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evils of every kind; from the latter emanate all the virtues human and divine *."
* The book in which Philo treats of the Esseans of Palestine
is entitled, Παντα σπουδαίον είναι ελεύθερον, Vol.II. 445. p. 865. That concerning the Esseans of Egypt is called περι βιου θεωρητικού, II, 471. p. 889. This last is particularly noticed by the early fathers. Jerome styles it (lib. de Vir. Illus.) De vita Nostrorum: Suidas, περι διαγωγής των Χρισιανων. Fabricius and Mangey say, that Photius did not adopt the common notion of those times, that the Therapeutæ were christians: yet his own words, to which they refer, demonstrate the contrary. Ανεγνώσθησαν δε των παρα Ιουδαίοις φιλοσοφησαντων την τε θεωρητικην και πρακτι κην φιλοσοφιαν βιοι, ὧν οι μεν Εσσηνοι, οι δε θεραπευται εκαλούντο, δι και μοναστηρια ὡς αυταις λέξεσι λέγει, επε γνυντο, και των μοναζόντων την πολιτειαν προυπεγραφον. Cod. 104. The age and writings of Philo are considered by the learned Fabricius, Bib. Gr. Vol. III. p. 104; and in p. 112. he refers to all those writers, who have treated about the Esseans and the Therapeutæ.
THE ESSEANS PROVED TO BE THE FIRST JEWISH BELIEVERS.
It is impossible not to be surprised and delighted with the character of the people here delineated; nor can any unprejudiced reader, who reflects that they flourished in Judea and Egypt but a few years after the promulgation of the gospel, help considering them as the first Jewish or Nazarene believers. Of the honour, reflected by these men, the gospel has been violently robbed by the neglect or prejudices of modern days and it appears to me matter of no small importance, to restore their just claims as the followers of Jesus.
The virtues which the Esseans studied and practised, are the great and peculiar virtues of the gospel. They shine in the character of Christ : the object of his mission was only to enforce and illustrate them; and they are founded on that immortality which he brought to light. These virtues, moreover, form the life and soul of the Christian records; and they widely distinguish the apostles and the churches established by them
from all other bodies of men, whether Jews or Pagans.
It is not to be supposed that the early Christian fathers, to whom the works of Philo were well known, could be ignorant that the Esseans were the same, under a different name, with the Nazarene believers. Accordingly Eusebius has not only asserted this fact, but has taken some pains to prove its truth: and his opinion has been followed by Jerome, Epiphanius, and all other ecclesiastical writers down to the days of Zonaras. Yet their opinion has been called in question by modern critics, and Scaliger, Valesius, Basnage, Mangey, and Prideaux*, are
"It is true," says this last writer, "Eusebius hath said that these Therapeuta were christian monks instituted by St. Mark, and so he hath said many other things without judgment or truth." The world will at length be able to see, whether Eusebius or Dean Prideaux speaks without judgment or truth. See Prid. Connec. Vol. II. p. 282.
The catholic writers indiscriminately followed the testimony of Eusebius, hoping thereby to recommend by its high antiquity the establishment of monkery. The protestant authors have, with undistinguishing zeal, ranged on the opposite side, and in endeavouring to oppose the popish writers, have deviated to the opposite extreme of error and temerity. I quote the following passage of Mosheim (Eccles. Hist. Vol. I. p. 45.) as a specimen of the opinions, which learned! and liberal divines have long held on this mistaken subject. "The Therapeutæ, of whom Philo the Jew makes par
among the first who have arraigned the father of ecclesiastical history. The question is considered as long since decided; nor is there, perhaps, a learned man in Europe who does not think the ancient fathers mistaken. The arguments that could produce this settled and uniform conviction must carry apparently unquestionable weight.
ticular mention in his treatise concerning contemplative life, are supposed to have been a branch of the Essenes. From this notion arose the division of the Essenes into theoretical and practical. The former of these were wholly devoted to contemplation, and are the same with the Therapeuta; while the latter employed a part of their time in the performance of the duties of active life. Whether this division be accurate or not, is a matter which I will not take upon me to determine. But I see nothing in the laws or manners of the Therapeutæ, that should lead us to consider them as a branch of the Essenes; nor has Philo, indeed, asserted any such thing. There may have been surely many fanatical tribes among the Jews, besides that of the Essenes; nor should a resemblance of principles always induce us to make a coalition of sects. It is however certain, that the Therapeuta were neither Christians nor Egyptians, as some have erroneously imagined. They were undoubtedly Jews; nay, they gloried in that title, and styled themselves, with particular affectation, the true disciples of Moses, though their manner of life was equally repugnant to the institutions of that great lawgiver, and to the dictates of right reason, and shewed them to be a tribe of melancholy and wrong headed enthusiasts.
I shall state these objections in the words of those who make them. First," One remark alone," says Basnage," is enough to destroy all those favourable opinions of the Essenes. Philo, from whom these proofs are taken, was born in the year 723 of Rome. He says that he was very young when he wrote his book, and that his studies were afterwards interrupted by being employed in affairs of consequence and according to this reckoning, Philo must have necessarily written before the birth of Christ." History of the Jews, B. II. c. 18. p. 133. 133. On these words Gibbon observes, " Basnage has examined, with the most critical accuracy, the curious treatise of Philo, which describes the Therapeutæ. By proving that it was composed as early as the time of Augustus, Basnage has demonstrated, in spite of Eusebius (Lib. II. c. 17.) and a crowd of modern catholics, that the Therapeuta were neither christians nor monks." Decline and Fall, Vol. II. c. 15.
Though this argument is urged by Basnage, and corroborated by Gibbon, with unqualified confidence, it has no foundation whatever in truth, and is refuted by an obvious fact. Caligula, in his second year, began to distress the Jews, and continued to distress them till the end of his reign. Philo published, in two different works, an account of the treatment which the Alexan