THE ESSENES
by Thomas de Quincy
(Extracted from Historical and Critical Essays, vol. 1. pp. 29-118, Boston, 1853.)

 

PART I

SOME time ago, we published a little essay, that might easily be expanded into a very large volume; and ultimately into a perfectly new philosophy of Roman history, in proof that Rome was self-barbarizedbarbarized ab intra, and not by foreign enemies. The evidences of this, 1st, in the death of her literature, and, 2d, in the instant oblivion which swallowed up all public transactions, are so obvious as to challenge notice from the most inattentive reader. For instance, as respects this latter tendency, what case can be more striking, than the fact that Trebellius Pollio, expressly dedicating himself to such researches, and having the state documents at his service, cannot trace, by so much as the merest outline, the biography of some great officers who had worn the purple as rebels, though actually personal friends of his own grand-father? So nearly connected as they were with his own age and his own family, yet had they utterly perished for want of literary memorials! A third indication of barbarism, in the growing brutality of the army and the Emperor, is of a nature to impress many readers even more powerfully, and especially by con- [30] trast with the spirit of Roman warfare in its republican period. Always it had been an insolent and haughty warfare; but, upon strong motives of policy, sparing in bloodshed. Whereas, latterly, the ideal of a Roman general was approaching continually nearer to the odious standard of a caboceer amongst the Ashantees. Listen to the father of his people (Gallicnus) issuing his paternal commands for the massacre, in cold blood, of a whole district not foreign but domestic after the offence had become almost obsolete: 'Non satisfacies nili, si tantum armalos occidcris quos et fors belli intcrimcro potuissct. Peril nondus est omnis sexus virilis:' and, lest even this swooping warrant should seem liable to any merciful distinctions, he adds circumstantially, 'Si et senes atquo impuberes sine mea reprehensione occidi possent.' And thus the bloody mandate winds up: 'Occidendus est quicunque male volnit, occidendus est quieunque mule dixit contra me: Laccra, occide, concide.' Was ever such a rabid tiger found, except amongst the Ilyder Alis or Nadir Shahs of half-civilized or decivilized tribes? Yet another and a very favorite Emperor out-herods even this butcher, by boasting of the sabring which he had let loose amongst crowds of helpless women.

The fourth feature of the Roman barbarism upon which we insisted, viz., the growing passion for trivial anecdotage in slight of all nobler delineations, may he traced, in common with all the other features, to the decay of a public mind and a common connecting interest, amongst the different members of that vast imperial body. This was a necessity, arising out of the merely [31] personal tenure by which the throne was held. Competition for dignities, ambition under any form, could not exist with safety under circumstances which immediately attracted a blighting jealousy from the highest quarter. Where hereditary succession was no fixed principle of state, no principle which all men were leagued to maintain every man, in his own defence, might be made an object of anxiety in proportion to his public merit. Not conspiring, ho might still be placed at the head of a conspiracy. There was no oath of allegiance taken to the emperor's family, but only to the emperor personally. But if it was thus dangerous for a man to offer himself as a participator in state honors; on the other hand, it was impossible for a people to feel any living sympathy with a public grandeur in which they could not safely attempt to participate. Simply to be a member of this vast body was no distinction at all: honor could not attach to what was universal. One path only lay open to personal distinction; and that being haunted along its whole extent by increasing danger, naturally bred the murderous spirit of retaliation or pre-occupation. It is besides certain, that the very change wrought in the nature of warlike rewards and honors, contributed to cherish a spirit of atrocity amongst the officers. Triumphs had been granted of old for conquests; and these were generally obtained much more by intellectual qualities than by any display of qualities merely or rudely martial. Triumphs were now forbidden fruit to any officer less than Augustan. And this one change, had there been no other, sufficed to throw the efforts of military men into a direction more humble, [32] more directly personal and more brutal. It became dangerous to be too conspicuously victorious. There yet remains a letter, amongst the few surviving from that unlettered period, which whispers a thrilling caution to a great officer, not to be too meritorious: 'Dignus eras triumpho,' says the letter, 'si antiqua tempora extarent.' But what of that? What signified merit that was to cost a man his head? And the letter goes on to add this gloomy warning 'Memor cujusdum ominis, cautius velim uincas.' The warning was thrown away; the man (Regillianus) persisted in these imprudent victories; he was too meritorious; he grew dangerous; and he perished. Such examples forced upon the officers a less suspicious and a more brutal ambition; the laurels of a conqueror marked a man out for a possible competitor, no matter through whose ambition his own in assuming the purple, or that of others in throwing it by force around him. The differences of guilt could not be allowed for where they made no difference in the result. But the laurels of a butcher created no jealousy, whilst they sufficed for establishing a camp reputation. And thus the danger of a higher ambition threw a weight of encouragement into the lower and more brutal.

So powerful, indeed, was this tendency so headlong this gravitation to the brutal that unless a new force, moving in an opposite direction, but begun to rise in the political heavens, the Roman empire would have become an organized engine of barbarism barbarous and making barbarous. This fact gives one additional motive to the study of Christian antiquities, which on so many other motives interest and perplex [33] our curiosity. About the time of Dioclesian, the weight of Christianity was making itself felt in high places, There is a memorable scene between that Emperor and a Pagan priest representing an oracle, (that is, speaking on behalf of the Pagan interests,) full forty years before the legal establishment of Christianity, which shows how insensibly the Christian faith had crept onwards within the fifty or sixty years previous. Such hints, such 'momenta,' such stages in the subtle progress of Christianity, should be carefully noted, searched, probed, improved. And it is partly because too little anxiety of research has been applied in this direction, that every student of ecclesiastical history mourns over the dire sterility of its primitive fields, For the first three or four centuries we know next to nothing of the course by which Christianity moved, and the events through which its agency was developed. That it prospered, we know; but how it prospered, (meaning not through what transcendent cause, but by what circumstantial steps and gradations,) is painfully mysterious. And for much of this darkness, we must confess that it is now past all human power of illumination. Nay, perhaps it belongs to the very sanctity of a struggle, in which powers more than human were working concurrently with man, that it should be lost, (like much of our earliest antediluvian history,) in a mysterious gloom; and for the same reason viz., that when man stands too near the super-sensual world, and is too palpably co-agent with schemes of Providence, there would arise, upon the total review of the whole plan and execution, were it all circumstantially laid below our eyes, too compulsory an evidence of a [34] supernatural agency. It is not meant that men should be forced into believing: free agencies must be left to the human belief, both in adopting and rejecting, else it would cease to be a moral thing, or to possess a moral value. Those who were contemporary to these great agencies, saw only in part; the fractionary mode of their perceptions intercepted this compulsion from them. But as to us who look back upon the whole, it would perhaps have been impossible to secure the same immunity from compulsion, the same integrity of the free, unbiased choice, unless by darkening the miraculous agencies, obliterating many facts, and disturbing their relations. In such a way the equality is maintained between generation and generation; no age is unduly favored, none penuriously depressed. Each has its separate advantages, each its peculiar difficulties. The worst has not so little light as to have a plea for infidelity. The best has not so much as to overpower the freedom of election a freedom which is indispensable to all moral value, whether in doing or in suffering, in believing or denying.

Meantime, though this obscurity of primitive Christianity is past denying, and possibly, for the reason just given, not without an a priori purpose and moaning, we nevertheless maintain that something may yet be done to relieve it. We need not fear to press into the farthest recesses of Christian antiquity, under any notion that we are prying into forbidden secrets, or carrying a torch into shades consecrated to mystery. For wherever it is not meant that we should raise the veil, there we shall carry our torch in vain. Precisely as our researches are fortunate, they authenticate [35] themselves as privileged: and in such a chase all success justifies itself.

No scholar not even the wariest has ever read with adequate care those records which we still possess, Greek or Latin, of primitive Christianity. He should approach this subject with a vexatious scrutiny. He should lie in ambush for discoveries, as we did in reading Josephus.

Let us examine his chapter on the Essenes, and open the very logic of the case, its very outermost outline, in these two sentences: A thing there is in Josephus, which ought not to be there; this thing we will call Epsilon, (E.) A thing there is which ought to be in Josephus, but which is not; this thing we call Chi, (X.)

The Epsilon, which ought not to be there, but is what is that? It is the pretended philosophical sect amongst the Jews, to which Josephus gives the name of Essenes; this ought not to be in Josephus nor any where else, for certain we arc that no such sect ever existed. The Chi, which ought by every obligation obligations of reason, passion, interest, common sense to have been more broadly and emphatically present in the Judean history of Josephus period than in any other period whatever, but unaccountably is omitted what is that? It is, reader, neither more nor less than the new-born brotherhood of Christians. The whole monstrosity of this omission will not be apparent to the reader, until his attention be pointed closely to the chronological position of Joseph his longitude as respects the great meridian of the Christian era.

[36] The period of Josephus connection with Palestine, running abreast, (as it were,) with that very generation succeeding to Christ with that very Epichristian age which dated from the crucifixion, and terminated in the destruction of Jerusalem how, by what possibility, did he escape all knowledge of the Christians as a body of men that should naturally have challenged notice from the very stocks and stones of their birthplace; the very echo of whose footsteps ought to have sunk upon the ear with the awe that belongs to spiritual phenomena? There were circumstances of distinction in the very closeness of the confederation that connected the early Christians, which ought to have made them interesting. But, waiving all that, what a supernatural awe must naturally have attended the persons of those who laid the corner-stone of their faith in, an event so affecting and so appalling as the Resurrection! The Chi, therefore, that should be in Josephus but it is not, how can we suggest any approximation to a solution of this mystery any clue towards it any hint of a clue?

True it is, that an interpolated passage, found in all the printed editions of Josephus, makes him take a special and a respectful notice of our Saviour. But this passage has long been given up as a forgery by all scholars. And in another essay on the Epichristian era, which we shall have occasion to write, some facts will be laid before the reader exposing a deeper folly in this forgery than is apparent at first sight. True it is, that Whiston makes the astounding discovery that Josephus was himself an Ebionite Christian. Josephus a Christian! In the instance before [37] us, were it possible that lie had been a Christian, in that case the wonder is many times greater, that he should have omitted all notice of the whole body as a fraternity acting together with a harmony unprecedented amongst their distracted countrymen of that age; and, secondly, as a fraternity to whom was assigned a certain political aspect by their enemies. The civil and external relations of this new party he could not but have noticed, had he even omitted the religious doctrines which bound them together internally, as doctrines too remote from Roman comprehension. In reality, so far from being a Christian, we shall show that Josephus was not even a Jew, in any conscientious or religious sense. He had never taken the first step in the direction of Christianity; but was, as many other Jews were in that age, essentially a Pagan; as little impressed with the true nature of the God whom his country worshipped, with his ineffable purity and holiness, as any idolatrous Athenian whatsoever.

The wonder therefore subsists, and revolves upon us with the more violence, after Whiston's efforts to extinguish it how it could have happened that a writer, who passed his infancy, youth, manhood, in the midst of a growing sect so transcendently interesting to every philosophic mind, and pre-eminently so interesting to a Jew, should have left behind him, in a compass of eight hundred and fifty-four pages, double columns, each column having sixty-five lines, (or a double ordinary octavo page,) much of it relating to his own times, not one paragraph, line, or fragment [38] of a line, by which it can be known that he ever heard of such a body as the Christians.

And to our mind, for reasons which we shall presently sh6w, it is equally wonderful that he should talk of the Essenes, under the idea of a known, stationary, original sect amongst the Jews, as that he should not talk of the Christians; equally wonderful that he should remember the imaginary as that he should forget the real. There is not one difficulty, but two difficulties; and what we need is, not one solution but two solutions.

If, in an ancient palace, re-opened after it had been shut up for centuries, you were to find a hundred golden shafts or pillars, for which nobody could suggest a place or a use; and if, in some other quarter of the palace, far remote, you were afterwards to find a hundred golden sockets fixed in the floor, first of all, pillars which nobody could apply to any purpose, or refer to any place ; secondly, sockets which nobody could fill; probably even wicked Will Winston might be capable of a glimmering suspicion that the hundred golden shafts belonged to the hundred golden sockets. And if, upon applying the shafts to the sockets, it should turn out that each several .shaft screwed into its own peculiar socket, why, in such a case, not 'Whiston, Ditton, & Co.' could resist the evidence, that each enigma had brought a key to the other; and that by means of two mysteries there had ceased even to be one mystery.

Now, then, first of all, before slating our objections to the Essenes as any permanent or known sect amongst the Jews, let us review as rapidly as possible [39] the main features by which Joseph characterizes these supposed Essenes; and in a brief comment point out their conformity to what we know of the primitive Christians. That done, let us endeavor to explain all the remaining difficulties of the case. The words of Josephus we take from Whiston's translation; having in fact, at this moment, no other copy within reach. But we do this unwillingly: for Whiston was a poor Grecian; and, what is worse, he knew very little about English.

'The third sect' (i.e., third in relation to the Pharisees, who are ranked as the first, and the Sadducees, who are ranked as the second) 'are called Essenes. These last are Jews by birth, and seem to have a greater affection for one another than the other sects have.'

We need not point out the strong conformity in this point to the distinguishing features of the new-born Christians, as they would be likely to impress the eye of a stranger. There was obviously a double reason for a stricter cohesion amongst the Christians internally, than could by possibility belong to any other sect 1st, in the essential tendency of the whole Christian faith to a far more intense love than the world could comprehend, as well as in the express charge to love one another; 2dly, in the strong compressing power of external affliction, and of persecution too certainly anticipated. The little flock, turned out to face a wide world of storms, naturally drew close together. Over and above the indefeasible hostility of the world to a spiritual morality, there was the bigotry of Judaical superstition on the one hand, [40] and the bigotry of Paganism on the other. All this would move in mass against nascent Christianity, so soon as that moved; and well, therefore, might the instincts of the early Christians instruct them to act in the very closest concert and communion.

'These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative, as raises our admiration. Nor is there any one to be found among them who hath more than another; every one's possessions are intermingled with every other's possessions, and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren.'

