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Against all these objections, those who defend the reality of this miracle, think, that the authority of Eusebius ought to preponderate. Can it be believed, that this writer would have offended the imperial majesty by a criminal imposture, which had it been contradi&ied by only one among such a number of eye-witnesses, would bave exposed him to the indignation of the whole empire ? As for Constantine's oath, it is strange that what is looked upon as proof of truth in the mouths of common men, should be construed as an argument of falsehood in that of so great a prince. La tantius, not writing a history, destroys nothing by his filence, and he only speaks of the command that Constantine received in a dream the night before the battle with Maxentius, to cause the monogram of Christ to be engraved upon the bucklers of his army. The account of Sozomenus, who lived in the fifth century, only proves that this miracle was contradicted at that time ;, and when he quotes the oath of Constantine from Eusebius, he does not testify any mark of distrust. The silence of the panegyrists is of very little weight, for they were all idolaters, who would not relate any thing in favour of Christianity. Optatianus was also, according to all appearance, a pagan; and Eusebius, in his ecclefiaftical history, has only skimmed over this war, having reserved the detail of it for the life of Constantine. As for St. Gregory, he is speaking only of the prodigies which hin. dered the Jews from rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem, and he had no occasion to depart from his subject for the sake of quoting examples of a similar kind. The uncertainty of the place is the weakest objection of all, since there are in history an infinite number of facis, the truth of which is not less acknowledged, though neither the place, nor sometimes even the time when they happened are known.
Constantine being determined after this miraculous vision, to adore that God alone who had appeared to him, applied to the most holy and most enlightened ministers, in order to be instructed by them in the mysteries of their religion, which he embraced, and his example was followed by the Imperial family. This was the triumph of the Christian religion, after it had been constantly proscribed and persecuted for almost three centuries, and undergone every trial necessary to ascertain its divine original. “When Christianity, says our author, had no farther need of persecutions to evince its divine original, the persecutors became Christians; the emperors submitted to the yoke of the gospel ; and the miraculous conversion of Constantine may be said to have caused the ceffation of a greater miracle in the world.'
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In the beginning of the year 312, Constantine passed the Alps, made himself master of several cities, and nothing retarding his progress he arrived within sight of Rome, and encamped over against Ponte Molle, then called Pons Milvius, a stone bridge of eight arches over the Tiber, about two miles from Rome. Maxentius, through timidity, kept himself for some time within the walls, but encouraged at length by an answer, upon consulting the Sibylline books, he marched out to meet his enemy. The battle was fought with great obstinacy on both sides, till Maxentius's cavalry being broken, the tyrant fled, and was drowned in crossing the Tiber. The success of this day occasioned all the gates of the city to be opened to the conqueror : he entered by the triumphal gate, mounted on a car, and went dire&tly to mount Palatine, where he chose his residence. The public festivals and rejoicings lasted seven days, during which all possible honours and demonstrations of respect were paid him. But the most considerable monument erected in honour of him was the triumphal arch, which still bears his name, and is to be seen at the foot of mount Palatine, near the amphitheatre of Verpasian. It was built chiefly with the ruins of ancient works, particularly of the arch of Trajan. Connoisseurs observe, from the comparison between the figures taken from the an. cient monuments, and those which were of the workmanship of that age, that the taste for the arts must have been already greatly degenerated,
The public tranquillity being thus restored, this great prince applied himself to the affairs of government, of which our author gives a very satisfactory detail. It would be contrary to our plan to follow him throughout, only we shall make a few ftri&tures with regard to his new laws, an article we think most worthy our notice. As so memorable a revolution might be expected to produce a great number of informers, a race of men whom he detested, as feeding on the misfortunes of their fellow-citizens, he enacted two laws, by which he declared all informers, and such as attempted to disturb the tranquility of private persons with unjust facts, guilty of death. He restored the senate to its former lustre, filling it with persons of the greatest merit. Ascribing all his successes to the influence of the falutary sign of the cross, he caused a statue to be erected to himself, holding a cross in the right hand, with an inscription importing that by that sign he had delivered the city from a tyrannical yoke. About the month of November 312, an edict was issued in his name, putting a stop to the great persecution, which had been begun by Dioclefian. Being acquainted with the character of the Christian religion, so
to perceive that it abhorred blood and violence, he acknowledged no other instruments of propagating it than instruction and soft persuafion : full of this idea, he was cautious of irri, tating the minds of his people by rigorous edies. Rome was the centre of idolatry ; before he proceeded to shut up the temples, he wished to see them deserted. Punishments would have produced obftinacy, and an abhorrence of Christianity; Conftantine had the art of inspiring the love of it. His ex. ample, his favour, his benignity, even made more Christians, than torments had made apoftates, under the persecuting princes. Full of zeal for the majesty of sacred worship, he heightened its splendor by erecting and adorning several churches, among others those of S:. Peter in the Vatican, St. Paul, St. Lawrence, St. Agnes, &c. which he endowed with lands and revenues. · • Whilst he was employed in advancing the interest and dig. nity of the church, he did not lose sight of the civil adminis ftration. He enacted several wise laws, which have been preserved in the Theodosian and Justinian codes, and must do honour to his menory; among others, that to prevent judges from proceeding too hasily to condemn the accused before a full and thorough conviction ; that, to protect minors from the dishonesty of their guardians; that, declaring all persons who were notorious for their crimes, incapable of holding any em. ployment; that, declaring that no prescription could lie against liberty ; that, to prevent delays, frauds, and chicanery both in the judges, and those who had their fuits depending, and to limit their duration to a hort term; that which grants a liberty of appeal from all the tribunals, except that of the præfects of the prætorium, who are properly the representatives of the prince in the administration of justice; besides several other regulations, which shew his inclination to favour the rights of liberty, without violating those of justice. Some of his laws contain fine lessons of morality ; in one of them he says, “we are of opinion that more regard ought to be paid to equity and natural justice, than to positive and rigorous right?" in another he lays - the interest of our subjects is dearer to us than that of our treasury,” in consequence of which he prohibited the custom of imprisoning those were indebted to it, or infli&ing any corporal punishment upon them : “ Imprisonment, he said, is intended only for criminals, or officers of the revenue who exceed their authority.”
