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going heads; but as it is fo fhining a particular, and does fo much honour to our religion, I fhall make a diftinct article of it, and only confider it with regard to the fubject I am upon: I mean, the lives and manners of thofe holy men who believed in Chrift during the firft ages of Chriftianity. I fhould be thought to advance a paradox, fhould I affirm that there were more Chriftians in the world during those times of perfecution, than there are at prefent in these which we call the flourishing times of Chriftianity. But this will be found an indifputable truth, if we form our calculation upon the opinions which prevailed in those days, that every one who lives in the habitual practice of any voluntary fin, actually cuts himself off from the benefits and profeffion of Christianity, and, whatever he may call himself, is in reality no Chriftian, nor ought to be efteemed as fuch.

II. In the times we are now furveying, the Christian religion fhewed its full force and efficacy on the minds of men, and by many examples demonftrated what great and generous fouls it was capable of producing. It exalted and refined its profelytes to a very high degree of perfection, and fet them far above the pleasures, and even the pains, of this life. It ftrengthened the infirmity, and broke the fiercenefs of human nature. It lifted up the minds of the ignorant to the knowledge and worship of Him that made them; and infpired the vicious with a rational devotion, a ftrict purity of heart, and an unbounded love to their fellow-creatures. In proportion as it spread through the world, it seemed to change mankind into another species of beings. No fooner was a convert initiated into it, but by an eafy figure he became a new man, and both acted and looked upon himself as one regenerated and born a fecond time into another state of existence.

III. It is not my bufinefs to be more particular in the accounts of primitive Chriftianity, which have been exhibited fo well by others; but rather to obferve, that the Pagan converts, of whom I am now fpeaking, mention this great reformation of those who had been the greateft finners, with that fudden and surprising change which it made in the lives of the most profligate, as having fomething in it fupernatural, miraculous, and more than human. Origen reprefents this power in the Chriftian religion, as no lefs wonderful than that of curing the lame and blind, or cleanfing the leper. Many others reprefent it in the fame light, and looked upon it as an argument that there was a certain divinity in that religion which fhewed itfelf in fuch ftrange and glorious effects.

IV. This, therefore, was a great means not only of recommending Chriftianity to honeft and learned Heathens, but of confirming them in the belief of our Saviour's hiftory, when they faw multitudes of virtuous men daily forming themselves upon his example, animated by his precepts, and actuated by that Spirit which he had promised to fend among his difciples.

V. But I find no argument made a ftronger impreffion on the minds of these eminent Pagan converts, for ftrengthening their faith

in the history of our Saviour, than the predictions relating to him in thofe old prophetic writings, which were depofited among the hands of the greatest enemies to Chriftianity, and owned by them to have been extant many ages before his appearance. The learned Heathen converts were aftonished to fee the whole hiftory of their Saviour's life published before he was born, and to find that the Evangelifts and Prophets, in their accounts of the Meffiah, differed only in point of time, the one foretelling what should happen to him, and the other defcribing thofe very particulars as what had actually happened. This our Saviour himself was pleafed to make use of as the strongest argument of his being the promised Meffiah, and without it would hardly have reconciled his difciples to the ignominy of his death, as in that remarkable paffage which mentions his conversation with the two difciples on the day of his refurrection, St. Luke xxiv. 13. to the end.

VI. The Heathen converts, after having travelled through all human learning, and fortified their minds with the knowledge of arts and sciences, were particularly qualified to examine these prophecies with great care and impartiality, and without prejudice or prepoffeffion. If the Jews, on the one fide, put an unnatural interpretation on these prophecies, to evade the force of them in their controverfies with the Chriftians; or if the Chriftians, on the other fide, overftrained several paffages in their application of them, as it often happens among men of the best understanding, when their minds are heated with any confideration that bears a more than ordinary weight with it; the learned Heathens may be looked upon as neuters in the matter, when all these prophecies were new to them, and their education had left the interpretation of them free and indifferent. Befides, these learned men among the primitive Chriftians knew how the Jews who had preceded our Saviour, interpreted thefe predictions, and the feveral marks by which they acknowledged the Meffiah would be difcovered, and how those of the Jewish Doctors who fucceeded him had deviated from the interpretations and doctrines of their forefathers, on purpose to ftifle their own conviction.

VII. This fet of arguments had therefore an invincible force with thofe Pagan philofophers who became Chriftians, as we find in most of their writings. They could not difbelieve our Saviour's history, which fo exactly agreed with every thing that had been written of him many ages before his birth, nor doubt of thofe circumftances being fulfilled in him, which could not be true of any perfon that lived in the world befides himfelf. This wrought the greatest confufion in the unbelieving Jews, and the greateft conviction in the Gentiles, who every where speak with aftonishment of these truths they meet with in this new magazine of learning which was opened to them, and carry the point fo far as to think whatever excellent doctrine they had met with among Pagan writers, had been ftolen from their converfation with the Jews, or from the perufal of these writings which they had in their cuftody.