In this account of the 'communicativeness,' as to temporal wealth, of the third sect, it is hardly necessary that we should point out the mirror which it holds up to the habits of the very first Christians in Jerusalem, as we see them recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. This, the primary record of Christian history, (for even the disciples were not in any full sense Christians until after the resurrection and the Divine afflatus,) is echoed afterwards in various stages of primitive Christianity. But all these subsequent acts and monuments of early Christian faith were derived by imitation and by sympathy from the Apostolic precedent in Jerusalem; as that again was derived from the 'common purse' carried by the Twelve Disciples.

'They have no certain city, but many of them dwell in every city; and if any of their sect come from other places, what they find lies open for them just as if it were their own: and they go in to such as they never knew before, as if they had been ever so long acquainted with them.'

[41] All Christian antiquity illustrates and bears witness to this, as a regular and avowed Christian habit. To this habit points St. Paul's expression of 'given to hospitality;' and many passages in all the apostolical writings. Like other practices, however, that had been firmly established from the beginning, it is rather alluded to, and indirectly taken for granted and assumed, than prescribed; expressly to teach or enjoin it was as little necessary, or indeed open to a teacher, as with us it would be open to recommend marriage. What Christian could be imagined capable of neglecting such an institution?

'For which reason they carry nothing with them when they travel into remote parts.'

This dates itself from Christ's own directions, (St. Luke, x. 3, 4,) 'Go your way. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes.' And, doubtless, many other of the primitive practices amongst the Christians wore not adopted without a special command .from Christ, traditionally retained by the Church whilst standing in the same civil circumstances, though not committed to writing amongst the great press of matter circumscribing the choice of the Evangelists.

'As for their piety towards God, it is very extraordinary: for before sun-rising they speak not a word about profane matters, but put up certain prayers which they have received from their forefathers.'

This practice of antelucan worship, possibly having reference, to the ineffable mystery of the resurrection, (all the Evangelists agreeing in the awful circumstance that it was very early in the morning, and one even saying, 'whilst it was yet dark,') a symbolic [42] pathos which appeals to the very depths of human passion as if the world of sleep and the anarchy of dreams figured to our apprehension the dark worlds of sin and death it happens remarkably enough that we find confirmed and countersigned by the testimony of the first open antagonist to our Christian faith. Pliny, in that report to Trajan so universally known to every class of readers, and so rank with everlasting dishonor to his own sense and equity, notices this point in the ritual of primitive Christianity. 'However,' says he, 'they assured me that the amount of their fault, or of their error, was this, that they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ,' &c. The date of Pliny's letter is about forty years after the siege of Jerusalem; about seventy-seven, therefore, after the crucifixion, when Joseph would be just seventy-two years old. But we may be sure, from collateral records, and from the entire uniformity of early Christianity, that a much longer lapse of time would have made no change in this respect

'They neglect wedlock; but they do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage.'

This is a very noticeable article in his account of the Essenes, and powerfully illustrates the sort of acquaintance which Josephus had gained with their faith and usages. In the first place, as to the doctrine itself, it tallies remarkably with the leanings of St. Paul. lie allows of marriage, overruled by his own moral prudence. But evidently his bias was the other way. And the allowance is notoriously a concession to the necessities which experience bad taught him, [43] and by way of preventing greater evils: but an evil, on the whole, it is clear that he regarded it. And naturally it was so in relation to that highest mode of spiritual life which the apostles contemplated as a fixed ideal. Moreover, we know that the apostles fell into some errors which must have affected their views in these respects. For a time at least they thought the cod of the world close at hand: who could think otherwise that had witnessed the awful thing which they had witnessed, or had drunk out of the same spiritual cap? Under such impressions, they reasonably pitched the key of Christian practice higher than else they would have done. So far as to the doctrine here ascribed to the Essenes. But it is observable, that in this place Josephus admits that these Essenes did tolerate marriage. Now, in his earlier notice of the same people, he had denied this. What do we infer from that? Why, that he came for his knowledge of the Essenes by degrees; and as would be likely to happen with regard to a sect sequestrating themselves, and locking up their doctrines as secrets: which description exactly applies to the earliest Christians. The instinct of self-preservation obliged them to rot rout from notoriety. Their tenets could not be learned easily; they wore gathered slowly, indirectly, by fragments. This accounts for the fact that people standing outside, like Josephus or Philo-Judaeus, got only casual glimpses of the truth, and such as were continually shifting. Hence at different periods Josephus contradicts himself. But if he had been speaking of a Meet as notorious as the Pharisees or Sadducees, no such error, and no such alteration of views, could have happened.

[44] 'They are eminent for fidelity, and are the ministers of peace.'

We suppose that it cannot be necessary to remind any reader of such characteristic Christian doctrines as 'Blessed are the peace-makers,' &c.; still less of the transcendent demand made by Christianity for singleness of heart, uprightness, and entire conscientiousness; without which all pretences to Christian truth are regarded as mere hollow mockeries. Here, therefore, again we read the features, too plainly for any mistake, of pure Christianity. But. lot the reader observe keenly, had there been this pretended sect of Essenes teaching all this lofty and spiritual morality. It would have been a fair inference to ask what more or better had been taught by Christ? in which case there might still have remained the great redemptional and mediatorial functions for Christ; but, as to his divine morality, it would have been forestalled. Such would have been the inference; and it is an inference which really has been drawn from this romance of the Essenes adopted as true history.

'Whatsoever they say is firmer than an oath; but swearing is avoided by them; and they esteem it worse than perjury.'

We presume that nobody can fail to recognise in this great scrupulosity the memorable command of Christ, delivered in such unexampled majesty of language, 'Swear not at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool,' &c. This was said in condemnation of a practice universal amongst the Jews; and if any man can believe that a visionary sect, of whom no man [45] ever heard except through two writers, both lying under the same very natural mistake, could have come by blind accidents into such an inheritance of spiritual truth as is here described by Josephus, that man will find nothing beyond his credulity. For he presumes a revelation far beyond all the wisdom of the Pagan world to have been attained by some unknown Jewish philosopher, so little regarded by his followers that they have not even preserved his name from oblivion.

Amongst the initiatory and probationary vows which these sectarians are required to take, is this, 'That he will ever show fidelity to all men, and especially to those in authority, because no one obtains the government without God's assistance.' Here, again, we see a memorable precept of St. Paul and the apostles generally the same precept, and built on the very same reason, viz. that rulers are of God's appointment.

'They are long-lived also: insomuch, that many of them live above a hundred years, by means of the simplicity of their diet.'

Here we are reminded of St. John the Evangelist: whilst others, no doubt, would have attained the same ago, had they not been cut oil by martyrdom.

In many other points of their interior discipline, their white robes, their meals, their silence and gravity, we see in this account of the Essenes a mere echo of the primitive economy established among the first Christians, us we find it noticed up and down the apostolical constitutions.

It is remarkable that Josephus notices, as belonging to the sect of the Essenes, the order of 'angels' or [46] messengers. Now, everybody must remember this order of officers as a Christian institution noticed in the Apocalypse.

Finally, in all that is said of the contempt which the Essenes showed for pain and death; and that although tortured and distorted, burnt and torn to pieces, yet could they not be made to flatter their tormentors, or to shed a tear, but that they smiled in their very torments, &c., we see the regular habit of Christian martyrs through the first three centuries. We see that principle established amongst them so early as that first examination of Pliny's; for he is so well aware how useless it would be to seek for any discoveries by torture applied to the Christian men, that he resorts instantly to the torture of females servants. The secrecy, again, as to their opinions, is another point common to the supposed Essenes and the Christians. Why the Essenes, as an orthodox Jewish sect, should have practised any secrecy, Josephus would have found it hard to say; but the Christian reasons will appear decisive to any man who reflects.

But first of all, let us recur to the argument we have just employed, and summon you to a review of the New Testament. Christ, during his ministry in Palestine, is brought as if by special arrangement into contact with all known orders of men, Scribes and Doctors, Pharisees and Sadducees, Herodians and followers of the Baptist, Roman officers, insolent with authority, tax-gatherers, the Pariahs of the laud, Galileans, the most undervalued of the Jews, Samaritans, hostile to the very name of Jew, rich men clothed in purple, and poor men fishing for their daily bread, the [47] happy and those that sate in darkness, wedding parties and funeral parties, solitudes amongst hills or sea-shores, and multitudes that could not be counted, mighty cities and hamlets the most obscure, golden Sanhedrims, and the glorious temple, where he spoke to myriads of the worshippers, and solitary corners, where he stood in conference with a single contrite heart. Were the subject or the person different, one might ascribe a dramatic purpose and a scenical art to the vast variety of the circumstances and situations in which Christ is introduced. And yet, whilst all other sorts and orders of men converse with him, never do we hear of any interview between him and the Essenes. Suppose one Evangelist to have overlooked such a scene, another would not. In part, the very source of the dramatic variety in the New Testament scenes, must be looked for in the total want of collusion amongst the Evangelists. Each throwing himself back upon overmastering remembrances, all-glorified to his heart, had no more need to consult a fellow-witness, than a man needs, in rehearsing the circumstances of a final parting with a wife or a child, to seek collateral vouchers for his facts. Thence it was in part left to themselves, mi modified by each other, that they attained so much variety in the midst of so much inevitable sameness. One man was impressed by one case, a second by another. And thus, it must have happened amongst four, that at least one would have noticed the Essenes. But no one of the four gospels alludes to thorn. The Acts of the Apostles, again, whether by a fifth author or not, is a fifth body of remembrances, a fifth act of the memory [48] applied to the followers of Christ. Yet neither does this notice them. The Apocalypse of St. John, reviewing the new church for a still longer period, and noticing all the great outstanding features of the state militant, then unrolling for Christianity, says not one word about them. St. Peter, St. James, utterly overlook them. Lastly, which weighs more than all the rest, St. Paul, the learned and philosophic apostle, bred up in all the learning of the most orthodox amongst the Jews, gives no sign that ho had ever heard of such people. In short, to sum up all in one sentence, the very word Essene and Essenes is not found in the New Testament.

Now, is it for one moment to be credited that a body of men so truly spiritual in the eternals of their creed, whatever might be the temporals of their practice, should have won no word of praise from Christ for that by which they so far exceeded other sorts no word of reproach for that by which they might happen to fall short of their own profession unworthy of admonition, founded on the comparison between their good and their bad their heavenly and earthly? Or, if that had been supposable, can we believe that Christ's enemies, so eager as they showed themselves to turn even the Baptist into a handle of reproach against the new teacher, would have lost the overwhelming argument derived from the Essenes? 'A new command I give unto you.' 'Not at all,' they would have retorted 'Not at all new. Everything spiritual in your ethics has been anticipated by the Essenes.' It would have been alleged, that the function of Redeemer for Israel was to be judged and tried [49] by the event. The only instant touchstone for the pretensions of Christ lay in the divine character of his morality, and the spirituality of that worship which he taught. Miracles were or were not from God, according to purposes to which they ministered. That moral doctrine and that worship were those purposes. By these only they could try the soundness of all beside; and if these had been forestalled by the Essenes, what remained for any new teacher or new founder of a religion? In fact, were the palpable lies of this Jew-traitor built on anything but delusions misinterpreted by his own ignorant heart, there would be more in that one tale of his about the Essenes to undermine Christianity, than in all the batteries of all the infidels to overthrow it. No infidel can argue away the spirituality of the Christian religion: attacks upon miracles leave that unaffected. But he, who (confessing the spirituality) derives it from some elder and unknown source, at one step evades what he could not master. Ho overthrows without opposition, and enters the citadel through ruins caused by internal explosion.

What then is to be thought? If this deathlike silence of all the evangelists, and all the apostles, makes it a mere impossibility to suppose the existence of such a sect as the Essenes in the time of Christ, did such a sect arise afterwards, viz. in the Epichristian generation? Or, if not, how and by what steps came up the romance we have been considering? Was there any substance in the tale? Or, if positively none, how came the fiction? Was it a conscious lie? Was it a mistake? Was it an exaggeration?

Now, our idea is as follows: What do we suppose [50] the early Christians to have been called? By what name were they known amongst themselves and amongst others? Christians? Not at all, Whom it is said, 'The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch,' we are satisfied that the meaning is not this name, now general, was first used at Antioch; but that, whereas we followers of Christ generally call one another, and are called by a particular name X, in Antioch that name was not used; but from the very beginning they were called by another name, viz. Christians. At all events, since this name Christian was confessedly used at Antioch before it was used anywhere else, there must have been another name elsewhere for the same people. What was that name? It was 'The Brethren,' and at times, by way of variety, to prevent the awkwardness of loo monotonously repeating the same word, perhaps it was 'The Faithful.' The name Christians travelled, we are convinced, not immediately amongst themselves, but slowly amongst their enemies. It was a name of reproach; and the meaning was the Pagans are all worshippers of gods, such as they are; but this sect worships a man, and that man a malefactor.' For, though Christ should properly have been known by his name, which was Jesus, yet, because his crime, in the opinion of the Jews, lay in the office he had assumed in having made himself the Christos, the anointed of God, therefore it happened that he was published amongst the Roman, world by that name: his offence, his 'titulus' on the cross, (the king, or the anointed,) was made his Roman name. Accordingly Tacitus, speaking of some insurgents in Judea, says [51] that they mutinied under the excitement of Christ, (not Jesus,) their 'original ringleader,' (impulsore Chresto.) And no doubt it had become a scoffing name, until the Christians disarmed the scoff of its sting by assuming it themselves; as was done in the case of 'the Beggars' in the Netherlands, and f the Methodists' in England.

