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me, and said, “Why have you come here so early?!
Because, I am going through the stations,' answered I. · What is a station ?' asked the shepherd. It is a fast.'— And what is this fast?'-_ It is
my custom.'* Ah!' replied the shepherd, you know not what it is to fast; all this is of no avail before God. I will teach you that which is true fasting and pleasing to the Divinity. Your fasting has nothing to do with justice and virtue. Serve God with a pure heart; keep his commandments : admit into your heart no guilty desires. If you have always the fear of God before your
abstain from all evil, that will be true fasting, that will be the great fast which is acceptable to God.')
This philosophical and sublime piety is one of the most singular monuments of the first century. But it is somewhat strange that, at the end of the similitudes, the shepherd gives him very good-natured maidensvaldè affabiles,-to take care of his house, and declares to him that he cannot fulfil God's commandments without these maidens, who, it is plain, typify the virtues.
This list would become immense if we were to enter into every detail. We will carry it no further, but conclude with the Sibyls.
The Sibyls. What is most apocryphal in the primitive church is, the prodigious number of verses in favour of the Christian religion attributed to the ancient sibyls. Diodorus Siculust knew of only one, who was taken at Thebes by the Epigoni, and placed at Delphos before the Trojan war. Ten sibyls—that is, ten prophetesses, were soon made from this one. She of Cuma had most credit among the Romans, and the sibyl Erythrea among the Greeks.
As all oracles were delivered in verse, none of the sibyls could fail to make verses; and to give them greater authority, they sometimes made them acrostics also. Several Christians, who had not a zeal according to knowledge, not only misinterpreted the ancient verses supposed to have been written by the sibyls, but also made some themselves,-and, which is worse, in acrostics, not dreaming that this difficult artifice of acrosticising had no resemblance whatever to the inspiration and enthusiasm of a prophetess. They resolved to support the best of causes by the most awkward fraud. They accordingly made bad Greek verses, the initials of which signified in Greek-JESUS, CHRIST, Son, Saviour; and these verses said, that with five loaves, and two fishes, he should feed five thousand men in the desart, and that with the fragments that remained he should fill twelve baskets.
* Book iii. parable 5.
+ Diodorus, book iv.
The millenium, and the New Jerusalem, which Justin had seen in the air for forty nights, were, of course, foretold by the sibyls.
In the fourth century, Lactantius collected almost all the verses attributed to the sibyls, and considered them as convincing proofs. This opinion was so well authorised and so long held, that we still sing hymns, in which the testimony of the sibyls is joined with the predictions of David
Solvet sæclum in farilla,
Testè David cum Sibylla. This catalogue of errors and frauds has been carried far enough. A hundred might be repeated-so constantly has the world been composed of deceivers, and of people fond of being deceived. But let us pursue no further so dangerous a research. The elucidation of one great truth is worth more than the discovery of a thousand falsehoods.
Not all these errors—not all the crowd of apocryphal books, have been sufficient to injure the Christian religion, because, as we all know, it is founded upon immutable truths. These truths are supported by a church militant and triumphant; to which God has given the power of teaching and of repressing. In several countries, it unites temporal with spiritual authority. Prudence, strength, wealth, are its attributes; and, although it is divided, and its divisions have sometimes stained it with blood, it may be compared
to the Roman commonwealth-constantly torn by intestine dissensions, but constantly triumphant.
APOSTATE. It is still a question among the learned, whether the Emperor Julian was really an apostate, and whether he was ever truly a Christian.
He was not six years old when the Emperor Constantius, still more barbarous than Constantine, had his father, his brother, and seven of his cousins murdered. He and his brother Gallus with difficulty escaped from this carnage ; but he was always very harshly treated by Constantius. His life was for a long time threatened; and he soon beheld his only remaining brother assassinated by the tyrant's order. The most barbarous of the Turkish sultans have never, I am sorry to say it, surpassed in cruelty nor in villainy the Constantine family. from his nderest years, study was Julian's only consolation. He communicated in secret with the most illustrious of the philosophers, who were of the ancient religion of Rome. It is very probable that he professed that of his uncle Constantius only to avoid assassination. Julian was obliged to conceal his mental powers, as Brutus had done under Tarquin. He was the less likely to be a Christian, as his uncle had forced him to be a monk, and to perform the office of reader in the church. A man is rarely of the religion of his perse: cutor, especially when the latter wishes to be the ruler of his conscience.
