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and that we must have public records to verify even the most recent and notorious matters, public records are obvious. That records were not very rare is clear, from these words of Gibbon.* .“ At the distance of sixty years it was the duty of the annalist to adopt the narratives of contemporaries :" that they were abundant you may learn from Adam's Antiquities of the Romans, page 17. *o Julius Cæsar appointed that what was done in the nocte diurna acta (the daily transactions) should be published. An account of their proceedings was always made out, and under the succeeding Emperors we find some Senator chosen for this purpose.” “ Public registers were also kept of what was done in the assemblies of the people, and Courts of Justice: also, of births and funerals; of marriages and divorces, &c., which served as a fund of information for historians: hence, diurna urbis acta (the daily transactions in the city), acta populi (the transactions of the people), acta publica" (the public transactions). Though if all these registers were religiously preserved, of all these and others, yet you tell us public records were then very rare.
You go on to assert, that “the Galilearis were persecuted by Nero." By Galileans, your argument requires that you mean a body of men distinct from the Christians. We are certainly greatly indebted to you for this discovery. You are not so modest as to suppose that the Galileans were persecuted by Nero : you roundly assert the fact. For your confutation read the words of your own Gibbon. “ Under the appellation of Galileans two distinctions of men were confounded; the disciples who had embraced the faith of Jesus, of Nazareth, and the zealots, who had followed the standard of Judas, the Gaulonite. The followers of Judas were soon buried under the ruins of Jerusalem, whilst those of Jesus, known by the ruore celebrated name of Christians, diffused themselves over the Roman Empire." + The real Galileans, then, the followers of Judas, did not exist to be persecuted:16 But if, perchance, by Galileans, you mean the Christians, we object not, for, says Gibbon, in a note, “ The learned Dr. Lardner has proved that the name of Galileans was a very ancient, and, perhaps, primitive appellation of Christians." At the time of Nero the Galileans, therefore, ld not be confounded with the Christians. They existed no longer. The name survived, but we are not disputing about names. The only persons that could be confounded with the Christians were extinct. The Christians were followers of Jesus Christ, whether under the designation of Christians, or Galileans." This is the only fact I am concerned
* Decline and Fall, vol. iii. p. 409.
+ Vol. ii, p. 411. 16 The question is, were there two distinct sects resislent in Rome, it matters not whether at the same time, known by the name of Galileans. Such is may inference both from Lærdner and Gibbon.
R. C. 17 But is there not a possibility, that Tacitus might have confounded the
I have said above “ the only persons,” &c., for the Jews could not, any more than the Ghosts of the Galileans, be confounded with the Christians. To cite no other authority, the words of Gibbon shall establish my point. “ The Jews possessed very powerful advocates in the palace, and even in the heart of the tyrant; and a favourite player of the race of Abraham ; who had already employed their intercession in behalf of the obnoxious
The Jews then had their . partisans at Court, and were not likely to be persecuted; were well known, and could not be confounded with any other elass of men. But if not confounded in the days of Nero, neither they, or any ether sect, could be confounded with the Christians fifty years after that period : (public notoriety, and the public records would prevent this) they could not be confounded with those persons whom Tacitus describes.t
But if any doubt can possibly remain who the persons were whom Nero persecuted, that doubt must assuredly vanish before the testimony of another historian. Suetonius, contemporary with Tacitus, whom Gibbon characterizes by the epithets“ accurate and diligent,” affirms, that they were Christians who suffered from the malignity of Nero. In his life of Nero, Suetonius says, " The CHRISTIANS were punished; a sort of men of a new and magical superstition.”
If this evidence; the circumstances of the cases; the impossibility of your supposition; the testimony of two most credible historians, does not satisfy every rational man, I know not how we are to attain certainty. What evidence do you require, Sir ? If we had the direct testimony of Josephus, this would not satisfy the man who is not content with that of Tacitus and Suetonius.
