From Eusebius Pamphilus : His Ten Books of Ecclesiastical History, Faithfully Translated and Abridg’d from the Original, by Samuel Parker, Gent.; London : Printed for George Sawbridge at the Three Flower de-Luces in Little Britain, 1703; pp. 19-36.
FROM these Transactions during Christ’s Residence on Earth, we come to a View of the Times after his Ascension, which were scarce commenc’d when Matthias was substituted an Apostle, in the room of Judas; and Seven Deacons were ordain’d by the Apostles, of which number was Stephen, the first that purchas’d with his Blood that glorious Crown which his Name imply’d, as James the Just, and Brother of our Lord, (being the Son of Joseph) had the Honour to be consecrated the first Bishop of Jerusalem, without any Emulation (as Clemens observes in his Institutions) on the part of Peter and John, tho’ they had equally 20 shar’d with him the especial Favour of our Lord, and receiv’d the Gnosis, or Gift of Knowledge from him after his Resurrection, which the other Apostles and the Seventy Disciples deriv’d from those three. This was that St. James mention’d, Gal i. ver. 19. not he that was beheaded. And now, upon the Martyrdom of Stephen the first Persecution broke forth, wherein Paul was so furious an Instrument, and dispers’d the Apostles through Judea and Samaria, Phœnice, Cyprus, and Antioch. In this Dispersion they preach’d only to the Jews; Philip a Deacon, retiring to Samaria, where he publish’d the Gospel, brought by force of Miracles to the acknowledgment of its Truth, among many others, the famous Magician, Simon, esteem’d by his Creatures the Great Power of God, who nevertheless pretended to embrace Christianity with no other design than his Imps have profess’d it after him, to wriggle himself into the Church that he might the better undermine it; but being afterwards detected by St. Peter, he was made an Example of, as were they by the Sentence of the Church; which in spight of all Opposition and Artifices encreas’d, so that Ethiopia soon after stretch’d out her Hands unto God, by the means of a great Ethiopian Lord, who became the first Fruits of the Gentile Converts by the preaching of Philip, specially thereunto commission’d, while Paul, by an immediate Declaration from Heaven, was ordain’d an Apostle, (the chosen Vessel) neither from Men, nor by Men, but by the Revelation of Jesus Christ.21
And as if it were not sufficient that the Church alone should be instrumental in promoting its own Glory : Pilate according to a political Rule of communicating to the Emperor all remarkable Events and Occurrences, dispatch’d to Tiberius a Narrative of Christ’s Resurrection, and other Miracles, and of his being believed on by many, as God, which Tiberius signify’d to the Senate, but they rejected the Motion, and pretended that their Authority should in Point of Law have been first consulted, the Wisdom of God thus ordaining least the Concurrence of the Powers of this World should seem to have been necessary for the Establishment of the Gospel. However Tiberius retain’d his first Sentiments, and not only forbore to molest the Christians, but moreover threaten’d those that should presume to inform against them.
It cannot be conceiv’d within how short a Period the Christian Doctrine, under the glorious Conduct of its Author, diffus’d it self over the Face of the Earth by the Mouths of his Evangelists and Apostles. Their Sound went forth into all Lands, and their Words into the Ends of the World. Both in City and Country were Churches every where planted, and the Gentiles throwing off the Yoke of their Idolatry and Superstition, and bidding open Defiance to the Dæmons that had enslav’d them, resign’d themselves entirely to the Service of their Creator, and the Religion which his Son had promulg’d. Among the earliest Converts of this kind. 22 was Cornelius of Cæsarea, initiated by St. Peter, and a large number of the Inhabitants of Antioch, the City which gave Birth to the Name of Christians, and where Agabus then prophecy’d of an approaching Famine, the same that occasion’d the journey of St. Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, to carry Relief to the Brethren.