Another circumstance which renders this probable is, that he does not say, in any of his works, that he had been a Christian. He never asks pardon for it of the pontiffs of the ancient religion. He addresses them in his letters, as if he had always been attached to the worship of the senate. It is not even proved that he practised the ceremonies of the Taurobolium, which might be regarded as a sort of expiation, and that he desired to wash out with bull's blood that which he so
fortunately called the stain of his baptism. However, this was a pagan form of devotion, which is no more a proof than the assembling at the mysteries of Ceres. In short, neither his friends nor his enemies relate any fact, any words, which can prove that he ever believed in Christianity, and that he passed from that sincere belief to the worship of the gods of the empire.
If such be the case, they who do not speak of him as an apostate, appear very excusable,
Sound criticism being brought to perfection, all the world now acknowledges that the Emperor Julian was a hero and a wise man—a stoic, equal to Marcus Aurelius. His errors are condemned, but his virtues are admitted. He is now regarded as he was by his contemporary Prudentius, author of the hymn Salvete, flores martyrum. He says of Julian
Ductor fortissimus armis,
Rejecting God, while benefiting man, His detractors are reduced to the miserable expedient of striving to make him appear ridiculous. One historian, on the authority of St. Gregory Nazianzen, reproaches him with having worn too large a beard. But, my friend, if nature gave him a long beard, why should he wear it short? He used to shake his head. Carry thy own better.
His step was hurried. Bear in mind that the Abbé D'Aubignac, the king's preacher, having been hissed at the play, laughs at the air and gait of the great Corneille, Couldst thou hope to turn Marshal De Luxembourg into ridicule, because he walked ill and his figure was singular? He could march very well against the enemy. Let us leave it to the ex-jesuit Patouillet, the ex-jesuit Nonotte, &c. to call the Emper Julian–the Apostate. Poor creatures ! His Christian successor, Jovian, called him Divus Julianus.
Let us treat this mistaken emperor as he himself treated us.* He said, “ We should pity and not hate them: they are already sufficiently unfortunate in erring on the most important of questions.”
Let us have the same compassion for him, since we are sure that the truth is on our side.
He rendered strict justice to his subjects ; let us then render it to his memory.
Some Alexandrians were incensed against a bishop, who, it is true, was a wicked man, chosen by a worthless cabal. His name was George Biordos, and he was the son of a mason. His 'manners were lower than his birth. He united the basest perfidy with the most brutal ferocity, and superstition with every vice. A calumniator, a persecutor, and an impostor, avaricious, sanguinary, and seditious, he was detested by every party, and at last the people cudgelled him to death. The following is the letter which the Emperor Julian wrote to the Alexandrians, on the subject of this popular commotion. Mark, how he addresses them, like a father and a judge
" What!” says he,“ instead of reserving for me the knowledge of your wrongs, you have suffered yourselves to be transported with anger. You have been guilty of the same excesses with which you reproach your enemies! George deserved to be so treated, but it was not for you to be his executioners. You have laws; you should have demanded justice,”. &c.
Some have dared to brand Julian with the epithets intolerant and persecuting--the man who sought to extirpate persecution and intolerance ! Peruse his fiftysecond letter, and respect his memory. Is he not sufficiently unfortunate in not having been a Catholic, and consequently in being burned in hell, together with the innumerable multitude of those who have not been
* Letter lii. of the Emperor Julian.
+ Biord, the sou of a mason, was bishop of Anneci in the eighteenth century. As he bore a great resemblance to George of Alexandria, Voltaire, who lived in bis diocese, amused himself with joining to the bishop's name the surname of Biordos,-1.