« ForrigeFortsett »
one to be found among them who same civil circumstances, though not bath more than another ; every one's committed to writing amongst the possessions are intermingled with every great press of matter circumscribing other's possessions, and so there is, as the choice of the Evangelists. it were, one patrimony among all the " As for their piety towards God, brethren."
it is very extraordinary : for before In this account of the “ communi- sun-rising they speak not a word about cativeness," as to temporal wealth, of profane matters, but put up certain the third sect, it is hardly necessary that prayers which they have received from we should point out the mirror which it their forefathers. holds up to the habits of the very first This practice of antelucan worship, Christians in Jerusalem, as we see them possibly having reference to the inefrecorded in the Acts of the Apostles. fable mystery of the resurrection, This, the primary record of Christian (all the Evangelists agreeing in the history, (for even the disciples were
awful circumstance that it was very not in any full sense Christians until early in the morning, and one even after the resurrection and the Divine saying, “ whilst it was yet dark,'') a afflatus,) is echoed afterwards in va- symbolic pathos which appeals to the rious stages of primitive Christianity. very depths of human passion-as if But all these subsequent acts and the world of sleep and the anarchy of monuments of early Christian faith dreams figured to our apprehension were derived by imitation and by the dark worlds of sin and death-it sympathy from the Apostolic prece- happens remarkably enough that we dent in Jerusalem ; as that again was find confirmed and countersigned by derived from the “ common purse the testimony of the first open antagocarried by the Twelve Disciples. nist to our Christian faith. Pliny, in
“ They have no certain city, but that report to Trajan so universally many of them dwell in every city; known to every class of readers, and and if any of their sect come from so rank with everlasting dishonour to other places, what they find lies open his own sense and equity, notices this for them just as if it were their own: point in the ritual of primitive Chrisand they go in to such as they never tianity. “ However," says he, “they knew before, as if they had been ever assured me that the amount of their so long acquainted with them.". fault, or of their error, was this,
All Christian antiquity illustrates that they were wont, on a stated day, and bears witness to this, as a regular to meet together before it was light, and and avowed Christian habit. To this to sing a hymn to Christ,” &c. The habit points St Paul's expression of date of Pliny's letter is about forty
given to hospitality ;” and many years after the siege of Jerusalem; passages in all the Apostolical wri. about seventy-seven, therefore, after tings. Like other practices, however, the crucifixion, when Joseph would that had been firmly established from be just seventy-two years old. But the beginning, it is rather alluded to, we may be sure, from collateral reand indirectly taken for granted and cords, and from the entire uniformity assumed, than prescribed; expressly of early Christianity, that a much to teach or enjoin it was as little ne- longer lapse of time would have made cessary, or indeed open to a teacher, no change in this respect. as with us it would be open to recom- “ They neglect wedlock; but they mend marriage. What Christian do not absolutely deny the fitness of could be imagined capable of neglect- marriage." ing such an institution ?
This is a very noticeable article in « For which reason they carry no
his account of the Essenes, and powerthing with them when they travel into fully illustrates the sort of acquaintremote parts."
ance which Josephus had gained with This dates itself from Christ's own their faith and usages. In the first directions, (St Luke, x. 3, 4,) “ Go place, as to the doctrine itself, it your way. Carry neither purse, nor tallies remarkably with the leanings scrip, nor shoes. And, doubtless, of St Paul. He allows of marriage, many other of the primitive practices overruled by his own moral prudence. amongst the Christians were nót But evidently his bias was the other adopted without a special command way. And the allowance is notorifrom Christ, traditionally retained by ously a concession to the necessities the Church whilst standing in the which experience had taught him, and
by way of preventing greater evils: lofty and spiritual morality, it would but an evil, on the whole, it is clear, have been a fair inference to ask what that he regarded it. And naturally more or better had been taught by it was so in relation to that higbest Christi in which case there might mode of spiritual life which the apos- still have remained the great redemptles contemplated as a fixed ideal. tional and mediatorial functions for Moreover, we know that the apostles Christ ; but, as to his divine morality, fell into some errors which must have it would have been forestalled. Such affected their views in these respects. would have been the inference ; and For a time at least they thought the end it is an inference which really has been of the world close at hand : who could drawn from this romance of the Esthink otherwise that had witnessed the senes adopted as true history. awful thing which they had witnessed, • Whatsoever they say is firmer or had drunk out of the same spiritual than an oath ; but swearing is avoided cup ? Under such impressions, they by them ; and they esteem it worse reasonably pitched the key of Chris- than perjury." tian practice higher than else they We presume that nobody can fail to would have done. So far as to the recognise in this great scrupulosity, doctrine here ascribed to the Essenes. the memorable command of Christ, deBut it is observable, that