After describing the embellishments and repairs which this great emperor made in the city of Rome, and enumerating the several acts of his munificence, the learned Mr. le Beau enters upon a discussion of a very nice chronological point, that of
the indi&tions, which owe their first establishment to this prince in 312. The indi&tions are a cycle or revolution of fifteen years, made use of in reckoning time, the custom of which is still retained by the court of Rome. The first year of this cycle is called the first indiation, and so on to the fifteenth, after which a new cycle begins. We must distinguish three kinds of indi&tions, that of the Cæfars, stiled also Constanti. nian, from the name of its inftitutor; it commenced on the 24th of September, and was for a long time adopted in France and Germany; that of Conftantinople which commenced with the Grecian year on the ift of September, and was afterwards the most universally used ; lastly that of the popes, who at first followed the computation of the emperors ; but after Charlemagne they formed a new indiation, which they coinmenced at first on the 25th of December; afterwards on the ift of January, this last method ftill subfills at this day; thus the epoch of the pontiñical indi&tion goes back as far as the ift of January ; in the year 313. The reasons of this institution are dubious and obscure. In the Roman laws the word indietio fignihes afilment of taxes, or a declaration of the sum to be paid by each town or province. It is therefore highly probable that this term has a reference to some taxation. But what was this tax, why this circle of fifteen years? There is the doubt which the learned are at a loss to solve. Baronius conjectures, that Constantine limited military employments to fifteen years, and that at the expiration of that term, proclamation was made for raising an extraordinary tax for the payment of the soldiers disa charged from service. Petavius thinks this opinion of Baronius more probable than any thing that has been said by others on the same subject. The motive that determined Constantine to fix the commencement of the indiction on the 24th of September, is also uncertain. Some moderns suppose the 24th of September to have been the day on which Maxentius was defeated, and that Constantine thought proper to connect it with the origin of the indi&tion, as a remarkable epoch. But it is proved, by a very authentic calendar, that the defeat of Maxentius did not happen till the 28th of O&tober. Our learned author hazards a conjecture of his own upon so intricate a subject, viz. that Constantine being desirous of distinguishing his victory by a new epoch, removed it back to the autumnal equinox, which at that time fell on the 24th of September. There is not one of the cardinal points of the folar year, that has not served to fix the beginning of years among different people. It is natural therefore to believe, that of the four principal points of the solar circle, Constantine preferred that which approached nearest the event, from which
he he took occasion to establish a new cycle. We must own that the conjecture is very ingenious, and founded in great probability. The limits of our periodical examination will not permit us to attend the author any farther at present in the life and reign of Constantine the Great ; we shall therefore reserve our farther remarks for another Review, and only observe by the way, that the translation of this excellent work appears to us to have been done with great fidelity, and to be as little exceptionable as most translations with regard to propriety and purity of language.
II. Observations on the prevailing Diseases in Great Britain : 10
gether with a Review of the History of those of former Periods, and in other Countries. By John Millar, M. D. 480. Pr. 125.
Cadell. A T entering on the disagreeable task before us, we can
not help making one remark on the title of this production : the author affects to present us with observations on the prevailing diseases in Great Britain, while in fact he has not mentioned one disease which is more prevalent in Britain than in other countries. Inflammatory fevers are much rarer in Britain than in the more northern climates ; and putrid fevers infinitely less frequent than in the southern. The dysentery has never been reckoned a prevailing disease in Great Britain ; and the puerperal fever is not a local disease in any country whatever. This circumstance of a misnomer deferves the more to be remarked, as it not only affords a strong indication of the genuine design of this performance, but also a conjecture which will afterwards be more fully confirmed, that the author is not so much indebted for his observations to his own experience as to the writings of others, so far as his information extended, or he could interpret their sense. From whence may be inferred, what will likewise appear in the fequel, that not one original observation occurs in this whole production, which, were it divested of all its superfluous appendages, might be reduced to a size somewhat finaller than that of a six-penny pamphlet. 'Never have we perused any work to which the following passage from an ingenious author may be so properly applied as to that before us.
Elegance is difficult to attain ; and, without great taste, very dangerous to attempt. What we principally require in medical writings, is the utmost degree of perspicuity, precision, fimplicity, and method. A flowery and highly laboured language in these subjects is entirely out of its place, and creates