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A.D. 323. SUBMISSION AND DEATH OF LICINIUS. 149
of his antagonist. A considerable part of his victorious army was transported over the Bosphorus in small vessels, and the decisive engagement was fought soon after their landing on the heights of Chrysopolis, or, as it is now called, of Scutari. The troops of Licinius, though they were lately raised, ill armed, and worse disciplined, made head against their conquerors with fruitless but desperate valour, till a total defeat, and the slaughter of five-andtwenty thousand men, irretrievably determined the fate of their leader.110 He retired to Nicomedia, rather with the view
r>- .. « .., .111 n Submission
oi gaining some time tor negotiation than with the hope of and death of any effectual defence. Constantia, his wife, and the sister of Constantine, interceded with her brother in favour of her husband, and obtained from his policy, rather than from his compassion, a solemn promise, confirmed by an oath, that after the sacrifice of Martinianus, and the resignation of the purple, Licinius himself should be permitted to pass the remainder of his life in peace and atfluence. The behaviour of Constantia, and her relation to the contending parties, naturally recalls the remembrance of that virtuous matron who was the sister of Augustus and the wife of Antony. But the temper of mankind was altered, and it was no longer esteemed infamous for a Roman to survive his honour and independence. Licinius solicited and accepted the pardon of his offences, laid himself and his purple at the feet of his lord and master, was raised from the ground with insulting pity, was admitted the same day to the imperial banquet, and soon afterwards was sent away to Thessalonica, which had been chosen for the place of his confinement.111 His confinement was soon terminated by death, and it is doubtful whether a tumult of the soldiers, or a decree of the senate, was suggested as the motive for his execution. According to the rules of tyranny, he was accused of forming a conspiracy, and of holding a treasonable correspondence with the barbarians; but as he was never convicted, either by his own conduct or by any legal evidence, we may perhaps be allowed, from his weakness, to presume his innocence.112 The memory of Licinius was branded with infamy, his statues were thrown
1,0 Eusebius (in Vita Constantin. 1. ii. c. 16, 17) ascribes this decisive victory to the pious prayers of the emperor. The Valesian fragment (p. 714) [Amm. Marcell. vol. ii. p. 301, ed. Bip.] mentions a body of Gothic auxiliaries, under their chief Aliquaca, who adhered to the party of Licinius.
111 Zosimus, 1. ii. [c. 28] p. 102. Victor Junior in Epitome, [c. 41.] Anonym. Valesian. p. 714.
112 Contra religionem sacramenti Thessalonicsj privatus occisus est. Eutropius, x. 6 ; and his evidence is confirmed by Jerome (in Chronic), as well as by Zosimus, 1. ii. [c. 28] p. 102. The Valesian writer is the only one who mentions the soldiers, and it is Zonaras alone who calls in the assistance of the senate. Eusebius prudently slides over this delicate transaction. But Sozomen, a century afterwards, ventures to assert the treasonable practices of Licinius.
150 REUNION OF THE EMPIRE. Chap. XIV.
down, and by a hasty edict, of such mischievous tendency that it was almost immediately corrected, all his laws, and all the judicial
proceedings of his reign, were at once abolished.113 By the empire, this victory of Constantine the Roman world was again
united under the authority of one emperor, thirty-seven years after Diocletian had divided his power and provinces with his associate Maximian.
The successive steps of the elevation of Constantine, from his first assuming the purple at York, to the resignation of Licinius at Nicomedia, have been related with some minuteness and precision, not only as the events are in themselves both interesting and important, but still more as they contributed to the decline of the empire by the expense of blood and treasure, and by the perpetual increase, as well of the taxes as of the military establishment The foundation of Constantinople, and the establishment of the Christian religion, were the immediate and memorable consequences of this revolution.
"' See the Theodosian Code, 1. xv. tit. 15, torn. v. p. 404, 405. These edicts of Constantine betray a degree of passion and precipitancy very unbecoming the character of a lawgiver.
