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and whose principles of conduct are such as must make good subjects every where, because they first make good men, should be protected in the enjoyment of rights and privileges common to all others.'

• If the Christians,' he rejoined, 'are virtuous men, it is better for the state than if they were Christians and corrupt men. But still that would make no change in my judgment of their offence. They deny the gods who were over this nation, and have brought it

up to its height of power and fame. Their crime were less, I repeat, to deny the authority of Aurelian. This religion of the Galileans is a sore, eating into the vitals of an ancient and vigorous constitution, and must be cut away. The knife of the surgeon is what the evil cries out for and must have else universal anarchy is come. I mourn that from the ranks of the very fathers of the state, they have received an accession like this of the house of Piso.'

I shall think my time and talent well employed,' I replied, 'in doing what I may to set the question of Christianity in its true light before the city. It is this very institution which it needs to preserve it. Christianize Rome, and you impart the very principle of endurance of immortality. Under its present corruptions, it cannot but sink. Is it possible a community of men can long hold together as vicious as this of Rome ? — whose people are either disbelievers of all divine existences, or else ground to the earth by degrading superstitions? A nation, either on the one hand governed by superstition, or on the other, atheistical, contains within itself the disease which sooner or later will destroy it. You yourself, it is notorious, have never been within the walls of a temple, nor are Lares or Penates to be found within


doors.' 'I deny it not. Most who rise to any intelligence, must renounce, if they ever harbored it, all faith in the absurdities and nonsense of the Roman religion. But what then? These very absurdities, as we deem them, are holy truth to the multitude, and do more than all bolts, bars, axes, and gibbets, to keep them in subjection. The intelligent are good citizens by reflection; the multitude, through instincts of birth, and the power of superstition. My idea is, as you perceive, Piso, but one. Religion is the state, and for reasons of state, must be preserved in the very form in which it has so long upheld the empire.'

An idea more degrading than yours, to our species, can hardly be conceived. I cannot but look upon man as something more than a part of the state. He is, first of all, a man, and is to be cared for as such. To legislate for the state, to the ruin of the man, is to pamper the body, and kill the mind. It is to invert the true process. The individual is more than the abstraction which we term the state. If governments cannot exist, nor empires hold their sway, but by the destruction of the human being, why let them fall. The lesser must yield to the greater. As a Christian, my concern is for man as man. This is the essence of the religion of Christ. It is philanthropy. It sees in every human soul a being of more value than empires, and its purpose is, by furnishing it with truths and motives, equal to its wants, to exalt it, purify it, and perfect it. If in achieving this work, existing religions or governments are necessarily overturned or anni

hilated, Christianity cares not, so long as man is the gainer. And is it not certain, that no government could really be injured, although it might apparently, and for a season, by its subjects being raised in all intelligence and all virtue? My work, therefore, Varus, will be to sow truth in the heart of the people, which shall make that heart fertile and productive. I do not believe that in doing this, Rome will suffer injury, but on the contrary, receive benefit. Its religion, or rather its degrading superstitions, may fall, but a principle of almighty energy and divine purity will insensibly be substituted in their room. I labor for man = not for the state.'

* And never, accordingly, most noble Piso, did man, in so unequivocal words, denounce himself traitor.'

* Patriot ! friend ! benefactor! rather ;' cried a voice at my side, which I instantly recognised as that of Probus. Several beside himself had drawn near, listening with interest to what was going on.

. That only shows, my good friend,' said Varus, in bis smiling way, and which seems the very contradiction of all that is harsh and cruel, · how differently we estimate things. Your palate esteems that wholesome and nutritious food, which mine rejects, as ashes to the taste, and poison to the blood. I behold Rome torn, and bleeding, and prostrate, and dying, by reason of innovations upon faith and manners, which to you appear the very means of growth, strength, and life. How shall we resolve the doubt? Who'shall prescribe for the patient? I am happy in the belief, that the Roman people have long since decided for themselves, and confirm their decision every day, as it passes, by new acts and declarations.'

•If you mean,' said Probus, 'to say that numbers and the general voice are still against the Christians, Í grant it so. But I am happy, too, in my belief, that the scale is trembling on the team. There are more and better than you wot of, who hail with eager minds and glad hearts, the truths which it is our glory, as servants of Christ, to propound. Within many a palace upon the seven hills, do prayers go up in bis name; and what is more, ihousands upon thousands of the humbler ranks, of those who but yesterday were without honor in their own eyes, or others' - without faith - at war with themselves and the world — fit tools for any foe of the state to work with — are today reverers of themselves, worshippers of God, lovers of mankind, patriots who love their country better than ever before, because they now behold in every citizen not only a citizen, but a brother and an immortal. The doctrine of Christianity, as a lover of man, so commends itself, Varus, to the hearts of the people, that in a few more years of prosperity, and the face of the Roman world will glow with a new beauty; love and humanity will shine forth in all its features.'