Tiberius having reign’d Twenty two Years, Caius Caligula succeeded, in whose Reign flourished Philo, the Darling as well of the Gentiles, as of his own Country-men, the Jews. He was a Nobleman of Alexandria, eminently skill’d in all Points of the Jewish Religion, and the leading Platonist and Pythagorean of his time. This Philo, when the Heathens of Alexandria sent Apion and two others to incense the Emperor against the Alexandrian Jews, and remonstrate to him that they laugh’d at the Notion of his Divinity, was deputed along with two others, by the Jews his Country-men, to make their Defence; but when the Emperor would not hear him, he told the Jews, perceiving how much they were terrify’d, That the fiercer the Emperor’s Rage was against them, the fiercer would be the Rage of God against him, and therefore bid them take Courage. The History of his Negotiation he has drawn up himself, which contains, that Sejanus at Rome did all the ill Offices he could to the Jews, while Pilate gave them great Disturbance in Judaea; and that afterwards Caligula took a singular Satisfaction in oppressing the Jews, commanding them to transfer their 23 Adorations to him, and dedicating their Temple, till then unprophan’d, and an Asylum to his own Divinity. Agreeable hereunto, Josephus, who makes the Calamities of the Jews take their beginning from the time of Pilate, tells us, that Pilate brought Images of Cæsar into Jerusalem, which was such a Pollution, as quite confounded the Jews, and prov’d to their Sorrow that Heaven had ratify’d that Choice of theirs, to have no other King but Cæsar. Soon after they felt farther Effects of the same Recognition, when Pilate defray’d his Expences upon an Aquæ-duct out of their Corban. This Provocation made them Mutiny, and oblig’d Pilate to give a Signal to some disguis’d Soldiers, whose Orders were, that they should only make use of Clubs to fall upon them, which they did, and put an end to their Clamours, and the Lives too of a great many of them. And thus they were all along tost and torn with perpetual Distractions, down to the Catastrophe of their Tragedy, in the time of Vespasian. Neither did the Equity of God forget the Sentence which Pilate had pronounced against his Son, but cast likewise upon him such a load of Calamities, that in the Conclusion he became his own Executioner.
After Caligula, Claudius obtain’d the Imperial Power, whose Government was attended with that universal Famine foretold by Agabus, mention’d also by Prophane Historians, when (according to Josephus) Helena, Queen of the Adiabeni, reliev’d the Necessities of the Indigent 24 with a mighty Stock of Corn she had brought up out of Egypt. In the same Reign, a Persecution was rais’d by Herod, wherein suffer’d James, the Brother of John, having by the boldness of his Confession (as Clemens relates in his Institutions) prevail’d upon the Informer to declare himself a Christian. So that as they were going to Execution, he begg’d St. James’s Pardon, which when he had seal’d to him with a Benediction and a Kiss, they were both beheaded. It was intended that Peter should follow him, but an Angel brought him timely Deliverance, and to Herod the unexpected Reward of his Cruelty; for upon the Celebration of a Publick Festivity in Honour of Cæsar, being adorn’d with very splendid Robes, he deliver’d himself in an Oration before a very numerous Audience, and was answer’d in loud Acclamations, that it must be a God, not a Man, that spoke to them. And in these blasphemous Flatteries he encourag’d them, till observing over his Head a menacing Angel, and perceiving the approaches of Death by the Tortures he felt in his Bowels, he express’d a sudden Dejection, and told the Assembly that their God must now bid adieu to all his Grandeur, and immediately under the Stroak of Heaven give them a sad Proof of his Mortality. Then he was carried Home, and five Days after, neither the publick Deprecations of all his Subjects, nor his own Tears availing, he died in the Seventh Year of his Reign. It is very observable how nicely St. Luke and Josephus 25 agree in all the parts of this Story; the latter of whom has also furnish’d us with a Testimony to the Truth of what the former intimates in the Acts concerning Theudas, to this effect, That in the time of Fadus’s Procuratorship, Theudas a Magician, persuaded a considerable Body of Men that he was a Prophet, and would divide the Waters of Jordan for their Passage, if they’d follow him over, and carry their Wealth along with them. But Fadus’s Troopers quickly spoil’d their Campaigning, and Theudas was taken, and his Head carry’d to Jerusalem.
