an emperor who made no austinction between his duties and his pleasures; who laboured to relieve the distress, and to revive the spirit, of his subjects; and who endeavoured always to connect authority with merit, and happiness with virtue. Even faction, and religious faction, was constrained to acknowledge the superiority of his genius, in peace as well as in war; and to confess, with a sigh, that the apostate Julian was a lover of his country, and that he deserved the empire of the world. 87

87. . . . . . Ductor fortissimus armis;
Conditor et legum celeberrimus; ore mantique
Consultor patriae; sed non consultor habendae
Religionis; amans tercenttum millia Divām.
Perfidus ille Deo, sed non et [leg. quamuis non] perfidus orbi.
Prudent. Apotheosis, 450, &c. [ed. Dressel, p. 102].

The consciousness or a generous sentiment seems to have raised the Christian poet above his usual mediocrity

Religion of


The Religion of Julian—Universal Toleration—He attempts to re-
store and reform the Pagan Worship; to rebuild the Temple of
Jerusalem—His artful Persecution of the Christians—Mutual
Zeal and Injustice

The character of Apostate has injured the reputation of Julian; and the enthusiasm which clouded his virtues has exaggerated the real and apparent magnitude of his faults. Our partial ignorance may represent him as a philosophic monarch, who studied to protect, with an equal hand, the religious factions of the empire; and to allay the theological fever which had inflamed the minds of the people from the edicts of Diocletian to the exile of Athanasius. A more accurate view of the character and conduct of Julian will remove this favourable prepossession for a prince who did not escape the general contagion of the times. We enjoy the singular advantage of comparing the pictures which have been delineated by his fondest admirers and his implacable enemies. The actions of Julian are faithfully related by a judicious and candid historian, the impartial spectator of his life and death. The unanimous evidence of his contemporaries is confirmed by the public and private declarations of the emperor himself; and his various writings express the uniform tenor of his religious sentiments, which policy would have prompted him to dissemble rather than to affect. A devout and sincere attachment for the gods of Athens and Rome constituted the ruling passion of Julian;" the powers of an enlightened understanding were betrayed and corrupted by the influence of superstitious prejudice; and the phantoms which existed only in the mind of the emperor had a real and pernicious effect on the government of the empire. The vehement zeal of the Christians, who despised the worship, and overturned

[ocr errors]

the altars, of those fabulous deities, engaged their votary in a state of irreconcileable hostility with a very numerous party of his subjects; and he was sometimes tempted, by the desire of victory or the shame of a repulse, to violate the laws of prudence, and even of justice. The triumph of the party which he deserted and opposed has fixed a stain of infamy on the name of Julian; and the unsuccessful apostate has been overwhelmed with a torrent of pious invectives, of which the signal was given by the sonorous trumpet” of Gregory Nazianzen.” The interesting nature of the events which were crowded into the short reign of this active emperor deserves a just and circumstantial narrative. His motives, his counsels, and his actions, as far as they are connected with the history of religion, will be the subject of the present chapter. The cause of his strange and fatal apostacy may be derived: education

from the early period of his life, when he was left an orphan in “” the hands of the murderers of his family. The names of Christ and of Constantius, the ideas of slavery and of religion, were soon associated in a youthful imagination, which was susceptible of the most lively impressions. The care of his infancy was entrusted to Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia,” who was related to him on the side of his mother; and, till Julian reached the twentieth year of his age, he received from his Christian preceptors the education, not of a hero, but of a saint. The emperor, less jealous of a heavenly than of an earthly crown, contented himself with the imperfect character of a catechumen, while he bestowed the advantages of baptism * on the nephews

*The orator, with some eloquence, much enthusiasm, and more vanity, addresses his discourse to heaven and earth, to men and angels, to the living and the dead; and above all, to the great Constantius (et ris alabnoris, an odd Pagan expression [cp. Isocr. Evagoras, 1, 2]). He concludes with a bold assurance that he has erected a monument not less durable, and much more portable, than the columns of Hercules. See Greg. Nazianzen, Orat. iii. p. 50, iv. p. 134[iv. c. 3, v. ad fin. c. 42]. *See this long invective, which has been injudiciously divided into two orations in Gregory's Works, tom. i. p. 49-134. Paris, 1630. It was published by Gregory and his friend Basil (iv. p. 133 [v. c. 39]) about six months after the death of Julian, when his remains had been carried to Tarsus (iv. p. 120 [v. c. 18]); but while Jovian was still on the throne (iii. p. 54, iv. p. 117 [v. c. 15]). I have derived much assistance from a French version and remarks, printed at Lyons 1735. *Nicomediae ab Eusebio educatus Episcopo, quem genere longius contingebat Ammian. xxii. 9). Julian never expresses any gratitude towards that Arian prelate; the celebrates his preceptor, the eunuch Mardonius, and describes his mode of education, which inspired his pupil with a passionate admiration for the genius, and perhaps the religion, of Homer. Misopogon. p. 351, 352. *Greg. Naz. iii. p. 7o [iv. c. 52]. He laboured to efface that holy mark in the blood, perhaps, of a Taurobolium. Baron. Annal. Eccles. A.D. 361, No. 3, 4.

