of the Augustan writers, but not the worst of them; for he is generally reckoned as learned a man and as regular an historian as any of them.
In his Life of the Emperor Aurelian, he makes mention of a letter of his to the senate of Rome, written, probably, in the beginning of his reign, in the year 270 ore 271, upon
a Aurelianus, modicis ortus parentibus, a primâ ætate ingenio vivacissimus, &c. Vopisc. Aurelian, cap. 4. p. 420.
b Vid. Pagi ann. 275. num. ii. iii. Basn. ann. 270. num. vi.
c Vid. Basnag. ann. 291. num. ii.
occasion of an incursion made into Italy by some people of Germany.
• Thered is,' says Vopiscus, ' a letter of Aurelian concerning the Sibylline books, which I insert here to confirm • the account which I have given.
66 I wonder that you, holy fathers, have so long hesitated about opening the Sibylline books; just as if your consultations were held
in some church of the christians, and not in the temple of • all the gods.
The meaning of the emperore is very evident. The christians were reckoned a profane and atheistical sort of men, without temples, without rites and ceremonies, or however, averse to all the rites of the public establishment. The emperor tells the senate, that they were as backward to open those books, which should inform them what sacrifices ought to be offered up for the good of the public, as if they were so many christians met together, who were averse to all sacrifices; and not the Roman senate sitting in the temple of all the gods, the very place of whose assembly admonished them of their duty, to take in the direction and assistance of the gods in this difficult conjuncture.
This passage affords a good argunient that the true Sibylline books which were in the hands of the Romans, and were still made use of by them, were full of heathen superstition, and not agreeable to the christian doctrine or worship, as some have supposed. This is manifest from the whole context before and after this letter of Aurelian. There are divers other proofs of it, occurring in the Lives of the Roman Emperors, written by these Augustan historians, particularly in thef Life of Gordian the third, written by Julius Capitolinus, and in the& Life of Gallienus, written by Trebellius Pollio.
But that is not now our principal concern. The design of alleging this passage is to show, that Vopiscus the Augustan writer, and the emperor Aurelian, were not unacquainted with the christians and their principles.
« Est epistola Aureliani de libris Sibyllinis. Nam ipsam quoque indidi ad fideni rerum.
Miror vos, Patres Sancti, tamdiu de aperiendis Sibyllinis dubitâsse libris, proinde quasi in christianorum ecclesiâ, non in templo deorum omnium, tractaretis. Vopisc. Aurelian. cap. 20. p. 463.
e Vid. Annot. in Vopisci, loc. et Basnag. ann. 271, num. ii. et ante Dom. 4. num. x. xi.
* Fuit terræ motus eousque gravis imperante Gordiano, ut civitates etiam terræ hiatu cum populis deperirent; ob quæ, sacrificia per totam urbem to tumque orbem terrarum, ingentia celebrata sunt. Et Cordus quidem dicit, inspectis libris Sibyllinis, celebratisque omnibus, quæ illic jussa videbantur, mundanum malum esse sedatum. Jul. Capit. Gordian. cap. iii. 22. p. 118.
8 Pax igitur Deûm quæsita, inspectis Sibyllæ libris, factumque Jovi Salutari, ut præceptum fuerat, sacrificium. Treb. Poll. Gallien. cap. 5. p. 198.
However, there is another thing which may be observed bere; that this passage may lead us to think, Aurelian was not free from superstition. And there are some other things said of him, which may concur to support this supposition. For his motherh is said by Vopiscus to have been a priestess of the temple of the Sun, which was in the place where his parents dwelt; and this her son appears also to have had a peculiar respect for that deity. This is an observation for wbich I am indebtedi to Mr. Mosheim; and I have brought it in here for the sake of some things which may follow hereafter.
III. For there are some other things concerning this emperor in christian writers, which must now be taken notice of.
Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch, was deposed by the second council held in that city upon his account ink the year 269, and Domnus was appointed in bis room; but Paul, being supported by Zenobia, kept his seat for some time after that, till near the end of the year 272, or the beginning of 273, when_Aurelian was master of Antioch.
Paul therefore,' says Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, having fallen from the faith, and from the episcopate, • Domnus took upon bim the care of the church of Antioch. . But when Paul refused to leave the house of the church, . a petition was presented to the emperor Aurelian, and he rightly determined the matter, giving orders that the house should be delivered to them to whom the bishops of the · christian religion in Italy and Rome should write. Thus, as Eusebius adds, the fore-mentioned person was with
great disgrace thrust out of the church by the secular . power.'
IV. Upon that history, and particularly upon that passage of Eusebius, divers remarks were made formerly m which need not be repeated here. I proceed to the only
ḥ Matrem quidem ejus Callicrates Tyrius, Græcorum longe doctissimus scriptor, sacerdotem templi solis, in eo vico, in quo habitabant parentes, fuisse dicit, &c. Vopisc. Aurelian, cap. 4. p. 420.
| Vix eo inter imperatores ante Constantinum M. quisquam superstitiosior, deorumque commentitiorum studiosior fuit. Mater ejus sacerdos fuerat solis
et filius idcirco solem summi Numinis loco per totam vitam venerabatur. Orationem, quâ Valeriano de honoribus ab eo acceptis gratias agit, his verbis claudit: Dii faciant, et Deus certus Sol, ut et Senatus de me sic judicet, &c. &c. Moshem. ut supr. p. 559.
k See vol. ii. p. 677, &c. | H. E. l. vii. cap. 30. p. 282. D.
m See vol. ij. p. 679, &c