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to apprehend immediate violence, confesses his fears for the future. He places less reliance than I do upon the generosity and friendship of Aurelian. It is his conviction, that superstition is the reigning power of his nature, and will sooner or later assert its supremacy. It may be so. Probus is an acute observer, and occupies a position more favorable to impartial estimates, and the formation of a dispassionate judgment, than I.

This reminds me, that you asked for news of Probus, my. Christian pedagogue,' as you are wont to name him. He is here, adorning, by a life of severe simplicity and divine benevolence, the doctrine he has espoused. He is a frequent inmate of our house, and Julia, not less ihan myself, ever greets him with affectionate reverence, as both friend and instructor. He holds the chief place in the hearts of the Roman Christians; for even those of the sect who differ from him in doctrine and in life, cannot but acknowledge that never an apostle presented to the love and imitation of his followers an example of rarer virtue. Yet he is not, in the outward rank which he holds, at the head of the Christian body. Their chiefs are, as you know, the bishops, and Felix is bishop of Rome, a man every way inferior to Probus.

But he has the good or ill fortune to represent more popular opinions, in matters both of doctrine and practice, than the other, and of course easily rides into the posts of trust and honor. He represents those among the Christians - for alas ! there are such even among them — who in seeking the elevation and extension of Christianity, do not hesitate to accommodate both doctrine and manner to the prejudices and tastes of both Pagan and Jew. They seek converts, not by raising them to the height of Christian principle and virtue, but by lowering these to the level of their grosser conceptions. Thus it is easy to see, that in the hands of such professors, the Christian doctrine is undergoing a rapid process of deterioration. Probus, and those who are on his part, see this, are alarmned, and oppose it; but numbers are against them, and consequently, power and authority. Already, strange as it may seem, when you compare such things with the institution of Christianity, as effected by its founder, do the bishops, both in Rome and the provinces, begin to assume the state and bearing of nobility. Such is the number and wealth of the Christian community, that the treasuries of the churches are full, and from this source, the pride and ambition of their rulers are luxuriously fed. If, as you walk through the street which crosses from the Quirinal to the Arch of Titus, lined with private dwellings of unusual magnificence, you ask whose is that with a portico, that for beauty and costliness rather exceeds the rest, you are told, “That is the dwelling of Felix, the Bishop of Rome;' and if it chance to be a Christian who answers the question, it is done with ill-suppressed pride, or shame, according to the party to which he belongs. This Felix is the very man, through the easiness of his dispositions, and his proneness to all the arts of selfindulgence, and the imposing graciousness of his carriage, to keep the favor of the people, and at the same time sink them, without suspicion on their part, lower and lower toward the sensual superstitions, from which, through so much suffering, and by so many labors, they have but just escaped, and accomplish an adulterous and

fatal union between Christianity and Paganism; by which, indeed, Paganism may be purified and exalted, but Christianity annihilated. For Christianity, in its essence, is that which beckons and urges onward, not to excellence only, but to perfection. Of course its mark is always in advance of the present. By such union with Paganism, then, or Judaism, its essential characteristic will disappear; Christianity will, in effect, perish. You may suppose, accordingly, that Probus, and others who with bim rate Christianity so differently, look on with anxiety upon this downward progress, and with mingled sorrow and indignation upon those who aid it oftentimes actuated, as is notorious, by most corrupt motives.

I am just returned from the shop of the learved Publius, where I met Probus, and others of many ways of thinking. You will gather from what occurred, better than from any thing else I could say, what occupies the thoughts of our citizens, and how they stand affected.

I called to Milo to accompany me, and to take with him a basket in which to bring back books, whieh it was my intention to purchase.

• I trust, noble master,' said he, 'that I am to bear back no more Christian books.'

Why so, knave ?' * Because the priests say that they have magical powers over all who read them, or so much as handle them; that a curse sticks wherever they are or have been. I have heard of those who have withered away to a mere wisp; of others who have suddenly caught on fire, and vanished in flame and smoke; and of others whose blood has stood still, frozen, or run out from all parts of the body, changed to the very color of your shoe, at their base touch. Who should doubt that it is so, when the very boys in the streets have it, and it is taught in the temples? I would rather Solon, noble master, went in my stead. Mayhap his learning would protect him.'

I, laughing, bade him come on. • You are not withered away yet, Milo, nor has your blood run out; yet you have borne many a package of these horrible books. Surely the gods befriend you.'