Well: meantime, what name did the Christians bear in their very birthplace? Were they called. 'The brethren' there? No. And why not? Simply because it had become too dangerous a name. To be bold, to affront all reasonable danger, was their instinct and their duty; but not to tempt utter extinction or utter reduction to imbecility. We read amiss, if we imagine that the fiery persecution, which raged against Christ, had burned itself out in the act of the crucifixion. It slept, indeed, for a brief interval: but that was from necessity; for the small flock of scattered sheep easily secreted themselves. No sooner did they multiply a little, no sooner did their meetings again proclaim their 'whereabouts,' than the snake found them out, again raised its spiry crest amongst them, and again crushed them for a time. The martyrdom of St. Stephen showed that no jesting was intended. It was determined that examples should be made. It was resolved that this revolt against the Temple (the Law and the Prophets) must be put down. The next event quickened this agency sevenfold. A great servant of the persecution, in the very agony of the storm which he was himself guiding and pointing, working the very artillery of Jerusalem upon some scent which his bloodhounds had found in Syria, sud- [52] denly, in one hour passed over to the enemy. What of that? Did that startle the persecution? Probably it did: failure from within was what they had not looked for. But the fear which it bred was sister to the wrath of hell. The snake turned round; but not for flight. It turned to fasten upon the revolter. St. Paul's authority as a leader in the Jewish councils availed him nothing after this. Orders were undoubtedly expedited from Jerusalem to Damascus, as soon as messengers could be interchanged, for his assassination. And assassinated he would have been, had he been twenty St. Pauls, but for his secret evasion, and his flight to Arabia. Idumea, probably a sort of Ireland to Judea, was the country to which he fled; where again he might have been found out, but his capture would have cost a negotiation; and in all likelihood he lay unknown amongst crowds. Nor did he venture to show his face again in Jerusalem for some years; and then again not till a term of fourteen years, half a generation, during which many of the burning zealots, and of those who could have challenged him personally as the great apostate, must have gone to their last sleep.

During the whole of this novitiate for Christianity, and in fact throughout the whole Epichristian era, there was a brooding danger over the name and prospects of Christianity. To hold up a hand, to put forth a head, in the blinding storm, was to perish. It was to solicit and tempt destruction. That could not be right. Those who were answerable for the great interest confided to them, if in their own persons they might have braved the anger of the times, were not at liberty to do so on [53] this account that it would have stopped effectually the expansion of the Church. Martyrdom and persecution formed the atmosphere in which it throve; but not the frost of death. What, then, did the fathers of the Church do? You read that, during a part of this Epichristian age, the churches had peace. True, they had so. But do you know how they had it? Do you guess what they did?

It was this: They said to each other If we are to stand such consuming fires as we have seen, one year will finish us all. And then what will become of the succession that we are to leave behind us? We must hide ourselves effectually. And this can be done only by symbolizing. Any lesser disguise our persecutors will penetrate. But this, by its very nature, will baffle them, and yet provide fully for the nursing of an infant Church. They proceeded, therefore, thus: 'Let there be darkness' was the first word of command: let us muffle ourselves in thick clouds, which no human eye can penetrate. And towards this purpose let us immediately take a symbolic name. And, because any name that expresses or implies a secret fraternity a fraternity bound together by any hidden tie or purpose will instantly be challenged for the Christian brotherhood under a new masque, instantly the bloody Sanhedrim will get to, their old practices torturing our weaker members, (as afterwards the cruel Pliny selected for torture the poor frail women-servants of the brethren,) and the wolf will be raging amongst our folds in three months, therefore two things are requisite; one, that this name which we assume should be such as to disarm suspicion, [in this they acted upon [54] the instinct of those birds, which artfully construct signs and appearances to draw away the fowler from their young ones;] the other, that in case, after all, some suspicion should arise, and the enemy again break in, there must be three or four barriers to storm before he can get to the stronghold, in the centre.'

Upon this principle all was arranged. First, for the name that was to disarm suspicion what name could do that? Why, what was the suspicion? A suspicion that Christian embers were sleeping under the ashes. True : but why was that suspicious? Why had it ever been suspicious? For two reasons: because the Christian faith was supposed to carry a secret hostility to the Temple and its whole ritual economy; secondly, for an earnest political reason, because it was believed to tend, by mere necessity, to such tumults or revolutions as would furnish the Roman, on tiptoe for this excuse, with a plea for taking away the Jewish name and nation; that is, for taking away their Jewish autonomy, (or administration by their own Mosaic code,) which they still had, though otherwise in a state of dependency. Well now, for this sort of suspicion, no name could be so admirably fitted as one drawn from the very ritual service of that very Temple which was supposed to be in danger. That Temple was in danger: the rocks on which it stood wore already quaking beneath it. All was accomplished. Its doom had gone forth. Shadows of the coming fate were spreading thick before it. Its defenders had a dim misgiving of the storm that was gathering. But they mistook utterly the quarter from which it was to come. And they closed the great gates against an [55] enemy that entered by the postern. However, they could not apprehend a foe in a society that professed a special interest in Israel. The name chosen, therefore, was derived from the very costume of the Jewish High Priest, the pontifical ruler of the temple. This great officer wore upon his breast a splendid piece of jewellery; twelve precious stones were inserted in the breast-plate, representing the twelve sons of Jacob, or twelve tribes1 of Israel: and this was called the Essen. Consequently to announce themselves as the Society of the Essen, was to express a peculiar solicitude for the children of Israel. Under this masque nobody could suspect any hostility to Jerusalem or its temple; nobody, therefore, under the existing misconception of Christian objects and the Christian character, could suspect a Christian society.

But was not this hypocritical disguise? Not at all. A profession was thus made of paramount regard to Judea and her children. Why not? Christians everywhere turned with love, and yearning, and thankfulness the profoundest, to that; Holy City,' (so called by Christ himself,) which had kept alive for a thousand years the sole vestiges of pure faith, and which, for a far longer term mystically represented that people which had known the true God, when all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones.' Christians, or they would have been no Christians, everywhere prayed for her peace. And if the downfall of Jerusalem was connected with the rise of Christianity, that was not through any enmity borne to Jerusalem by Christians, (as the Jews falsely imagine;) but because it was not suitable for the majesty of God, as the father of truth, to keep up [56] a separation amongst the nations when the fulness of time in his counsels required that all separation should be at an end. At his bidding the Temple had boon raised. At his bidding the Temple must be destroyed. Nothing could have saved it but becoming Christian. The end was accomplished for which it had existed; a great river had been kept pure ; that was now to expand into an ocean.

But, as to any hypocrisy in the fathers of this indispensable scheme for keeping alive the lire that burned on the altar of Christianity, that was impossible. So far from needing to assume more love for Judaism than they had, we know that their very infirmity was to have by much too sectarian and exclusive a regard for those who were represented by the Temple, The Bible, which conceals nothing of any men's errors, does not conceal that. And we know that all the weight of the great intellectual apostle was necessary to overrule the errors, in this point, of St. Peter. The fervid apostle erred; and St. Paul 'withstood him to his face.' But his very error proves the more certainly his sincerity and singleness of heart in setting up a society that should profess in its name the service of Jerusalem and her children as its primary function. The name Essen and Essenes was sent before to disarm suspicion, and as a pledge of loyal fidelity.

Next, however, this society was to be a secret society an Eleusinian society a Freemason society. For, if it were not, how was it to provide for the culture of Christianity? Now, if the reader pauses u moment to review the condition of Palestine and the neighboring countries at that time, he will begin to see [57] the opening there was for such a society. The condition of the times was agitated and tumultuous beyond anything witnessed amongst men, except at the Reformation and the French Revolution. The flame on the Pagan altars was growing pale, the oracles over the earth were muttering their alarm, panic terrors were falling upon nations, murmurs were arising, whispers circulating from nobody knew whence that out of the East, about this time, should arise some great and mysterious deliverer. 'This whisper had spread to Rome was current everywhere. It was one of those awful whispers that have no author* Nobody could ever trace it Nobody could ever guess by what path it had travelled. But observe, in that generation, at Rome and all parts of the Mediterranean to the west of Palestine, the word 'Oriens' had a technical and limited meaning; it was restricted to Syria, of which Palestine formed a section. This use of the word will explain itself to anybody who looks at a map of the Mediterranean as seen from Italy.' But some years after the Epichristian generation, the word began to extend; and very naturally, as the Roman armies began to make permanent conquests nearer to the Euphrates. Under these remarkable circumstances, and agitated beyond measure between the oppression of the Roman armies on the one hand and the consciousness of a peculiar dependence on God on the other, all thoughtful Jews were disturbed in mind. The more conscientious, the more they were agitated. Was it their duty to resist the Romans? God could deliver them, doubtless; but God worked oftentimes by human means. Was it his pleasure that they [58] should resist by arms? Others again replied If you do, then you prepare an excuse for the Romans to extirpate your nation. Many, again, turned more to religious hopes: these were they who, in scriptural language, 'waited for the consolation of Israel:' that is, they trusted in that Messiah who had been promised, and they yearned for his manifestation. They mourned over Judea; they felt that who had rebelled; but she had been afflicted, and perhaps her transgressions might now be blotted out, and her glory might now be approaching. Of this class was he who took Christ in his arms when an infant in the temple. Of this class were the two rich men, Joseph and Nicodemus, who united to bury him. Bat even of this class many there were who took different views of the functions properly belonging to the Messiah; and many that, either through this difference of original views, or from imperfect acquaintance with the life of Jesus, doubted whether he were indeed the promised Messiah. Even John the Baptist doubted that, and his question upon that point, addressed to Christ himself, 'Art thou he who should come, or do we look for another?' has been generally fancied singularly at war with his own earlier testimony, 'Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world!' But it is not. The offices of mysterious change for Israel were prophetically announced as coming through a series and succession of charactersElias, 'that prophet,' and the Messiah. The succession might even be more divided. And the Baptist, who did not know himself to be Elias, might reasonably be in doubt (and at a time when his career 'to as only beginning) whether Jesus were the Messiah.

[59] Now, oat of these mixed elements men in every stage and gradation of belief or spiritual knowledge, but all musing, pondering, fermenting in their minds all tempest-shaken, sorrow-haunted, perplexed, hoping, socking, doubting, trusting the apostles would see abundant means for peopling the lower or initiatory ranks of their new society. Such a craving for light from above probably never existed. The land was on the brink of convulsions, and all men felt it. Even amongst the rulers in Jerusalem had been some who saw the truth of Christ's mission, though selfish terrors had kept back their testimony. From every rank and order of men, would press in the meditative to a society where they would all receive sympathy, whatever might be their views, and many would receive light.

This society how was it constituted? In the innermost class were placed, no doubt, all those, and those only, who were thoroughly Christians. The danger was from Christianity. And this danger was made operative only, by associating with the mature and perfect Christian any false brother, any half-Christian, any hypocritical Christian, any wavering Christian. To meet this danger, there must be a winnowing and a sifting of all candidates. And because the danger was awful, involving not one but many, not a human interest but a heavenly interest; therefore these winnowings and sittings must be many, must be repeated, must be soul-searching. Nay, even that will not suffice. Oaths, pledges to God as well as to man, must be exacted. All this the apostles did: serpents by experience, in the midst of their dove-like faith, [60] they acted as wise stewards for God. They surrounded their own central consistory with lines impassable to treachery. Josephus, the blind Jew, blind in heart, we mean, and understanding, reporting a matter of which he had no comprehension, nor could have (for we could show to demonstration that, for a specific reason, he could not have belonged to the society) even this man, in his utter darkness, telegraphs to us by many signals, rockets thrown up by the apostles, which come round and are visible to us, but unseen by him, what it is that the apostles were about. He tells us expressly, that a preparatory or trial period of two years was exacted of every candidate before his admission to any order; that, after this probationary attendance is finished, they arc parted into four classes; and these classes, he tells us, are so severely separated from all intercommunion, that merely to have touched each other was a pollution that required a solemn purification. Finally, as if all this were nothing, though otherwise disallowing of oaths, yet in this, as in a service of God, oaths, which Josephus styles 'tremendous,' are exacted of each member, that he will reveal nothing of what ho learns.

Who can fail to see, in these multiplied precautions for guarding, what according to Josephus is no secret at all, nor anything approaching to a secret, that, here we have a central Christian society, secret from necessity, cautious to excess from the extremity of the danger, and surrounding themselves in their outer rings by merely Jewish disciples, but those whoso state of mind promised a hopeful soil for the solemn and affecting discoveries which awaited them in the higher states of [61] their progress? Here is the true solution of this mysterious society, the Essenes, never mentioned in any one record of the Christian generation, and that because it first took its rise in the necessities of the Epichristian generation. There is more by a good deal to say of these Essenes; but this is enough for the present. And if any man asks how they came to be traced to so fabulous an antiquity, the account now given easily explains that. Three authors only mention them Pliny, Philo-Judaeus, and Josephus. Pliny builds upon these two last, and other Jewish romancers. The two last may be considered as contemporaries. And ail that they allege, as to the antiquity of the sect, flows naturally from the condition and circumstances of the outermost circle in, the series of the classes. They were occupied exclusively with Judaism. And Judaism had in fact, as we all know, that real antiquity in its people, and its rites, and its symbols, which these then uninitiated authors understand and fancy to have been meant of the Essenes as a philosophical sect.

 

PART II

We have sketched rapidly, in the first part of our essay, some outline of a theory with regard to the Essenes, confining ourselves to such hints as are suggested by the accounts of this sect in Josephus. And we presume that most readers will go along with us so far as to acknowledge some shock, some pause given, to that blind acquiescence in the Bible statement which [62] had hitherto satisfied them. By the Bible statement we mean, of course, nothing which any inspired part of the Bible tells us on the contrary, one capital reason for rejecting the old notions is, the total silence of the Bible; but we mean that little explanatory note on the Essenes, which our Bible translators under James I. have thought fit to adopt, and in reality to adopt from Josephus, with a reliance on his authority which closer study would have shown to be unwarranted. We do not wonder that Josephus has boon misappreciated by Christian readers. It is painful to read any author in a spirit of suspicion; most of all, that author to whom we must often look as our only guide. Upon Josephus we are compelled to rely for the most affecting section of ancient history. Merely as a scene of human passion, the main portion of his Wars transcends, in its theme, all other histories. But considered also as the agony of a mother church, out of whose ashes arose, like a phoenix, that filial faith 'which passeth all understanding,' the last conflict of Jerusalem and her glorious temple exacts from the devotional conscience as much interest as would otherwise be yielded by our human sympathies. For the circumstances of this struggle we must look to Josephus: him or none we must accept for witness. And in such a case, how painful to suppose a hostile heart in every word of his deposition! Who could bear to take the account of a dear friend's last hours and farewell words from one who confessedly hated him? one word melting us to tears, and the next rousing us to the duty of jealousy and distrust! Hence we do not wonder at the pious fraud which interpolated the well- [63] known passage about our Saviour. Let us read any author in those circumstances of time, place, or immediate succession to the cardinal events of our own religion, and we shall find it a mere postulate of the heart, a mere necessity of human feeling, that we should think of him as a Christian; or, if not absolutely that, as every way disposed to be a Christian, and falling short of that perfect light only by such clouds as his hurried life or his personal conflicts might interpose. We do not blame, far from it we admire those who find it necessary (even at the cost of a little self-delusion) to place themselves in a state of charity with an. author treating such subjects, and in whose company they were to travel through some thousands of pages. We also find it painful to read an author and to loathe him. We too would be glad to suppose, as a possibility about Josephus, what many adopt as a certainty. But we know too much. Unfortunately, we have read Josephus with too scrutinizing (and, what is more, with too combining) an eye. We know him to be an unprincipled man, and an ignoble man; one whose adhesion to Christianity would have done no honor to our faith one who most assuredly was not a Christian one who was not even in any tolerable sense a Jew one who was an enemy to our faith, a traitor to his own: as an enemy, vicious and ignorant; as a traitor, steeped to the lips in superfluous baseness.

