Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

easy things become unsurinountable, and all their “ undertakings, how justly soever directed, end in “incurable calamities.*." In which words, I take it for granted, he had the case of Saul particularly in his view. Again, so full was his persuasion of the Divinity of the Law, that he extols the Jews for suffering Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, to take their City by storm on the seventh day, rather than violate the Şabbatic rest. Agatharchides (says he) thinks this scruple worthy of contempt and laughter. But those who weigh it without prejudice, will see something truly great, and deserving of the highest commendations, in thus always preferring their Picty towards God, and adherence to his Lau', before their own safety, or even the freedom of their Country t.

These passages, we see, have all the marks of a very zealous Believer. And what makes the greatest difficulty of all, is, that the very places in which the Historian uses such offensive latitude of expression, are those where he employs his utmost endeavours to shew the real Divinity of his Religion; of which these Miracles are produced as evidence; an evidence he studiously seeks, and seems to dwell upon with pleasure.

This varying aspect, therefore, so indifferently assumed, creates all the embarras. But would men

* Το Cύνολον δε μάλισά τις αν έκ ταύτης μάθοι της ιστορίας, εθελήσας αυτήν διελθείν, ότι μεν τοις Θεέ γνώμη καλεκολεθύσι, και τα καλως. νομοθελεθελα μη τολμώσι «αραβαίνειν, τάλα καθορθεται πέρα πίσεως, και γέρας ευδαιμονίας πρόκειλαι παρά Θεύ καθ' όσον δ' άν αποσωσι της τέτων ακριβές επιμελείας, άπορα μεν γίνεθαι τα αόριμα, τρέπεθαι δ' εις Cυμφοράς ανηκέσες, ό, τι αποτ' άν, ως αγαθών δραν σπαδάσωσιν. Vol. i. pp. 3, 4.

+ Τάτο μεν Αγαθαρχίδη καθαγέλωνΘ- άξιον δοκεί τοϊς δε μη μετά δυσμενείας εξειάζεσι φαίνεθαι μέγα και πολλών άξιον εγκωμίων, ει και CTηρίας και πατρίδΘ- άνθρωποί τινες νόμων φυλακών και την στρος Θεόν biciclav ári ogólyawow, Vol. ii. p. 458.

only

[ocr errors]

only do in this case what they ought to do in all, when they pass their judgment on an ancient writing, that is, consider the End, and Time, and Genius of the Writer, together with the Character of those to whom the work is addressed; they would find Josephus to be indeed a steady Follower of the Law, and a firm Believer of its miraculous establishment; and, at the same time, discover the easy solution of all those untoward appearances which have brought his Religion into question.

The case, with our Historian, stood thus :. His Country was now in great distress; its Constitution overturned, and his Brethren in apparent danger of utter Extirpation; calamities arising as much from the ill will which the Heathens had entertained of their Religion * for its unsociable nature, as for their own turbulent and rebellious Carriage. This ill-will had been much increased by their superior Aversion to Christianity, considered by them as a Sect of Judaism; which had carried its insociability as far, and

its pretensions much farther : so far as to insist on ! the necessity of all Men's submitting to its dominion,

and renouncing their own Country Religions as the Impostures of Politicians, or the Inventions of evil Demons. This put the Heathen world into a flame, and produced those mad and wicked Persecutions that attended the first Propagation of the Christian Faith f. Such was the unfriendly state of things, when Josephus undertook an Apology for his Nation, in the HISTORY OF ITS ANTIQUITIES. Now as their conquerors' aversion to them, arose from the supposition that their Religion required the belief and obedience of all Mankind (for they had, as we observed, confounded Judaism with Christianity), to wipe off * See note [I] at the end of this Book. † See Book I.

[ocr errors]

this invidious imputation, we must conclude, would be ever in the Author's thoughts. So that when the course of his History leads him to speak of the effects of God's extraordinary Providence in his conduct of this People, he sometimes adds to his relation of a miraculous adventure, but in this every Man may believe'as he pleases. A declaration merely to this effect : “The Jewish Religion was given by God for the use of “ his chosen People, therefore the Gentiles might “ believe as they pleased. The Jews did not pretend

they should leave their own Country Religion to

embrace theirs *: That in this they were different “ from the Christian Sect, which required all Mankind

to follow the Faith of a crucified Saviour under pain “ of total destruction t. But that yet they were not

so unhospitable, but that they received with open arms “ all who were willing to worship one God the Creator “ of the Universe I. Thus we see how it came to pass (which was the main difficulty), that the places where he gives such a latitude of Belief, are those very places where he most labours to prove the Divinity of his Religion.

