Page images

showed them by the rest of their countrymen, and by all who came over to the worship of the true God, and were admitted to share in any of the privileges of the Jewish people. Thus St. Paul assures us, Gal. ii. 10, “ Only they would that we should remember the poor, the same which I also was forward to do.” The very last time that St. Paul was at Jerusalemn : “ After many years,” says be, " I came to bring alıns to my nation, and offerings,” Acts xxiv. 17. Nor was St. Paul's argument a new thought, though expressed by him with a divine temper : “ But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints: for it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia, to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It has pleased them verily, and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in carnal things,” Rom. xv. 25–27.

No wonder therefore, that the bigots among the Jews were startled at the thought of any relaxation of the ancient rigour, with which they had treated proselytes; and that they laboured, as they did, to maintain their jurisdiction over them. This contention was not at all for the sake of God and the law, but partly for themselves. Doubtless, the outcry of the Jews against St. Paul, though very unjust and groundless, was, every word of it, expressive and popular, especially at Jerusalem : “ This is the man, that teacheth all men every where, against the people, and the law, and this place,” Acts xxi. 28.

Ill. I conclude with the banishment of the Jews from Rome. “ After these things, Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth. And found a certain Jew, named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome,” Acts xviii, 1, 2.

Dio says, that Claudius did not banish the Jews from Rome, but only prohibited theiru assemblies. But Suetonius, who lived nearer the time, says, 'He expelled the Jews • from Rome, who were continually raising disturbances, • Chrestus being their leader.''

· Unless we suppose (which is the opinion of some very learned and judicious men) that he went thither again, after he had been sent to Rome. See in Miscellanea Sacra, the Abstract, p. 48.

Ο Toς τε Ιεδαιες, πλεονασαντας αυθις, ώσε χαλεπως αν ανευ ταραχης υπο το οχλα σφων της πολεως ειρχθηναι, εκ εξηλασε μεν, των δε δη πατριω νομα βιω χρωμενες εκελευσε μη συναθροιζεσθαι. Dιο, .b. Ix. p. 669. Β.

Judæos, impulsore Chresto, assidue tumultuantes, Romå expulit. Sueton. Claud. cap. 25.

It is disputed by learned men," whether by Chrestus, Suetonius means Jesus Christ. I need not concern myself with that point herc. This passage proves what I bring it for.

Josephus has no where particularly mentioned this event. This edict of Claudius seems not to have been long in force. That

inay be one reason of this omission in Josephus : another reason might be, that it was no agreeable task to bim, to mention any disgraces cast upon his people. If some disputes between the Jews and followers of Jesus Christ were really the cause of this order, that might be another reason; Josephus having been very reserved, if not altogether silent, about the affairs of the christians.



J. The first objection, That there is no mention made by any

ancient author of a decree in the reign of Augustus for taxing all the world, stated and answered. Jl. The second objection, That there could be no taring made in Judea, during the reign of Herod, by a decree of Augustus, stated and answered. III. The third objection, That Cyrenius was not governor of Syria, till several years after the birth of Jesus, stated, together with a general answer. IV. Divers particular solutions of this objection. V. The last solution confirmed and improved. . Divers particular difficulties attending the supposition, that this taxing was made by Cyrenius, considered.

THE history of the New Testament is attended with many difficulties. Jewish and beathen authors concur with the sacred historians in many things. But it is pretended, that there are other particulars in which they are contradicted by authors of very good note.

Among these, the difficulties which may be very properly considered in the first place, are those which relate to the

Vid. Usser. Ann. P. J. 4767. Witsii Meletemata Leyd. de Vit. Paul sect. vii, n. 2, 3.

account St. Luke has given of the taxing in Judca, which brought Joseph and the Virgin to Bethlehem, a little before the birth of Jesus, Luke ii, 1–5, “ And it came to pass in those days, at there went out a lecree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made, when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,) to be taxed with Mary bis espoused wife, being great with child.”

