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god, and determining to have his image placed for that purpose in the sanctuary of the temple. To enforce compliance with this absurd and impious injunction, he sent orders to Petronius, governor of Syria, to take half of the army with him, and cut to pieces all that made any resistance.
The Jews, upon this, went in a large body to the governor, begging him to desist, or else first deprive them of their lives; declaring that, while their souls remained in their bodies, they would not suffer the violation of their laws. The governor seemed to pity their case, but informed them that his life and fortune were at stake, if he disobeyed the emperor. They answered, Neither would they disobey their God, whose authority was to be regarded more than the emperor's commission.
Petronius, having collected a large army at Ptolemaïs, in order to enforce the emperor's commands, many thousands of the Jews assembled and met him there, beseeching him not to defile their sacred temple with images. He asked them, if they intended to make resistance. They said, they would not fight, but they would willingly die rather than depart from their laws. They accordingly fell pros. trate on the ground, offering themselves to death. Their firmness at length prevailed over Petronius, who declared he would rather risk his own life than be the cause of so many perishing. He then dismissed them with assurances that he would send to Rome, and use his own interest and that of his friends in their behalf.
Agrippa, being at this time with the emperor at Rome, determined at all events to undertake his country's cause. He had been very lavish in magnificent presents to the emperor, and was in great favour with him.' At one time, he invited him and his courtiers to a sumptuous entertainment, with which the emperor was so well pleased, that, in return for his kindness, he told Agrippa, before the whole company, that he would grant him whatever he had a mind to ask. Agrippa complimented the emperor with assuring him that his favour was sufficient. This only made Caligula press him the more, supposing he would beg a province or kingdom, and then he should have an opportunity to display his liberality. Bui, in this, Agrippa disappointed him; for, preferring his country's cause before his own emolument, he only asked that the statue which the emperor had charged Petronius to erect in the temple at Jerusalem might never be put there.
This request, it seems, did not please the emperor; but, considering the great services Agrippa had rendered him, and the many witnesses to the promise he had made, he was obliged to grant his suit, as well as to admire the disinterestedness of Agrippa, who preferred the common cause of piety and the laws of his country, to the augmentation of his own estate.
The emperor immediately wrote to Petronius, that if he had erected the statue he might let it stand, but if he had not, he should give the Jews no more trouble about it. After this letter was sent, he received that which Petronius had promised the Jews to write, wherein he freely advised the emperor to relinquish his design, and not infringe on the laws of the Jews; stating, that it would be impossible for him ever to make them forsake their religion; that, if it were attempted, a revolt would ensue, and the revenues of that nation be lost; and, finally, that, by so doing he would bring down a curse upon himself and upon the empire.
The effect produced by this letter shews how dangerous it is to give advice to arbitrary princes, who can ill brook to be told what they ought to do. The emperor, imagining that presents from the Jews had prevailed on Petronius to despise his commands, sent him an answer, in which he ordered him to murder himself, that he might be an example to all who should come after him, that an emperor's commands ought not in any wise to be neglected. But Petronius had acted the part of an honest man, and the providence of God preserved him : for the persons that carried the letter were detained by contrary winds, so that before its arrival he received one, informing him of the emperor's death. Thus did he escape the cruel order of that impious man, who, though he assumed divine honours, could not avoid the shafts of all conquering death, and that even from the people whom he had caused to adore him; for, being tired out with his enormities, they rose up against him and slew him.
Thus were the Jews again delivered; for their final desolation was not yet come. God gave them warning upon warning of the destruction which was drawing near, and sent apostles and evangelists, who faithfully admonished and exhorted them to flee from the wrath to come; all of which they as a nation rejected. At length the vials of divine
vengeance began to be poured out. In this year, fifty thousand Jews were terribly massacred at one time about Babylon.
Claudius, who succeeded Caligula, completed the honour and sovereignty of Agrippa; not only confirming him in his dominions, but bur Lord. adding to them all that belonged to his grandfather Herod the Great; so that the whole country of Palestine came again into the hands of one prince.
Agrippa undertook to enlarge and fortify the walls of Jerusalem, in such a manner, that, had it been completed, it would have rendered that city impregnable. But, the governor of Syria having been changed, the new governor Marsus, being jealous of this prince's greatness, represented the danger of such a design in so strong a light to the emperor, that he commanded Agrippa to deşist. Thus we see how easily the contrivances of men are defeated, when they are contrary to the purposes of God: for this city was destined by the Almighty to be shortly after destroyed.
Agrippa, disappointed in this undertaking, turned his thoughts to dissipation, determining to spare no cost to display his grandeur: He imitated the Romans in their buildings, erecting theatres for public shews, plays, and spectacles. At one time, he exhibited a formal battle of fourteen hundred male. factors, like the Roman gladiators; and, though this was so contrary to the customs of the Jews, he pretended a great zeal for their religion. In order to ingratiate himself with them, he raised a sharp
persecution against the christians: that he might not fail in his popular design, he began with the apostles, and without delay condemned James to death. As this apostle was advancing to the place of
execution, Clemens Alexandrinus tells us, our Lord that the officer that guarded him, or rather
his accuser, having been convinced by the courage and constancy he shewed upon his trial, repented of his fault, fell down at the apostle's feet, and heartily entreated forgiveness of what he had done. The holy martyr, after a little pause, raised him up, embraced and kissed him, saying, Peace be to thee, my son. Upon which, the other publicly professed himself a christian, and both were beheaded at the same time. Agrippa next proceeded to take Peter : but the manner of his deliverance you are well acquainted with.
Herod Agrippa, after this, went from Jerusalem to Cæsarea, where he amused himself with games and festivals in honour of the emperor, which brought together the nobility and gentry from all parts of the country. The inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, having at this time incurred his displeasure, sent ambassadors, who gained over Blastus, the king's chamber. lain, for their friend; through whose interest, though Agrippa was highly offended, he appointed them a day of audience; and, entering early into the public theatre, he sat upon his throne, gorgeously arrayed in magnificent robes of silver tissue, which, glittering in the beams of the rising sun, reflected such lustre upon the eyes of the people, that, upon his making an oration to the ambassadors, they gave a shout, crying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.