Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

A&t v. 9.

represents him to have done ; and that, when he was not ablo to procure any thing to cure his inward heat, he should say,

“ I beg cold comfort, and you are so ftrait,

And so ongrateful, you deny me that.” • It is impoffible not to smile, when Moliere makes Harpagus (when he is about to examine upon the rack all his family, fervants, fons and daughters) say, he would apply the torture to himself : “ et à moi aufli.'

Very extravagant likewise is the following speech, which Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Ligarius ;

6. Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impollible,
And
get

the better of them. Jul. Cæf. ii. 3. Shakespeare is not fo reprehensible in this passage, as our author supposes. These words are part of a speech of Ligarius to his friend Brutus. Ligarius was a man of distinguished zeal for the liberty of his country. . He lived in great confidence with Brutus, who found him a fit person to bear a part in the conspiracy against Cæsar. But happening to be taken ill near the time of its execution, when Brutus, in a visit to him, began to lament, that he was fallen fick in a very unlucky hour, Ligarius instantly raising himself upon his elbow, and taking Brutus by the hand, replied, “ Yet still, Brutus, if you mean to do any thing, worthy of yourself, I am well." Nor did he disappoint Brutus's opinion of him, for we find him afterwards in the list of conspirators. See Plutarch's Life of Brutus. Shakespeare amplifies Ligarius's reply in this manner : '" I am not fick, if Brutus have in hand Any exploit worthy of the name of honour. By all the gods the Romans bow before, I here discard my fickness. Soul of Rome ! Brave son, deriv'd from honourable loins ! Thou, like an exorcist, halt conjured up My mortified spirit. Now bid me run,

And I will strive with things impossible, ,, Yea, get the better of them.”

This extravagant protestation is not unsuitable to the charac. ter and situation of the speaker : it is a natural flight of political enthusiasın.

It has been repeatedly observed, that the English language has an advantage above inoít other languages in the poetical and rhetorical style : for when nouns naturally neuter are converted into masculine and feminine, the personification is more diftinctly and forcibly marked. Lowth's Gram. p. 44. To account for che strudure of other languages in this instance, our Author conjectures, that the extension of sex, in most fouthern languages, to almost all inanimate things, may have taken its rise from a lively imagination, personifying almost every thing.'-—Perhaps it may not appear chimerical to fuppose, that this general personification was natural to the Greeks and Romans, who deified almost every object in nature ; ani. etrating hills, woods, feas, fountains, wiih Oreades, Dryades, Nereides, Naiades, &c. in fhort, filling heaven and earth with gods and goddeffes, of which Herod says, there were 7810 yugton, thiriy thousand. Oper. & Dier. i. 250.

author

As we have now extended this article as far as the limits of our Review will allow, we shall only add, that these Lectures contain many other valuable remarks; and may be of great service to those, who wish to form their style, and their taste for polite literature.

The History of the Ej ablishment of Chrifiianily, compiled from Jewish

and Heathen Authors only; exhibiting a fubftantial Proof of ibe Truth of this Religion. Translated from the French of Proffor Bullet, Deox of the University of Besançon, and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres. By William Sa

lisbury, B.D. 8vo. 55: Jerved. - Bathurst. IT, T is no no wonder, the Deist may fay, that Christianity

should be supported by the attestation of its friends. Every man endeavours to vindicate his own profession, and to give a specious appearance to his errors and absurdities. If you would judge impartially, audi alteram partem,' hear what the adversary has to alledge. He may probably discover what your own party has concealed, some craft and impofition, which you do not suspect;

do not suspect; or fome defects, which, on account of the prejudices of education, you do not perceive.