Chap. XV. EARLY PROGRESS OF CHRISTIANITY. 151
The Progress Of The Christian Religion, And The Sentiments, Manners, Numbers, And Condition Of The Primitive Christians.*
A Candid but rational inquiry into the progress and establishment of Christianity may be considered as a very essential part importance of the history of the Roman empire. While that great inquiry. body was invaded by open violence, or undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigour from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner of the Cross on the ruins of the Capitol. Nor was the influence of Christianity confined to the period or to the limits of the Roman empire. After a revolution of thirteen or fourteen centuries, that religion is still professed by the nations of Europe, the most distinguished portion of human kind in arts and learning as well as in arms. By the industry and zeal of the Europeans it has been widely diffused to the most distant shores of Asia and Africa; and by the means of their colonies has been firmly established from Canada to Chili, in a world unknown to the ancients.
But this inquiry, however useful or entertaining, is attended with two peculiar difficulties. The scanty and suspicious materials lis ^^^1. of ecclesiastical history seldom enable us to dispel the dark tie"cloud that hangs over the first age of the church. The great law of impartiality too often obliges us to reveal the imperfections of the uninspired teachers and believers of the Gospel; and, to a careless observer, their faults may seem to cast a shade on the faith which they professed. But the scandal of the pious Christian, and the fallacious triumph of the Infidel, should cease as soon as they recollect not only by whom, but likewise to whom, the Divine Revelation was given. The theologian may indulge the pleasing task of describing Religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must
* In spite of my resolution, Lardnerled materially; but I doubt whether he saw
me to look through the famous fifteenth them all. Perhaps those which he enume
and sixteenth chapters of Gibbon. I could rates are among the most obvious. They
not lay them down without finishing them, might all be safely adopted by a Christian
The causes assigned, in the fifteenth writer, with some change in the language
chapter, for the diffusion of Christianity, and manner. Mackintosh; see Life, i. p.
must, no doubt, have contributed to it 244. —M.
152 CAUSES OF THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY. Chap. XV.
discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.*
Our curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire by what means the Five causes Christian faith obtained so remarkable a victory over the ofchristi-wth established religions of the earth. To this inquiry an •""'• obvious but satisfactory answer may be returned; that it
was owing to the convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling providence of its great Author. But as truth and reason seldom find so favourable a reception in the world, and as the wisdom of Providence frequently condescends to use the passions of the human heart, and the general circumstances of mankind, as instruments to execute its purpose, we may still be permitted, though with becoming submission, to ask, not indeed what were the first, but what were the secondary causes of the rapid growth of the Christian church? It will, perhaps, appear that it was most effectually favoured and assisted by the five following causes:—I. The inflexible, and, if we may use the expression, the intolerant zeal of the Christians, derived, it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit which, instead of inviting, had deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses.b II. The doctrine of a future life, improved by every additional circumstance which could give weight and efficacy to that important truth. III. The miraculous powers ascribed to the primitive church. IV. The pure and austere morals of the Christiana V. The union and discipline of the Christian republic, which gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman empire.
I. We have already described the religious harmony of the ancient The First world, and the facility with which the most different and zeai'ofuie even hostile nations embraced, or at least respected, each Jew'- other's superstitions. A single people refused to join in
the common intercourse of mankind. The Jews, who, under the
* The art of Gibbon, or at least the anity. Divest this whole passage of the
unfair impression produced by these two latent sarcasm betrayed by the subsequent
memorable chapters, consists in confound- tone of the whole disquisition, and it
ing together, in one undistinguishable might commence a Christian history,
mass, the origin and apostolic propagation written in the most Christian spirit of
of the Christian religion with itB later pro- candour.—M.
gress. The main question, the divine b Though we are thus far agreed with
origin of the religion, is dexterously eluded respect to the inflexibility and intolerance
or speciously conceded; his plan enables of Christian zeal, yet, as to the principle
him to commence his account, in most from which it was derived, we are, toto
parts, below the apostolic times; and it iB coalo, divided in opinion. You deduce it
only by the strength of the dark colouring from the Jewish religion; I would refer it
with which he has brought out the failings to a more adequate and a more obvious
and the follies of succeeding ages, that a Bource, a full persuasion of the truth of
shadow of doubt and suspicion is thrown Christianity. Watson; Letters to Gibbon,
back on the primitive period of Christi- i. 9.—M.
