Sivut kuvina

of us entertains, that after a revolution of years, we shall receive a better life, our lawgiver having foretold this, and God having confirmed it by a decisive pledge. For this reason we stedfastly adhere to our laws, and if necessary cheerfully die for them. And I should have been reluctant to write these things, if it had not been proved by facts, and made known to all men, that multitudes in many places have bravely submitted to every species of torture, rather than even in words renounce our law *.

[ocr errors]

This is a remarkable and important passage, as Josephus not only alludes, but attests in very plain terms, the great and distinguishing doctrine of the gospel-the doctrine of a future state,

* Τοις μεντοιγε κατα τους νόμους παντα πράττουσι, το γέρας ετι ουκ αργυρος, ουδέ χρυσος, οὐ μήν ουδε κοτινού ου σεφανος, η σελινού, και τοιαύτη τις ανακήρυξις, αλλα αυτος έκαςος αυτῷ το συνειδος εχων μαρτυρουν, πεπιςευκε" του μεν νομοθετου προφητευσαντος, του δε θεου την πισιν ισχυραν παρεσχηκοτος, ότι τοις τους νόμους διαφυλαξασι, και ει δέοι θνήσκειν ὑπερ αυτών προθυμως αποθάνουσιν, εδωκε ὁ θεος γενεσθαι τε παλιν, και βιον αμείνω λαβειν εκ περι

[ocr errors]

τροπης. ωχνουν αν εγώ νυν ταυτα γράφειν ει δια των εργων ἅπασιν ήν φανερον, ότι πολλοί και πολλακις ηδη των

ἡμετέρων, πέρι του μηδε ρήμα φθεγξασθαι παρα τον νόμον,

παντα παθειν

γενναίως προειλόντο. § 30.

founded on a decisive pledge which God has vouchsafed to give. The only decisive pledge, which God has given of this assurance is the resurrection of Christ. To this, therefore, Josephus must allude; and the allusion is rendered unequivocal by his own testimony, that Jesus appeared again alive the third day, the divine prophets having foretold his resurrection with innumerable other things respecting him. Besides, this doctrine, at the period in which Josephus wrote, had been preached to every nation; and numbers of those who embraced it, died in attestation of its truth: and to these professors and martyrs he refers, when he says, "It was proved by facts, and made known to all men, that multitudes, in various places, have bravely submitted to every species of torture, rather than even in words to renounce our law."

"Notwithstanding these facts, the Lysimachi, the Molons, and other such abandoned writers, who by their sophistry mislead the young and unexperienced, reproach us as the vilest of mankind. I am not anxious to enquire about the laws of other nations, for it is our custom rather to maintain our own, than call in question the institutions of others. For our lawgiver has expressly forbidden us to revile the gods of the nations, in order that the name of the true God might not be profaned. But as our defamers

think to degrade us by a comparison of their gods with our God, it is not possible to be silent, especially as the observations I am going to make, are not for the first time advanced by me, but have been made by many other highly approved writers. For who among the Greeks eminent for wisdom, has not charged even the most celebrated of the poets and legislators with disseminating among the people unworthy notions of their gods? According to these poets, the gods are as numerous as their imagination can make them, and are begotten one from another, and that by every mode of generation. Like the several classes of animals, they are distinguished by their situations and modes of living, some being under the earth, others in the sea, and the most venerable of them bound in Tartarus. The celestial gods have over them one who, in words, is called a father, but in deeds is an arbitrary lord and master. For this reason his wife, and brother, and daughter, whom he produced from his skull, conspired against him, in order to bind and confine him, as he himself had bound his own father."

"The truly wise hold these notions highly censurable, and they withal ridicule the idea, that some of the gods are young and beardless, others of them with beard and aged; that some again engage in trade, one being a smith, another a

weaver, a third a soldier fighting with men; while some are fidlers, and delight in archery; that they squabble about the disputes of men, and not only that, but lay violent hands on one another, and weep, and are in pain for the wounds received from the hands of men. But the most indecent of all is that the gods and goddesses engage in intrigues, and are guilty of the grossest impurities. Moreover their father and chief neglects those virgins whom he hath defloured, and suffers them to pine in prison or in the sea; nor can he save his own offspring, nor behold their death without tears, being himself controuled by a superior fate. Acts of adultery so prevail in heaven, that often some of the gods envy those who have been detected in committing it. And what might not all the other gods be expected to do, when the oldest and the principal of them is subject to the most intemperate lust. Moreover, some of the gods live as servants among men, one hiring himself to build, another to attend on flocks, while others are chained and confined in prison. Are these representations worthy the character of gods? What wise man can help being provoked, and compelled to reprobate both those who feign, and those who believe such gross fictions? Other writers have deified terror, fear, fury, fraud; and thus have degraded the divine by the worst affections of

human nature. Hence whole communities have been induced to offer sacrifice to the bad passions of men, as though they were gods, supplicating some of them as the givers of good things, and deprecating others as the averters of evil. Thus they endeavour to sooth them by gifts and favours, apprehending from them some great mischief, unless they received the accustomed reward."

In these two paragraphs we have a striking example, of the manner in which the christian teachers undermined the Pagan theology. The attack here made upon the heathen gods is irresistible, and their exposure to infamy and contempt most complete. Nevertheless Josephus displays his characteristic prudence and caution. He does not himself expose the wretched divi nities of Greece and Rome, but brings forward their poets and legislators as the authors of it, Nor does he rest solely on the absurdity and impiety of such fictions, but appeals against them to the more enlightened and virtuous among the heathens; and he boldly asserts, that the sup porters of paganism have ascribed such follies and wickedness to the objects of their worship, merely because they furnished a pretext to justify their own. The following passage contains a glorious testimony to the success, which the teachers of spiritual judaism met with in diffusing it among the Gentiles,

« EdellinenJatka »