in this place livered in such unexampled majesty of Josephus admits that these Es- language, “ Swear not at all : neither senes did tolerate marriage. Now, by heaven, for it is God's throne ; nor in his earlier notice of the same people, by the earth, for it is his footstool," he had denied this. What do we infer &c. This was said in condemnation from that? Why, that he came to his of a practice universal amongst the knowledge of the Essenes by degrees; Jews; and if any man can believe that and as would be likely to happen with a visionary sect, of whom no man ever regard to a sect sequestrating them- heard except through two writers selves, and locking up their doctrines both lying under the same very natu. as secrets : which description exactly ral mistake, could have come by blind applies to the earliest Christians. The accidents into such an inheritance of instinct of self-preservation obliged spiritual truth as is here described by them to retreat from notoriety. Their Josephus, that man will find nothing tenets could not be learned easily ; beyond his credulity. For he prethey were gathered slowly, indirectly, sumes a revelation far beyond all the by fragments. This accounts for the wisdom of the Pagan world to have fact that people standing outside, like been attained by some unknown JewJosephus or Philo Judæus, got only ish philosopher, so little regarded by casual glimpses of the truth, and such his followers that they have not even as were continually shifting. Hence at preserved his name from oblivion. different periods Josephus contradicts Amongst the initiatory and proba. himself. But if he had been speaking tionary vows which these sectarians of a sect as notorious as the Pharisees are required to take is this_" that he or Sadducees, no such error, and no will ever show fidelity to all men, and such alteration of views, could have especially to those in authority, behappened.
cause no one obtains the government « They are eminent for fidelity, and without God's assistance."
Here, are the ministers of peace.
again, we see a memorable precept of We suppose that it cannot be neces- St Paul and the apostles generallysary to remind any reader of such the same precept, and built on the characteristic Christian doctrines as
very same reason, viz. that rulers are of • Blessed are the peace-makers,” &c.; God's appointment. still less of the transcendent demand “ They are long-lived also : insomade by Christianity for singleness much, that many of them live above of heart, uprightness, and entire con- a hundred years, by means of the scientiousness ; without which all pre, simplicity of their diet.” tences to Christian truth are regarded Here we are reminded of St John as mere hollow mockeries. Here, the Evangelist: whilst others, no therefore, again we read the features, doubt, would have attained the same too plainly for any mistake, of pure age, had they not been cut off by Christianity. But let the reader obe martyrdom. serve keenly, had there been this pre- In many other points of their interior tended sect of Essenes teaching all this discipline, their white robes, their meals, their silence and gravity, we and solitary corners, where he stood see in this account of the Essenes a in conference with a single contrite mere echo of the primitive economy heart. Were the subject or the perestablished among the first Christians, son different, one might ascribe a as we find it noticed up and down the dramatic purpose and a scenical art apostolical constitutions.
to the vast variety of the circumIt is remarkable that Josephus no- stances and situations in which tices, as belonging to the sect of the Christ is introduced. And yet, whilst Essenes, the order of “ angels" or all other sorts and orders of men conmessengers. Now, every body must verse with him, never do we hear of remember this order of officers as a any interview between him and the Christian institution noticed in the Essenes. Suppose one Evangelist Apocalypse.
to have overlooked such a scene, anoFinally, in all that is said of the ther would not. In part, the very contempt which the Essenes showed source of the dramatic variety in the for pain and death ; and that “ al- New Testament scenes, must be though tortured and distorted, burnt looked for in the total want of colluand torn to pieces, yet could they not sion amongst the Evangelists. Each be made to flatter their tormentors, or throwing himself back upon overmasto shed a tear, but that they smiled tering remembrances, all-glorified to in their very torments,” &c., we see his heart, had no more need to consult the regular habit of Christian martyrs a fellow-witness, than a man needs, in through the first three centuries. We rehearsing the circumstances of a final see that principle established amongst parting with a wife or a child, to seek them so early as that first examina. collateral vouchers for his facts. tion of Pliny's; for he is so well aware Thence it was in part left to themhow useless it would be to seek for selves, unmodified by each other, that any discoveries by torture applied to they attained so much variety in the the Christian men, that he resorts in- midst of so much inevitable sameness. stantly to the torture of female ser- One man was impressed by one case, a vants. The secrecy, again, as to their second by another. And thus, it must opinions, is another point common to have happened amongst four, that at the supposed Essenes and the Chris- least one would have noticed the Estians. Why the Essenes, as an orthodox senes. But no one of the four gospels Jewish sect, should have practised any alludes to them. The Acts of the Apossecresy, Josephus would have found it tles, again, whether by a fifth author hard to say ; but the Christian rea. or not, is a fifth body of remembrances, sons will appear decisive to any man a fifth act of the memory applied to the who reflects.