The vigilance with which we have read Josephus, has (amongst many other hints) suggested some with regard to the Essenes: and to these we shall now make our own readers a party; after stopping to say, [64] that thus far, so far as we have gone already, we count on their assent to our theory, were it only from those considerations: First, the exceeding improbability that a known philosophic sect amongst the Jews, chiefly distinguished from the other two by its moral aspects, could have lurked unknown to the Evangelists; Secondly, the exceeding improbability that such a sect, laying the chief burden of its scrupulosity in the matter of oaths, should have bound its members by 'tremendous' oaths of secrecy in a case where there was nothing to conceal; Thirdly, the staring contradictoriness between such an avowal on the part of Josephus, and his deliberate revelation of what he fancied to be their creed. The objection is too inevitable: either you have taken the oaths or you have not. You have, 'Then by your own showing you are a perjured traitor. You have not?' Then you confess yourself to speak from no personal knowledge. How can you know anything of their secret doctrines? The seal is wanting to the record.

However, it is possible that some people will evade this last dilemma, by suggesting that Josephus wrote for Roman readers for strangers and for strangers after any of his countrymen who might be interested in the secret, had perished ; if not personally perished, at least as a body politic. The last vestiges of the theoretical government had foundered with Jerusalem; and it might be thought by a better man than Josephus, that all obligations of secrecy had perished in the general wreck.

We need not dispute that point. There is enough in what remains. The positive points of contact be- [65] tween the supposed Essenes and the Christians are too many to be got over. But upon these we will not at present insist. In this place we confine ourselves to the two points: 1. Of the universal silence amongst Christian writers, who, of all parties, would have felt it most essential to notice the Essenes, had there existed such a sect antecedently to Christ: and, 2. Of the absurdity involved in exacting an inexorable concealment from those who had nothing to reveal.

But then recollect, reader, precisely the Christian truths, which stood behind the exoteric doctrines of the Essenes, were the truths hidden from Josephus. Reason enough there was for concealment, IF the Essenes were Christians; and reason more than was ever known to Josephus. But then, this reason for concealment in the Essenes could be known only to him who was aware that they had something to conceal. He who saw only the masque, supposing it to be the true face, ought to have regarded the mystifying arrangements as perfect mummery. He that saw the countenance behind the masque a countenance sweet as Paradise, but fearful as the grave at that particular time in Jerusalem, would never ask again for the motives to this, concealment. Those he would apprehend in a moment. But as Josephus, who never had looked behind the masque, the order for concealment, the adjurations to concealment, the vows of concealment, the adamantine walls of separation between the different orders of the fraternity, in order to ensure concealment, ought to have been, must have been regarded by him, as the very hyperbole of childishness.

Partly because Josephus was in this state of dark- [66] ness, partly from personal causes, has he failed to clear up the secret history of Judea, in her final, that is her epichristian generation. The evidences of his having failed are two, 1st, the absolute fact, as existing in his works; which present us with a mere anarchy of incidents, as regards the politics of his own times, under no law of cohesion whatsoever, or of intelligible derivation; 2dly, the a priori necessity that he should fail; a necessity laid in the very situation of Josephus as a man of servile temper placed amongst elements that required a Maccabee, and as a man without principle, who could not act so that his actions would bear to be reported without disguise, and as one in whom no confidence was likely to be lodged by the managers of great interests, or the depositories of great secrets.

This view of things summons us to pause, and to turn aside from our general inquiry into a special one as to Josephus. Hitherto we have derived our arguments on the Essenes from Josephus, as a willing witness a volunteer even. But now we are going to extort our arguments ; to torture him, to put; him on the rack, to force him into confession; and upon points which he has done his best to darken, by throwing dust in the eyes of us all. Why? because hand-in-hand with the truth must go the exposure of himself, Josephus stands right in the very doorway of the light, purposely obscuring it. A glare comes round by side snatches; oblique rays, stray gleams, from the truth which he so anxiously screens. But before the real state of things can be guessed at, it is necessary to destroy this man's character.

Now, let us try to appreciate the exact position and [67] reasonable credibility of Josephus, as he stands at present, midway between us a distant posterity, and his own countrymen of his own times, sole interpreter, sole surviving reporter, having all things his own way, nobody to contradict him, nobody to taint his evidence with suspicion. His case is most remarkable; and yet, though remarkable, is not so rare but that many times it must have occurred in private (sometimes in public) life. It is the case of a solitary individual surviving out of a multitude embarked in a desperate enterprise some playing one part, (a part, suppose, sublime and heroic,) some playing another, (base, treacherous, fiendish.) Suddenly a great convulsion involves all in one common ruin, this man only excepted. He now finds himself with a carte Handle before him, on which he may inscribe whatever romance in behalf of himself he thinks proper. The whole field of action is open to him the whole field of motives. He may take what side he will. And be assured that, whatever part in the play he assumes, he will give himself the best of characters. For courage you will find him a Maccabee. His too tender heart interfered, or he could have signalized his valor even more emphatically. And, descending to such base things as treasures of money, jewels, land, &c., the chief part of what had been captured, was of course (strictly speaking) his own property. What impudent falsehood, indeed, may such a man not bring forward, when there is nobody to confront him?

But was there nobody? Reader, absolutely nobody. Prisoners captured with himself at Jotopata there were none not a man. That fact, indeed the inexorable [68] fact, that he only endured to surrender that one fact, taken with the commentary which we could furnish as to the circumstances of the case, and the Jewish casuistry under those circumstances, is one of the many damning features of his tale. But was there nobody, amongst the ninety thousand prisoners taken at Jerusalem, who could have spoken to parts of this man's public life? Doubtless there were; but to what purpose for people in their situation to come forward? One and all, positively without a solitary exception, they were themselves captives, slaves condemned, despairing. Ten thousand being selected for the butcheries of the Syrian amphitheatres, the rest were liable to some punishment equally terrific; multitudes were perishing of hunger; under the mildest award, they were sure of being sentenced to the stone quarries of Egypt. Wherefore, in this extremity of personal misery and of desperate prospects, should any man find himself at leisure for a vengeance on one happier countryman which could bring no profit to the rest ? Still, in a case so questionable as that of Josephus, it is possible enough that Titus would have sought some further light amongst the prisoners under any ordinary circumstances. In his heart, the noble Roman must have distrusted Josephus and his vainglorious account of himself. There were circumstances outstanding, many and strong, that must have pointed his suspicions in that direction; and the very conversation of a villain is sure to entangle him in contradictions. But it was now too late to move upon that inquest. Josephus himself acknowledges, that Vespasian was shrewd enough from the first to suspect [69] him for the sycophantish knave that he was. But that time had gone by. And, in the interval, Josephus had used his opportunities skilfully; he had performed that particular service for the Flavian family, which was the one desideratum they sought for and yearned for. By his pretended dreams, Josephus had put that seal of heavenly ratification to the ambitious projects of Vespasian which only was wanting for the satisfaction of his soldiers. The service was critical. What Titus said to his father is known : This man, be he what he may, has done a service to us. It is not for men of rank like us to haggle arid chaffer about rewards. Having received a favor, we must make the reward princely; not what he deserves to receive, but what is becoming for us to grant. On this consideration these great men acted. Sensible that, not having hanged Josephus at first, it was now become their duty to reward him, they did not do the thing by halves. Not content with releasing him from his chains, they sent an officer to cut his chains to pieces that being a symbolic act by which the Romans abolished the very memory and legal record that ever a man had been in confinement. The fact is, that amongst the Roman public virtues in that age, was an intense fidelity to engagements; and where they had even tacitly permitted a man to form hopes, they fulfilled them beyond the letter. But what Titus said to his staff, though naturally not put on record by Josephus, was very probably this: 'Gentlemen, I see you look upon this Jew as a poltroon, and perhaps worse. Well, possibly we don't much differ upon that point. But it has become necessary to the public service that [70] this man should be reinstated in credit. He will now, perhaps, turn over a new leaf. If he does not, kick him to Hades. But, meantime, give the man a trial.'

Such, there can be little doubt, was the opinion of Caesar about this man. But now it remains to give our own, with the reasons on which it rests.

I. First of all which we bring merely as a proof of his habitual mendacity in one of those tongue-doughty orations, which he represents himself as having addressed to the men of Jerusalem, they standing on the walls patiently, with paving-stones in their hands, to hear a renegade abuse them by the hour, [such is his lying legend,] Josephus roundly asserts that Abraham, the patriarch of their nation, had an army of three hundred and sixty thousand troops, that is, somewhere about seventy-five legions an establishment beyond what the first Caesars had found requisite for mastering the Mediterranean sea with all the nations that belted it that is, a ring-fence of five thousand miles by seven hundred on an average. Now, this is in the style of the Baron Munchausen. But it is worthy of a special notice, for two illustrations which it offers of this renegade's propensities. One is the abject homage with which he courted the Roman notice. Of this lie, as of all his lies, the primary purpose is, to fix the gaze and to court the admiration of the Romans. Judea, Jerusalem these were objects never in his thoughts; it was Home, the haven of his apostasy, on which his anxieties settled. Now, it is a judgment upon the man who [71] carried these purposes in his heart it is a judicial retribution that precisely this very lie, shaped and pointed to conciliate the Roman taste for martial splendor, was probably the very ground of that disgust which seems to have alienated Tacitus from his works. Apparently Josephus should have been the foremost authority with this historian for Jewish affairs. But enough remains to show that he was not; and it is clear that the confidence of so sceptical a writer must have been shaken from the very first by so extravagant a tale. Abraham, a mere stranger and colonist in Syria, whoso descendants in the third generation mustered only seventy persons in emigrating to Egypt, is here placed at the head of a force greater than great empires had commanded or had needed. And from what resources raised? From a little section of Syria, which (supposing it even the personal domain of Abraham) could not be equal to Wales. And for what objects? To face what enemies? A handful of robbers that might congregate in the desert. Such insufferable fairy tales must have vitiated the credit even of his rational statements; and it is thus pleasant to see the apostate missing one reward which he courted, purely through his own eagerness to buy it at the price of truth. But a second feature which this story betrays in the mind of Josephus, is the thorough defect of Hebrew sublimity and scriptural simplicity which mark his entire writing. How much more impressive is the picture of Abraham, as the father of the faithful, the selected servant and feudatory of God, sitting in the wilderness, majestically reposing at the door of his tent, surrounded by a little camp of [72] servants and kinsmen, a few score of camels and a few herds of cattle, than in the melodramatic altitude of a general, belted and plumed, with a glittering staff of officers at his orders? But the mind of Josephus, always irreligious, was now violently warped into a poor imitation of Roman models. He absolutely talks of 'liberty' and 'glory' as the moving impulses of Hebrew saints; and does his best to translate the Maccabees, and many an elder soldier of the Jewish faith, into poor theatrical mimics of Spartans and Thebans. This depravity of taste, and abjuration of his national characteristics must not be overlooked in estimating the value whether of his opinions or his statements. We have evidence superabundant; to these two features in the character of Josephus that he would distort everything in order to meet the Roman taste, and that he had originally no sympathy whatsoever with the peculiar grandeur of his own country.

II. It is a remarkable fact, that Josephus never speaks of Jerusalem and those who conducted its resistance, but in words of abhorrence and of loathing that amounts to frenzy. Now in what point did they differ from himself? Change the name Judea to Galilee, and the name Jerusalem to Jotopata, and their case was his; and the single difference was that the men, whom he reviles as often as he mentions them, had persevered to martyrdom, whilst he he only had snatched at life under any condition of ignominy. But precisely in that difference lay the ground of his hatred. He could not forgive those whose glorious resistance [73] (glorious, were it even in a mistaken cause) emblazoned and threw into relief his own apostasy. This we cannot dwell on; but we revert to the question What had the people of Jerusalem done, which Josephus had not attempted to do?

III. Winston, another Caliban worshipping another Trinculo, finds out a divinity in Josephus, because, on being brought prisoner to Vespasian, he pretended to have seen in a dream that the Roman general would be raised to the purple. Now,

1. When we see Cyrus lurking in the prophecies of Isaiah, and Alexander in those of Daniel, we apprehend a reasonableness in thus causing the spirit of prophecy to settle upon those who were destined to move in the great cardinal revolutions of this earth. But why, amongst all the Caesars, must Vespasian, in particular, be the subject of a prophecy, and a prophecy the most thrilling, from the mysterious circumstances which surrounded it, and from the silence with which it stole into the mouths of all nations? The reigns of all the three Flavian Caesars, Vespasian, with his sons Titus and Domitian, were memorable for nothing: with the sole exception of the great revolution in Judea, none of them were marked by any great event; and all the three reigns combined filled no important space of time.

2. If Vespasian, for any incomprehensible reason, were thought worthy of being heralded by a prophecy, what logic was there in connecting him with Syria? That which raised him to the purple, that which suggested him to men's minds, was his military eminence, and this was obtained in Britain.

