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gliding through the mind of Jesus, though they have nothing else in common, but the same sub, ject of discourse.
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves." Mat. xxi. 12. If we com pare this incident with John ii. 14, we might conclude, that Jesus did an act like this, near the commencement of his ministry; and the language which he then used, was more mild and appropriate. But he was now at the close, and addressing those robbers, who, though the worst enemies to him and his religion, would affect to believe in him. He had the fall of Jerusalem, and the profanation of the temple, full before his views, and the language of Josephus respecting the robbers, is the only true commentary on his meaning, when he says, that they made the temple a den of thieves." They are thieves," says that historian," who by their impious ext cesses have polluted this holy place, and are now seen in the temple drinking to intoxication, and lavishing on their insatiable appetites the goods of those whom they have slain.".
The riot and luxury in which the zealots indulged, and which Josephus obliquely asserts in this place, are frequently alluded to in the New Testament. The apostle Paul with truth says of them, "They are not servants of the Lord Jesus, but of their own bellies." Rom. xvi. 18; and in Phil. iii. 18, as denying the crucifixion of Christ, he calls them, with equal justice, "enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, and whose god is their belly." Peter and Jude, on account of the excesses which those wicked men committed, say that they were foul stains on the agapæ, or love feasts, celebrated by the christians; and this feature in their character is not over looked by our Lord, when addressing them; "Then ye shall begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets." Luke xii. 26.
From this account of the gnostic impostors, as we find their character drawn by Josephus, we are able to trace to its origin the charge of theft and robberies, imputed by their enemies to the early christians. Chrysostom, in a passage which has occasioned some perplexity to the critics, asserts that the Esseans were thieves and robbers, This charge, though true to a certain extent, would have come with more grace from an enemy than a friend of the gospel, as it extends to all
the Jewish believers, the crimes of which a few only were guilty. Tacitus insinuates, that all the Jews in Rome were robbers; and banished to the island of Sardinia, as a place suited to restrain them from robberies. The monument erected in honour of Nero, for his endeavours to exterminate the christians, asserts the same thing in more direct terms. Justin Martyr, in his second apology, has recorded the following words, which a man named Lucius had addressed to Urbicius, a Roman magistrate, because of an unjust sentence passed by him on an innocent christian. "Why should you condemn a man, convicted neither of adultery nor fornication, nor proved to be a murderer, nor a thief, nor a robber ; nor finally convicted of any other crime, but only of professing the christian name."
Against this charge, which was made without enquiry, by those who opposed the gospel, the language of Pliny is directed, and contains an acknowledgment of its falsehood; "They are accustomed to bind themselves by an oath, not to commit murder, nor thefts, nor robberies, nor adultery." The words of Josephus are still more remarkable, "Besides these things, they (namely the Esseans) bind the newly received member, not to teach any man the doctrines of the sect, otherwise than he has himself received them: to abstain from robberies, and to preserve their
sacred books with the names of their ministers unadultered." It is worthy of observation, that the crime of robbery is here connected with adulterating the sacred books, as if some of the Esseans had been guilty of corrupting them; while the virtuous part of that sect wished to guard against this by the most solemn obligations. Now it is an indisputable fact, that the gnostic impostors, or robbers as they are called by Josephus, did adulterate the christian scriptures; and it is equally certain, that the charge of altering the evangelical records was hence urged against all the followers of Christ. "Some of the believers," says. Celsus, "as if they were drunk, take the liberty to alter the gospel from its original form, three or four ways or oftener, that when they are pressed hard, and one reading has been confuted, they may disown that and flee to another*." This accusation was doubtless made from the beginning, and hence the precaution which the Esseans adopted, of binding every new convert by a sacred oath, to abstain from robbery, and to preserve their sacred books authentic and unchanged.
"Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye are like to whited sepulchres, which
97% 16, Orig. Contra Cels, p. 77. avt
indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measures of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore behold I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, all things shall come upon neration. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.