. That is very pretty,' said Varus, his lip slightly curling, as he spoke, but retaining his courteous bearing, yet methinks, seeing this doctrine is so bewitching, and is withal a heaven-inspired wis. dom, the God working behind it and urging it on, it moves onward with a pace something of the slowest. Within a few of three hundred years has it appealed to the human race, and appealed in vain. The feeblest and the worst of mankind have had power almost to annihilate it, and more than once has it seemed scarce to retain its

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life. Would it have been so, had it been in reality what you claim for it, of divine birth ? Would the gods suffer their schemes for man's good to be so thwarted, and driven aside by man? What was this boasted faith doing during the loved and peaceful reigns of Hadrian, and the first Antonine ? The sword of persecution was then sheathed, or if it fell at all, it was but on a few. So, too, under Vespasian, Titus, Numa, Severus, Heliogabalus, the Philips, Galienus, and Claudius ?'

• That is well said,' a Roman voice added, of one standing by the side of Varus, “and is a general wonder.'

• I marvel it should be a wonder,' rejoined Probus. Can you pour into a full measure? Must it not be first emptied ? Who, Varus, let him try as he may; could plant the doctrine of Christ in thy heart ? Could I do it, think you ? - or Piso ?'

I trow not. * And why, I pray you?' • It is not hard to guess.' • Is it not because you are already full of contrary notions, to which you cling tenaciously, and from which, perhaps, no human force could drag you? But yours is a type of every other Roman mind, to which Christianity has been offered. If you receive it not at once, should others ? Suppose the soul to be full of sincere convictions as to the popular faith, can the gospel easily enter there? Suppose it skeptical, as to all spiritual truth ; can it enter there ? Suppose it polluted by vice; can it easily enter there? Suppose it like the soul of Fronto

• Hush ! hush !' said several voices. Probus heeded them not.

• Suppose it like the soul of Fronto, could it enter there ? See you not, then, by knowing your own hearts, what time it must demand for a new, and specially a strict, doctrine, to make its way into the minds of men ?' 'T is not easier to bore a rock with one's finger, than to penetrate a heart hardened by sin, or swelled with prejudice and pride. And if we say, Varus, this was a work for the God to do – that he who originated the faith should propagate it - I answer, that would not be like the other dealings of the divine power. He furnishes you with earth and seed, but he ploughs not for you, nor plants, nor reaps. He gives you reason, but he pours not knowledge into


mind. So he offers truth ; but that is all. He compels no assent; he forces no belief. All is voluntary and free. How, then, can the march of truth be otherwise than slow? Truth, being the greatest thing below, resembles in its port the motion of the stars, which are the greatest things above. But like theirs, if slow, it is ever sure and onward.'

• The stars set in night.'

• But they rise again. Truth is eclipsed often, and it sets for a night; but never is turned aside from its eternal path.'

Never, Publius,' said the Prefect, adjusting his gown, and with the act filling the air with perfume, ' never did I think to find myself within a Christian church. Your shop possesses many virtues. It is a place to be instructed in.' Then, turning to Probus, he soothingly, and in persuasive tones, added: 'Be advised now, good friend, and leave off thy office of teacher. Rome can well spare thee.



Take the judgment of others; we need not thy doctrine. Let that alone which is well established and secure. Spare these institutions, venerable through a thousand years. Leave changes to the gods.

Probus was about to reply, when we were strangely interrupted. While we had been conversing, there had stood before me, in the midst of the floor of the apartment, a man, wbose figure, face, and demeanor were such, that I hardly could withdraw my eye from him. He was tall and gaunt, beyond all I ever saw, and erect as a Prætorian in the ranks. His face was strongly Roman, thin, and bony, with sunken cheeks, a brown and wrinkled skin - not through age, but exposure — and eyes more wild and fiery than ever glaced in the head of Hun or hyena. He seemed a living fire-brand of death and ruin. As we talked, he stood there motionless, sometimes casting glances at our group, but more frequently fixing them upon a roll which he held in his hands.

As Varus uttered the last words, this man suddenly left his post, and reaching us with two or three strides, shook his long finger at Varus, saying, at the same time :

• Hold, blasphemer!'