Against this account several objections have been raised. They may be all reduced to these three.

1. It is objected, That there is no mention made in any ancient Roman or Greek historian, of any general taxing of people all over the world, or the whole Roman empire, in the time of Augustus, nor of any decree of the emperor for that purpose : whereas, if there had been then any such thing, it is highly improbable, that it should have been omitted by them.

II. St. Matthew says, ch. ii. 1, " That Jesus was born in the days of Herod the king." Judea, therefore, was not at that time a Roman province, and there could not be any taxing made there by a decree of Augustus.

JII. Cyrenius was not governor of Syria till nine or ten, perhaps twelve, years after the birth of Jesus. St. Luke therefore was mistaken, in saying, that this taxing was made in his time. This objection will be stated more fully hercafter.

I. By way of answer to the first objection.

1. I allow, that there is not any mention made by ancient writers of any general taxing all over the world, or of all the subjects of the Roman empire, in the reign of Augustus,

Many learned men having been of a different opinion, I am obliged to consider their proofs.

Tillemont puts the question, (for he does not assert it,) whether Pliny has not referred to such a thing ? But it is plain from Pliny's words, that he speaks of a partition of Italy only into several districts.

a Vid. Spanhem. Dubia Evangelica. Part. ii. Dub. iv. v. &c. Huct. Demonst. Evangel. Prop. ix. cap. x. et Commentatores.

• Tillemont, Memoires Eccles. Tom. i. Not. ii. Sur Jesus Christ.

· Nunc ambitum ejus, urbesque enumerabimus. Quà in re præfari necessarium est, auctorem nos Divum Augustum secuturos, descriptionemque ab eo factam Italiæ totius in regiones xi. Plin. lib. iii. cap. 5.



[ocr errors]

There is a passage also of Dio, wbich has been referred to upon this occasion : but it has evidently no relation to the matter before us. The Romans had a tax called the twentieth : this tax was grievous to many people ; Augustus therefore* desired the senate to consider of some other. • But the sevate not finding any proper expedient, he ili• timated, that he would raise money upon lands and houses, • without telling them what, or in what manuer it should • be; and hereupon sent officers abroad, some one way, and

some another, to make a survey of the estates, both of particular persons and cities. But upon this, the senate complied immediately, and the old tax of the twentieth was confirmed, lest a worse thing should come in its room, • This was all Augustus aimed at, and the survey was laid • aside.'d Besides, this affair happened, A. U. 766, A. D. 13, long after the taxing which St. Luke speaks of.

The passage which Baroniuse has quoted from Æthicus, he does bimself allow to relate only to a geometrical description of the empire, begun by order of Julius Cæsar, and finished in thirty-two years, and therefore over long before the taxing mentioned by St. Luke.

I am afraid to mention his argument from Pliny, lest it should be thought, that I intend to divert the reader, when we ougbt to be serious. Pliny says, ' And as for Augustus • bimself, whom all mankind rank in this class, [of fortunate,] • if the whole course of his life be carefully considered, • there will be observed in it many instances of the fickle

ness and inconstancy of human affairs." But Baronius supposes, that Pliny says, that • in every census mention is • made of Augustus, and that there was so particularly in • that made by Vespasian and Titus, because he first made • a survey of the whole Roman empire: thus inaking Pliny to refer, in the passage he quotes from bin, not to what went before, but to a passage which follows four chapters lower.

Και παραχρημα μηδεν ειπων, μηθ' όσον, μηθ' όπως αυτο δωσεσιν, επεμψεν αλλες αλλη, τα τε των ιδιωτων και τα των πολεων κτηματα απογραψομενος" ίνα ως και μειζονως ζημιωθησομενοι δεισωσι, και την εικοτην τελειν αν θελωνται και και εγενετο. Dio, Ι. 56, p. 588. Ε. Apparat. N. 79.

