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of two or three years: and these representations he makes, without even intimating that they had any cause on the part of the Jews; a circumstance which leaves his narrative at once partial and imperfect. But, was it possible, that the people of Alexandria should act this part without some very great provocation, real or imaginary, on the part of the Jews? The race of Abraham had multiplied to an amazing extent, and risen to distinction and opulence in Egypt. Alexander made them free citizens of the city, which he had built and called by his own name; and secured to them the uncontrouled, exercise of their religious rights. From the days of that conqueror, they continued during four hundred years in the enjoyment of those rights and privileges, without any serious attempt made by the Greeks or Egyptians to abridge or molest them. But, while a little before, they were regarded as friends, they are now on a sudden treated as enemies, Their prerogatives, civil and religious, are not only disputed, but altogether withdrawn; their sanctu aries are profaned, their houses plundered, and their persons either consigned to the flames or sold for slavery. The cause, and the only adequate cause, of this melancholy change is to be found in the efficacy of the christian doctrine, which was introduced even at this early period, and widely propagated in Egypt,
The real existence and operation of this cause is not to be disputed. Philo has given us a history of the christians in Egypt: he represents them as a people excelling all others in wisdom and virtue, as divine physicians healing the souls of men from innumerable vices and bad passions, otherwise irremediable, and as having communicated with success the inestimable blessing which they enjoyed, not only to numbers in the provinces of Egypt, but in every part of the habitable globe. The gospel, therefore, was introduced into Egypt and widely received there, even so early as the time of Caligula. Its introduction and prevalence, therefore, are the real cause of the convulsions described by Philo: This fact appears to me to require no farther proof to establish it; yet I will produce a few remarks to illustrate and corroborate its truth.
I. Into whatever country christianity was introduced, the first object of its friends was to subvert the reigning superstition. The preachers of the gospel, in every place, denied the existence or exposed the character of the pagan deities, and . called upon men to reject with contempt and abhorrence those imaginary beings, which they had hitherto regarded as objects of worship. This was a task no less dangerous than difficult; as it was sure to kindle the animosities of those, who were induced by bigotry or interest to resist the truth.
The advocates of reformation could not hope, in many instances, to convince the interested devotees of paganism; and their efforts, where they could not prove successful, must have provoked not only the opposition, but the violence of their adversaries. The book of the Acts presents us with one remarkable instance of the convulsions, that attended the propagation of the new faith among the Gentiles; and the cry, "Great is Diana," resounded not less at Alexandria than in Ephesus or Antioch.
The writings of Philo furnish happy instances of the energy and eloquence with which the champions of the gospel assailed the contemptible divinities of Egypt. "The materials of idols and statues," says he, " are wood and stone, entirely rude and shapeless, till they were conveyed from their native place, and invested with form by the hands of the artist. Substances of the same quarry, or of the same stem, are often destined for less honourable services, being wrought into pots or tubs, or into such other still meaner vessels as are used in darkness rather than in the light. The Gods of the Egyptians, it is disgraceful even to name. These people have raised to divine honours not only brute animals that are tame, but the fiercest of every kind under heaven, which the earth, the sea, or the air can supply--the lion, the crocodile, the hawk, and the ibis
they worship these creatures, though known to be produced, to stand in need of support, to be insatiable for food, to be full of excrements, to be prone to poison the blood and devour the flesh of man, and to be liable to perish by various diseases, death, and violence. By such debasement, the laws of reason and nature are inverted: for civilized and reasonable beings bow before fierce and irrational creatures--they, who bear the image of God, prostrate before monsters which are not on a level with the beasts of the field; and animals which nature intended to fear and obey, receive homage and submission from their lords and masters *."
* Των ξοάνων και αγαλμάτων ή ουσια λίθοι και ξυλα τα μέχρι της προ μικρου τέλειως αμορφα, λιθοτόμων και δρύτομων της συμφυιας αυτα διακοψαντων· ὧν τα αδελφα μέρη και συγγένη λουτροφοροι γεγόνασι, και που δονιπτρα και άλλα άττα των ατιμοτερων, α προς τας εν σκοτῳ χρείας ὑπηρετει μάλλον η εν φωτι. των μεν γαρ παρ Αιγυπτίοις ουδε μεμνήσθαι καλον· ὁι ζωα αλογα και οὐχ ήμερα μονον, αλλα και θηρίων τα αγριότατα παραγηοχασιν εις θεων τιμας, εξ έκαςου των κατα σεληνης: χερσαίων μεν λεοντα, ενυδρων δε τον εγχώριον κροκοδείλον; αεροπόρων δε ικτινον και την Αιγυπτιαν ιβιν. Και ταυτα όρωντες γεννωμένα, και τροφης χρειαν έχοντα και περι εδωδήν απλησα, και περιττωμάτων μεσα, ιοβόλα τε και ανθρωποβορα, και νοσοις άλωτα παντοίαις, και ου μόνον
Representations, eloquent, powerful, and unanswerable like these, must have produced very sensible effects even on the debased natives of Egypt; nor could the refractory by any means counteract them, but by having recourse to force and persecution. The priest, the scribe, the artist, and the magistrate, when too much hardened by the deceitfulness of sin to reform, too proud to learn, and too worldly-minded to resign the love of gain, necessarily inflamed the populace against the authors of such reasoning, and instigated them to retort on the God of the Jews, the indignity which was thus heaped on the gods of Egypt. It was undoubtedly resentment of this kind, which prompted the Egyptians to profane the synagogues of the Jews with the images of Cæsar.
After the accession of Claudius, the Jews were again restored to their rights, and protected in the exercise of their religion; and an edict for this purpose was dispatched into Egypt, and the other provinces by that emperor; and it is important to observe, that the edict sent to Alex
θανάτῳ το κατα φυσιν, αλλα και βιαιῳ πολλακις διαφθει ρομένα προςκυνουσιν, οι ήμεροι τα ανήμερα και ατίθασσα, και οι λογικα τα αλογα, και οι συγγενειαν προς το θείον τα μηδε αν θηρσι τισι συγκριθέντα, οι αρχοντες και δεσποται τα ύπήκοα φύσει και δουλα. Vol. II. 472. p. 890,