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drian Jews received from that ferocious monster: and one fact is mentioned, by which it shews that, while the events of his narrative happened six or seven years after the resurrection of Jesus, his treatises were not published till after
* I shall state this fact in the words of the learned Bryant. One of the chief enemies of the Jews was an Egyptian named Helicon, who had employed every art to make them odious to the emperor. But, says Philo, Ὁ δε Ελικων ὑπο Κλανδιου Γερμανικου, Καισαρος, αναιρεθεις, εφ' δις αλλοις ὁ φρενοβλαβης ηδίκησεν, αλλα ταυτα μεν ύςερον εγενετο. De Legatione, Vol. II. p. 576; that is, This Helicon was at last taken off; being put to death by Claudius Cæsar for some other base actions of which he had been guilty. But these things happened afterwards. Philo here plainly intimates, that the reign of Claudius was past, when he wrote this document; and Caligula consequently must have been for some years dead. Bryant on Philo Judæus, p. 35. Mangey, the editor of Philo, agrees with Basnage, and gives the following reason for his determination. Ille enim ipse anno Caii quarto urbis conditæ 793 se senem et ætate provectiorem plus una vice testatur. On this Bryant comments in the following manner: "This is a great mistake, into which I wonder how the editor could possibly lapse. Philo, at the beginning of his treatise, where an account is given of his embassy, undoubtedly speaks of himself as old. But by this he meant at the time of his writing, not at the time of his embassy to Caligula, which was probably twenty years or more antecedent. This is manifest to any body who will examine the treatise, and I wonder how it could be mistaken." P. 31.
the reign of Claudius, a period of fourteen or twenty years after the advent of our Lord. The Jews, in spite of the most cruel persecution, adhered to their principles with a firmness that brought upon them the imputation of obstinacy: and one leading object, which Philo has in his book concerning the Esseans, is to defend his countrymen for giving up their lives rather than their faith and independence. The cruelties which they endured, the author at the time of his writing expressly calls ancient injuries *.
Secondly, it is objected that the Esseans were Christians, because they are not called Christians: nor is the least intimation given by Philo and Josephus that they were the disciples of Christ. They could not, I answer, as yet have the christian name, because this name, when Philo wrote, was hardly in existence, or at least it was not known in Egypt as the name of a Jewish sect. The enemies of Christ at Antioch, it appears, first applied this appellation; and assuredly ap
Ταύτα εμήκυνα ουχ ύπερ του παλαιών απομνη μονεύειν αδικημάτων, &c. “ I do not enlarge on things, in order to recal to mind ancient grievances, but to admire that divine justice which inspects the affairs of men, for appointing the very enemies of Flaccus the instruments of bringing him to condign punishment." P. 986. or Vøl. II. 538.
plied it by way of reproach. The faithful believers might well glory in the title of Christians; but they were not so destitute of prudence, as voluntarily to assume a name which was hated and derided by the Jews and Gentiles. Accordingly, they are not commonly called Christians in the New Testament. That denomination occurs but a few times, and that only as the subject of discourse.
Our Lord foresaw that his enemies would attach to his honoured name the bitterest ignominy; and the charge which he gave to his disciples, that they should tell no man that he was the Christ (Matt. xvi. 20.), is thus recorded by Mark, " And he charged them that they should speak to none about him." c. viii. 30. According to this statement, our Lord's meaning may be taken in this manner. "In as much as many will hate me without a cause; do not speak about me before such people. Cherish, indeed, a firm faith in my gospel, and imitate my example; but do not make my name and character the subject of conversation or of dispute in circumstances where no good can be answered, but rather where prejudices will be rivetted, and animosities kindled." Philo, as living in an age and country, where the Jews in general were greatly hated and cruelly persecuted, acted up to the spirit of this advice. He has no where mentioned our Lord by name,
though, as we shall presently see, he frequently speaks of him as the Son of God; and in this he was justified by the authority of Jesus, and by the peculiar difficulties of his situation.
Philo, it is farther to be remarked, does not describe the Esseans as a sect separated from the other Jews by peculiar opinions, or by peculiar modes of worship; but rather holds them up to the world as a body of men, exceeding all others in wisdom and virtue, and by all others to be revered and imitated on that account. In this he has acted agreeably to a maxim, which our Lord has repeatedly enjoined, namely, that those who followed him, should be known only by their fruit; and agreeably to his example, in as much as in the beautiful summary of his ministry, the sermon on the mount, he exhibits himself only as a teacher of superior and more refined virtue, unmixed by temporary opinions or local observances. And if it was wise to recommend a religion coming from God only by its happy influence on the hearts and conduct of its professors, in any country, it was wise to do this, as Philo has done in Egypt, where the people were devoted beyond all other nations to superstitious rites, and contaminated by immoral indulgences.
The third objection is, that Philo represents the Esseans as using commentaries which were
ancient*, while the christian scriptures were quite recent, nor yet all extant. These commentaries were composed by the founders of the sect, who must therefore long have preceded the founders of christianity. But this is an error founded on the prejudices of modern education. Being in the habit of distinguishing between Jews and Christians, we take it for granted that christianity is a religion distinct from judaism. The fact, however, is much otherwise. Christianity is but another name for judaism, interpreted in the manner done by Christ and his apostles. The distinguishing doctrines of the gospel are the advent, the death, the resurrection of Christ, his coming again to raise the dead, and to judge the world and these doctrines are not only contained in the Jewish scriptures, but are profes
* The words of Philo are, Εςι δε αυτοις συγγράμματα παλαιων ανδρων, οι της αιρήσεως αρχηγεται γενομενοι πολλα μνημεία της αλληγορουμενης ιδέας απέλιπον.
P. 893. Vol. II. 475. From these words Prideaux thus argues, "They manifestly prove that the Therapeutæ could not be Christians; for they were a sect of long standing in Egypt, and tell us that they had hymns and writings among them of ancient date, composed in times of old by such as were principal leaders of their sect. But how could they be said to have hymns and writings composed by ancient leaders of their sect, when the sect itself was not above ten, or twenty, or at most forty years standing?" P. 282, 283.