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A large portion of the contributions exacted from the subject were the products of the soil, grain, oil, wine, wood. The lands were assessed in proportion to the nature of their products and their fruitfulness. The subject in some cases, instead of delivering the kinds that were levied, which he might be obliged to purchase or convey to an inconvenient distance, was allowed to give their equivalent at rates fixed by the exactor in coin. At other periods the receivers were prohibited from such exchanges, and required to exact the articles designated in the indictions. The exactions were so excessive as to induce the cultivators in some cases to mutilate their fruit trees and vines to such a degree as to render them unproductive, at least for the year of assessment, in order to escape the tax on their products. If any one shall sacrilegiously cut a vine, or stint the fruit of prolific boughs, and craftily feign poverty in order to avoid a fair assessment, he shall immediately on detection suffer death, and his property be confiscated.” İf, as is probable from the period of the indictions, the measurement of the lands and estimate of their produce was made but once in fifteen years, that space presented a strong motive to such an expedient. The prohibition denotes the extreme to which assessments were carried. All fruitful trees and vines were numbered, an estimate made of their annual products, and a contribution levied proportional to that estimate. It indicates likewise the severity with which the impositions were exacted.
Of the produce thus drawn from Italy and the provinces, a large portion was destined for the great cities, especially Rome, and
Codicis Theod. lib. xi. tit. i. I. 6, 15. Dion. Cassii Hist. Rom. lib. lxxvii. c. 9, 10. · Codicis Theod. lib. xiii. tit. xi. 1. 2, 3.
* Codicis Theod. lib. xi. tit. i. 1. 6. * “ Let no one hereafter exact gold of the city of Rome, instead of the species which are levied.” Nemini aurum pro speciebus urbis Romæ liceat exigere de futuro.-Cod. icis Theod. lib. xi. tit. i. l. 8. “ That no one may presume that money is to be substituted for produce, let it be made known that no receipt will be given to those who captiously violate the law on this subject.” Ne quis pro speciebus annonariis pecunias existimet inferendas, scientibus cunctis, quod si quis contra hanc Serenitatis Nos. træ legem captiosum aliquid putaverit perpetrandum, Securitatibus hoc modo editis eos esse carituros.—Lib. xi. tit. iji. I. 5. Also, tit. ii. I. 4.
• Si quis sacrilega vitem falco succideret, aut feracium ramorum fetus hebetaverit, qud declinet fidem censuum, et mentiatur callidè paupertatis ingenium, mox detectus capitale subibit exitium, et bona ejus in fisci jura migrabunt. Illo videlicet vitante calumniam, qui fortiter detegitur laborasse, pro copia ac reparandis agrorum fætibus, non sterilitatem aut inopiam procurasse-taking care, however, not to confound that pruning which is designed to promote fruitfulness, with that which is intended to cause sterility.- Codicis Theod. lib. xii. tit. xi. I. 1. * Gibbon's Hist. Decl. and Fall,
ap. xvii. Agri glebatim metiebantur, vites et arbores numerabantur, animalia omnis generis scribebantur, hominum capita notabantur.-Lactantii de Mort. Persecut. c. 23.
in the fourth century Constantinople ; and though designed as a provision against scarcity,' was occasionally at least so administered as to give birth to that evil. The gratuitous distribution was sometimes suddenly diminished or discontinued, and private dealers and the prefect of the public magazines enabled, by the great multiplication of purchasers, to exact higher prices. Thus Augustus on one occasion reduced the recipients from an almost innumerable multitude, to two hundred thousand ;: and Nero suspended the donation altogether. The quantity to be distributed to individuals and the rates at which sales were made from the public granaries, were fixed by the prefect ;" and the latter sometimes wantonly advanced for the purpose of causing distress and discontent. Dionysius Papirius, the prefect under Commodus, raised the rates in a time of famine, in order to inflame the people against Cleander the chamberlain and prefect of the army and a monopolist.