The advocate for Christianity has no objection to try his cause upon this ground. He readily submits it to a determi. nation upon the evidence of adversaries only, and from their concessions he demonstrates the truth of the gospel.,

Mr. Huet, in his Demonstratio Evangelica, and almost all the learned, who, for these two last centuries, have written in defence of Christianity, have inserted in their works what many heathens have said to the advantage of our religion. Colonia adding to these several testimonies what might contribute to the knowledge of the authors, from whom they were taken, has composed of them an entire treatise, entitled, the Christian Religion verified by the Testimony of Pagans.'- This book, says Mr. Bullet, when stripped of the ornaments foreign to Vol. LXIV. July, 1777.

с

the

the matter in hand, makes but a small part of that which is here presented to the public.'

In the year 1755, the late Dr. Gregory Sharpe published an excellent tract, which he calls, An Argument in Defence of Christianity, taken from the Concessions of its ancient Adversaries, Jews and Pagans.

But the most extensive and valuable performance on this subject appeared in 1765, 1766, and 1767, in four volumes quarto, under the title of A large Collection of ancient Jewish and Heathen Testimonies to the Truth of the Christian religion, by Dr. Lardner *In this work the indefatigable author has faithfully cited, and accurately examined every passage, which is to be found in any Jewish or Heathen writer, relative to Christian affairs, from the time of our Saviour to the year 550'; at the same time, he has freely exploded those testimonies, which owe their existence to what is usually called, pious fraud.

He informs us, that he took great pains to procure professor Bullet's performance, before he published his third volume (in 1766]; that enquiries bad been made for it, at his defire, both at Paris and in Holland; but without success t.

The doctor's plan is however very different from that of the profeffor. The former gives us a biographical account of the authors he cites, he settles their time, he distinguishes their productions, and then examines those detached passages, which fall within the compass of his defign. The latter forms a connected history of the establishment of Christianity, in the words of Jews and Heathens, without allowing himself to make ofe of any other materials. He recites the calumnies, the fcoffs, the abuses, the edi&ts of profcription; and thews, in a continued discourse, that those inveđives, those prosecutions contribute, in a very fingular manner, to the confirmation of the gospel, and the honour of the Christian church, The history begins in this manner:

In the reign of Tiberius, (1) a man called Jesus, by nation a Jew (2), born of a poor woman (3), supposed to be the fon of a carpenter (4), and himself of the same occupation (5), of a mean figure and low ftature (6), gathered together in Judea a

* Crit. Rev. vols. xix, xx, xxi, xxiij.

+ The translator tells us, that the professor's book bas been printed about twelve years. Yet, in the same page, he says, it was published three years before Lardner's third volume: if 10. it nas been published fourteen years.

*() Taciti Annal. 15. $44.
. (2), (3), (4) Celsus in Orig. lib. i. n. 28 ; lib.ii. n. 32.

is Celsus in Orig. lib, i, n. 28; lib. vi, ni 34.
6) Celsus in Orig. lib. vi. n. 75.

como

company of fishermen, illiterate, un polished, ignorant persons, and infamous according to the account of the Heathens for their disorderly lives (7). He

gave

himself out for the Messiah promised to the Jews, for the Christ, the messenger of heaven, the Son of God (8). He taught a doctrine so sublime, that reason could not comprehend it (9) ; and a morality so pure, that his enemies have been forced to admire its perfection, or constrained to censure it as impracticable (10). He gave command to his disciples to travel into all parts of the world, to cause his doctrine and his precepts to be embraced (11), and to establish his religion upon the ruins of Judaism and idolatry. The Jews looked upon him as an impostor, and imputed the miracles he performed to the power of the devil (12). Pilate, at their inItigation, put him to an ignontinious death upon the cross (13). Some days after, his body was not to be found in the sepulchre, wherein it had been laid. His disciples maintained, that he was risen (14); The Jews, on the contrary, gave out, that his body had been taken away in the night time, to make it believed, that he was again alive. : They declared afterwards, that he was raised by the power of necromancy (15). Ac laft, they published in their writings, that the body of Jesus had been taken and concealed by Juaas, who fhewed it to the people, when the apostles preached his resurrection (16), &c':

Our author continues this narrative to the death of Julian, which happened in the year 363, and concludes with that event, not only because the testimonies of later ages are less important, but because that was the period in which idolatry fell, and Christianity triumphed over all opposition.

