and even hostile nations embraced, or at least respected each other's superstitions. A single people refused to join in the

intolerance so far off. Athens, the polite and learned Athens, will supply ns with sufficient examples. Every citizen made a public and solemn Tow to conform to the religion of his country, to defend it, and to cause it to be respected. An express law severely punished all discourses against the gods; and a rigid decree ordered the denunciation of all who should deny their existence. * • * The practice was in unison with the severity of the law. The proceedings commenced against Protagoras; a price set upon the head of Diagoras; the danger of Alcibiades; Aristotle obliged to fly;

after all his services to his country, and all the glory he had acquired, compelled to appear before the tribunals and make his defence; • • a priestess executed for having introduced strange gods; Socrates condemned and drinking the hemlock, because he was accused of not recognising those of his country, &c.; these facts attest too loudly, to be called in question, the religious intolerance of the most humane and enlightened people in Greece." Lettres de quelques Juifs a Mons. Voltaire, i. p. 221 (Compare Bentley on Frcethinking, from which much of this is derived.) — M.

4th. The Samara. — The laws of Rome were not less express and severe. The intolerance of foreign religions reaches, with the Romans, as high as the laws of the twelve tables; the prohibitions were afterwards renewed at different times. Intolerance did not discontinue under the emperors; witness the counsel of Maecenas to Augustus. This counsel is so remarkable, that I think it right to insert it entire. "Honor the gods yourself," says Maecenas to Augustus, " in every way according to the usage of your ancestors, and compel (Avaytn^i) others to worship them. Hate and punish those who introduce strange gods, (nit 6i 6>i {ew'Jovrat fifan «ui uot only for the sake of the gods, (he who despises them will respect no one,) but because those who introduce new gods engage a multitude of persons in foreign laws and customs. From hence arise unitms bound by aaths, and confederacies, and associations, thing* dangerous to a monarchy. Dion Cass. 1. ii. c. 36. (But, though some may differ from it, see Gibbon's just observation on this passage in Dion Cassius, ch. xvi. note 117; impugned, indeed, by M. Guixot, note in loc.) — M.

Even the laws which the philosophers of Athens and of Rome wrote for their imaginary republics are intolerant. Plato does not leave to his citizens freedom of religious worship; and Cicero expressly prohibits them from having other gods than those of the state. Lettres de quelques Juifs a Mons. Voltaire, l.p. 226. — G.

According to M. Guizot's just remarks, religious intolerance will always ally itself with the passions of man, however different those passions may be. In the instances quoted above, with the Persians it was the pride of despotism: to conquer the gods of a country was the last mark of subjugation. With the Egyptians, it was the gross Fetichism cf the superstitious populace, and the local jealousy of neighboring towns. In Greece, persecution was in general connected with political party; in Rome, with the stern supremacy of the law and the interests of the state. Gibbon has been mistaken in attributing to the tolerant spirit of Paganism that which arose out of the peculiar circumstances of the times. 1st. The decay of the old Polytheism, through the progress of reason and intelligence, and the mevalcncc of philosophical opinions among the higher orders. 2d. The Roman character, in which the political always predominated over the religious part. The Romans were contented with having bowed the world to a uniformity of subjection to their power, and cared not for establishing the (to them) less important uniformity of religion. — M.

Stilpo banished; Anaxagoras


common intercourse of mankind. The Jews, who, under [he 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 othei nations.9 The sullen obstinacy with which they maintained their peculiar rites and unsocial manners, seemed to mark them out as 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.1

1 Dum Assyrios penes, Medosquc, 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. x1. Dion Cassius, 1. xxxvii. p. 121. Tacit Hist. v. 1—9. Justin. xxxvi. 2, 3.

* Tradidit arcano qiuecunque volumine Moses,

Non monstrarc vias eadem nisi sacra colenti, Quaesitum ad fontem solos dedu^cre verpas. The letter of this law is not to be found m the present volume of Moses. Hut 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 des Juifs, 1 . vi. c. 28.i

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 So snort, that Joscphus has not thought them worthy of his notice. See Prideaux's Connection, vo1. ii. p. 285.t

* It is diametrically opposed to its spirit and to its letter; see, among other passages, Deut. v. 18,19, (God) "loveth the stranger in giving him food and raiment. Love ye, therefore, the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." Comp. Lev. xxiii. 25. Juvenal is a satirist, whose strong expressions can hardly be received as historic evidence; and he wrote after the horrible cruelties of the Romans, which, during and after the war, might give some cause for the complete isolation of the Jew from the rest of the world. The Jew was a bigot, but his religion was not the only source of his bigotrv. After how many centuries of mutual wrong ind hatred, which had still further estranged the Jew from mankind, di? Maimonides write ?— M.

t The Herodians were probablv more of a political party than a religious sect, though Gibbon is most likclv right as to their occasional conformity be* Hist of the Jews ii. 108. — M.

According to the ri.axims 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;8 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. But the moderation of the conquerors was insufficient to appease the jealous prejudices of their subjects, who were alarmed and scandalized at the ensigns of paganism, which necessarily introduced themselves into a Roman province.7 The mad attempt of Caligula to place his own statue in the temple of Jerusalem was defeated by the unanimous resolution of a people who dreaded death much less than such an idolatrous profanation.8 Their attachment to the law of Moses was equal to their detestation of foreign religions. The current of zeal and devotion, as it was contracted into a narrow channel, ran with the strength, and sometimes with the fury, of a torrent.

