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prevailing persuasion to the Roman Emperor, is apparent to the smallest capacity; for he tells us plainly, that the persuasion was that it should rise out of Judea: therefore, it could have no reference to the Roman Emperor, unless it can be shown that the Roman Emperor was a Jew. This, however, no man in his senses will attempt to prove, or even pretend to believe.
Tacitus, another Roman historian, furnishes a similar passage. He tells us, Book v. that at the time Jerusalem was beseiged by Titus, "many were under a strong persuasion, that in the ancient books kept by their Priests, a prophecy was contained, that at this very time the power of the East should prevail, and out of Judea should spring such as were to rule over all nations :" But he calls this a prophetic riddle, by which Titus and Vespasian were prefigured. Here again you see the same inconsistent conclusion with that of Seutonius: for the prediction supposed that this power of universal dominion should spring out of Judea.
The representations of these Roman historians accord so perfectly with the prophecy of Daniel, concerning the Messiah, that it is difficult to resist the inclination to bring them into fellowship, in this department of our labors. "I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not be destroyed." Dan. vii. 13, 14. This prediction, in connexion with his prophecy of the seventy weeks, which has before been noticed, shows, with great clearness, that a character similar to that which was described by Seutonius, was universally expected among the Jews at about the period of the Saviour's birth.
To place the fact beyond all doubt, that some extraordinary personage, some illustrious Ruler, who should sway the sceptre of the globe, was generally expected throughout the eastern heathen world, I shall lay before you a part of the much admired eclogue of Virgil, written about forty years before the birth of Christ. It is supposed to
have been composed as a compliment to Marcellus, the nephew of Augustus, and son of Octavia. The simple fact, that Marcellus was never placed upon the throne of the Roman empire; that he had little to do in the affairs of government, and that he died a private man, affords sufficient evidence that the character here described will not apply to him; nor will it apply to any temporal monarch that ever existed upon the earth: Still it evinces that the expectation of a glorious and universal ruler prevailed, and that the anticipation was ardently indulged by the heathen world.
"Sicilian Muses, let us attempt more exalted strains! The last era foretold in Cumean verse is already arrived. The grand series of revolving ages commences anew. Now a new progeny is sent down from lofty heaven. Be propitious, chaste Lucina, to the infant boy--by him the iron years shall close, and the golden age shall arise upon all the world. Under thy consular sway, Pollio, shall this glory of the age make his entrance, and the great months begin their revolutions. Should any vestiges of guilt remain, swept away under thy direction, the earth shall be released from fear forever; and with his Father's virtues shall he rule the tranquil world. The earth shall pour before thee, sweet boy, without culture, her smiling first fruits. The timid herds shall not be afraid of the large fierce lions. The venomous asp shall expire, and the deadly, poisonous plant shall wither. The fields shall become yellow with golden ears of corn; the blushing grape shall hang over the wild bramble; and the stubborn oak shall distil soft, dewy honey. Yet still shall some vestiges of pristine vice remain ; which shall cause the sea to be ploughed with ships-towns to be besieged-and the face of the earth to be wounded with furrows. New wars shall arise-new heroes be sent to battle-But when thy maturity is come, every land shall produce all necessary things, and commerce shall cease. The ground shall not endure the harrow, nor shall the vine need the pruning-hook. As they wove their thread, the Destinies sang this strain-"Roll on ye years of felicity!"-Bright offspring of the gods! thou great increase of Jove! advance to thy distinguished honors! for now the
time approaches! Behold the vast globe, with its ponder ous convexity, bows to thee! the lands-the expansive seas the sublime heavens! See, how all things rejoice in this advancing era! Oh! that the closing scenes of a long life may yet hold out, and so much fire remain, as shall enable me to celebrate thy deeds !"**
This quotation clearly proves that the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, were anxiously and confidently expecting a glorious sovereign; beyond all comparison, wise, benevolent, and powerful; who should introduce and perpetuate the golden age, spread peace through all the earth, and bring vice and wretchedness to an end. This conclusion will be fully justified by a quotation from Isaiah xi. 5-9. lv. 12, 13, where the happy influence of the Messiah's reign is described in the most sublime prophetic figures; and from which it has been supposed by some, that Virgil drew his elegant description of the golden age. "Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed, their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice-den. They shall not hurt, nor destroy, in all my holy mountain for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree."