'I were else long since with the Scipios. After a pause of some length, he added, as he reluctantly, and with features of increased paleness, followed in my steps:

'I would, my master, that you might be wrought with to leave these ways. I sleep not, for thinking of your danger. Never, when it was my sad mischance to depart from the deserted palace of the great Gallienus, did I look to know one to esteem like him. But it is the truth when I affirin, that I place Piso before Gallienus, and the lady Julia before the noble Salonina. Shall I tell you a secret ?'

• I will hear it, if it is not to be kept.' 'It is for you to do with it as shall please you. I am the bosom friend, you may know, with Curio, the favorite slave of Fronto• Must I not publish it?'

Nay, that is not the matter, though it is somewhat to boast of. There is not Curio's fellow in all Rome. But that may pass. Curio, then, as I was with him at the new temple, while he was busied in some of the last offices before the dedication, among other things, said : ‘Is not thy master Piso of these Christians ? Yes,' said I,

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he is; and were they all such as he, there could be no truth in what is said of them.' • Ah!'he replied, 'there are few among the accursed tribe like him. He has but just joined them; that's the reason he is better than the rest. Wait awhile, and see wbat he will become. They are all alike in the end, cursers, and despisers, and disbelievers, of the blessed gods. But lions have teeth, tigers have claws, knives cut, fire burns, water drowns. There he stopped. • That's wise,' I said ; 'who could have known it ? • Think you,' he rejoined, • Piso knows it? If not, let him ask Fronto. Let me advise thee,' he added, in a whisper, though in all the temple there were none beside us, ‘let me advise thee, as thy friend, to avoid dangerous company. Look to thyself; the Christians are not safe,' * How say you,' I replied, “not safe? What and whom are they to fear ? Gallienus vexed them not. Is Aurelian -' 'Say no more,' he replied, interrupting me,' and name not what I have dropped, for your life. Fronto's ears are more than the eyes of Argus, and his wrath more deadly than the grave.'

Just as he ended these words, a strong beam of red light shot up from the altar, and threw a horrid glare over the whole dark interior. I confess I cried out with affright. Curio started, at first, but quickly recovered, saying it was but the sudden flaming up of a fire that had been burning on the altar, but which shortly before he had quenched. • It is,' he said, an omen of the flames that are to be kindled throughout Rome. This was Curio's communication. Is it not a secret worth knowing ?'

• It tells nothing, Milo, but of the boiling over of the wrath of the malignant Fronto, which is always boiling over. Doubtless I should fare ill, were his power equal to his will to harm us. But Aurelian is above him.'

. That is true; and Aurelian, it is plain, is little like Fronto.' • Very little

But still I would that, like Gallienus, thou couldst only believe in the gods. The Christians, so it is reported, worship and believe in but a man

-a Jew- who was crucified as a criminal, with thieves and murderers.' He turned upon me a countenance full of unaffected horror.

Well, Milo, at another time, I will tell you what the truth about it is. Here we are now, at the shop of Publius.'

The shop of Publius is remarkable for its extent and magnificence, if such a word may be applied to a place of traffic. Here resort all the idlers of learning and of leisure, to turn over the books, hear the news, discuss the times, and trifle with the learned bibliopole. As I entered, he saluted me, in his customary manner, and bade me 'welcome to his poor apartments, which for a long time I had not honored with my presence.'

I replied, that two things had kept me away - the civil broils in which the city had just been involved, and the care of ordering the appointments of a new dwelling. I had come now to commence some considerable purchases for some vacant shelves, if it might so happen that the books I wanted, were to be found in his rooms.

There is not,' he replied, 'a literature, a science, a philosophy, an art, or a religion, whose principal authors are not to be found upon

the walls of Publius. My agents are in every corner of the empire, of the east and west, searching out the curious and rare, the useful and the necessary, to swell the catalogue of my intellectual riches, I believe it is established, that in no time before me, as no where now, has there been heard of a private collection like this, for value and. for number.'

• I do not doubt what you say, Publius. This is a grand display, Your ranges of rooms show like those of the Ulpian. Yet you do not quite equal, I suppose, Trajan's, for number ?' • Truly not. But time may bring it to pass,

What shall I show you? It pleases me to give my time to you. I am not slow to guess what it is you now, noble Piso, chiefly covet. And I think, if you will follow me to the proper apartment, I can set before you the very things you are in search of, Here upon these shelves are the Chris. tian writers. Just let me offer you this copy of Hegesippus, one of your oldest historians, if I err not. And here are some beautifully executed copies, I have just ordered to be made, of the Apologies of Justin and Tertullian. Here, again, are Marcion and Valentinus; but perhaps they are not in esteem with you. If I have heard aright, you will prefer these tracts of Paul, or Artemon, But hold, here is a catalogue. Be pleased to inspect it.'

