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But this direct hostility was not the only, nor the most formidable means of harassing their religious enemies, which their improving fortunes opened upon them. With their advancement in wealth and importance, their national character displayed itself under a new exterior. The moroseness for which they were previously notorious, in great measure disappears with their dislodgment from the soil of their ancestors; and on their re-appearance as settlers in a strange land, those festive, self-indulgent habits, which, in earlier times, had but drawn on them the animadversion of their Prophets, became their distinguishing mark in the eyes of external observers". Manifesting a rancorous malevolence towards the zealous champions of the Church, they courted the Christian populace by arts adapted to captivate and corrupt the unstable and worldly-minded. Their pretensions to magical power gained them credit with the superstitious, to whom they sold amulets for the cure of diseases; their noisy spectacles attracted the curiosity of the idle, who weakened their faith, while they disgraced their profession, by attending the worship of the Synagogue. Accordingly there was formed around the Church a mixed multitude, who, without relinquishing their dependence on Christianity for the next world, sought in Judaism the promise of temporal blessings, and a more accommodating rule of life than the gospel revealed. Chrysostom found this evil so urgent at Antioch in his day, as to interrupt his course of homilies on the heresy of the Anomeans, in order to direct his
4 Vide Gibbon, Hist. ch. xvi. note 6. Chrysost. in Judæos, i. p. 386– 388, &c.
preaching against the seductions to which his hearers were then exposed, by the return of the Jewish festivals. In another part of the empire, the Council of Illiberis found it necessary to forbid a superstitious custom, which had been introduced among the country people, of having recourse to the Jews for a blessing on their fields. Afterwards, Constantine made a law against the intermarriage of Jews and Christians; and Constantius confiscated the goods of Christians who lapsed to Judaismo. These successive enactments may be taken as evidence of the view entertained by the Church of her own danger, from the artifices of the Jews. Lastly, the attempt to rebuild the temple in Julian's reign, was but the renewal of a project on their part, which Constantine had already frustrated, for reinstating their religion in its ancient ritual and country?.
Such was the position of the Jews towards the primitive Church, especially in the patriarchate of Antioch ; which, I have said, was their principal place of settlement, and was at one time under the civil government of a Judaizing princess, the most illustrious personage of her times, who possessed influence enough over the Christian body to seduce the Metropolitan himself from the orthodox faith.
5 Chrysost. in Judæos, i. p. 389, &c. [Jerome speaks of a law of Valens:--"ne quis vitulorum carnibus vesceretur, utilitati agriculturæ providens, et pessimam judaizantis vulgi emendans consuetudinem.” Adv. Jovinian. ii. 7.]
6 Bingham, Antiq. xvi. 6. Basnage, Hist. des Juifs, vi. 14.
7 Chrysost. in Judæos, iii. p. 435. [Vide Chrysost. in Matth. Hom. 43, where he says that in Julian's time, “they ranged themselves with the heathen and courted their party.” He proceeds to say that " in all their other evil works they surpass their predecessors, in sorceries, magic arts, impurities.” Oxford Transl.]
But the evidence of the existence of Judaism, as a system, in the portion of Christendom in question, is contained in a circumstance which deserves our particular attention; the adoption, in those parts, of the quartodeciman rule of observing Easter, when it was on the point of being discontinued in the Churches of Proconsular Asia, where it had first prevailed.
It is well known that at the close of the second century, a controversy arose between Victor, Bishop of Rome, and Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, concerning the proper time for celebrating the Easter feast, or rather for terminating the ante-paschal fast. At that time the whole of Christendom, with the exception of Pro. consular Asia (a district of about two hundred miles by fifty), and its immediate neighbourhood®, continued the fast on to the Sunday after the Jewish Passover, which they kept as Easter Day as we do now, in order that the weekly and yearly commemorations of the Resurrection might coincide. But the Christians of the Proconsulate, guided by Jewish custom, ended the fast on the very day of the paschal sacrifice, without regarding the actual place held in the week by the feast, which immediately followed; and were accordingly called Quarto-decimans'. Victor felt the inconvenience of this want of uniformity in the celebration of the chief Christian festival; and
8 Euseb. Hist. v. 23—25, and Vales. ad loc. 9 Exod. xii. 6. Vide Tillemont, Mem. vol. iii. p. 629, &c.
was urgent, even far beyond the bounds of charity, and the rights of his see, in his endeavour to obtain the compliance of the Asiatics. Polycrates, who was primate of the Quarto-deciman Churches, defended their peculiar custom by a statement which is plain and unexceptionable. They had received their rule, he said, from St. John and St. Philip the Apostles, Polycarp of Smyrna, Melito of Sardis, and others; and deemed it incumbent on them to transmit as they had received. There was nothing Judaistic in this conduct ; for, though the Apostles intended the Jewish discipline to cease with those converts who were born under it, yet it was by no means clear, that its calendar came under the proscription of its rites. On the other hand, it was natural that the Asian Churches should be affectionately attached to a custom which their first founders, and they inspired teachers, had sanctioned.
But the case was very different, when Churches, which had for centuries observed the Gentile rule, adopted a custom which at the time had only existence among the Jews. The Quarto-decimans of the Proconsulate had come to an end by A.D. 276; and, up to that date, the Antiochene provinces kept their Easter feast in conformity with the Catholic usage'; yet, at the time of the Nicene Council (fifty years afterwards), we find the Antiochenes the especial and solitary champions of the Jewish rule?. We can scarcely doubt that they adopted
i Tillemont, Mem. vol. iii. p. 48, who conjectures that Anatolius of Laodicea was the author of the change. But changes require predisposing causes. .
· Athan. ad Afros, $ 2.
it in imitation of the Jews who were settled among them, who are known to have influenced them, and who about that very date, be it observed, had a patroness in Zenobia, and, what was stranger, had almost a convert in the person of the Christian Primate. There is evidence, moreover, of the actual growth of the custom in the Patriarchate at the end of the third century; which well agrees with the hypothesis of its being an innovation, and not founded on ancient usage. And again (as was natural, supposing the change to begin at Antioch), at the date of the Nicene Council, it was established only in the Syrian Churches, and was but making its way with incomplete success in the extremities of the Patriarchate. In Mesopotamia, Audius began his schism with the characteristic of the Quarto-deciman rule, just at the date of the Council'; and about the same time, Cilicia was contested between the two parties, as I gather from the conflicting statements of Constantine and Athanasius, that it did, and that it did not, conform to the Gentile custom“. By the same time, the controversy had reached Egypt also. Epiphanius refers to a celebrated contest, now totally unknown, between one Crescentius and Alexander, the first defender of the Catholic faith against Arianism'.
It is true that there was a third Quarto-deciman school, lying geographically between the Proconsulate and Antioch, which at first sight might seem to have
3 Epiph. Hær. Ixx. § 1.
4 Athan. ad Afros, supra. Socr. Hist. i. 9, where, by the bye, the Proconsulate is spoken of as conforming to the general usage; so as clearly to distinguish between the two Quarto-deciman schools.
5 Epiph. ibid. & 9.