[74] 3. If the mere local situations from which any uninteresting emperor happened to step on to the throne, merited this special glorification from prophecy, why was not many another region, town, or village, illustrated in the same way? That Thracian hamlet, from which the Emperor Maximin arose, had been pointed out to notice before the event as a place likely to be distinguished by some great event. And yet, because this prediction had merely a personal reference, and no relation at all to any great human interest, it was treated with little respect, and never crept into a general circulation. So of this prophecy with respect to one who should rise out of the East, and should ultimately stretch his sceptre over the whole world, (rerum potiretur) if Josephus is allowed to ruin it by his sycophancy, instantly, from the rank of a Hebrew prophecy a vision seen by 'the man whose eyes God had opened' it sinks to the level of a vagrant gipsy's gossip. What! shall Rome combine with Jerusalem? for we find this same mysterious prediction almost verbally the same in Suetonius and in Tacitus, no loss than in the Jewish prophets. Shall it stretch not only from the east to the west in point of space, but through the best part of a thousand years in point of time, all for the sake of preparing one day's adulatory nuzzur, by which a trembling Jew may make his propitiation to an intriguing lieutenant, of Caesar? And how came it that Whiston (who, to do him justice, was too pious to have abetted an infidel trick, had his silliness suffered him to have seen through it) failed to perceive this consequence? If the prophecy before us belong to Vespasian, then does it not belong to Christ. And in [75] that case, the worst error of the Herodian Jews, who made the Messiah prophecies terminate in Herod, is ratified by Christians; for between Herod and Vespasian the difference is none at all, as regards any interest of religion. Can human patience endure the spectacle of a religious man, from perfect folly, combining in their very worst efforts with those whom it was the object of his life to oppose?

4. But finally, once for all, to cut sharp off by the roots this corruption of a sublime prophecy, and to re-enthrone it in its ancient sanctity, it was not in the Orient? (which both technically meant Syria in that particular age, and is acknowledged to mean it here by all parties,) that Vespasian obtained the purple. The oracle, if it is to be translated from, a Christian to a Pagan oracle, ought at least to speak the truth. Now, it happens not to have been Syria in which Vespasian was saluted emperor by the legions, but Alexandria; a city which, in that age, was in no sense either in Syria or in Egypt. So that the great prophecy, if it is once suffered to be desecrated by Josephus, fails even of a literal fulfilment.

IV, Meantime, all this is a matter of personal falsehood in a case of trying personal interest. Even under such a temptation, it is true that a man of generosity, to say nothing of principle, would not have been capable of founding his own defence upon the defamation of his nobler compatriots. But in fact it is ever thus: he, who has sunk deepest in treason, is generally possessed by a double measure of rancor against the loyal and the faithful. What follows, how- [76] ever, has respect not to truth personal, truth of fact, truth momentary but to truth absolute, truth doctrinal, truth eternal. Let us preface what we are going to say, by directing the reader's attention to this fact: how easy it is to observe any positive feature in a man's writings or conversation how rare to observe the negative features; the presence of this or that characteristic is noticed in an hour, the absence shall often escape notice for years. That a friend, for instance, talks habitually on this or that literature, we know as familiarly as our own constitutional tasks; that he does not talk of any given literature, (the Greek suppose,) may fail to strike us through a whole life, until somebody happens to point our attention in that direction, and then perhaps we notice it in every hour of our intercourse. This only can excuse the various editors, commentators, and translators of Josephus, for having overlooked one capital omission in this author; it is this never in one instance does Josephus allude to the great prophetic doctrine of a Messiah. To suppose him ignorant of this doctrine is impossible; it was so mixed up with the typical part of the Jewish religion, so involved in the ceremonies of Judaism, even waiving all the Jewish writers, that no Jew whatever, much less a master in Israel, a Pharisee, a doctor of the law, a priest, all which Josephus proclaims himself, could fail to know of such a doctrine, even if he failed to understand it, or failed to appreciate its importance.

Why, then, has Josephus suppressed it? For this reason: the doctrine offers a dilemma a choice between two interpretations one being purely spiritual [77] one purely political. The first was offensive and unintelligible (as was everything else in his native religion beyond the merely ceremonial) to his own worldly heart; the other would have been offensive to the Romans. The mysterious idea of a Redeemer, of a Deliverer, if it were taken in a vast spiritual sense, was a music like the fabled Arabian voices in the desert utterly inaudible when the heart is deaf, and the sympathies untuned. The fleshly mind of Josephus everywhere shows its incapacity for any truths, but those of sense. On the other hand, the idea of a political deliverer that was comprehensible enough; but, unfortunately, it, was too comprehensible. It was the very watchword for national conspiracies; and the Romans would state the alternative thus: The idea of a great deliverer is but another name for insurrection against us; of a petty deliverer is incompatible with the grandeur implied by a vast prophetic machinery. Without knowing much, or caring anything about the Jewish prophecies, the Romans were sagacious enough to perceive two things 1st, that most nations, and the Jews above all others, were combined by no force so strongly as by one which had the reputation of a heavenly descent; 2dly, that a series of prophecies, stretching from the century before Cyrus to the age of Pericles, (confining ourselves to the prophets from Isaiah to Haggai,) was most unlikely to find its adequate result and consummation in any petty change any change short of a great national convulsion or revolution.

Hence it happened, that no mode in which a Roman writer could present the Jewish doctrine of a Messiah, was free from one or other of the objections indicated [78] by the great Apostle: either it was too spiritual and mysterious, in which case it was 'foolishness' to himself; or it was too palpably the symbol of a political interest, too real in a worldly sense, in which case it was a 'stone of offence' to his Roman patrons generally to the Roman people, specially to the Roman leaders. Josephus found himself between Scylla and Charybdis if he approached that subject. And therefore it was that he did not approach it.

V. Yet, in this evasion of a theme which interested every Jew, many readers will see only an evidence of that timidity and servile spirit which must, of course, be presumed in one who had sold the cause of his country. His evasion, they will say, docs not argue any peculiar carelessness for truth; it is simply one instance amongst hundreds of his mercenary cowardice. The doctrine of a Messiah was the subject of dispute even to the Jews the most religious and the most learned. Some restrained it to an earthly sense; some expanded it into a glorified hope. And, though a double sense will not justify a man in slighting both senses, still, the very existence of a dispute about the proper acceptation of a doctrine, may be pleaded as some palliation for a timid man, in seeking to pass it sub silentio. But what shall we say to this coming count in the indictment? Hitherto Josephus is only an apostate, only a traitor, only a libeller, only a false witness, only a liar; and as to his Jewish faith, only perhaps a coward, only perhaps a heretic. But now he will reveal himself (in the literal sense of that word) as a miscreant; one who does not merely go [79] astray in his faith, as all of us may do at times, but pollutes his faith by foul adulterations, or undermines it by knocking away its props a misbeliever, not in the sense of a heterodox believer, who errs as to some point in the superstruction, but as one who unsettles the foundations the eternal substructions. In one short sentence, Josephus is not ashamed to wrench out the keystone from the great arch of Judaism ; so far as a feeble apostate's force will go, he unlocks the whole cohesion and security of that monumental faith upon which, as its basis and plinth, is the 'starry-pointing' column of our Christianity. He delivers it to the Romans, as sound Pharisaic doctrine, that God had enjoined upon the Jews the duty of respectful homage to all epichorial or national deities to all idols, that is to say, provided their rank were attested by a suitable number of worshippers, The Romans applied this test to the subdivisions amongst princes; if a prince ruled over a small number of subjects, they called him (without reference to the original sense of the word) a tetrarch; if a certain larger number, an ethnarch; if a still larger number, a king. So again, the number of throats cut determined the question between a triumph and an ovation. And upon the same principle, if we will believe Josephus, was regulated the public honor due to the Pagan deities. Count his worshippers call the roll over.

Does the audacity of man present us with such another instance of perfidious miscreancy? God the Jehovah anxious for the honor of Jupiter and Mercury! God, the Father of light and truth, zealous on behalf of those lying deities, whose service is everywhere [80] described as 'whoredom and adultery!' He who steadfastly reveals himself as 'a jealous God,' jealous also (if we will believe this apostate Jew) on behalf of that impure Pantheon, who had counterfeited his name, and usurped his glory! Reader, it would be mere mockery and insult to adduce on this occasion the solemn denunciations against idolatrous compliances uttered through the great lawgiver of the Jews the unconditional words of the two first commandments the magnificent thunderings and lightnings upon the primal question, in the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, (which is the most awful peroration to a long series of prophetic comminations that exists even in the Hebrew literature;) or to adduce the endless testimonies to the same effect, so unvarying, so profound, from all the Hebrew saints, beginning with Abraham and ending with the prophets, through a period of fifteen hundred years.

This is not wanted: this would be superfluous. But there is an evasion open to an apologist of Josephus, which might place the question upon a more casuistical footing. And there is also a colorable vindication of the doctrine in its very worst shape, viz., in one solitary text of the English Bible, according to our received translation. To this latter argument, the answer is first that the word gods is then a mistranslation of an Oriental expression for princes; secondly, that an argument from an English version of the Scriptures, can be none for a Jew, writing A. D. 70; thirdly, that if a word, a phrase, an idiom, could be alleged from any ancient and contemporary Jewish Scripture, what is one word against a thousand [81] against the whole current (letter and spirit) of the Hebrew oracles; what, any possible verbal argument against that which is involved in the acts, the monuments, the sacred records of the Jewish people? But this mode of defence for Josephus, will scarcely be adopted. It is the amended form of his doctrine which will be thought open to apology. Many will think that it is not the worship of false gods which the Jew palliates, but simply a decent exterior of respect to their ceremonies, their ministers, their altars: and this view of his meaning might raise a new and large question.

This question, however, in its modern shape, is nothing at ail to us, when applying ourselves to Josephus. The precedents from Hebrew antiquity show us, that not merely no respect, no lip honor, was conceded to false forms of religion; but no toleration not the shadow of toleration: 'Thine eye shall not spare them.' And we must all be sure that toleration is a very different thing indeed when applied to varieties of a creed essentially the same toleration as existing amongst us people of Christendom, or even when applied to African and Polynesian idolatries, so long as we all know that the citadel of truth is safe, from the toleration applied in an age when the pure faith formed a little island of light in a world of darkness. Intolerance the most ferocious may have been among the sublimest of duties when the truth was so intensely concentrated, and so intensely militant; all advantages barely sufficing to pass down the lamp of religion from one generation to the next. The contest was for an interest then riding at single anchor. This is a [82] very possible case to the understanding. And that it was in fact the real case, so that no compromise with idolatry could be suffered for a moment; that the Jews were called upon to scoff at idolatry, and spit upon it; to trample it under their feet as the spreading pestilence which would taint the whole race of man irretrievably, unless defeated and strangled by him, seems probable in the highest degree, from the examples of greatest sanctity amongst the Jewish inspired writers. Who can forget the blasting mockery with which Elijah overwhelms the prophets of Baal the greatest of the false deities, Syrian or Assyrian, whose worship had spread even to the Druids of the Western islands? Or the withering scorn with which Isaiah pursues the whole economy of idolatrous worship? how he represents a man as summoning the carpenter and the blacksmith ; as cutting down a tree of his own planting and rearing; part he applies as fuel, part to culinary purposes; and then having satisfied the meanest of his animal necessities what will he do with the refuse, with the offal? Behold 'of the residue he maketh himself a god!' Or again, who can forget the fierce stream of ridicule, like a flume driven through a blowpipe, which Jeremiah forces with his whole afflatus upon the process of idol manufacturing? The workman's part is described as unexceptionable: he plates it with silver and with gold; he rivets it with nails; it is delivered to order, true and in workmanlike style, so that as a figure, as a counterfeit, if counterfeits might avail, it is perfect But then, on examination, the prophet detects oversights: it cannot speak; the breath of life has [83] been overlooked; reason is omitted; pulsation has been left out; motion has been forgotten it must be carried, 'for it cannot go.' Here, suddenly, as if a semichorus stepped in, with a moment's recoil of feeling, a movement of pity speaks, 'Be not afraid of them, for they cannot do evil; neither also is it in them to do any good.' But in an instant the recoil is compensated: an overwhelming reaction of scorn comes back, as with the reflux of a tide; and a full chorus seems to exclaim, with the prophet's voice, 'They (viz. the heathen deities) are altogether brutish and foolish; the stock is a doctrine of vanities.'

What need, after such passages, to quote the express injunction from Isaiah, (chap. xxx. 21, 22,) 'And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, 'This is the way; walk ye in it: Ye shall defile the covering of the graven images, &c.; ye shall cast them away as a polluted cloth'? Or this, (chap. xlii. 8,) 'I am the Lord; that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another; neither my praise to graven images'? Once for all, if a man would satisfy himself upon this question of possible compromises with idolatry, let him run over the eleven chapters of Jeremiah, from the tenth to the twentieth inclusive. The whole sad train of Jewish sufferings, all the vast equipage of woes and captivities that were to pursue them through so many a weary century, arc there charged upon that one rebellion of idolatry, which Josephus would have us believe not only to be privileged, but (and that is the reason that we call him a miscreant) would have us believe to have been promoted by a collusion emanating from God. In fact, if once it had been said authen- [84] tically, Pay an outward homage to the Pagan Pantheon, but keep your hearts from going along with it then, in that countenance to idolatry as a sufferable thing, and in that commendation of it to the forbearance and indulgence of men, would have lurked every advantage that polytheism could have desired for breaking clown the total barriers of truth.

Josephus, therefore, will be given up to reprobation; apologist he will find none; he will be abandoned as a profligate renegade, who, having sold his country out of fear and avarice, having sold himself, sold also his religion, and his religion not simply in the sense of selling his individual share in its hopes, but who sold his religion in the sense of giving it up to be polluted in its doctrine for the accommodation of its Pagan enemies.