In Divo quoque Augusto quem universa mortalitas in hac censurá nuncupat, si diligenter æstiinentur cuncta, magna sortis humanæ reperiantur volumina. Lib. vii. cap. 45.

8 Idemque dum hæc alıbi ait; [lib. vii. cap. 45.] In Divo quoque Augusto, quem universa mortalitas in hac censurâ nuncupat, nempe eam, quam Vespasianus et Titus recens egerunt, de quâ idem inferius [ibid. cap. 49.) meminit, significare videtur, in quolibet repetito in orbe Romano lustris singulis censu, mentionem Augusti fieri; quod primus omnium universum orbem Romanum subjectum imperio censuisset. At de censibus satis. Baron. ubi supra.


Some have alleged, as a proof of this general taxing, some words of Suidas, who in bis Lexicon h says, ' That • Augustus sent out twenty men of great probity into all . parts of his empire, by whom he made an assessinent of

persons and estates, ordering a certain quota to be paid • into the treasury: This was the first census; they who * were before him haring at pleasure exacted tribute of those • who had any thing; so that it was a public crime to be rich.'

But it is difficult to take this upon Suidas's authority alone, since he says not in what part of Augustus's reign it was done, quotes no author for it, and it is not to be found in any ancient writer now extant; though possibly, he refers to the story just now told from Dio; who assures us, that project he mentions was never executed. Besides, Saidas says, this was the first census; which is a very great inistake. There had been before Augustus many assessments of Roman citizens, and likewise of divers provinces of the Roman empire.

In another place Suidas says, ' Augustus bad a desire to • know the number of all the inhabitants of the Roman em• pire.'i And he mentions the number, which he says was found upon the inquiry. But Suidas must bave been mistaken. Archbishop Usher's remark upon this passage is worth placing here. In their consulship (Caius Marcius Censorinus, and C. Asinius Gallus] there was a second muster made at Rome, in which were numbered 4,233,000 • Roman citizens, as is gathered out of the fragments of the * Ancyran marble. In Suidas, in Avrybutos the number is far · • less of those that were mustered, 4,101,017, which yet he • very ridiculously obtrudeth upon us, not for the muster • of the city only, but of the world."k

The late learned editor of Suidas does also highly ap



5 Ιο νοc. Απογραφη: Απογραφη η απαριθμησις. ο δε Καισαρ Aυγασος, ο μοναρχησας, εικοσιν ανδρας της αρεσες τον βιον και τον τροπον επιλεξαμενος, επι πασαν την γην των υπηκοων εξεπεμψε δι' ων απογραφας εποιησατο των τε ανθρωπων, και των εσιων, αυταρχη τινα προσαξας των δημοσιφ μοιραν εκ τετων εισφερεσθαι. Αυτη η απογραφη πρωτη εγενετο, των προ αυτα τας κεκτημενες τι μη αφαιρημενων, ως ειναι τοις ευπορους δημοσιον εγκλημα τον πλατον.

V. Aυγασος Aυγασος Καισαρ δοξαν αυτω παντας οικητορας Ρωμαιων κατα προσωπον αριθμει, βελομενος γνωναι ποσον εςι πληθος και ευρισκονται οι την Ρωμαιων οικοντες οι μυριάδες και χιλιοι ιζ' ανδρες.

* Annals: Year of the world, 3996. p. 786. Engl. Edit. Lond. 1658. In the Latin the last words are : Qui tamen non pro urbis tantum, sed pro orbis etiam Romani, censu ridicule nobis ibi obtruditur.

| De hoc loco vide omnino Casaubonum contra Baron. Exerc. 1. Num. 93. et Usser.—qui recte observarunt, Suidam hic censum urbis pro censu orbis Romani lectori obtrudere; cum ridiculum sit credere, non plures fuisse totius imperii Romani incolas, quam quot Suidas hic exprimit

. Kuster, in loc.

« PreviousContinue »