This inflexible perseverance, which appeared so odious or so ridiculous to the ancient world, assumes a more awful character, since Providence has deigned to reveal to us the mysterious history of the chosen people. But the devout and even scrupulous attachment to the Mosaic religion, so conspicuous among the Jews who lived under the second temple, becomes still more surprising, if it is compared with the

* Cicero pro Flacco, c. 28.*

* Philo de Legatione. Augustus left a foundation for a perpetual sacrifice. Yet he approved of the neglect which his grandson Cuius expressed towards the temple of Jerusalem. See Sueton. in August, c. 93, and Casaubon's notes on that passage.

7 See, in particular, Joseph. Antiquitat. xvii. 6, xviii. 3; and de Bell. Judiac. i. 33, and ii. 9, edit. Havcrcamp.f

* Jussi a Caio Csesare, effigicm cjus in tcmplo locare, arma potiua sumpsere. Tacit. Hist. v. 9. Philo and Josephus give a very circumstantial, but a very rhetorical, account of this transaction, which exceedingly perplexed the governor of Syria. At the first mention of this idolatrous proposal. King Agrippa fainted away; and did not recover his senses until the third day. (Hist, of Jews, ii. 181, &c.1

• The edicts of Julius Cjesar, and of some of the cities in Asia Minor, (Krebs. Decret. pro Judecis,) in favor of the nation in general, or of the Asiatic Jews, speak a different language. — M.

t This was during the government of Pontius Pilate. (Hist, of Jews, ji. 156.) Probably in part to avoid this collision, the Roman governor, in general, resided at Caesarea. —M

stubborn increduhty of their forefathers When the law waa given in thunder from Mount Sinai, when the tides of the ocean and the course of the planets were suspended for the convenience of the Israelites, and when temporal rewards and punishments were the immediate consequences of their piety or disobedience, they perpetually relapsed Into rebellion against the visible majesty of their Divine King, placed the idols of the nations in the sanctuary of Jehovah, and imitated every fantastic ceremony that was practised in the tents of the Arabs, or in the cities of Phoenicia.9 As the protection of Heaven was deservedly withdrawn from the ungrateful race, their faith acquired a proportionable degree of vigor and purity. The contemporaries of Moses and Joshua had beheld with careless indifference the most amazing miracles. Under the pressure of every calamity, the belief of those miracles has preserved the Jews of a later period from the universal contugion of idolatry; and in contradiction to every known principle of the human mind, that singular people seems to have yielded a stronger and more ready assent to the traditions of their remote ancestors, than to the evidence of their own senses.10

The Jewish religion was admirably fitted for defence, but it

• For the enumeration of the Syrian and Arabian deities, it may be observed, that Milton has comprised in one hundred and thirty very beautiful lines the two large and learned syntagmas which Sclden had composed on that abstruse subject.

"How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it ho ere they believe me, for all the eigne which I have shown among them?" (Numbers xiv. 11.) It would be cosy, but it would be unbecoming, to justify the complaint of the Deity from the whole tenor if the Mosaic history.* .

* Among a rude and barbarous people. religious) impressions are easily made, and are as soon effaced. The ignorance which multiplies imaginary wonders, would weaken or destroy the effect of real miracle. At the period of the Jewish history, referred to in the passage from Numbers, their fears predominated over their faith, — the fears of an un warlike

Seople, just rescued from debasing slavery, and commanded to attack a crce, a well-armed, a gigantic, and a far more numerous race, the inhabitants of Canasn. As to the frequent apostasy of the Jews, their religion was beyond their state of civilization. Nor is it uncommon for a people to cling with passionate attachment to that of which. at first, they could not appreciate the value. Patriotism and national pride will contend, even to death, for political rights which have been forced upon a reluctant people. The Christian may at least retort, with justice. that the great sign of his religion, the resurrection of Jesus, was most ardently believed, and most resolutely asserted by the eve-witnesses of the fact. — M.

was never des-gned for conquest . and it seems probable that the number of proselytes was never mu h superior to that of apostates. The divine promises were originally made, and the distinguishing rite of circumcision was enjoined, to a single family. When the posterity of Abraham had multiplied like the sands of the sea, the Deity, from whose mouth they received a system of laws and ceremonies, declared himself the proper and as it were the national God of Israel; and with the most jealous care separated his favorite people from the rest of mankind. The conquest of the land of Canaan was accompanied with so many wonderful and with so many bloody circumstances, that the victorious Jews we're left in a state of irreconcilable hostility with all their neighbors. They had been commanded to extirpate some of the most idolatrous tribes, and the execution of the divine will had seldom been retarded by the weakness of humanity With the other nations they were forbidden to contract any marriages or allianees; and the prohibition of receiving them into the congregation, which in some cases was perpetual, almost always extended to the third, to the seventh, or even to the tenth generation. The obligation of preaching to the Gentiles the faith of Moses had never been inculcated as a precept of the law, nor were the Jews inclined to impose it on themselves as a voluntary duty.

In the admission of new citizens, that unsocial people was actuated by the selfish vanity of the Greeks, rather than by the generous policy of Rome. The descendants of Abraham were flattered by the opinion that they alone were the heirs of the covenant, and they were apprehensive of diminishing the value of their inheritance by sharing it too easily with the strangers of the earth. A larger acquaintance with mankind extended their knowledge without correcting their prejudices; and whenever the God of Israel acquired any new votaries, he was much more indebted to the inconstant humor of polytheism than to the active zeal of his own missionaries.11 The religion of Moses seems to be instituted for a particular country as well as for a single nation; and if a strict obedience had been paid to the order, that every male, three times in the year, should present himself before the Lord Jehovah, it would have been impossible that the Jews could ever have spread

"All that relates to the Jewish proselytes has been very ably treated by Basnage, Hist. des Juifs, 1 . vi. c. 6. 7.

« ForrigeFortsett »