Such were the pleasing and prevailing anticipations of both Jews and Gentiles, respecting the glorious reign of an expected Prince! But no earthly prince; no mere mortal, could ever answer this description, or banish vice and misery from the world: The anticipations, therefore, of both Jews and heathens, embraced a being of a higher * Virg. Ecl. iv. Pollio, as translated by W. B. Collyer.
ature, and of higher powers, than any which could ever be claimed by the mere sons of earth.
From the biography of Socrates, the renowned philosopher of Athens, who died 400 years before the birth of Christ, we are furnished with a glowing description of the illustrious character which was expected, and which could alone effect the moral renovation of a sinful world. In this description he tells his countrymen-" that it is necessary to wait till such a personage shall appear to teach them how they ought to conduct themselves, both towards God and towards man." And then breaks forth in the following exclamation :- "O when shall that period arrive! And who shall be that teacher? How ardently do I desire to see this man, who he is !"--In communicating his views of this august character, which he expected would appear in the world, he expresses an opinion that he "must be of higher than human extraction; for that as beasts are governed by men, so must man be guided by a nature superior to his own. Thus, my hearers, we see, that the nations of the east were all expecting a divine communication from heaven, and a glorious Prince of Peace; to reform the world, and put an end to the reign of sin, of violence and oppression, and to bring mankind into a state of harmony and peace-to display the charms of moral virtue, and to enjoy all the sweets of social harmony and love. And who, but the Saviour of the world, could answer the expectations which universally prevailed? Who, but Jesus of Nazareth, could effect this mighty revolution in the moral world, and bring the nations of the earth to obey the perfect law of love? But I must forbear to expatiate upon these sublime anticipations, and pass to notice other facts which are connected with the design of this discourse.
I have before had occasion to allude to the star which appeared in the east, and which directed the wise men to the place of our Saviour's nativity. In relation to this, I shall only offer a few passing remarks, to show that such an appearance is not so singular as to be confined to biblical history, nor at all improbable, admitting other historians to be worthy of credit: For Pliny speaks of" a certain splendid comet, scattering its silver hair, and appear
ing a god in the midst of men :" And Chalcidius, à Platonic philosopher, mentions "the rising of a certain star, not denouncing death and disease, but the descent of a mild and compassionate god to human converse. Now putting these accounts with the prophecy of Balaam, which was known to the eastern world; and supposing these wise men, or Magi, what they are generally supposed to have been, priests and philosophers; probably from Mesopotamia, (the country of Balaam,) is there any thing very unreasonable in the account which St. Matthew records? It is evident from the plainest facts, that Matthew wrote his gospel history, at least, as early as eight years after the death of Christ; and if his narrative had been false, both the Jews and the Romans would undoubtedly have contradicted his testimony. But both Jewish and Roman historians are silent upon this subject. It is reasonable, therefore, to admit his narrative, until some evidence can be adduced to invalidate its truth.
Connected with the story of the wise men, however, we find an account of the cruelty of Herod, which is not recorded by Josephus, nor by Roman historians. And is this any evidence that the facts stated by Matthew are unworthy of credit? Who does not know that Josephus recorded such facts as related to the history of the affairs of state; and that the same is true of the Roman historians of that age? And who is not equally familiar with the fact, that Matthew recorded such transactions only as were connected with the history of Jesus Christ? Josephus wrote his history more than seventy years after the birth of Christ: He must therefore have drawn his facts from the Jewish and Roman records. And is it to be supposed that the friends and dependants of Herod, who had charge of these registers, would record such acts of cruelty as were not absolutely connected with the affairs of state? It is not-and we might, with equal propriety question other acts of cruelty, in this unfeeling and sanguinary prince, which are recorded by Josephus, because they are not recorded by St. Matthew. If the character of Herod were not such as to justify the belief of such cruelty, we might find some excuse for rejecting the narrative of St. Matthew. But the history of that prince is