VI. But, even after all this is said, there are other aggravations of this Jew's crimes. One of these, though hurrying, we will pause to state. The founder of the Jewish faith foresaw a certain special seduction certain to beset its professors in every age. But how and through what avenues? Was it chiefly through the base and mercenary propensities of human nature that the peril lay? No; but through its gentleness, its goodness, its gracious spirit of courtesy. And in that direction it was that the lawgiver applied his warnings and his resistance. What more natural than that an idolatrous wife should honor the religious rites which she had seen honored by her parents? What more essential to the dignity of marriage, than that a husband should show a leaning to the opinions and the wishes [85] of his wife ? It was seen that this condition of things would lead to a collision of feelings not salutary for man. The condition was too full of strife, if you suppose the man strong of temptation, if you suppose him weak. How, therefore, was the casuistry of such a situation practically met? By a prohibition of marriages between Jews and pagans; after which, if a man were to have pleaded his conjugal affection in palliation of idolatrous compliances, it would have been answered, 'It is a palliation; but for an error committed in consequence of such a connection. Your error was different; it commenced from a higher point; it commenced in seeking for a connection which had been prohibited as a snare.' Thus it was that the 'wisest heart' of Solomon was led astray. And thus it was in every idolatrous lapse of the Jews; they fell by these prohibited connections. Through that channel it was, through the goodness and courtesy of the human heart, that the Jewish law looked for its dangers, and provided for them. But the treason of Josephus came through no such generous cause. It had its origin in servile fear, self-interest the most mercenary, cunning the most wily. Josephus argued with himself that the peculiar rancor of the Roman mind towards the Jews had taken its rise in religion. The bigotry of the Jews, for so it was construed by those who could not comprehend any possible ground of distinction in the Jewish God, produced a reaction of Roman bigotry. Once, by a sudden movement of condescension, the Senate and people of Rome had been willing to make room for Jehovah as an assessor to their own Capitoline Jove. This being declined, it [86] was supposed at first that the overture was too overwhelming to the conscious humility of Judea. The truth neither was comprehended, nor could he comprehended, that this miserable Palestine, a dark speck in the blazing orb of the Roman empire, had declined the union upon any principle of superiority. But all things became known in time. This also became known; and the delirious passion of scorn, retorting scorn, was certainly never, before or since, exemplified on the same scale. Josephus, therefore, profoundly aware of the Roman feeling, sets himself, in this audacious falsehood, to propitiate the jealousy so wide awake, and the pride which had been so much irritated. You have been misinformed, he tells the Romans; we have none of that gloomy unsociality which is imputed to us. It is not true that we despise alien gods. We do not worship, but we venerate Jupiter. Our law-giver commanded us to do so. Josephus hoped in this way to soothe the angry wounds of the Roman spirit. But it is certain that, even for a moment, he could not have succeeded. His countrymen of Jerusalem could not expose him; they had perished. But there were many myriads of his countrymen spread over the face of the world, who would contradict every word that any equivocating Jew might write. And this treachery of Josephus, therefore, to the very primal injunction of his native law, must have been as useless in the event as it was base in the purpose.

VII. Now, therefore, we may ask, was there over a more abject perfidy committed than this which we have exposed this deliberate surrender, for a selfish object, [87] of the supremacy and unity in the Jehovah of the Jews this solemn renunciation of that law and its integrity, in maintenance of which seventy generations of Jews, including weak women and children, have endured the penalties of a dispersion and a humiliation more bitter by many degrees than death? Weighing the grounds of comparison, was a viler treason ever perpetrated? We take upon ourselves to say No. And yet, even in treason there is sometimes a dignity. It is by possibility a bold act, a perilous act. Even in this case, though it will hardly be thought such, the treason of Josephus might have been dangerous: it was certainly committed under terror of the Roman sword, but it might have been avenged by the Jewish dagger. Had a written book in those days been as much & publication of a man's words as it is now, Josephus would not long have survived that sentence of his Antiquities. This danger gives a shadow of respectability to that act of Josephus. And therefore, when it is asked can a viler act be cited from history ? we now answer Yes: there is one even viler. And by whom committed? By Josephus. Listen, reader.

The overthrow of his country was made the subject of a Roman triumph of a triumph in which his patrons, Vespasian and. his two sons, figured as the centres of the public honor. Judea, with her banners trailing in the dust, was on this day to be carried captive. The Jew attended with an obsequious face, dressed in courtly smiles. The prisoners, who are to die by the executioner when the pomp shall have reached the summit of the hill, pass by in chains. What is their crime? They have fought like brave [88] men for that dear country which the base spectator has sold for a bribe. Josephus, the prosperous renegade, laughs as he sees them, and hugs himself on his cunning. Suddenly a tumult is seen in the advancing crowds what is it that stirs them? It is the sword of the Maccabees: it is the image of Judas Maccalxcus, the warrior Jew, and of his unconquerable brothers. Josephus grins with admiration of the jewelled trophies. Next but what shout is that which tore the very heavens ? The abomination of desolation is passing by the Law and the Prophets, surmounted by Capitoline Jove, vibrating his pagan thunderbolts. Judea, in the form of a lady, sitting beneath her palms Judea, with her head muffled in her robe, speechless, sightless, is carried past. And what does the Jew? He sits, like a modern reporter for a newspaper, taking notes of the circumstantial features in this unparalleled scene, delighted as a child at a puppet-show, and finally weaves the whole into a picturesque narrative. The apologist must not think to evade the effect upon all honorable minds by supposing the case that the Jew's presence at this scene of triumph over his ruined country, and his subsequent record, of its circumstances, might be a movement of frantic passion bent on knowing the worst, bent on drinking up the cup of degradation to the very last drop. No, no: this escape is not open. The description itself remains to this hour in attestation of the astounding fact, that this accursed Jew surveyed the closing scene in the great agonies of Jerusalem not with any thought for its frenzy, for its anguish, for its despair, but absorbed m the luxury of its beauty, and with a single eye for its [89] purple and gold. 'Off, off, sir!' would be the cry so such a wretch in any ago of the world: to 'spit upon his Jewish gaberdine,' would be the wish of every honest man. Nor is there any thoughtful person who will allege that such another case exists. Traitors there have been many: and perhaps traitors who, trusting to the extinction of all their comrades, might have had courage to record their treasons. But certainly there is no other person known to history who did, and who proclaimed that he did,, sit as a volunteer spectator of his buried country carried past in effigy, confounded with a vast carnival of rejoicing mobs and armies, echoing their jubilant outcries, and pampering his eyes with ivory and gold, with spoils, and with captives, torn from the funeral pangs of his country. That case is unique, without a copy, without a precedent.

So much for Josephus. We have thought it necessary to destroy that man's character, on the principles of a king's ship in levelling bulkheads and partitions when clearing for action. Such a course is requisite for a perfect freedom of motion. Were Josephus trustworthy, he would sometimes prove an impediment in the way of our views: and it is because he has been too carelessly received as trustworthy, that more accurate glimpses have not been obtained of Jewish affairs in more instances than one. Let the reader understand also that, as regards the Essenes, Josephus is not trustworthy on a double reason; first, on account of his perfidy, as now sufficiently exposed, which too often interfered to make secondary perfidies requisite, by way of calling off the field of hunters from his own traces [90] in the first; secondly, because his peculiar situation as a Pharisaic doctor of the law, combined with his character, (which surely could not entirely have concealed itself in any stage of his public life,) must have made it necessary for the Essenes to trust him very cautiously, and never to any extent that might have been irretrievable in. the event of his turning informer. The Essenes. at, all events, had some secret to guard; in any case, therefore, they were responsible for the lives of all their members, so far as they could be affected by confidences reposed; and, if that secret happened to be Christianity, then were they trebly bound to care and jealousy, for that secret involved not only many lives, but a mighty interest of human nature, so that a single instance of carelessness might be the most awful of crimes. Hence we understand at once why it is that Josephus never advanced beyond the lowest rank in the secret society of the Essenes. His worldly character, his duplicity, his weakness, were easily discerned by the eagle-eyed fathers of Christianity. Consequently, he must be viewed as under a perpetual surveillance from what may be called the police of history liable to suspicion as one who had a frequent interest in falsehood, in order to screen himself; secondly, as one liable to unintentional falsehood, from the indisposition to trust him. Having now extracted the poison-fangs from the Jewish historian, we will take a further notice of his history in relation to the ESSENES in Part III.

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PART III

The secret history of Judea, through the two generations preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, might yet be illuminated a little better than it has been by Josephus. It would, however, require a separate paper for itself. At present we shall take but a slight glance or two at that subject, and merely in reference to the Essenes. Nothing shows the crooked conduct of Josephus so much as the utter perplexity, the mere labyrinth of doubts, in which he has involved the capital features of the last Jewish war. Two points only we notice, for their connection with the Essenes.

First, What was the cause, the outstanding pretext, on either side, for the Jewish insurrectionary war? We know well what were the real impulses to that war; but what was the capital and overt act on either side which forced the Jewish irritation into a hopeless contest? What was the ostensible ground alleged for the war?

Josephus durst not have told, had he known. He must have given a Roman, an ex parte statement, at any rate; and let that consideration never be lost sight of in taking his evidence. He might blame a particular Roman, such as Gessius Florus, because he found that Romans themselves condemned him. He might vaunt his veracity and his [Greek] in a little corner of the general story; but durst he speak plainly on the broad field of Judean politics? Not for his life. Or, had the Roman magnanimity taken off his shackles, what became of his court favor and preferment, in case he spoke freely of Roman policy as a system?

[92] Hence it is that Josephus shuffles so miserably when attempting to assign the cause or causes of the war. Four different causes he assigns in different places, not one of which is other than itself an effect from higher causes, and a mere symptom of the convulsions working below. For instance, the obstinate withdrawal of the daily sacrifice offered for Caesar, which is one of the causes alleged, could not have occurred until the real and deep-seated causes of that war had operated on the general temper for some time. It was a public insult to Rome: would have occasioned a demand for explanation: would have been revoked: the immediate author punished: and all would have subsided into a personal affair, had it not been supported by extensive combinations below the surface, which could no longer be suppressed. Into them we are not going to enter. We wish only to fix attention upon the ignorance of Josephus, whether unaffected in this instance, or assumed for the sake of disguising truths unacceptable to Roman ears.

The question of itself has much to do with the origin of the Essenes.

Secondly, Who were those Sicarii of whom Josephus talks so much during the latter years of Jerusalem? Can any man believe so monstrous a fable as this, viz. that not one, but thousands of men wore confederated for purposes of murder; 2dly, of murder not interested in its own success murder not directed against any known determinate objects, but rumor indiscriminate, secret, objectless, what a lawyer might call homicidium vagum; 3dly, that this confederacy should subsist for years, should levy war, should en- [93] trench itself in fortresses; 4thly, (which is more incomprehensible than all the rest,) should talk and harangue in the spirit of sublime martyrdom to some holy interest; 5thly, should breathe the same spirit into women and little children; and finally, that all, with one accord, rather than submit to foreign conquest, should choose to die in one hour, from the oldest to the youngest? Such a tale in its outset, in the preliminary confederation, is a tale of ogres and ogresses, not of human creatures trained under a divine law to a profound sense of accountability. Such a tale in its latter sections, is a tale of martyrs more than human. Such a tale, as a whole, is self-contradictory. A vile purpose makes vile all those that pursue it. Even the East Indian Thugs are not congregated by families. It is much if ten thousand families furnish one Thug. And as to the results of such a league, is it possible that a zealous purpose of murder of murder for the sake of murder, should end in nobility of spirit so eminent, that nothing in Christian martyrdoms goes beyond the extremity of self-sacrifice which even their enemies have granted to the Sicarii? 'Whose courage,' (we are quoting from the bitterest of enemies,) 'whose courage, or shall we call it madness, everybody was amazed at; for, when all sorts of torments that could be imagined were applied to their bodies, not one of them would comply so far as to confess, or seem to confess, that Caesar was their lord as if they received those torments, and the very fury of the furnace which burned them to ashes, with bodies that were insensible and with souls that exceedingly rejoiced. But what most, of all astonished the [94] beholders was the courage of the children; for not one of all those children was so far subdued by the torments it endured, as to confess Caesar for its lord. Such a marvellous thing for endurance is the tender and delicate body of man, when supported by an unconquerable soul!'

No, no, reader, there is villainy at work in this whole story about the Sicarii. We are duped, we are cheated, we arc mocked. Felony, conscious murder, never in this world led to such results as these. Conscience it was, that must have acted here. No power short of that, ever sustained frail women and children in such fiery trials. A conscience it may have been erring in its principles; but those principles must have been divine. Resting on any confidence less than that, the resolution of women and children so tried must have given way. Here, too, evidently, we have the genuine temper of the Maccabees, struggling and suffering in the same spirit and with the same ultimate hopes.

After what has been exposed with regard to Josephus, we presume that his testimony against the Sicarii will go for little. That man may readily be supposed to have borne false witness against his brethren who is proved to have borne false witness against God. Him, therefore, or anything that he can say, we set aside. But as all is still dark about the Sicarii, we shall endeavor to trace their real position in the Jewish war. For merely to prove that they have been calumniated does not remove the cloud that rests upon their history. That, indeed, cannot be removed at this day in a manner satisfactory; but we see enough to indicate the purity of their intentions. And, with respect [95] to their enemy Josephus, let us remember one fact, which merely the want of a personal interest in the question has permitted to lie so long in the shade, viz. that three distinct causes made it really impossible for that man to speak the truth. First, his own partisanship: having adopted one faction, he was bound to regard all others as wrong and hostile: Secondly, his captivity and interest: in what regarded the merits of the cause, a Roman prisoner durst not have spoken the truth. These causes of distortion or falsehood in giving that history would apply even to honest men, unless with their honesty they combined a spirit of martyrdom. But there was a third cause peculiar to the position of Josephus, viz., conscious guilt and shame. He could not admit others to have been right but in words that would have confounded himself. If they were not mad, he was a poltroon: if they had done their duty as patriots, then was he a traitor; if they were not frantic, then was Josephus an apostate. This was a logic which required no subtle dialectician to point and enforce: simply the narrative, if kept steady to the fact and faithful, must silently suggest that conclusion to everybody. And for that reason, had there been no other, it was not steady; for that reason it was not faithful. Now let us turn to the Sicarii. Who were they?

Thirdly, It is a step towards the answer if we ask previously, Who were the Galileans? Many people read Josephus under the impression that, of course, this term designates merely the inhabitants of the two Galilees. We, by diligent collation of passages, have convinced ourselves that it does not it means a [96] particular faction in Jewish politics. And, which is a fact already noticed by Eusebius, it often includes many of the new Christian sect. But this requires an explanation.