While God was thus employing the Shafts of his Displeasure against the Crucifiers of Christ, the grand Adversary was plying his Engines at Rome against the Christian Religion. The principal of his Emissaries, was Simon the Magician, who so strangely amus’d and infatuated the People of Rome with his Necromancies and Legerdemain, that they declared him a God, and erected a Statue to him, which had this Inscription, To Simon the Holy God. As such did the Samaritans likewise Honour him, together with his trusty Hand-maid, Helena, whom he had taken to himself out of the Stews at the City Tyre; and recommended as the πρώτη ἔννοια, The first Conception of his own Divinity, as himself was indeed the first Ringleader and Introducer of Heresies, the Parent of an accursed Sect, not even yet extinct, who assuming the Denomination of Christians, give themselves up to a new Species of Paganism by the Devotions 26 they pay to the Pictures and Images of Simon and his Helena, not to mention for Modesty the absurd and unparallell’d Obscenities of their Mysteries. But though Simon was permitted to gain so vast an Esteem, and possest the Souls of his Admirers to such a degree, that he was lifted among the Deities of the Romans; yet it was only that his Defeat might so much the more signalize the Power and Greatness of the Divine Majesty, as it appear’d early when he came under the terrible Correction of that eminent Apostle, St. Peter, who expos’d the Blackness of his hellish Arts, and made him glad to get away into the Western Parts of the World, whither the Apostle pursued him, and not only broke the heart of all his Machinations, but prosperously display’d to those Regions the blessed Sunshine of the Evangelical Doctrines, which those of Rome entertain’d with such a zealous Chearfulness, that not contented with what Peter inculcated by word of Mouth, they importun’d St. Mark, (who attended him, and is the same whom he calls his Son, in his first Epistle dated from Babylon, suppose’d to be Rome) that he would commit to Paper a Narrative and Scheme of the Christian Establishment, which he did; and St. Peter, by the Instruction of the Holy Ghost, consecrated the Work to the publick and perpetual Use of the Churches. This, as Clemens and Papias assure me, was the Original of St. Mark’s Gospel, which he afterwards preach’d in Egypt, at what time he planted Churches in Alexandria, 27 the Members whereof injoyn’d themselves a Course of Life so very rigid and mortifying; that Philo has given us the Detail of their Character, in which is very obvious the Conformity between theirs and our present Ecclesiastical Discipline. The Name he calls them by, is Therepeutæ, signifying them to be a sort of Spiritual Physicians, and a Society of vigilant Worshippers. To exempt themselves from the Interruptions of worldly Concerns and Conversation; the first thing they did, was to make over what Fortunes they had to their Kindred, and court Retirement. This was certainly the Practice of those Disciples, who sold their Lands and Possessions, and laid the Prices of them at the Apostles Feet. Hardly any Countries of the World (continues my Author) are without some of them, tho’ they’re most numerous in Egypt, and about Alexandria.
On the other side the Lake Maria, upon an Hill, they have several Churches and Monasteries, whither the Worthiest of them Travel from all Parts, without any other Furniture or Viaticum, than the Inspir’d, and other Books of Piety. Here in privacy they perform Religious Exercises, spending the Day in Philosophical Meditations, reading Holy Books, and explaining Allegories, which they suppose their Authors to abound with, having recourse to the Commentaries preserv’d by them, of the earliest of their Predecessors, by which Commentaries we may fairly understand the Writings of the Evangelists and Apostles, and their Expositions 28 upon several Parts of the Prophets. Add to these, as another Argument of their being Christians, the Solemnity of their Musical Compositions in Honour of God. They neither Eat nor Drink till Sun-set; deferring the Relief of Nature’s Necessities to the Obscurity of a small part of the Night. Some of them fast three Days together, Temperance being in their Opinion the Basis of all other Virtues. Nay, some amongst them find Abstinence so delicious and sublime a Gratification, that they will Fast five or six Days together. To the same Societies belong Women that voluntarily abide in a State of perpetual Virginity, being ambitious of no other than Spiritual Pleasure and Spiritual Posterity. They Expound their Sacred Volumes in an Allegorical Way, comparing the Letter of them, to the Body, and the Sense of them, with which they chiefly labour to acquaint themselves, to the Soul. But to put the matter past Controversy, that his Therapeutæ were certainly Christians, it may suffice to refer the Reader to Philo’s Treatise, where he will see how exactly the Parts and Circumstances of their whole Regulation answer to ours, their Assemblies, the separate Apartments and Exercises of their Men and Women, their Feasts, Fasts, Vigils, Reading of the Scriptures, Hymns, and the manner of Singing them, their Lying upon the Ground, and Subsisting upon only Water, Salt, and Hyssop, in the Passion-Week, and the Division of their Superiors, according to the 29 several Orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.