Your next argument, beginning, “ if there were Christians in Rome,” &c. is so obscurely expressed, that I fear I cannot comprehend it. It appears, however, to contain these propositions. There were not Christians at Rome in the tine of Nero. Why? The conduct of Trajan differed from that of Nero. Trajan persecuted the Christians in the provinces, but did not persecute them at Rome. Then comes the inference from this famous and povel syHogism, therefore Christians did not exist at Rome in the time of Nero. Put a parallel case. Mr. Carlile did not exist in London in the time of George the Fourth. Why? The conduct of George the Fifth deviated from that of George the Fourth. George the Fifth persecuted the Atheists in the provinces, but did not persecute them in London; therefore Mr. Carlile did not exist in London in the reign of George the Fourth. After all, I Jewish Galileans with the people called Christians, or Galilean Christians, or Christian Galileans?
R. C. + See bis testimony.
# Lardner, vol. iii. p. 619. No. 26. Vol. XII.
may have mistaken your syllogism. There may be cogency in it, though I cannot perceive it : but I have not, I assure you, closed my eyes to its force. If I am blind, my blindness is not voluntary. Valeat, therefore, quantum valere potest. In plain English : Let it have its weight with those that can perceive its meaning
There is another fact worthy of notice; you tell us that no Christian writer, until we come to Eusebius, in the fourth century, has narrated the destruction of Jerusalem. Whence you infer, that the old Jerusalem was to the first Christians merely a spiritual city. · I shall not trouble myself now with trying the cogency of this argument; I will only disprove the premises, the assertion, and leave the conclusion to fare for itself.
If by narrate you mean, give a detailed account of, you are asked, What necessity there was for this, what end could be answered thereby? The fact was well known; it was narrated in the accredited works of Josephus and Tacitus. But if by narrate you intend mention, appeal to as a topic of advice and exhortation, you are again in an error.
“No CHRISTIAN writer," &c.
Now, the acknowledgment of the books of the New Testament by a long series of writers, from the year 71, (acknowledgment made by quotations from these books) asserts the truth of the gospel history relatively to the destruction of Jerusalem. These books mention that destruction, they draw from it important lessons. Certain writers. recognize these books as containing a true narrative, and thus adopt their appeal to the destruction of Jerusalem. But not to insist on this, we appeal to Barnabas, who is placed by Dr. Lardner as early as the year 71. He, you will see below,* thus early, long before the fourth century, Sir, alludes to the destruction of Jerusalem, and makes it the topic of an appeal.18 " It remains yet that I speak to you concerning the Temple: how these miserable men being deceived, have put their trust in the house, and not in God himself, who made them, as if it were the habitation of God. For much after the manner of the Gentiles they consecrated him in the Temple. But learn therefore how the Lord speaketh rendering the Temple vain. [Here follows a quotation from the Old Testament.] And so it came to pass. For, through their wars, it is now destroyed by their enemies. Furthermore, it has been made manifest how both the city, and the Temple, and the people of Israel, should be given up.” This, to adopt your owu words,“ is something like substantive proof” of another error.
* Lardner, vol. i. 284. and Cave's Catholic Epistles. 18 And I refer Mr. Beard to No. 1. Vol. 9. of “ The Republican," to see the worth of Lardner's testimony, about Barnabas and the first Christians,
Another assertion immediately follows that upon which I have just animadverted. “ In the Old Testament we read nothirg of a place called Golgotha, or Mount Calvary, or the Pool of Si· loam." Upon this sentence permit me to offer a few remarks. Suppose it truth, what then? Whence arises the probability that these places were of Christian invention? Has the Old Testament mentioned all the places that existed during the long period which its history embraces? Does it profess to exhaust an inexhaustible subject? If it did, if it were a work expressly treating on geography, there were some cogency in your conclusion. The argument would then stand in this shape. “ The Old Testament professes to describe all the places, mountains, hills, rivers, and fountains, in Palestine. But it does not mention Siloam, therefore Siloam never existed." Here a strict logician would demur; he would remind you of the time that had elapsed between the date of the last book of the Old Testament and that of the books of the New Testament. He would be disposed to think it very possible, that during an interval of some hundred years places might have exchanged their old for new appellations. And if he were an Englishman, the history of Great Britain would furnish him some good confirmation of his suggestion.