Chap. XV. ZEAL OF THE JEWS. 153
Assyrian and Persian monarchies, had languished for many ages the most despised portion of their slaves,1 emerged from obscurity under the successors of Alexander; and as they multiplied to a surprising degree in the East, and afterwards in the West, they soon excited the curiosity and wonder of other nations.2 The sullen obstinacy with which they maintained their peculiar rites and unsocial manners seemed to mark them out a distinct species of men, who boldly professed, or who faintly disguised, their implacable hatred to the rest of human-kind.3 Neither the violence of Antiochus, nor the arts of Herod, nor the example of the circumjacent nations, could ever persuade the Jews to associate with the institutions of Moses the elegant mythology of the Greeks.4 According to the maxims of universal toleration, the Romans protected a superstition which they despised.5 The polite Augustus condescended to give orders that sacrifices should be offered for his prosperity in the temple of Jerusalem ;c while the meanest of the posterity of Abraham, who should have paid the same homage to the Jupiter of the Capitol, would have been an object of abhorrence to himself and to his brethren.
1 Hum Assyrios penes, Medosque, et Persas Oriens fuit, despectissima pars servientium. Tacit. Hist. v. 8. Herodotus, who visited Asia whilst it obeyed the last of those empires, slightly mentions the Syrians of Palestine, who, according to their own confession, had received from Egypt the rite of circumcision. See 1. ii. c. 104.
* Diodorus Siculus, 1. xl. [Eclog. 1, vol. ii. p. 542, ed. Wesseling.] Dion Cassius, 1. xxxvii. [c. 16] p. 121. Tacit. Hist. v. 1-9. Justin, xxxvi. 2, 3.
• Tradidit arcano quaecunque volumine Moses:
Non monstrare vias eadem nisi sacra colenti,
Qussituni ad fontem solos deducere verpos. [Juvenal, Sat. xiv. 102.] The letter of this law is not to be found in the present volume of Moses. But the wise, the humane Maimonides openly teaches that, if an idolater fall into the water, a Jew ought not to save him from instant death. See Basnage, Histoire dee Juifg, 1. vi. c. 28. [1. v. c. 24.]'
4 A Jewish sect, which indulged themselves in a sort of occasional conformity, derived from Herod, by whose example and authority they had been seduced, the name of Herodians. But their numbers were so inconsiderable, and their duration Bo short, that Josephus has not thought thom worthy of his notice. See Prideaux's Connection, vol. ii. p. 285.b s Cicero pro Flacco, c. 28.c
* Philo de Legatione. Augustus left a foundation for a perpetual sacrifice. Yet he approved of the neglect which his grandson Caius expressed towards the temple of Jerusalem. See Sueton. in August, c. 93, and Casaubon's notes on that passage.
* It is diametrically opposed to its spirit his bigotry. After how many centuries of
and to its letter; see among other passages, mutual wrong and hatred, which had still
Deut. x. 18, 19: (God) "loveth the further estranged the Jew from mankind,
stranger, in giving him food and raiment, did Maimonides write ?—M.
Love ye, therefore, the stranger; for ye b The Herodians were probably more of
were strangers in the land of Egypt." a political party than a religious sect,
Juvenal is a satirist, whose strong expres- though Gibbon is most likely right as to
sions can hardly be received as historic their occasional conformity. See Hii-t. of
evidence, and he wrote after the horrible the Jews, ii. 108.—M.
cruelties of the Romans, which, during and c The edicts of Julius Caisarand of some
after the war, might give some cause for of the cities in Asia Minor (Krebs. Decret.
the complete isolation of the Jew from the pro Judtcis) in favour of the nation in
rest of the world. The Jew was a bigot, general, or of the Asiatic Jews, speak a
but his religion was not the only source of different language.—M.