followers of Christ. Yet neither does But first of all, let us recur to the this notice them. The Apocalypse of argument we have just employed, and St John, reviewing the new church for summon you to a review of the New a still longer period, and noticing all Testament. Christ, during his minithe great outstanding features of the stry in Palestine, is brought as if by state militant, then unrolling for Chrisspecial arrangement into contact tianity, says not one word about them. with all known orders of men,- St Peter-St James, utterly overScribes, and Doctors, Pharisees and look them. Lastly, which weighs Sadducees, Herodians and followers more than all the rest, St Paul, the of the Baptist, Roman officers, inson learned and philosophic apostle, bred lent with authority, tax-gatherers, the up in all the learning of the most orthoPariahs of the land, Galileans, the dox amongst the Jews, gives no signi most undervalued of the Jews, Sama that he had ever heard of such people. ritans, hostile to the very name of Jew, In short, to sum up all in one senrich men clothed in purple, and poor tence, the very word Essene and Esmen fishing for their daily bread, the senes is not found in the New Testa. happy and those that sate in darkness, ment. wedding parties and funeral parties, Now, is it for one moment to be solitudes amongst hiils or seashores, credited—that a body of men so truly and multitudes that could not be spiritual in the eternals of their creed, counted, mighty cities and hamlets whatever might be the temporals of the most obsure, golden sanhedrims, their practice, should have won no and the glorious temple, where he word of praise from Christ for that spoke to myriads of the worshippers, by which they so far exceeded other
sects—no word of reproach for that by positively none, how came the fiction? which they might happen to fall short Was it a conscious lie? Was it a misof their own profession—no word of take? Was it an exaggeration ? admonition, founded on the compari. Now, our idea is as follows :- What son between their good and their bad do we suppose the early Christians to -their heavenly and earthly ? Or, if have been called ? By what name were that had been supposable, can we be they known amongst themselves and lieve that Christ's enemies, so eager amongst others ? Christians? Not at as they showed themselves to turn all. When it is said —" the disciples even the Baptist into a handle of re- were first called Christians at Antiproach against the new teacher, would och,” we are satisfied that the meaning have lost the overwhelming argument is not--this name, now general, was derived from the Essenes ? « A new first used at Antioch ; but that, where. command I give unto you."
as we followers of Christ generally call at all,” they would have retorted- one another, and are called by a “ Not at all new. Every thing spi- particular name X, in Antioch that ritual in your ethics has been anti- name was not used; but from the very cipated by the Essenes.” It would beginning they were called by another have been alleged, that the function name, viz. Christians.
At all events, of Redeemer for Israel was to be since this name Christian was confes. judged and tried by the event. The sedly used at Antioch before it was only instant touchstone for the preten- used any where else, there must have sions of Christ lay in the divine cha. been another name elsewhere for the racter of his morality, and the spirit- same people. What was that name? uality of that worship which he taught. It was “ The Brethren,” [oi aden.Qoo ;] Miracles were or were not from God, and at times, by way of variety, to according to purposes to which they prevent the awkwardness of too moministered. That moral doctrine notonously repeating the same word, and that worship were those purposes. perhaps it was “ The Faithful,” [or By these only they could try the mi50..] The name Christians travelsoundness of all beside; and if these led, we are convinced, not immediately had been forestalled by the Essenes, amongst themselves, but slowly what remained for any new teacher or amongst their enemies. It was a name new founder of a religion? In fact, of reproach ; and the meaning was were the palpable lies of this Jew- “ We Pagans are all worshippers of traitor built on any thing but delu, gods, such as they are ; but this sect sions misinterpreted by his own igno. worships a man, and that man a malerant heart, there would be more in factor.” For, though Christshould prothat one tale of his about the Essenes perly have been known by his name, to undermine Christianity, than in all which was Jesus; yet, because his the batteries of all the infidels to crime, in the opinion of the Jews, lay in overthrow it. No infidel can argue the office he had assumed-in having away the spirituality of the Christian made bimself the Christos, the anointed religion: attacks upon miracles leave of God, therefore it happened that he that unaffected. But he, who (con- was published amongst the Roman fessing the spirituality) derives it world by that name : his offence, his from some elder and unknown source, “ titulus" on the cross, (the king, or the at one step evades what he could not anointed,) was made his Roman name. master. He overthrows without op- Accordingly Tacitus, speaking of some position; and enters the citadel insurgents in Judea, says—that they through ruins caused by internal ex- mutinied under the excitement of plosion.
