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ago from the ruins of that very place which Justin describes, has clearly demonstrated.”
The true state of this matter seems to be the following :-Among those idols which superstition had created in Rome, there were those dedicated to Semo Sanco, the Sabine deity above mentioned. Simon, during his residence in that city becoming acquainted with those idols, pretended, from the similarity of that name to his own, that he was the divinity meant by it. Of this pretension no proof was necessary with the enemies of the Gospel : for the deep-rooted malice which the Romans cherished towards the Jews in general, and towards Jesus and his disciples in particular, induced them to favour and to support every impostor who partook of their malice and hatred, and who was likely to be instru. mental in checking the progress of the new faith. They therefore suffered either new statues, or some of the old statues, to be erected with the inscription, not as before of Semoni Sanco, but of Simoni Deo Sancto. The statue dug up since was doubtless one of the original idols dedicated to the Sabine deity; while that which the Roman senate, from envy and malice towards Christ, had raised in honour of Simon, has been lost in the common ruins. The error, therefore, is with Middleton and others of the same stamp, and not with Justin Martyr, who knew much more of the subject than they did. A few observations will, it is presumed, be sufficient to substantiate the truth of this statement.
1. The blunder here imputed to Justin, by men whose writings are full of blunders, is in the highest degree improbable. The transaction which he has recorded had taken place more than fifty years before the time in which he wrote. It was also a transaction of great notoriety, and of no inconsiderable importance as connected with the affairs of Christianity. It must therefore have been a subject of frequent conversation with the believers in Rome and in Samaria, especially as they had to dispute with the followers and advocates of Simon, who were very numerous in that age. Justin, during the years he professed Christianity, had frequent opportunities personally to witness the fact at Rome; and he must have conversed with many friends and adversaries, who would have set him right had he been mistaken. Besides, he asserts the fact in the face of the emperor and senate: nor would he have exposed himself and his cause to ridicule and contempt, unless he felt fully convinced that it was incontrovertible.
The similarity of Semon to Simon was a lucky coincidence; and his artifice in claiming a name that was so like his own is well illustrated by what he pretended concerning the prostitute whom he led about with him. She was called Helen; and from this circumstance he gave it out that she was the wife of Menelaus, whose conjugal infidelity had occasioned the Trojan war. The objection of Middleton, that the deification of Simon is not noticed by any of the Roman writers, is equally frivolous. Of whom could such notice be expected? Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dion, were well acquainted with the character of the Samaritan impostor. They also must have known the unworthy motives which induced the senate to countenance him at Rome: and was it likely that they should record the deification of a man who, being a vagabond and an impostor, disgraced his supporters, and whose eleva
tion bespoke only the malice and baseness of those who sought to raise him?
Some years after the claims of Jesus and of Simon had been discussed at Rome, Josephus was brought as an illustrious captive to that city. He witnessed the reproaches thrown upon Jesus and his faithful followers; and he felt it his duty to meet them by a full and explicit testimony in his Antiquities. In doing this, he took an opportunity to contrast these very opposite claimants, by bringing them together and .placing them before the reader in the same page. “And about this time existed Jesus, a wise man, if indeed he might be called a man ; for he was the author of wonderful works, and the teacher of such men as delight in the truth.......Nor did the nation of the Samaritans escape disturbance; for they were stirred up by a man who made no scruple of telling falsehoods; and who, influenced by the desire of popularity, imposed on the multitude by various artifices," &c.
Nothing could be more wise and effectual than this conduct of Josephus. After having attested the wisdom, the love of truth, and the wonderful works which distinguished our Lord, he holds up to public infamy, as a liar, an impostor, and a disturber of the public peace, the man whom the senate, from hatred against the truth, had raised to divine honours. It is observable that Josephus, whose transitions in general are easy and obvious, has here violated the natural order of time and place: Jesus from Judea, and Simon from Samaria, are brought to Rome and connected with the transactions which occurred in that city. The cause of this apparent abruptness is to be sought in the circumstances in which this cautious advocate published his History. In Rome, Jesus was vilified as a magician; in Rome, Simon was advanced to divine honours. In Rome, therefore, Josephus was called upon to justify the one and to expose the other. And it would have been more creditable in modern critics to explore the design of the writer, than to reject the passage as spurious from its apparent want of connexion.
The adoration paid to Jesus Christ naturally awakened the envy of Caligula. He saw one of that nation, whom he mortally hated, worshipped as a god. He arrogated the titles and wore the badges of Jupiter, Apollo, &e. in order to share the vain honours that were paid them; nor could he be less ambitious to participate in the homage paid to Jesus. When Tiberius proposed his deification to the se, nate, they in return expressed a wish to deify him, The proposal no doubt proceeded from malice and envy towards Jesus. The emperor, however, had the prudence or virtue to decline the proposal. The senate, now inured to servility and adulation, knew how dangerous it was to resist the will of Cæsar : but on this occasion they availed themselves of his seeming self-denial, and dexterously concealed their refusal under the veil of a handsome compliment.
Caligula acted a very different part. His vanity and ambition were inflamed into madness by the people of Alexandria, and by a few favourites who were Egyptians, and who were actuated only by deep-rooted malice against the Jews: and he hence claimed divine honours from this people as well as from other nations. In order to answer this end, he caused his image to be erected in the synagogues of the Jews at Rome, Alexandria, and even
in the temple at Jerusalem. This was one of the greatest calamities that befel the Jewish nation. Josephus
and Philo have given an account of this attempt. The former writes that “Caligula ordered Petronius to go with an army to Jerusalem to set up his statues in the temple there ; enjoining him, if the Jews opposed it, to put to death all that made any res sistance, and to make all the rest of the nation slaves. Petronius therefore marched from Antioch into Judea with three legions, and a large body of auxiliaries raised in Syria. All were hereupon filled with consternation, the army being come as far as Ptolemais. The Jews then gathering together went to the plain near Ptolemais, and entreated Petronius in the first place for their laws, and in the next place for themselves.” Petronius was moved by their entreaties, and leaving his army and the statues at Ptolemais went into Galilee, and at Tiberias calls together the chief men of the Jewish people, and exhorts them to submit to the emperor's orders. When they could not engage so to do, he asked them, “Will ye then fight against Cæsar ?" The Jews answered him, that they offered up sacrifices twice every day for Cæsar and the Roman people. But that if he would set up the images, he ought first of all to sacrifice the whole Jewish nation; and that they were ready to submit themselves, their wives and children, to the slaughter.
Philo says that the tidings of these orders having reached Jerusalem, the Jews, abandoning their cities, villages, and the open country, all went to Petronius in Phenicia, both men and women, the old, the young, and the middle-aged ;-that they threw themselves down upon the ground before · Petronius, with weeping and lamentation ;--that being ordered, by him to rise up, they approached him covered with dust, with their hands behind