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When Christianity was first proposed to the Gen-
tiles it was strongly opposed, because it was new
and hitherto unknown. The greatest respect was
paid to the wise men of Greece and other countries;
and whatever doctrine claimed the attention of man-
kind, not taught or at least not sanctioned by them,
was rejected with contempt. This objection was
sorely felt by the learned advocates of the Gospel ;
and in order to remove it, they employed all their
talents and learning to discover and to display cer-
tain analogies between the Christian doctrine and
the sentiments of the Greek philosophers. In this
attempt, the writings of Plato, of Heraclitus, and
Aristotle; the tenets of Pythagoras and Socrates,
were appealed to and examined in deciding on the
credibility of the Christian faith. And here its sup-
porters were imperceptibly betrayed into the two-
fold error of making the philosophers, by a forced
interpretation, to speak the sentiments of Christi-
ans; and on the other hand, by the same violence,
to make the Christian scriptures speak the language
of heathen philosophy.

Seneca was one of the first pagan philosophers
who pursued this course. The ignominy and the
persecution that awaited the votaries of the Gospel
prevented him from making an open avowal of his

faith. He therefore rejected the grosser parts of heathenism, and endeavoured to shelter himself from reproach by disguising the Christian under the name and character of a Stoic. His conduct in this respect was followed by others; and multitudes of men arose in Rome, in Greece, and in Egypt, who, considering the Gospel to be a divine philosophy, borrowed its leading tenets, and taught them as lessons from the schools of Epicurus, Carneades, Diogenes, and Plato. Many of these we shall find on inquiry profited by the new light which they had received; and in consequence led, like Seneca, virtuous and honourable lives. Others of them adopted a quite opposite line of conduct. Actuated by deep-rooted enmity, they nevertheless borrowed its leading sentiments on the subject of God, of providence, of virtue, and of a future state, without acknowledging or even noticing the source whence they borrowed them, but held them forth to the world as principles peculiar to themselves ; thus endeavouring to rival the Gospel by its own reflected lustre, and neutralize its purifying influence by mixing it with the pagan philosophy. In this number stood Epictetus, the unworthy disciple of Epaphroditus, Marcus Antoninus, Plutarch, Apuleius, and many others; men who, though disguised under the garb of moral wisdom, possessed hearts diametrically opposite to truth and virtue. Among these arose a third class of men, whose principles and conduct proved still more prejudicial to the Gospel. A multitude of impostors, professing to be Cynics or Stoics, perceived a plentiful harvest of wealth and honour in the simplicity and liberality of the early Christians; and, uniting with the · Gnostics, they entered the Christian church, and sought to become shepherds of the peaceful flocks which they soon hoped to shear *.

This state of things offered advantages too favourable to be overlooked by the open adversaries of Christianity. Seeing many attempting to shelter and to propagate it under titles and forms borrowed from the Grecian philosophy, these endeavoured in return to extend to the Christians, however sincere and spotless, the errors and vices which debased the pagan philosophers. In executing this purpose, satire and ridicule were more efficacious weapons than reason and argument; and Lucian of Samosata, a man of boundless wit, learning, and genius, attacked and exposed the most distinguished and depraved among the impostors, as if they really resembled Jesus and his true followers. Nor did this elegant but profligate writer stop here: he even strips the holy Jesus of his spotless purity, and brings him forward on the public stage under the name and character of a Stoic philosopher; thus representing him as actuated by the same folly, extravagance, and mean ambition which characterized the worst and most notorious of that sect.

One of his treatises gives an account of the death, of Peregrinus, which he thus begins with an imposing air of gravity and truth : “ The wretched Peregrinus, or Proteus, (for so he always chose to style himself,) has at length met the fate of his namesake in Homer; for, after taking a thousand shapes, he is at last turned into fire: such was his

* We have traces of their union with the churches in the New Testament. “ Beware of the Cynics, beware of evil doers." Pbil. iji, 2. “ Without are the Cypics, and sorcerers, and fornicators." Rev. xxii. 15. In both these instances the original certainly alludes to the double meaning of the word Kuves.

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insatiable thirst after glory. Yes, my friend, this first and greatest of men is reduced to a cinder, following the example of Empedocles ; with this difference only, that he seemed rather willing to conceal himself from the eyes of inen, when he threw himself into the flames, whilst our noble hero chose the most public festival, built a magnificent funeral pile, and leaped in before innumerable witnesses, after haranguing the Grecians and acquainting them with his intention some days before the ceremony*.”

By the Peregrinus or Proteus here described, the author means not, as the reader inight suppose, some real individual of that name, but Jesus Christ, the whole piece being a mock representation of him and his Gospel. The identity of Peregrinus with the Lord Jesus is placed beyond doubt by the following passage:

« About this time it was that he learned the wonderful philosophy of the Christians, being intimately acquainted with many of their priests and scribes; in a very short time he convinced them that they were all boys to him, became their prophet, their leader, grand president, and, in short, all in all to them. He explained and interpreted several of their books, and wrote some himself. They also regarded him as a god, received him as a lawgiver, and adopted his name as their patron. Accordingly, they still worship that great man, though crucified in Palestine, for having introduced this new mystery into the world.” $11.

Having thus seen that Peregrinus and Jesus mean the same person, I will next make a few extracts from this celebrated treatise; which serves, beyond any

other work, to place the malignity and * See Luciani Opera, ed. Hem, vol. iii. p. 325, where this Treatise stands.

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falsehood of those who opposed the Gospel in the
most striking light.
“ When Theagenes (for that was the bawler's *

, name) had finished his harangue, I asked one of the len by-standers what he meant by the fire, or what relation Hercules and Empedocles had to Proteus. • Proteus,' replied he, “intends very soon to burn himself at the Olympic games. But how,' said I,

and for what reason?' He was going to answer me, when the Cynic bawled so loud that I could not hear any thing but what he thought proper to add concerning Proteus, on whom he bestowed the most lavish encomiums. For, not condescending so low as to compare him with Diogenes, or his master Antisthenes, or even with Socrates himself, Jupiter only could vie with him : thus, I think, raising them both upon a level, the oration closed.” 5. The world,' said he, “ hath beheld only two perfect works, the Olympian Jove and Proteus. Phidias formed the one, the other was the work of nature: but now, alas ! this noble image must go from men to the gods, and leave us wretched orphans all behind him. When, after much toil and sweating, he had thus delivered himself, he wept most ridiculously, and tore his hair, taking care however that he did not pull off too much of it; at length, sighing and sobbing, he was carried off by some of his friends for a little consolation.” 9 6.

“ No sooner had this gentleman finished his fine harangue than another rose up, not suffering the crowd to disperse, but pouring as it were his libation on the yet smoking entrails. This man, after a loud laugh, which seemed to come from the bottom of his heart, began thus: “As the infamous Theagenes finished his lamentable oration with the

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