Strange it seems to us that men should overlook so obvious a truth as that in every age Christianity must have counted amongst its nominal adherents the erring believer, the partial believer, the wavering believer, equally with the true, the spiritual, the entire, and the steadfast believer. What sort of believers were those who would have taken Christ and forcibly made him a king?  Erroneous believers, it must be admitted; but still in some points, partially and obscurely, they must have been powerfully impressed by the truth which they had heard from Christ. Many of these might fall away when that personal impression was withdrawn; but many must have survived all hindrances and obstacles. Semi-Christians there must always have been in great numbers. Those who were such in a merely religious view we believe to have been called Nazarenes; those in whom the political aspects, at first universally ascribed to Christianity, happened to predominate, were known by the more general name of Galileans. This name expressed in its foremost element, opposition to the Romans; in its secondary element, Christianity. And its rise may be traced thus:

Whoever would thoroughly investigate the very complex condition of Palestine in our Saviour's days, must go back to Herod the Great. This man, by his peculiar policy and his power, stood between the Jews and the Romans as a sort of Janus or indifferent [97] mediator. Any measure which Roman ignorance would have inflicted, unmodified, on the rawest condition of Jewish bigotry, he contrived to have tempered and qualified. For his own interest, and not with any more generous purpose, he screened from the Romans various ebullitions of Jewish refractoriness, and from the Jews he screened all accurate knowledge of the probable Roman intentions. But after his death, and precisely during the course of our Saviour's life, these intentions transpired: reciprocal knowledge and menaces were exchanged; and the elements of insurrection began to mould themselves silently, but not steadily; for the agitation was great and increasing as the crisis seemed to approach, Herod the Great, as a vigorous prince, and very rich, might possibly have maintained the equilibrium, had he lived. But this is doubtful. In his old age various events had combined to shake his authority, viz., the tragedies in his own family, and especially the death of Mariamne;2 by which, like Ferdinand of Aragon, or our Henry VII., under the same circumstances, he seemed in law to lose his title to the throne. But, above all, his compliance with idolatry, (according to the Jewish interpretation,) in setting up the golden eagle by way of homage to Rome, gave a shock to his authority that never could have been healed. Out of the affair of the golden eagle grew, as we are persuaded, the sect of the Herodians those who justified a compromising spirit of dealing with the Romans. This threw off, as its anti-pole, a sect furiously opposed to the Romans. That sect, under the management of Judas, (otherwise called Theudas,) [98] expanded greatly; he was a Galilean, and the sect were therefore naturally called Galileans. Into this main sea of Jewish nationality emptied themselves all other less powerful sects that, under any modification, avowed an anti-Roman spirit. The religious sect of the Christians was from the first caught and hurried away into this overmastering vortex. No matter that Christ lost no opportunity of teaching that his kingdom was not of this world. Did he not preach a now salvation to the House of Israel? Where could that lie but through resistance to Rome? His followers resolved to place him at their head as a king; and his crucifixion in those stormy times was certainly much influenced by the belief that, as the object of political attachment, he had become dangerous whether sanctioning that attachment or not.

Out of this sect of Galileans, comprehending all who avowed a Jewish nationality, (and therefore many semi-Christians, that is, men who in a popular sense, and under whatever view, had professed to follow Christ,) arose the sect of Sicarii that is, out of a vast multitude professing good-will to the service, these men separated themselves as the men of action, the executive ministers, the self-devoting soldiers. This is no conjecture. It happens that Josephus, who had kept us in the dark about these Sicarii in that part of his narrative which most required some clue to their purposes, afterwards forgets himself, and incidentally betrays [Wars, B. vii. chap. 8, sect. 1] that the Sicarii had originally been an offset from the sect founded by Judas the Galilean; that their general purpose was the same; so that, no doubt, it way a [99] new feature of the time giving a new momentary direction to the efforts of the patriotic which had constituted the distinction and which authorized the denomination. Was Miltiades wrong? Was Tell wrong? Was Wallace wrong? Then, but not else, were the Galileans; and from them the Sicarii probably differed only as the brave doer differs from the just thinker. But the Sicarii, you will say, used unhallowed means, Probably not. We do not know what means they used, except most indistinctly from their base and rancorous enemy. The truth, so far as it can be descried through the dust of ages and the fury of partisanship, appears to be, that, at a moment when law slumbered and police was inefficient, they assumed the duties of resistance to a tyranny which even the Roman apologist admits to have been insufferable. They are not heard of as actors until the time when Gessius Florus, by opening the floodgates to military insolence, had himself given a license to an armed reaction. Where justice was sought in vain, probably the Sicarii showed themselves as ministers of a sudden retribution. When the vilest outrages were offered by foreigners to their women, probably they 'visited' for such atrocities. That state of things, which caused the tribunal to slumber, privileged the individual to awake. And in a land whose inspired monuments recorded for everlasting praise the acts of Judith, of Samson, of Judas Maccabaeus, these summary avengers, the Sicarii, might reasonably conceive that they held the same heavenly commission under the same earthly oppression.

Reviewing the whole of that calamitous period, [100] combining the scattered notices of the men and their acts, and the reflections of both thrown back from the mirrors offered to us by the measures of counteraction adopted at the time, we have little doubt that the Sicarii and the Zealots were both offsets from the same great sect of the Galileans, and that in an imperfect sense, or by tendency, all were Christians; whence partly the re-infusion of the ancient Jewish spirit into their acts and counsels and indomitable resolution.

But also we believe that this very political leaven it was, as dispersed through the body of the Galileans, which led to the projection from the main body of a new order called the Essenes; this political taint, that is to say, combined with the danger of professing a proselytizing Christianity. In that anarchy, which through the latter years of Nero covered Judea as with the atmosphere of hell, the Christian fathers saw the necessity of separating themselves from these  children of violence. They might be right politically and certainly they began in patriotism but too often the apprehensive consciences of Christians recoiled from the vengeance in which they ended. By tolerating the belief that they countenanced the Galileans or Sicarii, the primitive Church felt that she would be making herself a party to their actions often bloody and vindictive, and sometimes questionable on any principles, since private enmities would too easily mingle with public motives, and if right, would be right in an earthly sense. But the persecution which arose at Jerusalem would strengthen these conscientious scruples by others of urgent prudence. A sect that prosely- [101] tized was at any rate a hazardous sect in Judea; and a sect that had drawn upon itself persecution must have felt a triple summons to the instant assumption of a disguise.

Upon this warning, we may suppose, arose the secret society of the Essenes; and its organization was most artful In fact, the relations of Judaism to Christianity furnished a means of concealment such as could not have otherwise existed without positive deceit. By arranging four concentric circles about one mysterious centre by suffering no advances to be made from the outside to the innermost ring but through years of probation, through multiplied trials of temper, multiplied obligations upon the conscience to secrecy, the Christian fathers were enabled to lead men onwards insensibly from intense Judaic bigotry to the purest form of Christianity. The outermost circle received those candidates only whose zeal for rigorous Judaism argued a hatred of pagan corruptions, and therefore gave some pledge for religious fervor. In this rank of novices no ray of light broke out from the centre no suspicion of any alien doctrine dawned upon them: all was Judaic, and the whole Mosaic theology was cultivated alike. This we call the ultimate rank. Next, in the penultimate rank, the eye was familiarized with the prophecies respecting the Messiah, and somewhat exclusively pointed to that doctrine, and such other doctrines in the Mosaic scheme as express an imperfection, a tendency, a call for an integration. In the third, or antepenultimate rank, the attention was trained to the general characters of the Messiah, as likely to be realized in some personal manifestation; [102] and a question was raised, as if for investigation, in what degree these characters met arid were exemplified in the mysterious person who had so lately engaged the earnest attention of all Palestine. He had assumed the office of Messiah: he had suffered for that assumption at Jerusalem. By what evidences was it ascertained, in a way satisfactory to just men, that he\vas not the Messiah? Many points, it would be urged as by way of unwilling concession, did certainly correspond between the mysterious person and the prophetic delineation of the idea. Thus far no suspicion has been suffered to reach the disciple, that he is now rapidly approaching to a torrent that will suck him into a new faith. Nothing has transpired, which can have shocked the most angry Jewish fanaticism. And yet all is ready for the great transition. But at this point comes the last crisis for the aspirant. Under color of disputing the claims of Christ, the disciple has been brought acquainted with the whole mystery of the Christian theory. If his heart is good and true, he has manifested by this time such a sense of the radiant beauty which has been gradually unveiled, that he reveals his own trustworthiness. If he retains his scowling bigotry, the consistory at the centre are warned, and trust him no farther. He is excluded from the inner ranks, and is reconciled to the exclusion (or, if not, is turned aside from, suspicion) by the impression conveyed to him, that these central ranks are merely the governing ranks, highest in power, but not otherwise distinguished in point of doctrine. Thus, though all is true from first to last, from centre [103] to circumference though nothing is ever taught but the truth yet, by the simple precaution of graduation, and of not teaching everywhere the whole truth in the very midst of truth the most heavenly, were attained all the purposes of deceit the most earthly. The case was as though the color of blue were a prohibited and a dangerous color. But upon a suggestion that yellow is a most popular color, and green tolerated, whilst the two extremes of blue and yellow are both blended and confounded in green, this last is selected for the middle rank; and then breaking it up by insensible degradations into the blue tints towards the interior, and the yellow towards the outermost rings, the case is so managed as to present the full popular yellow at the outside, and the celestial blue at the hidden centre.

Such was the constitution of the Essenes; in which, however, the reader must not overlook one fact, that, because the danger of Christianity as a religious profession was confined, during the epichristian age, to Judea, therefore the order of the Essenes was confined to that region; and that in the extra-Syrian churches, the Christians of Palestine were known simply as the Brethren of Jerusalem, of Sepphoris, &c., without further designation or disguise. Let us now see, having stated the particular circumstances in which this disguise of a secret society called Essenes arose, what further arguments can be traced for identifying these Essenes with the Christians of Palestine.

We have already pursued the Essenes and the Christians through ten features of agreement. Now let us pursue them through a few others. And let the [104] logic of the parallel be kept steadily in view: above, we show some characteristic reputed ,to be true of the Essenes; below, we show that this same characteristic is known from other sources to be true of the Christians.

No. I. The Essenes, according to Josephus, in the habit of prophesying. The only prophets known in the days of the Apostles, and recognised as such by the Christian writers, Agabus for instance, and others, were Christians of the Christian brotherhood in Judea.

'And it is but seldom,' says Josephus, 'they miss in their predictions.' Josephus could not but have been acquainted with this prophecy of Agabus too practical, too near, too urgent, too local, not to have rung throughout Judea; before the event, as a warning; after it, as a great providential miracle. Ho must therefore have considered Agabus as one of those people whom he means by the term Essenes. Now we know him for a Christian. Ergo, here is a case of identity made out between a Christian, owned for such by the Apostles, and one of the Essenes.

No. II. The Essenes particularly applied themselves to the study of medicine. This is very remarkable in a sect like the Essenes, who, from their rigorous habits of abstinence, must of all men have had the least personal call for medicine: but not at all remarkable if the Essenes are identified with the Christians. For,

1. Out of so small a number as four Evangelist [105] one was a physician which shows at least the fact that medicine was cultivated amongst the Christians. But,

2. The reason of this will appear immediately in the example left by Christ, and in the motives to that example.

As to the example, at least nine in ten of Christ's miracles were medical miracles miracles applied to derangements of the human system.

As to the motives which governed our Saviour in this particular choice, it would be truly ridiculous and worthy of a modern utilitarian, to suppose that Christ would have suffered his time to be occupied, and the great vision of his contemplations to be interrupted, by an employment so trifling, (trifling surely by comparison with his transcendent purposes,) as the healing of a few hundreds, more or less, in one small district through one brief triennium. This healing office was adopted, not chiefly for its own sake, but partly as a symbolic annunciation of a superior healing, abundantly significant to Oriental minds; chiefly, however, as the indispensable means, in an eastern land, of advertising his approach far and wide, and thus convoking the people by myriads to his instructions. From Barbary to Hindostan from the setting to the rising sun it is notorious that no travelling character is so certainly a safe one as that of hakim or physician. As he advances on his route, the news fly before him; disease is evoked as by the rod of Amram's son; the beds of sick people, in every rank, are ranged along the road-sides; and the beneficent dispenser of health or of relief moves through the prayers of hope on the [106] one side, and of gratitude on the other. Well may the character be a protection: for not only is every invalid in the land his friend from the first, but every one who loves or pities an invalid. In fact, the character is too favorable, because it soon becomes burdensome; so that of late, in Afghanistan, Bokhara, &c,, Englishmen have declined its aid for inevitably it impedes a man's progress; and it exposes him to two classes of applications, one embarrassing from the extravagance of its expectations, (as that a man should understand doubtful or elaborate symptoms at a glance,) the other degrading to an Englishman's feelings, by calling upon him for aphrodisiacs or other modes of collusion with Oriental sensuality. This medical character the Apostles and their delegates adopted, using it both as the trumpet of summons to some central rendezvous, and also as the very best means of opening the heart to religious influences the heart softened already by suffering, turned inwards by solitary musing; or melted, perhaps, by relief from anguish, into fervent gratitude. This, upon consideration, we believe to have been the secret key to the apostolic meaning, in sending abroad the report that they cultivated medicine. They became what so many of us Englishmen have become in Oriental countries, hakim; and as with us, that character wan assumed as a disguise for ulterior purposes that could not have been otherwise obtained our purposes3 were liberal, theirs divine. Therefore we conclude our argument No. II. by saying, that this modern feature in the Essenes is not only found in the Christians, but is found radicated in the very constitution [107] of that body, as a proselytizing order, who could not dispense with some excuse or other for assembling the people in crowds.

No. III. The Essenes think that oil is a defilement. So says Josephus, as one who stood in the outermost rank of the order admitted to a knowledge of some distinctions, but never to the secret meaning upon which those distinctions turned. Now with respect to this new characteristic, what is our logical duty? It is our duty to show that the Essenes, supposing them to be the latent Christians, had a special motive for rejecting oil; whereas on any other assumption they had no such motive. And next, we will show that this special motive has sustained itself in the traditionary usages of a remote posterity.