JOSEPHUS, with his teftimony at large to the fulfilment of our Saviour's predictions concerning the deftruction of the temple, and the city of Ferufalem, and the miferies coming upon the Jewish people.



fon of Matthias, of the race of the Jewish Priests, and of the firft courfe of the four and twenty, by his mother defcended from the Afmonean family, which for a confiderable time had the fupreme government of the Jewish nation, was born in the first year of the reign of Caligula, of our Lord 37


He was educated together + with Matthias, who was his own brother by father and mother, and made fuch proficience in knowledge, that when he was about fourteen years of age, the high-priefts and fome of the principal men of the city came frequently to him to confult him about the right interpretation of things in the law. In the fixteenth year of his age, he retired into the wilderness, where he lived three years an abftemious course of life in the company of Banus. Having fully acquainted himself with the principles of the three fects, the Pharifees, the Sadducees, and the Effens, he determined to follow the rule of the Pharifees. And being now nineteen years of age, he began to act in public life.


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Felix, when procurator of Judea, fent fome priests of his acquaintance for a trifling offence to Rome, to be tried before Cæfar. Jofephus, hearing that they behaved well, refolved to go to Rome, to plead their caufe. But he had a bad voyage; the fhip was wrecked; and out of 600 persons, not more than eighty were faved. Soon after his arrival at Rome, he became acquainted with Aliturias, a Jew by birth, but a ftage-player, in favour with Nero. By him he was introduced to Poppéa, the emperor's wife, by whofe intereft he procured that the priests fhould be fet at liberty. Jofephus, who never omits what may be to his own honour, adds, that § befide that favour, he alfo received from Poppéa many valuable prefents. And then he returned home. This voyage was made, as || he fays, in the 26th year of his age, which must have been in the 62d or 63d year of **Chrift.

Upon his return to Judea he found things in great confufion, many ++ being elevated with hopes of advantage by a revolt from the RoH 4


*Jofeph. in vita fua, cap. i.

† Cap. 2.

† Ἔτι δὲ παῖς ὧν, περὶ τεσσαρεσκαιδέκατον ἔτος . . . συνιόνων ἀεὶ τῶν ἀρχιερέων καὶ τῶν τῆς πόλιως πρώλων ὑπὲρ τῶ παρ ̓ ἐμῦ περὶ τῶν νομίμων ἀκριβέςερόν τι γνῶναι. Cap. 2. · μεγάλων δὲ δωρεῶν πρὸς τῇ ἐυεργεσίᾳ τάυτη τυχὼν παρὰ Ποππήιας. Μετ ̓ εἰκοσὸν καὶ ἕκλον ἐνιαυλὸν εἰς Ρώμην μοι συνέπισεν ἀναβῆναι. Ib.


Cap. 3ο

**Felix must have been removed from his government fome while before that; which may be thought to create a difficulty in this account. But it may be obferved, that Jofephus had heard of the good behaviour of those priefts at Rome before he left Judea: confequently, they had been fome while at Rome before he fet out on his journey.

††.. καὶ πολλὲς ἐπὶ τῇ Ρωμάιων ἀποφάσει μέγα φρονῶνας. Vito Co 40

mans. He fays he did what lay in his power to prevent it, though in


Soon after the beginning of the war, in the year of Chrift 66 (when he must have been himself about thirty years of age), he was fent from Jerufalem, to command in Galilee; where, having ordered matters as well as he could, and made the best preparations for war by fortifying the cities, in cafe of an attack from the Romans, he was at length fhut up in the city of Jotapata; which, after a vigorous defence, and a fiege of feven and forty days, was taken by Vefpafiant, on the first day of July, in the 13th year of Nero, and the 67th of our Lord.