The Prefect started, as if struck, and gazing a moment with unfeigned amazement at the figure, then immediately burst into a laugh, crying out:

• Ha! ha! Who in the name of Hecate have we here? Ha! ha! ha! he seems just escaped from the Vivaria.'

• Thy laugh,' said the figure, “is the music of a sick and dying soul. It is a rebel's insult against the majesty of heaven; ay, laugh on ! That is what the devils do; it is the merriment of bell. What time they burn not, they laugh. But enough. Hold now thy scoffing, Prefect Varus, for high as thou art, I fear thee not; no! not wert thou twice Aurelian, instead of Varus. I have a word for thee. Wilt hear it ?'

• With delight, Bubo. Say on.'

• It was thy word just now, “Rome needs not this doctrine,' was it not ?'

• If I said it not, it is a good saying, and I will father it.'

“Rome needs not this doctrine; she is well enough ; let her alone!' These were thy words. Need not, Varus, the streets of Rome a cleansing river to purify them? Dost thou think them well enough, till all the fountains have been let loose to purge them? Is Tarquin's sewer a place to dwell in ? Could all the waters of Rome sweeten it? The people of Rome are fouler than her highways. The sewers are sweeter than the very worshippers of our temples. Thou knowest somewhat of this. Wast ever present at the rites of Bacchus? - or those of the Cyprian goddess Nay, blush not yet. Didst ever hear of the gladiator Pollex ? — of the woman Cæcina ? — of the boy Lælius, and the fair girl Faunia ? — proffered and sold by the parents, Pollex and Cæcina, to the loose pleasures of Gallienus ? Now I give thee leave to blush! Is it nought that the one half of Rome is sunk in a sensuality, a beastly drunkenness and lust, fouler than that of old which, in Judea, called down the fiëry vengeance of the insulted heavens ? Thou knowest well, both from early experience and because of thy office, what the purlieus of the


theatres are, and places worse than those, and which to name were an offence. But to you they need not be named. Is all this, Varus, well enough? Is this that venerable order thou wouldst not have disturbed ? Is that to be charged as impiety, and atheism, which aims to change and reform it? Are they conspirators, and rebels, and traitors, whose sole office and labor is to mend these degenerate morals, to heal these corrupting sores, to pour a better life into the routing carcass of this guilty city? Is it for our amusement, or our profit, that we go about this always dangerous work? Is it a pleasure to hear the gibes, jests, and jeers of the streets, and the places of public resort ? Will you not believe that it is for some great end, that we do and bear as thou seest even the redemption, and purifying, and saving of Rome? I love Rome, even as a mother, and for her am ready to die. I have bled for her freely in battle, in Gaul, upon the Danube, in Asia, and in Egypt. I am willing to bleed for her at home, even unto death, if that blood might, through the blessing of God, be a stream to cleanse her putrifying members. But O, holy Jesus ! why waste I words upon one whose heart is harder than the nether mill-stone! Thou preachedst not to Pilate, nor didst thou work thy wonders for Herod. Varus, beware!'

And with these words, uttered with a wild and threatening air, he abruptly turned away, and was lost in the crowds of the street.

While he raved, the Prefect maintained the same unruffled demeanor as before. His customary smile played around his mouth, a smile like no other I ever saw. To a casual observer, it would seem like every other smile, but to one who watches him, it is evident that it denotes no hilarity of heart, for the eyes accompany it not with a corresponding expression, but on the contrary, look forth from their beautiful cavities with glances that speak of any thing rather than of peace and good will. So soon as the strange being who had been declaiming had disappeared, the Prefect, turning to me, as he drew


gown around him, said : 'I give you joy, Piso, of your coadjutor. A few more of the same fashion, and Rome is safe.' And saluting us with urbanity, he sallied from the shop.

I had been too much amazed, myself, during this scene, to do any thing else than stand still, and listen, and observe. As for Probus, I saw him to be greatly moved, and give signs of even deep distress. He evidently knew who the person was as I saw him make more than one ineffectual effort to arrest him in his barangue — and as evidently held him in respect, seeing he abstained from all interruption of a speech that he felt to be provoking wantonly the passions of the Prefect, and of many who stood around, from whom, so soon as the man of authority had withdrawn, angry words broke forth abundantly,

• Well did the noble Prefect say, that wild animal had come forth like a half-famished tiger from the Vivaria,' said one.

It is singular,' observed another, 'that a man who pretends to reform the state, should think to do it by putting it into a rage with him, and all he utters.'

Especially singular,' added a third, that the advocate of a religion that, as I hear, condemns violence, and consists in the strictness with which the passions are governed, should suppose that he was

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