First of all, then, how came the Jews ever to use oil at all for the purpose of anointing their persons? It was adopted as a Grecian luxury, from their Grecian fellow-townsmen in cities without number, under the Syro-Macedonian kings. Not only in Syria proper, but in many other territories adjacent to Judea, there were cities like the two Caesareas, the maritime and the inland, which were divided between Greeks and Jews; from which equality of rights came feuds and dreadful calamities in the end, but previously a strong contagion of Grecian habits. Hence, in part, it arose that the Jews in our Saviour's time were far from being that simple people which they had been whilst insulated in gloomy seclusion, or whilst associated only with monotonous Oriental neighbors. Amongst other luxuries which they had caught from their Grecian neighbors, [108] were those of the bath and the palaestra. But, in Jerusalem, as the heart of Judea,4 and the citadel of Jewish principle, some front of resistance was still opposed to these exotic habits. The language was one aid to this resistance; for elsewhere the Greek was gaining ground, whilst here the corrupted Hebrew prevailed. But a stronger repulsion to foreigners was the eternal gloom of the public manners. No games in Jerusalem no theatre no hippodrome; for all these you must go down to the seaside, where Caesarea, though built by a Jew, and half-peopled by Jews, was the Roman metropolis of Palestine, and with every sort of Roman luxury. To this stern Jerusalem standard allows conformed in the proportion of their patriotism; to Graecize or not to Graecize had become a test of patriotic feeling; and thus far the Essenes had the same general reasons as the Christians (supposing them two distinct orders of men) for setting their faces against the luxurious manners of the age. But if the Essenes were Christians, then we infer that they had a much stronger and a special motive to all kinds of abstinence, from the memorable charge of Christ to his evangelising disciples; for which charge there was a double motive: 1st. To raise an ideal of abstinence; 2d. To release the disciple from all worldly cares, and concentrate his thoughts upon his duty. Now, the Essenes, if Christians, stood precisely in that situation of evangelisers. Even thus far, therefore, the Essenes, as Christians, would have higher motives to abstinence than simply as a sect of Jews; yet still against oil, merely us a mode of luxury, their reasons were no stronger than against any luxury in any other shape. But a Chris- [109] tian of that day had a far more special restraint with regard to the familiar use of oil not as a luxury, but as a consecrated symbol, he regarded it with awe oil was to him under a perpetual interdict. The very name Christos, the anointed, gave in one instant an inaugurating solemnity, a baptismal value, to the act of anointing. Christians bearing in their very name (though then, by the supposition, 'a secret name,') a record and everlasting memorial of that chrism by which their Founder was made the Anointed of God, thought it little consistent with reverential feelings to use that consecrated right of anointing in the economy of daily life. They abstained from this Grecian practice, therefore, not as the ignorant Jew imagines, from despising it, but from too much revering it. The symbolic meaning overpowered and eclipsed its natural meaning; and they abstained from the unction of the palaestra just as any man amongst ourselves, the least liable to superstition, would (if he had any pious feeling at all) recoil from the use of sacramental vessels in a service of common household life.

After this explanation of our view, we shall hardly need to go forward in proof, that this sanctity of the oil and of the anointing act has sustained itself in traditionary usages, and propagated its symbolic meaning to a posterity far distant from the Essenes. The most solemn of the ceremonies in the coronation of Christian kings is a memorial of this usage so reverentially treated by the Essenes. The affecting rite by which a new-born stranger upon earth is introduced within the fold of the Christian Church, is but the prolongation of that ancient chrism. And so essential, in earlier ages, [110] was the presence of the holy Judecan oil used by the first Christians, were it only to the amount of one solitary drop, that volumes might be collected on the exertions made for tending the trees which produced it, and if possible for multiplying or transplanting them. Many eastern travellers in our own day, have given the history of those consecrated trees, and their slow declension to the present moment; and to this hour, in our London bills of mortality, there is one subdivision headed, 'Chrysom children,'5 which echoes from a distance of almost two thousand years the very act and ceremony which was surrounded with so much reverence by the Essenes.

No. IV. The Essenes think it a thing of good omen to be dressed in white roles. Yes; here again we find the external fact reported by Josephus, but with his usual ignorance of its symbolic value, and the secret record which it involved. lie does not pretend to have been more than a novice that is, at most be had been admitted into the lowest or outermost class, where no hint would be given of the Christian mysteries that would open nearer to the centre. The white robes were, of course, either the baptismal robes, the albatez vestes noticed in the footnote, or some other of the typical dresses assumed in different ranks and situations by the primitive Christians.

No. V. In the judgments they pass, the are most accurate and just; nor do they pass sent5ence by the votes of a court that is lower than a hundred. Here we find Josephus unconsciously alluding to [111] the secret arrangements of the early Christian Church the machinery established for conducting affairs so vast, by their tendency, in a condition so critical by its politics. The apostolical constitutions show that many of the forms in general councils, long after that age, had been traditionally derived from this infancy of the Christian Church a result which is natural in any case, but almost inevitable where the original organizers are invested with that sort of honor and authority attached to inspired apostles. Here are positive traces of the Christian institutions, as viewed by one who knew of their existence under another name, and witnessed some of their decisions in the result, but was never admitted to any conjectural glimpse of their deliberations, or their system of proceeding, or their principles. Here is the truth, but traced by its shadow. On the other hand, if the Essenes (considered as distinct from Christians) were concerned, what need should they have of courts numerous or not numerous? Had the Sadducees courts? Had the Pharisees courts? Doubtless they had, in their general character of Jews, but certainly not in their separate character as sects. Here again, therefore, in this very mention of courts, had there been no word dropped of their form, we see an insuperable evidence to the fact of the Christians being the parties concerned.

No. VI. The Essenes are divided by Philo-Judaeus into the Therapeutici and the Practici. A division into four orders has already been noticed, in explaining the general constitution of the society. These orders would very probably have characteristic [112] names as well as barely distinguishing numbers. And if so, the name of Therapeutic would exactly correspond to the medical evangelists (the hakims) noticed under No, II.

No. VII. Moreover the Essenes are stricter than any other of the Jews in resting from their labors on the seventh day : for they even get their food ready on the day before, that they may not be obliged to kindle a  fire on that day, Now, then, it will be said, these Essenes, if Christians, ought not to have kept the Jewish Sabbath. This seems a serious objection. But pause, reader. One consideration, is most important in this whole discussion. The Jews are now ranged in hostility to the Christians; because now the very name of Jew makes open proclamation that they have rejected Christianity; but in the earliest stage of Christianity, the Jew's relation to that new creed was in suspense and undetermined: he might be, 1, in a state of hostility; 2, in a state of certain transition; 3, in a state of deliberation. So far, therefore, from shocking his prejudices by violent alterations of form, and of outward symbol, not essential to the truth symbolized, the error of the early Christians would lie the other way; as in fact we know that it did in Judea, that is, in the land of the Essenes, where they retained too much rather than too little of Mosaic rites. Judaism is the radix of Christianity Christianity the integration of Judaism. And so long as this integration was only not accepted, it was reasonable to presume it the subject of examination; and to regard the Jew as a Christian in transitu, and by tendency as a Christian [113] elect. For one generation the Jews must have been regarded as novices in a lower class advancing erad- [113] ually to the higher vows not as enemies at all, but as imperfect aspirants. During this pacific interim, (which is not to be thought hostile, because individual Jews were hostile,) the Christians most entangled with Jews, viz., the Christians of Palestine, would not seek to widen the interval which divided them. On the contrary, they would too much concede to the prejudices of their Jewish brethren they would adopt too many of the Jewish rites: as at first even circumcision a fortiori, the Jewish Sabbath. Thus it would be during the period of suspense. Hostility would first commence when the two orders of men could no longer be viewed as the inviting and invited as teaching and learning; but as affirming and denying as worshippers and blasphemers. Then began the perfect schism of the two orders. Then began amongst the Syrian Christians the observance of a Christian Sunday; then began the general disuse of circumcision.

Here we are called upon to close this investigation, and for the following reasons: Most subjects offer themselves under two aspects at the least, often under more. This question accordingly, upon the true relations of the Essenes, may be contemplated either as a religious question, or as a question of Christian antiquities. Under this latter aspect, it is not improperly entertained by a journal whose primary functions are literary. But to pursue it further might entangle us more intricately in speculations of Christian doctrine than could be suitable to any journal not essentially theological. We pause, therefore; though not for want of abundant [114] matter to continue the discussion. One point only we shall glance at in taking leave: The Church of Rome has long ago adopted the very doctrine for which we have been contending: she has insisted, as if it were an important article of orthodox faith, upon the identity of the Essenes and the primitive Christians. But does not this fact subtract from the originality of our present essay? Not at all. If it did, we are careless. But the truth is it does not. And the reason is this as held by the Church of Rome the doctrine is simply what the Germans call a machtspruch, i.e. a hard dogmatical assertion, without one shadow of proof or presumptive argument that so it must have been, nothing beyond the allegation of an old immemorial tradition that so in fact it was. Papal Rome adopts our theory as a fact, as a blind result, but not as a result resting upon any one of our principles. Having, as she thinks, downright testimony and positive depositions upon oath, she is too proud to seek the aid of circumstantial evidence, of collateral probability, or of secret coincidence.

If so, and the case being that the Papal belief on this point (though coinciding with our own) offers it no collateral support, wherefore do we mention it? For the following reason important at any rate and specially important as a reason in summing up; as a reason to take leave with as a linen-pin or iron bolt to lock up all our loose arguments into one central cohesion. Dogmatism, because it is haughty, because it is insolent, will not therefore of necessity be false, Nay, in this particular instance, the dogmatism of Rome rests upon a sense of transcendent truth of [115] truth compulsory to the Christian conscience. And what truth is that? It is one which will reply triumphantly to the main objection likely to be urged by the reader. He will be apt to say This speculation is curious; but of what use is it? Of what consequence to us at this day, whether the Essenes were or were not the early Christians? Of such consequence, we answer, as to have forced the Church of Rome into a probable lie; that Church chose rather to forge a falsehood of mere historical fact, [in its pretended tradition of St. Mark,] than to suffer any risk as to the sum total and principle of truth doctrinal. The Christian religion offers two things a body of truth, of things to be believed, in the first place; in the second place, a spiritual agency, a mediatorial agency for carrying these truths into operative life. Otherwise expressed, the Christian religion offers 1st, a knowledge; 2d, a power that is, 1st, a rudder to guide; 2dly, sails to propel. Now mark: the Essenes, as reported to us by Josephus, by Philo-Judaeus, or three centuries afterwards by Eusebius, do not appear to have claimed No. 2; and for this reason because, as a secret society and for the very cause which made it prudent for them to be a secret society, that part of their pretensions could not have been stated safely ; not without avowing the very thing which it was their purpose to conceal, viz., their allegiance to Christ. But as to No. 1 as to the total truths taught by Christianity, taken in contradistinction to the spiritual powers these the Essenes did claim; these they did appropriate; and therefore take notice of this: If the Essenes were not the early Christians in disguise, then was Christianity, [116] as a knowledge, taught independently of Christ; nay, in opposition to Christ; nay, if we were to accept the hyperbolical fairy-tale of Pliny, positively two thousand years before the era of Christ. Grant the affirmative of our hypothesis, all is clear, all consistent; and Christianity here, as for ever, justifies herself. Take the negative alternative Suppose the Essenes a distinct body from the primitive Christians of Palestine, (i.e. those particular Christians who stood under the ban of Jerusalem,) and you have a deadlier wound offered to Christian faith than the whole army of infidels ever attempted. A parhelion, a double sun, a secondary sun, that should shine for centuries with equal proofs for its own authenticity as existed for the original sun, would not be more shocking to the sense and to the auguries of man than a secondary Christianity not less spiritual, not less heavenly, not less divine than the primary, pretending to a separate and even hostile origin. Much more is to be said in behalf of^our thesis. But say more or say less say it well or say it ill the main argument that the Essenes were the early Christians, locally in danger, and therefore locally putting themselves, with the wisdom of the serpent, under a cloud of disguise, impenetrable to fierce Jewish enemies and to timid or treacherous brethren that argument is essential to the dignity of Christian truth. That theory is involved in the almighty principle that, as there is but one God, but one hope, but one anchorage for man so also there can be but one authentic faith, but one derivation of truth, but one perfect revelation.


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NOTES

NOTE 1. Page 55.

'The twelve tribes.' It is a beautiful circumstance in the symbology of the Jewish ritual, where all is symbolic and all significant, where all in Milton's language 'was meant mysteriously,' that the ten tribes were not blotted out from the breastplate after their revolt; no, nor after their idolatrous lapse, nor after their captivity, nor after their supposed utter dispersion. Their names still burned in the breastplate, though their earthly place knew them no more.

NOTE 2. Page 97.

'Especially the death of Mariamne.' There is a remarkable proof extant of the veneration attached in Jewish imagination to the memory of this lady as a Maccabee. Long after her death, a pretender (or alleged pretender) to the name and rights of Alexander, one of her two murdered sons, appeared at Rome, and instantly drew to himself the enthusiastic support of all the Jews throughout Italy.

NOTE 3. Page 106.

'That could not have been otherwise obtained.' One thing is entirely overlooked. Neither in Syria, nor any part of Asia Minor, of Achaia, &c., could the Apostles have called a general meeting of the people without instant liability to arrest as public disturbers. But the character of physicians [118] furnished a privileged case, which operated as a summons, instant, certain, safe, uniformly intelligible to others, and without effort of their own.

NOTE 4. Page 108.

'As the heart of Judea.' It was an old belief amongst the Jews, upon their ideas of cosmography, that Judea was the central region of the earth, and that Jerusalem was the omphalos or navel of Judea an idea which the Greeks applied to Delphi.

NOTE 5. Page 110.

'Chrysom children.' Tell a child of three years old to pronounce the word helm; nine times out of ten it will say helom from the imperfection of its organs. By this mode of corruption came the word chrysom, from the baptismal chrism of the early Christians. In England, if a child dies within the first month of its life, it is called a chrysom child; whence the title in the London bills of mortality. In such a case, it was the beautiful custom, amongst our ancestors, perhaps still is so amongst those who have the good feeling to appreciate these time-honored usages, to bury the innocent creature in its baptismal robe; to which the northern Spaniards add, as another symbol of purity, on the lid of the little coffin,

'A happy garland of the pure white rose.'

How profoundly this mysterious chrism influenced the imaginations of our forefathers, is shown by the multiplied ricochets through which it impressed itself upon the vocabulary of the case, the oil, the act of anointing, the little infant anointed, the white robe in which it was dressed, all and each severally bore the name of the chrysom.

 

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