Beside Philo’s Book of a Contemplative Life, from whence we have extracted the foregoing Passage, he has wrote very lofty and elegant Commentaries upon several Books, and abstruse Texts of Scripture, and upon other miscellaneous Matters : Two of Agriculture; two of Drunkenness; one upon the Question, What a well-dispos’d Soul desires and declines; one of the Confusion of Languages; one of avoiding and pursuing of conversing with humane Literature; of Division into equal and unequal Parts; of the Virtues which Moses describes; of the Change of Names; of unwritten Laws; of God’s Immutability; of Revelation by Dreams, five Books; of the Tabernacle; of the Decalogue, and the Species of Laws included in the Ten General Precepts, four Books; of Animals for Sacrifice, and the several sorts of Sacrifices; of the Rewards, Punishments, and Imprecations, which are specify’d in the Law; of Providence; of the Jews; of a publick Station; of Reason in Brutes; of the wicked Man’s Slavery, and the good Man’s Privileges; Interpretations of the Hebrew Names in the Law and the Prophets; and his Invective against Caligula, entituled sarcastically περὶ ἀρητῶν, Of Virtue, which in Claudius’s time he spoke in the Senate-house, and so much to the Satisfaction of the Audience, that his Works had ever after a place in the publick Libraries.30
To return to the Series of our History; upon Claudius’s banishing the Jews, Aquila and Priscilla with others fled into Asia, and consorted with St. Paul; but the Terrors which occasion’d this Flight, was no more than Prelusory to the Tempest which fell upon the Jews, when in an Uproar at Jerusalem, at the Feast of the Passover they trod one another to Death, even in and about the Gates of the Temple, to the number of Thirty thousand, while their twofold Subjection is continued; to Agrippa, his Father’s Successor in the Regal Authority, and to Fælix exercising the Procuratorial, though both were not of force enough to restrain them from the bloodiest Acts of Civil violence. A Feud broke out between the High-Priests, and the Priests, and their several Parties, which by Impunity grew into such a headstrong Combustion, that the High-Priests would seize of course upon the Tithes of the Priests, and Starve them, unless their Throats were first cut before-hand (as it was the fate of the High-Priest Jonathan) by the Troops of Assassins arm’d secretly with Steletto’s, which as often as they made use of, their way was immediately to cry out Murther with the first comers, and so to escape Discovery, though they murder’d at Mid-day. Yet this Destruction was tolerable in comparison of that which the Egyptian Magician, taking upon him the Prophet (mention’d Acts 21 c. 38. v.) brought upon them, when he march’d out of the Wilderness, as far as to the Mount of Olives with 31 his Thirty thousand at his Heels, and was hastening to make himself Master of Jerusalem, and its Government; but that Felix came in his way, gave him Battel, and kill’d or took Prisoners almost all the Rioters, but the Egyptian himself, who made his Escape.
After Felix came Festus, the same that sent St. Paul to Cæsar’s Tribunal at Rome; whence, after his Two Years Restraint, he travell’d to spread the Gospel, then return’d to Rome, and there suffer’d Martyrdom, having wrote a little time before his Second Epistle to Timothy, wherein he speaks of his first Defence, and his being deliver’d out of the Mouth of the Lion, meaning Nero, and signifies the nearness of the time of his Departure and Dissolution, which makes it evident, that he did not Suffer till after his second coming to Rome, when, as he says, Luke only was with him, who was not with him at his first Defence, and who therefore continues his Book of the Acts of the Apostles, to no longer a Period than while he constantly attended St. Paul.