As I looked over the catalogue, 1 expressed my satisfaction that a person of his repute was willing to keep on sale works so generally condemned, and excluded from the shops of most of his craft.

*I aim, my dear friend most worthy Piso - to steer a mid-way course among contending factions. I am myself a worshipper of the gods of my fathers. But I am content that others should do as they please in the matter. I am not, however, so much a worshipper in your ear as a book-seller. That is my calling. The Christians are become a most respectable people. They are not to be overlooked. They are, in my judginent, the most intelligent part of our community. Wasting none of their time at the baths and theatres, they have more time for books. And then their numbers, too! They are not fewer than seventy thousand ! — known and counted. But the number, between ourselves, Piso, of those who secretly favor or receive this doctrine, is equal to the other! My books go to houses, ay, and to palaces, people dream not of.'

I think your statements a little broad,' said a smooth, silvery voice, close at our ears. We started, and beheld the Prefect Varus standing at our side. Publius was for a moment a little disconcerted; but quickly recovered, saying, in his easy way, ' A fair morning to you! I knew not that it behooved me to be upon my oath, being in the presence of the Governor of Rome. I repeat, noble Varus, but what I hear. Piso receives what I say as the current rumor. That is all — that is all. Things may not be so, or they may; it is not for me to say. I wish well to all; that is my creed.'

'In the public enumerations of the citizens,' replied the Prefect, inclining, with civility, to Publius, 'the Christians have reached at no time fifty thousand. As for the conjecture touching the numbers who secretly embrace this injurious superstition, I hold it utterly baseless. It may serve a dying cause to repeat such statements, but they accord not with obvious fact.'

45

VOL. XI.

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Suspect me not, Varus,' hastily rejoined the agitated Publius, of setting forth such statements with the purpose to advance the cause of the Christians. I take no part in this matter. Thou knowest that I'am a Roman of the old stamp. Not a Roman in my street is more diligently attentive to the services of the temple, than I. I simply say again, what I hear as news of my customers. The story which one rehearses, I retail to another.'

• I thank the gods it is so,' replied the man of power,

During these few words, I had stood partly concealed by a slender marble pillar. I now turned, and the usual greetings passed with the Prefect.

* Ah! Piso! I knew not my hearer. Perhaps from you'smiling as he spoke — 'we may learn the truth. Rome speaks loudly of your late desertion of the religion and worship of your fathers, and union with the Galileans. I should say, I hoped the report ill founded, had I not heard it from quarters too authentic to permit a doubt.'

You have heard rightly, Varus,' I rejoined. After searching through all antiquity after truth, I congratulate myself upon having at last discovered it, and where I least expected, in a Jew. And the good which I have found for myself, I am glad to know is enjoyed by so many more of my fellow citizens. I should not hesitate to confirm the statement made by Publius, from whatever authority he may have derived it, rather than that which has been made by yourself. I have bestowed attention not only upon the arguments which support Christianity, but upon the actual condition of the Christian community, here and throughout the empire. It is prosperous at this hour, beyond all former example. If Pliny could complain, even in his day, of the desertion of the temples of the gods, what may we now suppose to be the relative numbers of the two great parties? Only, Varus, allow the rescript of Gallienus to continue in force, which merely releases us from oppressions, and we shall see in what a fair trial of strength between the two religions will issue.'

• That dull profligate and parricide,' replied Varus, 'not content with killing himself with his vices, and his father by connivance, must needs destroy his country by his fatuity. I confess, that till that order be repealed, the superstition will spread.'

. But it only places us upon equal ground.'

• It is precisely there where we never should be placed. Should the conspirator be put upon the ground of a citizen? Were the late rebels of the mint to be relieved from all oppressions, that they might safely intrigue and conspire for the throne ?

Christianity has nothing to do with the empire, as such. It is a question of moral, philosophical, religious truth. Is truth to be exalted or suppressed by edicts ?'

• The religion of the state,' replied Varus, ‘is a part of the state ; and he who assails it, strikes at the dearest life of the state, and forgive me - is to be dealt with ought to be dealt with traitor.'

*I trust,' I replied, 'that that time will never again come, but that reason and justice will continue to bear sway. And it is both reasonable and just, that persons who yield to none in love of country,

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