These exactions were so enormous, and often so lawless and wanton, as to reduce great numbers from riches and competence to poverty. Caracalla is represented as animated by a furious passion to wrest their possessions from every class of citizens, and reduce them to ruin. He frequently seized the produce of their farms, and the provisions collected for their families, or compelled them to purchase grain, wine, and other articles, at great expense, and without remuneration, and gave them to his troops, or sold them to raise money. He often exacted large donatives from ordinary citizens as well as from the rich. He renewed all the impositions that had been remitted by his predecessors, advanced the most oppressive, the tax on inheritances, from a twentieth to a tenth, and by extending the gift of citizenship to all provincials, subjected the whole population to the peculiar burdens annexed to that privilege. When about to return
· Dio. Cass. Hist. Rom. lib. liv. c. 1, lib. ly. c. 31. Taciti Annal. lib. i. c. 7, lib. xv. C. 39. Codicis Theod. lib. xiv. tit. xv. xvi.
Dio. Cass. Hist. Rom. lib. Iv. c. 10. * Dio. Cass. Hist. Rom. lib. lxii. c. 18. 4 Dio. Cass. H. Rom. lib. ly. c. 26.
* That the people of Rome may not be served with bad bread, let the measurers and bargemen be compelled to sell to the bakers at low prices only two hundred thousand measures of pure and sound grain. Ne pessimus panis Populi Romani usibus ministretur sola ducentena millia modiorum frumenti, integri adque intemerati, juxta priscum morem, mensores et caudicarü levioribus pretiis pistoribus venundaro cogantur.—Codicis Theod. lib. xiv. tit. xv. l. 1. The other grain required by the bakers being furnished gratuitously from the public magazines, they had no motive to adulterate their bread from an advance of price in the market.
6 Dio. Cass. Hist. Rom. lib. lxxi. c. 13.
from the camp, or from distant cities to the capital, he compelled the citizens to waste vast sums in the erection of numerous structures along the line of his progress for his repose, and amphitheatres and circuses wherever he wintered, or proposed to winter, which were left to dilapidation, and seemed designed for little else than to wear out his subjects.'
The enormity and violence of these exactions sprung in a degree from the rapid succession of tyrants, each one of whom was compelled to purchase the support of the army by large donatives, and to satiate the avarice of a vast train of subordinates ; and continued through a series of years, wasted the wealth of the capital and the provinces, and intercepted and discouraged agriculture to such a degree, as at length to give birth in the reigns of Valerian and Gallienus to a severe scarcity, and at a later period to depopulation through wide regions.3
The horseman of this seal, then, as well as his predecessors, is a Roman emperor or usurper, and is Caracalla doubtless, who commenced a system of excessive taxation, and was followed by a long train of similar oppressors. Under the second seal those tyrants were exhibited in their relations to each other as competítors for the throne, conspiring to acquire, or endeavoring to retain it, taking peace from the earth, and slaughtering each other in the contest. In this they are exhibited in their relations to the people as oppressors, employing their vast powers to wrench froin those whom it was their business to protect and foster, their possessions and means of subsistence, and reduce them to poverty and famine.
The symbol being thus drawn from civil life, to what other department of society are we to look for a class and succession of official persons exerting an analogous agency? Not certainly to the idolatrous or philosophic world. The priests and speculatists of those classes never subjected their followers to a famine of their doctrines; nor had they, could it have been regarded as a calamity, or entitled to an introduction into the prophecy. It is to the church, the only resembling society, indisputably therefore that the actors denoted by the symbol belong.
· Dio Cass. Hist. Rom. lib. Ixxvii. c. 9, 10.
? In the seventy-two years from Septimius Severus to Diocletian, twenty-six held the sceptre. The number of unsuccessful aspirants, many of whom, followed by armies, wasted the fields, exacted contributions from the cities, and preyed on the helpless population in all the usual forms of tyranny, was far greater.
• Desererentur agri, et culturæ verterentur in silvam. The fields were deserted, and scenes of cultivation turned into forest. Lactantii, de Mort. Persecut. c. 7. Gibbon's Hist. Decl. and Fall, chap. X.
What agency, then, of the ministers of that spiritual kingdom can this misrule of emperors and usurpers appropriately represent? What is it in those whose office it is to feed the flock of God, to subject it to a famine, analogous to that to which the population of the empire was reduced by tyrannous and wanton exaction? To withdraw from them the supports of spiritual life; that knowledge of God, of themselves as needing redemption, and of the method of salvation, to which they were entitled, and which are requisite to a vigorous piety ;-to obstruct them in its cultivation, and render their endeavors after sanctification fruitless. And this perversion of their office was the most conspicuous characteristic of the agency of the ministers of the church, from the close of the second century to the second quarter of the fourth.