WOL. II. 28 -

of Constantine." They were even admitted to the inferior offices of the ecclesiastical order; and Julian publicly read the Holy Scriptures in the church of Nicomedia. The study of religion, which they assiduously cultivated, appeared to produce the fairest fruits of faith and devotion." They prayed, they fasted, they distributed alms to the poor, gifts to the clergy, and oblations to the tombs of the martyrs; and the splendid monument of St. Mamas, at Caesarea, was erected, or at least was undertaken, by the joint labour of Gallus and Julian.* They respectfully conversed with the bishops who were eminent for superior sanctity, and solicited the benediction of the monks and hermits who had introduced into Cappadocia the voluntary hardships of the ascetic life.” As the two princes advanced towards the years of manhood, they discovered, in their religious sentiments, the difference of their characters. The dull and obstinate understanding of Gallus embraced, with implicit zeal, the doctrines of Christianity; which never influenced his conduct or moderated his passions. The mild disposition of the younger brother was less repugnant to the precepts of the gospel; and his active curiosity might have been gratified by a theological system which explains the mysterious essence of the Deity and opens the boundless prospect of invisible and future worlds. But the independent spirit of Julian refused to yield the passive and unresisting obedience which was required, in the name of religion, by the haughty ministers of the church. Their speculative opinions were imposed as positive laws, and guarded by the terrors of eternal punishments; but, while they prescribed the rigid formulary of the thoughts, the words, and the actions of the young prince; whilst they silenced his objections and severely checked the freedom of his enquiries,

* Julian himself (Epist. li. p. 434 [558, ed. Hertl.]) assures the Alexandrians that he had been a Christian (he must mean a sincere one) till the twentieth year of his

age. 7 See his Christian and even ecclesiastical education, in Gregory (iii. p. 58 (iv. c. 23 sqq.]), Socrates (l. iii. c. 1), and Sozomen (l. v. c. 2). He escaped very narrowly

from being a bishop, and perhaps a saint. * The share of the work which had been allotted to Gallus was prosecuted with vigour and success; but the earth obstinately rejected and subverted the structures which were imposed by the sacrilegious hand of Julian. Greg. iii. p. 59, 60, 61 [c. 26 sy/.]. Such a partial earthquake, attested by many living spectators, would form one of the clearest miracles in ecclesiastical story. * The philosopher (Fragment, p. 228) ridicules the iron chains, &c. of these solitary fanatics (see Tillemont, Mém Ecclés. tom. ix. p. 661, 662), who had forgot that man is by nature a gentle and social animal, &v6ptorov doorst moatrixod goou kai jućpov. The Pagan supposes that, because they had renounced the gods, they were possessed and tormented by evil daemon

they secretly provoked his impatient genius to disclaim the authority of his ecclesiastical guides. He was educated in the Lesser Asia, amidst the scandals of the Arian controversy.” The fierce contests of the eastern bishops, the incessant alterations of their creeds, and the profane motives which appeared to actuate their conduct, insensibly strengthened the prejudice of Julian, that they neither understood nor believed the religion for which they so fiercely contended. Instead of listening to the proofs of Christianity with that favourable attention which adds weight to the most respectable evidence, he heard with suspicion, and disputed with obstinacy and acuteness, the doctrines for which he already entertained an invincible aversion. Whenever the young princes were directed to compose declamations on the subject of the prevailing controversies, Julian always declared himself the advocate of Paganism; under the specious excuse that, in the defence of the weaker cause, his learning and ingenuity might be more advantageously exercised and displayed. As soon as Gallus was invested with the honours of the he embrace. purple, Julian was permitted to breathe the air of freedom, of:{* literature, and of Paganism.” The crowd of sophists, who were * attracted by the taste and liberality of their royal pupil, had formed a strict alliance between the learning and the religion of Greece; and the poems of Homer, instead of being admired as the original productions of human genius, were seriously ascribed to the heavenly inspiration of Apollo and the muses. The deities of Olympus, as they are painted by the immortal bard, inprint themselves on the minds which are the least addicted to superstitious credulity. Our familiar knowledge of their names and characters, their forms and attributes, seems to bestow on those airy beings a real and substantial existence; and the pleasing enchantment produces an imperfect and momentary assent of the imagination to those fables which are the most repugnant to our reason and experience. In the age of Julian every circumstance contributed to prolong and fortify the illusion; the magnificent temples of Greece and Asia; the works of those artists who had expressed, in painting or in

*See Julian apud Cyril. 1. vi. p. 206, l. viii. p. 253, 262. “You persecute," says he, “those heretics who do not mourn the dead man precisely in the way which you approve." He shews himself a tolerable theologian; but he maintains that the Christian Trinity is not derived from the doctrine of Paul, of Jesus, or of Moses.

in Libanius, Orat. Parentalis. c. 9, 1o, p. 232, &c. Greg. Nazianzen, Orat. iii. p. 61 [Iv. c. 31]. Eunap. Vit. Sophist. in Maximo, p. 68, 69, 70, edit. Commelin.

« ForrigeFortsett »