But this solution clears up all difficulties, and shew's the Historian's great consistency, as well as artful address, throughout the whole work. Josephus professes the most awful regard to the sacred Volumes; and yet, at the same time, takes such liberties of going from their authority, that it provoked the honest resentment of a late excellent Writer § to the following asperities : “ Nec levis sit suspicio illum Hebraice

* See note [K] at the end of this Book. + See note [L] at the end of this Book, f – και τέτο μόνον είναι κοινόν, εί βέλονται, προς αυτός και πάσιν άνθρωποις, αφικνυμένοις εις το ιερόν σίβει» τον Θεόν. Vol. i. p. 556. ş Bishop Hare. VOL. V. K

non

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

non scivisse, cum multis indiciis linguæ ejus impe“ritiam prodat. Quivis çerte, cui vel mica salis est, " sentiat illyn Historias Sacras pro arbitrio interpo“ lasse, demendo, addendo, immutando, ut Antiqui

tates suas ad Lectorum Græcorum & Romanorum

palatum accommodaret.”. But this license, though surely to be condemned, was however something more legitimate and ‘sober than is generally supposed; his deviation from Scripture being in those places only, where an exact adherence to it would have iņcreased that general aversion to his Nation, whose effects were

at that time so much to be dreaded, either as exposing the perverse nature of the People, or the unsociable genius of their Religion. To give an instance or two

of each: 1 1. The murmuring of the Israelites, for bread and

flesh in the Wilderness, is represented in Scripture, L and justly *, as an act of horrid ingratitude towards

God. O. Yet. Josephus makes Moses own they had reason for their complaints to And in the execrable

behaviour of the Men of Gibeah to the Levite and his wife, though Scripture expressly says they attempted in a more unnatural crime than adultery, yet the Historian

passes this over in silence, and makes all the personal e outrage attempted, as well as committed, to be offered 3 to the woman: The reader will now casily account

for what Mr.Whiston could not, his Author's omiszion gcof the story of the golden Calf . For, this was so samazing a perversity, at that juncture, that it must

have made the very Pagans themselves ashamed of their Jewish brethren in idolatry.

Exod. xvi. + σαθεϊν δ' εκ αλόγως αυτές διά την ανάγκην τέτο νομίσας. Αntig. Jud. 1. iii. c. 1. $ 5.

Ant. Jud. I. v. c. 2. $ 8..
See note [M] at the end of this Book.

2. Again,

.

2. Again, we are told in Scripture, that when the Cutheans, or Samaritans, heard that the Jews, who -were returned from the Captivity, were rebuilding tảe Temple, they cane and desired to be partners in the work, and joint Worshippers of the God for whom it was erected; to which the Jews gave this round reply: You have nothing to do with us, to build an House unto our God, but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the King of Persia hath commanded us* And Nehemiah, on the same occasion, gave them a still rougher answer: The God of Heaven he will prosper us, therefore we his Servants will arise and build: but you have no Portion, nor Right, nor Memorial in Jerusalemt. This was a tender place: it was touching upon the very sore, in an express declaration of the Unsociableness complained .of. The story therefore, we may be sure, was to be softened before the Gentiles were to be intrusted with it. Accordingly, Josephus makes them speak in these obliging terms: That they could not possibly admit them as partners in the work; for that the command to build the Temple was directed to them first by Cyrus, and now by Darius : That indeed they were at liberty to worship along with them: and that this was the only Community, in religious matters, that they could enter into with them, and which they would do with as many of the rest of Mankind, as were willing to come up to the Temple to adore the God of Heaven I. The reason the Scripture Jews give for the refusal of the offer to be joint partners with them in their work and * Ezra iv. 3.

+ Neh. ii. 20. 1 – έφασαν, « της μέν οικοδομίας αυτές αδύναλον είναι κοινωνείν, αυτών προσαχθένων κατασκευάσαι τον ναόν, πρότερον μέν υπό Κύρε, νύν δε υπό Δαρεία προσκυνείν δε αυτούς εφιέναι. και τέτο μόνον είναι κοινόν, και βέλουθαι, προς αυτές και πάσιν ανθρώπους, αφικνομένοις εις το ιερόν ciben tör Oióv." Vol. í. p.556.

worship,

K 2

« AnteriorContinuar »