At that crisis, the universe changes its God, its worship, laws, maxims, rules, opinions, sentiments, inclinations, man. ners, prejudices, customs, practices. In order to give the reader a just idea of this astonishing revolution, the professor, in a discourse subjoined to his narrative, goes back to the first

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

• (7) Celfus in Orig. lib.i. n. 26. lib. iïi. n. 68. Porphyry in Jerom on Psal. xci. &c. • (8) Celsus in Orig. lib.iii. n. 1, &c. Pliny to Trajan. Cyril

, lib. vi. () Celsus in Orig, lib. ii. n.73. lib. i. n. 9. Trypho in Justin Mart. Dial. p. 164. Luçian in Philop. Gaien, lib. ii. cap. 4. Pliny to Trajan, &c.

(10) Trypho in Juft: p. 3. Min. Felix, p. 31. Cyril, lib. vi.
(11) Toledoch Jesehu.

(12) Wagenseil's Tela ignea. Tertul. contra Jud. c. 9. Celsus in Orig Ju.t. Mart. Apol. &c. *(13) Tacitus, Cellus in Orig. Min. Felix, Arnob. Cyril, lib. 5, 6. • (14) Orig. lib. ii. n. 59. Juft. Dial. n. 108.

(15) Acta S. Pionii, c. 3. in Bollandus.

(16) Toled. Jesehu.'--For other proofs, on which the author grounds his assertions, we mult refer our readers to Mr. Salisbury's translation.

C2

pub. publication of the gospel, and confiders the nature of the une dertaking, the extent of it, the time fixed upon for it, the authors chofen, the means made use of, the obstacles to be sure mounted, and the success to be expected.

1. The undertaking is to overthrow idolatry, to abolish Judaism, and to establish Christianity, on their ruins..

. At the time the apostles made their appearance, the whole world, Judea excepted, was overwhelmed in idolatry. This religion suited the inclinations, and flattered the propensities of mankind.:. .Every thing in it pleased the sense, every thing in it was agreeable to the imagination. Its system is so pleasant, that it conftitutes, even to this day, the charms of our poetry and theatrical entertainments.

• The Jews were the peculiar people of God. God had given thém his law. "He had worked most astonishing miracles in their farour. He dwelt among them in a magnificent temple. They were the sole depositories of his religion and worship. Proud of these advantages, they looked with contempt on all other na. tions, whom they believed unworthy of the favours of the Su. preme Being. They expected at that time a Mefliah, who was to break the yoke of the Romans, refore the throne of David and Solomon to its pristine glory, and, by a series of vic. tories and conquests, bring all the world under subjection to his laws.

• The Christianity, which was to be substituted in the room of Judaism and idolatry, was much more fitted to fright men than to allure them...The Christians told the Jews, they vainly Aattered themselves that the law, which they received from God was to continue for ever; that their worship and ceremonies were abolished; that they were no longer the elect people; buc that all nations were equally invited into covenant with the Lord ; that the indulgences granted by Moses to the hardness of their hearts were revoked. In the room of a victorious master of the world, whom they expected for their Messiah, they presented to them a poor bandycraftsman, who died upon a cross.

• The Chriftian morality thwarted all the pafions, reftrained all the inclinations of men * Believers renounced all pleafures: they led a friet and severe life...their watchings and long faftings made them pale and meagre. They despised the cruellelt punillments, and ran to meet death with joy for the defence of their faith.

* All kind of prejudices were moreover obstacles to the establishment of Christianity. It was a religion but just sprung up, and which the degrading punishment of its author had impressed with a character of ignominy; a religion preached by a few poor, unbred, ignorant men, whom the Greeks and Romans

[ocr errors]

& Here our author ex

ates.

treated

« ZurückWeiter »