It has been already told how St. James the Just, was consecrated Bishop of Jerusalem, and, from Clemens, how he suffer’d Martyrdom, but we must by no means omit what so ancient an Historian, as Hegesippus, has left us upon Record related to this Matter. He says, That St. James, as being sanctify’d from the Womb, abjur’d all the ordinary Satisfactions of Life, and was the only Person that had free Access into the Holy of Holies. So assiduously did he 32 offer up his Supplications in behalf of the People, that his Knees grew Callous like a Camel’s. He was also surnam’d Oblias, denoting him the Bulwark and Righteousness of the People. He asserted so generously, and prov’d the Truth of the Christian Religion, that the joynt Endeavours of the Seven Sects of the Jews prevented not his proselyting a great number, even of the Sanhedrim, which so disturb’d and exasperated the Scribes and Pharisees, that they accosted St. James in a Body, requiring him, that as he would answer his own Illustrious and Authoritative Character, he would publickly from the Top of the Temple, upon the next Passover, undeceive the People as to the general mistake concerning Jesus. And the Day being come, and the Holy Man plac’d aloft upon the Temple, the Rabbi’s after they had passed their Complements of Derision upon him, and beseech’d him that he would use his Authority to convince the Multitude of their Error, in their having embrac’d the Christian Belief : To whom St. James reply’d aloud, Why do you enquire concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He is seated in Heaven at the Right Hand of Omnipotence, and shall come again in the Clouds of Heaven. At this Profession, Hosannahs were eccho’d below to Jesus, the Son of David, and the Scribes and Pharisees now more than ever enrag’d at so mischievous a Disappointment, run up to the Top of the Temple exclaiming, and threw him off; but Life remaining in him after the fall so that 33 he was able to Pray for his Persecutors in the Words of our Saviour; notwithstanding the Intercessions of one of the Priests of the Children of Rechab, they began to Stone him, and at last his Brains were dash’d out with a Fuller’s Club. So fell this blessed Martyr, and was bury’d upon the place where his Column is still standing. For whose Memory the most sensible of the Jews, and particularly Josephus, had so serious a Veneration, that they imputed the final Vengeance which soon after overtook Jerusalem, to the crying of his righteous Blood, as they did likewise the Disgrace which befel Ananus, the High-Priest, a profligate, harden’d Sadducee, who had seiz’d the advantage of a Vacancy in the Civil Prefecture by the Death of Festus, to have St. James, and some others dispatch’d out of the way. This the more considering sort took so heinously, that Application was made not only to King Agrippa, but to Albinus, the succeeding Procurator, even before he could reach Jerusalem, pursuant whereunto Albinus sent Messages full of Terror to Ananus, and Agrippa divested him of the Pontificate, which he conferr’d upon Jesus, the Son of Dammæus.
There is a Catholick Epistle written by St. James, which, as also that of St. Jude, tho’ not mention’d by many of the Ancients, yet is certainly Canonical, as having been receiv’d by most Churches. In the Eighth Year of Nero died St. Mark, and left Annianus, an Excellent 34 Person, his Successor in the See of Alexandria.
And now was that Juncture of time when Nero grown up to an accomplish’d Prodigy of Inhumanity, having massacred for his Diversion an innumerable Multitude of his Subjects, and among the rest his Mother, Brothers, Wife, and almost all his Relations and Friends, to crown the Transports of his Violence and Impiety, commences the first Persecuting Emperor, indeed the worthiest in all Respects to lead the way, and St. Paul is beheaded, St. Peter crucify’d; both, according to Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, at one time, and in the City of Rome, where is to be seen the Inscription of their Monuments at this Day, says Caius, who flourish’d under Zephyrinus, Bishop of Rome, in his Book against Proculus, where he boasts of the Monuments of those two Eminent Apostles, the one fixt in the Vatican, the other in the Via Ostiensis.
Yet herein were the Wisdom and Justice of God most conspicuous, that as much as the Christians suffer’d by Nero’s Persecution, the Jews still suffer’d much more in the miserable Effects of God’s growing Indignation; for now things were come to that pass, that Florus, the then Procurator, both scourg’d and crucify’d, as they had us’d their Lord, the Jewish Nobility, in the Streets of Jerusalem, which provoked them to take up Arms, 35 and the Consequence was, that they were knock’d o’the Head, as out-law’d, where-ever they were found, and the Cities of Syria the Seat of the Commotion, bestrow’d with stript and unbury’d Carcasses of their Infants, their Elders, and their Women. All which with a thousand worse Disasters and Devastations, were infinitely exceeded by the prospect of far greater Evils gathering.36