When that city was taken, by Vefpafian's order, strict search was made for Jofephus. For, if that general was once taken, he reckoned that the greateft part of the war would be over. However, he had hid himself in a deep cavern, the opening of which was not eafily difcerned above ground. Here he met with forty perfons of eminence, who had concealed themselves, and had with them provifions enough for feveral days. On the third day the Roman foldiers feized a woman, that had been with them. She made a discovery of the place where they were. Whereupon Vefpafian fent two tribunes, inviting him to come up, with affurances that his life should be preferved. Jofephus, however, refused. Vefpafian therefore fent a third tribune, named Nicanor, well known to Jofephus, with the like asfurances. Jofephus, after fome hesitation, was then willing to surrender himself but the men who were with him, exclaimed against it, and were for killing him and themselves, rather than come alive into the hands of the Romans. Hereupon he made a long speech to them, fhewing, that it was not lawful for men to kill themselves, and that it was rather a proof of pufillanimity than courage; but all without effect. He then propofed an expedient, which was, that they fhould caft lots, two by two, who fhould die firft. He who had the fecond lot fhould kill the firft; and the next, him; and fo on; and the last should kill himself. It happened that Jofephus and another were preferved to the laft lot. When all the reft were killed, he without much difficulty perfuaded that other perfon to yield up himfelf to the Romans. So they two efcaped with their lives.


This has been judged to be a remarkable providence, by which Jofephus was preferved to write the hiftory of which we are now able to make fo good use.

When Jofephus had furrendered, Vefpafian gave ftrict orders that he fhould be kept carefully, as if he had intended to fend him to Nero. Jofephus then prefented a requeft, that he might speak to Vefpafian in private; which was granted. When all were dif


* Vit. cap. 7, S. De B. J. 1. 2. c. 20.

† μεγάλη γὰρ ἦν μοῖρα τῷ πολέμου ληφθείς.

De B. J. 1. 3. c. 8. § I. . . 7.

See Tillotfon's Serm. numb. 1867 vol. II. p. 564. * De B. J. l. 3. c. 8. § 8.

† De B. J. 1. 3. cap. 7. Conf. cap. S. § 9. De B. J. 1ο 3ο C. 8. in.

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this manner :


miffed, except Titus, and two friends, he spoke to Vefpafian after * "You think, Vefpafian, that you have in Jose"phus a mere prifoner. But I am come to you as a meffenger of great tidings. Had I not been fent to you by God, I.+ know "what the law of the Jews is, and how it becomes a general to die. "Do you intend to fend me to Nero? Are they, who are to fucceed "Nero before you, to continue? You, Vefpafian, will be Cæfar:


you will be emperor. So will likewife this your fon. Bind me "therefore ftill fafter, and reserve me for yourself. For you are "Lord not of me only, but of the earth, and the fea, and all man"kind. And I for punishment deferve a clofer confinement, if I "fpeak falfehood to you in the name of God." Vefpafian, as he fays, at first paid little regard to all this. But afterwards his expectations of empire were raifed. "Befides," as he goes on to fay, " he found Jofephus to have spoken truth upon other occafions. For "when one of his friends, who were permitted to be present at that "interview, faid, it appeared ftrange to him, that Jofephus fhould not have foretold to the people of Jotapata, the event of the fiege, nor have foreseen his own captivity, if all he now faid was not invention to fave his own life; Jofephus anfwered, that he "had foretold to the people of Jotapata, that the place would be "taken upon the forty-feventh day of the fiege, and that himself "fhould be taken alive by the Romans. Vefpafian having privately "inquired of the prifoners concerning thefe predictions, found the "truth of them."



All these things I have inferted here, for fhewing the character of this writer; though the prolixity of my narration be thereby increased.

It is very likely that he often thought of Jofeph in Egypt, and I of Daniel at Babylon; and was in hopes of making a like figure at the court of Rome. But I fuppofe, it may be no difparagemet to Jofephus, to fay, that he was not equal to them in wisdom, or in virtue and integrity. And the circumftances of things were much altered. The promifed Meffiah was come; and the Jewish people were no longer entitled to fuch special regard as had been fhewn them in times paft. Nor was it then a day of favour and mercy for them, but the day of the Lord's vengeance against them, as Jo


* De B. J. l. 3. c. 8. §9.

That is, that a Jewish general fhould make away with himself, rather than be taken prifoner alive by heathen people. We know not of any fuch law in the books of the Old Teftament. And it feems to be a manifeft contradiction to what he fays in the fpeech before referred to.

1 Jofephus's addrefs to Vefpafian is very precife and formal, predicting things then future. Poibly, this fpeech was improved afterwards, and at the time of writing this history made more clear and exprefs, and more agreeable to the event, than when first spoken.

Among other prefages of Vefpafian's empire, Suetonius has mentioned this of Jofephus : "Et unus ex nobilibus captivis Jofephus, cum conjiceretur in vincula, conftantantiffime "affeveravit, fore, ut ab eodem brevi folveretur, verum jam imperatore." Sueton. Vespas.

cap. 5.

Jofephus has feveral times fpoken of his having had prophetic dreams, and of his abiEty to interpret dreams that were ambiguous. Vid. De B. j. 1. 3. viii. 3. et 9. et de Vit, §. 42.

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