Page images

Bithynia, subverted many buildings *. Porphyry admits that prodigies took place at the sepulchre of Christ. Phlegon speaks also of the miracles of St. Peter, or as some conceive of Christ, imagining that the name of Peter was substituted for that of our Lord.

It may be observed farther, that the Romans were accustomed to execute their criminals without the city. Plutarch alludes to the circumstance of malefactors carrying their cross. Ulpian states, in his Treatise on the duties of a Proconsul, that the bodies. of those condemned to death were not to be refused to their relations, and Augustus had respected the custom §. Josephus represents it as a strong proof of the depravity of the Jews in his time, that they threw out men unburied, though their countrymen had before shewn such regard to the rites of sepulture, as to take down for interment chose who were crucified by a legal sentence. It was indeed agreeably to the directions

Euseb. Chron. Orig. in Matt. xxvii. 45. et Adv. Cels. 11. Cyril. cont. Jul. lib. x. et Hieron. cont. Vigil.

See also Petron. Arbit. Sat. c. lxxi. Cicero in Verrem, lib. v. c. 66. n. 169.

Euμos, lib. iv. c. 2. p. 554. Edit. Par. 1624,

Lib. i. de Cadav. et lib. iii.

De Bell. Jud. lib. iv. § 2.

of the Roman and Jewish law, that the body of Christ was given up to be buried.

An hundred pound weight of spices has been thought a large quantity to be bought for the embalming of the body of our Lord; but the dead body was sometimes laid, where a respect was intended, " in a bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices," as was that of Asa *, and the soldiers at Herod's funeral were followed by five hundred slaves and freedmen bearing sweet spices t

St. Paul, writing to Titus, who had been left in Crete to set things in order and to ordain elders, complains of many disorderly men there, who were deceivers and taught false doctrines for the sake of gain; and he refers to one of their own prophets or poets, who described the Cretans under a representation similar to what his observation had found them to deserve. The poet spoken of is generally supposed to have been Epimenides, in whose book, tegi xenoμwv, the verse cited by St. Paul appears to be ; by others,

2 Chron. xvi. 14.

Joseph. Antiq. lib. xvii. c. 8. de Bell, Jud. lib. i. c.33. p. 1043.

t Fabri. Bibl. Græc. lib. i. c. vi. § 3.

however, Callimachus is believed to have been alluded to, in whose Hymn to Jove, the Cretans are said "to be always liars." It appears that, from the time of Homer, the island of Crete was regarded as the scene of fiction; the character of the people seems to have been proverbially bad, and they are but too faithfully characterized by the verse quoted by St. Paul.

The cloak, concerning which St. Paul wrote to Timothy, is by some supposed to have been the Roman penula. He is thought to have worn it as being a citizen of Tarsus, which city, after having been granted immunities by Mark Antony *, had been received into alliance with Rome, and its citizens admitted by Julius Cæsar, after the battle of Pharsalia, to all the privileges of Roman citizenship, and allowed a senate in which the penula was worn; others, however, understand the aλovu to mean a roll of parchment, or a bag in which the parchment was carried; and some that it was a dress worn by the antient Christians.

* Ammianus, lib. v. p. 675.

Tertull. de Orat. et ad Martyr. See Paley's Hora Paulina on 2 Tim. iv. 13.


On the Heathen Testimonies which demonstrate the Completion of the Prophecies of our Saviour and his Apostles.

THE predictions of our Blessed Lord, of which the accomplishment is attested by Heathen writers who were contemporary with the first promulgation of Christianity, are those which relate to his own crucifixion, and resurrection on the third day from the grave; the conduct and fate of his Apostles; the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews; the calling of the Gentiles; the offences which should arise against Christianity; the subversion of the Jewish government; the demolition of Jerusalem and its Temple; the dispersion of the Jews, and the rapid and extensive progress of the Gospel.

* Matt. xxvii. 2. 23.
+ Matt. xxvi. 21. 31. 34.

Luke ix. 22.

John xviii. 19. xxi. 21,52,&c.

The period of the destruction of Jerusalem was pointed out correctly in prophecy : it was foreshewn that it should not be distant, but that the Gospel should first be preached to all nations, (i. e. of the Roman empire,) as it appears to have been by the wide-spread exertions of the Apostles.

The accounts of all the Evangelists were published before this event, excepting that of St. John, who does not mention the prophecies relating to it. St. Matthew's Gospel, which gives them very fully, was written eight years after our Saviour's ascension, and thirty years before the destruction of the city. St. Peter, who died A.D. 70, and other Apostles, were enabled, by the criteria which were furnished, or by prophetic knowlege, to foretel that the event was near at hand *.

Our Saviour foreshewed many circumstances which should immediately precede this great event, predicting that there should be earthquakes †, and famines, and pesti

* Matt. xxiv. 9. 14. Heb. x. 37. James v. 1. 1 Peter iv. 7. Col. i. 6.


+ Luke xxi. 11. Acts ii. 19, 20. compare with Joseph. Proœm Bell. Jud. §. ii. et lib. vi. c. Tacit. Ann. lib. xii. xiv. Hist. lib. v. Sueton. Claud. c. 18. vi. c. 1. Orosius lib. vii. c. 7.

Senec. Nat. Quæst. lib

« PreviousContinue »