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they refer as so many rules to guide them, are the love of God, the love of virtue, and the love of man. Of their love to God they give innumerable proofs by leading a life of continued purity, unstained by oaths and falsehoods, by regarding him as the author of every good, and the cause of no evil. They evince their attachment to virtue by their freedom from avarice, from ambition, from sensual pleasure; by their temperance and patience; by their frugality, simplicity, and contentment; by their humility, their regard to the laws, and other similar virtues. Their love to man is evinced by their benignity, their equity, and their liberality, of which it is not improper to give a short account, though no language can adequately describe it.
“În the first place, there exists among them no house, however private, which is not open to the reception of all the rest, and not only the members of the same society assemble under the same domestic roof, but even strangers of the same persuasion have free admission to join them. There is but one treasure, whence all derive subsistence; and not only their provisions, but their clothes are common property. Such mode of living under the same roof, and of dieting at the same table, cannot, in fact, be proved to have been adopted by any other description of men.
“The sick are not despised or neglected, but live in ease and affluence, receiving from the treasury whatever their disorder or their exigencies require. The aged, too, among them, are loved, revered, and attended as parents by affectionate children; and a thousand hands and hearts prop their tottering years with comforts of every kind. Such are the champions of virtue, which philosophy, without the parade of Grecian oratory, produces, proposing, as the end of their institutions, the performance of those laudable actions which destroy slavery, and render freedom invincible.
“This effect is evinced by the many powerful men who rise against the Essenes in their own country, in consequence of differing from them in principles and sentiments. Some of these persecutors, being eager to surpass the fierceness of untamed beasts, omit no measure that may gratify their cruelty; and they cease not to sacrifice whole flocks of those within their power; or, like butchers, to tear their limbs in pieces, until themselves are brought to that justice, which superintends the affairs of men. Yet not one of these furious persecutors has been able to substantiate any accusation against this band of holy men. On the other hand, all men, captivated by their integrity and honour, unite with them as those who truly enjoy the freedom and independence of nature, admiring their communion and liberality, which language cannot describe, and which is the surest pledge of a perfect and happy life.”
Philo then describes the Essenes who embraced the contemplative life, and were called Therapeutæ, or healers, because they professed to cure men's minds of vices, and all disorders. “ The persons who profess this art are seized by the love of heaven, being filled with enthusiasm to see the supreme object of desire. Thinking themselves already dead to the world, they desire only a blessed immortal existence. They appoint their heirs, and flee without a look behind, bidding farewell to brothers, sons, parents, and wives. They fix their habitations on the outside of cities, in gardens and villages, not from a religious hatred of mankind, but to avoid a pernicious intercourse with those who differ from them in opinions and manners. This society now prevails throughout the habitable earth, but more particularly in Egypt, about Alexandria, and beyond the lake Maria. In each house is an apartment called a sanctuary or monastery, into which they bring only the laws, the divinely inspired prophets, the psalms, with such other writings as enlarge their knowledge and perfect their piety. The idea of God is ever present to their thoughts, so that their imagination dwells, even in sleep, upon the beauty of his attributes; many of them therefore deliver magnificent visions, suggested by their sacred philosophy in the hours of repose... They spend the whole interval from morning to evening in religious exercises, reading the holy scriptures, and unfolding their symbolical meaning according to that mode of interpretation which they have derived from their fathers. For the words, they conceive, though expressing a literal sense, convey also a figurative sense addressed to the understanding. They possess also the commentaries of those sages who, being the founders of the sect, left behind them numerous monuments of the allegorical style. These they use as models of allegory and composition; and compose in honour of God psalms and hymns, in all the variety of measures which the solemnity of religion admits... On the seventh day, having collected into one assembly, one of the elders addresses them with grave looks, being not desirous to display powers of language, but to express moral truths thoroughly digested, so as to remain lasting principles of conduct... They eat no food more costly than coarse bread seasoned with salt, to which the more delicate add hyssop; and drink no liquid but the clear water of the stream. Their chief object is to practise humility, being convinced that, as falsehood is the root of pride, freedom from pride is the offspring of truth.”*
[About A. D. 8.] After the failure of the revolt of Judas the Galilean, the Jewish populace ceased for a time to attempt any armed resistance to the Romans,f and found
* Philo being an elderly man, when he was sent at the head of the embassy from the Alexandrian Jews to Caligula, A. D. 39, his book was most likely written within 10, 20, or at most 40
years afterwards. He might therefore have intended to include the followers of Jesus amongst the Essenes; but his description cannot be limited to them; for he evidently speaks of the Essenes as of an old established sect, and in one place mentions their ancient leaders. The description of Josephus also implies that they were a sect of ancient standing. Prideaux shews that they were probably descended from the Assideans, who devoted themselves voluntarily to the law: 1 Mac. ii. 42. Pliny speaks of the Essenes as of a sect who renewed their numbers without marriage by the reception of new comers; "and thus for several thousands of
years, this people is perpetually propagated without any being born among them.” Lib. 5, cap. 17. See Prid. Conn. part ii. book 5. All that has been said in later times concerning the Essenes and Therapeutæ, proceeds from the extracts from Philo, Josephus, and Pliny.