But how does the argument now stand. Thus: “ The Old Testament mentions the names of some places, it does not mention Siloam, therefore Siloam never existed.” In other words, Carlile attacked some errors. He did not attack Atheism, there
Atheism never existed !” Now, in the Old Testament we do read of a place called Golgotha, or, which is the same, Gilgal, for Golgotha is only the Chaldee form of the Hebrew word Gilgal, of which Calvary is the Latin designation." See Josh. v. 9. Judg. ii. 1. Such a place is there read of. But the Gilgal of the Old Testament is not the Calvary of the New. The first was near Jericho, the second is on the north-west of Jerusalem. But though Calvary is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the mountain of which it is a part is mentioned, viz. Mount Moriah, 2 Chron. ii. l. That Calvary is a part of Mount Moriah, may be learned from Dr. Wells in his Geography of the New Testament: “ Cal
upon the greater Mount of Moriah.” The difficulty then which presses on Christianity is not the fabrication of a place never before heard of: but the ascribing to some petty hill near Jerusalem a name not given to it in a book written some 'centuries before it took its rise. Truly, a mighty matter! But this is no difficulty to me : I mean to say, rather, it is a confirmation of the veracity of the bistorians. I expect these minor diffi
19 Ab! this is news! The Old Testament tells us that Gilgal, was the bill of foreskins, near Jordan ; and the New Testament tells us that Golgotha was a place of skulls. Does Mr. Beard know the difference between å skull and a foreskin ?
culties in every true history. I am led to do so by experience. A general agreement, with some discrepancies in inferior matters, between two historians, always accompanies truth. Did not such exis: between the narratives of the New Testament and other accredited writings, I should suspect collusion. If all exactly fitted, I should think they had been made to fit. I could not attribute this to an undesigned coincidence. But, Sir, you should have looked into a Concordance again before you asserted that Siloam was not spoken of in the Old Testament. In Nehemiah iii. 15. the word, a little varied in the English, occurs Siloah. If this had not satisfied you, by referring to Josephus, (book v. chap. xi. Jewish war), you would have learned that this name at least was not “ of Christian invention.” 66 Siloam - that it is the name of a fountain (near Jerusalem) which hath sweet water in it, and this in great plenty also." By the bye, I forgot to ask you, while writing the above, how it came to pass that Calvary, which is a Latin name, was fabricated by Grecian fabulist," by • illiterate men?" How these impostors came so far to forget their vocation as to attach a Latin designation to a Hebrew hill: and I forgot to inform you, that it was most natural for a Chaldee and a Latin name to be given to a place, when, and not before, the Chaldee and Latin language were spoken in its vicinity. But I forbear : it is a pity thrice to slay the slain.
I omit the notice you have taken of miracles, because that matter is altogether foreign to the point in dispute. Had you even proved that miracles were never wrought, you could not hence have inferred the non-existence of Jesus Christ. But I am, I must confess, astonished at the amount of dogmatism contained in the few words devoted to the exploding of the absurdity of miracles. What impression this may make on other people I know not, but I do know, that I am not disposed to defer to the gratis dictum of Mr. Carlile. If I am to have a Pope, it shall be one that is venerable by his antiquity, or respected for his erudition.
" Another. fact is, (you inform us) that the earliest record of Christianity in existence is the letter by Pliny to Trajan." You speak here, too, as of matters about which there could not be two opinions. But you might have known that it is by no means certain that Tacitus did not write that portion of his history which proves the existence of Christianity before the fall of Jerusalem, until the sixtieth year of his age. Gibbon indeed implies this, but he had no historical document to establish his opinion. Granting, however, that Tacitus was sixty years old when he wrote this portion of his history, does his testimony only relate to the moment of composition? The historian is occupied during a long series of years in procuring and arranging his materials before he commits to paper that narrative which is to descend to posterity. Hear what Gibbon says in confirmation of this remark. He is speaking of the work (his annals), from which the testimony