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which, such as it was, would have been very service able to the Christians.
It is also strange that the informer, knowing the certain death to which he exposed himself, should venture on such a mad and desperate attempt. There must be some mistake in this confused and unaccount. able representation.
Shall we then reject the whole story of the martyrdom of Apollonius ? We need not go so far : we may rather suppose that as the Romans under bad emperors had suffered intolerably from the base villany and perjuries of informers, and had the whole crew in abomination ; and as there had been edicts made against delators by Titus, Nerva, and Trajan ; the persons then in authority might strain a point to cut off this obscure and detested villain, and yet might not be willing to spare Apollonius after he had been publicly accused ; for the senate in general was never favourable to Christianity, and therefore some emperors, who were not void of good qualities, oppressed the Christians, to gain the esteem of that body, and to pass for zealous defenders of the Roman laws and customs.
The scnate might condemn Apollonius by Trajan's rescript to Pliny, and yet not care to encourage informations. If Apollonius was accused by his own slave, the slave, I think, by the Roman laws, was fiable to
some measure from persecution. Euseb. vii. 13: Could not Marcus have done as much, if he had been so minded ?
* Tacitus hated them heartily, and calls them, genus hominum publico exilio repertum, et pænis nunquam satis coërcilum. The younger Pliny was of the same mind-but men of honour have ever agreed in disliking and shunning such vermin, tho' men of power have sometimes been fond of them. See Cicero Orat. pro Roscio, 20, kind
be put to death. Cod. L. x. Tit. xi. and the notes. The emperor Tacitus afterwards ordered, that slaves should not bear witness against their masters, even in crines of high treason. In eadem oratione carit ut servi in dominorum capita non interrogarentur, ne in causa majestatis quidem. Vopiscus Tacito, p. 608.
Trajan forbad the Christians to be sought after, that is, he testified his dislike of it, but he made no law against the accusers of Christians, and subjected them to no penalties.
When Cyprian was brought to his trial before the proconsul of Afric, that magistrate asked him to give him the names of the presbyters of Carthage. Cyprian replied that he would not discover them, and that even the civil laws justly condemned delators. Act. Cypr.
The death of Apollonius is a proof that the epistles which we have of Antoninus Pius and of Marcus Aurelius, which expressly forbid Christians to be put to death for their religion, were forgeries ; for the rescripts of emperors, unless repealed, were in some measure Roman laws.
Quod principi placuit, legis habet vigorem. Instit. i. Tit. ii. See Schulting, Dissert. pro Rescriptis.
In the time of Marcus Aurelius lived Lucian and Apuleius. Lucian was partly a sceptic, partly an epicurcan, an elegant, ingenious, loose, and immodest writer. It is no wonder that he did not like Christianity ; yet he hath said so much, in the way of ridicule, against superstition, and the worship of the gods, and the sophistry of the philosophers, that he may possibly be considered in that respect, as a kind of apologist, who contributed, though undesignedly, to the advancement of religion, if it be allowed that,
He praises and extols Epicurus in his Alexander,
Virtus est vitium fugere, et sapientia prima
Stultitia caruisse. The notion that he was an apostate from Christianity is groundless. See the life of Lucian by Retizius. Bourdelotius on this occasion, says, Qui mendacus suis invicem credunt, Christianum fuisse arbitrantur, supposititiorum pravitate decepti. Sawcy enough! Qui mendaciis suis invicem credunt, is taken from Minucius Felix, and is the character which the
in the dialogue bestows upon all the Christians in general.
Apuleius passed for a philosopher and a magician. The first of these characters he desired and deserved ; the second he loudly disclaimed. Some pagans after his time were so very silly as to oppose to the miracles of Christ those of Apuleius, of which there was not one upon record. Bayle's Dict. APULEIUS.