+ The revolt of Judas occurred in the procuratorship of Coponius, A. D. 8 to 10. He was succeeded by Marcus Ambivius, A. D. 10, Annius Rufus 13, Valerius Gratus 15, Pontius Pilate 26. The procuratorships of the three former seem to have been tolerably tranquil, since Josephus passes them over with very slight notice, Antiq. ch. 2. He mentions two trifling disturbances under Pilate, the first on his attempting to form a water-course with the sacred treasure called Corban (ch. iii. and War ii. ch. x.), the second on the attempt of an enthusiast to assemble a multitude on Mount Gerizim.
a vent for their discontent in the anticipation of the miraculous intervention promised by the prophets. In the chief towns, open displays even of this spirit were repressed by the Roman officers, and their allies the Jewish princes, as a dangerous symptom ;* but it continued in the villages and country places. A passage of the prophet Malachi had announced that Elijah was to appear again previously to the divine intervention of the God of Israel. An enthusiast of the Essene sect, named John, assumed the dress and manners of the expected prophet,f and appeared in the desert near Jordan, baptizing the people and urging them to repent, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. I He accompanied this prediction with exhortations to virtue, according to the Essene school, and does not appear to have excited the people to insurrection, for Josephus speaks of him with respect as a teacher of virtue.
* Josephus says of the last mentioned pretender, “He was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence, and contrived every thing so that the multitude might he pleased: so he bade them get together on Mount Gerizim, which is by them (the Samaritans) looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them that he would shew them those sacred vessels which were laid under that place, because Moses put them there.” They were violently dispersed by Pilate. Antiq. xviii. ch. iv.
+ The last verses of Malachi, iv. 5, 6, “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” &c. were doubtless much commented on by the Jews; and in the state of the nation at that time it was natural enough to attribute the character of Elijah to John, from their resemblance to each other in occupation and mode of life. But the camel's hair and leathern girdle lead us to infer that John himself intended to imitate Elijah (see 2 Kings, i. 8). A passage in Zechariah xiii. 4, seems to shew that the imitation had been frequent.
Matt. iii. 2; Mark i. 4; Luke iii. 3.
"Now some of the Jews thought that God had suffered Herod's army to be destroyed as a just punishment on him for the death of John, called the Baptist. For Herod had killed him, who was a just man, and had called upon the Jews to be baptized, and to practise virtue, exercising both justice toward men, and piety toward God. For so would baptism be acceptable to God, if they made use of it, not for the expiation of their sins, but for the purity of the body, the mind being first purified by righteousness. And many coming to him (for they were wonderfully taken with his discourses), Herod was seized with apprehensions, lest by his au
The appearance, however, of an enthusiast, preaching in the desert their long-expected kingdom, produced much excitement throughout Judea.* Crowds came to hear him, and to give the usual Jewish sign of adherence, submission to baptism. Amongst these was a Galilean named Jesus, the son of Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth.
All classes of society must from time to time produce individuals of rare mental superiority. In ordinary times this may remain unseen and dormant; but when some prevalent enthusiasm is abroad, it is quickened into life and action, and breaks forth to public gaze in the form of a great character. Jesus, the peasant of Galilee, possessed one of those gifted minds which are able to make an impression on mankind, and the age in which he lived supplied the stimulus required for its manifestation. He partook of the enthusiasm common to many patriotic Jews of his time, viz. an expectation of the approaching miraculous exaltation of Israel ; and the perception of his own mental elevation over those around him led him to indulge in the idea, not unnatural to any ardent Israelite, that he himself was to be the prophet and prince like unto Moses who should fill the restored throne of David. He had studied intensely the literature within
thority they should be led into sedition against him; for they seemed capable of undertaking any thing by his direction. Herod therefore thought it better to take him off before any disturbance happened, than to run the risk of a change of affairs, and of repenting when it should be too late to remedy disorders. Being taken up on this suspicion of Herod, and being sent bound to the castle of Machærus, just mentioned, he was slain there.”—Antiq. xviii. ch. 5.
* In later times, the preaching and sect of John the Baptist were lost sight of, owing to the pre-eminence of his successor. But that his sect was one of much notoriety near his own time, is seen from Acts xviii and xix; for, twenty-three years after his death, Apollos and other Jews, who had not even heard of Jesus, were preaching the baptism of John. It is remarkable that the writer calls these Jews, G certain disciples,” which shews that John's preaching was considered to comprise the essential doctrine of the new sect, of which he was strictly the founder. This doctrine was the coming of the kingdom of Heaven. Aquila and Priscilla did not pretend to convert Apollos, who was already instructed in " the way of the Lord,” but only to explain this way “more perfectly.” Acts xviii. 24-26.