Christ, (not Jesus,) their original What then is to be thought? If this ringleader,” (impulsore Chresto.) And death-like silence of all the evange- no doubt it had become a scoffing lists, and all the apostles, makes it a name, until the Christians disarmed mere impossibility to suppose the ex- the scoff of its sting by assuming it istence of such a sect as the Essenes themselves; as was done in the case of in the time of Christ, did such a sect "the Beggars" in the Netherlands, and arise afterwards, viz. in the Epichris- " the Methodists” in England. tian generation? Or, if not, how and Well : meantime, what name did by what steps came up the romance the Christians bear in their we have been considering ? Was there place ? Were they called “ the brethany substance in the tale ? Or, if ren” there? No. And why not?
Simply because it had become too sonally as the great apostate, must dangerous a name. To be bold, to have gone to their last sleep. affront all reasonable danger, was their During the whole of this noviciate for instinct and their duty; but not to Christianity; and in fact throughout tempt utter extinction or utter reduc- the whole Epichristian era, there was tion to imbecility. We read amiss, if a brooding danger over the name and we imagine that the fiery persecution, prospects of Christianity. To hold up which raged against Christ, had a hand, to put forth a head, in the burned itself out in the act of the cru- blinding storm, was to perish. It was cifixion. It slept, indeed, for a brief to solicit and tempt destruction. That interval : but that was from necessity; could not be right. Those who were for the small flock of scattered sheep answerable for the great interest coneasily secreted themselves. No sooner
fided to them, if in their own persons did they multiply a little, no sooner they might have braved the anger of did their meetings again proclaim the times, were not at liberty to do so their “whereabouts," than the snake on this account--that it would have found them out, again raised its spiry stopped effectually the expansion of the crest amongst them, and again crush- Church. Martyrdom and persecution ed them for a time. The martyrdom formed the atmosphere in which it of St Stephen showed that no jesting throve ; but not the frost of death. was intended. It was determined that What, then, did the fathers of the examples should be made. It was re
Church do? You read that, during a solved that this revolt against the part of this Epichristian age, Temple (the Law and the Prophets) churches had peace." True, they had must be put down. The next event But do you know how they had quickened this agency sevenfold. A it? Do you guess what they did ? great servant of the persecution, in It was this: They said to each other the very agony of the storm which -If we are to stand such consuming he was himself guiding and point- fires as we have seen, one year will fining, working the very artillery of ish us all. And then what will become Jerusalem upon some scent which his of the succession that we are to leave bloodhounds had found in Syria, sud. behind us ? We must hide ourselves denly, in one hour passed over to the effectually. And this can be done only enemy. What of that ? Did that by symbolizing. Any lesser disguise startle the persecution? Probably it our persecutors will penetrate. But did : failure from within was what they this, by its very nature, will baffle had not looked for. But the fear them, and yet provide fully for the which it bred was sister to the wrath nursing of an infant Church. They proof hell. The snake turned round; ceeded, therefore, thus:-“ Let there but not for flight. It turned to fasten be darkness '-was the first word of upon the revolter. St Paul's authority command : “ let us mufile ourselves in as a leader in the Jewish councils thick clouds, which no human eye can availed him nothing after this. Orders penetrate. And towards this purpose were undoubtedly expedited from Je- let us immediately take a symbolic rusalem to Damascus, as soon as mes
And, because any name that sengers could be interchanged, for his ex esses or implies a secret fraternity assassination. And assassinated he -a fraternity bound together by any would have been, had he been twenty hidden tie or purpose—will instantly St Pauls, but for his secret evasion, be challenged for the Christian broand his flight to Arabia. Idumea, therhood under a new masque, instantprobably a sort of Ireland to Judea, ly, the bloody Sanhedrim will get to was the country to which he fled ; their old practices — torturing our where again he might have been found weaker members, (as afterwards the out, but his capture would have cost a cruel Pliny selected for torture the negotiation; and in all likelihood he poor frail women-servants of the brelay unknown amongst crowds. Northren,) and the wolf will be raging did he venture to show his face again amongst our folds in three months, in Jerusalem for some years; and then
therefore two things are requisite; again not till a term of fourteen years, one, that this name which we assume half a generation, during which many should be such as to disarm suspicion, of the burning zealots, and of those [in this they acted upon the instinct of who could have challenged him per- those birds, which artfully construct
NO. CCXCI. VOL. XLVII.