Augustine seems to have had a small doubt whether Apuleius was really transmographied into an ass. If he had lived in the days of Apuleius and had said so, the philosopher would have returned the compliment upon him. Apuleius in Libris, quos Asini aurei titulo inscripsit, sibi ipsi accidisse, ut accepto veneno, humano animo
permanente, asinus fieret, aut indicavit, aut finxit. Hæc vel falsa sunt, vel tam inusitata, ut merito non credantur. De Civ. Dei, xviii. 18. But in the time of Augustine some Christian miracles were related by himself, and received by the populace, which for improbability were not at all inferior to the transformatjon of Apuleius. The elegant story of Cupid and Psyche in Apuleius
is undoubtedly mystical and allegorical *. Porphyry wrote a poem, which is lost, called • itpós gápos, the Sacred Nuptials, by which I suppose was meant the mysterious union of the soul with the Deity: and the enthusiastic sublimity of the poem made some readers conclude that the author was mad; but Plotinus, who was an adept, greatly admired it. Holstenius, Vit. Porph. c. 10.
Irenæus, speaking of the initiations and mysteries of some old heretics, Says, Οι μεν αυτών νυμφώνα κατασκευάζεσι-σνευματικών γάμον φάσκισιν είναι το υπ' αυτών γινόμενον, κατα την ομοιότητα των άνω συζυγιών. Quidam eorum thalamum nuptialem construunt—easque spirituales nuptias esse affirmant, ad formam et exemplum cælestium conjugierum, Vid. Euseb. H. E. iv. 11. Here also were spiritual and mystical nuptials t; and perhaps something more. Enthusiasts and pious mystics have been reinarkably fond of the nuptial style, and of applying verba nupta to godly subjects.
The philosophers about and after the time of Apuleius, had genius and learning, with a dash of fanaticisin I. They were dealers in Theurgy, or the evocation of inferior gods, and boasted of an intercourse with dæmons, and an union with God. Many an
cient * Concerning the Metamorphosis and the Apology of Apuleius, see Mr Warburton Div. Legat. vol. ii,
+ If Irenæus was not misinformed : for the accounts which the Fathers have given of heretics are not to be entirely trusted,
# Il est surprenant que ces Mystiques Chretiens, et ces Philosophes Payens, ayent ete si conformes les uns aux autres, qu'on diroit qu'ils s'etoient donne le mot pour debiter les mêmes folies les uns dans l'orient et les autres dans l'occidentQuel concert admirable entre des gens qui ne s'etoient jamais vûs, et qui n'avoient jamais ouï parler les uns des autrres ! Boyle Dict Taulerus. See the place, and the references,
cient Christian writers have spoken handsomely of Porphyry, and have done justice to his abilities, tho'he was an enemy; which at the same time was doing honour to themselves. Porphyry, as far as we may guess from a passage in Jerom, said, that the miracles, which the Christians were reported to work, were the tricks of evil dæinons. Vigilantius, at the end of the fourth century, had condemned the excessive honours paid to the reliques of the saints, for which Jerom reviles him, and says, Spiritues iste immundus, qui te hrec cogit scribere, scepe hoc vilissimo tortas est pulvere, imo hodieque torquetur, et qui in te plagas dissimulat, in ceteris cuntidetur; nisi forte in moren Gentilium, impiorumque, Porphyri Eunomique, has prestigias Dæmonum esse confingas, et non vere clamare Dremones, sed sua simulare tormenta. Contra Vigil.
As we find not in ecclesiastical history that any evil befel Vigilantius, we may conclude that this honest man was gathered to his fathers in peace.
If so, he was a fortunate person, for one who set his face against the public, and to be excepted from the number of those, who by following truth too close at the heels, have had their teeth knocked out for their pains. A politican would have whispered to him, Holl your opinion, but hold your tongue. He came off
He came off very well, if he suffered no greater harm than to be called, Fool, Blockhead, Madman, Demoniac, Lunatic, Heretic, Arian, Eunomian, Samaritan, Jew, Pagan, Infidel, Apostate, Blasphemer, Calumniator, Despiser of Martyrs, Bishops, and Emperors, Glutton, Sot, Liar, Ass, and Dog.
Porphyry made some concessions in favour of Christianity, and acknowledged that the dæmons had reverenced Christ. Holstenius de Vit. Porphyrü, c. 11. or Eusebius, Dem. Erung. p. 131. This philosopher