I. They discontinued, in a large degree, during that space, to preach the great truths of the gospel in their simplicity. There is no clear and emphatic exposition in any of the writers whose works have come down to us, from Clemens Alexandrinus to Athanasius, of the rights of God on which his government is founded, of the sanctity of his law, of the alienation and guilt of men, and need of such a redemption as is revealed in the gospel, of Christ's death as a vindication of the rights of God and an expiation for sin, of the nature and necessity of faith in him, of regeneration by the Spirit through the apprehension of the truths of the gospel, or of justification by faith in the Redeemer. They neither preached Jesus Christ and him crucified by simply proclaiming his death on behalf of men, and the proffer of pardon to those who accepted him by trust in his blood, and calling on men to repent and believe, without entering into any formal exposition of the great principles on which the work of Christ proceeds; nor did they preach him by unfolding and enforcing those principles. They thus, in a most emphatic sense, withheld from their people the bread of life; reducing those who had already become the children of God to a famine of knowledge ; and leaving others, and the young especially, without any thorough initiation into those great truths, an acquaintance with which is essential to a just sense of sin, a perception of the necessity of a gratuitous salvation, and a reception of Christ as a sacrifice and justifier. In their discussions, with idolaters especially, the peculiarities of the work of Christ were studiously kept out of sight, the Scriptures were neglected, and Christianity exhibited as little else than a system of morals. Of
· Clemens Alexandrinus represents himself as intentionally concealing the great
the extent to which the disregard and depreciation of the word of God prevailed, the works of Minutius Felix, Arnobius, and Lactantius, may be taken as examples. One would scarcely suspect, from a large part of the first six books of the Institutes of Lactantius, that the church had an authentic revelation from God, in which all the great truths of his government, of our condition, of the method of salvation, and of the retributions that are to follow this life, are made known, and claim a reception from all. He intentionally, indeed, neglected the Scriptures, and relied for the conversion of the world on the testimony of men, the pretended prophecies of the sibyls, and the doctrines of philosophy.
II. Besides this studied neglect of the Scriptures, the mystic and allegorical methods of interpretation introduced by Clemens Alexandrinus and Origen, contributed much to divert the attention of the church from their great truths, and obstruct the knowledge of them. Men were taught to disregard and set aside their natural and obvious meanings, and search for such as were distant, fanciful, and often absurd. All histories were converted into fables and parables; all laws, doctrines, and promises, into types; and the whole volume of revelation thus made a chaos of shadows, from which imagination was allowed to shape whatever forms it pleased.”
elements of the truth in his Stromata, from the apprehension that to teach them openly, would be to expose them to abuse and contradiction by unpriucipled opponents. Strom. lib. i. p. 279.
1 Instit. lib. v. c. 4.
· Clemens Alexandrinus held that besides the literal import, a mystical meaning lies couched under the language of the Scriptures, which is to be elicited only by interpretation, and wished his readers to regard his Stromata as written in that manner with a double sense. “ Mysteries are taught mystically, so that the language in which they are expressed may denote them, and yet not so much to the ear as to the understanding." Strom. lib. i. p. 275.
Origen represented the Scriptures as involving a threefold sense, and regarded the most obvious as not only the least in value, but often deceptive and dangerous, and the occasion of all the errors into which interpreters had fallen. “ A threefold explication should be given of the meaning of the sacred word, that he who is most simple may be edified by its flesh or its obvious sense, he who has made some progress by its soul, but he who is perfect, like those of whom the apostle spoaks, by the wisdom of God, or its spirit ; for as man consists of body, soul, and spirit, so the Scriptures, in order that they may minister to the salvation of men, are constituted with a triple meaning." De Princip. lib. iv. c. 9.
He held that there are mysteries veiled beneath the narratives of the Old Tes. tament, which the most acute are unable fully to unfold. “ That there are some mystical dispensations indicated in the Scriptures, all, even the most simple, who receive them believe ; but what they are, the intelligent and modest acknowledge they do not know. Should any one, for example, inquire in regard to Lot and his daughters, Abraham's two wives, the two sisters whom Jacob married, or his two